[NATO's goal is] to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.
— Hastings Ismay, first NATO Secretary-General
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
— James Madison (1751-1836), fourth American President
The hazards associated with American foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 should appear obvious to all, because it is precisely this policy that has caused the crisis in Ukraine with all its negative consequences for the coming months and years.
President Barack Obama was candid in admitting it on March 3, 2014: “we are indicating to the Russians [that] if in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic— that will isolate Russia.”
Well, it is precisely this desire to expand NATO and to isolate Russia by incorporating all the countries bordering Russia into NATO; i.e., a strategy of geopolitical and military encirclement of Russia, which has provoked that country when it felt threatened in its national security.
This is easy to understand.
For example, what would the United States do if a hypothetical Russian Empire were to incorporate Mexico or Canada into a military alliance? To ask the question is to answer it. Why is it so difficult to understand that the best way to start a war is to threaten a country’s vital interests?
The truth is that NATO should have been disbanded after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, and especially after the Warsaw Pact was itself dismantled. Europe should have then moved to build an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful, within a framework of economic and political cooperation and peace. But no! The United States wanted to take advantage of the situation and demanded that everything fell into the military-financial U.S. empire.
That is the source of many problems.
In my book The New American Empire, originally published in 2003, just before the onset of the Iraq war, I pointed out the dangers of the American global imperial ambition and explained the reasons. The Middle East was the first to suffer under this global policy of interventionism. And now, Europe as a whole, most unfortunately, may have to pay the price for this unbridled American hubris, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, although that policy goes back to George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.
This is why President Obama and his neocon advisers do not think beyond their nose, as was the case for the not-too-bright George W. Bush, when they adopted such a global imperialist ideology.
In 2008, it just happened that I wrote an article in which I advanced the idea that Europe had a vital interest in disbanding that relic of another age: NATO. Indeed, we must blame European leaders not to have understood that the fundamental interest of Europe was not to blend into the American Empire but rather to build an independent and united Europe. Because that reality has not been well understood, Europe is now running the risk of falling prey to a new Cold War with divisive and ruinous conflicts, while the United States will try to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, with the U.K. as its convenient ally from within Europe.
It may be not too late for European leaders to rectify the situation. This would, however, require wisdom and the courage to tell the American neo-cons who have designed American foreign policy for a quarter of a century that they are not masters of the world and that the European Union has no intention to pursue an aggressive policy of military encirclement of Russia. Point to the line.
Rather, on the contrary, Russia should be invited to join an expanded Europe of nations, large, democratic and peaceful within a framework of economic cooperation and peace.
What is needed of them is vision, insight, and a spirit of independence, which currently seems to be lacking badly in many current European governments.
Carelessness and the current European abdication in letting Washington decide European foreign policy may serve the interests of the American empire, but this could lead Europe to disaster.
The author can be reach at: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York – The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it would not hear Center for Constitutional Rights v. Obama, a lawsuit challenging the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of people within the United States. The suit sought an injunction ordering the government to destroy any records of surveillance that it still retains from the illegal NSA program. The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response to the Court’s decision:
The Supreme Court’s refusal to review this case guarantees that the federal courts will never address a fundamental question: Was the warrantless surveillance program the NSA carried out on President Bush’s orders legal? The Court’s decision also guarantees that the Obama administration, which has for the last five years refused to take any position on that question, will now never have to answer either.
Despite mounting evidence of government spying on attorneys’ privileged communications, the Court yesterday declined to review the lower court’s determination that CCR attorneys’ fears of surveillance under President Bush’s NSA program, which involved no review by judges or Congress and flew directly in the face of express criminal prohibitions, were too “speculative” to allow CCR to challenge the program in court.
The Court’s decision comes as increasing evidence suggests the government has been surveilling attorney-client communications for some time. The New York Times recently reported that in 2013 the NSA surveilled law firm Mayer Brown while it represented the government of Indonesia in trade talks with the United States. In 2008, The Times reported Justice Department officials had confirmed that attorney-client communications in terrorism cases were sometimes subject to surveillance. And a document accidentally released to an Islamic charity in 2004 indicated that the D.C.-based attorneys for the charity had been subject to surveillance while speaking to their clients.
A memo released by whistleblower Edward Snowden indicated that the government only excludes attorney-client communications from collection when the client is under actual indictment in the United States. Communications of attorneys not directly with a client (for example, with expert witnesses or investigators abroad), or with a client not formally charged in the United States (including, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights’ many Guantanamo detainee clients, none of whom are charged in federal courts) might now be subject to surveillance under broad orders issued under the current FISA statute.
In late September 2001, a couple of weeks after 9/11, the United States was struck with what the Bush regime dubbed a “second wave” of terrorism. Letters laced with deadly anthrax spores arrived in the mailboxes of prominent media figures and two American senators. Five people were killed and 17 others were infected.
A concerted effort was made by the Bush regime and the mainstream US media to present the anthrax attacks as the work of the same people who perpetrated 9/11. They were, in a sense, correct, but the people behind 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax fiasco were not members of al-Qaeda or adherents of the Islamic faith.
A very clear and discernible pattern of propaganda was foisted upon the American public following 9/11. Zionists from Israel and the US took a leading role in assigning responsibility for the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour. Unsurprisingly, the Zionists immediately pointed fingers at all of their Middle Eastern rivals and adversaries, from resistance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Israel’s enemies were being portrayed as America’s enemies too. Together, said the Zionists, Israel and America can defeat “the forces of darkness.” Israel’s crude campaign of innuendo and Orwellian projection manifested within a few hours of the 9/11 attacks. Israeli politicians Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres all made public statements calling on the US and other Western powers to initiate a global “war on terrorism,” a term coined by Likudniks in the 1980s.
Israel’s army intelligence service Aman and the former Mossad chief Rafi Eitan trumpeted brazen disinformation shortly following 9/11, alleging Iraqi involvement in the attacks. In August of 2001 the Mossad delivered a propagandistic “warning” to the CIA alleging al-Qaeda and Iraq were working together and were plotting terror attacks on major US landmarks. The neoconservatives, who are for all intents and purposes emissaries of the Israeli regime in the US, went straight to work in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times and other Zionist-controlled media outlets, attempting to portray Arabs and Muslims generally as the sponsors of 9/11 and the source of all terrorism in the world.
The same pattern of Zionist deception is apparent with the anthrax attacks. Israel’s partisans immediately mobilized a propaganda initiative to link Iraq and al-Qaeda to the anthrax mailings.
On various occasions [former US] president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney told reporters that al-Qaeda was likely involved in the lethal mailings. The docile mainstream media unquestioningly repeated this unfounded assertion. A stunning piece of disinformation appeared in an Oct. 27, 2001, report in the London Times, alleging that an Iraqi official met with 9/11 patsy Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in April 2001. The report went on to suggest that during the rendezvous the Iraqi official gave Atta a flask of anthrax. The origin of this dubious claim was noted in the article: Israeli security sources. The chief of Czech foreign intelligence, Frantisek Bublan, later revealed that this supposed meeting never took place and was nothing more than a propaganda invention of interested parties. “Promoting a so-called ‘Prague connection’ between Atta and [the Iraqi official] al-Ani might have been a ploy by U.S. policymakers seeking justifications for a new military action against…Saddam Hussein,” Bublan told the Prague Post.
When the Iraq/al-Qaeda propaganda narrative fell apart, the FBI targeted two… within the US bio-weapons establishment: scientists Steven Hatfill and Bruce Ivins. The FBI began harassing Hatfill and publicly called him a “person of interest” in the anthrax investigation.
Hatfill vehemently denied the charges and was eventually exonerated. He later sued the FBI and other US government agencies, winning a settlement of more than $5 million in damages. Like Hatfill, Ivins was an unlikely suspect for the anthrax attacks as well.
There was no evidence tying Ivins to the anthrax letters and he had no conceivable motive. The FBI launched an intense campaign of innuendo against Ivins in an effort to convict him in the court of public opinion. Ivins allegedly committed suicide while in a Maryland hospital just before he was set to be indicted and stand trial. How convenient.
Ivins worked at a US bio-weapons facility called USAMRIID in Fort Detrick, Maryland. This is where the FBI claims the anthrax used in the attacks originated. Since there is no evidence that Ivins was involved in the anthrax mailings, there is likewise no reason to believe the FBI’s claim that the anthrax spores used in the letters originated from that facility.
Another curious event took place during the anthrax affair that garnered little attention from the mainstream press for obvious reasons. An Arab-American scientist who worked at the same Fort Detrick facility as Ivins was the victim of an attempted frame-up. Shortly before the first known victim of the anthrax attacks was confirmed, an anonymous letter was mailed to the FBI that attempted to implicate Dr. Ayaad Assaad as a “potential biological terrorist.” The author of the letter claimed to have worked with Assaad previously and alleged that Assaad had a vendetta against the US government, urging the FBI to stop him. The letter prompted the FBI to investigate Assaad. The FBI questioned him in early October 2001 and quickly cleared him of any involvement with the anthrax attacks.
Strangely, the FBI seemed uninterested in finding out who sent the anonymous letter implicating Assaad, even though the contents and timing of the letter were amazingly conspicuous, coming just prior to a real bio-terrorist attack. Assaad suspected the letter-writer was involved in the anthrax mailings and opined that his Arab background made him the “perfect scapegoat.”
