The myth propagated by supporters of the various “international” criminal tribunals established since 1992 has been that somehow a judicial proceeding could rise completely above the sordid field of politics and follow its own complete integrity. I used to subscribe to that myth. But in 2000-01, as I started to investigate more closely the work of the two ad-hoc tribunals created by the UN during the mid-1990s, it became clear that “international” criminal tribunals can never, ever, be separated either from the politics of the countries whose developments they probe (and whose politics are inevitably affected by the work of the tribunals themselves)– or, from the politics of the “international” constellation of governments that establish, fund, and provide continued support for these tribunals’ work.
My 2006 book Amnesty After Atrocity? provided copious evidence of this, with regard to the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. But it is not only the ICTR whose work is irredeemably politicized. So has been the work of all “international” tribunals running from the Ur-example in Nuremberg through to today’s “International Criminal Court.” As longtime JWN readers know, I’ve written a lot about this issue, both here and (earlier) on the now nearly-defunct “Transitional Justice Forum” blog. Check over there for, in particular the field reports of the reporting trip I made to northern Uganda in 2006, to assess the very harmful effects that the work of the ICC was having on peacemaking there.
And then, there was the travesty of the (heavily U.S.-supported) Saddam Hussein trial…
Plus, the fact that the government leaders in Washington responsible for launching the completely unjustified invasion of Iraq in 2003, and therefore also all the deaths and violence that ensued from that invasion and occupation, were easily able to evade ever being held to account for that act of aggression (an act that was, at Nuremberg, certainly prosecutable– and prosecuted.) This, while the U.S. has also stood quite aside from all entreaties that it join the ICC– though over recent years it has given extensive logistic and financial support to some, but not all, of the ICC’s investigations and prosecutions… when this suited Washington’s own, inevitably political, purpose.
The neutrality of these judicial bodies before an “impartial” international law? That is nowhere to be seen.
… And then, there is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,a body that has been irrevocably “politicized” and “political” ever since its establishment in 2006-07. It is a joint project of both the U.N. Security Council and the Government of Lebanon, established at a time when the U.S. still held important sway over both bodies.
Now, Hillary Clinton and her people are busy talking about the need to allow the STL to continue doing its allegedly quite “impartial” work. The STL has been the focus of considerable controversy and swirling allegations and counter-allegations over its years in existence, and I confess I have not followed these with enough diligence to be able to make clear-cut judgments regarding them.
What I can say with a high degree of confidence, based on my own work on this issue of international tribunals over the past decade is that no criminal court, within a country or at the global level, can ever have its work divorced from politics. Criminal prosecutions at a national level involve the state using the laws that already exist within the country to bring a prosecution against a defendant, who may upon being found guilty be subjected to serious sanction by the state– even, in the U.S. and elsewhere, the death penalty.
At the national level, too, the head of state or government always has the power to give clemency or pardon to convicted criminals (as in the case of Elliott Abrams in the U.S.), and leaders often use these powers with the goal of fostering national unity, or other worthwhile political goals.
And at the global level? Where is the agreed-upon, duly legislated, and equality-respecting legal basis for the work of international prosecutors? Where is the opportunity for global political leaders to issue pardons or enact clemency? Where, in short, is the supra-”judicial” legal-political infrastructure that can assure the impartiality as well as general social utility of the work of prosecutors and judges?
It doesn’t exist. In a world marked by striking political inequalities– especially between countries that have P-5 status on the Security Council, and those that don’t; and between countries that have at least submitted themselves to the judgments of the ICC, and those that haven’t– the “impartiality” of international criminal courts is a myth.
I wish it weren’t so. I wish we had the kind of global system in which all national leaders and other significant political actors could be held equally accountable for their actions. But we don’t. Rights activists from around the world who have put so much energy into fighting for the establishment and support of the existing international courts really also need to examine closely the effects that these courts have had on the lives, livelihoods, and well-being of the millions of citizens of the countries that have been their targets. In Amnesty After Atrocity? I looked at the effects on the citizenries of Rwanda, South Africa, and Mozambique of the widely differing approaches those three countries adopted to the issue of seeking “accountability” for past war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The two countries that decided against using criminal courts to deal with perpetrators of atrocities during the episodes of severe violence that all of them had suffered were the ones that came out with their social cohesion, political purpose, and the rights situation of their citizenries the best assured.
It is not only in Lebanon that a crucial “trade-off” exists between the work of (an inevitably “political” and backward-looking) international tribunal and the prospects for peace and people’s well-being going forward. Look at some of my own past work on this issue. Look at what the Obama administration is now actively considering doing in the context of Sudan, for goodness sake! Today, White House officials including “Ms. Anti-Genocide” herself, Samantha Power, are openly talking about the possibility of easing up the pressure that Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been subjected to from the ICC, in exchange for his cooperation with implementing the results of the South Sudan referendum.
It surely should not be that only in Lebanon does Washington pursue the chimera of the “impartiality” of a tribunal with strong international dimensions at the expense of the well-being of the target country’s citizenry.
