WASHINGTON – After three days of non-stop phone calls from hundreds of Colorado constituents opposed to a US military strike on Syria, Rep. Doug Lamborn announced Friday he was “leaning against” a resolution giving US President Barack Obama the authority to take limited action.
Following a long holiday weekend, “Tuesday is when the calls started, they’re still coming in, and I would say fewer than two percent are people who want us to take action,” said Catherine Mortensen, Lamborn’s communications director.
“People say things like, ‘We have problems at home we need to take care of.’ And what was surprising was how quickly people’s opinions had gelled. They’re not lukewarm. Right off the bat on Tuesday it was, ‘We don’t need this.’ It’s been overwhelming,” she added in an interview with RIA Novosti.
While Lamborn was answering questions from listeners during a radio show Friday morning, Mortensen said, “One man phoned in to say, ‘I’m in Afghanistan, and I don’t want this anymore.’”
By the end of the show, Lamborn, a Republican, who previously had said he was gathering facts and hadn’t made up his mind yet, told listeners he was inclined to vote against the resolution.
And Lamborn’s office is not alone.
Other Congressional offices say they have also been bombarded ever since Obama said last Saturday that he would ask Congress to approve a “limited” strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
“I can tell you 99 percent of the calls coming to my office are against it,” said Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland in a televised interview on MSNBC.
Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who lost the presidency to Obama in 2008, voted to support his old rival during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week, but took significant heat about it from angry constituents at a town hall meeting in Arizona Thursday.
“This is what I think of Congress,” said one man in the crowd, holding up a bag of marshmallows. “They are a bunch of marshmallows…Why are you not listening to the people and staying out of Syria? It’s not our fight.”
Some of those calls and comments to Congress appear to be having an effect.
After days of discussions with voters, Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, announced late Thursday in a statement on his website that he would vote against the president’s request, saying the situation in Syria is a civil war that America should not be drawn into.
“This is not just my opinion. It is the considered opinion of the people that I represent, expressed not at just one or two town halls, but literally at every public or private meeting and casual encounter I have had since the president decided to put this issue before Congress last Saturday,” he said, adding, “I have heard their opposition loud and clear and will not vote in favor of military intervention in Syria.”
Upon hearing word about a chemical attack that had killed men, women and children, Republican Rep. Michael Grimm from New York said his initial reaction, as a Marine combat veteran, “was to stand by the Commander in Chief and support immediate, targeted strikes.”
Grimm announced Thursday he, too, had changed his mind.
“I have heard from many constituents who strongly oppose unilateral action at a time when we have so many needs here at home. Thus, after much thought, deliberation and prayer, I am no longer convinced that a US strike on Syria will yield a benefit to the United States that will not be greatly outweighed by the extreme cost of war,” he said in a statement on his website.
The Obama Administration thus far has “failed to present a convincing argument that the events in Syria pose a clear threat to America, failed to list a strong coalition of nations willing to support military attacks, and failed to articulate a clear definition of victory,” said Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon in a statement on his website explaining his opposition to a strike.
Salmon told the National Review Online he’s had 500 calls to his office about the crisis in Syria, and only two have been in favor of US intervention. He predicted Obama’s efforts in Congress “will fail by 20 votes.”
But Obama is counting on members of Congress like California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has viewed classified information about the chemical weapons attack and said Thursday she supports the strike on Syria, despite the lack of public support.
“There’s no question: What’s coming in is overwhelmingly negative,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “But you see, then, they don’t know what I know. They haven’t heard what I’ve heard.”
During a press conference from St. Petersburg soon after the G20 summit wrapped up on Friday, Obama said he would address the nation about the crisis on Tuesday, telling reporters he considers it part of his job to “make the case.”
“It’s conceivable that, at the end of the day, I don’t persuade a majority of the American people that it’s the right thing to do,” Obama said to reporters.
But he added that members of Congress will have to decide for themselves if they think a strike is the right thing for national and global security.
“Ultimately, you listen to your constituents, but you’ve got to make some decisions about what you believe is right for America,” he said.
Obama did not say whether he would still order a strike even without Congressional approval.
- Obama’s Politics of War and US Public Opinion: The Great Divergence (James Petras)
- How to Call Congress About Voting NO on Striking Syria (disclose.tv)
- Report: AIPAC to mount major lobbying blitz for Obama’s Syria strike plan (jpost.com)
- Arizona Voters Heckle John McCain Over Push For Syrian Strike (businessinsider.com)
- Developing: Congress Might Not Even Vote On Obama’s Syria Resolution (undergroundpoliticsdotorg.wordpress.com)
- Fla. members in Congress skeptical of Syria strike (miamiherald.com)
- Will Obama Strike Syria Without Congressional Approval? (dannyvinik.com)
- Obama rejects G20 pressure to abandon Syria air strike plan – Times of India (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
By PAUL GOTTINGER | August 30, 2013
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate himself, Obama, weighed in on the human rights abuses being carried out by the U.S. trained and funded General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt on August 23 saying “We care deeply about the Egyptian people,” and “We deplore violence against civilians.” These statements came after a vicious attack on protestors on August 14 that Human Rights Watch called, “most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.”
The day of the Egyptian security forces attack on the non-violent protestors John Kerry did his best to conjure up indignation in response to the events. In the stiff and passionless manner of a marionette, which is convincing only in that he is “deeply concerned” with not forgetting his lines, he stated, “The violence is deplorable.”