One possible source of the frame-up letter was a man named Dr. Philip Zack, a microbiologist and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. Zack worked at USAMRIID alongside Assaad in the early 1990s. Zack and other employees at the lab formed a clique called the “camel club” to bully Arab co-workers, particularly Assaad. One day in April 1991 Assaad found a poem in his mailbox written by Zack and other members of the “camel club” which mocked his Arabic heritage. Zack and several of his fellow anti-Arab racists voluntarily left the facility when Assaad informed his superiors of the harassment campaign.
In 1992, anthrax spores, Ebola virus and other deadly pathogens went missing from the Fort Detrick facility. An internal investigation discovered that someone was entering the lab late at night to conduct unauthorized research involving anthrax. The inquiry also revealed that Dr. Philip Zack made an unauthorized visit to the lab on Jan. 23, 1992, at a time when he was no longer working at the facility. Despite Zack’s suspicious past behaviour and harassment of Assaad, the FBI made no effort to pursue him as a suspect in the 2001 anthrax investigation.
A very revealing aspect of the whole affair was the fact that the anthrax-tainted letters were made to look like a Muslim who was angry at Israel and the United States authored them. “Death to Israel, Death to America, Allah is Great,” the letters read. Whoever was actually behind the anthrax mailings was evidently attempting to lead authorities to believe a Muslim or group of Muslims was responsible.
So where did the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks come from? Researcher Robert Pate posited a plausible theory in an essay entitled, “The Anthrax Mystery: Solved” In the paper, Pate suggests Israel is the most likely culprit. According to Pate’s research, Israel had the means, motive and opportunity to secure anthrax spores and deliver them to her targets without being detected. Pate demonstrates that Israel has had a sophisticated chemical and biological weapons program since its inception in 1948. Israel has produced biological agents including anthrax at the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) in Ness Ziona, located a few miles southeast of Tel Aviv.
“With the help of Jewish scientists from the former Soviet Union,” Pate opines, “Israel’s bio-weapons research has probably surpassed that of all other nations. The Soviet Union’s bio-weapons program had 32,000 scientists and staff working in 40 different research and production facilities. Two thousand of these scientists worked exclusively on the Soviet anthrax program. A significant number of these scientists may have immigrated to Israel and become employed in her bio-weapons programs.”
Pate cites a research paper by Dr. Avner Cohen titled “Israel and Chemical/Biological Weapons: History, Deterrence, and Arms Control” which outlines Israel’s biological and chemical weapons capabilities. Anthrax is certainly in Israel’s biological arsenal. In the paper, Cohen also describes how Zionist militants poisoned Palestinian water supplies with deadly pathogens during the 1948 ‘Nakba,’ wherein Zionist gangs completely destroyed and depopulated more than 500 Arab villages in order to birth… [Israel entity] . Historical examples of Zionist biological warfare noted by Pate, in addition to Israel’s penchant for false flag terrorism against its “allies” such as the Lavon Affair and USS Liberty attack, lead him to believe that Israel was willing and able to commit a biological attack in the US – a classic false flag operation to frame her enemies for political gain.
“A motive for the anthrax attacks would be to blame Arab terrorists or a ‘rogue nation’ for this atrocity and to help launch the United States into war against Israel’s enemies,” writes Pate. “[Israel’s motive] in launching the anthrax attacks would be to bring America into war against Iraq and to remove that country as a potential threat to…[Israel].” As noted earlier, Israeli intelligence contrived a false story to implicate Muslims where they claimed to have observed a meeting between an Iraqi official and alleged al-Qaeda ringleader Mohamed Atta in the Czech Republic in which an exchange of anthrax is said to have occurred. If Israel had nothing to do with the anthrax attacks, then why did they propagate lies with the intent to implicate Iraq and al-Qaeda? American authorities admit that no Muslim or Arab was involved in the anthrax mailings, so who else but Israel and corrupted Americans in the Bush administration could have been behind this obvious false flag?
It can be said without doubt that some members of the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the anthrax attacks. Press reports revealed that White House officials including Bush and Cheney went on a steady regimen of the drug known as Cipro, a powerful antibiotic effective against anthrax infection, weeks before the anthrax-trained letters were first discovered.
The theory that Israel and its accomplices in the Bush administration launched a biological false flag operation as a “second phase” of the overarching 9/11 deception is well within the realm of possibilities regarding 2001’s anthrax attacks in the US. It is certainly far more plausible than the FBI’s flimsy and still-unproven case against Bruce Ivins who conveniently died before any evidence could be aired in the courts.
But it would be foolish to place any hope on President Obama — a committed servant of the Israeli-American empire — to launch a new, independent investigation into any of these troubling matters.
With some people – the really bad liars – it’s easy to spot what criminologists call “guilty demeanor.”
When George W. Bush sat reading to schoolchildren on the morning of 9/11, remaining in the classroom for almost ten minutes after supposedly learning that America was under attack, the guilty look on his face was palpable.
At 9:03 that morning, as schoolchildren chanted “kite plane must hit steel,” Chief of Staff Andrew Card supposedly whispered in Bush’s ear: “A second plane has hit the World Trade Center, America is under attack.” But in reality, Card could not possibly have told Bush that. Whatever Card said required only two seconds. That was not enough time to explain a novel situation outside the President’s usual frame of reference.
In fact, Card must have said something like: “The operation is under way, await further instructions.”
If the Secret Service had really learned that America was under surprise attack, its agents would have immediately grabbed Bush and rushed him – at full speed – to a safe location. Instead, Bush just sat there looking guilty as the children read the book “My Pet Goat” for eight or nine minutes while the Secret Service did nothing.
When the reading session finally ended, Bush remained at the school for another twenty minutes.
After Bush had dawdled nearly half an hour in the classroom, the presidential motorcade took its time following the pre-announced route to the airport. Bush’s plane unhurriedly took off around 10 a.m. – almost an hour after Bush supposedly learned of the 9/11 “surprise attack.”
The whole world knew exactly where Bush was; the school event had been widely publicized in advance. If hijacked planes had really been used as missiles that day, the President would have been considered their number one target. But apparently the Secret Service knew Bush wasn’t in danger. The Secret Service’s complete lack of interest in the safety of the Commander-in-Chief (and in their own safety) proves, all by itself, that 9/11 was an inside job.
New York Times “embedded White House journalist” David Sanger was in the Florida classroom that day. He saw with his own eyes that the Secret Service knew Bush wasn’t a target.
In the twelve-and-a-half years that followed, Sanger never breathed a word about the obvious Secret Service foreknowledge.
That raises the term “embedded journalist” to a whole new level.
A few days ago, Sanger followed in the footsteps of the “Pet Goat President,” and gave the world another lesson in “guilty demeanor.”
During a C-Span interview, Sanger was asked by a 9/11 survivor why the New York Times has refused to cover the obvious controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7. Sanger’s response was evasive, obfuscatory, and mendacious.
The C-Span caller asked Sanger:
“Across the street from the New York Times building there’s a billboard asking where your paper’s coverage is of the over 2,000 architects and engineers who are demanding a new investigation of Building 7′s destruction on 9/11, and the overwhelming evidence that pre-planted explosives destroyed it. Since this has everything to do with our national security, can you explain what rational and scientific basis your paper has for failing to fairly and objectively cover this crucial issue?”
Sanger’s demeanor suggested he knew he was lying as he gave this circuitous answer:
“Trust me, the people who work at the New York Times have as much of a critical interest in what happened on 9/11 as anybody else. Because not only are they reporters there, but they live and work within the city. And we’ve devoted a fairly considerable amount of repertorial time over the past number of years to the question of all the different theories – conspiracy theories, regular theories, non-conspiracy theories – about what happened on that day. And you’ve heard the huge variety of them. We have not yet found any convincing evidence to suggest that there was a plot …that there was a plot that the President knew about in advance, which was one of the issues that came up. I was with the President on 9/11 at the school in Florida. I can tell you that he looked pretty shocked by what had happened, and shell-shocked by what had happened. And we have not found any evidence so far. That doesn’t mean that there’s none there. But we have not found any evidence so far to suggest that the building collapses were caused by anything other than the two airplanes that flew into them.”
Sanger blatantly evaded the caller’s question about Building 7. When he blamed the explosive destruction of the Twin Towers, and the smooth free-fall drop of Building 7, on “the two airplanes that flew into them” he was lying in two ways.
First, no airplane flew into Building 7.
Second, Sanger must know that the US government agency NIST admits that the planes and their jet fuel did very little damage to the Twin Towers. NIST blames office fires fueled by burning paper and carpets, not plane crashes or jet fuel, for the explosive pulverization of most of the Towers and their contents.
But whatever happened to the Towers, the destruction of Building 7 was the most obvious – and most perfect – controlled demolition in history. No smoother and more symmetrical near-free-fall implosion of a tall building has ever been recorded. Even Canadian scientist Frank Greening, the most prominent defender of NIST’s account of the destruction of the Twin Towers, has been forced to admit that NIST’s claim that Building 7 “just fell down from office fires” is ludicrous.
If David Sanger is really unaware of any evidence that Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition, he should just call up Frank Greening, the most-cited defender of the US government’s position on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Or he could try any of the more than 2000 Architects and Engineers.
