Israeli warplanes bombed areas across the Gaza Strip early Friday, injuring at least three children, according to news outlets. Although the Israeli military claims that the targets were weapons-manufacturing plants and arms caches, Ma’an, Al Jazeera, Haaretz, and YNet are reporting that the Israeli air force struck civilian sites, including a metal factory in a refugee camp and the Daloul cheese and dairy factory in Gaza City.
The targeting of the means of sustenance for the civilian population in Gaza is an area that Judge Richard Goldstone focused on in his United Nations report on the Israeli assault on Gaza. I assume the crude logic behind the targeting of a cheese and dairy factory in the heart of Gaza is part of putting “Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,” as Dov Weisglass, an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said, in explaining the suffocating blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Goldstone reported on the destruction of the el-Bader flourmill and the Sawafeary chicken farms. The section where Goldstone deals with these attacks can be found on pages 199-206 of his report.
On the destruction of the flour mill, the report states, “that the destruction of the mill was carried out for the purpose of denying sustenance to the civilian population, which is a violation of customary international law as reflected in article 54 (2) of Additional Protocol I and may constitute a war crime.”
More broadly, the report found, “as a result of its actions to destroy food and water supplies and infrastructure, Israel has violated article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”
I wonder what the esteemed jurist would say about this attack on the cheese and dairy factory. We know what Israel will say: “Cheese and dairy factories are part of the Hamas terror infrastructure,” or “cheese and dairy can be used to make bombs,” or “rockets with cheese and dairy attached are particularly dangerous.”
“That’s it, baby — strut! The camera loves you!” In a familiar bit of Homeland Security Theater, a law enforcement officer, his arms decorated with gangbanger-style tattoos, swaggers through a search of alleged Hutaree militia member Thomas Piatek’s home in Hammond, Indiana.
When the stranger materialized a few years ago, nobody really knew much about him. He seemed like a suitably sympathetic figure and quickly ingratiated himself by offering whatever help he could. No task was too menial for him, and he had a way of finding just what the group needed right when it was required.
Most importantly, he seemed to share the group’s antipathy toward the government. If anything, he was just a bit more emphatic than the rest in denouncing official corruption and endorsing violent “direct action” against the state. He seemed eager to shepherd the group in a more militant direction, eagerly out-bidding every expression of outrage and hostility. One of his favorite recurring themes was the idea that a criminal state could only be fought through the use of criminal means.
When the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) staged an armed raid to arrest several members of the group, the helpful stranger was nowhere to be found. He did leave a parting gift, however, in the form of detailed allegations recorded in a federal indictment alleging that the group he had infiltrated on behalf of the JTTF was involved in extensive criminal activity — most of which was either suggested or directly facilitated by him — and an ambitious plot to wage war against the United States Government.
In broad outline, this is what most likely happened within Michigan’s Hutaree militia during the past couple of years, a period during which — as federal authorities now admit — the group was infiltrated by both an undercover FBI agent and a “cooperating witness.”
One of the FBI’s plants, significantly, “posed as someone who could provide the group with custom-made explosives,” observes the Detroit News.
That revelation is critical, since it means that the alleged plot to manufacture of improvised explosive devices — referred to, with hysterical hyperbole typical of the Regime’s pronouncements, as “weapons of mass destruction” — was quite possibly instigated by the FBI’s informant/provocateur.
The “Hutaree Conspiracy” was the second installment in the FBI’s ongoing Homeland Security Theater in Michigan. The Bureau’s campaign against the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Dearborn followed almost exactly the same script. The final act of that earlier melodrama was an October 28, 2009 FBI raid against several of the mosque’s adherents that ended with the death of its imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah.
Initial reports claimed that Abdullah was killed in a “shootout” or “exchange of gunfire” with the Feds in a warehouse allegedly containing stolen goods. The word “execution” might be a more appropriate description in light of the fact that Abdullah was shot at least twenty times, including an entry wound in his back and an oddly specific grouping in and around the genital region.
The imam allegedly provoked the federal fusillade by shooting one of the FBI’s “K9 agents.” Significantly, the official autopsy report — a document actively suppressed by the Dearborn Police Department for more than three months — describes a series of “lacerations” (also described by Wayne County Chief Medical Examiner Carl Schmitt as “puncture wounds”) that are consistent with being mauled by a dog.
It’s possible Abdullah shot the dog to protect himself. It’s also possible that he never fired a shot, and the dog stepped in front of one or more round intended for Abdullah. The official FBI narrative is that “Freddy,” the Belgian Malinois killed during the raid, “gave his life in the line of duty” on behalf of “his team.” The dog was buried in a solemn ritual and his name was added to the FBI’s “memorial wall.”
We’ll never know the exact circumstances of “Freddy” death. This much has been clearly established, however: Abdullah bled to death with his hands cuffed behind his back while the FBI took the time to arrange an emergency medical airlift for their attack dog.
The most favorable construction one can put on this set of facts is that the feds handcuffed a helpless man who had been perforated by at least twenty gunshots. A grimmer possibility is that he was handcuffed before he was shot. In either case, this juxtaposition — a handcuffed man bleeds to death while his assailants arrange emergency medical treatment for their dog — reeks of some malodorous combination of depraved indifference and concentrated malice.
Despite the fact that both the investigation of the mosque and the raid were conducted by the local Joint Terrorism Task Force, no terrorism-related charges were filed against any of the ten men listed in the criminal complaint. The charges include “conspiracy” counts arising from an alleged plot to receive and sell “goods that defendants believed were stolen from interstate shipments”; one count of mail fraud; three counts related to possession of firearms or body armor by a felon; and tampering with automobile VIN numbers.
