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Why there is no mainstream investigative journalism about the Israel lobby

By Philip Weiss on March 30, 2010

Today on my drive back to NY from PA I listened to some fine journalism about religion and politics, and it highlighted everything that is wrong with our coverage of Israel/Palestine.

The piece I listened to was an hour’s conversation on Radio Times (WHYY Philadelphia) about the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church. I don’t follow this issue closely, but let me lay out the roles that the different players assumed during the long conversation:

–The two experts on the show were both Catholic writers. Their attitude can be summed up: They want this scandal to come out and be addressed, but they don’t want it to hurt the church. At one point one of the writers actually said that Catholic writers have an obligation to respect their “corporate identity” and not to behave like investigative reporters, but to respect the good things that the church does, and to get the full context.

–The host was Marty Moss-Coane. She was extremely professional, but assertive, skeptical of the writers’ piety: she  took up the side of our next two players. And I would note that (according to that link) Moss-Coane is not a Catholic, is married to a Jewish guy and is a former lefty.

–Offstage was the New York Times, which has recently done investigative pieces suggesting that Pope Benedict when a bishop or cardinal in Munich was informed of a pedophilia case in the ’80s and played some role in its being covered up. The two Catholic writers on this show kept dissing the New York Times coverage, saying that it was zealous and investigative; and in other ways they echoed the Pope’s recent warning that Catholics should not be “intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion.”

–The final players in the drama were the listeners. Several called. They were all outraged at the Catholic church. One said that life as an altar boy had hurt him in ways he did not want to talk about but is still coming to terms with. Another spoke of the culture of coverup. Another man said that celibacy was the issue.

Now let me get to the central dynamic of the show. The Catholic writers were performing damage control; still, Moss-Coane bored in on them, and whenever a caller went further than she had gone, for instance, about sexuality and celibacy, she promptly echoed the caller’s point. She stood up for the Times coverage. She asked, wisely, Is the church treating a crime as a sin? She said, What signal does it send people when a former bishop who played an active role in covering up a sex scandal is awarded a sinecure? (The writers said, Well it’s a giant step down for the bishop…) She said, What about what that caller just asked, How is this affecting congregations?

And to every push by Moss-Coane, the Catholic writers pushed back and defended the church. And they would: because they love the church, they see it as a force for good.

Why do I think this was fine journalism? Because the host was behaving as a good broadcast journalist with smart questions, the New York Times was behaving like a good investigative zealous newspaper when it smells a disgraceful scandal, and the listeners were sharp and engaged, pushing the story.

Now I hate the pedophilia scandal, I think it’s a good reason for the Catholic hierarchy to collapse, for congregations to implode. I think it’s wrapped up in celibacy. When the Catholic writers protested that the memo the Times uncovered from the ’80s (describing slap-on-the-knuckles discipline in a pedophilia case, and the future Pope was cc’d) doesn’t implicate the Pope, because he was just part of a “culture,” I think, Don’t b.s. me. This was not a routine memo. And isn’t there a problem with an institution that wakes up 30 years after the fact to the idea that it’s not good to damage children?

The significance of this piece for me was wholly about the journalism of the Israel lobby. The central problem in that story is that the roles of the Journalist and the New York Times are being played by the Catholic writers! The very parochial attitudes that Moss-Coane found so distasteful in the Catholic story are exhibited by countless journalists when it comes to Israel. Because they are Jews who have an investment in the emotional goodness of the Jewish state. Yes, people like Dan Schorr and Wolf Blitzer and Tom Friedman and Jeffrey Goldberg and Ethan Bronner, but also a lot of fellow travelers whose investment is not as well known to me. And they all get away with their piety all the time!

In the Israel lobby case we have an allegation now several years old that is way more serious than the Catholic scandal: the allegation that the forcible conflation of American and Israeli interests is damaging our country’s reputation. It is a form of corruption as deep and “cultural” as the Catholic mess Moss-Coane is investigating, but this time the broker-journalists are implicated in the culture. The former executive editor of the New York Times, Max Frankel, is vetting editorials to protect the Jewish state; my old newspaper the New York Observer is telling me to take a hike because I want to write about the Israel lobby; the Atlantic is killing Walt and Mearsheimer; Wolf Blitzer and Dan Senor used to work for the lobby and are now all over cable; and Jeff Goldberg used to be an Israeli soldier and is interviewed on Meet the Press by David Gregory, who is studying Hebrew. Ethan Bronner’s son goes into the IDF, and Bronner is the lead reporter for the New York Times???!! And on it goes, it never stops.

I am saying that all the f—ing excuses that the two Catholic writers made for their beloved church are being made all the time for the Jewish state by our journalists; it is in the culture of our journalism; and meanwhile there is no Moss-Coane to jump on them and keep them honest. I wonder if she’s ever covered the Israel/Palestine situation with half the honesty she covered the Catholic scandal, let alone the question of how it is corrupting our politics. I bet she hasn’t. Has she ever had on Palestinians to talk about the separate roadways in the West Bank, and then asked, why Americans are supporting Jim Crow conditions?

Well you get the point. And again, the New York Times, which should be printing the Pentagon Papers of the Iraq war, which should be interrogating neoconservatives about their crazy theory that invading Baghdad would take the Arabs’ minds off Israel/Palestine, which should be asking John Mearsheimer what his evidence is that oil had nothing to do with the disastrous decision to go to war, which should be telling readers why Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban give so much money to the political parties, and asking whether Adelson’s $300,000 gift in 2000 had anything to do with the hiring of Douglas “One-Jerusalem” Feith to a big job at the Pentagon where he would pass cooked data to Congress– the Times is doing no investigative journalism about the lobby at all. (In fact the best investigative work is being done by Grant Smith at IRMEP; and he’s marginalized…).

And now we have General Petraeus saying that the special relationship is hurting us; and Obama is trying to take Netanyahu on; and still these powerful men are getting no goddamn cover from the mainstream press in the form of investigative journalism that arouses the public about the abuses. If I were the Catholic church, I’d be mad.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 3 Comments

“Reporting” on Iran should seem familiar

By Glenn Greenwald | March 31, 2010

Fox News currently has an article at the top of its website that is headlined:  “CIA: Iran Moving Closer to Nuclear Weapon.”  The report, by DOD and State Department correspondent Justin Fishel, begins with this alarming claim:

A recently published report by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iran is still working on building a nuclear weapon despite some technical setbacks and international resistance — and the Pentagon say it’s still concerned about Iran’s ambitions.

But, as blogger George Maschke notes, that statement is categorically false.  The actual report, to which the Fox article links and which the DNI was required by Congress to submit, says no such thing.  Rather, this is its core finding:

The report says the opposite of Fox’s statement that “Iran is still working on building a nuclear weapon.”  And, of course, the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which concluded that Iran ceased development of its weapons program has never been rescinded, and even the most hawkish anonymous leaks from inside the intelligence community, when bashing the 2007 NIE, merely claim that analysts “now believe that Iran may well have resumed ‘research’ on nuclear weapons — theoretical work on how to design and construct a bomb — but that Tehran is not engaged in ‘development’ — actually trying to build a weapon.