So one would imagine this peacenik president who is deeply troubled by the violence in Egypt would unleash the hoards of humanitarians to protect the Egyptian civilians he cares so much about. But instead Obama stated, “America cannot determine the future of Egypt. That’s a task for [Egyptians].”
Then on August 19 Chuck Hagel changed the tone slightly (he’s the Secretary of Defense, so he has to sound tough) by focusing on America’s impotence in regards to Egypt. He stated, “[The U.S.’] ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited” and that “All nations are limited in their influence in another nation’s internal issues”.
On August 22 the LA Times echoed much the same stating, “Obama’s inability to ease the crisis reflects America’s diminished ability to influence political outcomes in [Egypt].”
The media continued the theme of failing U.S. influence in Egypt by focusing on the fact that the three richest monarchies in the gulf pledged $12 billion in cash and loans to Egypt. The Wall Street Journal wrote, ‘The U.S.’s closest Middle East allies undercut American policy in Egypt by encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile, U.S. and Arab officials said.’
The idea we’re supposed to have about Obama’s policy towards Egypt couldn’t be clearer: Obama would really love to stop all that awful violence in Egypt, but unfortunately America just isn’t powerful enough to save everyone. Come on, Obama isn’t superman.
The consistency with which the mainstream media adhered to this message demonstrates the strict discipline the major newspapers maintain in their role as ideological managers.
But just as the population of most of the planet was about to collectively erupt in simultaneous celebration at the end of American military hegemony, Obama stated he was considering a military strike on Syria.
We’re supposed to swallow that the situation in Egypt is beyond the realm of American power, but Syria, where the U.S. has significantly less influence, is within the capabilities of the U.S.
Apparently the forecast of the decline of American power from the mainstream media was a bit premature. Perhaps there is a lesson here: whatever the mainstream media is saying about U.S. foreign policy, you can be almost certain it’s not true.
However, it is true that U.S. power has been in decline since the end of World War II when it was at its most powerful, but the U.S. still is far and away the most powerful country in the world. This will likely be the case for a long time to come.
In order to understand the cynicism of Obama’s rhetoric, one must be familiar with the U.S.’ long record of support for brutal dictators with awful human rights records. This is especially the case in Egypt where the U.S. supported Anwar El Sadat beginning in the early 1970s, and also supported his successor Hosni Mubarak until nearly the end of the 2011 protests.
If the Peace Laureate president had any sincerity with regards to stopping the human rights abuses in Egypt he could pressure the military government there. With Egypt’s small economy (a GDP of around 260 billion dollars) the military government could be easily bought, or enticed with a long stalled IMF deal and debt forgiveness. This is especially true because the Egyptian economy has suffered serious unemployment and inflation for years.
Even if the U.S. didn’t want to spend a dime on Egypt it could take Turkey’s suggestion and bring the issue of violence against civilians to the UN Security Council and Arab League with the hopes of influencing the military government.
The U.S. could also assert its influence on its close allies the Gulf States and Israel. But the U.S. is fine with the military government in Egypt and allows the aid from the Gulf States to reach Egypt.
Another instructive element to the political crisis in Egypt was the Obama administration’s fake attempts to resolve the situation diplomatically.
The New York Times reported that Chuck Hagel made, “17 personal phone calls” to the Egyptian military government, but they “failed to forestall” the crisis. Perhaps Hagel would have had more luck if he tried contacting the General el-Sisi on Facebook.
The next act in the made for New York Times special was the diplomatic trip of John McCain and Lindsey Graham to Egypt on behalf of Obama. The New York Times reports Graham spoke to John McCain about General el-Sisi saying, “If this guy’s voice is indicative of the attitude, there’s no pulling out of this thing.”
This conjures up the image of the Egyptian military commander as a runaway train and all the bros from Washington are pulling as hard as they can on the break, but somehow the general is just too strong for them.
You see it’s imperative that the media portray the U.S. as powerless to stop the violence of dictators the U.S. likes. However, when the U.S. doesn’t care for the leader, be they democratically elected like Hamas in 2006, or Chavez in 2002, or a dictator like Saddam, Qaddafi, or Assad, then the U.S. is capable of anything, usually devastating violence.
Just when you think there is not a sensible member of the U.S. government John McCain stated that he recommended the U.S. cut aid to Egypt. But the reason he gave for why he recommended this was telling. He said, “[the U.S.] has no credibility. ”We know that the administration called the Egyptians and said, ‘look, if you [have] a coup, we’re going to cut off aid because that’s the law.’ We have to comply with the law. And … this administration did not do that after threatening to do so.”
McCain’s reasoning for supporting a cut to aid has nothing to do with protecting human rights in Egypt, but is solely about American credibility. The logic is this: if the U.S. makes threats, we have to follow threw with them. This is the same logic used when raising a child, which tells us much about how the U.S. views its relationship to Egypt and much of the rest of the world.
When we put aside the dark theatrics of the Obama administration’s rhetoric it is obscenely obvious that el-Sisi and the Egyptian military have very close connections to the U.S. and serve U.S interests.
For decades the Egyptian leaders have played an important role for the U.S. by allowing U.S./Israel to act with impunity against the Palestinians.
The closeness of the ties between the Egyptian military and the U.S. is demonstrated by the fact that General el-Sisi spent a year at the Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006. The same Army War College trains 500-1000 Egyptian military officers every year.
Since 1979 Egypt has received the 2nd most bilateral aid, behind only Israel, totaling 68 billion dollars. The U.S. buys relationships with the militaries of countries like Egypt to insure influence.