Sanger’s bad faith – or his guilt-induced brain-freeze – is obvious when he divides the “different theories” about 9/11 into three categories: “Conspiracy theories, regular theories, and non-conspiracy theories.”
What can this possibly mean?
A “conspiracy” is a plan by a group of two or more people to commit a crime. How could there possibly be a “regular theory” or a “non-conspiracy theory” of 9/11? Is Sanger suggesting that a single individual may have acted alone?
As an embedded national security journalist, Sanger knows that the CIA was responsible for putting the weaponized term “conspiracy theorist” into circulation. The terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” were virtually unheard-of until the mid-1960s, when the CIA issued a memorandum to its thousands of Operation Mockingbird media assets telling them to attack JFK assassination researchers using those words. That memo is preserved as CIA Document 1035-960, released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by none other than the New York Times.
Apparently the CIA put out a similar memo after 9/11. And Sanger apparently got the memo.
Or maybe he didn’t need to.
Sanger has been a speaker at Foundation for Defense of Democracies – the neocon-Zionist successor to Project for a New American Century, which openly called for a “new Pearl Harbor” exactly one year before 9/11.
Former New York Times journalist Phillip Weiss calls Sanger a “complete insider” and a proponent of the Zionist notion that Iran is a threat to America.
Weiss has elsewhere alluded to another of Sanger’s possible motives for complicity in 9/11: Zionist sympathies. In his article “Do Jews dominate in American media? And so what if we do?” Weiss points out that the majority of his former colleagues and bosses at the New York Times are, in effect, Israeli propagandists: “The Jewish cohort of which I am a part has largely accepted the duty … of supporting Israel.”
David Sanger must know that Zionist billionaire Larry Silverstein, a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, bought the condemned-for-asbestos World Trade Center just six weeks before 9/11, doubled the insurance, then collected double-indemnity due to the “two unrelated terror attacks” (the two planes). Silverstein has confessed twice on television to the controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7.
Sanger must know that Netanyahu’s first reaction to 9/11 was “It’s very good!” He must know that Israeli spies were arrested in New York filming and celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center. He must know about the New York Police Department radio recording describing Israelis being arrested on 9/11 near the George Washington Bridge with a truck full of explosives.
Sanger apparently has plenty of reasons for parsing “conspiracy theories” from “non-conspiracy theories” and pretending he doesn’t know that 9/11 was an inside job.
- Tell the NY TImes: The Evidence Isn’t Hard to Find… (911blogger.com)
- Noam Chomsky and the Willful Ignorance of 9/11 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
US intelligence agencies have secretly helped the Colombian government kill at least two dozen leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a report says.
On Saturday, the Washington Post published the report revealing that both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) provided the Colombian government with technology to terminate the rebel leaders.
The report was based on interviews with more than 30 former and current American and Colombian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity since the program is classified and ongoing, the newspaper said.
According to the report, Washington provided Colombia with Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment that can be used to transform regular munitions into so-called smart bombs.
These explosives can accurately pinpoint specific targets, even if the objects are located in dense jungles.
In addition, the NSA provided “substantial eavesdropping help” to the Colombian government, the report stated.
In one of its operations, Colombian forces killed top FARC commander, Raul Reyes, in March 2008, while he was in a FARC-operated jungle camp in neighboring Ecuador. The newspaper reported that a US-made smart bomb was used in the killing.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos commented on the report, telling the newspaper that the CIA has been “of help, providing Colombian forces with “better training and knowledge.” The CIA, however, did not want to give any comments regarding the revelations.
The report also revealed that the multibillion-dollar program was secretly funded on top of the nine billion dollars in aid that the US has openly provided to Colombia, mostly in military assistance. The covert program was authorized by President George W. Bush and has continued under President Barack Obama.
The Colombian government and FARC have been holding peace negotiations since November last year in Cuba.
The two sides have agreed upon the matter of land reform and rural development, while four others issues still remain unsolved, including FARC’s participation in politics.
FARC is Latin America’s oldest insurgent group and has been fighting the government since 1964.
Bogota estimates that 600,000 people have been killed and more than 4.5 million others have been displaced due to the fighting.
Historic opportunity missed
When Barack Obama, the first black president of America, delivered remarks Tuesday during a South African memorial service for that country’s first black president, he muffed a historic opportunity to right a grave wrong done by the American government – one that helped send Nelson Mandela to prison for nearly 30-years.
Obama, during his remarks at a Johannesburg, SA memorial service for Mandela, who died on December 5 at age 95, recalled how that world-revered leader had endured “brutal imprisonment.”
But the U.S. president conveniently excluded the fact that America’s CIA had helped South African agents capture Mandela, leading to the very imprisonment that Obama and other world leaders were decrying during that service.
A few miles from the soccer stadium where that memorial service for Mandela was held is the house in Soweto where Mandela lived before he went underground in the early 1960s to ramp up the fight in his homeland against apartheid – that racist system modeled on U.S. segregation laws.
That small four-room house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto’s Orlando West section is now a museum commemorating the life and sacrifices of the man credited universally hailed as the ‘Father’ of modern South Africa.
Included among the abundant memorabilia inside that museum is a June 1990 letter sent to then U.S. President George H.W. Bush Sr. by some state legislators in Michigan asking Bush to apologize to Mandela for the U.S. CIA’s role in helping South African government agents capture Mandela in August 1962, leading to his long imprisonment. Mandela was finally been released from prison in February of 1990.
Bush Sr., a former CIA Director, brushed aside that request. His cold-shouldered non-response to that request continued the stance among legions of American governmental and corporate leaders who aided-&- and abetted South African apartheid right up to the negotiated end of white supremacist rule and the 1994 election of Mandela. The U.S. government had backed South Africa’s white minority government economically, militarily and diplomatically for decades.
Obama, during his eloquent memorial remarks, could have apologized specifically for that CIA role in Mandela’s arrest or he could have at least acknowledged America’s decades-long stance on the wrong side of the anti-apartheid struggle. Instead, he took a pass, even at the point when he urged persons who attended that memorial to “act on behalf of justice.”
Obama’s immediate predecessors in the White House – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – also were on hand for the Mandela memorial service. Neither of them had extended an apology to Mandela for the CIA’s role in his arrest, during their respective presidencies. Bush, in 2008, did sign a measure removing Mandela and ANC leaders from America’s ‘Terrorist Watch List’– a labeling left over from the era of federal government backing of apartheid.
Despite an Obama declaration during his remarks that lauded Mandela for embracing the “moral necessity of racial justice” the failures – real and perceived – of America’s current president to practice what he preaches about justice, is precisely what sparked protests against him when he visited South Africa last June.
On the occasion of that presidential visit, protesters blasted Obama for his arrogant and oppressive foreign policy according to press accounts. Protesters castigated his drone wars, his failure to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and America’s continuing support of Israel in that country’s apartheid-like subjugation of the Palestinians. Protesters included leading members of COSATU (the Coalition of South African Trade Unions) and South Africa’s Communist Party. Those two organizations, along with the African National Congress (ANC), form the tripartite coalition now governing South Africa. Mandela once headed the ANC.
Obama, during his Mandela service remarks, assailed the fact that “around the world men and woman are still imprisoned for their political beliefs.” Yet there too, was an element of hypocrisy, since as president, Obama has not pardoned any of the scores of Americans who’ve spent decades in prison for their political beliefs in fighting against American apartheid during the late 1960s and early 1970s – many of whom were falsely imprisoned under the illegal police-state-style COINTELPRO program once operated by the FBI.
President Obama has exercised his pardon powers less than any U.S. President in modern history. As Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! noted recently, Obama’s has to date pardoned ten turkeys during Thanksgiving but only 39 people during his presidential tenure. None of those pardoned have been America’s political prisoners.
Obama praised Mandela for teaching “us the power of action…” Apparently, though, Obama has not learned a key lesson of Mandela’s legacy: moving beyond symbolic rhetoric to real action.
Obama applauded Mandela as a “giant of history (who) moved a nation toward justice.” Mandela’s death, Obama said, occasioned a “time of self-reflection.”
Ironically, self-reflection would appear to be exactly what this US president needs if he is to improve his record of putting real substance into his too frequent symbolic efforts towards remediating festering wrongs committed by the American government.
After the Aug. 21 chemical weapons incident in Syria, a number of senior U.S. intelligence analysts disagreed with the Obama administration’s rush to judgment blaming the Syrian government, but their dissent on this question of war or peace was concealed from the American people.
The administration kept the dissent secret by circumventing the normal intelligence process and issuing on Aug. 30 something called a “Government Assessment,” posted at the White House press office’s Web site and fingering the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad as the guilty party.
Normally, such an important issue – a possible U.S. military engagement – would be the focus of a National Intelligence Estimate, but that would also cite the disagreements expressed within the intelligence community. By avoiding an NIE, the Obama administration was able to keep the lid on how much dissent there was over the Assad-did-it conclusion.
Once the “Government Assessment” was issued, Secretary of State John Kerry was put forward to present the case for launching a military strike against Syria, an attack that was only averted because President Barack Obama abruptly decided to ask congressional approval and then reached a diplomatic agreement, with the help of the Russian government, in which the Syrian government agreed to dispose of its chemical weapons arsenal (while still denying that it was responsible for the Aug. 21 attack).