This misleading “reporting” is hardly confined to Fox News.  Reporting on Obama’s efforts to secure international sanctions, Reuters today makes this claim:

[E]evidence has mounted raising doubts about whether Tehran is telling the truth when it says its nuclear program is only to produce peaceful atomic energy.

Particularly damning was a report in February from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that said Iran may be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile.

… Meanwhile, The New York Times’ David Sanger — who is the Judy Miller of Iran when it comes to hyping the “threat” based overwhelmingly, often exclusively, on anonymous sources — continues his drum beat this week.  In an article co-written with William Broad, Sanger warns — “based on interviews with officials of several governments and international agencies” (“all” of whom “insisted on anonymity”) — that “international inspectors and Western intelligence agencies say they suspect that Tehran is preparing to build more sites in defiance of United Nations demands.”  But rather than the secret, nefarious scheme which the NYT depicts this as being, these plans for additional sites were publicly announced — by the Iranian government itself — many weeks ago.As I’ve noted before, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Iran wanted a nuclear weapons capability.  If anything, it would be irrational for them not to want one.  What else would a rational Iranian leader conclude as they look at the U.S. military’s having destructively invaded and continuing to occupy two of its neighboring, non-nuclear countries (i.e., being surrounded by an invading American army on both its Eastern and Western borders)?  Add to that the fact that barely a day goes by without Western media outlets and various Western elites threatening them with a bombing attack by the U.S. or the Israel (which itself has a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons and categorically refuses any inspections or other monitoring).  If our goal were to create a world where Iran was incentivized to obtain nuclear weapons, we couldn’t do a better job than we’re doing now.

But regardless of one’s views on that question, or on the question of what the U.S. should do (if anything) about Iranian proliferation, the first order of business ought to be ensuring that the reporting on which we base our views is accurate.  A CNN poll from February found that 59% of Americans favor military action against Iran if negotiations over their nuclear program fail (see questions 31-32) — and that’s without the White House even advocating such a step.  As the invasion of Iraq demonstrated, the kind of fear-mongering, reckless, and outright false “reporting” we’re seeing already — and have been seeing for awhile — over Iran’s nuclear program poses a far greater danger to the U.S. than anything Iran could do.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 9 Comments

Will the Washington Crew Ever Notice the Housing Bubble?

By Dean Baker | The Guardian Unlimited | March 30, 2010

Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and the rest of the crew running economic policy somehow could not see the housing bubble as it grew to more than $8 trillion. It really should have been hard to miss. Nationwide house prices had just tracked overall inflation for 100 years from 1895 to 1995. Suddenly in 1995, coinciding with the stock bubble, house prices began to hugely outpace the overall rate of inflation.

There was no explanation for this run-up in house prices on either the supply or demand side of the housing market. Furthermore, there was no unusual increase in rents, providing further confirmation that fundamentals were not behind the increase in house prices. Finally, in contrast to a story of housing shortages driving up house prices, vacancy rates were at record levels.

But the super-sleuths at the Fed, Treasury and other centers of decision-making just could not see the bubble. They couldn’t even see the flood of bogus mortgages being spit out by the millions and packaged into mortgage-backed securities and more complex instruments.

As a result of this astounding incompetence, we are now living through the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Because Greenspan and Bernanke and the rest messed up, tens of millions of workers are out of work. Close to one in four mortgages are underwater and the baby boom cohort has seen much of its wealth destroyed as they reach the edge of retirement. In short, as Joe Biden would say, this was a f***ing big mistake.

Remarkably, the folks in charge seem to have learned zip. They still have no clue about the housing bubble. How else can anyone explain the Obama Administration’s latest proposal for helping out underwater homeowners?

If the point is to help homeowners then there are two incredibly simple questions that must be asked:

  1. Are homeowners paying less under the plan than they would to rent the same place?
  2. Are homeowners going to end up with equity in their home?

These are the key questions, because if we can’t answer “yes” to at least one of them, then we are not helping homeowners. If we can’t answer “yes” to at least one of these questions, then taxpayer dollars being put into the program are helping banks, not homeowners.

Unfortunately, it seems no one in the Obama Administration has yet been told about the housing bubble. There is no evidence that they ever considered these questions in designing the latest policy to “help” homeowners.

The program will potentially pay banks and loan servicers up to $12 billion to write off principle on mortgages. In exchange, the government will guarantee new mortgages through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). Those familiar with the housing market will note that house prices are still falling and must fall by close to 15 percent to get back to their long-term trend. If house prices continue to fall, then the vast majority of the homeowners that take part in this program are likely to never accrue any equity in their home.

Furthermore, the FHA is likely to incur substantial losses on these loan guarantees, as homeowners will again find themselves underwater and many will be unable to pay off their mortgages when they sell their home. Because the FHA hugely expanded its role in the housing market in the last two years, without paying attention to falling prices, it now is below its minimum capital requirement. It will suffer additional losses and fall further below its capital requirements as a result of this program. By the way, the losses to the FHA and the taxpayers are money in the pockets of the banks, but no reason to mention that detail.

For anyone who can see an $8 trillion housing bubble, this is all as clear as day. There is nothing complex about a story in which the government buys banks out of bad mortgages. But the Washington policymakers could not see an $8 trillion housing bubble before it wrecked the economy and apparently still haven’t noticed it even after the fact.

It’s great to know that there are good-paying jobs for people with no discernible skills. But do those jobs have to involve running the economy?


Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy. See article on original website.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | Leave a comment

Arctic Sea Ice about to hit ‘normal’ – what will the news say?

Forecasting The NSIDC News

By Steven Goddard and Anthony Watts | March 31, 2010

Barring an about face by nature or adjustments, it appears that for the first time since 2001, Arctic Sea ice will hit the “normal” line as defined by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) for this time of year.

NSIDC puts out an article about once a month called the Sea Ice News.  It generally highlights any bad news they can find about the disappearance of Arctic ice.  Last month’s news led with this sentence.

In February, Arctic sea ice extent continued to track below the average, and near the levels observed for February 2007.

But March brought good news for the Polar Bears, and bad news for the Catlin Expedition and any others looking for bad news.  Instead of ice extent declining through March like it usually does, it continued to increase through the month and is now at the high (so far) for the year.

If it keeps this trend unabated, in a day or two it will likely cross the “normal” line.

Source: NSIDC North Series

The Danish Meteorological Institute shows Arctic ice extent at the highest level in their six year record.

Source: DMI Ice Extent

The Norwegians (NORSEX) show Arctic ice area above the 30 year mean.

Source: NORSEX Ice Area

And the NORSEX Ice Extent is not far behind, within 1 standard deviation, and similar to NSIDC’s presentation. Note that is hit normal last year, but later.

Source: NORSEX Ice Extent

And JAXA, using the more advanced AMSR-E sensor platform on the AQUA satellite, shows a similar uptick now intersecting the 2003 data line.

Source: IARC-JAXA

WUWT asked NSIDC scientist Dr. Walt Meir about this event to which he responded via email:

It’s a good question about the last time we’ve been above average. It was May 2001. April-May is the period when you’re starting to get into the peak of the melt season for the regions outside of the Arctic Ocean (Bering Sea, Hudson Bay) and the extent tends to have lower  variability compared to other parts of the year as that thinner ice  tends to go about the same time of year due to the solar heating. Even  last year, we came fairly close to the average in early May.