Attendees of Abdullah’s mosque included many men who had served time behind bars. As a younger man, Abdullah was convicted of assault. Like many of this followers and countless thousands of others scattered across the country, Abdullah was converted to radical Islam within the world’s largest and most lavishly funded madrassa — the federal prison system. His friends and supporters insist that Abdullah, despite his criminal history, was a caring, pious, and generous man. The mosque ran a soup kitchen and was involved in other forms of charitable outreach to the economically blighted neighborhood.
Omar Regan at the funeral of Luqman Abdullah.
Abdullah was expansively hostile toward the government and deeply suspicious of the police — what rational person isn’t?– but those who knew him well insist he consistently rejected aggressive violence of any kind.
“My father was a sharp-tongued individual,” recalls Omar Reagan, a Los Angeles-based comedian and motivational speaker. “He would talk about his dislike of government — about how law enforcement wasn’t protecting and serving the people. But speaking his emotions and acting on his emotions are two different things.”
The “evidence” presented in the criminal complaint unsealed after Abdullah was killed shows that he encouraged his followers to acquire the skills to employ defensive violence to protect themselves from both private and government-employed criminals. He also explicitly and repeatedly refused to condone aggressive action against anyone.
FBI Counter-Terrorism Agent Gary Leone, the author of the affidavit, hurls speculative allegations with the exuberant glee of a caged monkey flinging feces at spectators.
In substantive terms, his criminal complaint deals with a small fencing operation. However, where “anti-government” groups are concerned, the FBI appears to suffer from an institution-wide case of Munchausen by proxy syndrome; this may be why the bureaucratic incentives under which Leone operates dictate that every molehill be described as if it were of Himalayan proportions. Accordingly, Abdullah and his followers are portrayed as nothing less than hardened, battle-ready shock troops of the global jihad:
“The investigation has shown that Luqman Ameen Adbullah, Imam of the Masjid Al-Haqq … is a highly placed leader of a nationwide fundamentalist Sunni group consisting primarily of African-Americans…. Their primary mission is to establish a separate, sovereign Islamic state (`The Ummah’) within the borders of the United States, governed by Shariah law….. [Abdullah] regularly preaches anti-government and anti-law enforcement rhetoric. Abdullah and his followers have trained regularly in the use of firearms, and continue to train in martial arts and sword fighting…. Abdullah preaches that every Muslim should have a weapon, and should not be sacred to use their weapon when needed.”
Even if every word of that summation were accurate, none of what is described above constitutes a crime — a fact Leone tacitly acknowledged by declining to file terrorism or sedition charges.
Furthermore, the inflammatory dicta in Leone’s complaint (which consumes 29 of the document’s 45 pages) artfully misrepresents Abdullah’s views regarding the legitimate use of violence, as those views were summarized by Leone’s snitches within the mosque. The most striking example of Leone’s dishonesty deals with an attempt by one of his assets to entrap Abdullah into endorsing terrorist violence.
“Confidential Source S-2,” a JTTF plant who allegedly recorded conversations with Abdullah, admits that he offered $5,000 to instigate some kind of criminal violence during the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. According to Leone’s own summary of the incident, “Abdullah said he would not be involved in injuring innocent people for no reason.”
“Confidential Source S-3″ alleges that Abdullah described how Abdul Samoor, one of his followers, “printed out several things from the internet including Al-Qaeda training camp materials. Abdullah said he told Saboor to throw them away and cautioned him not to look at things on the internet.” This — like most of the “evidence” assembled by Leone — was hearsay, but it actually works against the FBI’s interest by underscoring Abdullah’s refusal to endorse Islamic terrorism.
“S-3″ also describes a conversation during a trip to Alabama in which Abdullah commented that he “didn’t agree with bombing civilian targets such as buses, which occur in Israel and the West Bank, but said it is fine to bomb police stations.
The awkward diction here suggests that Abdullah was referring specifically to actions taken by Palestinians and drawing a distinction — for whatever it might be worth — between terrorist attacks on helpless civilians and what he perceived as defensive insurgent warfare against armed personnel carrying out a military occupation.
One of the most critical disclosures offered by “S-3″ deals with a reported conversation on June 19, 2009, in which the imam told an associate that he knew someone in his mosque was “working for the FBI…. Abdullah said that he is hopeful that anyone who is working for the Feds will come to the mosque often to pray, will see the error of his ways, and admit he has been working with the Feds.”
Abdullah’s conciliatory remarks came on the same day he supposedly said that he would kill anybody “trying to gather information on him.” Leone accounts for this contradiction by claiming that the wily imam knew he was being “listened to and targeted by law enforcement so he intentionally [made] conflicting statements in order to protect himself.”
How can we tell which reported statements are sincere? Ah, this is easy, Leone would insist: We should dismiss anything that appears moderate and responsible as posturing, and assume that anything incendiary and self-incriminating represented Abdullah’s genuine intentions.
The problem here is that all of the “consensually recorded” comments that are directly quoted in the criminal complaint are entirely innocuous. It is only when one of the confidential informants is paraphrasing Abdullah that we are barraged with shockingly detailed references to alleged criminal acts and criminal plots.