Although war was averted, the Obama administration’s deception of the American public – by pretending that there was a government-wide consensus regarding Syrian government guilt when there wasn’t – was reminiscent of the lies and distortions used by President George W. Bush to trick the nation into war with Iraq over bogus WMD claims in 2003.
The behavior of the rest of Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. news media also shows that little has changed from a decade ago. Obvious indications of a deception were ignored and the few voices who raised the alarm were treated with the same mocking contempt that greeted skeptics of Bush’s case for invading Iraq.
Writers for Consortiumnews.com were among the few in the American media who noted the glaring flaws in the Obama administration’s case, including its refusal to release any of its supposed proof to support its conclusions and the curious absence of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper from the public presentation of the administration’s casus belli.
The reason for keeping the DNI on the sidelines was that he otherwise might have been asked if there was a consensus in the intelligence community supporting the administration’s certitude that Assad’s regime was responsible. At that point, Clapper would have had to acknowledge the disagreement from rank-and-file analysts (or face the likelihood that they would speak out).
Similarly, it appears that on-the-ground inspectors for the United Nations had their own doubts about the Syrian government’s responsibility, especially since Assad’s regime had allowed a UN team into Damascus on Aug. 18 to investigate what the regime claimed was evidence of rebels using chemical weapons.
It never made sense to some of these inspectors that Assad – just three days later – would launch a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus just a few miles from the hotel where the UN inspectors were staying. Assad would have known that the Aug. 21 incident would mean serious trouble for his government, very possibly drawing the U.S. military into the Syrian civil war on the side of the rebels.
The UN inspectors also failed to find Sarin or other chemical agents at one of the two sites that they subsequently examined near Damascus, and they inserted a qualification in their report about apparent tampering at the one area where Sarin was found.
However, instead of noting the many holes in the U.S. “Government Assessment” and the UN report, the mainstream U.S. news media simply joined the rush to judgment, hyping dubious claims from both U.S. government officials and non-governmental organizations favoring U.S. military intervention in Syria.
The New York Times and other major news outlets that swallowed Bush’s false claims about Iraq WMD a decade ago also began reporting Obama’s dubious assertions about Syria as flat fact, not as issues in serious dispute. As I wrote on Oct. 25, one typically credulous Times story accepted “as indisputable fact that the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 attack on a suburb of Damascus despite significant doubts among independent analysts, UN inspectors and, I’m told, U.S. intelligence analysts.”
New details of the rebellion among the intelligence analysts have just been reported by former CIA officer Philip Giraldi for the American Conservative magazine. According to Giraldi’s account, a “mass resignation of a significant number of analysts” was threatened if the Obama administration issued an NIE without acknowledging their dissent.
A “hurriedly updated” NIE had reflected the Syrian government’s suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians, “while conceding that there was no conclusive proof,” Giraldi wrote, adding:
“There was considerable dissent from even that equivocation, including by many analysts who felt that the evidence for a Syrian government role was subject to interpretation and possibly even fabricated. Some believed the complete absence of U.S. satellite intelligence on the extensive preparations that the government would have needed to make in order to mix its binary chemical system and deliver it on target was particularly disturbing.
“These concerns were reinforced by subsequent UN reports suggesting that the rebels might have access to their own chemical weapons. The White House, meanwhile, considered the somewhat ambiguous conclusion of the NIE to be unsatisfactory, resulting in considerable push-back against the senior analysts who had authored the report.”
Demands from Above
When Obama’s National Security Council demanded more corroborative evidence to establish Syrian government guilt, “Israel obligingly provided what was reported to be interceptions of telephone conversations implicating the Syrian army in the attack, but it was widely believed that the information might have been fabricated by Tel Aviv, meaning that bad intelligence was being used to confirm other suspect information, a phenomenon known to analysts as ‘circular reporting,’” Giraldi wrote.
“Other intelligence cited in passing by the White House on the trajectories and telemetry of rockets that may have been used in the attack was also somewhat conjectural and involved weapons that were not, in fact, in the Syrian arsenal, suggesting that they were actually fired by the rebels.
“Also, traces of Sarin were not found in most of the areas being investigated, nor on one of the two rockets identified. Whether the victims of the attack suffered symptoms of Sarin was also disputed, and no autopsies were performed to confirm the presence of the chemical.
“With all evidence considered, the intelligence community found itself with numerous skeptics in the ranks, leading to sharp exchanges with the Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. A number of analysts threatened to resign as a group if their strong dissent was not noted in any report released to the public, forcing both Brennan and Clapper to back down.”
The Obama administration’s “solution” to this analyst revolt was to circumvent the normal intelligence process and issue a white paper that would be called a “Government Assessment,” declaring the Syrian government’s guilt as indisputable fact and leaving out the doubts of the intelligence community.
While this subterfuge may have satisfied the institutional concerns of the intelligence community – which didn’t want another Iraq-War-style violation of its procedural protocols on how NIEs are handled – it still left the American people vulnerable to a government deception on a question of war or peace.
Yes, there was no scene comparable to the positioning of CIA Director George Tenet behind Secretary of State Colin Powell as he delivered his deceptive Iraq War speech to the UN Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003. Both Clapper and Brennan were absent from the administration’s testimony to Congress, leaving Secretary Kerry to do most of the talking with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey bracketing Kerry as mostly silent wing men.
And, yes, one could argue that the Obama administration’s hyping of its case against the Assad regime had a happy ending, the Syrian government’s agreement to eliminate its entire CW arsenal. Indeed, most of the grousing about the Syrian outcome has come from neocons who wanted to ride the rush to judgment all the way to another regime-changing war.
Dogs Not Barking
But Americans should be alarmed that a decade after they were deceived into a disastrous war in Iraq based on bogus intelligence – and the complete breakdown of Official Washington’s checks and balances – a very similar process could unfold that brought the country to the brink of another war.
Besides the disturbing fact that the Obama administration refused to release any actual evidence to support its case for war, there was the gullibility (or complicity) of leading news outlets in failing to show even a modicum of skepticism.
The New York Times and other major news organizations failed to note the dogs not barking. Why, for instance, was there no NIE? Why were the U.S. government’s top intelligence officials absent from public presentations of what amounted to an intelligence issue? It shouldn’t have required a Sherlock Holmes to sniff out the silenced intelligence analysts.
When a government leader refuses to reveal any of his supposed proof for a claim and conceals the professionals who don’t agree with his claim, any reasonably savvy person should draw the conclusion that the government leader doesn’t really have a case.
Though some Americans may cite the work of a few Web sites, like our own Consortiumnews.com, as having challenged the misguided conventional wisdom on Syria as we also did on Iraq, they should not draw too much comfort from this. After all, our readership is tiny when compared to the many sources of misinformation being disseminated to the broad American public.
The dangerous reality is that the United States remains vulnerable to the kinds of stampedes in judgment that can end up crushing people around the world.
[Here is some of our earlier reporting on the Syrian crisis: “A Dodgy Dossier on Syrian War”; “Murky Clues From UN’s Syria Report”; “Obama Still Withholds Syria Evidence”; “How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies.”]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
On November 6, several news outlets reported that the widow of former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat announced that the results of a Swiss investigation into her late husband’s death concluded he was poisoned with polonium, a radioactive substance.
In November 2012, Arafat’s body was exhumed in order for medical examiners to take samples of his remains to test for polonium, part of a murder investigation launched by French authorities at the request of Suha Arafat following the discovery last summer of traces of the highly toxic substance on some of his personal effects. In October 2004, after enduring a two-year siege by the Israeli military in his West Bank headquarters, Arafat fell seriously ill. Two weeks later he was transported to a French military hospital where he died. Doctors concluded he died from a stroke caused by a mysterious blood disorder.
At the time, many Palestinians suspected that Arafat was murdered. Over the years, he had survived numerous assassination attempts by Israel, and just six months before his death then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that an agreement he had made with US President George W. Bush promising that Israel wouldn’t kill Arafat was no longer valid, stating: “I released myself from the commitment in regard to Arafat.”
Two years prior to that statement, in an interview published in February 2002, Sharon told an Israeli journalist that he regretted not killing Arafat when he had the chance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, stating: “I am sorry that we did not liquidate him.” In 2002, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then in the opposition following his first term as prime minister (1996-1999), told the Likud party Central Committee: “We must completely and totally eradicate Arafat’s regime and remove him from the vicinity… This one thing must be understood: If we do not remove Arafat and his regime, the terror will return and increase. And only if we do remove them is there any chance of turning a new leaf in our relationship with the Palestinians.” When Arafat died, Netanyahu was serving as Minister of Finance in Sharon’s government.
PARTIAL LIST OF ISRAELI ASSASSINATIONS OF PALESTINIANS
2012 - On November 14, two days after Palestinian factions in Gaza agree to a truce following several days of violence, Israel assassinates the leader of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Jabari, threatening to escalate the violence once again after a week in which at least six Palestinian civilians are killed and dozens more wounded in Israeli attacks. Although Israeli officials know that Jabari is in the process of finalizing a long-term truce, and that he is one of the few people in Gaza who can enforce it, they kill him anyway, marking the start of a week-long assault on Gaza that kills more than 100 Palestinian civilians, including at least 33 children, and wounds more than 1000 others.
