Syria has accused the United States of encouraging more massacres in the country and of meddling in its internal affairs, saying Washington supports armed terrorist groups operating in Syria.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the US is covering up terrorist crimes and distorting the facts about what is happening in Syria.
“The US administration is pushing forth with its flagrant interference in Syria’s internal affairs and its backing of armed terrorist groups,” read the statement. It added, “US statements distort the truth and what is happening on the ground while encouraging armed terrorist groups to carry out more massacres… not only in al-Haffeh but throughout the country.”
On US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland’s remarks about the possibility of a massacre occurring in al-Haffeh, the statement noted that US officials are ignoring the armed groups’ attacks in al-Haffeh.
The Syrian government also reaffirmed its commitment to the joint UN-Arab League peace plan, brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.
On Monday, the US State Department called for more pressure to be imposed on the Syrian government. The US and its Western and Arab allies blame Damascus for the violence in Syria.
Annan’s six-point plan, effective from mid-April, calls for the establishment of a cease-fire between the government and the opposition and also says humanitarian groups should be allowed to have access to the population, detainees should be released, and a political dialogue should be started.
- US predicts another Houla-style massacre in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
HEBRON – Israeli forces on Tuesday handed a southern West Bank village demolition orders for each of its 50 buildings, a week after Israeli authorities agreed to halt all construction in the area in response to a petition filed by a settler group.
Susiya village, in the south Hebron hills, has three days to appeal the decision before their village is demolished, resident Nasser Nawaja told Ma’an.
The community’s lawyer Quamar Mishirqi said she will file an objection to Israel’s High Court.
The mass demolition notices come days after an Israeli court heard Susiya’s case to remain in their homes. The village is fighting a petition by the neighboring Jewish-only settlement also called Susiya, and an Israeli group pushing to demolish Palestinian buildings called Regavim.
Last Wednesday, the court decided to implement a total freeze on building in the village, and the state agreed to inform the court of its plans for the village within 90 days, as requested in the Regavim petition.
While Regavim is registered as a non-governmental organization and says it is interested in equal application of the law, a Ma’an report last month showed it is run by residents of Israeli settlements and illegal outposts, with political connections to local government and the Likud and National Union parties.
Further, according to Israeli experts who reviewed the group’s official reports, the NGO is financed by publicly funded local councils of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The United Nations humanitarian affairs office has warned that Susiya, a hamlet of 350 people, including 120 children, is at immediate risk of forced displacement as a result of Regavim’s petition.
Nawaja told Ma’an the demolition orders intend to clear the village of its inhabitants in order to use the land for Israeli settlements. All settlements are illegal under international law.
The village lies in an area called Masafer Yatta, long besieged by settlements and their outpost offshoots, as well as a steady stream of demolition orders.
Residents of the area are a mixture of pre-1948 communities squeezed by their proximity to the ceasefire line with the new Israeli state, agricultural lands farmed by Yatta residents who moved out to live on their fields, and Bedouin encampments set up by those displaced from the Negev desert in the war to establish Israel.
When Israel began building settlements in the area in the early 1980s, villagers say the army started putting pressure on them to move from Masafer Yatta.
In 1999, the entire population was evacuated by the Israeli army. After a battle in Israel’s High Court, residents were granted ‘temporary’ permission to return.
“The court agreed this is our land, but they will not give us permission to build on it,” says Susiya council chief Muhammad Ahmed Nawaja.
International law experts say that under the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel must provide for the needs of the occupied Palestinian population, and are prohibited from demolishing any structure that has a civilian purpose.
- Official: Settlers torch agricultural field near Hebron (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Settler Front-Group Presses Government to Accelerate the Demolition Frenzy in South Hebron Hills (villagesgroup.wordpress.com)
- Israeli occupation authorities demolish well near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Witnesses: Hebron settler runs over child (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Hebron teen ‘shot by Israeli settler’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settlers set fire to ancient tree in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces detain Hebron journalist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Children of the Samuni family, who survived the Israeli army’s deadly attack on the Gaza Strip
A family, whose twenty-nine members were killed during the Israeli regime’s 22-day war on Gaza Strip, has issued an appeal to the British Queen to remove the Steinmetz Jubilee diamond from the Tower of London due to the company’s support and funding of the onslaught.
