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Israeli official: Erdogan visit to Gaza ‘would harm Turkey’s relations with the US’

Palestine Information Center – 06/09/2011

ANKARA — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he may visit the Gaza Strip next week in conjunction with his scheduled visit to Cairo after talks with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

Erdogan said in response to questions by reporters on Sunday that he could visit the besieged Gaza Strip after first visiting Egypt. But he said the visit to Gaza has not yet been determined on his official agenda.

Erdogan was scheduled to visit Gaza 21 June, but the visit was postponed indefinitely.

Officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said they were making contacts with their counterparts in Egypt with regard to Erdogan’s potential visit to Gaza.

They said that Egyptian Foreign Ministry was excited about the visit but that it would require Israel’s consent.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official has warned Erdogan against the visit, saying it would be a major diplomatic mistake.

The official said on Israel’s Channel Two that the visit would harm Turkey’s relations with the United States and challenge the legitimacy of the governance of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Government officials in Gaza have welcomed the possibility, saying that the Gaza Strip would benefit from such a high-profile visit. But they said that no arrangements have been made so far apart from what was leaked by the media outlets.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Satire: Experts’ stunning confession proves controlled demolition NOT responsible for 9/11 WTC destruction

By Carmen Yarrusso | Intrepid Report | September 6, 2011

Nobody can deny the neat collapse of three World Trade Center buildings into their footprints at nearly free-fall speeds looks exactly like so-called “controlled demolition.” And yes, high-rise fires (many bigger, more intense, and longer lasting than those at the WTC) had never come close to bringing down a modern steel-framed building until it happened THREE times in one day on 9/11. But just because something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, tastes like a duck, and wears a tee shirt that reads: I’M A DUCK, YOU IDIOT!!!!, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a duck.

Thirty courageous experts from the handful of elite companies that implode modern steel-framed buildings have released a stunning joint confession that strongly disputes the claim that controlled demolition was used to destroy the three WTC buildings. They call themselves Licensed Implosion Authorities Renouncing Stupidity (LIARS).

Here’s the LIARS press release:

We, the Licensed Implosion Authorities Renouncing Stupidity (LIARS), are patriotic Americans who come forward on this solemn tenth anniversary of the 9/11 disaster to emphatically refute the absurd notion that controlled demolition brought down the WTC buildings. We’re well aware the information we’re exposing guarantees we’ll be condemned and ostracized by the controlled demolition industry; in fact, our lives may be in danger. But America needs to know the truth.

The sad truth is this: the few elite companies that implode large steel-framed buildings are guilty of massive fraud. The typical months of preparation, the careful placing of thousands of explosives, and the meticulous timing of explosions are COMPLETELY unnecessary. Consider the following facts from Controlled Demolition, Inc.’s website describing the tallest building ever imploded using controlled demolition, Detroit’s 439 ft J. L. Hudson Department Store:

  • a 21-man crew needed three months to investigate the complex and four more months to complete the implosion design
  • the steel support columns weighed over 500 lb/ft, with up to 7.25 inch thick laminated steel flanges and 6 inch thick webs
  • each column was analyzed to determine the actual load it carried and then cutting torches were used to carefully scarf-off the steel plates in order to use smaller charges to cut the remaining steel
  • the steel support columns were severed using a complex delay system to keep hundreds of thousands of tons of debris within the building’s 420 ft by 220 ft footprint
  • a 12-person crew took 24 days to place 4,118 separate charges in 1,100 locations on support columns on 9 levels. 36,000 ft of detonating cord and 4,512 non-electrical delay elements were used for the implosion initiation system using 2,728 lb of explosives

Demolition company insiders have long known that all this elaborate preparation is just for show to inflate their profits. They’ve always claimed it’s necessary to carefully sever ALL the main support columns at the lower levels to get the structure to fall straight into its footprint.

The American people must be told there’s absolutely no need to weaken the support columns at the lower levels. In fact, there’s no need to do ANYTHING AT ALL to the lower floors of a modern steel-framed building. Just randomly sever several support columns on a few floors near the TOP of the structure, ignite a few small short-lived oil fires to weaken a few horizontal supports, and watch the building quickly fall straight into its footprint.

