As Israeli justice minister, Tzipi Livni, met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday, the Israel Civil Administration approved a plan to build 296 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El; an Israeli newspaper reported.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved the construction of the new housing units in line with a promise the government had made to settlers. A previous Israeli government had promised to build 90 new housing units in the settlements in an attempt to prevent clashes during the eviction of the Ulpana settlement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously made undertakings to stop further settlement construction until next June when he met with Kerry, angering heads of settler groups.
According to the newspaper, Ya’alon met with heads of Jewish settlers on Tuesday and told them that construction would indeed continue. Netanyahu confirmed that there were delays in issuing construction bids due to errors, but that they would be issued soon.
Settlers hoped that the approval of new housing units would mean the beginning of further settlement plans in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
In Rome, Livni hoped that “enthusiastic and determined” Kerry would move the peace process forward after four years of stalemate.
“We believe that re-launching the negotiations and achieving an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is in the Israeli interest, but yet there is a need for Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to create something new after four years of stagnation,” Livni said.
Kerry has been holding talks with Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab officials for months. The Israeli newspaper said that he is expected to meet Netanyahu and Abbas separately later in May.
The US Secretary of State said, “I think it is fair to say that we are working through threshold questions and we are doing it with a seriousness of purpose, which I think Minister Livni would agree with, has not been present for a while.”
Stressing the importance of achieving something as soon as possible Livni said, “We all believe that we are working with a short time span. We understand the imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can.”
Kerry has been mobilizing Arab support for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in case he is obliged to offer concessions to Israelis in order to reach a peace deal. Kerry also hopes to set up foundations for a wider peace with the Arab states.
Recently, he achieved a diplomatic victory when the Arab league delegation in Washington announced an agreement to accept that a land swap deal could be reached between Palestinians and Israelis based on the 1967 borders.
On page A12 of the May 8, 2013 edition of The New York Times is Steven Lee Myers and Rick Gladstone’s article “U.S. and Russia Plan Conference Aimed at Ending Syrian War,” which opens by stating that, “Russia and the United States announced on Tuesday that they would seek to convene an international conference within weeks aimed at ending the civil war in Syria, jointly intensifying their diplomatic pressure on the combatants to peacefully settle a conflict that has taken more than 70,000 lives and left millions displaced and desperate.” This is a most welcoming turn of events, especially for the people of Syria who have taken the brunt of the civil war, and hopefully the conference bears fruit quickly.
But—and there is one of these stubborn conjunctions—it is important for the purpose of history to note that for two years now the United States has blocked any peaceful resolution, and has instead pushed the conflict further and deeper into violence and war.
It is Russia who has long pushed for a political reconciliation.
In October 2011 RIA Novosti reported that “Moscow calls on the UN Security Council to continue the search for a balanced approach toward the political crisis in Syria based on a draft resolution prepared by Russia and China, Russia’s envoy to the UN said,” with the phrase “balanced” being a jab at how Washington and its allies have put all the requirements on the Syrian government to end violence, and not the rebel forces whom they have been backing.
Writing in December of 2011, Egypt Independent reported that, “Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Monday emphasized the need for dialogue and reconciliation in Syria.”
Even in December of 2012 Voice of America reported that, “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has echoed a call from an international peace envoy to resolve Syria’s civil war through a government-backed national dialogue and political process.”
The New York Times also reported on Russian efforts that same month when they informed readers that, “Moscow has made a muscular push for a political solution in recent days.”
While it is inaccurate to imply that Russia’s search for “a political solution” was “in recent days,” it is more disturbing that phrases like “muscular push” are used to describe such an effort, while the “paper of record” has routinely tried to make a case for war (see here and here).
A month ago today (May 8, 2013) the Syrian rebels detonated a car bomb near a school in Damascus, killing 14, and wounding dozens of others. According to Reuters, “State television said the explosion had occurred near a school in Sabaa Bahrat, a heavily populated area that also houses the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry. It said 53 people were wounded.”
Washington failed to condemn the act of terror.
Likewise when Daily Mail ran an article last December with this headline: “Syria rebels ‘beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs’ as fears grow over Islamist atrocities.” Apparently there is no “red line” for the rebels to cross.
And there are dozens and dozens of similar incidents. Not once has Washington put pressure on the rebels to stop their senseless violence, or argued for an international force to intervene and defend the Syrian people from the terrorists. Nor have Western establishment pundits like Bill Keller argued for such things. And even though al Qaeda is active in the country, beheading so-called infidels, or that the Syrian rebels are likely using chemical weapons, Washington and its media parrots have instead favored escalation. Just over a week ago The New York Times reported that “The White House is once again considering supplying weapons to Syria’s armed opposition.” This comes after the car bombing across the street from a children’s school.
And now Washington wants peace, as Myers and Gladstone tell us that “The announcement appeared to signal a strong desire by both countries to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict.”
Perhaps it has become clear that the rebels cannot win this war on their own, and the only reasonable way Bashar Assad will be brought down is another U.S. war which will elevate the jihadis into power. Perhaps President Obama is imagining one of these rebel jihadis attacking an American embassy in Damascus, and the Republicans foaming at the mouth for another politicized inquiry into how such an attack could happen, as they currently are over the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya last year.
Whatever the reasons for the turnaround it is gladly welcomed. The people of Syria deserve a rescue from the terror Washington, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others, have unleashed on them. Though we should remain sober and note that the “conflict that has taken more than 70,000 lives and left millions displaced and desperate” is largely of Washington’s doings, and could have been avoided years ago if Uncle Sam followed the lead of Moscow and Bejing, both of whom had the “strong desire . . . to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict.”
We should also recall that The New York Times derided Russia for their “strong desire” and even went so far as to equate it with “effectively toss[ing] a life preserver to President Bashar al-Assad, seemingly unwilling to see a pivotal ally and once stalwart member of the socialist bloc sink beneath the waves of the Arab Spring.” Russia was just as clear then as they are now: they did not want to go along with efforts that would worsen the situation, but now that the situation has gotten considerably worse, and Washington is warming to the idea of a political solution, now The New York Times is presenting this as a positive development.