This is why Obama has allowed and will continue to allow the human right abuses to continue in Egypt. Despite his pretty talk and composed outrage, he actually is just fine with protestors being gunned down in the street, the brutal repression of a political party (Muslim Brotherhood), the prevention of freedom of speech, and the destruction of Egypt’s brief experiment with democracy (which resulted from the sacrifice of 800 hundred lives with 6,000 injured and 12,000 hauled before military courts).
Obama is A okay with military curfews and a state of emergency. Obama has no problem with attacks on Christian churches, attacks on journalists, and “Nightmare scenes that Egyptians could never have imagined could take place in [their] country.” Obama sees nothing wrong with tear gas being fired into hospitals, and Islamists being portrayed as terrorists or even animals.
Obama has no problem with any of this because he knows he can count on el-Sisi to follow U.S. orders. Egyptian civil society’s destruction simply makes controlling the country easier for the U.S. [...]
Whether or not the U.S. knew about the military coup ahead of time the U.S. seems to be following a predictable PR plan.
1. The Obama administration strongly condemns the violence and calls for a return to democracy. 2. There is a semantic battle waged over whether or not to classify the events as a coup. 3. When it looks bad to support a thug overtly, you engage in superficial detachment from the leader of the coup. (This is the canceling of the joint military operations) 4.Then if necessary, as in the 2009 coup to the somewhat progressive Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, cut some amount of aid as a slap on the wrist, but then quietly restore it later.
Obama’s policies are all predictable. It’s the same story once again: the U.S. destroys yet another country. The revolution in Egypt is back at square one. Morsi is detained and Mubarak has been released from prison. The U.S. has done its best to destroy the progress of the Arab Spring.
But more protests are being called for in Egypt on Friday, August 30. The question is can Egypt regain the spirit of the January 25 revolution and continue to fight for basic rights? Perhaps for us as Americans the more important question is how much longer will Americans tolerate the dark theatrics of our government’s foreign policy? When we witness the immense bravery of the Egyptians challenging their government and getting massacred don’t we have a responsibility to challenge our government when the risks for us are far less? As Americans we must work to protect victims of U.S. violence, and the best way for us to do that is to get off the Internet and get in the street.
Paul Gottinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By JASON HIRTHLER | July 24, 2013
After committing a half dozen acts of war across the Middle East in recent years, we’re now treated to the absurd spectacle of an American general warning us of the dangers of committing an act of war. On Monday, U.S. General Martin Dempsey starkly outlined options for military action in Syria in a letter to the Senate, ruefully adding a few caveats about costs and collateral damage that triggered some chest-thumping histrionics in the Senate. Dempsey’s menu of warmongering druthers included training and advising the opposition (the term ‘nonlethal’ is always excitedly appended to advisory activities); conducting limited missile strikes; establishing a no-fly zone; creating buffer zones; and controlling chemical weapons. These additional options come even as Congress approves arms shipments to Syrian ‘rebels’.
Importantly, though, Dempsey did emphasize that the use of force in any form would be “no less than an act of war”. This may appear to be a given, but it is not within the Washington bubble, hence the need to overstate the obvious. Outraged by this show of good sense, senior Senator John McCain threatened to block General Dempsey’s re-election as America’s top military appointment. McCain has been clamoring for a ‘no-fly zone’ for months, and finds the General insufficiently hostile to Syrian sovereignty. This is itself absurd, since Dempsey had just laid out five ‘acts of war’ for the White House to consider. While the various approaches appear quite different prima facie, they share a common objective—the end of the Bashar al-Assad government. As employed in Libya, a nominal no-fly zone bears little distinction from Dempsey’s “stand-off strikes,” the former providing rhetorical cover for a brutal aerial assault on a country’s military infrastructure, usefully evading Congressional interference and erecting a posture of last-resort humanitarian action.
Much to McCain’s continuing chagrin, Dempsey also usefully detailed some of the exorbitant costs of any of these actions, including the eye-popping $500 million upfront costs for a no-fly zone, followed by a mere billion dollars a month for maintenance. Controlling chemical weapons would run a billion a month, too. (Training unhinged Islamic jihadists came in comparatively cheaper, at just $500 million a year.) After laying out these costs, Dempsey couldn’t resist noting with dutiful trepidation that these expenditures arise even as we “lose readiness due to budget cuts and fiscal uncertainty”. This must have caused some discomfiture even among the most stalwart deficit hawks.
Dempsey also performed the tiresome hand-wringing pantomime, noting grave concerns that weapons or intelligence could fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda affiliates (such as those we are backing), as well as reminding us how heavily these decisions weigh upon our noble civilian leaders. (Perhaps we are meant to conjure Obama’s discerning visage, a gentle Caesarean wreath of laurels cresting his pate.) Any of the items on the a-la-carte menu, Dempsey noted, might produce “retaliatory attacks” and “collateral damage”, might inadvertently create “operational zones for extremists” or “unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control,” among a number of other regrettable forms of chaos. One has to wonder whether Dempsey is late arriving to the Syrian conflict, considering it is common knowledge that arming extremist is the cornerstone of our Syrian strategy, or that it is quite possible that the extremists in our employ have already deployed chemical weapons in service to their discredited rebellion. Perhaps Dempsey ought to look back to Libya again for a better sense of what “unintended consequences” really entail—namely, destabilizing delicately balanced communities inside neighboring nations (see Mali) and the indiscriminate diffusion of both weaponry and stateless jihad across the region. It might also behoove McCain to ponder the internal effect of the Libyan no-fly zone, which precipitated not only the aforementioned regional phenomenon, but also left Libya itself reduced to a confection of simmering sectarian strongholds with a cowering and nominally federated government in Tripoli. The only question that remains is whether these consequences are “unintended” or not.