It doesn’t matter much which few floors near the top or which support columns are chosen. The South tower had support columns randomly severed between floors 78 to 84 and the North tower had support columns randomly severed between floors 94 to 98. The lower 80 or 90 floors of these buildings were UNTOUCHED by explosives or cutting torches. Yet both buildings fell neatly into their footprints.

WTC Building 7 illustrates the fraud perpetrated by our industry even more dramatically than the collapse of the twin towers. Being only 47 stories, it didn’t even require severing of a few support columns. All it needed was some relatively small isolated fires to bring it straight down into its footprint.

The American people should ask themselves this: If this very simple, somewhat random method of imploding tall buildings isn’t reliable, how can you explain that it worked perfectly THREE TIMES on the same day?

We could have been using these simple techniques for all buildings imploded over the years. This for-profit fraud by our industry has wasted millions in demolition costs and, worse yet, caused the vast majority of Americans to erroneously believe it takes months of preparation and meticulously placed and timed explosives (especially on lower floors) to neatly collapse a steel-framed building into its footprint.

The 9/11 disaster certainly looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, smells like a duck, tastes like a duck, and wears a tee shirt that reads: I’M A DUCK, YOU IDIOT!!!!, but trust us, the LIARS, it’s not a duck.

Carmen Yarrusso lives on a river in a small town in New Hampshire. He often writes about uncomfortable truths.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | 1 Comment

Censoring Military Personnel Is Un-American

Suzanne Ito | ACLU | September 2, 2011

Today, the ACLU filed a brief in a case on behalf of Col. Morris Davis, who was fired from his job at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for publicly criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to try some Guantánamo detainees in federal courts and some in the military commissions system.

Col. Davis is a decorated veteran of the United States Air Force. From 2005 to 2007, he served as the Chief Prosecutor for the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Commissions, which was created to prosecute suspected terrorists being held at Guantánamo. He resigned from that position in October 2007 because he came to believe that the military commission system had become fundamentally flawed, and has openly and publicly criticized the commissions ever since.

In 2008, Col. Davis began working as the Assistant Director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at CRS. His work at CRS had nothing to do with Guantánamo or the military commissions, and in fact, CRS was fully aware of his previous public criticism of the military commissions when he was hired.

Despite this, CRS fired Col. Davis after the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post published opinions he authored expressing his views about the military commissions. Immediately after these opinions were published, Davis was informed that his employment would be terminated because of the pieces.

In December 2009, we sent CRS a letter informing it that by firing Col. Davis, it had violated his First Amendment right to speak, as a private citizen, about issues that have nothing to do with his job there. We informed CRS that if they did not reinstate Col. Davis, we would sue.

They refused to reinstate Col. Davis, so we sued. The defendants in the case, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and former CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan, asked a district court to dismiss the case. That court refused. Mulhollan is currently appealing that decision to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief we filed today opposes that appeal.

This country’s handling of detainees in the so-called “war on terror” is an issue of great public concern, and few have the experience and authority to speak on this issue as Col. Davis. Firing him for stating an opinion is unconstitutional and un-American. We hope the appeals court agrees.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Leave a comment

Ethiopian kids left out of Israel schools

Press TV – September 6, 2011

Scores of Ethiopian students in Israel are forced to stay at their homes as principals at private religious schools admit only a limited number of the African kids.

A hundred and sixty Ethiopian kids, whose school had been earlier closed, remained at home despite remarks by the municipality in Petah Tikva, nearly 10.5 km (6.5 miles) east of Tel Aviv, that the reassignment of the students was almost complete, Ha’aretz reported on its website on Tuesday.

Local private religious schools refrained from taking more than a very limited number of children from the Ner Etzion school, almost all of whom are of Ethiopian origin.

Municipal sources admitted that “private schools do not absorb these children,” and “the principals make problems over the few that they do take.”

The Ner Etzion school, meant to be closed gradually, was shut down last week after hundreds of Ethiopian students and their parents gathered outside the school last Thursday to protest the isolation of the Ethiopian kids in the school, which they described as an “Ethiopian ghetto.”