Furthermore, the “direct” quotes are not complete: Nearly all of them contain strategically placed ellipses indicating the removal of potentially critical details. Presenting them as direct evidence would be tantamount to perjury through selective editing. And as we’ve seen, even the accounts provided by Leone’s pet provocateurs contain compelling evidence that Abdullah — whatever he may have planned or done — was not an aspiring terrorist.
Abdullah was infuriated by the wars of aggression being waged by the Regime in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was also convinced that the FBI was an enemy of American Muslims. Notwithstanding his passionate outrage, and despite Leone’s efforts to depict him as an exponent of aggressive jihad, Abdullah — as described in the complaint — endorsed violence only for defensive purposes.
“They [are] smashing the Muslims all over the world and then we sit here like everything is all right,” stated Abdullah in an October 10, 2008 conversation surreptitiously recorded by “S-3.” “`Just leave us alone.’ I mean, no. Everything isn’t all right. Matter of fact, you better get up from over there and leave them people alone, man. You [are] wrong. It’s no threat from the Muslims here. The Muslims here are saying, you know, `Hey, just let us live here and [unintelligible], that’s the only thing they [are] worried about…. That’s no good, man.”
For Leone, the take-away here is that Abdullah maintained “it is not all right to simply get along with kuffars,” or non-Muslims — the insinuation being that Abdullah endorsed militancy and revenge. But Abdullah’s discursive remarks actually read like a plea for Washington to desist from its aggression against Muslims abroad, and respect the wishes of American Muslims to be left alone. Those are the sentiments of someone weary of armed violence, rather than someone eagerly courting confrontation.
Abdullah’s desire to be left in peace was captured in recorded comments recorded by “S-3″ on November 30, 2008. The conversation dealt with the activities of federal agents, who — according to Abdullah — were “just terrorizing the people.”
“It’s a whole organized effort,” he asserted. “Organized effort to betray you. But not just you, other people too. It’s not just, just Muslims”; it’s also people like “McVeigh and them” — meaning, apparently, non-Muslim “anti-government extremists” targeted for infiltration and manipulation by the FBI.
“It’s no question about, he [McVeigh] was involved in getting that stuff done,” Abdullah continued. “Even though they [McVeigh and "others unknown"] did what they did, they probably was irked on, and supported in everything, by the FBI.” After all, he pointed out, the “first World Trade Center bombing was the FBI.”
Bear in mind that Abdullah was describing the FBI’s documented history of orchestrating terrorist plots to an FBI informant-provocateur. I’m sufficiently cynical to suspect that this could be what got him killed.
Sure, he’s an FBI bureaucrat, but what he really wants to do is direct: Special Agent Andrew Arena, the choreographer of at least two ersatz “terrorism” plots in the Detroit area.
Within a few weeks of that conversation, FBI undercover operatives began a series of ten clandestine operations intended to entice members of Abdullah’s congregation into a plot to steal and fence stolen property.
All of those staged pseudo-crimes were instigated by the FBI’s assets, who also arranged for the “stolen” goods to be stored at a Dearborn warehouse that was rented by the FBI.
It was in that warehouse that Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a man once known as Christopher Thomas, an ex-con who understood how the FBI’s infiltration and provocation racket worked, was shot at least twenty times before bleeding to death with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Although nobody was killed when the FBI rolled up the Hutaree militia, the Bureau’s campaign against that “Christian militia” was struck from the same template used against Abdullah’s followers. Several of the Hutaree militiamen were seized at an FBI-controlled warehouse
where they had gathered — unarmed — to attend what they had been told was a “memorial service.”
The FBI’s investigative accomplishments are criminally overrated, but in arranging
ersatz terrorist plots it displays choreography skills that put the late Bob Fosse to shame. Recent events in Michigan suggest that the Bureau is staging a revival of its Hoover-era production, COINTELPRO. Don’t feel left out; the chances are pretty good that the Bureau’s touring troupe of provocateurs will visit your hometown sometime soon.
Palestinian legislator voices support
After announcing the purchase of a new cargo ship in Ireland, which will participate in a planned caravan to break the blockade in Gaza, the Free Gaza movement received a message of support from Palestinian Legislative Council memebr Jamal El-Khoudary.
El-Khoudary cheered the upcoming aid caravan to Gaza, which he said will consist of a flotilla of between ten and twenty ships filled with humanitarian aid meant to break the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. He also applauded the recent announcement of a partnership between the Free Gaza movement and the Foundation for Human Rights & Freedoms & Humanitarian Relief IHH, saying “The agreement will give a great momentum for the uprising of ships. I hope they will break the blockade of Gaza and open a waterway between the Gaza Strip and the world to allow freedom of movement”.
The Free Gaza movement plans to launch the latest in their series of aid caravans in early May, and hope to reach the Gaza Strip with much-needed building supplies, as well as medicine and medical equipment.
On March 30, the Free Gaza Movement bought a 1200 tonne cargo ship at an auction in Dundalk, Ireland. The vessel had been impounded a year ago following an inspection by the International Transport Federation (ITF) which found that its’ owners had exploited it’s Lithuanian crew members- not paying their wages and subjecting them to humiliating treatment.
ITF Inspector and SIPTU organiser Ken Fleming said, ‘We are pleased to announce that this vessel which was used to subject workers to modern day slavery, will now be used to promote human rights for the people of Palestine’.
According to the Free Gaza movement, the vessel, the MV Linda, will be re-named the MV Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23 year old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement says the renaming of the ship is meant to pay tribute to Rachel and the thousands of Palestinian men, women and children killed, wounded or imprisoned under Israeli Occupation.