It’s hardly absurd to suggest the possibility that the Pentagon sometimes likes to “trigger” failed states. Once achieved, several fortuitous opportunities emerge: large lending regimes move in, conditioning aid on the chaining of renascent economies to structural reforms designed to refashion the country as an unfettered market for Western multinationals; and also the use of the country as a staging hub for military actions across the region; and other surreptitious designs.
But nothing feels more disingenuous than Dempsey’s pronounced concern over committing an “act of war”. Is funneling cash, weapons, and intelligence to mercenary forces in an effort to unseat a sovereign government not itself an act of war? Are not the pernicious and unsanctioned drone bombings of civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan not acts of war? Is conducting clandestine cyber warfare within Iran an act of war? What about funneling millions to opposition candidates in last year’s Venezuelan election—surely a serious provocation at least?
You’d be hard-pressed to imagine any of the above acts being taken against the United States that didn’t induce an instantaneous and vicious military reply—and a deluge of indignant rhetoric from the White House. Imagine an Iranian computer virus taking down half our Internet servers. Or a Pakistani drone liquidating a ‘threat’ in Iowa. Or Syria funneling arms to Islamist cells in Delaware.
Dempsey should at least be cognizant of the fact that we’ve been launching acts of war on a regular and unrepentant basis. And perhaps that’s why his modestly alarmist message—albeit couched in a freshet of regime-change mechanisms—will likely fall on deaf ears in our effete and enervated Senate.
A prominent U.S. senator has called on the administration of President Barack Obama to attack Syrian “airfields, airplanes and massed artillery.”
The influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who has returned from a fact-finding trip to the Middle East, also expressed support for arming the militant groups fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Increased military pressure on Assad is the only way to achieve a negotiated settlement in Syria, which in turn is needed to restore stability to a region that certainly doesn’t need any more instability,” Levin said Wednesday during a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Levin conceded that the U.S. public opposes an increased involvement in the Syrian conflict and that there is “no consensus” on the issue on Capitol Hill.
Senator Levin and Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spent five days in Jordan and Turkey, talking to government officials as well as U.S. diplomatic and military personnel about the conflict in Syria.
The two senators also met with militant leaders including Salim Idriss, the leader of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), and visited refugee camps along the Syrian border.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, Levin and King said the U.S. and its allies should arm and train the militants and consider “options for limited, targeted strikes at airplanes, helicopters, missiles, tanks and artillery.”
However they said they were not calling for American troops on the ground in Syria.
The senators noted that “doing nothing may be the worst option of all,” potentially destabilizing U.S. allies in the region, including Turkey and Jordan, and threatening Israeli interests.
In a letter last month, Sen. Levin, Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey called on President Obama to take “more decisive military actions” against Syria.
A recent opinion poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that the majority of Americans, 70 percent, are against U.S. involvement in Syria’s unrest.
The fate of Syria and the broader Middle East balances on a razor’s edge. The western media is giving dire warnings of an impending sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims, a war that could drown the Middle East in a flood of blood.
Such a war would be completely artificial, and is being manufactured for geo-political reasons. When the most influential Sunni figures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar — both U.S. allies — recently called for Jihad against the Syrian government and Hezbollah, their obvious intentions were to boost the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and its closest ally, the United States, by destroying Iran’s key ally in the region.
Will Sunni Muslims in Syria — who are the majority — suddenly begin attacking their Shia countrymen and the Syrian government? Unlikely. A compilation of data from humanitarian workers in and around Syria compiled by NATO suggests that:
…70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime. Another 20 percent were deemed neutral and the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels.”
The pro-Assad 70 percent is mostly Sunni. This data flies in the face of the constant barrage of western media distortion about what’s happening in Syria. Previous polling compiled last year by Qatar had similar results, and was likewise ignored by the western media.
The above article quoted a source familiar with the data:
The Sunnis have no love for Assad, but the great majority of the community is withdrawing from the revolt… what is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They are seen by the Sunnis as far worse than Assad.
Syrian Sunnis are likely disgusted by the behavior of the foreign extremists, which include a laundry list of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, as well as the terrorist bombing of a Sunni Mosque that killed the top Sunni cleric in Syria — along with 41 worshipers and 84 others injured. The Sunni cleric was killed because he was pro-Assad.
The recent calls for Jihad by the Saudi and Qatari Sunni leaders are likely in response to the Syrian government scoring major victories against the rebels. The rebels are now badly losing the war, in large part because they’ve completely lost their base of community support.
There are other key rebel supporters now taking urgent action to bolster the flagging rebel war effort. The leader of al-Qaeda, for example, made a recent plea for Sunnis to support the rebels against the Syrian government, while U.S. politician John McCain journeyed into Syria to meet with rebels — later identified as terrorists — to further commit the U.S. to the rebel side.
Meanwhile, The New York Times confirmed that the CIA had increased its already-massive arms trafficking program into Syria, while the European union agreed to drop the Syrian arms embargo, so that even more arms could be funneled to the rebels.