2012 - On March 9, Israel violates an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and assassinates the head of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair al-Qaisi, sparking another round of violence in which at least two dozen Palestinians are killed, including at least four civilians, and scores more wounded. As it usually does, Israel claims it is acting in self-defense, against an imminent attack being planned by the PRC, while providing no evidence to substantiate the allegation.
Following the assassination, Israeli journalist Zvi Bar’el writes in the Haaretz newspaper:
“It is hard to understand what basis there is for the assertion that Israel is not striving to escalate the situation. One could assume that an armed response by the Popular Resistance Committees or Islamic Jihad to Israel’s targeted assassination was taken into account. But did anyone weigh the possibility that the violent reaction could lead to a greater number of Israeli casualties than any terrorist attack that Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, could have carried out?
“In the absence of a clear answer to that question, one may assume that those who decided to assassinate al-Qaisi once again relied on the ‘measured response’ strategy, in which an Israeli strike draws a reaction, which draws an Israeli counter-reaction.”
2010 – In January, suspected Israeli assassins kill senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room. As in the past, the Israeli agents believed to have carried out the killing use forged and stolen foreign passports from western countries, including Britain, France, Ireland and Germany, causing an international uproar.
2009 - On January 15, an Israeli airstrike kills Said Seyam, Hamas’ Interior Minister and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
2009 - On January 1, an Israeli airstrike on the home of senior Hamas military commander Nizar Rayan kills him and 15 family members, including 11 of his children.
2006 - On June 8, Israel assassinates Jamal Abu Samhadana, founder of the Popular Resistance Committees and Interior Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, killing three other members of the PRC in the process.
2004 – On April 17, Israel assassinates Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a co-founder of Hamas and its leader since the assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin a month earlier. Rantisi is considered a moderate within Hamas.
2004 – On March 22, Israel assassinates the 67-year-old wheelchair-bound spiritual leader and co-founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, as he leaves prayers at a mosque in Gaza, killing nine innocent bystanders in the process.
2003 – On March 8, Israel assassinates Ibrahim Maqadma, one of the founders of Hamas and one of its top military commanders.
2002 - On July 23, hours before a widely reported ceasefire declared by Hamas and other Palestinian groups is scheduled to come into effect, Israel bombs an apartment building in the middle of the night in the densely populated Gaza Strip in order to assassinate Hamas leader Salah Shehada. Fourteen civilians, including nine children, are also killed in the attack, and 50 others wounded, leading to a scuttling of the ceasefire and a continuation of violence.
2002 - On January 14, Israel assassinates Raed Karmi, a militant leader in the Fatah party, following a ceasefire agreed to by all Palestinian militant groups the previous month, leading to its cancellation. Later in January, the first suicide bombing by the Fatah linked Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade takes place.
2001 - On November 23, Israel assassinates senior Hamas militant, Mahmoud Abu Hanoud. At the time, Hamas was adhering to an agreement made with PLO head Yasser Arafat not to attack targets inside of Israel. Following the killing, Israeli military correspondent of the right-leaning Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Alex Fishman, writes in a front-page story:
“We again find ourselves preparing with dread for a new mass terrorist attack within the Green Line [Israel's pre-1967 border]… Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line…”
2001 - On August 27, Israel uses US-made Apache helicopter gunships to assassinate Abu Ali Mustafa, secretary general of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In response, PFLP members assassinate Israel’s Tourism Minister and notorious right-wing hardliner, Rehavam Ze’evi, who advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.
2001 - On August 15, undercover Israeli soldiers assassinate Emad Abu Sneineh, a member of the Fatah linked Tanzim militia, opening fire on him at close range.
2001 - On August 5, Israeli forces assassinate Hamas member Amer Mansour Habiri in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, firing missiles at his car from helicopter gunships.
2001- On July 29, Israel assassinates Jamal Mansour, a senior member of Hamas’ political wing.
2001 - On July 25, as Israeli and Palestinian Authority security officials are scheduled to meet to shore up a six-week-old ceasefire amidst the violence of the Second Intifada, Israel assassinates a senior Islamic Jihad member, Salah Darwazeh in Nablus.
1997 – In September, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to assassinate Khaled Meshaal, the chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, in Amman, Jordan. Israeli agents using fake Canadian passports attempt to kill Meshaal by injecting poison into his ear. The would-be assassins are quickly captured and in the ensuing diplomatic uproar Jordan’s King Hussein threatens to cut off relations with Israel and publicly try and hang the Israeli agents unless Israel provides the antidote to the poison. The Netanyahu government turns over the antidote, saving Meshaal’s life. As part of the deal, Israel also releases Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin from prison.
1996 - On January 5, Israel assassinates Hamas military commander Yahya Ayash, known as “The Engineer,” detonating explosives in a cell phone he is using. Over the next two months, Hamas responds by launching four suicide bombings that kill more than 50 Israelis. Israeli intelligence later concludes: “the attacks were most probably a direct reaction to the assassination of Ayash.”
1995 – In October, Israeli gunmen assassinate Fathi Shiqaqi, a founder of Islamic Jihad, in Malta, as he leaves his hotel in Valletta.
1994 - On November 2, Israel assassinates journalist Hani Abed, who has ties to Islamic Jihad, using a bomb rigged to his car.
1988 - On April 16, Israel assassinates senior PLO leader Khalil al-Wazir in Tunisia, even as the Reagan administration is trying to organize an international conference to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The US State Department condemns the murder as an “act of political assassination.” In ensuing protests in the occupied territories, a further seven Palestinians are gunned down by Israeli forces.
1986 - On June 9, Khalid Nazzal, Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is shot dead by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece.
1983 - On August 21, senior PLO official and top aid to Yasser Arafat, Mamoun Meraish, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece. According to later Israeli press reports, future Foreign Minister (currently Minister of Justice) Tzipi Livni is involved in Meraish’s killing.
1978 - On March 28, Wadie Haddad, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, dies in East Germany from slow-acting poison ingested several months earlier. It is later revealed that Israeli agents were behind his murder.
1972 - On July 8, Palestinian author and intellectual Ghassan Kanafani and his 17-year-old niece are killed in Beirut by a car bomb, believed to have been planted by Israeli agents. A member of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kanafani was considered a major literary figure in the Arab world and beyond.
1972 - During the 1970s, Israel carries out a series of assassinations against Palestinians they accuse of being involved with the Black September militant organization, which is responsible for the hostage taking of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, resulting in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and officials. On October 16, 1972, Wael Zwaiter, a renowned Palestinian intellectual and the PLO representative to Italy, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Rome. Israel accuses him of being involved with Black September, a charge strenuously denied by PLO officials and those who knew him, who pointed out that Zwaiter was a pacifist.
“No legal issue arises when the United States responds to a challenge to its power, position, and prestige.” Dean Acheson , 1962, speaking to the American Society of International Law.
Dean Acheson declared 51 years ago that power, position, and prestige are the ingredients of national security and that national security trumps law. In the United States democracy takes a back seat to “national security,” a prerogative of the executive branch of government.
National security is where the executive branch hides its crimes against law, both domestic and international, its crimes against the Constitution, its crimes against innocent citizens both at home and abroad, and its secret agendas that it knows that the American public would never support.
“National security” is the cloak that the executive branch uses to make certain that the US government is unaccountable.
Without accountable government there is no civil liberty and no democracy except for the sham voting that existed in the Soviet Union and now exists in the US.
There have been periods in US history, such as President Lincoln’s war to prevent secession, World War I, and World War II, when accountable government was impaired. These were short episodes of the Constitution’s violation, and the Constitution was reinstated in the aftermath of the wars. However, since the Clinton regime, the accountability of government has been declining for more than two decades, longer than the three wars combined.
In law there is the concept of adverse possession, popularly known as “squatters’ rights.” A non-owner who succeeds in occupying a piece of property or some one else’s right for a certain time without being evicted enjoys the ownership title conveyed to him. The reasoning is that by not defending his rights, the owner showed his disinterest and in effect gave his rights away.
Americans have not defended their rights conveyed by the US Constitution for the duration of the terms of three presidents. The Clinton regime was not held accountable for its illegal attack on Serbia. The Bush regime was not held accountable for its illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The Obama regime was not held accountable for its renewed attack on Afghanistan and its illegal attacks on Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen, and by its proxies on Syria.
We also have other strictly illegal and unconstitutional acts of government for which the government has not been held accountable. The Bush regimes’ acts of torture, indefinite detention, and warrantless spying, and the Obama regime’s acts of indefinite detention, warrantless spying, and murder of US citizens without due process. As the Obama regime lies through its teeth, we have no way of knowing whether torture is still practiced.
If these numerous criminal acts of the US government spread over the terms of three presidents pass into history as unchallenged events, the US government will have acquired squatters’ rights in lawlessness. The US Constitution will be, as President George W. Bush is reported to have declared, “a scrap of paper.”
Lawlessness is the hallmark of tyranny enforced by the police state. In a police state law is not a protector of rights but a weapon in the hands of government. [see Roberts & Stratton, The Tyranny of Good Intentions] The accused has no recourse to the accusation, which does not require evidence presented to a court. The accused is guilty by accusation alone and can be shot in the back of the head, as under Stalin, or blown up by a drone missile, as under Obama.