First Iran, now it’s North Korea. The US global minstrel show of pseudo-handshakes and offers of talks just keeps on rolling, despite the laughable see-through fraudulence.
Remember earlier this year, American Vice President Joe Biden startled the international media with an offer of “direct talks” with Iran to resolve the “nuclear dispute.”
The real reason for why that apparent offer was startling was because it amounted to such transparent nonsense. The barefaced ability to lie by Washington knows no shame. Biden’s overture for talks with Iran was made at the same time that the US tightens illegal sanctions afflicting Iranian civilians, while continuing to threaten the Islamic Republic with war, along with its Israeli surrogate, and as Washington steps up diplomatic and material support for proxy terrorist groups, such as the MKO (Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization), operating within Iran.
Washington’s fatuous rhetoric and posturing is an insult to people’s intelligence. Yet it continues to declaim such asinine verbiage. The latest star-turn in its absurd diplomacy is the “offer” of “dialogue” extended to North Korea by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
After weeks of rising war tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Kerry again appeared to give a startling gesture of goodwill. On a recent trip to East Asia, the top US diplomat said: “The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization, but the burden is on Pyongyang [the capital of North Korea].”
Kerry urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to “return to the negotiating table.” Is [this] the same table that US President Barack Obama continually warns us that no options are off [it]?
The latest US offer of talks came as a surprise because Washington does not have any diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). US policy has long been one of isolating the Northern state through crippling sanctions and, through military exercises with US-backed South Korea, piling pressure on the government in Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear capability.
Fortunately, as with Iran, North Korea is not buying this risible American charade. The government in Pyongyang responded tersely to dismiss the offer made by the US.
“Dialogue cannot coexist with war,” was how the DPRK official news agency, KCNA, aptly put it. That is the essential truth and correct assessment of the US position, not only towards North Korea, but also towards Iran.
Iran, by the way, does not have nuclear weapons. North Korea is believed to have nuclear weapons capability, but it is doubtful that the country has the missile means of delivery. Nevertheless, the US and its Western allies, including the media, insist on demonizing Iran and North Korea as having sinister “nuclear ambitions” without providing a shred of proof.
The US has the temerity to assert that “the burden is on Pyongyang” in the same way that it arrogantly insists that Tehran must “show good faith” about its legally entitled nuclear program.
This astounding US arrogance turns reality on its head. Just who is the real aggressor? Don’t expect to find an answer in the Western corporate media whose goldfish-bowl memory and art of deception are designed to augment this reality-inversion.
After dismissing the US “offer” of talks, North Korea has since issued its own demands for any negotiations to take place. These conditions are perfectly logical, reasonable and just. They also point up the real reasons for why the Korean Peninsula is continually wracked by the threat of nuclear war.
North Korea wants: 1) Recently imposed United Nations sanctions to be revoked. These sanctions were imposed at the behest of Washington over the DPRK’s launch of a space satellite in December. The US maligned that launch by falsely labeling it a “ballistic missile test.” The provocative and unjustified sanctions spurred North Korea to conduct an underground nuclear weapon test on 12 February. Since North Korea withdrew its membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty last decade, there is no legal constraint on it to conduct such a test. And given the level of continual threat towards North Korea from the US, the former is well justified in developing military defenses, including nuclear weapons.
Condition 2) for North Korea to entertain talks with the US and its Southern ally is for these latter states to immediately halt all threats of war that are implicit in the perennial war maneuvers on and off the Korean Peninsula. These so-called “war games” carried out by the US and South Korea often simulate invasion of North Korea. That is an outrageous, criminal de facto act of war. And yet it is committed every year, and sometimes several times a year.
Condition 3) is for the US to withdraw its nuclear weapons capability from the Korean Peninsula. Bear in mind that it was the US that first instated nuclear weapons on the Peninsula during the Korean War (1950-53). While the US did technically remove nuclear missiles some years back from South Korean soil, it effectively can reintroduce weapons of mass destruction at any moment and it retains North Korea within its target sites. The recent build-up of US nuclear-capable submarines and Aegis-class destroyers in the South and East China Seas, and the simulated bombing raids by B-2, B-52 and F-22 warplanes, all represent clear and present danger of nuclear annihilation to the DPRK. Note too that Washington has been busily integrating a hemispheric missile system between South Korea, Japan and the Pacific West Coast of the US. This missile system targets North Korea, as well as China and Russia.
Finally, what North Korea wants probably above all else as a guarantee for meaningful negotiations, is for the US to end the Korean War with a proper peace treaty. Since the war ended in 1953, the cessation of hostilities was only marked by an armistice, which in effect is a ceasefire. In other words, the US is technically still at war with North Korea and can at any moment resume bombing of that country. During the Korean War, the US dropped more explosives and napalm on the Northern population than it did in the whole of the Pacific War with imperial Japan. Up to a third of the Northern [Korean] population – some 3 million people – were annihilated by American bombs. Given that experience of genocide, is it any wonder that North Korea remains deeply wary of the US and its allies, especially with the ever-present threat of more war looming.
For the past 60 years, the DPRK has been demanding this basic entitlement of a full peace treaty, including a non-aggression pact. For 60 years, every US President has refused to countenance any such
It is a shame that Russia and China have signed up to the recent round of US-led sanctions against North Korea. Moscow and Beijing appear to have bought into the upside-down worldview that the US and its Western media are peddling. Rather than adding to pressure on North Korea, Russian and Chinese leaders need to go back and refresh their memories on the history of aggression and genocide in East Asia and the Pacific. Then they would rightly redirect the pressure on the true aggressor – Washington.
Peace in East Asia, as in the Middle East, depends on a unilateral withdrawal of American militarism, aggression and its self-styled right to inflict nuclear war on others. The burden is not on North Korea or Iran. Far from it, the burden is where it has always been – on the USA.