Israel’s Education Ministry ordered the shutdown on Friday, which prompted private school principals to hold an urgent meeting with Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon, demanding that “the burden of absorbing the [Ethiopian] children not be imposed on them.”

The public religious schools have, meanwhile, said that they would thus be the ones that will be pressured to take the Ethiopian students and become “Ner Etzion 2.”

Israeli parents in the public religious system are also resisting a large absorption of Ner Etzion children, with some vowing not to allow any “immigrant child” until they see the full list of placements.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 3 Comments

The Next Quagmire: Sanctions and Syria

By Fergus Hodgson | FFF | August 24, 2011

If trade promotes peace, and it does, then trade sanctions stifle it. That may be simple logic, but it continues to go unnoticed with Washington officials.

The latest nation on the receiving end of economic provocation is Syria. On August 18, Barack Obama froze all Syrian government assets within U.S. jurisdiction and banned American investment in, service trade with, and petroleum imports from Syria. Echoed by officials from other nations, both Obama and Hillary Clinton have called on Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, to step aside — although they still gave lip service to national sovereignty, saying that “no outside power should impose on [Syria’s] transition.”

To justify that move, Clinton denounced Syrian leaders as contemptuous towards their own people, and she asserted an array of atrocities against peaceful demonstrators, including the murder of thousands of unarmed civilians.

The story is not that simple, however. Verification of the number of deaths is scant, and the “peaceful demonstrations” could better be described as an armed insurrection. In fact, alongside the insurrection, Damascus has witnessed mass pro-government rallies. Syria also happens to be the leading destination for refugees from Iraq, and as recently as 2009 Obama had sought to ease sanctions, on the basis of “mutual interest and mutual respect” (according to his press spokesman).

Regardless, al-Assad has dismissed calls for him to step down as meaningless, and trade sanctions will pave the way for military confrontation, not prevent it.

Obama’s latest sanctions are an amplification of George W. Bush’s under the 2003 Syria Accountability Act. Congress introduced that legislation against Syria for, you guessed it, support for terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and, among other things, failure to support American activities in Iraq. Obviously, Syria is a “threat to U.S. national security interests.”

Paranoia aside, the track record of trade sanctions does not support their existence. Just take a look at the list of embargoed nations, including Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Zimbabwe. If anything, sanctions have offered a scapegoat for national officials and galvanized loyalists, who could better demonize the disengaged populations. Most important, sanctions have not led the officials of targeted nations to back down.

Worse, sanctions worsen the plight of the poor, scarcely different from open war. 1990s Iraq provides just one compelling example. Impact estimates for deaths for that period, due to sanctions-induced contaminated living conditions and a lack of access to medicines, go as high as 500,000, as John Pilger has documented.

Madeleine Albright, U.S. ambassador to the UN at the time, even acknowledged that impact, when she said, “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.” Worth it for what? A decade of sanctions only led into the second Gulf War.

U.S. politicians also appear to forget that trade is mutually beneficial, so sanctions are mutually harmful. Blocking Syrian petroleum and business ventures is going to hurt both Syrian and American economic prospects. Moreover, the application of freezes on foreign-owned assets is so vague that it will dissuade further investment here.

The selectivity of sanctions is another riddle that further undermines their credibility. Syria mustn’t be lending the United States enough money, because the Chinese government has a record of violent tactics that dwarfs that of Syria. They own $1.2 trillion of the U.S. debt and face no sanctions. They even just received a lecture from Joe Biden on the need for open trade:

“I believe history has shown … that in the long run, greater openness is a source of stability and a sign of strength, that prosperity peaks when governments foster both free enterprise and free exchange of ideas, that liberty unlocks a people’s full potential. And in its absence, unrest festers.”

That’s right, Mr. Biden; the absence of trade does allow unrest to fester, just as it will in Syria. There may not be easy answers to the regrettable political conflicts in Syria, but isolation from the rest of the world is not going to help. Even if unintentionally, U.S. officials are setting the stage for military engagement, as they did with Iraq and recently with Libya.