As a person aware of the long struggle against the tyrannical state, I have been amazed and disheartened by the acceptance not only by the insouciant American public, but also by law schools, bar associations, media, Congress and the Supreme Court of the executive branch’s claim to be above both law and the US Constitution.
As Lawrence Stratton and I show in our book about how the law was lost, liberals and conservatives chasing after their favorite devils, such as child abusers and drug pushers, and prosecutors, judges, and police devoted to conviction and not to justice, have gradually eroded over time the concept of law as a protection of the innocent, With the atmosphere of threat created by 9/11, the final destruction of the protective features of law was quickly achieved in the name of making us safe from terrorists.
The fact that we are no longer safe from our own government did not register.
This is how liberty was lost, and America with it.
Can liberty be regained? Probably not, but there is a chance if Americans have the necessary strength of character. The chance comes from the now known fact that the neoconservative Bush/Cheney regime took America and its puppet states to war in Afghanistan and Iraq entirely on the basis of lies. As all evidence proves, these wars were not the results of mistaken intelligence. They were the products of intentional lies.
The weapons inspectors told the Bush regime that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Despite this known fact, the Bush regime sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN with fabricated evidence to convince the world that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” and was a threat to the world. Even if such weapons had existed in Iraq, many countries have them, including the US and Israel, and the presence of weapons does not under the Nuremberg Laws justify unprovoked aggression against the possessor. Under the Nuremberg Laws, unprovoked military aggression is a war crime, not the possession of weapons that many countries have. The war crime was committed by the US and its “coalition of the willing,” not by Saddam Hussein.
As for the invasion of Afghanistan, we know from the last video of Osama bin Laden in October 2001, attested by experts to be the last appearance of a man dying of renal failure and other diseases, that he declared that he had no responsibility for 9/11 and that Americans should look to their own government. We know as a reported fact that the Afghan Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to Washington if the Bush regime would provide the evidence that indicated bin Laden was responsible. The Bush regime refused to hand over the (non-existent) evidence and, with support of the corrupt and cowardly Congress and the presstitute media, attacked Afghanistan without any legal justification. Remember, the FBI has stated publicly that it has no evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 and that that is why the crimes for which the FBI wanted bin Laden did not include responsibility for the 9/11 attack.
The war propaganda campaign was well prepared. Yellow ribbon decals were handed out for cars proclaiming “support the troops.” In other words, anyone who raises the obvious questions is not supporting the troops. Still today insouciant Americans sport these decals on their cars unaware that what they are supporting are the murder of foreign women, children and village elders, the death and physical and mental maiming of American soldiers, and the worldwide destruction of the reputation of the United States, with America’s main rival, China, now calling for a “de-Americanized world.”
A country with a population as insouciant as Americans is a country in which the government can do as it pleases.
Now that we have complete proof that the criminal Bush regime took our country to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq solely on the basis of intentional lies, how can the legal institutions, the courts, the American people possibly tolerate the Obama regime’s ignoring of the obvious crimes? How can America simply accept Obama’s statement that we mustn’t look back, only move ahead? If the US government, which has committed the worst crimes of our generation, cannot be held accountable and punished, how can federal, state, and local courts fill up American prisons with people who smoked pot and with people who did not sufficiently grovel before the police state.
Doubtless, the Obama regime, should it obey the law and prosecute the Bush regime’s crimes, would have to worry about being prosecuted for its own crimes, which are just as terrible. Nevertheless, I believe that the Obama regime could survive if it put all the blame on the Bush regime, prosecuted the Bush criminals, and desisted from the illegal actions that it currently supports. This would save the Constitution and US civil liberty, but it would require the White House to take the risk that by enforcing US law, US law might be enforced against its own illegal and unconstitutional acts by a succeeding regime.
The Bush/Cheney/John Yoo neoconservative regime having got rid of US law, no doubt the Obama regime thinks it is best to leave the situation as it is, rid of law.
Without accountability, America is finished. Not only will Americans live in a police state with no civil liberties, but the rest of the world is already looking at America with a jaundiced eye. The US is being reconstituted as an authoritarian state. All it takes is one failure of accountability for the police state to become entrenched, and we have had numerous failures of accountability. Does anyone really believe that some future government is going to make restitution to persecuted truth-tellers, such as Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowdon, as was done for Japanese Americans?
Now that we know for a certain fact that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were based on propaganda and lies, Congress and the world media should demand to know what was the real secret agenda. What are the real reasons for which Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded?
No truthful explanation for these wars exists.
Paul O’Neill, the Bush regime’s first Treasury Secretary, is on public record stating that at the very first cabinet meeting, long prior to 9/11, the agenda was a US attack on Iraq.
In other words, the Bush regime’s attack on Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.
What was the Bush regime’s secret agenda, kept secret by the Obama regime, that required an illegal, war criminal, attack on a sovereign country, an action for which officials of Hitler’s government were executed? What is the real purpose of Washington’s wars?
It is totally and completely obvious that the wars have nothing to do with protecting Americans from terrorism. If anything, the wars stir up and create terrorists. The wars create hatred of America that never previously existed. Despite this, America is free of terrorists attacks except for the ones orchestrated by the FBI. What the fabricated “terror threat” has done is to create a thorough-going domestic police state that is unaccountable.
Americans need to understand that they have lost their country. The rest of the world needs to recognize that Washington is not merely the most complete police state since Stalinism, but also a threat to the entire world. The hubris and arrogance of Washington, combined with Washington’s huge supply of weapons of mass destruction, make Washington the greatest threat that has ever existed to all life on the planet. Washington is the enemy of all humanity.
This week can be a turning point in the troubled history of relations between the United States and Iran. It is greatly to be hoped that President Obama will take the chance of meeting President Rouhani when they both attend the UN General Assembly in New York this week and that this will set the scene for a diplomatic breakthrough between the US and Iran.*
Significantly, President Rouhani was the head of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in 2003-5 at a time when Iran was actively engaged in negotiations with Britain, France and Germany (aka EU3) about a range of issues including its nuclear programme.
Then Rouhani made a series of proposals that could, and should have led to a settlement – were a deal not blocked by George W Bush.
We know this because, as Britain’s Foreign Minister at the time, Jack Straw took part in these negotiations. Here’s what he said on the Today programme on 3 August 2013, the day that Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated as president:
“I’m absolutely convinced that we can do business with Dr Rouhani, because we did do business with Dr Rouhani, and had it not been for major problems within the US administration under President Bush, we could have actually settled the whole Iran nuclear dossier back in 2005, and we probably wouldn’t have had President Ahmadinejad as a consequence of the failure as well.”
So, according to Jack Straw, these talks could have been successful “had it not been for major problems within the US administration under President Bush”. In other words, the intransigence which stood in the way of a settlement in 2005 lay in Washington and not in Tehran.
This isn’t news to anybody with a passing familiarity with these negotiations – the blunt truth is that they foundered because the US insisted that Iran must not have uranium enrichment facilities on its own soil in any circumstances, and the EU3 bowed to this diktat from Washington.
What is news is that the leading British player in these negotiations, Jack Straw, has now acknowledged publicly that the intransigence that caused the negotiations to founder lay in Washington and not in Tehran. The message we have continually heard from the US and its allies, including Britain, is that Iran was intransigent then on the nuclear issue and continues to be intransigent today – and that is what is standing in the way of a settlement. What Jack Straw is saying is that this message pumped out from Washington and London for the past decade is not the whole truth.
This is a staggering assertion coming from the leading British player in these negotiations. The failure to take advantage of Iran’s flexibility in 2005 and reach a settlement on the nuclear issue (and perhaps a great deal more besides) has had enormous consequences. The conflict between the US and its allies and Iran, ostensibly over Iran’s nuclear activities, has cast a dark shadow over the world for the past decade, with persistent threats of military action against Iran by Israel and the US. This has ended up with ferocious economic sanctions being imposed on Iran by the US and the EU and Iranians dying for want of lifesaving drugs. All this despite the fact that it is universally acknowledged that Iran doesn’t possess any nuclear weapons and, according to US intelligence, hasn’t got an active nuclear weapons programme.
The central message of our new book, A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran  is that this was totally unnecessary, that a reasonable settlement could have been reached with Iran in 2005. Jack Straw’s remarks on Today confirm this.
Unprecedented reassurance measures
Ostensibly, the US and its allies are opposed to Iran having enrichment facilities on their own soil because of concern that Iran would use these facilities to produce high enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
Almost unknown today because of the woeful reporting of these matters by the mainstream media is that Iran’s nuclear facilities, including its enrichment facilities, operate under IAEA supervision in accordance with Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, as required by the NPT of which Iran is a signatory.
This makes it virtually impossible for these enrichment facilities to be used to produce weapons grade uranium for even one bomb without the IAEA becoming aware of Iran attempting to do so. That is the current view of US intelligence – the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 18 April 2013: “… we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU before this activity is discovered”.
Also unknown today is that in 2005 Iran offered to put in place unprecedented measures, in addition to the requirements in its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, to reassure the outside world that its nuclear activities were exclusively for peaceful purposes.