- Give North Korea some respect (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Negotiating with the US over nuclear issues, sovereignty, peace and much else, is like playing card poker with a punk in a Wild West saloon. You’re never going to win because the punk makes up all the rules of the game. In fact, he can change the rules of the game as he goes along to make sure he always wins.
In the saloon game, Washington insists that the adversary must lay down all his cards on the table, while the US can keep its hand close to its chest, never revealing what its suite comprises. The adversary must also wager all betting chips up front without an inkling of the outcome; and, since this is the Wild West, the adversary has to put his gun on top of the table while the US gives itself the prerogative to hold a cocked gun under the table.
Moreover, the American punk is allowed to have an unknown number of aces up his sleeve in order to furtively deploy just in case, somehow, he feels that the loaded game is going against his winning streak.
Sounds a bit far-fetched? Well, let’s take a look at the recent standoff with North Korea.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, rode into East Asia earlier this month affecting an air of reason and restraint. It helps when you have a global posse of dutiful corporate news media on your side. This is the beginning of loading the game. From the outset, it is presumed and projected that Washington is on a mission of peaceful mediation, a voice of sanity and fair play.
The projected image of American restraint and reason is set against the backdrop of the same Western media portraying North Korea and its young leader Kim Jong-un as wild, reckless and wanton, issuing threats of nuclear war and turning Washington-backed South Korea into «a sea of flames». Yee-ha!
In Tokyo, Kerry told reporters in earnest tone: «The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearization, but the burden is on Pyongyang [the North Korean capital]».
Kerry also called on China’s leadership to «help bring North Korea back to the negotiating table».
So here is the scene: the American punk is sitting at the table wearing the white hat of civility and legal probity, offering the opportunity for «credible negotiations» to establish peace. The unruly one is North Korea, wearing a costume black hat, permitted to come to the table on condition that he first lays down all cards, that is, forswear capability for nuclear weapons. In truth, the impoverished Stalinist state does not have many cards to play, yet it is being mandated to surrender whatever leverage it may have for no certain outcome. And given the past performance of perfidy by the US towards other adversaries, who could blame North Korea for being reluctant to comply?
Meanwhile, the aces-up-sleeve and guns-under-the-table all belong to the US and its clients. The American nuclear-powered B-2 bombers that can fly over the Korean Peninsula at any moment are not part of the admission fee to the table; neither are the American nuclear-capable submarines and Aegis class destroyers that are patrolling the South and East China Seas around Korea; nor is the giant hemispheric missile system that the US is scaling up and networking between its Pacific West Coast, Alaska, South Korea, Guam and Japan.
In Beijing, Kerry would only offer the most vague and inscrutable «reciprocation» for North Korea’s surrender of its nuclear capability. Kerry said: «Obviously if the threat disappears, that is, North Korea denuclearizes, the same imperative does not exist at that point of time for us to have that kind of robust forward-leaning posture of defense».
Note the two asymmetric parts of Kerry’s poker-game gambit: North Korea denuclearizes, which is definitive; and if that happens «the same imperative does not exist for [the US] to have that kind of robust forward-leaning posture of defense». In other words, the US gives nothing definite in return. The latter US move is subjective, noncommittal, indefinite and loaded with deceiving euphemisms, such as «robust forward-leaning posture of defense» – meaning, in all probability, the continuance of America’s armed-to-the-teeth aggressive capability in East Asia.
That is a simple matter of unacceptable double standards. Why should one party have to disarm under unilateral compulsion, while the second party retains the prerogative to blow others off the face of the earth?
This week, North Korea dismissed belated overtures from America and South Korea for «dialogue».
North Korea’s response is indisputably reasonable, although the Western media have done their best to make that state sound even more of a deranged pariah by reporting that Pyongyang «rejected» the «offers of dialogue».
South Korea condescended that North Korea’s rejection was «incomprehensible», while John Kerry said he was weary from the «same-old, same-old horse-trading», and the ever-so patient US President, Barack Obama, characterized the regime in Pyongyang like a spoilt child that keeps demanding concessions by «banging its spoon on the table».
Now, hold on a minute. This is the very same table that Washington insists none of its options are off. That is, in particular its pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against North Korea. This is the same option of annihilation that Washington has always threatened against North Korea ever since the Korean War (1950-53) and over the ensuing six decades. This is the same option of devastation that Washington threatens behind the thinly veiled annual «war games» that it holds with South Korea, including the recent flyover of the Korean Peninsula by B-2 and B-52 nuclear bombers, dropping dummy ordnance just to heighten the terror factor.
When you begin to look into the «unreasonable» demands of the «pariah» North Korean state, instead of relying on Western news spin, you begin to realize just how much this geopolitical poker game is loaded and stacked.
The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, says the state wants the following conditions for dialogue about denuclearization of the Peninsula: 1) that the UN sanctions that have been slapped on North Korea should be revoked; 2) that the US withdraws its nuclear weapons and capability from the region; 3) that the US and its South Korean client regime desist from provocative threats of war in the form of perennial military maneuvers; and 4) that the US and South sign a full peace treaty with the North, declaring that the Korean War is officially and definitively ended.
Note that, contrary to Western depiction of North Korea as a belligerent reprobate, the official position of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is that it wants to engage in dialogue to resolve the recurring threat of nuclear war, but that the above conditions must be met in order for there to be successful negotiations.
On point 1) North Korea argues, with fair reason, that the latest UN sanctions were imposed at the behest of Washington after the DPRK launched a satellite into space last December. Washington labeled this launch as a ballistic missile test, even though the US space agency, NASA, confirmed that it was a satellite launch. The UN sanctions are thus unwarranted, and that is why North Korea defiantly carried out a nuclear test in February.
Points 2) and 3) should be self-evident.
On point 4) few people in the West appreciate that North Korea has lived for six decades, since the end of the Korean War, under the threat of the US and its Southern ally resuming hostilities at any time owing to the fact that the US refused to sign a full peace treaty in 1953. There has only ever been a cessation of violence under an armistice, not a full peace settlement. This shadow of war, including the use of American nuclear weapons, explains why North Korea appears so truculent and fiery in its rhetoric. What country forced to live under the latent threat of war from a nuclear superpower would not be a bit edgy?