Fergus Hodgson is director of fiscal policy studies with the John Locke Foundation and a policy advisor with The Future of Freedom Foundation. You can follow him on Twitter and send him email.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Sanctioning Dr. Shaaban Assaults US Values

By Franklin Lamb – Al-Manar – September 5, 2011

As part of its 7th set of US sanctions against Syria, which began in June, 2011, the Obama administration has targeted a messenger, a sometime spokeswoman, a positive image of Syria, someone people of all religions and cultures have easily identified with over the past several years, Dr. Bouthainia Shaaban.  The US administration acted thus for the sole purpose of pressuring the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but has succeeded in undermining American values of freedom of expression much more.

On August 28, 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments targeted Dr. Bouthainia Shaaban, and froze any assets she might have in the US.

According to State Department spokesman, Victoria Nuland, who two US Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffers speculate may view Dr. Shaaban as a rival of sorts given their job descriptions, and Dr. Shaaban’s stellar performances during meeting with US officials both in the US and Syria, the explanation for blacklisting a Syrian nationalist and media advisor remains:  “She (Dr. Shaaban) has served as the public mouthpiece for the repression of the regime.”

No US official to date has stepped forward to defend the sanctions against Dr. Shaaban with any more substantive or detailed complaint or supporting evidence.

Theodore Kattouf, former US ambassador to Syria was reportedly astonished to see Dr. Shaaban’s name on the latest sanctions list and he expressed on television his regret for such a bad decision. Former Ambassador Kattouf explained that sanctioning Dr.Shaaban was a serious mistake because Dr. Shaaban is well known of her positive and constructive attitudes and positions against wars and injustices and bloodshed.

True, Dr. Shaaban, among several others, is a trusted advisor to the Syrian administration.  She presumably offers counsel and insights; perhaps much like Theodore Sorenson did for President John Kennedy, and Bill Moyers for Lyndon Johnson. But she is not and has never been a decision maker.  Presumably her advice is considered, but who knows to what degree. Which advisor is also a key decision maker?

Surely the Obama administration knows well that when any person occupies a position as media advisor or even press secretary, he/she speaks for and explains the policy of the administration he’s working for. To sanction them violates American notions and values of freedom of expression and immunity from harassment for performing a vital job that benefits all by way of clear understanding and communication of a country’s position on political, social, and economic issues of the day.

Dr. Shaaban’s background is well known to recent US administrations and also much appreciated according to Washington sources.  She is known as an independent thinker, reformer, writer, University Professor (she taught in Eastern Michigan for two years and earned her PhD from Warwick University in the UK and was a Fulbrighter at Duke University (1990 – 1991) and got the prestigious McCandless professorship at Easter Michigan University for 2000. She is known for her ability and willingness to take a minority position, if her evaluation of the facts of a case or issue leads her there, and is never reluctant to speak truth to power. Her writings, many of which have appeared in the left of center Counterpunch (counterpunch.org) always advance positions against wars, violence and occupation.

The Obama administration knows that Dr. Shaaban has no account in the US, earns a modest salary, is the wife of the manager of the Syrian Establishment for Food Industry, and this ‘sanction’ is designed solely to harm her excellent reputation that she has earned during the past couple of decades. When pressed for details of her assets both the US Treasury, and State Department spokeswoman Nuland only offered: “Let’s just leave it at that.”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

Dr. Shaaban’s office avers that she has very few assets at all and certainly none in the US.

“Bouthainia connects with people” according to a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer who has met with her:  “Whether with Hamas or Saudi Princes, and both know her views on full rights for women and justice for Palestinians, and with American officials too she is effective.”

For some of these reasons the US treasury and State departments have targeted her and the Obama administration, largely it appears, out of ignorance, according to Congressional sources, said, “Ok, if you think is a good idea go ahead.”

It was not a good idea.  Attacking Mrs. Shabaan is a low blow and disgraceful by any standards and especially for one who is a very positive force helping bridge several divides between East and West.

President Obama erred in signing off on this mistake.