These measures were contained in a comprehensive set of proposals presented to EU3 representatives in the Quai D’Orsay in Paris on 23 March 2005  by Javad Zarif, (whom President Rouhani has recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs). The proposals envisaged the continuation of Iran’s enrichment programme, but under arrangements that would have greatly reduced the possibility that Iran could produce either high enriched uranium or plutonium, the fissile material for nuclear weapons. In particular:
- Immediate conversion of all low enriched uranium to fuel rods for power reactors, to make further enrichment to high enriched uranium more difficult;
- No reprocessing of spent fuel rods, thereby precluding the production of plutonium;
The proposals also provided for continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at Iran’s conversion and enrichment facilities.
There is no doubt that in 2005 Iran went out of its way to address international concerns that its enrichment facilities might be used for weapons purposes. Nevertheless, the EU3 negotiators refused to accept the plan even as a basis for negotiation – because it involved Iran continuing to enrich uranium on its own soil.
When the EU3 eventually made proposals in August 2005 , they required Iran to cease enrichment and related activities permanently and to make arrangements for the supply of reactor fuel from abroad, which could be cut off at any time.
Voluntary suspension of nuclear activities
Under the Paris Agreement of November 2004, which established the framework for the 2005 negotiations, Iran had consented to suspend its nuclear activities “while negotiations proceed on a mutually acceptable agreement on long-term arrangements”. This was a voluntary act – Iran was under no legal obligation under the NPT or any other international agreement to do so. Significantly, the EU3 themselves recognised this in the Paris Agreement saying that “this suspension is a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation”.
Iran had agreed to this suspension with great reluctance fearing that the real objective of the US and its allies, who were pushing for suspension, was to have most or all of Iran’s nuclear activities halted permanently. That turned out to be the case.
What happened next was inevitable: over the following six months or so Iran gradually restarted its nuclear activities. The resumption began just before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took over from Mohammed Khatami as Iranian president on 3 August 2005.
Iran referred to the Security Council
Iran came under fierce criticism for resuming its nuclear activities, even though the suspension had been a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation, recognised as such by the EU3. And France and Britain took the lead in persuading the IAEA Board to pass a resolution in September 2005, which for the first time mentioned the word “non-compliance” in connection with Iran’s nuclear activities.
The word is important because Article XII.C of the IAEA statute requires any “non-compliance” to be reported to the Security Council – and Iran was referred to the Security Council in March 2006.
To be precise, the resolution said:
“Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement, as detailed in GOV/2003/75, constitute non-compliance in the context of Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute”.
GOV/2003/75 is a report by IAEA Director General, Mohamed El Baradei, to the IAEA Board in November 2003  (that is, nearly two years earlier). In other words, the resolution stated that Iran had been in “non-compliance” in November 2003. However, it also stated that, “the Director General in his report to the Board on 2 September 2005 noted that good progress has been made in Iran’s correction of the breaches and in the Agency’s ability to confirm certain aspects of Iran’s current declarations”.
So, Iran was referred to the Security Council, not because of current “non-compliance” that needed to be corrected, but because of past “non-compliance”, which had largely been corrected.
In fact, as Mohammed El Baradei wrote in his book, The Age of Deception, it was referred in order to get the Security Council to stop Iran’s perfectly legitimate uranium enrichment programme:
“What made Iran’s eventual referral a cause for cynicism was that there was nothing new in its ‘non-compliance’, which had essentially been known about for two years. Recent developments had been positive: the agency had made substantial progress in verifying Iran’s nuclear program. The eventual referral, when it came, was primarily an attempt to induce the Security Council to stop Iran’s enrichment program, using Chapter VII of the UN Charter to characterise Iran’s enrichment – legal under the NPT – as “a threat to international peace and security”. (p146-7)
Chapter VII Security Council resolutions
Beginning on 31 July 2006, the Security Council passed six Chapter VII resolutions on Iran’s nuclear programme, demanding, inter alia, that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment.
In theory, before passing a Chapter VII resolution, the Security Council has to decide that a “threat to the peace” exists (or that a “breach of the peace, or act of aggression” has taken place) and that action is required by the Council to “maintain or restore international peace and security” (UN Charter, Article 39). The action may be to impose economic sanctions on a malefactor under Article 41 of the Charter.
But what possible basis can there be for saying that Iran’s nuclear activity constituted even a “threat to the peace” in 2006? Iran had no nuclear weapons and its nuclear facilities were under IAEA safeguards. And the IAEA hadn’t uncovered any attempt to divert nuclear material for military use or any evidence of a nuclear weapons programme.
Furthermore, a couple of months earlier, in May 2006, speaking about Iran’s nuclear activities at the Monterey Institute for International Studies ,Mohamed El Baradei said: “Our assessment is that there is no imminent threat”.
Can there be any doubt that the Security Council has acted outside UN Charter in passing Chapter VII resolutions imposing economic sanctions on Iran?
War in Lebanon ignored
Ironically, when the first Chapter VII resolution was passed on 31 July 2006, Israel’s military assault on Lebanon had been going on for almost three weeks. Hundreds of Lebanese civilians had been killed and Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure had suffered billions of dollars worth of damage. The previous day a large number of civilians, many of them children, had been killed by Israeli bombing in Qana.
From 12 July 2006, when the Israeli assault began, the US and the UK blocked the Security Council even calling for an immediate ceasefire. They did so because they wanted the hostilities to continue – because they supported the Israeli action, hoping that it would seriously damage Hezbollah.
But, on 31 July 2006, having remained silent for three weeks about Israel’s ongoing assault on Lebanon as the death toll rose, the Security Council declared Iran, not Israel, a threat to the peace – because of its nuclear activities.
(A final point: if Iran is a “threat to the peace” even though it has no nuclear weapons and no hard evidence of a nuclear weapons programme, surely Israel with perhaps as many as 400 nuclear warheads must be a “threat to the peace” and deserve to be sanctioned?)
Four of these six resolutions included tranches of economic sanctions. These UN-approved sanctions were rather limited, because Russia and China would have blocked harsher ones. They were directed primarily at individuals and entities allegedly involved in the Iranian nuclear and missile programmes. They didn’t have much impact on the Iranian economy as a whole and therefore didn’t hurt ordinary Iranians.
The US used to make a virtue of this – in January 2010, Secretary of State,Hillary Clinton said:
“Our goal is to pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary [people], who deserve better than what they currently are receiving.” 
Times have changed. Sanctions imposed by the US beginning in July 2012 have done, and continue to do, real damage to the Iranian economy. President Obama boasted of this success during his re-election campaign: in a debate with Mitt Romney on 22 October 2012, he said:
“We … organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80 percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles.” 
No worries there about contributing to the suffering of ordinary Iranians.
These are not UN sanctions – they were not prescribed by the Security Council in a resolution under Article 41 of the UN Charter.
They owe their existence to legislation passed by the US Congress in December 2011 at the behest of the Israeli lobby in the US. The legislation was accepted by President Obama, who was loath to offend the lobby in the upcoming election year.
The legislation requires the US administration to bully other states around the world to stop (or at least reduce) purchases of Iranian oil, by threatening to cut off foreign financial institutions from the US financial system, if they conduct transactions with the Central Bank of Iran or other Iranian financial institutions. Additional sanctions have been imposed since. None of this affects US trade with Iran since it has been negligible since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
As usual, the EU (including Britain) didn’t need to be bullied – they imposed a total ban on oil imports from Iran beginning in July 2012.
At the time of writing, ordinary Iranians are suffering considerable hardship as a result of these sanctions. It is now difficult for Iran to make payments for imports of any kind, because it is cut off from the international banking system. As a result, although pharmaceuticals are not included in the sanctions regime, some life-saving drugs are unobtainable and patients are dying.
See, for example, Iran unable to get life-saving drugs due to international sanctions by Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan (Guardian, 13 January 2013, ), which says:
“Hundreds of thousands of Iranians with serious illnesses have been put at imminent risk by the unintended consequences of international sanctions, which have led to dire shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and bloodclotting agents for haemophiliacs.”
Iran doesn’t deserve to be the subject of economic sanctions – it hasn’t attacked another country in the past two hundred years, it isn’t occupying territory not its own, it hasn’t got any nuclear weapons and by no stretch of the imagination can it be regarded as a “threat to the peace” and deserving of economic sanctions.
Britain shares in the responsibility for this appalling state of affairs whereby patients are dying in Iran because of the unavailability of life-saving drugs. To cause the deaths of innocent civilians in a country that has engaged in aggression, and deserves to be sanctioned, is difficult to justify. To cause the deaths of innocent civilians in Iran today is impossible to justify.
All of this could have been avoided. A deal could have been reached in 2005, which would have provided unprecedented measures to reassure the outside world that Iran’s nuclear activities were for exclusively peaceful purposes – if the US and its allies had been prepared to concede that Iran had a right to enrichment.
So, what are the prospects of a deal now? Seyed Hossein Mousavian was the spokesman for the Iranian negotiating team while Rouhani headed it. In his book The Iranian Nuclear Crisis, he reports that at a meeting in Geneva on 25 May 2005, Rouhani warned the EU3 negotiators three times that “any proposal that excluded enrichment would be rejected in advance” (p171).
That was the deal breaker in 2005, when the reformist Khatami was President. It continued to be the deal breaker under his successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It remains the deal breaker today under President Rouhani.
*The meeting did not occur. See US government notes here http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/09/24/press-briefing-senior-administration-officials. See President Rouhani’s speech at the UN here and notes on his other meetings here. [editor]
By Peter Oborne and David Morrison, September 2013.