He also mused about a cause:

Basically, it is due primarily to a lot more ice in the Bering Sea, as is evident in the images. The Bering ice is controlled largely by local winds, temperatures are not as important (though of course it still need to be at or at least near freezing to have ice an area for any length of time). We’ve seen a lot of northerly winds this winter in the Bering, particularly the last couple of weeks.

As we’ve been saying on WUWT for quite some time, wind seems to be a more powerful factor in recent sea ice declines than temperature. Recent studies agree.

See: Winds are Dominant Cause of Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheet Losses and also NASA Sees Arctic Ocean Circulation Do an About-Face

You can watch wind patterns in this time lapse animation, note how the ice has been pushed by winds and flowing down the east coast of Greenland:

Animation of Arctic sea-ice being pushed by wind patterns – CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW ANIMATION- Above image is not part of original story, but included to demonstrate the issue. Note that the animation is large, about 7 MB and may take awhile to load on your computer. It is worth the wait Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Dr. Meier also wrote:

This has very little implication for what will happen this summer, or  for the long-term trends, since the Bering Sea ice is thin and will melt completely well before the peak summer season.

There’s certainly no reason to disagree with the idea that much of the Bering Sea ice will melt this summer, it happens every year and has for millenia. But with a strong negative Arctic Oscillation this year, and a change in the wind, it is yet to be determined if Arctic Sea ice minimum for 2010 is anomalously low, and/or delayed from the usual time.

In 2009, WUWT noted it on September 15th: Arctic sea ice melt appears to have turned the corner for 2009

Dr. Mark Serreze of NSIDC offered some hopeful commentary in a press release back on October 6th 2009, but still pushes that “ice free summer” meme:

“It’s nice to see a little recovery over the past couple of years, but there’s no reason to think that we’re headed back to conditions seen in the 1970s,” said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze, also a professor in CU-Boulder’s geography department. “We still expect to see ice-free summers sometime in the next few decades.”

Remember this 2007 prediction from The Naval Postgraduate School?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7139797.stm

==============================

Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013′

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Arctic summer melting in 2007 set new records

Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.

Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss.

Summer melting this year reduced the ice cover to 4.13 million sq km, the smallest ever extent in modern times.

Remarkably, this stunning low point was not even incorporated into the model runs of Professor Maslowski and his team, which used data sets from 1979 to 2004 to constrain their future projections.

In the end, it will just melt away quite suddenly
Professor Peter Wadhams

“Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,” the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.”So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.”

===

Joe Romm wrote up a clever piece last year on this subject:

Exclusive: New NSIDC director Serreze explains the “death spiral” of Arctic ice, brushes off the “breathtaking ignorance” of blogs like WattsUpWithThat

June 5, 2009

I interviewed by email Dr. Mark Serreze, recently named director of The National Snow and Ice Data Center.  Partly I wanted him to explain his “death spiral” metaphor for Arctic ice

So now that Arctic ice has returned to normal extent and area, we eagerly await the explanation from the experts about how that fits into the “death spiral” theory.  Richard Feynman famously said “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.”

Time will tell. 2010 is looking promising for sea ice recovery again. After all, who wouldn’t want the Arctic Sea ice to recover? WUWT is predicting a recovery again this year, which we started mentioning as a prediction last fall.

So given what we know today, what will NSIDC highlight in their April Sea Ice News?

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | 3 Comments

Carbon Emissionaries

Anthony Watts | March 31, 2010

In 2005, the European Union (EU) put into place a carbon trading scheme. Prices for carbon permits promptly plunged, and have remained depressed since then. The price for a permit to emit a tonne of CO2 went from 21.59 Euros in 2005, to 17.28 in 2006, to 0.68 in 2007, to 2.16 in 2008, to 13.03 in 2009. Today, however, you will be glad to know that some academics declared the scheme a resounding success …

Say what? Here’s what Reuters News Service had to say:

(Reuters) – The European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is a success and its flaws have not harmed its basic aim of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, multi-national research showed on Friday.

Experts at French state bank Caisse des Depots, the Paris-Dauphine University, the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research in the United States and University College Dublin collaborated to evaluate the scheme’s trial period, which has widely been viewed as a failure.

The EU’s flagship carbon trading scheme requires companies to buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit. Carbon output is capped and the level is lowered year by year.

The scheme’s first trading phase ran from 2005 to 2007. Installations in the 27-nation bloc were over-allocated with carbon permits and the carbon price fell to zero.

The research concluded that although there were many problems in the first phase, they were overcome and did not hamper the scheme’s ultimate objective of reducing emissions. …   SOURCE

Now, as some of you might have noticed, I’m a suspicious fellow and I like to run the numbers myself. So, what numbers should we be looking at here?

After some thought, I decided that I would look at the change from the four years prior to the institution of the carbon trading scheme (2001 through 2004), to the first four years of the scheme (2005 through 2008). [Figures for 2009 are not yet available] That would let me see if things improved or got worse.

The most logical measures to look at, it seemed to me, were per capita fuel use and CO2 emissions . (Excel spreadsheet) Using per capita figures removes the effects of population changes .  If we just looked at fuel use, for example, a population increase would affect the fuel use. I didn’t want to be measuring the effect of population changes, so I used per capita figures.

Using those measures, I decided to compare the EU with the US. Their economies are of a comparable size and development. Since the US is the global CO2 pariah, and has no carbon trading scheme, that would give me a good baseline to compare with the EU performance.

Without further prologue, here are my results:

Figure 1. Percentage change from the period before the EU carbon trading scheme (average 2001-2004) to the period after the carbon trading scheme (average 2005-2008). All measurements are per capita.

By every single measure, the US has outperformed the EU. And the most telling point is that per capita, EU carbon dioxide emissions have increased since 2005 when the scheme started, while US carbon dioxide emissions have decreased. For a scheme designed to reduce emissions, that’s not good news.

The US did better by every measure than the EU, and did it without any restriction on carbon. Now perhaps some folks in a think-tank somewhere call that a whacking great success for the trading scheme … but not on my planet. Call me crazy, but my conclusion is that the EU carbon trading scheme was a failure.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

Museum of Tolerance Desecrates Graves

By John Taylor | March 31, 2010

Rabbi Marvin Hier’s Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance, part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is building a $150 million branch in Jerusalem. The Museum, whose mission is confronting “global anti-Semitism, extremism, hate … and promoting unity and respect among Jews and people of all faiths,” is being built atop part of the Mamilla Muslim cemetery, some of whose burials date to the 11th century. The graves, which may contain the remains of soldiers who fought with Saladin against the Crusaders, are being uprooted to make way for Rabbi Hier’s new museum.

More than a few commentators, including a number of Israelis and some of Israel’s friends in this country, have argued strongly that a Museum of Tolerance built literally upon the bones of Palestine’s indigenous Arab population is hypocritical, intolerant, and wholly absurd. A case could be made, however, that tearing out centuries-old Muslim graves and replacing them with an American-financed Museum of Tolerance symbolizes Zionist policy and practice toward the Palestinians from the birth of modern political Zionism a century ago down to the present day. It also exemplifies America’s role as an enabler of Israeli ethnic cleansing.