The White House attacked a friend of America and of all people of good will. It needlessly assaulted a symbol of the great country of Syria, the great Syrian people, their history, culture, resistance values, profound dignity, and their decency.

In so doing the Obama Administration sullied American values and doubtless does not represent American values or the will of the American people. It did undermine American values of freedom of expression and compromised American notions of fair play and American legal norms of substantial justice.

Would that President Obama will immediately reverse this ill-considered action.

- Franklin Lamb is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Japan’s ex PM feared uninhabitable Tokyo – Fukushima update

Penny For Your Thoughts | September 6, 2011

What does Kan know that would cause him to have these thoughts?

Japan’s former premier Naoto Kan feared Tokyo would be rendered uninhabitable by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, he said in an interview published on Tuesday in which he recalled the ‘spine-chilling’ thought.
He added it would have been ‘impossible’ to evacuate all of the 30 million people in the event of a mass exclusion zone encompassing Tokyo

Are these the thoughts of an irrational man?

Or are these thoughts borne out of an access to information and knowledge that the general public is not allowed to know?

One has to wonder?

And the multiple problems with Fukushima rage on.

Of course you would never know it, judging by the mainstream media.

Just like nothing is going on…

So here are a couple of the latest news stories:

Tepco to build wall off Fukushima Daiichi Plant

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant plans to build an iron wall on the ocean side of the plant to prevent radioactive water from leaking into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said more than 110,000 tons of highly radioactive water remains in the basements of reactor buildings at the plant.

The utility will use thousands of iron pipes to create an 800-meter-long wall surrounding the water intakes of 4 reactor facilities, NHK Japan’s website reported.

Don’t know if or how well this will work out?

Additionally there is a problem with tons of radioactive waste just piling up!

Growing piles of contaminated sewage, located hundreds of kilometers from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, are loaded with high levels of radioactive cesium, and the government has yet to come up with a policy for the country’s latest crisis. Tons of alarmingly high levels of radioactive cesium are being reported at a sewage treatment facility in Saitama, located more than 150 miles southwest of Fukushima, site of the triple nuclear meltdown last March after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Japan currently has more than a dozen sewage treatment plants currently faced with the same predicament and the government has yet to institute a policy in dealing with the quickly growing problem.

A Japanese delegation has headed to Chernobyl

A Japanese delegation will visit the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear plant to study its experience in clean-up operations, speaker of Japan’s House of Representatives Takahiro Yokomichi said here.

The Japanese delegation wants to have first-hand information about the situation at the Chernobyl plant and to learn whatever lessons possible to prevent any such accidents, and to make use of Ukraine’s experience in the clean-up operations after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Yokomichi said yesterday.

Interesting article from a few days ago…

Why Fukushima is worse then Chernobyl

“Japan has been slow to admit the scale of the meltdown. But now the truth is coming out.”

While it is true that Japan has been very, very slow to admit the scale of meltdown, it is highly unlikely the “truth” is now forthcoming.
The fact of the matter is the radiation from Fukushima, that virtually covers the planet, is to dam hard to hide!

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | 2 Comments

The CIA and the Drones

“One Hell of a Killing Machine”

By GARETH PORTER | CounterPunch | September 6, 2011

When David Petraeus walks into the Central Intelligence Agency today, he will be taking over an organisation whose mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.

But the transformation of the CIA did not simply follow the expansion of the drone war in Pakistan to its present level. CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.

The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.

During 2010, the CIA “drone war” in Pakistan killed as many as 1,000 people a year, compared with the roughly 2,000 a year officially estimated to have been killed by the SOF “night raids” in Afghanistan, according to a report in the Sep. 1 Washington Post.

A CIA official was quoted by the Post as saying that the CIA had become “one hell of a killing machine”, before quickly revising the phrase to “one hell of an operational tool”.

The shift in the CIA mission’s has been reflected in the spectacular growth of its Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) from 300 employees in September 2001 to about 2,000 people today – 10 percent of the agency’s entire workforce, according to the Post report.

The agency’s analytical branch, which had been previously devoted entirely to providing intelligence assessments for policymakers, has been profoundly affected.