During the George W Bush White House (2001-09), the six-party talks held between the US, China, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea had worked out a road map for denuclearization of the Peninsula. However, Bush scuttled the deal by reneging on the US part of the bargain to supply North Korea with development aid and to demilitarize American holdings on the Peninsula. That is why North Korea resumed its nuclear weapons program. The rules of the game had been unilaterally changed – by the Americans.
The first nuclear test by the DPRK had been in 2006, but after the talks process ran into a dead-end, largely because of US obduracy, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in 2009, followed by the third on 12 February earlier this year. The pattern here is obviously the DPRK trying to push the Americans back to the former agreement for denuclearization. So, it’s not a case of North Korea having to be coerced back to the negotiating table, as John Kerry makes out. But rather, it’s a case of Washington living up to its agreed commitments worked out under the erstwhile six-party deal. Unfortunately, Barack Obama has followed the same baleful bad-faith policies of his predecessor with regard to North Korea.
Obama’s top diplomat, John Kerry, may be recently proffering the opportunity for dialogue with North Korea, but Pyongyang has rightly responded with the terse attitude – what’s there to talk about? The US and its South Korean client have not put anything on the table that meets North Korea’s reasonable demands for meaningful dialogue. All that is on the table is the demand that the North solely commits to denuclearization, while all American options, including nuclear war, are non-negotiable. In this kind of loaded poker game, the punk always wins.
Rather than pressurizing North Korea to accede to petulant American demands, Beijing and Moscow should insist that Washington play by the same standard rules for everyone. That means, among other things, Washington making a mutual commitment to withdraw its nuclear forces from the Korean Peninsula and respecting the sovereignty of the DPRK with a full peace treaty.
Washington needs to be told that the days of it playing geopolitics-poker in the manner of a Wild West saloon, under its own bent rules, are well and truly over… It needs to begin paying the same respect to all other players befitting the 21st century, where all countries are treated equally, and no-one is above the law.
A draft-dodging, Zionist friendly, right-wing Texan Islamist to lead Syria? Could the White House have dreamt for more?
Damascus – For the past year, a plan C or D, depending on how one numbers the failed “sure-fire” US-Israel projects in Syria was badly needed. And this week, according to Congressional staffers, both Tel Aviv and the White House are pinching themselves in disbelief over their good luck with installing republican leaning conservative Dixie businessman, the congenial, Ghassan Hitto, as Syria’s new interim Prime Minister.
Ghassan HittoSecuring the key position for Mr. Hitto, a decision made last year, was not easy and had to be approached gingerly. But finally, after weeks of sometimes intense debate within Syrian opposition circles, Washington, Ankara, Doha and Tel Aviv among others managed to appoint their preferred guy. “Hitto was the best of a bad lot”, one Congressional committee source, whose work load includes Syria, explained. “Bottom line, he’s an American, nearly thirty years here makes Ghassan one of us. And who cares if he came here as a teenage to dodge military service in Syria. We can count of him!”
And just as some Americans were beginning to believe that our government may be afflicted with a congenital incapacity to learn from our past mistakes, installing Hitto, “should keep hope alive and we should not give up”, according to our Ambassador in Beirut, Maury Connelly. “Look what we achieved in Libya” she lectured a visiting delegation recently. After the meeting, one participant deadpanned, “Good lord! If that woman had not been Jeff Feltman’s office favorite for whatever reason, she might still be serving coffee to State Department visitors at 2201 C St NW, Washington, DC!” Having quoted that snide comment, Maury is reputed to be a lovely lady. Just ask her frequent visitor, Samir Geagea of the Lebanese Forces, who is reputed to be her special confidant these days.
One recalls how Washington installed nearly one dozen Libyan ex-pats during the uprising just as the NATO no-fly zone was being launched. Most of them knew foreign countries better than their birth country and some needed to get their hands on a US supplied “non-lethal weapon” i.e. a GPS and a National Geographic map to find the places in west Libya which they were meant to govern.
Mr. Hitto solves a few immediate Syria problems for the White House. Or so they are hoping.
At minimum Hitto will be an American ‘potted plant’ who can be recognized and around whom NATO can corral and implant some of the desperate factions. He appears willing to take orders and is now involved in a crash-course to learn what he needs to know about Syria and the unfolding game plan. One congressional aide who helped vet Mr. Hitto claims he has “spunk and can be tough. And we think he will play ball.”
One proposal that Hitto has reportedly agreed to is the Dennis Ross/AIPAC proposal for a “political isolation law.” If adopted by the Hitto provisional government, this decree would ban nearly the whole ruling class in Syria from having any role in government. Its intention is to eliminate anyone who worked with either the Hafez or Bashar Assad regime from 1970 until today. “We need a clean break in Syria”, Ross reportedly told fellow conferees at the recent AIPAC convention.
Washington also encouraged Hitto to reject dialogue with the Government of Syria because neocons in Congress are insisting that “negotiations” with the Assad government will drag on interminably and allow the current regime to eradicate pockets of resistance and bring in more help from Russia and Iran.” Citing negotiations with Iran, Arizona Senator John McCain recently told Fox News that “if you try to negotiate with these people (Iran’s government) you will lose. And we did. We need action!” Some in Congress are telling the White House that the same is true with the Syrian government and it appears Mr. Hitto agrees.
The staffer also pointed out that “there has been a misreading of John Kerry’s recent position and that it does not reflect a notable change in the American position nor does it represent a step back from the statements that Barack Obama had made concerning the need for Al-Assad to step down. Obama and Hitto are on the same page.”
No sooner than Grassan Hitto was delegated than two insatiable US Senate war-mongers, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used the occasion of conflicting and unconfirmed reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria by increasing pressure on President Barack Obama to approve U.S. military involvement in Syria.