Accountability for Rafiq Hariri’s killing? One day, let’s hope, the facts will all emerge. But this highly politicized judicial process centered in The Hague looks unlikely to be able credibly to uncover them. And if it does issue indictments, what then? STL prosecutor Daniel Bellemare and whose army will arrest those indicted? What of the Lebanese government’s supposedly co-equal role in managing this whole “criminal justice” project?
The next time Sec. Clinton or a State Department spokesman starts talking about the need to preserve the “impartiality” of this court, the STL, they should be asked about some of these very important questions…
The total collapse of WTC 7 at 5:20 PM on 9/11/01 shows all of the features of an implosion engineered through controlled demolition.
Controlled demolition is the use of pre-positioned explosive charges to destroy structures. Depending on the nature of the structure and constraints imposed by its surroundings, a controlled demolition may require a great deal of precision in its planning and execution. That is especially true of tall steel buildings in urban settings, given the natural tendency of such structures to topple. Controlled demolitions of buildings in cities are designed to implode the structures, making them sink into their footprints and fold in on themselves into a small consolidated rubble piles
Observing the collapse of 47-story WTC 7 shows it to have all of the features of an implosion engineered by controlled demolition.
The collapse of the main structure commences suddenly (several seconds after the penthouse falls).
The building sinks in a precisely vertical manner into its footprint.
Puffs of dust emerge from the building’s facade early in the event.
The collapse is total, producing a rubble pile only about three stories high.
The main structure collapses totally in under 7 seconds, only about a second slower than it would take a brick dropped from the building’s roof to reach the ground in a vacuum.
Blame Hillary, Not Hezbollah
Wednesday’s timeline from the Lebanese news portal Naharnet.com read as follows:
5:17 pm Agence France Presse: Prime Minister Saad Hariri went into talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the moment that Opposition ministers resigned from the Lebanese government.
5:32 pm Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Hussein announced in a statement his resignation from Cabinet.
In that 15 minute span, President Obama went from meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to ex-Prime Minister Hariri. The unity government under his premiership had fallen, and deservedly so.
Events had rapidly unfolded.
Last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Hariri in New York. The visiting prime minister was holding consultations with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, recuperating from recent back surgery there, on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) impending indictments.
The STL is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the February 2005 assassination of late premier Rafiq Hariri despite evidence pointing to Israel’s complicity in the crime. Saad Hariri’s Western-backed ruling March 14 coalition backs the tribunal while the opposition March 8 coalition has called for its boycott.
Hopes have been riding on a Saudi-Syrian, or “S-S” initiative that would effectively mediate between the rival camps on how best to handle the STL’s imminent verdict. Syrian President Bashar Assad and King Abdullah, respective patrons of the March 8 and March 14 blocs, sought to broker a solution to both side’s satisfaction.
Although details of the alleged initiative were not made public, speculation exists it may have entailed Hariri distancing himself from the STL decision in exchange for March 8 dropping its pursuit of charges against the “false witnesses”—those who initially fingered Syria for Hariri’s murder but whose testimony against Damascus was ultimately found to have been fabricated. Some of these witnesses are thought to be Hariri confidantes.
Not long after Hariri had finished meeting with Clinton, opposition leader and Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun declared Tuesday the S-S initiative was dead:
“We thank the Saudi king and the Syrian president for the efforts they have exerted, although their initiative has ended with no results. The Hariri-led camp didn’t respond to these efforts, that’s why we’ve reached a dead end.”
A statement released by the opposition said the endeavor “ … reached a dead end due to U.S. pressures and the other camp’s compliance with these pressures, despite the fact that we had positively dealt with that initiative and provided it with chances of success.”
Progressive Socialist Party head and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt remarked, “Saad Hariri was on the brink of making a major concession as concerns the tribunal, but occult forces prevented him from doing so.” After meeting with the Maronite Patriarch on Wednesday, he said, “dark forces intervened in the ongoing Syrian-Saudi talks and sidetracked this initiative from its original course.”
According to Labor Minister Muhammad Fneish, the Saudi-Syrian effort was sabotaged by “American intervention and the inability of the other side to overcome American pressure.” When asked why it ultimately failed, Fneish replied, “Ask Mrs. Clinton.”
The Obama administration and the U.S. State Department never wanted, nor would they have tolerated, an intra-Arab solution to Lebanon’s predicament. They ensured there would be no obstacle in the way of a discredited tribunal from issuing its findings based on doctored evidence, one that would sully Hezbollah’s reputation in Lebanon and throughout the Arab and Muslim world.
When it became clear the S-S initiative and whatever promise it held had been quashed, opposition members called on Hariri to urgently convene a cabinet meeting by the following day (Wednesday) to address what the government’s position toward the STL would now be.
The prime minister, still in New York, refused.
Ten opposition ministers in his 30-member cabinet then proceeded to tender their resignations.