More than one-third of the personnel in the agency’s analytical branch are now engaged wholly or primarily in providing support to CIA operations, according to senior agency officials cited by the Post. And nearly two-thirds of those are analysing data used by the CTC drone war staff to make decisions on targeting.

Some of that shift of internal staffing to support of the drone has followed the rise in the number of drone strikes in Pakistan since mid-2008, but the CIA began to lay the institutional basis for a bigger drone campaign well before that.

Crucial to understanding the role of internal dynamics in CIA decisions on the issue is the fact that the drone campaign in Pakistan started off very badly. During the four years from 2004 through 2007, the CIA carried out a total of only 12 drone strikes in Pakistan, all supposedly aimed at identifiable high-value targets of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

The George W. Bush administration’s policy on use of drones was cautious in large part because the President of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was considered such a reliable ally that the administration was reluctant to take actions that would risk destabilising his regime.

Thus relatively tight constraints were imposed on the CIA in choosing targets for drone strikes. They were only to be used against known “high-value” officials of Al-Qaeda and their affiliates in Pakistan, and the CIA had to have evidence that no civilians would be killed as a result of the strike.

Those first 12 strikes killed only three identifiable Al-Qaeda or Pakistani Taliban figures, But despite the prohibition against strikes that would incur “collateral damage”, the same strikes killed a total of 121 civilians, as revealed by a thorough analysis of news media reports.

A single strike against a madrassa on Oct. 26, 2006 that killed 80 local students accounted for two-thirds of the total of civilian casualties.

Despite that disastrous start, however, the CIA had quickly become deeply committed internally to building a major programme around the drone war. In 2005, the agency had created a career track in targeting for the drone programme for analysts in the intelligence directorate, the Post article revealed.

That decision meant that analysts who chose to specialise in targeting for CIA drone operations were promised that they could stay within that specialty and get promotions throughout their careers. Thus the agency had made far-reaching commitments to its own staff in the expectation that the drone war would grow far beyond the three strikes a year and that it would continue indefinitely.

By 2007, the agency realised that, in order to keep those commitments, it had to get the White House to change the rules by relaxing existing restrictions on drone strikes.

That’s when Hayden began lobbying President George W. Bush to dispense with the constraints limiting the targeting for drone attacks, according to the account in New York Times reporter David Sanger’s book “The Inheritance”. Hayden asked for permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behaviour that matched a “pattern of life” associated with Al-Qaeda or other groups.

In January 2008, Bush took an unidentified first step toward the loosening of the requirements that Hayden sought, but most of the restrictions on drone strikes remained in place. In the first six months of 2008, only four strikes were carried out.

In mid-2008, however, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell returned from a May 2008 trip to Pakistan determined to prove that the Pakistani military was covertly supporting Taliban insurgents – especially the Haqqani network – who were gaining momentum in Afghanistan.

A formal assessment by McConnell’s staff making that case was produced in June and sent to the White House and other top officials, according to Sanger. That forced Bush, who had been praising Musharraf as an ally against the Taliban, to do something to show that he was being tough on the Pakistani military as well as on the Afghan insurgents who enjoyed safe havens in northwest Pakistan.

Bush wanted the drone strikes to focus primarily on the Afghan Taliban targets rather than Al-Qaeda and its Pakistani Taliban allies. And according to Sanger’s account, Bush quickly removed all of the previous requirements for accurate intelligence on specific high-value targets and for assurances against civilian casualties.

Released from the original constraints on the drone programme, the CIA immediately increased the level of drone strikes in the second half of 2008 to between four and five per month on average.

As Bob Woodward’s account in “Obama Wars” of internal discussions in the early weeks of the Barack Obama White House shows, there were serious doubts from the beginning that it could actually defeat Al- Qaeda.

But Leon Panetta, Obama’s new CIA director, was firmly committed to the drone war. He continued to present it to the public as a strategy to destroy Al-Qaeda, even though he knew the CIA was now striking mainly Afghan Taliban and their allies, not Al-Qaeda.

In his first press conference on Feb. 25, 2009, Panetta, in an indirect but obvious reference to the drone strikes, said that the efforts to destabilise Al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership “have been successful”.