“That should include the provision of arms to vetted Syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against Assad’s aircraft and Scud missile batteries on the ground, and the establishment of safe zones inside Syria to protect civilians and opposition groups,” the senators continued in their statement. “If today’s reports are substantiated, the tragic irony will be that these are the exact same actions that could have prevented the use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.” Graham went even further and seemed to endorse a plan to put the label “U.S.” on the group in Syria during an interview recently with Foreign Policy. Graham said “We need a real partner in Syria.” In Ghassan Hitto, he and John McClain just may have one.
Washington and Tel Aviv see in their choice of Mr. Hitto, as a likely solution to numerous barriers to their goals in Syria for the following reasons.
They believe that Mr. Hitto can help end the infighting among the opposition to the current regime that has caused a stalemate. While Hitto is no Mohammad Morsi he does lean toward the Muslim Brotherhood and they supported him while knowing he was Washington’s choice. Hitto, some in Washington believe, can help neutralize them. The White House has reportedly told the EU that “the CIA recommended Hitto in order to preempt the crazies in this circus and Hitto can, as much as other prospects help with the formation of a US backed international bloc to get rid of Salafist groups in Syria.”
The in-depth US training of Ghassan has begun. An ‘advisory team’ is already appointed to indoctrinate him with the ‘message’ and he is being given an intensive cram course of what to do and what pitfalls to avoid. He will be expected to learn from missteps in Libya, Egypt and Iraq.
Ghassan has already been clued that if he wants to achieve more than to be Syria’s First “Interim” Prime Minister he will need to be a quick learner, able to adapt fast to the “manual”, mindful student, and above all, a team player. “We aren’t looking for another Hugo Chavez around here”, Ghassan was told recently in Istanbul, shortly before announcing his candidacy.
Hitto’s CIA handlers gave him the script and he read it well. In his first public address he deadpanned that he recognized the very difficult task that lies ahead for his administration. He has pledged to provide the services that many Syrians are lacking. He has also promised free and fair elections in a post-Assad regime Syria.
John Kerry says he is ready to work with Hitto. Kerry told members of Congress two years ago that he connected with and respects Bahar al-Assad and that “we can deal with him like we deal with the Canadians” he once told ultra Zionist Congressman Barney Frank. In private Kerry told staff members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I like this guy Bashar and we can trust him much more than the Israelis. He’s good.” Having changed his tune, some are wondering how firm his support is for Mr. Hitto.
And he is reportedly eager for both and ready to get started. Earlier this week while giving a speech in Istanbul, he insisted that his priority was to utilize “all conceivable means” to topple President Bashar al-Assad and provide desperately-needed aid to the beleaguered people of Syria.” Washington understands that providing “desperately-needed aid” will soon include weapons.
Still, the White House and Tel Aviv know that it will be a daunting task building legitimacy for Hitto’s fledgling administration, because he is lacking the support of many high-profile members of his own coalition. He was voted in by 35 of the 49 coalition members who cast ballots, but another 15 members were not present, some bought off with cash and with several walking out in protest at Mr Hitto’s perceived links to the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers in Qatar.
“I have backed the idea of an alternative government for a long time,” said veteran opposition figure Haitham al-Maleh. “But I put my ballot in without a name because there were no candidates from inside Syria. I want a prime minister from inside Syria.” “The proposed government is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Qatar government,” one coalition member, Mr al-Labwani said. “We will be against this government and will not give it legality. Democracy is from the land and from the people not from a council that is composed by the governments of America and Qatar.”
According to a staffer in Kerry’s former Senate Foreign Relations Committee “Many Syrians, regard our appointment of Hitto with suspicion. Since the announcement, I have heard both Syrian nationalist figures and those from some minority communities criticize our move.”
It appears Washington, Doha and Tel Aviv have got their man in place.
What the Syrian people will think of their selection will likely be known soon.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o email@example.com
NATO’s supreme commander says the alliance is drawing up contingency plans for a possible military intervention in Syria.
Admiral James Stavridis, commander of US European Command, said at the Senate Armed Services Committee that US military would be ready to take part in the aggression, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Stavridis also serves as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The United States is “looking at a variety of operations. We are prepared if called upon to be engaged,” he said.
The US commander said the 28-member military alliance is also looking into the option of assisting the foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government.
Stavridis further added that the negotiations within the NATO member states also concentrated on imposing a no-fly zone over Syria and providing lethal support to the militants.
The official confirmed that targeting Syria’s air defenses would also be taken into consideration.
On March 18, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not ‘stand in the way’ of Europeans if they decide to arm the militants fighting against the Syrian government.
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 16 that the CIA is considering a secret contingency plan to expand the US assassination drone strikes to Syria, according to former and current US officials.
The US publicly claims that its role in Syria is merely limited to providing food and medical supplies to the anti-government militants, but the Croatian daily Jutarnji List revealed on March 7 that the US has coordinated shipments of weapons from Croatia to the militants in Syria.
The report said 3,000 tons of weapons in 75 planeloads have been transferred from Zagreb to the militants in Syria via Jordan and Turkey. The weapons were reportedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the request of the US.
The US has renewed the exemptions for Japan and ten European Union countries from tough sanctions imposed on countries buying Iranian oil.
Japan and the 10 European Union countries, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK are on the list.
“I will report to the Congress that exceptions to sanctions will apply to financial institutions based in these countries for a potentially renewable period of 180 days,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
“The United States and the international community remain committed to maintaining pressure on the Iranian regime until it fully addresses concerns about its nuclear program,” Kerry said.
“The message to the Iranian regime from the international community is clear: take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, or face increasing isolation and pressure,” he said.
Under the law, putting pressure on Iran over its contested nuclear program, Washington bars banks from countries buying Iranian oil from doing business in the US.
The European Union completely cut imports from Iran from July 1, 2012. However, financial institutions in the EU still have non-petroleum transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.
Japan has also reduced imports despite energy shortfalls in the wake of the tsunami and nuclear incident two years ago.
A total of 20 countries have “continued to significantly reduce the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran,” John Kerry stressed in a statement.
India is expected to get another exemption from sanctions too. The country’s refineries have said that they will stop importing crude oil from Iran because they will not get the necessary insurance.