Because the “one-third-plus-one” formula mandates at least 11 resign before the cabinet can be dissolved, one more minister was needed. That came when Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Hussein—one of five ministers directly appointed by President Michel Suleiman—announced his resignation. With that, Hariri’s 14-month-old government fell.
“The grace period has ended, and the waiting stage that we lived through without any result has ended,” said Energy Minister Jibran Bassil.
Saad Hariri rightly wants to see those who murdered his father and 22 others that fateful February day brought to justice. It is a wish shared by all Lebanese.
But Hariri and his coalition allies could not put their political and sectarian biases aside long enough to see how badly compromised the STL had become; its subjective investigatory methods, its reliance on Israeli-infiltrated telecommunication data, its refusal to even entertain the notion that Tel Aviv could possibly be involved in the assassination despite plausible evidence procured against it (not to mention the military benefits it reaped from Rafiq Hariri’s killing).
Although a compromise appeared at hand, one that would satisfy both coalitions and guarantee the nation’s well-being, Hariri was unwilling to overcome U.S. pressure. He allowed Secretary of State Clinton to veto overnight a plan that was months in the making.
What Clinton’s action did make clear is that any outside solution will always be subject to such interference. It only reinforced calls for the Lebanese to assume control of their own affairs and reach an agreement a third party cannot abrogate.
After meeting with Hariri, Clinton embarked on a tour of Persian Gulf countries, continuing the mission to promote division between Arab and Iranian, Sunni and Shia. When asked on Al-Arabiya television to comment on the situation in Lebanon, she said “stability requires justice.”
Ironically, a concept she tried to subvert and one Hariri never understood.
Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator.
As sure as rain follows upon dark clouds, the cry has gone up to “do something” about so-called hate speech. Fairly typical of the reactions to the shooting of Congresswoman Gifford and several others by Jared Loughner was ‘ Tikkun’s’ Rabbi Michael Lerner, who rhetorically intoned: “Isn’t it time for us to demand that our government investigate the violence-generating discourse of the racists and the haters?”
The Constitutional answer is: absolutely not! Lerner and those of like mind need to read — thrice and slowly — the words of James Madison on this very issue:
“There are … two methods of removing the causes of [political] faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.
“It could never be more truly said of the first remedy, than it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
“The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.” (Federalist Paper No. 10.)
What Lerner is urging, in modern form, is the revival of laws against sedition. The “protected values” (or in modern legal lingo, the “cognized groups”) may be different but the principle is the same: words which have a “tendency” to incite violence and/or threaten the security or well being of … [insert your cherished value-of choice here]… need to be outlawed and criminally punished.
Whether enacted in 1789, 1918 or 2011, laws against sedition are inimical to a free society; and no amount of spurious sociological “impact studies” (so-called) can change that constitutional fact.
What does it actually mean to call for government “investigation” of “violence-generating” speech?
The investigation part is fairly easy to answer: it means police and FBI agents keeping tabs of what you say, interviewing your neighbors about what do, getting warrants to poke into your reading habits and ultimately detaining you for further questioning. Such investigations inevitably entail what the Nazis called “block wardens” — neighbors and other snitches who make it their business to overhear your chat and take note of the books and guests you bring home. Already both the government and various interest groups have set up networks and web pages to recruit security-volunteers to poke around and keep an ear out for terrorism- or racist- generating violence.
What then is to be the casus for such inquisitions? What exactly is ‘violence-generating’ speech?
Let us be plain and simple, for Thucydides tells us that simplicity of speech is the mark of a noble man. Websters (1913 edition), defines violence as “physical force, strength of action or motion; as the violence of a storm; the violence of a blow or conflict;” also, “to assault or injure”. By metaphorical extension: “moral force; vehemence.”
Clearly (and simply) words are not violence; they do not cause physical injury. Concoctions like ‘verbal assault’ are confusions of speech which are the marks of hysteria or sophistry.
Words may be uttered with “moral vehemence.” Preachers do it all the time. Implacable foes along the Great Abortion Divide are very morally vehement. But is it ‘violence generating’ to call abortion murder?
According to Lerner, violence-generating words are those which “create a climate of hate.” Murder is certainly loathsome. Pictures of aborted foetuses certainly engender revulsion and disgust. But are the pictures false? If abortion foes cannot call abortion “murder” then what must they call it? Whether it is or is not murder is the whole issue of the debate. In effect, Lerner’s demand “creates a climate” where abortion foes are intimidated (under threat of government investigation) into silence. The same holds true when the intimidation works in the other direction.
Attentive readers of Lerner’s article will have noticed a subtle switch from his vaguish opening reference to “violence-generating” speech to the ensuing and even more vague reference to “rhetoric” which “contributes” to a “climate of hate” which “individuals act on.”
The reason for the verbal shuffling is that Lerner can’t quite get himself to say that speech causes violence. It doesn’t, period. The quintessential scientific test of causality is replication and predictability; and no one has ever demonstrated that a particular word, phrase or book has consistently and predictably caused a violent reaction — the dread ‘Mein Kampf’ included. Even if human predispositions are genetically determined or environmentally influenced, action is the result of free will.