The Samuni family has called on the De-Beers company, which has put the diamond on display to mark the British Queen’s 60th years on the throne, to show respect for the surviving victims of the diamond funded Givati Brigade’s war in Gaza.
The family also said that diamonds that generate revenue used to fund the regime guilty of committing war crimes are de-facto “blood diamonds”.
“On behalf of the surviving members of the Sammoni family and the hundreds of other families in Gaza who have been killed by war crimes committed by the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Army, we are shocked and disappointed by the decision of De Beers to present the Queen of England with a diamond manufactured by the Steinmetz Diamond company – a company which supported the Givati Brigade during the Israeli war on Gaza late 2008 as they murdered 29 members of our family in cold blood,” said Helmi Samuni, speaking on behalf of the family, in an appeal posted to YouTube.
“We the Samuni family call on the Queen of England and the British people to decline this gift. We demand that De Beers be instructed to remove this offensive blood diamond display immediately.”
The 35.60-carat pink diamond, crafted by Steinmetz Diamonds, went up on display at the Tower of London from June 1st, 2012, marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
- Israeli Army Closes Investigation Into A-Samuni Family Killings (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- No pretense of an excuse for continued Israeli attacks on Gaza (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A baseball-esk ID card, one man and an army of drones now determine the fate of a 17 year old girl in Yemen. As the moral scale on determinations to label terrorists and to legitimate counter-terrorism tilts away from the Allegiance’s pledge to “liberty and justice for all”, September 11th, 2001 remains a current issue.
On the evening of September 10 2001 I was welcomed home by a voicemail from my best friend Zoe Falkenberg. She proudly told me that she had ridden in a limo to the airport, I bet it was one of those normal airport shuttles misleading called limos. Zoe and I were two of an inseparable trio, friends who had fought and loved as sisters since the early months of our lives, when we began sharing a nanny. Zoe called from the airport; she was leaving the next morning for Australia with her little sister Dana, her dad Charlie Falkenberg, and her mom Leslie Whittington. Mama Les was taking her sabbatical at a university there.
September 11, 2001 was a sunny Tuesday, picturesque clouds spread beautifully across a splendidly blue sky. I was an 8 year old in Mrs. Kelly’s 4th grade class at University Park Elementary School in University Park, MD. An administrator announced over the PA system that there would be an early dismissal, one thirty I think. There was a funny atmosphere, I think there was a movie playing in our classroom, I was doing something for the teacher with colored computer paper. Not the kind with bright colors, the sad kind that comes in creepy green and peculiar purple. A lot of parents were picking their kids up early, mine didn’t. After we were officially dismissed, my dad came to pick up a neighbor and me, her dad was still teaching. My dad had a funny look on his face, a strained smile. After arriving at my home, my neighbor and I began playing beanie babies in my top bunk. At some point I must have speculated about the peculiarity of the day because my neighbor told me she had heard something about planes crashing in the sky. The story line of our beanie baby game included planes crashing in the sky. When my mom got home she talked to my dad, and then laid in an unusual way on the hammock in our back yard, I was watching through my window.
Once my neighbor’s parents picked her up I went down to join my family. I sat down on the green and white striped self-standing hammock. My parents were standing in front of me,my older brother was nearby. I was cheery, after all I had gotten out of school early then spent an afternoon playing with a friend. Then my parents told me that Zoe and her family were gone forever. My parents must have said that their plane crashed too, but I only remember hearing that my Zoe F and her family were gone forever.
In the years following the attacks, the Falkenbergs have never been far from my mind, but I thought of the people themselves, not of the attack as a whole. And then in May of last year, US troops killed Osama Bin Laden. While my facebook newsfeed roared with patriotic statuses, I could not understand why I was not overwhelmed with pride in my country’s recent feat. I found myself reading Osama Bin Laden’s obituary in the New York Times, trying to rationalize the experiences that lead him to project so much trauma into my own life. Not long after, the faces of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi appeared on the public television screens. The broadcast was to announce that the prime 9/11/01 suspects were to be tried in military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay. I felt as if I were eight years old again.
It pains me to know that the US government is using the deaths of the Falkenbergs, and thousands of other innocents, to justify atrocious human rights violations. Anthropological theory can help to explain how human rights violations against the 9/11/01 suspects, including torture, and refusal of due process, inherently violate the rights of both those victims murdered and those still living. My specific usage of victim defines persons whose lives were profoundly affected by the attacks, mainly those involved in the attacks and their loved ones. The methods used for interrogation of the 9/11/01 suspects, and the decision to try the suspects in military commissions instead of criminal courts violate the rights of the victims both dead and alive and forces victims into accomplices in the state’s violence.