According to the IEA, Iran lost an estimated $40bn in oil export revenues in 2012 as the West tightened sanctions, while the country’s oil production in January hit a 30 year low.
However, Iran is finding new ways to circumvent the sanctions by increasing its exports to Asian countries, specifically China. In the last few months, Iran bought second-hand tankers to take more oil to China, the IEA said, citing industry reports.
Though President Obama last year rejected a proposal from the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA to directly arm Syrian rebel fighters, his administration is once again edging closer to directly intervening in the Syrian war.
As the Washington Post reported Tuesday, “The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide the rebels with equipment such as body armor, armored vehicles and possible military training and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition.”
White House spokesperson Jay Carney confirmed the Post‘s reporting Wednesday, stating that the U.S. is “constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance we provide to both the Syrian people, in form of humanitarian assistance, and to the Syrian opposition in the form of non-lethal assistance.”
The exact nature of the additional U.S. assistance is expected to be announced Thursday at a meeting of the “Friends of Syria” in Rome. The U.S. has previously sent communications equipment and night-vision goggles to rebels fighting in Syria.
John Kerry the Interventionist
The – perhaps – unlikely driver of the reported shift in U.S. policy on Syria has been none other than new Secretary of State John Kerry. The very man many continue to insist on mislabeling a dove.
Speaking as early as February 13, Secretary of State Kerry proclaimed that there were “additional things that can be done” to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad aside. And on Monday, Kerry again went on to reiterate that the West was “determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”
“We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve,” Kerry commented further.
Although a policy change for the Obama administration, advocating for a more direct role for the U.S. in Syria has long been Kerry’s position. As Kerry commented in May of 2012: “The concept of a safe zone is a reality and worth the discussion. The concept of working with the Turks and the Jordanians, if everybody is on the same page, there could be some [military] training [of the opposition forces]. If we can enhance the unity of the opposition, we could consider lethal aid and those kinds of things.”
In the same interview Kerry went on to voice support – under the right conditions – for “U.S.- or NATO-led airstrikes on the Syrian military.”
This should come as no surprise given Kerry’s previous support for U.S. bombing campaigns in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Some dove! Of course, the American foreign policy establishment as a whole has steadily veered toward a greater affinity for missile and bomb diplomacy.
“Once war was considered the business of soldiers, international relations the concern of diplomats,” C. Wright Mills wrote of the U.S. over 50 years ago in The Power Elite. “But now that war has become seemingly total and seemingly permanent… Peace is no longer serious; only war is serious.”
If nothing else, then, Kerry has proven himself once again to be a rather “serious” man.
Intervention by Proxy
While Kerry helps edge Washington closer to direct military intervention into Syria, U.S. proxies continue to ramp up their campaign to topple the Syrian regime.
As the New York Times reported Monday, Saudi Arabia has recently begun to funnel heavy weapons purchased from Croatia to Syrian rebel groups via Jordan. The Saudi shipments, the paper goes on to note, “have been a factor in the rebels’ small tactical gains this winter against the army and militias loyal to Mr. Assad.”
The U.S. role in the Saudi arms flow, the Times reports, “is not clear.” Yet, it is hard to fathom that such shipments were not sanctioned by Washington, given the close military ties the U.S. maintains between those involved. After all, Saudi Arabia remains one of the largest purchasers of U.S. arms. The Pentagon, meanwhile, maintains “a robust military-to-military relationship with Croatia,” providing the Croatian military with “training, equipment, equipment loans, and education in U.S. military schools.” And U.S. military aid to Jordan tops $300 million a year.
Moreover, the U.S. has had upwards of 150 military planners stationed along the Jordanian border with Syria since last summer, where the Croatian arms are reported to have passed into rebel hands. It has long been reported that the CIA is overseeing the arms shipments to Syrian rebels from within Turkey.
The U.S. is thus already well entangled in the Syrian war – albeit if by the use of proxy forces.
The push to further enhance the degree of U.S. intervention – from guiding regional proxies to direct military support – comes as the rebel drive to oust Assad appears to be reaching its limits. In fact, Mouaz Mustafa, the political director of the U.S.-based Syrian American Task Forced, recently argued that, “Assad cannot be deposed without the consent of the U.S.”
This realization has even left some in the West to admit that Assad still retains a sizable base of domestic support. As former U.S. diplomat Karen AbuZayd commented in a recent interview with CBC Radio, “there’s quite a number of the population, maybe as many as half, if not more, who stand behind him [Assad].”
Thus, we see the exiled Syrian opposition – long opposed to dialogue – now hinting at a new willingness to engage in negotiations with the Syrian regime. Yet, the U.S. continues to insist that any political dialogue must be preempted by regime change.
As State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell commented on Wednesday, “the [political] process has to include Assad leaving, but it’s really up to the Syrian people.” Another example of the limits of America’s democratic ideals, as we see that the choice for the Syrian people begins and ends with supporting Washington’s agenda.
Of course, as long as a sizable segment of Syrians stand behind Assad – or at least refrain from supporting the armed rebels – demanding that Assad leaves only portends a protracted military struggle. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was left to comment Monday, “It seems extremists, who bet on a military solution to Syria’s problems and block initiatives to start dialogue, have for now come to dominate in the ranks of the Syrian opposition.” And the ranks of Washington, it appears as well.
Yet, even as Washington and its European allies antagonize Russia by preparing to heighten their intervention into Syria, they still desperately seek the legitimacy of a United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing a military intervention. And for this they need Moscow.
Cajoling Russia to Pave the Road to Tehran
Writing in Foreign Policy, Christopher Chivvis of the RAND Corporation and Edward Joseph, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, argue that the threat of Western military intervention is what is needed to bring Russia around to supporting the “regime change” line.
“Changing the Russian position means changing Moscow’s calculus on Syria,” Chivvis and Joseph write. “And that means presenting the Kremlin with an alternative that it finds more unpalatable than the status quo: a NATO-backed, Turkey-led military coalition invited by the Arab League to intervene in the Syria conflict.”