The new building certainly mirrors one of Zionism’s key objectives: driving out the Arabs and replacing them with newly minted Israelis from around the world. As Moshe Dayan once put it, “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. … Nahalal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu’a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” So even today only an Israel-centric narrative seems to matter, and all else in the Holy Land can be consigned to the dustbin of history, or, in the case of human remains from the Mamilla cemetery, excavated hastily with pickaxes and sledgehammers and tossed into cardboard boxes or crushed under the treads of bulldozers [.pdf].

Rabbi Hier, when trying to justify the choice of site for his Museum of Tolerance, likes to argue that it is being built on a municipal parking lot, not a cemetery, and that, in any case, Muslim religious authorities “desanctified” the area years ago. He also relishes saying that work on the museum proceeded only after the Israeli Supreme Court approved the project (true) and that that occurred when the Israeli Antiquities Authority released the site for construction upon completion of its excavations (not true).

A parking area was in fact part of the site selected for Hier’s project, but the Mamilla cemetery’s burials lay intact under its pavement. The chief archaeologist assigned to the museum site by the Antiquities Authority, Gideon Suleimani, declared [.pdf] after test pits were dug in November 2005 that “the entire area ‘abounded with graves,’ and that under the parking lot there was a crowded Muslim cemetery, containing 3 or 4 layers of graves.”

After starting to excavate the entire site, Suleimani recorded that representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center “who were seeking to establish facts on the ground” would visit the site “on a daily basis” to urge that excavations proceed more rapidly “to prevent the Muslims from halting the project.” These same representatives, according to Suleimani, even threatened to sue the Antiquities Authority if the project were delayed. The excavators began working 12 hours a day, six days a week.

With only 10 percent of the site completely excavated, 250 burials properly recorded, 200 skeletons exposed, but an estimated 2,000 graves remaining, archaeological work was halted. Unbeknownst to Suleimani, his superiors at the Antiquities Authority had notified the Supreme Court that “almost the entire area of the excavation has been released for construction, because it contains no further scientific data.” Hier’s museum received the Supreme Court’s blessing. All Suleimani could do was swear out an affidavit accusing his superiors of “archaeological crime” and the destruction of “an opportunity to study the history of Jerusalem over the last millennium.”

As for Rabbi Hier’s assertion that an Islamic court had desanctified the Mamilla cemetery in 1964, it is perhaps worth noting that Arabs in Israel were under martial law until 1966 and that the Israeli government appointed the members of that court. A more recent Islamic court ruling declared that Muslim cemeteries could never be officially abandoned [.pdf]. It seems a bit presumptive of Rabbi Hier to hold himself out as an expert on Sharia law. Clearly his opinions will never carry any weight with the Jerusalem Palestinians whose ancestors’ remains are being disinterred to make way for the Museum of Tolerance. One might also observe that the Wiesenthal Center, having spent years lobbying to expel a Carmelite nunnery from the grounds of Auschwitz, is somewhat inconsistent when it comes to deciding what constitutes desecration of graves.

Many will acknowledge that there is a painful conflict when the Wiesenthal Center builds a museum of tolerance atop an ancient cemetery. Hatred increases, and the stated objectives of the institution are likely to be frustrated. Somewhat less obvious, however, are the conflicting goals of the Wiesenthal Center itself. The Center’s “primary mission is to fight racism, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms and to promote civic discourse, social justice, tolerance, and mutual understanding” and to “teach the lessons of the Holocaust.” But along with these worthy objectives [.pdf] comes another goal – “to stand by Israel,” which in practice means defending Israel from any and all criticism, no matter how justified, about the way it treats Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular.

For example, Hier fully approves the now two-year-long Israeli siege of Gaza, which makes life miserable for the 1.5 million Palestinians confined on that small strip of land, the vast majority of whom are totally innocent of launching attacks on Israel. According to Hier, the tight blockade began when Gazans began to fire rockets into southern Israel, although Israel actually put the siege in place after the people of Gaza had the temerity to choose Hamas to represent them. Further, Hier supported last year’s ground campaign in Gaza, during which Israel attacked critical civilian infrastructure and UN facilities (including warehouses and schools), killed 1,400 people, and destroyed thousands of homes.

The language Hier chooses to justify the invasion is most revealing. He states that “even after Auschwitz” the world resents Israel defending itself, and he implies that rebuilding Gaza with Hamas in power would be akin to letting “a Fourth Reich … continue the policies of Adolf Hitler” and that the world’s reaction to the Israeli invasion shows that “the real lessons of World War II have yet to be learned.” Can Rabbi Hier actually be using the Holocaust as a weapon to defend Israel’s massive overkill and inhumane policies in Gaza? Had Hier himself and other friends of Israel actually learned the lessons of Holocaust, they would be supporting the Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are cold, hungry, living in miserable conditions, unemployed, and desperate.

Rabbi Hier is very sensitive to accusations that Israel has established an apartheid regime on the West Bank, and the Wiesenthal Center has attacked Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Although this is not the place for a nuanced discussion of the similarities between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the now-defunct South African regime, suffice it to say that Palestinians under occupation live a very different existence from their Israeli settler neighbors. Palestinians are subject to Israeli military rule, their movements are controlled by a network of check points, their lands and water resources are being stolen, and they have virtually no political rights. If the Wiesenthal Center’s “primary mission is to fight racism, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms,” it has manifestly failed on the West Bank and in Gaza.

The biggest difference between apartheid South Africa and Israel is that the Israelis depend upon a phalanx of friends abroad to permit them to circumvent international law and generally accepted standards of morality and fair play in their relationship with the Palestinians. The Simon Wiesenthal Center may claim the moral high ground, but it is just one of a large number of well-financed American institutions enabling Israeli bad behavior. That bad behavior has the most unfortunate additional effect of creating enemies for the United States across the Muslim world.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

Defacto State

Yaari argues that the Gaza campaign was a ‘punitive action.’
By Jim Miles | March 31, 2010

Part of the dilemma in Palestine is that the more the “peace” process is delayed, moving nowhere, the more Israel gains in the way of confiscated and settled land. There are two basic solutions: either a one state solution (whether bi-national or otherwise); or a two state solution with Palestine existing on some remnant of land left over from Israeli settlement. A recent combination of events/ideas has left me wondering if the one state solution is perhaps the only remaining solution if not the de facto situation now.

Christian Peacemakers

I recently attended a local presentation of Christian Peacemakers (CPT) on their experiences in Hebron in Palestine. The main presenter Johann Funk is a Mennonite who has been to Hebron several times recently. The CPT ideal as presented on their website is a powerful statement of intent:

“CPT embraces the vision of unarmed intervention waged by committed peacemakers ready to risk injury and death in bold attempts to transform lethal conflict through the nonviolent power of God’s truth and love.”

I was highly impressed with the stories presented, the actions of the team members, and the accuracy and depth of Johann’s historical knowledge and theological understanding. I am left with two general reactions. The first is the very positive impression of direct purposeful action of a non-violent but still very dangerous nature used to assist the people of Palestine as they try to survive the everyday suppression of their lives. It is however, one of the introductory images that remained with me the strongest, and it is an image I have seen before, but it keeps changing. That image was the juxtaposition of four maps of Israel/Palestine from before WW II to the present.