The Free Gaza movement has broken the Israeli-imposed siege on the Gaza Strip twice before, bringing much-needed medicine and other supplies to the people of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians live under an 18-month long siege by the Israeli military which prevents most goods from entering, and prevents them from leaving the tiny coastal Strip.
The day after Netanyahu declared the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs holy site in Hebron as an “Israeli national heritage site”, Mustafa Barghouti visited the mosque. After his visit, I caught Dr. Barghouti on film explaining how this decision to incorporate two sites in Occupied Palestinian Territory – this site and Bilal Mosque or Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem – continued the Israeli process of “gradual annexation” of the West Bank. I continued filming Dr. Barghouti as he exited through one of the checkpoints that Palestinians are required to pass through to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque.
While the New York Times and other major U.S. news outlets have highlighted competing religious claims to understand the tension arising from the “Israeli national heritage plan”, Barghouti compellingly articulates the political rationale of the Netanyahu announcement. Barghouti called it a “clear cut provocation” and continuation of policy.
And what about the argument that this is simply “about renovating important historical and religious sites of the Jewish people,” as Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev has said, and affirming the importance of these sites to Jewish heritage?
The problem with this logic is that land in Hebron, Bethlehem, or anywhere else in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is not Israeli national territory. Israel has no more right to unilaterally nationalize Jewish heritage sites in the West Bank than it does to unilaterally nationalize The Great Synagogue of Florence in Italy. While no one would take seriously a unilateral Israeli decision to declare a synagogue in Europe as Israeli national property, such a declaration in Occupied Palestinian Territory inflames the conflict and jeopardizes the very notion of any prospects for future Palestinian sovereignty over Palestinian territory.
Barghouti points out that what is particularly provocative is the fact that this declaration comes after a series of Netanyahu’s claims of entitlement to annex Palestinian land:
After President Abbas warned that Israel’s nationalization of West Bank heritage sites could spark a new war, Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev dismissed ascribing such importance to this declaration, stating that “this is not in anyway changing the status quo”.
It remains to be seen whether Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarch’s status as an “Israeli national heritage site” will affect Palestinian access to the fourth holiest Muslim site in the heart of one of the largest Palestinian cities. Barghouti pointed out that the declaration was ominously made only four days before the 16th anniversary of the massacre committed by an Israeli settler who killed 29 Palestinians. After the massacre the Israeli government divided the mosque, prohibiting Palestinians from using the part that is now used as a synagogue outside of specified holidays.
But even if the decision doesn’t affect access, the Israeli nationalist claim is certainly a step Netanyahu has taken to further entrench the status quo where Israel controls all Palestinian access to a holy site deep in Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Katya Reed is the nom-de-plume of a journalist based in Bethlehem, West Bank, Occupied Palestine.
Four decades on, Agent Orange continues to ravage the children of those exposed.
DANANG, Vietnam — At 46, each year of misery seems to have etched new wrinkles around Tran Thanh Dung’s angry gaze.
When he was child in the early 1970s, Tran says he witnessed U.S. soldiers shoot his parents — both of whom were communist Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Bent on revenge, he joined the guerrilla group within hours.
To this day, Tran weeps over the memories of bloodshed and the hellish cries of his dying friends. But one bizarre memory will haunt him forever. “The American airplanes came right toward me and dropped a mist in the jungle, and the next day, the trees were dead,” he recalled. “We weren’t scared. We were confused.”
Thanks to that experience, his son has been unable to walk since birth.
Tran was sprayed with Agent Orange — an herbicide that the U.S. Army used to kill off foliate in Vietnam and Laos during the 1960s and early 1970s, so the Communist forces would have no place to hide.
The defoliant is known to cause a myriad of birth defects in the children of those exposed. Today, Tran’s 18-year-old son suffers from a spinal disorder called spina bifida, an ailment Tran’s doctor said was caused by his contact with dioxin four decades ago.
“It makes all of us sad, our family and the Vietnamese people,” Tran said, adding that he wants the U.S. government to reimburse the families of Vietnamese soldiers for the effects of the spraying. “The problems of war will never leave us.”
During the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed up to 18 million gallons of Agent Orange around Vietnam, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of the U.S. Congress.
The Vietnamese government, meanwhile, estimates that as many as 400,000 Vietnamese have died from illnesses related to exposure to dioxin, such as cancer. It also claims that up to 500,000 children have birth defects, such as spina bifida, because their parents were exposed.
The U.S. government insists the direct spraying of Agent Orange onto people — like in Tran’s case — cannot be linked to any illnesses in Vietnam. It does admit, however, that when the defoliant seeps into local water and food sources, people can get sick.
“The United States Government advocates the use of sound science,” said Jim Warren, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Hanoi, referring to an alleged lack of evidence for a link between certain illnesses and dioxin exposure.
Critics point out that this claim rests on an inconsistency: that former American soldiers who suffer from illnesses related to Agent Orange are eligible for veterans’ benefits.
Even though critics say the U.S. remains sticky on that one point, others say it’s making progress. In 2007, the U.S. government and the Ford Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit, began funding a clean-up effort at Danang airport, a brutally contaminated site in central Vietnam.
During the 1960s, pilots stored Agent Orange at the airport, which then leeched into the local water supply and soil. Farmers have been unable to grow certain crops for decades. But a 2009 assessment by a Canadian contractor determined the clean-up reduced human exposure “significantly.” The main bulk of the cleaning project is expected to start this year.