And here we have the bankruptcy and hubris of the American foreign policy elite. It’s all rather transparent: capitulate to our demands, or face the brunt of military force. Only war is serious.
Of course, Chivvis and Joseph go on to tout the “blow to Iran and a boon to the United States and its regional partners and allies” a toppled Assad would present. “Israel would be a primary beneficiary, with its antagonist, Hezbollah, having been dealt a serious setback,” they continue.
How all this is supposed to entice Moscow is not exactly clear. What is good for American is good for the world, it appears. Indicative, perhaps, of what Chalmers Johnson once wrote to be the self-aggrandizement of imperial rot.
And so with the typical delusions of grandeur, the U.S. edges closer to direct military intervention into Syria – closer, too, to unleashing a dangerous regional conflagration. In fact, the Iran war drums are already beating louder; for regime change in Damascus only paves the road to Tehran.
Ben Schreiner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democrats on Capitol Hill want the Obama administration to investigate the deaths of four civilians in Honduras last year during an anti-cocaine raid involving U.S. law enforcement agents. But administration officials have balked at the request.
On May 11, 2012, four villagers in a boat on the River Patuca, two pregnant women, a 21-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy, were killed when local police entered the town of Ahuas in northeastern Honduras to conduct a counternarcotics operation. Another four boat passengers were injured by gunfire. It was later learned that members of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) participated in the raid, which raised questions of whether Americans were responsible for the killings.
The Honduran government investigated the incident and concluded the DEA was not at fault for the deaths.
But 58 House Democrats were not satisfied with the probe, which they called “deeply flawed” in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. calling for the U.S. to conduct its own examination.
Government Won’t Probe of DEA Raid in Honduras (by Guy Taylor, Washington Times)
Collateral Damage of a Drug War (Center for Economic and Policy Research) (pdf)
It Was Not a Mistake
On January 15, 1973 Richard Nixon announced a halt to offensive operations by US forces in Vietnam. Twelve days later a peace agreement was signed in Paris between the United States, northern Vietnam, the US client regime in Saigon, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of southern Vietnam. This agreement called for an immediate ceasefire and called for the Vietnamese to negotiate a political settlement regarding the fate of southern Vietnam.
The January 27th agreement was the same as one that Saigon had refused to sign three months earlier. The interlude between the two dates saw some of the heaviest bombing of the entire conflict by the United States Air Force (USAF). I vividly recall listening to the news broadcasts on Armed Forces Radio and watching the German telecasts reporting the bombing. Cynically called Operation Linebacker II by the Nixon administration, it is estimated that this particular round of carpet bombing killed more than 1600 northern Vietnamese civilians, including over 200 at Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital alone. I personally attended two protests in Frankfurt am Main against the so-called Christmas bombings. Similar protests occurred around the world.
The peace agreement did not stop the war. It did provide Nixon and Kissinger with a way to complete their policy of Vietnamization. US troops began to be withdrawn at a greater pace and southern Vietnamese troops (ARVN) began to replace the withdrawing forces. US forces on the ground were officially only serving as advisors. Anecdotal evidence suggests that USAF planes continued to bomb, although the missions were now officially led by southern Vietnamese flyers. As many a GI, sailor, or Marine who was stationed in (or off the coast of) Vietnam after the peace agreement was signed can tell you, the war did not end. However, the will to fight among southern Vietnamese forces was rapidly fading. Since 1971, friends of mine returning from battle had been telling stories of outright refusal of orders by entire units of ARVN and US forces. Others told me that their bosses told them to “just stay out of sight and stay alive.” The official word was that no US combat soldiers remained in Vietnam after March 1973. Reflecting the mood among US voters, Congress cut off all official military aid to the Saigon government in 1974.
I returned to the United States in August 1973 and began college in the Bronx. Although there were some meetings and even a small protest or two regarding the continued funding of the war against the Vietnamese (and the unofficial presence of thousands of troops), most of the political activity was focused on the CIA/ITT assisted coup in Chile and the growing calls for Nixon’s impeachment. One memorable protest against the US funding of the failing Saigon endeavor to survive the will of the Vietnamese people was a takeover of the Statue of Liberty by a small band of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and members of the Attica Brigades. Both of these groups were left anti-imperialist in nature and allies of the post-SDS formation known as the Revolutionary Unions. John Kerry and the VVAW had parted ways many months before; Kerry had always represented the less-radical (some would say rightwing) elements of the VVAW and the antiwar movement in general. His departure from the VVAW was not a surprise, especially considering the growing radicalization of the organization’s membership. Kerry considered the US policy in Vietnam a mistake. Much of the antiwar movement saw it as standard operating procedure. Obviously, each understanding depended on one’s interpretation of history.
True to form, John Kerry’s understanding of history has served him well in the halls of empire. Indeed, he may very well become the next Secretary of State; successor to another of the anti-Vietnam war movement’s imperial apologists, Hilary Clinton. Neither Kerry nor Clinton ever considered the argument that the US war in Vietnam was part and parcel of a policy with economic and political domination of the world as its goal. Instead, they preferred to believe that the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese, the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the destruction of a land, was just a mistake. The overall policy was a good one, merely desiring to bring democracy and freedom to those same people being murdered and maimed.
Since that day in 1973, the United States has been involved in some kind of military conflict almost without a let up. Democrat and Republican, right wing and liberal, the battle for world hegemony continues unabated. Low-intensity conflicts that included the massacre of Salvadoran farmers by US-funded death squads and militaries; the murderous subversion of a popular government by CIA- contra forces in Nicaragua; the arming of religious extremists in Afghanistan to fight a secular and progressive government in Kabul; the imposition of sanctions against the Iraqi people causing the deaths of over a half-million people (leading Democratic Secretary of State Albright to state the deaths were “worth the price”); and the never-ending support for Israel’s brutal and Orwellian occupation of Palestine. All of these elements and hundreds more are what describe US foreign policy. They are not mistakes any more than the US war on the Vietnamese people was a mistake. Indeed, they are the price the world must pay.