Small Green Dots

The first map – and I would expect that most readers are familiar with these maps – showed a small scattering of white dots representing the Jewish settlements mostly along the northern Mediterranean shores of the British Palestinian mandate. The next shows the demarcation lines as proposed by the UN, giving Israel 54% of the land. The third map is the familiar “green-line” map of the era before the 1967 war. The final map – and this is the one that keeps changing – shows what is left of actual Palestinian “controlled” territory. I use the word controlled, as the area is truly under the control of the IDF and its self-made military laws, supported by the “quisling government” [to quote Johann] of the Palestinian Authority.

What is left at the moment is a mere 12% of the original Palestinian territory, broken up into a gerrymandered arrangement of non-contiguous cantonments. These areas represent both refugee settlements from the 1947-48 and 1967 wars and indigenous settlements that have survived in one fashion or another the occupation of surrounding lands.

The 12% Solution – Not Possible

While I have seen the latter map many times before, the green dots this time appeared to be incongruously small and divided: a two state solution – at least from the appearances on the map – is no longer possible. Twelve per cent? Five million people? Scattered villages, refugee camps, water resources confiscated by Israel, farmlands being confiscated directly as military areas or through the archaic three year vacancy rule? Off limit roads bisecting communities? A huge wall snaking its way around, through and between areas of Palestinian land, creating barriers to all walks of life?

No, this scattered confined remnant could never be considered a state except in the fantasies of the upper netherworlds of politicians and religious fanatics. What is actually on the map is one state, the state of Israel, that has incorporated a series of cantonments into the fabric of its existence. These are not benign cantonments, but are harmful to both populations, assuredly much more harmful to the Palestinian population within the cantonments. It is full blown apartheid, except for the regular intrusions of the IDF.

I cannot see in any manner or form that these scattered remnants – without a good agricultural base, without proper water resources, with highly restricted movement not only outside but inside the remnants – could ever exist as a state. Israel, unwittingly, has created a single state solution – a defacto single state solution. What now exists is a single non-democratic state, using apartheid racist tactics to confine one segment of the population (and this is a population that is genetically identical to the original Jewish inhabitants of the land) to a series of what are essentially open air prisons.

Truce?

A day after the CPT meeting, I read an article in Foreign Affairs[1] that in general calls for an immediate truce between the Palestinians and Israel in order that the other problems may be worked out. Apart from being poorly written with scattered threads of arguments intertwining and interjecting one on the other, and really offering nothing new to the situation other than a rewording of ongoing practices and ideas, two main ideas remained from the presentation.

First is the thought that the Palestinians have several times not only offered a truce, but practiced what they preached and established unilateral truces. In particular with the recent Gaza war, it was Israel that broke the truce. The Palestinians were not faultless in this, but few truces (including the long standing one in Korea) have existed without violations from time to time.

The author, Ehud Yarri, argues that the truce would “constitute a major step towards ending the occupation, fundamentally reconfigure the conflict, and make the prospects for a final-status agreement far brighter than ever before.” Sounds great, but it is not significantly different than the ongoing stages of the non-existent peace process. It would not solve the Jerusalem settlements problems, nor discuss the right of return, nor the acceptance of the green line boundaries as the truce line would be “roughly to the lines of the existing security barrier.”

A “limited truce” would allow “further actions to isolate Hamas” and operate “under a national unity government led by the PA.” Yaari argues that the Gaza campaign was a “punitive action” that “compelled Hamas to accept a cease-fire without gaining any relaxation of the siege.” So Hamas, at one moment in time the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people (described here as a “setback), is to be isolated (and supposedly eliminated although that is not stated directly).

There is no recognition that Hamas had maintained a cease fire, and had offered a ‘hudna’ long before this article ever existed. To exclude a segment of the population is only to create or extend the hostility of that segment of the population – it is not a solution. Inclusion is a much better prospect, as one can now see in Afghanistan with the Taliban, as was done in Ireland, in South Africa, and with China in the WTO, and generally has a moderating effect on all political players.

Demographics

The second idea rising from the article is the always underlying but seldom stated fear of the changing demographics of the area, that if there was a one state solution the Palestinian population would overwhelm the Jewish population. At the moment in ‘Eretz Israel’, the populations are very close to being equal, with the Palestinian population having the higher birth rate.

Yaari’s fear is that “new concepts will begin to compete as alternatives” as “support for the two-state formula that currently exists will likely erode.” He sees this as a “stealth” tactic by the Palestinians, “accomplishing…the sort of Arab demographic dominance that Israeli leaders have for decades sought to avoid by occupying, rather than annexing, the Palestinian territories,” the latter would force Israel to “coexist alongside an Arab majority within the whole of Palestine.” What a novel idea – co-existence.

The greater fear is demographics:

“Israel must offer Palestinian statehood for less than peace before the Palestinians and their leaders abandon the two-state model altogether.”

De Facto Single State

That is the essence of the article. Unfortunately, looking at the map, looking at the population statistics, looking at the actions of the admitted “occupying” forces, the actual de facto arrangement is that of a single state. It is not a healthy state, but a rogue state, a failed state, a non-democratic state, an apartheid state, one that imprisons, oppresses, tortures and denies half its population any resemblance of a decent living.

Palestinians may wish for an independent state, but available information would indicate that Yaari’s fear, and the larger Jewish fear, of a single unitary state already exists. The problem then becomes where to go from here. Continue the pretence of providing – eventually, after more land is occupied and settled, effectively annexed – for a supposedly independent sovereign Palestinian state? Look for an excuse such as Iran to create a catastrophic event that would allow Israel to evict the Palestinians under the larger media publicity of a wider war with possible nuclear consequences? Or become much more humanitarian, living within the peaceful precepts of all faiths, and accept that two peoples who are essentially and biologically brothers and sisters, could live peacefully side by side in a greater democratic state?

- Jim Miles is a Canadian educator. Miles’ work is presented globally through alternative websites and news publications.

Notes:

[1] Ehud Yaari. “Armistice Now,” Foreign Affairs. March/April 2010, NY. pp. 50-62.
[2] Michael Brown, Ali Abunimah, and Nigel Parry. “Palestinian population exceeds Jewish population says U.S. government,” The Electronic Intifada, 1 March 2005.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Health workers and advocates support call for U of Arizona to divest

Press release, UA Health for Human Rights, 30 March 2010

The following press release was issued on 30 March 2010 by UA Health for Human Rights, an ad hoc group formed by the broader University Community for Human Rights, a student-led board leading divestment initiatives at the University of Arizona:

A joint group of more than 50 Jewish, Christian, Muslim and agnostic medical and health advocates of the Tucson and surrounding region, following student initiative, are calling on the University of Arizona to divest from corporations benefiting from the global health and humanitarian crisis in Palestine caused by Israel’s military occupation, supported by the United States.

In recent weeks the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the daily newspaper of the University of Arizona, exposed the business relationship between companies Motorola, Caterpillar and the University of Arizona, prompting the numerous health advocates to act. UA President Robert Shelton, for several months, refuses to seriously address the issue thereby dismissing students’ concerns and those of the broader Tucson human rights community. Since August of last year, students in University Community for Human Rights (UCHR), the group leading the campus call for divestment, have requested meetings with President Shelton; to date he has not granted their requests nor answered alternative requests for him to send representation on his behalf to meet with students about the issue.