Still, that doesn’t wipe away the existing human toll that dioxin has created. Thanks to the contamination at that airport, the city of Danang and surrounding countryside are thought to have among the most dangerous dioxin levels in all of Vietnam.
About 5,000 people in Danang might be ill from exposure to dioxin, and about 1,400 of them are children, according to the Danang Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, a Vietnamese NGO that runs two rehabilitation buildings for disabled children. Those are significant numbers for Danang’s total population of 752,000.
For an organization that runs the only center for handicapped children in the city — housing 100 children while turning away the other 1,300 — the issue is that it doesn’t get the funding it deserves, said Nguyen Thi Hien, the group’s president.
“We need far more help from foreign donors,” she said, adding that she’s disappointed the U.S. “is not putting enough funds directly to helping the victims.” (USAID allocated $1 million of its initial $3 million aid package to helping victims.)
Some groups have already taken matters into their own hands, but without much success. In 2007 a U.S. appeals court in New York upheld a 2005 ruling by a judge to throw out a dioxin suit filed by the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, based in Hanoi.
The group claimed in the lawsuit that several American chemical companies which produced Agent Orange during the war, including Dow, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock, were liable to reimburse victims for their suffering. But the appeals judge ruled the U.S. government had intended to use dioxin on foliage, not humans, and therefore its deployment did not meet the definition of “chemical warfare” under international law.
“This is a very sad situation,” Nguyen said.
The parents of afflicted children have similar complaints about inaction. “The [Vietnamese] government has done a lot to help us, but overall our country just doesn’t have enough money,” said Huynh Dang Eu, 41, who did not fight in the Vietnam War but says she was exposed through a local water source.
Her 10-year-old son, who also suffers from spina bifida, lies on a rug all day, arms and legs contorted in all directions. “The [Vietnamese] government gives us $30 a month to take care of him,” she says. “The hospital is an hour away.”
She goes on. “My husband and I have to work on the farm every day. We can’t hire a caretaker. When we get old and die, our child might have nowhere to go.” she said. “We’re poor, and I don’t think the American government realizes it, or even wants to know about this. So, do you think we’re being taken care of enough?”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that dioxin was a contaminant in Agent Orange, as well as the fact that Agent Orange was sprayed in Vietnam and Laos.
Copyright 2009 GlobalPost – International News
By Mark Perry | April 1, 2010
In early February of 2006, I submitted a book proposal about the wartime relationship between Generals George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower to a group of New York publishers. I had worked on the proposal for nine months and believed it would garner significant interest. Two weeks after the submission, I received my first response — from a senior editor at a major New York publishing firm. He was uncomfortable with the proposal: “Wasn’t Marshall an anti-Semite?” he asked. I’d heard this claim before, but I was still shocked by the question. For me, George Marshall was an icon: the one officer who, more than any other, was responsible for the American victory in World War Two. He was the most important soldier of his generation — and a man of great moral and physical courage.
That Marshall was an anti-Semite has been retailed regularly since 1948 — when it became known that, by that time as US Secretary of State, he not only opposed the U.S. stance in favor of the partition of Palestine, but vehemently recommended that the U.S. not recognize the State of Israel that emerged. Harry Truman disagreed and Marshall and Truman clashed in a meeting in the Oval Office, on May 12, 1948. Truman relied on president counselor Clark Clifford to make the argument. Clifford faced Marshall: the U.S. had made a moral commitment to the world’s Jews that dated from Britain’s 1919 Balfour Declaration, he argued, and the U.S would be supported by Israel in the Middle East. The Holocaust had made Israel’s creation an imperative and, moreover, Israel would be a democracy. He then added: Jewish-Americans, were an important voting bloc and would favor the decision.
Marshall exploded. “Mr. President,” he said, “I thought this meeting was called to consider an important, complicated problem in foreign policy. I don’t even know why Clifford is here.” Truman attempted to calm Marshall, whom he admired — but Marshall was not satisfied. “I do not think that politics should play any role in our decision,” he said. The meeting ended acrimoniously, though Truman attempted to placate Marshall by noting that he was “inclined” to side with him. That wasn’t true — the U.S. voted to recognize Israel and worked to support its emerging statehood. Marshall remained enraged.
When Marshall returned to the State Department from his meeting with Truman, he memorialized the meeting:
I remarked to the president that, speaking objectively, I could not help but think that suggestions made by Mr. Clifford were wrong. I thought that to adopt these suggestions would have precisely the opposite effect from that intended by him. The transparent dodge to win a few votes would not, in fact, achieve this purpose. The great dignity of the office of the president would be seriously damaged. The counsel offered by Mr. Clifford’s advice was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem confronting us was international. I stated bluntly that if the president were to follow Mr. Clifford’s advice, and if I were to vote in the next election, I would vote against the president.
Put more simply, Marshall believed that Truman was sacrificing American security for American votes.
The Truman-Marshall argument over Israel has entered American lore – and been a subject of widespread historical controversy. Was Marshall’s opposition to recognition of Israel a reflection of his, and the American establishment’s, latent anti-Semitism? Or was it a credible reflection of U.S. military worries that the creation of Israel would engage America in a defense of the small country that would drain American resources and lives? In the years since, a gaggle of historians and politicians have weighed in with their own opinions, the most recent being Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Writing in the Washington Post on May 7, 2008, Holbrooke noted that “beneath the surface” of the Truman-Marshall controversy “lay unspoken but real anti-Semitism on the part of some (but not all) policymakers. The position of those opposing recognition was simple – oil, numbers and history.”