During their detention, Guantánamo prisoners including the 9/11/01 suspects have been subjected to violations against their basic human rights, including protection from torture. Interrogators use knowledge of Islamic religious beliefs and values to embarrass and mutilate the detainees’ spiritual rights. These coercion tactics include female interrogators rubbing red dye that signifies menstrual blood on prisoners to make them dirty, preventing the men’s ability to pray. Waterboarding is another form of torture practiced at Guantánamo, entailing drowning simulation to produce a panic response in the victim. Mohammed is one of three prisoners who former CIA director General Michael Hayden has publicly recognized as having been subjected to the now explicitly illegal, waterboarding .
The alleged use of these torture tactics is to discover whether or not the suspects were involved in the 9/11/01 attacks, to learn more about the attacks, and to prevent future acts of terror, all while seeking justice for the victims. However, in April of 2011 Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the justice department had developed a strong case to seek the death penalty for the five suspects up for trial Evidence retrieved from torture can be used in military commissions; coerced evidence is not legitimate in criminal courts. Thus, because Holder stated that the plaintiff legal team was prepared to prosecute Mohammed, bin Attash, bin al Shibh, Abdul Aziz Ali, and al Hawsawi in federal courts, we can assume that there is a sufficient amount of evidence for their persecution that was not obtained through torture. If there is sufficient legitimate evidence to prosecute the suspects then the Guantánamo torture is unnecessary for a successful judicial trial, making the human rights abuses against these men superfluous for conventional justice.
In addition to violating the rights of the attack suspects, the human rights abuses against the suspects inherently violate the rights of the 9/11/01 victims to dignity postmortem. One specific atrocity was committed against Mohammad al-Quahtani, the sixth 9/11/01 suspect who has been denied trial, and will instead be held indefinitely at Guantánamo. The interrogator taped a picture of a 9/11/01 victim to his pants. The use of this image violates the rights of the dead victims to peace postmortem. But more than that, by using a victim’s image as a tool to harm the suspects, interrogators force the victims’ bodies into tools of aggression.
By invoking the deaths and images of 9/11/01 victims to abuse the suspects, the military interrogators reverse the victim/perpetrator roles. The dead do not have agency, but by using the deaths of thousands of innocents to justify these human rights abuses, the state forces the victims into the role of accomplice for the state’s violence against Mohammed, bin Attash, bin al Shibh, Abdul Aziz Ali, al Hawsawi, and al-Quahtani. The state mutilates the dead victims’ bodies into tools of aggression, forcing the victims into the guise of perpetrator, and allowing the attack suspects to become victims. Therefore by torturing the 9/11/01 suspects in the name of justice for those killed on September 11th 2001, the state distorts the victims’ positions as innocents murdered on a tragic day, into allies for terrorism.
This violation of the rights of the victims murdered on 9/11/01 has also yielded a violation of the rights of those victims still alive. The violation of dead victim’s rights leaves one with the question: who is the aggressor, the men whose motivations for and true involvement in the terrorist attacks remain unknown, or the state that consciously links victimized innocents with torture? This confusion is a problem for the legitimacy of the state because, while the presence of the state remains guaranteed, the state’s threat mars its position as a place of justice. The threat of the state prevents living victims from understanding the state as a space for justice. And if we cannot find justice within the bounds of our state, then what can we hope for in a military tribunal at Guantánamo, a place defined by its occupation as outside the binds of law?
Military commissions contain provisions that deny fair trials, and silence defendants, and in doing so, violate their human rights. For example, the allowance of evidence coerced during cruel and inhumane conditions denies the suspects of their right to due process. Also, both the judge and the jury are military appointed, thus an unbiased hearing is not possible, denying the suspects of even a chance of their right to due process. In addition, military commissions bar civilians and press from large portions of the trials. By excluding civilians and press from the trials, the military commissions prevent a witness to controversial trial proceedings. The exclusion of civilians from certain trial proceedings also prevents living victims from learning information about the terror attacks that have so much influenced their lives, an important part of healing. Moreover, at least bin al Shibh and al Hawsawi have submitted requests to represent themselves, however their appointed military council have thus far prevented this occurrence on the grounds of mental incompetency. By denying the 9/11/01 suspects the opportunity to speak on their own behalf, the military tribunals refuse to allow a trial in which any sort of justice is possible. The military commissions are denying justice in their silencing of the suspects because the commissions abjure the defendants of an opportunity to fight for themselves and for their own lives, in essence denying the suspects of their right to life. Some might say that these state-labeled terrorists do not deserve the chance to defend their own life. Nevertheless, denying the 9/11/01 suspects a criminal court trial violates both the rights of the suspects to a fair trial and of the living victims to the information that military commissions refuse.