And to top it off, France now says it has proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the rebels — a UN representative has suggested that just the opposite is the case — while the rebels are desperately trying to incite war between Syria and Israel by attacking the Syrian government on the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Also relevant is that the pro-Jihad religious leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are taking a giant gamble in their recent anti-Hezbollah proclamations, and risk triggering political instability to these already-shaky regimes, which are hugely dependent on the religious leaders for support.
Hezbollah is still revered throughout the Muslim world for its military defeat of Israel in 2006; and most Muslims will likely be uninterested in waging Jihad in Muslim majority Syria. Also, attacking the Syrian government and Hezbollah would mean allying with Israel and the United States, not an ideal situation for most jihadists.
It’s very possible that the Syrian tinderbox could drag the surrounding Middle Eastern countries into a massive regional war, with Russia and the United States easily within the gravitational pull.
The Syrian conflict could end very quickly if President Obama rejected U.S. support for the rebels and demanded his U.S. allies in the region do the same. Obama should acknowledge the situation in Syria as it exists, and respect the wishes of the Syrian people, who do not want their country destroyed.
Instead, the U.S. is considering arming the rebels even more.
U.S. Senator John McCain revealed the unofficial U.S. government policy for Syria when he said that he would tolerate an extremist takeover of Syria if it weakened Iran.
At this point an extremist takeover of Syria will cost tens of thousands of more lives, millions more refugees, while exploding the region into a multi-country orgy of violence.
The media will blame such genocide on Islamic sectarian violence, and ignore the obvious political motives.
Hopefully, the social movement in Turkey will force the Turkish government out of the western-controlled anti-Syrian alliance, while empowering other Middle Eastern countries to do the same.
In an attempt to dispel embarrassing reports that Senator John McCain’s “surprise” trip to Syria featured a meeting with kidnappers — including Mohammad Nour of the Northern Storm rebel group — behind the 2012 abduction of 11 Lebanese religious pilgrims, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin cited Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of a little-known organization called The Syrian Emergency Task Force:
“Nobody self-identified as Nour, and none of the guys who were standing outside were in the meeting with McCain,” said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American nonprofit that helped organize the McCain trip. Moustafa is in the picture and was also inside McCain’s meeting with the rebel commanders, along with Task Force political director Elizabeth O’Bagy.
Rogin’s defense of McCain, of course, rests on the perceived independence of Moustafa’s “NGO.” The Syrian Emergency Task Force, however, appears to have close ties to one foreign government and its powerful American lobby. Not only is Mouaz Moustafa listed as one of the Washington Institute’s “experts,” he recently addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium on the theme of “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”
Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for his nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”
Of course, none of this will come as any surprise to those who familiar with John McCain’s lifelong service to the Land of Israel, a commitment that has invariably been at the expense of U.S. interests.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.
- John McCain and the Desperate Flailing of Syrian Oppositionists’ External Supporters (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Much was made last week about the infiltration of Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) into Syria for a brief photo op with various anti-Assad “rebels”—who, it turns out, have allegedly been involved in kidnapping Lebanese Shi’a pilgrims. (Senator McCain claims that none of the individuals with whom he was photographed identified themselves by names of those accused of kidnapping Shi’a pilgrims; his spokesman says it would be “regrettable” if the Senator had been photographed with people accused of committing such acts.) Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, another GOP Senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, noted acidly, “They say there are some pro-Western people and we’re going to vet them. Well, apparently we’ve got a senator over there who got his picture taken with some kidnappers, so I don’t know how good a job we’re going to do vetting those who are going to get the arms.”
In a blog post provocatively titled “Did John McCain Provide Material Support for Syrian Terrorists?”, see here, the Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow wrote that a recent Supreme Court ruling (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, issued in 2010) “upheld the [U.S.] government’s broad reading” of the statute that criminalizes “material support” for terrorism. In this reading, “coordinated political advocacy”—that is, advocacy coordinated with groups engaged designated by Washington as terrorist organizations—counts as material support. Those engaged in such “coordinated political advocacy” can be federally prosecuted; if convicted, they might go to jail for ten years.
In his post, Doug points to a number of cases where U.S. government’s expansive definition of material support for terrorism—now largely ratified by the Supreme Court—has produced disturbing legal outcomes. He argues that:
“lawmakers who approved the law should be subject to the same legal risks. Consider Sen. John McCain, who has been campaigning for war in Syria, just as he previously promoted war most everywhere else around the globe.”
After examining press reports on Sen. McCain’s trip to Syria—and on the activities of some of the rebels McCain met there—Doug concludes that Sen. McCain:
“would seem to have provided ‘material support’ to terrorists.”
“Having his photo taken with Islamic extremists could reasonably be interpreted as an endorsement, which, based on past cases, could be seen as providing ‘material support’ for terrorism. Presumably that isn’t what Sen. McCain intended. But the law’s application is not based on intent.
To be fair to the rest of us, the Justice Department should investigate…[A]s much as I oppose vague and ambiguous criminal enactments by the federal government, I would enjoy seeing Senator McCain in the dock, It would be cosmic justice for his support of the catastrophic invasion in Iraq and endless occupation of Afghanistan.”
After his drive-by photo op in “liberated” Syria, Sen. McCain apparently traveled to Yemen. We were struck by the Yemen Post’s report on his visit, see here; we also append the story below:
“According to several Yemeni-based local newspapers, US Senator John McCain, who briefly visited Yemen earlier this week to offer his support to the coalition government and discuss political and security developments is rumored to have directly urged President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi to facilitate the transfer of Jihadists to Syria.