Following through with an open letter released on Friday [26 March], 52 signers ranging from local physicians, medical professors, public health professionals, students and humanitarian aid workers have demanded an end to these contracts and relationships which violate University of Arizona’s own Policy on Corporate Relations and which contradict the UA’s overall mission, particularly that of its College of Medicine.

The signers endorsed the statement foremost as individuals of the University of Arizona/regional medical and health community, although many of them also represent participation in a diverse spectrum of prestigious medical and human rights activities. Some of the signers include Joyceen Boyle (PhD), former Associate Dean of the University of Arizona Nursing School and current Country Specialist on Amnesty International USA’s Central American Coordination Group; Barbara Warren (MD), National Board of Directors member of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Carolyn Trowbridge (RN), member of the University of Arizona’s University Committee for Monitoring Labor and Human Rights Issues; also numerous aid workers of local humanitarian organizations No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes and Tucson Samaritans: Hannah Hafter, Nancy Murphy, Sarah Roberts, Annie Swanson, Maryada Vallet, Jim Walsh; as well as student leaders Natasha Bhuyan and Allison Lowe (med students) of progressive University of Arizona group Medical Students for Choice; and Enas Tamimi, officer of University of Arizona Students for Justice in Palestine (undergraduate, Nutritional Sciences).

According to students Gabriel Matthew Schivone and Hali Nurnberg, co-directors of University of Arizona Community for Human Rights: “The actions of these courageous doctors and health advocates demonstrate the uncontroversial human rights consensus on the US/Israel-Palestine conflict; they suggest how to help attain a peaceful resolution, that is to say, implementing the sort of international nonviolent divestment activism that helped end apartheid South Africa’s acts of regional aggression and occupation throughout the latter half of the 20th century … When all the Israeli human rights groups, all the Palestinian human rights groups, all the international human rights groups are saying the same thing, namely, that Israel regularly violates the rights of Palestinians under occupation, suggesting that the occupation is detrimental to the health and safety of everyone it touches — both Palestinian and Israeli — the world is compelled to listen.”

This initiative follows the historic resolution recently passed on Thursday, 18 March by the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley, in support of financial divestment from two companies associated with their university for the companies’ connection to human rights abuses committed by Israel in its US-backed military occupation of Palestine. On 25 February 2010 a similar bill was passed by the student government of the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus. Last year, Hampshire College became the first college or university to financially divest from the occupation. This past September, Norway became the first state to obey the July 2004 ruling by the United Nations International Court of Justice which proclaimed upon the entire international community “not to render aid or assistance in maintaining” the “illegal situation created” by Israel’s separation wall which cuts and divides Palestinian lands and communities. Divestment movements led by students, trade unions, private sector firms and other members of civil society are active in dozens of countries throughout the world.

All of the above actions occur following the 2005 call by a consensus of more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for initiatives of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. On Tuesday, 30 March 2010, Palestinian civil society is calling on people of conscience throughout the world for a Global BDS Day of Action.

In Tucson, numerous groups, both on and off campus, have joined together to issue their calls on the University of Arizona to divest, including University of Arizona National Lawyers Guild, Social Justice League, Students for Justice in Palestine, Muslim Students Association, Tucson Women in Black, Jobs With Justice (Tucson chapter), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Tucson chapter), Tierra Y Libertad Organization, Casa Maria Catholic Worker House/Soup Kitchen, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, International Solidarity Movement (Arizona Chapter) and many others.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

IOF assaults on Land Day demos: 4 youths shot at close range

Eva Bartlett | In Gaza | March 31, 2010

Four non-violent demonstrators were shot at close range with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers during six simultaneous protests throughout the Gaza Strip commemorating “Land Day”.

Three of those injured come from Khoza’a, a village east of Khan Younis in Gaza’s south. The fourth, from Deir al Balah, was participating in a peaceful demonstration east of Meghazi, central Gaza.

The Khoza’a demonstration neared the border shortly after 12 noon. Israeli jeeps stopped along the Green Line border, their number increasing quickly. Israeli soldiers exited their jeeps and assumed sniper positions on a raised dirt mound and along the border fence.

Jemah Najjar, 22, was the first to fasten a Palestinian flag to the border fence in today’s demonstration. He was also the first injured in the Khoza’a region, roughly 10 minutes after he had placed the flag on the fence, he estimates.

Israeli soldiers repeatedly opened fire on the very visibly unarmed demonstrators, without any verbal warning, nor without warning shots in the air.

Pieces of the IOF bullet which struck Jemah Najjar are still lodged in his head. He will require an operation to remove them, if it is possible.

Walla’a Najjar, 18, was shot just above the kneecap by an IOF soldier at close range.

“I saw the soldier who shot me. He didn’t give any warning, just shot me right away.”

Walla’a Najjar is fortunate that the bullet did not hit an artery, although as it was he was bleeding heavily. Doctors say his leg has been fractured by the bullet. Palestinian medics confirm that in their experience Israeli soldiers routinely aim for the upper thigh area where an artery lies. If not treated quickly, victims can bleed to death from an artery injury.

Hani Najjar, 17, also has bullet shrapnel in his body. “The Israeli soldier was lying on a dirt mound across from us. He fired at me without warning.”

The bullet, fired from a distance of roughly less than 50 metres, hit below Hani Najjar’s knee. He will need an operation to remove the multiple pieces of shrapnel deeply embedded in his flesh. He had planned on attending the demonstration and continuing on to his nearby high school.

Fellow protestors carried the injured roughly half a kilometer to a place which ambulances could access. The border region is notoriously dangerous for all, including medics who under international law should have unheeded access to the injured. But through experience, medics in Gaza know they cannot reach victims in the border regions.

Mohammed Ot’ti, 21, from Deir al Balah, was in a demonstration further north along the border, east of Meghazi camp, central Gaza.

Ot’ti was the first to place a flag on the fence in his demonstration and was shot immediately after by an Israeli soldier, at close range.

“Last time they shouted at us and mostly fired in the air,” Ot’ti said, referring to last week’s demo in Waddi Salqqa. “This time, they didn’t say anything or give any warning. They just shot me.”

Like the others, Ot’ti says when he is healed, he’ll resume going to the demonstrations.

Mahmoud Az Zaq, co-coordinator of the Committee Against the Buffer Zone, said: “The Israelis should have fired warning shots, but instead they just shot directly at the youths”

Ma’an news reports that an Israeli military spokesman said an investigation showed “soldiers operated in accordance with accepted dispersal procedures,” in regards to the IOF violence against unarmed protestors.

To commemorate Land day, the Committee Against the Buffer Zone and the Local Initiative from Beit Hanoun organized 6 protests, in Rafah, Khoza’a, Meghazi, Karni, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.

Land Day remembers the murder of six Palestinians 34 years ago who were themselves protesting the Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

Today’s protests are the latest in demonstrations growing in frequency and numbers, protesting the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” and calling for the rights of Palestinians to work and live on their land, without threat of being shot or abducted by Israeli soldiers.

In May 2009, Israeli planes leafleted “buffer zone” areas re-iterating the Israeli imposition of a 300 metre off-limits area, within which anyone is subject to Israeli fire. In reality, Israeli soldiers shoot up to 2 km on farmers and civilians on their land, including children and women.