In the weeks to come, there will be a parade of powerful men and women from the nation’s elites appearing before committees of the Senate. These individuals will be auditioning for their roles in the new White House administration. Some, like John Kerry, will face some loud opposition from the ultra-right members of that legislative body. Don’t be fooled by the bombast. The proof that the individual being questioned and the individuals doing the questioning agree is in the history briefly noted above. As long as those in both seats believe in the ideology of empire, Washington’s march will never fall and only rarely stumble.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up.
I guess it goes to show you how limited the debate over warmaking is when politicians whose records are mostly pro-war can be portrayed as war skeptics.
That’s what is happening with Barack Obama’s new cabinet picks: Sen. John Kerry for secretary of State and former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary. In today’s New York Times (1/9/12), Elisabeth Bumiller has a piece headlined, “For Two Nominees, Vietnam Bred Doubts on War,” where she claims:
Between them, Senator John Kerry and Chuck Hagel have five Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in Vietnam, shared a harrowing combat experience in the Mekong Delta and responded in different ways to the conflict that tore their generation apart.
But in nominating one as secretary of State and the other as Defense secretary, President Obama hopes to bring to his administration two veterans with the same sensibility about the futilities of war.
Bumiller goes on to report that Hagel and Kerry supporters say their Vietnam experiences means they “question the price of American involvement overseas.” That would make a certain kind of sense. But their actual records do very little to support this claim.
After quoting Hagel’s criticism of the ongoing Afghan War, Bumiller writes:
Like Mr. Kerry, Mr. Hagel voted for the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq but became an early opponent of the Bush administration’s execution of the war.
So both of them voted to authorize the Iraq War, and supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Kerry supported the Panama invasion and NATO’s war in Serbia. And during his presidential campaign in 2004 he talked about possibly increasing the number of troops in Iraq.
Hagel’s record, as I noted already, has been more supportive of U.S. warmaking than not. If anything, their records suggest they are willing to criticize U.S. wars after they’ve voted to support them. This might be in line with the White House’s thinking, but it shouldn’t be confused with an overall skepticism towards U.S. wars and their “futilities.”
Elsewhere in the paper, David Sanger argues that Kerry and Hagel would be part of a “new national security team deeply suspicious of the wisdom of American military interventions around the world.” They “bear the scars of a war that ended when the president was a teenager,” and–along with Obama’s CIA pick John Brennan–”have sounded dismissive of attempts to send thousands of troops to rewire foreign nations as wasteful and ill-conceived.”
True–except when they haven’t.
While lawmakers work themselves up into a tizzy that the White House might be leaking classified information to make President Barack Obama look good (and wouldn’t it just be the living end if true, given Obama’s habit of prosecuting leakers?), Sen. John Kerry asks whether it’s appropriate for the media to actually let the public know what’s going on. Via Politico:
Sen. John Kerry on Wednesday questioned whether The New York Times should have published explosive stories last week about President Obama ordering cyberattacks against Iran’s nuclear program.
“I personally think there is a serious question whether or not that served our interest and whether the public had to know,” Kerry, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, told reporters. “To me it was such a nitty-gritty fundamental national security issue. And I don’t see how the public interest is well served by it. I do see how other interests outside the United States are well served by it.” …
Earlier, Kerry said he was “disturbed” by the leaking of classified information cited in the Times story, saying it endangers U.S. national security and “begs retaliation” from America’s enemies. The chairman said he couldn’t understand how an American citizen could leak classified information that could potentially put the country at risk.
It’s not the act itself that “begs retaliation,” you see, it’s the reporting of it. The fact that there could be blowback for targeting a foreign nation’s nuclear program with a computer virus doesn’t mean you possibly shouldn’t do it. It means you should make sure you don’t tell your own public. After all, how would Iran ever conclude that the United States and Israel could be working together to design a virus to shut down their nuclear ambitions? Anybody could be the culprit! Anybody at all! They would never have figured it out had The New York Times kept their big traps shut.
Or, perhaps, they might have gotten a clue from this 2010 story from The Guardian that suggests Israel was responsible for it and that Stuxnet was pretty obviously designed to target Iran. Or maybe this story from Forbes.com from 2010 that talks about the suspicions and various theories that the United States and Israel were the sources of the virus. Or perhaps this lengthy Vanity Fair investigative report from from last year that says, “[T]here is vanishingly little doubt that the United States played a role in creating the worm.” The fact is, The New York Times story merely revealed the truth that anybody who followed computer security news already suspected, and Iran doesn’t seem like the kind of nation that needs a metaphorical smoking gun before casting blame.
More to the point, launching the virus itself could ultimately give Iran (or others, because Stuxnet, like every other government venture, immediately got out of hand and ended up in places where it wasn’t meant to be) the tools to bring about that blowback Kerry is so worried about. Via The Christian Science Monitor:
Although Stuxnet is estimated to have eventually destroyed as many as 1,000 high-speed Iranian gas centrifuges designed to enrich uranium, its importance was far larger than that, [German cybersecurity expert Ralph] Langner warned. It demonstrated that a cyberweapon could physically destroy critical infrastructure, and that process could also work in reverse.
“One important difference between a cyber offensive weapon and some kind of advanced bomb, for example, is that when the bomb blows up you can’t examine or reverse-engineer it,” says Joel Brenner, a former national counterintelligence executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“Once you find the malware, on the other hand, once you find the code, you can see how it was done,” he says. “So we are going to see more operations of this kind – and the US’s critical infrastructure is undoubtedly going to be targeted. I still don’t think that the owners and operators of most of that infrastructure understand the gravity of this threat.”
The possibility that Stuxnet could come back to haunt us does seem to meet a certain “need to know” threshold. The New York Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet responded to Kerry via Politico:
“Our job is to report issues in the public interest, and this piece certainly meets that standard,” Dean Baquet, the Times managing editor, said in a statement to POLITICO. “As always with sensitive stories, we described the piece to the government before publication. No one suggested we not publish. There was a request to omit some highly technical details. We complied with the request after concluding it was not a significant part of the piece.”
Well, that ought to add more ammo to those who believe the White House is actually causing the leaks.