Sometimes, action is the result of craziness as in Loughner’s case or as in the case of Don Quixote who devoured novels of chivalry until “being quite out of his wits, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever a madman in this world hit upon, and that was that it was right and requisite that he should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world in full armor on horseback … righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which he was to reap eternal renown and fame.” In other words, he became a militia-man.
But the underlying point of Cervantes’ satire was precisely that books do not cause madness. In case anyone might not get it, he made this clear in a prefatory couplet where he wrote that madness is the “cure” for sadness. What drove Don Quixote on his errands of mayhem, chaos and absurdity was an inner grief.
The fact is that people make of words what they will, often bending them all out of shape to suit some inner purpose or drive. Perhaps we might all be better off without speech altogether. As Jesus advised, “let your speech be, Yea or Nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Math. 5:37) But Man is nothing if not a loquacious animal, and the desire to speak freely is the foremost urge of our souls or at least of our egos.
Laws against sedition, in whatever guise, are an attack on free speech. They are always couched in vague, open ended terms because the real target is not the alleged “dangers” protected against but some political agenda or ideology that is opposed.
Section 2 of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1789 provided
“…be it further enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter, or publish,… any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, … with intent to defame the said government, … or to excite against [it] … the hatred of the good people of the United States, …”
The Sedition Act of 1918 made it a crime to
“willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States….”
California’s Criminal Syndicalism Act 1919 made it a crime to advocate or teach “any doctrine or precept” that espoused “unlawful acts of force and violence or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing a change in industrial ownership or control or effecting any political change.”
Section 13 of the Reich Editorial Law (4 October 1933) prohibited publication of anything which “tends to weaken the strength of: the German Reich, outwardly or inwardly, the common will of the German people, the German defense ability, culture or economy….” (1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 713.)
What all these laws have in common is a heap of nefarious adjectives coupled with a “tendency” connected to some protected good.
The United States Supreme Court initially upheld these laws precisely on the grounds that they combated a subversive climate.
In Frohwerk v. United States (1919) 249 U.S. 204 the Court held that “a person may be convicted of a conspiracy to obstruct recruiting by words of persuasion.” In that case the defendant had published a pamphlet in which he called war “murder” and in which he went “on to give a picture, made as moving as the writer was able to make it, of the sufferings of a drafted man.” Most horribly, the author had sneered at various British nobles and had said that “the sooner the public wakes up to the fact that we are led and ruled by England, the better.”
In Debs v. United States (1919) 249 U.S. 211, the Court followed suit and upheld the criminalization of a pamphlet by Eugene Debs in which the famous labor leader had given:
“illustrations of the growth of Socialism, a glorification of minorities, and a prophecy of the success of the international Socialist crusade, with the interjection that ‘you need to know that you are fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder.’ “
That statement, the Court held, did not simply oppose war in general but opposed the present and the particularly noble war the nation was embarked upon and “opposition was so expressed that its natural and intended effect would be to obstruct recruiting.” (Id., at p. 251.)
This line of reasoning culminated in Whitney v. California, (1927) 274 U.S. 357, where the Court ruled that “the Constitution d[id] not confer an absolute right to speak, without responsibility, whatever one may choose,” and that government had the power to punish those who “abused” their rights of speech “by utterances inimical to the public welfare, tending to incite crime, disturb the public peace, or endanger the foundations of organized government and threaten its overthrow.” (Id., at p. 371.)
The common theme of these and too many like cases is that they sought to punish a “tendency” which is subjectively perceived to “endanger” some asserted good. Just as typically, some untoward event such as a Reichstag Fire, a bombing or the murder of an official, was exploited as the necessity to protect “public safety.”
Tyranny always rides to town on the pony of safety.
Today’s political correctness mavens may use adjectival gerunds and verbal-burble which has an impressive sociological sounding ring, but the mental paradigm is the same. They either seek to mandate a uniformity of opinion on whatever subject they are obsessing over, or they seek to cast any opposition to their pet-rocks as creating some kind of danger.
Often times they heighten the “climatology” by invoking a so-called “clear and present danger” to something or other. But this erstwhile standard — derived from Schenck vs. United States (1919)249 U.S. 47 — is simply a rhetorically tweaked version of the “bad tendencies” rule. Any danger is always “present” precisely because a ‘danger’ is simply the present prospect of some possible future harm. Schenck was overruled because, as Justice Douglas put it, “[t]he only difference between the ‘expression of an opinion’ and an ‘incitement’ … is the speaker’s enthusiasm for the result. (Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) 395 U.S. 444, 452.)
And Man is certainly an enthusiastic animal. Once again it behooves us to listen to Madison:
“As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other….
“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.” (Federalist Paper No. Ten.)
Madison’s misanthropy is more than justified by the media’s screaming rabble-rousers and by Palin’s smart-alec thuggishness. But Madison also understood that “the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.” (Ibid) Put another way, the human tendency toward disputatious vehemence is increased by inequality and insecurity.