As the Free Syrian Army is struggling to secure its advances against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose lists of supporters while thin remains mighty in military might, Washington and its allies in the region are said to be looking at ways to swell the ranks of the opposition by allowing foreign fighters to enroll against Assad regime.
In a move which analysts have already qualified as dangerous given the repercussions a similar policy led to in the 1980s, when Jihadists were sent to fight off Russian troops in Afghanistan, security experts worry al-Qaeda will use this opportunity to increase its recruitment pool while offering precious ground experience to its militants, which experience would be used later on against Yemen central government.
A source told several newspapers, ‘Senator McCain’s visit was to drum up support for Jihadist groups fighting Bashar al-Assad regime.’
While the government has so far refused to comment on the issues, quite understandably since its military is still locked in an on-going military struggle against Islamic operatives in its southern provinces, all the while preparing for the return of some Gitmo terror prisoners. Yemeni officials would have a difficult time reconciling the idea of Jihad in one place while fighting off the same rhetoric in its own backyard.”
If true, the Yemen Post report could be construed as another piece of evidence against the apparently terrorist-supporting Sen. McCain. For, according to this story, McCain lobbied the Yemeni government to send more jihadi fighters to Syria, in order to swell the ranks of groups engaged in terrorist activity—representatives of which the Arizona senator had met with immediately before traveling to Yemen.
What all of this suggests is the mounting desperation that advocates of using Syrian oppositionists—whether Syrian or not—to overthrow the Assad government must now be feeling. Their project has failed. But, rather than accept this failure, many, like Sen. McCain, want the United States to double down on their unsuccessful pseudo-strategy—to provide still more support the opposition forces, and even to become directly involved militarily (through no-fly zones, etc.).
Fifty-two years ago, the United States foolishly tried to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government by invading Cuba with a force of anti-Castro rebels. When that force, unsurprisingly, got into trouble almost immediately upon landing in Cuba, there were those who wanted President John F. Kennedy to order U.S. air support for the rebels. While Kennedy made a huge blunder by proceeding with the invasion in the first place, he was sufficiently astute at least not to compound his mistake by taking the United States into an overt, aggressive war against Cuba (certainly a covert campaign of aggression was already underway).
Similarly, President Obama has made egregious blunders in his policy toward Syria since March 2011. Let’s hope he doesn’t compound them by listening to John McCain and others desperate to hold on to delusions of American empire in the Middle East.
Keith Ellison, the Black U.S. House member from Minneapolis who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, says the U.S. should push for a no-fly zone over rebel-held areas in Syria. Ellison, who is also one of only two Muslim members of Congress, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, as did Republican Arizona Senator John McCain. It is a measure of how far to the right the Democratic Party has come under President Obama, that McCain, the war monger who likes to sing about bombing Iran, and Ellison, who claims to be a progressive, are in basic agreement over Syria. Both McCain and Ellison want no-fly zones, and both claim to prefer that there be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in country. Both are raving American imperialists who believe that the U.S. has not merely the right, but the obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. As Ellison, the phony progressive, puts it, “I don’t think the world’s greatest superpower, the United States, can stand by and do nothing” – which is, essentially, John McCain’s position.
Ellison has been advocating a no-fly zone for Syria for at least a year. Last May, he told U.S. News and World Report that so-called “safe zones” should be set up by the U.S. and its allies around the borders of Syria. Ellison made it quite clear that he sees such zones as a prelude to regime change. “I think the Libyan action was a good example of that,” he said.
On U.S. imperial policy, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between McCain, the hard-right Republican, and Ellison, who purports to be a progressive Democrat. Neither gives a damn about international law or the rights of smaller people’s to shape their own destinies. Ellison went to Saudi Arabia, the most socially backward rich country on the planet, and described the King as a “visionary leader.” He rejected George Bush’s troop “surge in 2007, by calling it “too little, too late.” Like Obama, he quibbles about whether U.S. wars are smart or dumb, too late or right on time, but never about the inherent right of the United States to wage war against the weaker nations of the world.
Ellison is part of the pro-war Left, which includes Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whose primary mission is to make self-described liberals and leftists comfortable supporting imperial wars. McCain can’t do that, but Ellison can. Amnesty International is shameless enough to use women’s rights as an excuse to support continued occupation of Afghanistan.
Much of the pro-war left has been forced by events to recognize that the U.S. and its allies are backing jihadist Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in Syria – people they wouldn’t like to have brunch with. Therefore, they now demand that the U.S. intervene to make sure that the jihadists don’t get their hands on chemical weapons. Thus, the pro-war left starts off by advocating U.S. intervention to facilitate the coming to power of the rebels, but in the end winds up demanding that the U.S. do whatever it can to stop these guys from taking power. Either way, it ends with U.S. intervention. John McCain and Keith Ellison pretend to be on opposite ideological ends, but they are like Jack and Jill walking up the same hill when it comes to the obligations and privileges of U.S. imperialism.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
US Senator Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina (file photo)
Top US Republican lawmakers have again called for further American actions against Syria, including the bombing of its air bases, leading a multi-nation invasion of the country and sending lethal weapons to anti-Damascus militant gangs.
Fervently pro-Israeli Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina further cited widely challenged claims by the Israeli regime of chemical weapons use in Syria to urge swift Washington action to “secure” chemical arms arsenals in the Arab country in efforts to prevent al-Qaeda-linked militants from gaining access to such weapons, US press reports said on Sunday and Monday.