Peter Oborne is the chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph and reports for Channel 4′s Dispatches and Unreported World. David Morrison is a Political Officer of Sadaka: The Ireland Palestine Alliance. They co-authored A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran (April 2013). Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.
- Rouhani stresses Iran’s right to nuclear development (thehindu.com)
- West must accept Iran right to enrich uranium – Rouhani (voiceofrussia.com)
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”
We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandum immediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.
The fraudulent nature of Powell’s speech was a no-brainer. And so, that very afternoon we strongly urged your predecessor to “widen the discussion beyond … the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” We offer you the same advice today.
Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.
We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.
Intelligence Summary or Political Ploy?
That Secretary of State John Kerry would invoke Clapper’s name this week in Congressional testimony, in an apparent attempt to enhance the credibility of the four-page “Government Assessment” strikes us as odd. The more so, since it was, for some unexplained reason, not Clapper but the White House that released the “assessment.”
This is not a fine point. We know how these things are done. Although the “Government Assessment” is being sold to the media as an “intelligence summary,” it is a political, not an intelligence document. The drafters, massagers, and fixers avoided presenting essential detail. Moreover, they conceded upfront that, though they pinned “high confidence” on the assessment, it still fell “short of confirmation.”
Déjà Fraud: This brings a flashback to the famous Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002, on Iraq, The minutes record that Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, reporting to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials that President Bush had decided to remove Saddam Hussein through military action that would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Dearlove had gotten the word from then-CIA Director George Tenet whom he visited at CIA headquarters on July 20.
The discussion that followed centered on the ephemeral nature of the evidence, prompting Dearlove to explain: “But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” We are concerned that this is precisely what has happened with the “intelligence” on Syria.
There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.
According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.
We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.
In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.
At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government
The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.
That the various groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have ample incentive to get the U.S. more deeply involved in support of that effort is clear. Until now, it has not been quite as clear that the Netanyahu government in Israel has an equally powerful incentive to get Washington more deeply engaged in yet another war in the area. But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear.
Reporter Judi Rudoren, writing from Jerusalem in an important article in Friday’s New York Times addresses Israeli motivation in an uncommonly candid way. Her article, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” notes that the Israelis have argued, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. Rudoren continues:
“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.
“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”
We think this is the way Israel’s current leaders look at the situation in Syria, and that deeper U.S. involvement – albeit, initially, by “limited” military strikes – is likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.
That Syria’s main ally is Iran, with whom it has a mutual defense treaty, also plays a role in Israeli calculations. Iran’s leaders are not likely to be able to have much military impact in Syria, and Israel can highlight that as an embarrassment for Tehran.
Iran can readily be blamed by association and charged with all manner of provocation, real and imagined. Some have seen Israel’s hand in the provenance of the most damaging charges against Assad regarding chemical weapons and our experience suggests to us that such is supremely possible.
Possible also is a false-flag attack by an interested party resulting in the sinking or damaging, say, of one of the five U.S. destroyers now on patrol just west of Syria. Our mainstream media could be counted on to milk that for all it’s worth, and you would find yourself under still more pressure to widen U.S. military involvement in Syria – and perhaps beyond, against Iran.
Iran has joined those who blame the Syrian rebels for the August 21 chemical incident, and has been quick to warn the U.S. not to get more deeply involved. According to the Iranian English-channel Press TV, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif has claimed: “The Syria crisis is a trap set by Zionist pressure groups for [the United States].”
Actually, he may be not far off the mark. But we think your advisers may be chary of entertaining this notion. Thus, we see as our continuing responsibility to try to get word to you so as to ensure that you and other decision makers are given the full picture.
We hope your advisers have warned you that retaliation for attacks on Syrian are not a matter of IF, but rather WHERE and WHEN. Retaliation is inevitable. For example, terrorist strikes on U.S. embassies and other installations are likely to make what happened to the U.S. “Mission” in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, look like a minor dust-up by comparison. One of us addressed this key consideration directly a week ago in an article titled “Possible Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria – Remembering the U.S. Marine Barracks Destruction in Beirut, 1983.”
For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)
Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army, Iraq
Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
The shock and awe that has greeted President Obama’s decision to get congressional consent to wage war in Syria underscores the problem with US foreign policy, not to mention our mainstream media machine.
Americans somehow think it is standard operating procedure for the Commander-in-Chief to bypass a quaint little place called Congress (Population 535) along the road to war. Perhaps this way of thinking is due to the general atmosphere of fear and loathing now gripping the crotch of the Heartland like a TSA officer. Or maybe it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to believe the president has the right to enjoy dictatorial powers. Whatever the case, the situation demands some consideration.
Up until Friday, it looked all but certain that Barack Obama, America’s Nobel-nominated president, would order yet another military strike on a foreign country without congressional approval (Libya was the first). The Democratic leader’s designs for a “limited” strike on Syria, however, were quickly dashed when British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a historic defeat, as the House of Commons denied him permission to jump on the military bandwagon heading for Syria.
This was the first time since 1782 that the British parliament refused a government request to enter a war. Could it be that British intelligence knew something the Americans did not, like perhaps the truth? After all, Cameron himself admitted that the UK intelligence was not 100 percent certain that the Assad government was responsible for the chemical attack.
Whatever the case, with Washington’s foremost ally suddenly missing in action, Obama had nothing but respect for the US Constitution, which clearly states, Article 1, Section 8, “Congress shall have power…to declare war.”
Thanks to the broadside delivered to Washington by the bumpy car of the British parliament, the American people got a fleeting, jolting reminder of their candidate on the early campaign trail, those bygone days of yesteryear when hope hung like dew on the American prairie and the sweet aroma of change dispelled the noxious vapors of George W. Bush’s fighter jets.
“I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said Saturday from the Rose Garden.
After the initial shock of those incredible words was fully digested, and the dogs of war were yanked snarling and slobbering back in the house, the PR campaign against the Syrian regime went haywire. The US mainstream media was clearly knocked off its stride, set as it was for an imminent war.
Consider this opening paragraph in Monday’s issue of The Wall Street Journal.
“President Obama’s Syrian melodrama went from bad to worse on Saturday with his surprise decision to seek Congressional approval for what he promises will be merely a limited cruise-missile bombing. Mr. Obama will now have someone else to blame if Congress blocks his mission, but in the bargain he has put at risk his credibility and America’s standing in the world with more than 40 months left in office.”
America’s leading business paper somehow believes that seeking congressional approval for war will “risk his credibility and America’s standing in the world.” Indeed, considering America’s basement rankings in the world, seeking such approval as mandated by international law could only have the opposite effect.
And what is one to make of Obama’s (money-back?) guarantee of a “narrow and limited” cruise missile attack on Syria; a Lawrence-esque back-before-dinner jaunt that won’t leave the same kind of trillion-dollar aftertaste that the eight-year Iraq War did? After all, it will only take the firing of a single Syrian missile at a US naval vessel for Obama’s weekend fling to transmogrify into World War III.
The editorial then entered hand-wringing, hysteria mode, trembling at the thought that a single square-mile of real estate in a corner of the empire has not been stamped with the imprint of a US Army boot.
“A defeat in Congress would signal to Bashar Assad and the world’s other thugs that the US has retired as the enforcer of any kind of world order… Unlike the British in 1956, the US can’t retreat from east of Suez without grave consequences. The US replaced the British, but there is no one to replace America.”
With some 900 US military bases now straddling a disproportionate amount of the globe, it will take a lot more Congress voting to take a pass on a military scuffle in a Syrian civil war for the US war machine to suddenly go wobbly. Yes, the Obama administration will have to swallow a big slab of humble pie if Congress doesn’t vote in favor of war, but the long-term consequences in the event of such a decision on American power should not be exaggerated.
But exaggerating the consequences is exactly what America does best. Just one day after Obama had his faith miraculously restored in the battered US Constitution, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that a little birdie informed him that sarin nerve gas was used in the Damascus attack. This revelation allowed Kerry to pull out the most-effective ploy in the PR bag of tricks: the noxious Nazi analogy.
“Bashar al-Assad now joins the list of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein who have used these weapons in time of war,” Kerry told NBC’s Face the Nation. Kerry called the attack an “affront against the decency and sensibilities of the world.”
“In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus, and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of sarin,” he continued.
So now, when US Congressmen return from their summer break on September 9, you can guarantee their email boxes will be littered with messages from special interest groups imploring them to support military action against the “world’s next Hitler.”
“This is squarely now in the hands of Congress,” Kerry told CNN, saying he had confidence “they will do what is right because they understand the stakes.”
Meanwhile, the calm voice of reason against a senseless war in Syria has been thrown under the bus.
Ron Paul was branded a “conspiracy theorist” by Salon for suggesting that the Syrian chemical attack was a false flag operation designed to get America into another Middle East war.
Paul pointed to the false intelligence that led to the Iraq War to back up his statement.
“[Syrian President Bashar] Assad, I don’t think is an idiot. I don’t think he would do this on purpose,” Paul told Fox News host Neil Cavuto on the allegation that Assad used chemical weapons on civilians.
“Just look at how many lies were told us about Saddam Hussein prior to that (Iraq War) build up. More propaganda. It happens all the time,” Paul said. “I think it’s a false flag.” … Full article