Thus, it is a useless, if pretty, piety to urge everyone to be “civil” in their discourse. The reason for the inflamed nature of present political debate in the United States is that the country is in decline and economic inequality and insecurity have destroyed our social and cultural fabric. This creates a terminal downward spiral because the insecurity-generated yelling and accusing prevents the emergence of fair and reasonable solutions to economic and social problems whose very gravitational pull is aggravated by the inflamed rhetoric generated.
To make matters even worse, some of the very forces which generate the economic inequality also finance the spewing of inflamed rhetoric which they then assert needs to be controlled in the name of personal or national safety.
It is a false consciousness to think that “civility” in discourse can be restored by political correctness or laws against seditious incivility. A greater modicum of civility will be restored to political discourse when and only when our civis itself becomes more fair and just and when we cease chasing after the chimera of militarized security. That will be a hard reversal to manage.
©Woodchip Gazette, 2011
Another victim of the Tucson tragedy – the right to criticize your Congressperson without getting a knock on the door from the feds
We can add another victim to the Tucson tragedy – the right to criticize government without fear of getting a knock on your door from the feds. Despite the fact that shooter Jared Loughner was not politically motivated, the FBI is now compiling a list of Americans deemed a potential threat because they criticized their representative – and targeting them with home visits.
An Ozark man who ran a blog last year critical of Republican Congressman Billy Long was shocked to see an FBI agent turn up on his doorstep asking questions. The agent was accompanied by Green County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who had stepped outside of his jurisdiction to become involved in this act of political repression directed against Clay Bowler, a resident of Christian County.
The FBI agent wanted to know if Bowler was a threat to Long because he had used an Internet blog to highlight claims of cronyism and corruption involving the Congressman before the southwest Missouri election in November, in which Long defeated Democrat Scott Eckersley to replace outgoing Rep. Roy Blunt.
The most heated confrontation Bowler had with Long was when he asked him a question about political donations Long had made. The video clip of the incident shows Bowler calmly asking Long a question as the Congressman walks away. He ran a website called “Long is wrong” in an attempt to prevent Long from being elected last year. The website has since been discontinued and Bowler hasn’t had any contact with Long since September.
Even the FBI agent who visited Bowler had to agree that his actions represented no kind of threat whatsoever.
“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”
In the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy, the father of Christina Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the massacre, pleaded with the nation that his daughter’s death should not be exploited as a justification to crush constitutional rights. In addition, it has been confirmed in triplicate that shooter Jared Loughner was not motivated by politics. Earlier this week one of his closest high school friends told ABC News that Loughner, “Did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right.”
Green County Sheriff Jim Arnott’s justification that it’s best to “err on the side of caution” in targeting critics of government with home visits has no place in a free country. Perhaps Arnott would feel more at home in the former East Germany or the Soviet Union.
“Arnott confirmed to KSPR News that Bowler isn’t the only local person who’s been scrutinized in the wake of last weekend’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) during a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz,” states the report, affirming that the authorities are compiling new lists of Americans who are now considered to be potentially violent threats for the crime of asking their own public servants uncomfortable questions. Separately it was reported that the FBI was preparing to visit other bloggers in the area.
Targeting anyone who exercises their First Amendment right to redress their grievances against local representatives who are paid to serve them with home visits accompanied by FBI agents only has one outcome – it chills free speech and discourages other Americans from speaking out against the government. These tactics also have the impact of making asking questions of elected officials, the lifeblood of a free society, seem somehow abnormal or suspicious. … Full article
Israelis can tell the whole story of Sudan’s division – they wrote the script and trained the actors
Now that we have been unable to defend the unity of Sudan, it might benefit us to understand what has happened there. Perhaps that will alert us to the fact that secession of the south is not the end, but is one of a series of splits intended to dismantle the Arab world surrounding Egypt.
From very early on, Zionists realized that minorities in the Arab world represent a natural ally to their state of Israel and so they planned to build bridges with them. Zionist representatives communicated with the Kurds in Iraq, the people in southern Sudan, the Maronites in Lebanon, Kurds in Syria, and the Copts in Egypt; Zionism adopted the principle of divide and conquer, and saw that the most effective way to fragment the Arab world was to create secessionist movements within it. In doing so, it sought the redistribution of power in the region in such a manner to make a group of marginal countries lacking unity and sovereignty, all the easier for Israel, in cooperation with non-Arab countries to control them one after the other later. All the rebel movements triggered by ethnic and sectarian groups in the Arab world have drawn support and advocacy from Israel, which has adopted these separatist movements, as witnessed by the Kurds in Iraq and the rebel movement in southern Sudan.