The images and the information that the government has released of and about Mohammed, bin Attash, bin al Shibh, Abdul Aziz Ali, and al Hawsawi has forced the general public to other these men. The images of the suspects are their Guantánamo mug shots, taken after years of torture. The result is that the representation of the 9/11/01 suspects broadcast to the public is one of men who the public cannot relate too, and so instead we distance ourselves from these men and other them into the unquestionable group of 9/11 terrorists.
Othering prevents true justice because it refuses the opportunity to question the state’s actions and in doing so forces living victims into accomplices in the state’s violence. By denying the 9/11/01 victims the opportunity to gain information about each of these men’s involvement in the attacks, through both military and suspect testimonies, military commissions abjure living victims of the opportunity to gain the information about both the attacks and the 9/11/01 suspects that is necessary to individualize the suspects and their crimes. While Mohammed, bin Attash, bin al Shibh, Abdul Aziz Ali, and al Hawsawi remain abstractly as the 9/11 terror suspects, we do not feel an obligation to recognize their individual rights, therefore we do not question the way in which the state treats them. The denial of information forces silence and in doing so impels us to reflect the position that silence assumes. One of accompaniment with the government as it commits human rights violations in the name of our dead. Thus, not only does the denial of transparency inherent in military commissions violate the rights of the 9/11/01 suspects, this abjuration also refuses living victims of their right to information, and in doing so forces us into the role of accomplice to the government’s human rights violations.
Therefore, in violating the rights of Mohammed, bin Attash, bin al Shibh, Abdul Aziz Ali, and al Hawsawi, the state also violates the rights of 9/11/01 victims both living and dead. The state forces dead victims into accomplice roles in violence. The state withholds information from living victims, causing their othering of the suspects and subsequent position of silence regarding the suspects’ human rights, ultimately forcing living victims to be complicit in the state’s human rights violations. The National Defense Authorization Act gives the president the discretionary power to order military detention of suspected terrorists. Obama signed the NDAA into law on New Years Eve of 2011. This law allows us all to be arbitrarily declared as terrorist suspects. We can no longer allow our government to determine the legacy of September 11th 2001.
Kathryn Fenster is originally from Prince Georges County, MD. She is an anthropology major at Grinnell College, Grinnell Iowa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: former military prosecutor denounces trial (guardian.co.uk)
- No Justice for 9/11 Victims Found Here (truth11.com)
When Charles Ferguson accepted the Academy Award in 2010 for his documentary film Inside Job, he told 30 million people viewing the award ceremony that “three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single senior financial executive has been prosecuted and that’s wrong.”
Two years later, still no prosecution.
So, now Ferguson is out with a book – Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America (Random House, 2012.)
It reads like an indictment.
It reads like a number of indictments.
And Ferguson is hoping that federal prosecutors will pick up the book and get some ideas.
And why exactly have there been no prosecutions of high level Wall Street investment bank executives?
“Not exactly,” Ferguson says.
“It’s important to bear in mind the direct personal incentive structures of many of the people involved,” Ferguson told Corporate Crime Reporter last week. “The revolving door phenomenon now effects the Justice Department and federal prosecutors to a very substantial extent.”
“The previous federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York, Mary Jo White, now does white collar criminal defense and makes a great deal more money than she did as a federal prosecutor. I think that phenomenon is very well entrenched, very thoroughly entrenched.”
“Indeed Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division was head of the white collar criminal defense practice at Covington & Burling. They represent most of the major banks and investment banks in the United States.”
And his boss, Eric Holder, the Attorney General, came from the same firm.
“Exactly,” Ferguson said. “So, when you say politics, you sort of think of Republicans, Democrats, ideology, large scale political and policy debates. I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here. I think you have to consider incentives – individual, personal, financial and professional.”