But that’s only a part of the story. In the period between the end of World War Two and Marshall’s meeting with Truman, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had issued no less than sixteen (by my count) papers on the Palestine issue. The most important of these was issued on March 31, 1948 and entitled “Force Requirements for Palestine.” In that paper, the JCS predicted that “the Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the United States] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives.” The JCS speculated that these objectives included: initial Jewish sovereignty over a portion of Palestine, acceptance by the great powers of the right to unlimited immigration, the extension of Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine and the expansion of “Eretz Israel” into Transjordan and into portions of Lebanon and Syria. This was not the only time the JCS expressed this worry. In late 1947, the JCS had written that “A decision to partition Palestine, if the decision were supported by the United States, would prejudice United States strategic interests in the Near and Middle East” to the point that “United States influence in the area would be curtailed to that which could be maintained by military force.” That is to say, the concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not with the security of Israel — but with the security of American lives.
In the wake of my March 13 article in these pages (“The Petraeus Briefing: Biden’s embarrassment is not the whole story”) a storm of outrage greeted my claim that Israeli intransigence on the peace process could be costing American lives. One week after that article appeared, I called General Joe Hoar, a former CENTCOM commander and a friend. We talked about the article. “I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s the news here? Hasn’t this been said before?” If history is any guide, the answer is simple: it was said sixty years ago by one of America’s greatest soldiers. George Marshall wasn’t an anti-Semite. But he was prescient.
Mark Perry’s most recent book is Talking To Terrorists (Basic Books, 2010). He is also the author of Partners In Command: George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower in War and Peace (2007) and Four Stars, The Inside Story of the Battle between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s Civilian Leaders (1989).
Normally, if two countries with powerful nuclear arsenals were openly musing about attacking a third country over mere suspicions that it might want to join the nuclear club, we’d tend to sympathize with the non-nuclear underdog as the victim of bullying and possible aggression.
You might think that – unless you were told that the two nuclear-armed countries are Israel and the United States and the non-nuclear country is Iran. Then, different rules apply, especially it seems in leading American news outlets like the New York Times.
In what reads like a replay of the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Times and other major U.S. news media appear onboard for war, again happy to make the likely aggressors the “victims,” and to turn the prospect of a bloody conflict in a Muslim country into a parlor game.
Indeed, the New York Times on March 28 presented the idea of “imagining a strike on Iran” as “Washington’s grimmest but most urgent parlor game,” assessing how a military strike by Israel, “acting on its fears that Iran threatens its existence,” would play out.
That same day, the Times also led its front page with an alarmist story about Iranian atomic energy official Ali Akbar Salehi saying Iran might soon begin work on two new nuclear enrichment sites built into mountains to protect against bombings.
The article by reporters David E. Sanger and William J. Broad repeated a recurring falsehood in the Times, that it was President Barack Obama who “publicly revealed the evidence of a [previous] hidden site,” a hardened facility near Qum.
The actual chronology was that Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency about the non-operational Qum site on Sept. 21, four days before Obama joined with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in highlighting its existence.
At the time, the Obama administration spun Iran’s earlier disclosure of the Qum facility as having been prompted by Tehran’s awareness that the United States was onto the plant’s existence, but there was no independent evidence of that and the undisputed fact is that Iran disclosed the facility’s existence before Obama’s revelation.
Yet, the Times has now altered the chronology to put Obama’s announcement first, and thus cast Iran into a more sinister light.
Who’s the Victim?
The Times’ biased approach toward the Iranian nuclear issue is underscored further by the Times’ refusal to mention that the presumed “victim” in this story, Israel, possesses one of the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenals yet has neither publicly admitted that it has nukes nor signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Indeed, it is the fact that Iran is a treaty signatory — and renounces any interest in building a nuclear bomb — that is the basis for IAEA inspections of its facilities and for the legal requirement that it disclose new facilities, such as the one at Qum.
But the through-the-looking-glass quality of the Times coverage is that it portrays Israel as the “victim,” although it is a rogue nuclear-weapons state and refuses to abide by international inspections or other safeguards, restrictions that Iran accepts.
Even more remarkable, Israel is openly contemplating bombing Iran, an act that supposedly would be justified by Israel’s assertion that a possible Iranian nuclear bomb would represent “an existential threat” to Israel.
It is true that some Iranian leaders favor a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian impasse, i.e. making the territory of Israel and the West Bank into a non-religious state where both Jews and Arabs would live as equals. Israel also has cited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s wish that the “Jewish state” would disappear.
This claim of an “existential threat,” in turn, has become the rationale for Israel openly plotting to bomb Iran and its nuclear facilities.
On March 28, David Sanger wrote a “Week in Review” story about the unabashed discussions underway in Tel Aviv and Washington about the geopolitical consequences of attacking Iran, doing what Sen. John McCain once playfully sang about as “bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran.”
Sanger’s article noted that in 2008, “the Israelis secretly asked the Bush administration for the equipment and overflight rights they might need some day to strike Iran’s … nuclear sites. They were turned down, but the request added urgency to the question: Would Israel take the risk of a strike? And if so, what would follow?
“Now that parlor game question has turned into more formal war games simulations. The [U.S.] government’s own simulations are classified, but the Saban Center for Middle East Policy [a neoconservative adjunct] at the Brookings Institution created its own in December.”
The war game, directed by Kenneth M. Pollack, assumed that Israel would attack Iran without notifying the Obama administration, which would then demand that Israel halt the bombing even as Washington beefed up its own military forces in the Persian Gulf.