This situation helps us to understand Israel’s strategy towards the Arab world, which is designed to encourage minorities to express themselves so that they may eventually seize self-determination and independence from the state. What helps in all of this is that the Arab world, contrary to what the Arabs claim, does not consist of one cultural and civilized unity – the mythical “Arab nation” but it is a diverse mix of cultures, religions, ethnicities and multilingualism. Israel has been used to portraying the region as a mosaic that includes in its midst a complex network of multi-linguistic, religious, nationalism forms between Arabs, Persians, Turks, Armenians, Israelis themselves, Kurds, Baha’is, Druze, Jews, Protestants, Alawites, Sabians, Shiites, Sunnis, Maronites, Circassians, Turkomans, Assyrians and so on.
According to Israel’s view, when a land or part of a land has minority groups within it but no collective history, the real history is the history of each minority. This has the purpose of achieving two main objectives:
First, it rejects the concept of Arab nationalism and the call for Arab unity; Arab nationalism in the Israeli perception is an idea shrouded in mystery, if not irrelevant. Arab unity is a myth because the Arabs pay lip service to one nation, but live within mutually incompatible states. It is true that most are united by language and religion, but that is also the case with people across the English- or Spanish-speaking worlds, but that does not make them one nation.
Second, this is used to justify the legitimacy of Israel’s presence in the region as just one more to add to the mix of nationalities, peoples and languages, for which the perception of unity is an illusion. The logical conclusion of this train of thought is that each group of people (whether calling themselves a nation or not) has its own state; thus does Israel gains its legitimacy as one of many nation-states in the Middle East.
The preceding thesis is taken from a text book: “Israel and the South Sudan Liberation Movement”, published in 2003 by the Dayan Centre for Research on the Middle East and Africa. The author is retired head of Mossad Moshe Faraji. I have referred to him on more than one occasion. He is worth looking at again as the crop sown by Israel and its allies since the 1950s is beginning to bear fruit.
Another senior Israeli, former Minister of Internal Security Avi Dichter, referred to Sudan in his 2008 lecture delivered to the Institute for Zionist National Security Studies. “There have been Israeli estimates since Sudan’s independence in the mid-fifties that this country, although far from us, should not be allowed to become a force added to the power of the Arab world because if its resources continue under stable conditions, it will make it a power to be reckoned with.” Hence, Israel’s attention has been directed towards Sudan, hoping to exploit the situation.
Sudan provides strategic depth to Egypt. This was evident post-1967 when Sudan and Libya provided training facilities for the Egyptian air force and army; Sudanese forces were sent to the Suez Canal zone during the war of attrition waged by Egypt between 1968 and 1970. For these two reasons, Dichter added, Israel had to work on weakening Sudan and prevent it from becoming a strong, unified state. This strategic perspective is necessary, he said, for Israeli’s national security. It is worth noting that Dichter’s lecture took place almost thirty years after the peace agreement signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979.
When asked about the future of southern Sudan, Dichter replied: “There are international forces led by the United States that are determined to intervene in Sudan so that the South will become independent, and the same for the Darfur region, like the independence of Kosovo. The situation in southern Sudan is not unlike that in Darfur and Kosovo, in that the two regions aspire to independence and acquire the right to self-determination after their citizens fought for that.”
Israeli support for the rebels in southern Sudan has gone through five stages notes Colonel Faraji:
Phase 1 started in the fifties. For nearly a decade, Israel focused on providing humanitarian aid (medicines, food and doctors) and was keen to provide services to refugees who were fleeing to Ethiopia. The first attempts to invest in the tribal differences in southern Sudan itself began in order to intensify the conflict and encourage the South to secede from the Arab north. Israeli intelligence officers stationed in Uganda opened channels of communication with the leaders of the southern tribes to study the demographic map of the area.
Phase 2 began in the sixties with Israel providing military training in special centres established in Ethiopia. At this stage, the Israeli government became convinced that keeping Khartoum busy with internal wars was sufficient to make sure that it would be unable to provide any support for Egypt’s struggle with the Zionist state.
Proselytizing organizations active in the south encouraged Israel to send members of its intelligence services under the cover of humanitarian aid; the prime goal was to train influential people to sustain the tension in the region. At this stage, Israel also expanded its support to the rebels by providing weapons through Ugandan territory; the first of such deals was in 1962, with mainly Russian armaments which had been captured by Israel when it took part in the aggressive Suez campaign in 1956. Fighters were trained in southern Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya before being pushed over the border to fight inside Sudan.
Phase 3 extended from the mid-sixties into the seventies, when the flow of arms to Southern Sudan was facilitated by an Israeli arms dealer called Gabi Shafine, who was working for Israeli intelligence. Shipments of Russian weapons won by Israel in 1967 were dropped by Israeli cargo planes. Israel also established a school for infantry officers to train the cadres necessary to lead the rebel factions. Israeli elements were involved in the fighting to lend their expertise to the South. At this stage groups were taken to Israel to receive military training. At the beginning of the seventies another channel for the delivery of Israeli support to South Sudan through Uganda was opened officially.
When it seemed that the rebel movement was about to collapse in 1969, Israel made a tremendous effort to urge the rebels to continue their fight, and used every method available to them to persuade southerners that they were engaged in a national struggle between Arab-Muslims in the north who were dominating a Black-African-Christian-Animist south.