Under Panetta, the rate of drone strikes continued throughout 2009 at the same accelerated pace as in the second half of 2008. And in 2010 the number of strikes more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 118.

The CIA finally had the major drone campaign it had originally anticipated.

Two years ago, Petraeus appeared to take a somewhat skeptical view of drone strikes in Pakistan. In a secret assessment as CENTCOM commander on May 27, 2009, which was leaked to the Washington Post, Petraeus warned that drone strikes were fueling anti-U.S. sentiments in Pakistan.

Now, however, Petraeus’s personal view of the drone war may no longer be relevant. The CIA’s institutional interests in continuing the drone war may have become so commanding that no director could afford to override those interests on the basis of his own analysis of how the drone strikes affect U.S. interests.

~

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam“, was published in 2006.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Israel Continues to Uproot Hundreds of Olive Trees for Construction of Separation Wall

By Mikaela Levine | Alternative Information Center | 05 September 2011

At 8 am this morning  bulldozers arrived at the olive tree fields in the Bethlehem-area village of al-Walaje. They were driven by private contractors and guarded by Israeli soldiers.

The bulldozers blocked the way for everybody, except the members of the three families who own the land. The families could be there, to witness, complain, cry, but nothing else. Dozens of olives trees were uprooted yesterday, just a month before the beginning of the olive harvest season and a week after the Israeli High Court ruled that it was essential for Israel’s security to incarcerate al-Walaje by building the Separation Wall all around it.

“In view of this situation, we believe that the harm caused by the fence’s route to the petitioners is reasonable and proportionate in comparison to the great security value that results from the fence along this route”, the Israeli judges concluded. Now, in order to build the Wall, Israeli forces must uproot hundreds of olive trees, destroying part of the past, the present and the future of the 2,400 village residents.

“They are doing huge environmental damage here”, denounced the Palestinian activist Professor Mazen Qumsiyeh. He arrived after the soldiers and saw how the pile of uprooted olive trees grew over the hours. After midday, the bulldozers kept working and, according to Qumsiyeh, they will continue to do so tomorrow, on Tuesday. Professor Qumsiyeh called for international and Palestinian activists to join them in al-Walaje tomorrow morning to pressure the soldiers to stop this crime.

The last series of uprootings began in June, two months before the aforementioned High Court ruling. At the beginning of June, Jamal Barghouti reported that Israeli soldiers invaded his land and uprooted more than 80 olive trees and some Cypress trees that have given shade to the fields surrounding the Palestinian village for over 70 years.

Every time they come, the Israeli soldiers repeat that they are going to build special gates so the Palestinian farmers can continue to work their fields. Yet Palestinians know better. Reports and personal experiences demonstrate that these gates provide only limited access and with time the farmers and owners that continue to cultivate their land on the other side of the Separation Wall are a dwindling minority.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

Israeli forces detain Hamas lawmaker

Ma’an – September 6, 2011

RAMALLAH — Israeli forces detained Hamas legislator Mohammed Abu Teir on Tuesday, army officials said.

Israeli soldiers ransacked Abu Teir’s home in Kafr Aqab, south of Ramallah, before detaining the elected official, a Ma’an correspondent reported.

An Israeli military spokesman said Abu Teir was detained on Tuesday but could not immediately comment on the reason for his arrest.

Former PA Minister of Jerusalem affairs Khalid Abu Arafa told Ma’an he was concerned about Abu Teir’s fate after Israel withdrew his Jerusalem identity card.

In December, an Israeli court expelled Abu Teir to Ramallah from his home in Jerusalem for the second time, after four months in jail for defying a previous ban.

He was previously arrested on June 30, 2010 for entering East Jerusalem after the interior ministry stripped him of his residence permit for his activity in Hamas.

Following Abu Teir’s deportation to Ramallah in December, UN officials expressed concern. Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said he was “worried” about the “potential precedent” that the trial set.

Abu Teir was elected to the Palestinian parliament from East Jerusalem in 2006 when Hamas won a landslide victory over the secular Fatah movement of Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

   

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