As the war game played out, Iran would retaliate against both Israeli targets and Saudi oil fields, spiking oil prices and pushing the United States toward the brink of its own attacks to destroy Iran’s military capability to disrupt oil supplies. At that point – a hypothetical eight days into the conflict – the war game ended.
It would seem that if the Times truly wanted to provide an objective assessment of the Iranian nuclear issue – including Tehran’s possible motives for wanting a nuclear bomb – the Times would routinely make reference to the region’s rogue nuclear states of Israel, India and Pakistan.
That the Times typically ignores that key fact suggests the Times sees its journalism on Iran as similar to its credulous reporting about Iraq’s non-existent WMD in 2002-03, more as propaganda than as a fair-minded presentation of the relevant facts.
When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, it was widely expected that he would dramatically change, or even reverse, the militarized and unilateral security policy that had been pursued by the George W. Bush administration toward Africa and other parts of the world.
After one year in office, however, it is clear that the Obama administration is following essentially the same policy that has guided U.S. military policy toward Africa for more than a decade. Indeed, the Obama administration is seeking to expand U.S. military activities on the continent even further.
In its FY 2011 budget request for security assistance programs for Africa, the Obama administration is asking for $38 million for the Foreign Military Financing program to pay for U.S. arms sales to African countries.
The administration is also asking for $21 million for the International Military Education and Training Program to bring African military officers to the United States, and $24.4 million for Anti-Terrorism Assistance programs in Africa.
The Obama administration has also taken a number of other steps to expand U.S. military involvement in Africa.
In June 2009, administration officials revealed that Obama had approved a program to supply at least 40 tons of weaponry and provide training to the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia through several intermediaries, including Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, and France.
In September 2009, Obama authorized a U.S. Special Forces operation in Somalia that killed Saleh Ali Nabhan, an alleged al-Qaeda operative who was accused of being involved in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, as well as other al-Qaeda operations in east Africa.
In October 2009, the Obama administration announced a major new security assistance package for Mali – valued at $4.5-$5 million – that included 37 Land Cruiser pickup trucks, communication equipment, replacement parts, clothing, and other individual equipment and was intended to enhance Mali’s ability to transport and communicate with internal security forces throughout the country and control its borders.
Although ostensibly intended to help Mali deal with potential threats from AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), it is more likely to be used against Tuareg insurgent forces.
In December 2009, U.S. military officials confirmed that the Pentagon was considering the creation of a 1,000-strong Marine rapid deployment force for the new U.S. Africa Command (Africom) based in Europe, which could be used to intervene in African hot spots.
In February 2010, in his testimony before a hearing by the Africa Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson declared, “We seek to enhance Nigeria’s role as a U.S. partner on regional security, but we also seek to bolster its ability to combat violent extremism within its borders.”
Also in February 2010, U.S. Special Forces troops began a $30 million, eight-month-long training program for a 1,000-man infantry battalion of the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the U.S.-refurbished base in Kisangani.
Speaking before a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in March 2010 about this training program, Gen. William Ward, the commander of Africom, stated “should it prove successful, there’s potential that it could be expanded to other battalions as well.”
During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Ward also discussed Africom’s continuing participation in Ugandan military operations in the DRC against the Lord’s Resistance Army. Despite the failure of “Operation Lightning Thunder,” launched by Ugandan troops in December 2008 with help of Africom (included planning assistance, equipment, and financial backing), Ward declared, “I think our support to those ongoing efforts is important support.”
And in March 2010, U.S. officials revealed that the Obama administration was considering using surveillance drones to provide intelligence to TFG troops in Somalia for their planned offensive against al-Shabaab. According to these officials, the Pentagon may also launch air strikes into Somalia and send U.S. Special Forces troops into the country, as it has done in the past.
This growing U.S. military involvement in Africa reflects the fact that counterinsurgency has once again become one of the main elements of U.S. security strategy.
This is clearly evident in the new Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released by the Pentagon in February.
According to the QDR, “U.S. forces will work with the military forces of partner nations to strengthen their capacity for internal security, and will coordinate those activities with those of other U.S. government agencies as they work to strengthen civilian capacities, thus denying terrorists and insurgents safe havens. For reasons of political legitimacy as well as sheer economic necessity, there is no substitute for professional, motivated local security forces protecting populations threatened by insurgents and terrorists in their midst.”
As the QDR makes clear, this is intended to avoid the need for direct U.S. military intervention: “Efforts that use smaller numbers of U.S. forces and emphasize host-nation leadership are generally preferable to large-scale counterinsurgency campaigns. By emphasizing host-nation leadership and employing modest numbers of U.S. forces, the United States can sometimes obviate the need for larger-scale counterinsurgency campaigns.”
Or, as a senior U.S. military officer assigned to Africom was quoted as saying in a recent article in the U.S. Air University’s Strategic Studies Quarterly, “We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting wacked. … We want Africans to go in.”
Thus, the QDR goes on to say, “U.S. forces are working in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Colombia, and elsewhere to provide training, equipment, and advice to their host-country counterparts on how to better seek out and dismantle terrorist and insurgent networks while providing security to populations that have been intimidated by violent elements in their midst.”
Furthermore, the United States will also continue to expand and improve the network of local military bases that are available to U.S. troops under base-access agreements.