Phase 4 from the late seventies through the eighties saw the African continent witness several major diversions (e.g. drought in Ethiopia) which did not stop Israel from supporting the rebels; indeed, support increased after Ethiopia became a regular conduit for the delivery of weapons to the South. John Garang emerged at this stage as a leader supported by Israel; he was received in Tel Aviv and given money and weapons. Israel was keen to train his men in various martial arts; ten pilots were trained to use light fighter aircraft.
Phase 5 started in late 1990 with expanding Israeli support; shipments reached the south through Kenya and Ethiopia. Israel provided the south with heavy anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft guns. At the beginning of 1993, the coordination between Israel and the SPLA (the southern army) included funding, training, armament, information and supervision by Israeli technicians of military operations.
It is clear that Israel has been eyeing southern Sudan for more than half a century.
A worthy observation is that the insurgency in the south began in 1955, one year before the Declaration of Independence of the state of Sudan. This illustrates that the oft-cited reason for southern secession – the implementation of Shari’a Law by the government of Al-Turabi in 1989 – is merely an excuse; this is a struggle that has gone on long before such proposals were even mooted.
While Israel was supporting the southern rebels with arms, Western countries were continuing their diplomatic efforts to arrange the division of Sudan through a referendum. The peace accord signed between the Khartoum government and the rebels was reached with British, American and Norwegian sponsorship. For more than fifty years, the people of Sudan have faced armed insurrection on one side and diplomatic pressure and dirty tricks on the other. If just a quarter of such an effort had been applied on the situation in Palestine, the problem would have been resolved decades ago. Self-determination appears to be acceptable, indeed highly desirable, if it will weaken a predominantly Arab state, but off the agenda when it involves the Palestinians obtaining their rights against the Zionist state of Israel.
They have planned for this division of Sudan and look set to get what they wanted. As for the Arabs, they have stood and watched as mere spectators. I hope that this is not a precursor for further disappointments to come.
The anti-war and international solidarity activists who are being called before a grand jury in Chicago have learned that beginning a few months before the protests against the Republican National Convention in the 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota, a law enforcement officer infiltrated the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee (AWC). The infiltrator went by the name Karen Sullivan, joined the AWC in April 2008, and about a year later she joined the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Misty Rowan, of the Anti-War Committee, said, “The AWC played an important role in organizing the permitted march on the Republican National Convention on September 1, 2008, and also organized a rally and march on the fourth day of the convention. We can only assume that this First Amendment protected organizing was the reason that this agent, Karen Sullivan, infiltrated the AWC. It is the same kind of infiltration criticized in the September 2010 inspector general report and highlighted in the recent release of documents from the Richmond, Virginia, police, where any sort of assembly is defined as a disturbance and threat.”
Jess Sundin, of the Anti-War Committee, said; “This professional liar posed as a fellow activist for two and a half years, and acted as if she was our friend. She spent time around my child, and even attended a small BBQ to celebrate my release from the hospital after I survived a near-fatal brain hemorrhage in April of last year. This event had no investigative value. By attending personal events like this, she showed how unprincipled she was.”
In the summer of 2009, the agent signed up to go on a solidarity trip to Palestine. Three members of the delegation were denied entry at the Tel Aviv airport and eventually sent back to the U.S., Sarah Martin, Katrina Plotz and the agent. We have now learned that on the word of this agent, these political activists were prevented from witnessing first-hand what is paid for with U.S. tax dollars in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
In conversations between our attorneys and the prosecutor’s office in Chicago, we have had confirmation that Karen Sullivan was in fact a law enforcement officer working undercover.
It now appears that the investigation of the U.S. Attorney is focused on small donations to the daycare and women’s center projects of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, an NGO registered with the Palestinian Authority with local offices in towns across the the West Bank and Gaza. The Union is a progressive women’s organization that strives to build respect for women’s rights.
Steff Yorek, of Freedom Road Socialist Organization said, “We are appalled that we were infiltrated by police agents, targeted for our political organizing and views. This violates our rights to freedom of association and speech.”
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is planning a National Day of Protest for January 25, in cities across the country. This protest is in solidarity with people refusing to testify at the secret grand jury in Chicago on that day.
Pictured: “Karen Sullivan” (right) with her associate “Daniela Cardenas”
Lebanon entered a transitional stage Thursday, only a few hours after the collapse of PM Saad Hariri’s government, as President Michel Sleiman declared the government in caretaker capacity pending the formation of a new government. On Wednesday, 11 ministers resigned from Hariri’s government in protest at his refusal to convene the Cabinet to discuss the Special Tribunal for Lebanon especially after the Saudi- Syrian effort to defuse the STL crisis was presumed dead.
It is the first time in Lebanon’s history that a government is toppled by the resignation of more than a third of its members, but it’s not the first time a government continues functioning in a caretaker capacity. Only this time, there is a slight difference with the STL expected to issue an indictment regarding the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Martyr Rafiq Hariri, and no official authority to receive it. The indictment is expected to implicate Hezbollah in the murder; a move widely seen as politicized serving US and Israeli interests in Lebanon and the region.