The two lawmakers, however, did not explain how American forces would secure the alleged cache of Syrian chemical weaponry.
Graham went as far as warning that if the US does not intervene in Syria the next terrorist bombing in American soil will include chemical agents.
“The chemical weapons (in Syria)… are going to be compromised and fall into wrong hands and the next bomb that goes off in America may not have nails and glasses in it,” said Graham during a televised interview with major US network CBS on Sunday.
The senior member of US Senate’s Armed Services Committee also expressed serious concerns about the potential fall of Jordan’s dictator King Abdullah II if Washington did not intervene quickly enough to stop the growing flow of Syrian refugees into his country.
Describing the Jordanian ruler as “a moderating influence and a good [US] ally,” Graham predicted that his regime will fall if the “flood” of Syrian refugees into Jordan continued.
He also predicted a US war with Iran if the Obama administration does not intervene in Syria on the grounds that Tehran would doubt Washington’s resolve in taking action against their nuclear energy program.
The American senator went on to urge the US military to “bomb Syrian air bases with cruise missiles in a bid to “neutralize” the government’s air advantage over the foreign-backed militant gangs and turn the “tide of battle pretty quickly” in favor of the anti-Damascus insurgents.
Moreover, Senator McCain said the US should move into Syria as part of an “international force” to secure the country’s chemical weapons, but did not elaborate on how such international military force would be established and which countries would be involved.
Syria has been faced with a foreign-sponsored armed insurgency since 2011. Thousands of people in the country, including a large number of security forces, have been killed in the unrest with many foreign nationals infiltrating the key Arab state in a bid to destabilize the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
- Israeli lawmaker urges intervention in Syria (foxnews.com)
The private prison population in the US has rocketed 17-fold over the last two decades mostly on the shoulders of the deep-pocketed prison lobby, and the business continues to thrive.
Try confining yourself to a small room in your home, like a bathroom or a closet, and spend a few hours there. One only cringes to imagine the detrimental psychological effects that kind of solitude creates for individuals who are subjected to solitary confinement for years at a time, knowing only the walls of their cell and the shades of light that creep across them. The abhorrent state of affairs at the Guantanamo facility often makes international headlines and arguably overshadows the calamity that is the US domestic prison system – where over six million people are subject to some form of correctional supervision, an amount exceeding those who toiled in the Soviet gulags during Stalin’s reign. In the United States, some fifty thousand inmates pass their days in solitary confinement. While there is undoubtedly no shortage of violent criminals in America’s jails, millions are dolled out annually by privately owned prison lobbies directly to politicians in an effort to influence harsher ‘zero tolerance’ legislation and mandatory sentencing for many non-violent offenses.
While the US faces economic stagnation and unprecedented spending cuts to programs of social uplift, business is booming for the private prison industry. Like any other business, these institutions are run for the purpose of turning a profit. State and federal prisons are contracted out to private companies who are paid a fixed amount to house each inmate per day. Their profit depends on spending the minimum amount necessary on each inmate day-to-day, allowing private-hands to pocket the remaining money. For the corrections conglomerates of America, success depends on housing the maximum numbers of inmates for the longest potential time as inexpensively as possible. Consider that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, far surpassing any other nation – for every 100,000 Americans, 743 citizens sit behind bars. The harsher sentences meted out to non-violent offenders in contrast to other industrialized nations speaks volumes of America’s enthusiastic embrace of a prison industrial complex.
The number of people imprisoned under state and federal custody increased 772% percent between 1970 and 2009, largely due to the incredible influence that private corrections corporations wield against the American legal system. The argument is that by subjecting correctional services to market pressures, efficiencies will be increased and prison facilities can be run at a lower cost due to market competition. What these privatizations produce in turn is a system that destroys families by incentivizing the mass long-term detention of non-violent criminals, a system that is increasingly difficult to deconstruct and reform due to millions paid out to state and federal policymakers. According to reports issued by advocacy group Public Campaign, the three major corrections firms –Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group, and Cornell, have spent over $22 million lobbying Congress since 2001.
As a means of influencing policy-making at the federal level, at least $3.3 million have been given to political parties, candidates, and their political action committees, while more than $7.3 million has been given to state candidates and political parties since 2001, including $1.9 million in 2010, the highest amount in the past decade. Senators like Lindsay Graham and John McCain have received significant sums from the private prison corporations while Chuck Schumer, Chair of the Rules Committee on Immigration and Border Enforcement, received at least $64,000 from lobbyists. The prison lobby thrives off of laws that criminalize migrants and submit them to mandatory detention prior to being deported, sometimes up to 10 months or more; private firms have consistently pushed for the classification of immigration violations as felonies to justify throwing more and more immigrants behind bars. The number of illegal immigrants being incarcerated inside the United States has risen exponentially under Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency responsible for annually overseeing the imprisonment of 400,000 foreign nationals at the cost of over $1.9 billion on custody-related operations.
The private prison industry has become increasingly dependent on immigration-detention contracts, and the huge contributions of the prison lobby towards drafting Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB 1070 are all but unexpected. Arizona’s SB 1070 requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is “reasonable suspicion” that they’ve illegally entered the US, which many view as an invitation for rampant racial profiling against non-whites. While the administration of Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is lined with former private prison lobbyists, its Department of Corrections budget has been raised by $10 million in 2012, while all other Arizona state agencies were subject to budget cuts during that fiscal year. The concept of privatizing prisons to reduce expenses comes at great cost to the inmates detained, who are subjected to living in increasingly squalid conditions in jail cells across America. In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC), a state agency that overseas juvenile corrections facilities, was sent to a West Texas juvenile prison run by GEO Group for the purpose of monitoring its quality standards.