In Land Day commemorations yesterday and today, Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine tended olive and fruit trees, dressed in traditional Palestinian clothing, danced Dabke and showed the Palestinian spirit which until now has not been quashed by Israeli brutality.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Mike McConnell, the Washington Post & the dangers of sleazy corporatism

By Glenn Greenwald | March 29, 2010

In a political culture drowning in hidden conflicts of interests, exploitation of political office for profit, and a rapidly eroding wall separating the public and private spheres, Michael McConnell stands out as the perfect embodiment of all those afflictions.  Few people have blurred the line between public office and private profit more egregiously and shamelessly than he.  McConnell’s behavior is the classic never-ending “revolving door” syndrome:  public officials serve private interests while in office and are then lavishly rewarded by those same interests once they leave.  He went from being head of the National Security Agency under Bush 41 and Clinton directly to Booz Allen, one of the nation’s largest private intelligence contractors, then became Bush’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI), then went back to Booz Allen, where he is now Executive Vice President.

But that’s the least of what makes McConnell such a perfect symbol for the legalized corruption that dominates Washington.  Tellingly, his overarching project while at Booz Allen and in public office was exactly the same:  the outsourcing of America’s intelligence and surveillance functions (including domestic surveillance) to private corporations, where those activities are even more shielded than normal from all accountability and oversight and where they generate massive profit at the public expense.  Prior to becoming Bush’s DNI, McConnell, while at Booz Allen, was chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, the primary business association of NSA and CIA contractors devoted to expanding the privatization of government intelligence functions.

Then, as Bush’s DNI, McConnell dramatically expanded the extent to which intelligence functions were outsourced to the same private industry that he long represented.  Worse, he became the leading spokesman for demanding full immunity for lawbreaking telecoms for their participation in Bush’s illegal NSA programs — in other words, he exploited “national security” claims and his position as DNI to win the dismissal of lawsuits against the very lawbreaking industry he represented as INSA Chairman, including, almost certainly, Booz Allen itself.  Having exploited his position as DNI to lavishly reward and protect the private intelligence industry, he then returns to its loving arms to receive from them lavish personal rewards of his own.

It’s vital to understand how this really works:  it isn’t that people like Mike McConnell move from public office to the private sector and back again.  That implies more separation than really exists.  At this point, it’s more accurate to view the U.S. Government and these huge industry interests as one gigantic, amalgamated, inseparable entity — with a public division and a private one.  When someone like McConnell goes from a top private sector position to a top government post in the same field, it’s more like an intra-corporate re-assignment than it is changing employers.  When McConnell serves as DNI, he’s simply in one division of this entity and when he’s at Booz Allen, he’s in another, but it’s all serving the same entity (it’s exactly how insurance giant Wellpoint dispatched one of its Vice Presidents to Max Baucus’ office so that she could write the health care plan that the Congress eventually enacted).

In every way that matters, the separation between government and corporations is nonexistent, especially (though not only) when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State.  Indeed, so extreme is this overlap that even McConnell, when he was nominated to be Bush’s DNI, told The New York Times that his ten years of working “outside the government,” for Booz Allen, would not impede his ability to run the nation’s intelligence functions.  That’s because his Booz Allen work was indistinguishable from working for the Government, and therefore — as he put it — being at Booz Allen “has allowed me to stay focused on national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant. Therefore, in many respects, I never left.”

As the NSA scandal revealed, private telecom giants and other corporations now occupy the central role in carrying out the government’s domestic surveillance and intelligence activities — almost always in the dark, beyond the reach of oversight or the law.  As Tim Shorrock explained in his definitive 2007 Salon piece on the relationship between McConnell, Booz Allen, and the intelligence community, in which (to no avail) he urged Senate Democrats to examine these relationships before confirming McConnell as Bush’s DNI:

[Booz Allen's] website states that the Booz Allen team “employs more than 10,000 TS/SCI cleared personnel.” TS/SCI stands for top secret-sensitive compartmentalized intelligence, the highest possible security ratings. This would make Booz Allen one of the largest employers of cleared personnel in the United States.

Among those on Booz Allen’s payroll are former CIA Director and neoconservative extremist James Woolsey, George Tenet’s former Chief of Staff Joan Dempsey, and Keith Hall, the former director of the National Reconnaissance Office, the super-secret organization that oversees the nation’s spy satellites.  As Shorrock wrote:  “Under McConnell’s watch, Booz Allen has been deeply involved in some of the most controversial counterterrorism programs the Bush administration has run, including the infamous Total Information Awareness data-mining scheme” and “is almost certainly participating in the agency’s warrantless surveillance of the telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens.”  For more details on the sprawling and overlapping relationships between McConnell, Booz Allen, the INSA, the Government and the private intelligence community, see Shorrock’s interview with Democracy Now and his 2008 interview with me.

Aside from the general dangers of vesting government power in private corporations — this type of corporatism (control of government by corporations) was the hallmark of many of the worst tyrannies of the last century — all of this is big business beyond what can be described.  The attacks of 9/11 exploded the already-huge and secret intelligence budget.  Shorrock estimates that “about 50 percent of this spending goes directly to private companies” and “spending on intelligence since 2002 is much higher than the total of $33 billion the Bush administration paid to Bechtel, Halliburton and other large corporations for reconstruction projects in Iraq.”

* * * * *

All of that is crucial background for understanding just how pernicious and deceitful is the Op-Ed published this weekend by The Washington Post and authored by McConnell.  The overarching theme is all-too-familiar:  we face a grave threat from Terrorists and other Very Bad People (“cyber wars”), and our only hope for protection is to vest the Government with massive new powers.  Specifically, McConnell advocates a so-called “reeingeer[ing] of the Internet” to allow the Government and private corporations far greater capability to track what is being done over the Internet and who is doing it:

The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing. It’s that simple. . . . If an enemy disrupted our financial and accounting transactions, our equities and bond markets or our retail commerce — or created confusion about the legitimacy of those transactions — chaos would result. Our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy as well.

Scary!  And what do we need to submit to in order to avoid these calamaties?  This:

The United States must also translate our intent into capabilities. We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options — and we must be able to do this in milliseconds.  More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable.

In one sense, this is just typical fear-mongering of the type the National Security State has used for decades to beat frightened Americans into virtually full-scale submission:  you are in grave danger and you can be safe only by vesting in us far greater power, which we’ll operate in secret:  here, allowing us to “reengineer” the Internet so we can control it.

Think about how dangerous that power is in relationship to the war I wrote about this weekend being waged on WikiLeaks, which allows the uploading of leaked, secret documents that expose the corruption of the world’s most powerful interests.  This “reengineering of the Internet” proposed by McConnell would almost certainly enable the easy tracing of anyone who participates.  It would, by design, destroy the ability of anyone to participate or communicate in any way on the Internet under the shield of anonymity.  Wired‘s Ryan Singel — noting that “the biggest threat to the open internet is . . .  Michael McConnell” — documents the dangers from this “cyber-war” monitioring policy and how much momentum there now is in the Executive and Legislative branches for legislation to implement it (as a result of initiatives that began during the Bush era, under McConnell, and which continue unabated).