When Rudy Giuliani was U.S. Attorney, he had no qualms about prosecuting Michael Milken. What has changed?
“One thing that has changed is that the amount of wealth and political power held by the financial sector has gone up by at least an order of magnitude,” Ferguson said.
“Another thing that’s changed is the amount of money that the financial sector spends on politics and acquiring political power and influence has also gone up by at least an order of magnitude.”
“And thirdly, the divergence, the difference between public sector salaries and incomes and private sector salaries and incomes has widened enormously.”
“So again, for those at the level of large scale political behavior and at the level of individual incentive, things have changed dramatically since the 1980s.”
As an undergrad, Ferguson studied mathematics at the University of California Berkeley and went on to study political science at MIT.
He then went on to organize an early software company – Vermeer Technologies – which was sold in 1996 to Microsoft for a reported $133 million.
He was an early fan of President Obama.
“I donated my legal maximum to his campaign in 2008,” Ferguson says.
But at a press conference in October 2011, Obama addressed the question of why no high level Wall Street executive has been prosecuted.
“So, you know, without commenting on particular prosecutions– obviously, that’s not my job, that’s the attorney general’s job – you know, I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact,” Obama said. [...]
What was Ferguson’s reaction when he heard Obama say – the actions “weren’t necessarily against the law”?
“My reaction was very negative,” Ferguson said. “First of all the statement is thoroughly inaccurate and incorrect, but secondly it’s very difficult for me to believe that he doesn’t know that.”
“Given what we now know, it’s very difficult for me to believe that President Obama actually believes that there was no significant criminality in the housing bubble and the financial crisis.”
Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.
- Exposing Countrywide (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Predator Nation: How Wall Street Crashed the Economy & Got Off Scott Free (ritholtz.com)
- Corporate criminals gone wild (salon.com)
BETHLEHEM – Palestinian political factions on Sunday condemned a draft economic agreement between Israel and the Vatican, saying it entails the Holy See recognizing Israeli legislation in East Jerusalem and occupied Palestinian territory.
The document outlining an agreement between Israel and the Vatican on legal and fiscal issues has been circulating in different circles, the PLO said in a statement.
By failing to distinguish between Israel and annexed East Jerusalem and Palestinian territory under occupation, the text would see the Vatican indirectly recognize Israel’s “exercise of powers and authorities in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the PLO said.
The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission of Israel and the Vatican will meet on Monday and Tuesday in Rome on the draft, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
“We trust that the Holy See will clarify the situation and affirm that it will uphold its legal and moral responsibility as a High Contracting Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Fatah official Nabil Shaath said in a statement.
Kayed al-Ghoul, a member of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that if the draft is signed it would represent a serious shift in the Vatican’s position towards the Palestinians.
Palestinian Liberation Front delegate Adnan al-Ghareeb called on the Vatican to maintain its position towards the Israeli occupation, a statement said.
The Vatican is part of the international consensus which recognizes the Palestinian territories as being under Israeli military occupation, Fatah official Shaath said.
“As such, any agreement with Israel must not jeopardize or undermine this legal fact nor contribute to Israel’s systematic and illegal policies of undermining the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination,” he added.
The Palestinian Prisoner Committee said in a press release on Monday, that the Israeli occupation intelligence service the “Shin Bet” is keeping five Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement cells in Jalama prison, despite the end of their interrogation with them, with no charge.
The Committee stated that the court gave the occupation investigators from the “Shin Bet” one week to provide it with an indictment against the five detainees, if not the prisoners should be released. Thus, the intelligence officers proposed the prisoners an offer requiring their deportation for two years in exchange for their release.
The statement stressed the prisoners’ complete rejection of the deportation and their determination to stick to their position. The prisoners also called on all local and international human rights organizations to take urgent action and pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities to release them after being detained for two months without charge.
Meanwhile, the Israeli prison administration is imposing sanctions that include fines, solitary confinement and denial of visitation rights, against nearly two hundred Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo, the Negev, Jalama and Raymond detention centers.
- #PalHunger | Palestinian Prisoner Mahmoud Sarsak Is In A Deteriorating Health Situation (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- #PalHunger | Palestinian female prisoners protest medical neglect (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- 20 Reasons to Get Angry for Palestinian Prisoners (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Israel arrests 800,000 Palestinians since 1948 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli occupation authority renews administrative detention of MP Rejoub for fourth time (alethonews.wordpress.com)