CARETAKER GOVERNMENT HAS NO DIRECT MANDATE
According to former minister and lawyer Issam Naaman, the Lebanese Constitution states that there are only three cases in which the government is considered resigned: the resignation or death of the Prime Minister, the end of the parliamentary cycle (i.e. parliamentary elections), in addition to the resignation of more than one third of the government’s members.
Naaman told Al-Manar website that in any of these cases, the president should call for parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister. He noted that pending the formation of the new government, the resigned one functions in caretaker capacity and therefore, its ministers are required to act in this capacity.
The former minister defined the principle of “caretaker government as a task to manage the simple, routine and daily operations which do not require endorsement or Cabinet approval. “However, the caretaker government does not have the mandate to take decisive decisions that usually require a Cabinet meeting,” he explained.
Asked whether there were exceptional cases in which the caretaker government could take decisive resolutions, Naaman said that only in urgent cases such as catastrophes, the concerned minister has the right to take specific measures such as spending money without credence.
Naaman, meanwhile, pointed out that there was no specific constitutional deadline for the formation of a new government following any government resignation. “Customs stipulate, however, that parliamentary consultations, appointment of a prime minister and the formation of a new government take place without delay,” he said. “Yet, there are some cases where the country is severely divided, that the process extends to a relatively unlimited time” he added.
GOVERNMENT COLLAPSED WITH RESIGNATION OF 11th MINISTER
For his part, veteran legal expert and former head of the State Consultative Council, Yusuf Saadallah Khoury said the government collapsed the moment the 11th minister tendered his resignation. According to the constitution, more than one third of the ministers should resign to topple the government. In this case of a 30-member Cabinet, 11 ministers were required to withdraw.
“The constitution stipulates that the president then calls for binding parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister. After that, the president, alone, issues a decree mandating the appointed PM to form the new government, and when the government is formed, the president releases a second decree” for the government take the oath and start functioning officially.
Like Naaman, Khoury stressed the caretaker government doesn’t have the direct mandate or the moral authority to take crucial decisions. “In case it adopts any resolution with relation to fateful events, it would be in violation of the law and should be penalized,” he explained. “The government has resigned and therefore its task is limited to taking care of necessary operations and transactions,” he elaborated.
The former head of the State Consultative Council also stated that the constitution has not specified any time limit for the President to issue the decree calling for parliamentary consultations. “The President is not obligated by any time limit in this regard. He can take the political circumstances into consideration before releasing it,” he said, stressing at the same time that the parliamentary consultations to appoint a new Prime Minister are mandatory.
The Lebanese are already divided over the legal and structural aspects of the STL, which the opposition regards as another political tool in US and Israeli hands to target the country and the resistance, yet the resignation of the government raises question marks on the fate of the international tribunal and the indictment which, if issued now, will find no official authority to receive it.
“Following the government’s resignation, the expected indictment will have absolutely no impact on Lebanon at any level,” former minister Issam Naaman told Al-Manar website, adding that the tribunal officials are aware that the STL wouldn’t be able to execute its indictment, especially after the speeches of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah who called for boycotting the illegal and unconstitutional tribunal. He recalled that the national opposition has rejected the agreement of coordination with the STL, which was adopted by the unconstitutional government of Fouad Saniora January 23, 2007, in violation of the Constitution and all laws,” reminding that then President Emil Lahoud didn’t sign it and the parliament did not endorse it.
For his part, Khoury ruled out any possibility of forcing Lebanon into dealing with the tribunal, which is subject to the United Nations Security Council’s Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows the UNSC to resort to military interference and imposing sanctions. “This is not applicable at all,” Khoury told Al-Manar. He explained that the United Nations is powerless in this regard, especially with a caretaker government, given that the Security Council has the power to militarily interfere only in exceptional cases such as war, which is not the case in Lebanon.
OPPOSITION WILL NOT RE-APPOINT HARIRI…
Naaman explained the circumstances that led to the Saudi-Syrian initiative before being obstructed by the United States. “The Saudi-Syrian initiative was built on three main pillars: suspending financial aid, withdrawing Lebanese judges and transferring the issue of the false witnesses to the Lebanese Judicial Council. The US administration has rejected the settlement and exerted pressure on former PM Saad Hariri and Riyadh to foil it.”
“That’s why the national opposition decided to put an end to the whole game and chose to consult with President Michel Sleiman and convince him to influence Hariri to call for an immediate Cabinet session. But Hariri didn’t, turned down the opposition’s demand, leaving the opposition with no choice but resignation,” Naaman noted.
He expected that the formation of a new government would not take place very soon, adding that the opposition has basically decided not to re-appoint Saad Hariri as Prime Minister and seek other national figures suitable for the position of PM.
By its resignation from the government, the national opposition launched an era of democratic change; a sensitive transitional stage that will define the shape of the country for at least the 20 months left for the president’s tenure.