But there’s something even worse going on here.  McConnell doesn’t merely want to empower the Government to control the Internet this way; he wants to empower private corporations to do so — the same corporations which pay him and whose interests he has long served.   He notes that this “reengineering” is already possible because “the technologies are already available from public and private sources,” and explicitly calls for a merger of the NSA with private industry to create a sprawling, omnipotent network for monitoring the Internet:

To this end, we must hammer out a consensus on how to best harness the capabilities of the National Security Agency, which I had the privilege to lead from 1992 to 1996.   The NSA is the only agency in the United States with the legal authority, oversight and budget dedicated to breaking the codes and understanding the capabilities and intentions of potential enemies. The challenge is to shape an effective partnership with the private sector so information can move quickly back and forth from public to private — and classified to unclassified — to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.

We must give key private-sector leaders (from the transportation, utility and financial arenas) access to information on emerging threats so they can take countermeasures. For this to work, the private sector needs to be able to share network information — on a controlled basis — without inviting lawsuits from shareholders and others. . . .

[T]the reality is that while the lion’s share of cybersecurity expertise lies in the federal government, more than 90 percent of the physical infrastructure of the Web is owned by private industry. Neither side on its own can mount the cyber-defense we need; some collaboration is inevitable. Recent reports of a possible partnership between Google and the government point to the kind of joint efforts — and shared challenges — that we are likely to see in the future.

No doubt, such arrangements will muddy the waters between the traditional roles of the government and the private sector. We must define the parameters of such interactions, but we should not dismiss them. Cyberspace knows no borders, and our defensive efforts must be similarly seamless.

In other words, not only the Government, but the private intelligence corporations which McConnell represents (and which are subjected to no oversight), will have access to virtually unfettered amounts of information and control over the Internet, and there should be “no borders” between them.  And beyond the dangerous power that will vest in the public-private Surveillance State, it will also generate enormous profits for Booz Allen, the clients it serves and presumably for McConnell himself — though The Washington Post does not bother to disclose any of that to its readers.  The Post basically allowed McConnell to publish in its Op-Ed pages a blatant advertisement for the private intelligence industry while masquerading as a National Security official concerned with Keeping America Safe.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the “cyber-war” policies for which McConnell is shilling is the top priority of the industry he serves.  Right this very minute, the front page of the intelligence industry’s INSA website (previously chaired by McConnell) trumpets the exact public-private merger for “cyber-war” policies which McConnell uses the Post to advocate:

The Report just published by that that industry group (.pdf) is entitled “Addressing Cyber Security Through Public-Private Partnership.”  The industry’s Report sounds like a virtually exact replica of what McConnell just published in the Post:  America is under grave threat and can Stay Safe only by transferring huge amounts of public funds to these private corporations in order to restructure the Internet to allow better detection and monitoring.  And look at the truly Orwellian and unintentionally revealing logo under which the Report is written:  showing a complete linkage of Government institutions (such as Congress and regulatory agencies), the Surveillance State, private intelligence corporations, and the Internet (click on image to enlarge):

Readers of The Washington Post, exposed to McConnell’s Op-Ed, would know none of this.  They would think that they were reading the earnest National Security recommendations of a former top military and government official, and would have no idea about the massive profit motives driving him.  Although the Op-Ed, at the end, identifies McConnell as “executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, which consults on cybersecurity for the private and public sector” (as well as a former NSA head, DNI, and retired Admiral), there’s no hint that Booz Allen, its multiple clients, and the industry it represents (along with McConnell himself) would stand to benefit greatly from the very policies he advocates in The Post.  Indeed, just like the INSA, the Booz Allen website, at the top, this very minute promotes the exact policies McConnell advocates:

So here we have a perfect merger of (a) exploiting public office for personal profit, (b) endless increases in the Surveillance State achieved through rank fear-mongering, (c) the rapid elimination of any line between the public and private sectors, and (d) individuals deceitfully posing as “objective commentators” who are, in fact, manipulating our political debates on behalf of undisclosed interests.

And, as usual, it is our nation’s largest media outlets (in this case The Washington Post) which provide the venue for these policies to be advocated and glorified, all the while not only failing to expose — but actively obscuring — the bulging conflicts of interests that drive them.  While “news” outlets distract Americans with the petty partisan dramas of the day, these factions — whose power is totally impervious to changes in party control — continue to expand their stranglehold on how the Government functions in ways that fundamentally alter our core privacy and liberties, and radically expand the role private corporations and government power play in our lives.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | 1 Comment

CPT report corroborates family account of child arrest

Ma’an – 31/03/2010
A photo of Suhad provided by her father [MaanImages]

Bethlehem – A report from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron confirmed reports of the detention of a 13-year-old girl by Israeli forces last week.

At the time, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no knowledge of the incident, which was left uncorroborated until a CPT report was released on Thursday.

According to the report, “At about 5:45pm , CPTers followed four soldiers as they entered the girl’s home and ordered the entire family to the roof. Once on the roof, a fifth soldier from a permanent post on a neighboring Israeli settler home ordered the family’s three teenage daughters to one side of the roof.

“The soldier singled out the 13-year-old and accused her of throwing a stone. The girl’s mother protested saying that minutes before she had notified this soldier of settlers throwing stones at her as she hung her laundry and that he had seen settlers throwing stones. She was dumbfounded that the soldier’s response was to call another unit of soldiers to detain her daughter.

“Two more units of soldiers arrived at the house before escorting the girl out of her home. The girl’s aunt attempted to prevent the soldiers from taking the girl by linking arms with her and refusing to let go. After a five-minute stand off, soldiers stated that the aunt could accompany the girl and the group of eighteen soldiers escorted them both away to a military jeep. Israeli police arrived, arrested the girl and took her and her aunt to a police station for questioning and fingerprints.”

Ma’an had identified the child as Suhad Al-Ewaiwi, whose father contacted the Palestinian Prisoners Society shortly after his daughter was taken from their home. Lawyer with the society, Muhammad Shahin, said he called Israeli police, who told him settlers accused the girl of throwing stones at them.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

French justice minister threatens Israel critics with jail

Press TV – March 31, 2010

Pro-Palestinian solidarity groups in France have been threatened by the French justice minister with legal action, after they stepped up a campaign of boycotts against Israeli goods.

On March 30, Palestinian Land Day, French activists held large rallies across the country and joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel.

Thousands of people held a protest in Paris in solidarity with Palestinians and urged the imposition of sanctions on Israeli products. The protesters took to the streets and large supermarkets and called on shoppers to boycott Israeli products.

This prompted an outburst from the French Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, who called on the judiciary to prosecute the critics of Israel on the pretext of “racial discrimination,” although many Jewish people are also active in the BDS campaign to end Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinians, press TV correspondent Mark Votier reported.

The justice minister’s threat drew thousand people to sign a BDS petition protesting against the violation of their right to free expression and association, enshrined in various legal instruments including the European Convention on Human Rights.

“I do not wish to be arrested but if the minister considers us to be criminals and wants to arrests us, she can. We are here to show our solidarity with Palestinians and especially with the people of Gaza who are suffering terribly,” Nichole Kiil Nielsen, member of European parliament told Press TV.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

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