The resurgence of Vietnam War-era counterinsurgency doctrine as a principal tenet of U.S. security policy, therefore, has led to a major escalation of U.S. military involvement in Africa by the Obama administration that seems likely to continue in the years ahead.
FY 2011 Budget Requests by Country
The $38 million for the Foreign Military Financing program to pay for U.S. arms sales to African countries includes: $9 million for Liberia, $9 million for Morocco, $4.9 million for Tunisia, $2.5 million for Djibouti, $2 million for Ethiopia, $1.5 million for the Democratic Republic of Congo, $1.4 million for Nigeria, and $1 million for Kenya.
The $21 million for the International Military Education and Training Program to bring African military officers to the United States for military training includes: $2.3 million for Tunisia, $1.9 million for Morocco, $1 million for Kenya, $1 million for Nigeria, $1 million for Senegal, $950,000 for Algeria, $825,000 for Ghana, $725,000 for Ethiopia, $600,000 for Uganda, $500,000 for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and $500,000 for Rwanda.
The $24.4 million for Anti-Terrorism Assistance programs in Africa includes: $8 million for Kenya, $1 million for South Africa, $800,000 for Morocco, and $400,000 for Algeria, and $14 million for African Regional Programs.
India has rejected a call from the US to shun participation in gas talks with Iran, saying “energy security” is a priority for New Delhi.
Iran and Pakistan signed a deal in March to construct a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline connecting the two neighboring countries — a project that was strongly opposed by the US. The deal is part of the long-delayed 7.5-billion-dollar Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project.
“We have no comments to make on what the US official has said. But energy security is of prime concern to the government, and the India-Pakistan-Iran pipeline has to be seen in this context,” The Hindustan Times quoted an official with India’s foreign ministry as saying.
“We are in discussions for thrashing out the two issues. One is pricing of the gas, the other is the security of the pipeline that passes through Pakistan,” the official added.
Earlier, India expressed its willingness to resume talks with Iran on the project and also to discuss with Iran an alternative sea-bed pipeline from that would bypass Pakistan.
”We had initiated the trilateral talks in 2007 among the three governments and such discussions are ongoing,” Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora told reporters at the Consulate General of India in New York.
China is also showing keen interest in investing USD 2.5 billion in the gas pipeline project in order to meet the country’s energy demands.
Islamabad has started negotiations with Beijing over the purchase of technical equipment to be used for extending the gas pipeline to China, informed sources in Pakistan’s oil ministry said, Mehr News Agency reported on Monday.
China’s interest in the extension of the pipeline came after Islamabad’s reluctance to cooperate with New Delhi on the IPI project allegedly due to India’s delay in developing the Peace Pipeline project.
In Israel, the so called ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, a journalist has been held under house arrest since December for leaking a story of Israeli barbarism. In the Jewish Democracy another prominent Journalist had to run for his life for telling the truth about Israel’s murderous policies and its chief war criminals.
The Guardian reported today that Anat Kam, 23, an Israeli journalist “has been under secret house arrest since December on charges that she leaked highly sensitive classified military documents that suggest the Israeli military breached a court order on assassinations in the occupied West Bank.”
Seemingly, in the ‘Jews only democracy’, people are put under house arrest even when they are trying to suggest a breach of the state’s High Court’s orders. (Even kosher citizens)
Anat Kam, 23, goes on trial in two weeks on treason and espionage charges and could face up to 14 years in jail. In the ‘democratic’ Jewish state, a court-imposed gagging order is preventing media coverage of the arrest and charges in Israel. I am left puzzled here as it seems Israelis can be prosecuted for reporting illegal activities.
A Haaretz leading journalist, Uri Blau, who has also been linked to the case, has had to escape Israel. He is now in London, apparently for fear he will be targeted for his reporting.
In November 2008, Blau reported in Haaretz that the IDF had been carrying out assassinations of Palestinian militants in the West Bank in contravention of an Israeli high court ruling, which said efforts should be made first to arrest suspected militants rather than assassinating them.
According to Blau the IDF chief General Gabi Ashkenazi allegedly approved the assassination operations. The Haaretz piece was accompanied by copies of military documents but it was approved by the military censor before publication.
I am here to suggest that if America still insists to ‘democratize the world’, it may have to start with its ‘best ally’. Time may also be ripe for Neocon British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who advocates ‘liberal interventionalism’, to face the fact that the Jewish state, the state that lists him as one of its Propaganda (Hasbara) authours, is no less than a Tyranny inspired by a deep Talmudic intolerance.
Jerusalem – Israeli settlers assaulted an elderly Palestinian woman and her daughter in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Friday, amid protests against settler “provocations” in the area.
The elderly woman, 89-year-old Rifqa Al-Kurd, was taken to Al-Maqasid Hospital in Jerusalem where she received medical treatment before she was discharged. Her daughter was identified as 50-year-old Nadiya.
Ma’an’s correspondent reported that some 200 demonstrators, including international sympathizers, rallied in the district home to a number of settlers, protesting recent attacks on Palestinian residents of the neighborhood.
He pointed out that the elderly woman was attacked in front of Israeli police officers who opted not to stop them. Instead, they told the Al-Kurd family to file a legal case against the settler who was filmed attacking the woman and her daughter, he said.
Also Friday, local residents accused some Israeli police officers of attacking Palestinians who tried to defend themselves against the settlers.
Israeli settlers and soldiers attacked Palestinians in Silwan on Thursday night, onlookers said. A 15-year-old boy, Yezen Ammar Siam, was taken to an undisclosed location, witnesses in the flashpoint area said.