The monitors sent by the TYC were subsequently fired for failing to report the sordid conditions they witnessed in the facility while they awarded the GEO Group with an overall compliance score of nearly 100% – it was later discovered that the TYC monitors were employed by the GEO Group. Independent auditors later visited the facility and discovered that inmates were forced to urinate or defecate in small containers due to a lack of toilets in some of the cells. The independent commission also noted in their list of reported findings that the facility racially segregated prisoners and denied inmates access to lawyers and medical treatment. The ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center have also highlighted several cases where GEO Group facility administrators turned a blind eye to brutal cases of rape and torture within their facilities, in addition to cases of its staff engaging in violence against inmates. According to the Justice Department data, nearly 210,000 prisoners are abused annually (prison personnel are found responsible half the time), while 4.5 percent of all inmates reported sexual assaults and rape.
It’s not possible to conceive how such institutionalized repression can be rolled back when the Obama administration shows only complicity with the status quo – a staggering $18 billion was spent by his administration on immigration enforcement, including detention, more than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. Under Obama’s watch, today’s private prison population is over 17 times larger than the figure two decades earlier. Accordingly, Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has condemned the recently passed state laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize the possession of marijuana in small amounts. The Obama administration is bent on keeping in place the current federal legislation, where a first-time offender caught with marijuana can be thrown in prison for a year. It’s easy to see why common-sense decriminalization is stifled – an annual report released by the CCA in 2010 reiterates the importance of keeping in place harsh sentencing standards, “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
Such is the nature of a perverted brand of capitalism, and today’s model bares little difference to the first private prisons introduced following the abolition of slavery in the late 1800s, where expansive prison farms replaced slave plantations where predominately African-American inmates were made to pick cotton and construct railroads in states such as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Today, African-Americans make up 40% of the prison population and are incarcerated seven times more often than whites, despite the fact that African-Americans make up only 12% of the population. Inmates are barred from voting in elections after their release and are denied educational and job opportunities. The disproportionate levels of black people in prisons is undeniably linked to law enforcement’s targeting of intercity black communities through anti-drug stipulations that command maximum sentencing for possession of minute amounts of rock cocaine, a substance that floods poor black neighborhoods.
Perhaps these social ills are byproducts of a system that places predatory profits before human dignity. Compounding the illogic is that state spending on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education over the past two decades. Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s most famous political prisoner, has spent over three decades on death row; he was convicted in 1981 for the murder of a white police officer, while forensic experts say critical evidence vindicating Jamal was withheld from the trial. In an interview with RT, Jamal relates his youth activism with the Black Panthers party against political imprisonment in contrast to the present day situation, “We could not perceive back then of what it would become… you can literally talk about millions of people incarcerated by the prisoner-industrial complex today: men, women and children. And that level of mass incarceration, really mass repression, has to have an immense impact in effect on the other communities, not just among families, but in a social and communal consciousness way, and in inculcation of fear among generations.” The fear and immortality the system perpetuates shows no sign of abating. Being one of the few growth industries the United States has left, one can only imagine how many people will be living in cages in the decades to come.
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
On the morning of Friday, December 14, 2012, media in the United States began non-stop reporting of a mass shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School near Newtown, Connecticut. Although there were numerous inconsistent reports surrounding the incident, plenty of which were inherently contradictory, unconfirmed, or implausible, a particular narrative of what was supposed to have occurred that day was soon anchored in the minds of the general public by the large network news media and thus, through repetition and other mechanisms of reinforcement, became firmly entrenched as working premises for a follow-up press announcement, on Monday, December 17, by the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been notorious for her zealous yet outspoken efforts over the course of decades, to effectively abolish the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and disarm the American public.
The press release from her office announcing her intention to introduce strict gun control legislation explicitly pointed out in bold-type letters, that the proposed regulations had been carefully prepared by her legal team for months in advance (“I have been working with my staff for over a year on this legislation,”) as though she were merely waiting for the right opportunity to present them, given that these issues would be deemed far too draconian by fellow legislators to support unless they were tactically publicized in the wake of a cathartic event that galvanized the public.
Nonetheless, the media conveniently chose to present Feinstein’s new proposals, and similar ones that followed, for instance in the New York State legislature, as though they had been genuinely motivated by general outrage over the cruelty of the massacre of first grade school children at Sandy Hook rather than being a calculated maneuver to follow through with a long sought after agenda while the resolve to resist such measures appeared to be softened by the manipulation of public emotions. It practically appeared to be a well orchestrated campaign promoting public gun control.
One might recall the manner in which the ominous provisions in the voluminous PATRIOT Act were quickly passed in the wake of the staged false-flag operation on September 11, 2001. The staff of Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain had prepared that legislation over many months, and shortly after the major terror incident it was “ready to go”. It would not be too surprising if political cynics are getting the impression, that a totalitarian agenda was being served in this case as well, facilitating the introduction and quick passage of controversial gun control legislation.
Indeed, this past November 27th, fewer than three weeks prior to the Sandy Hook shooting, the Governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, US Attorney General Eric Holder and David Fein, the state’s chief prosecutor, jointly announced “Project Longevity” at an event in New Haven. This project is intended to identify and target groups or individuals deemed to be potentially responsible for gun violence. Shortly after the massacre, Governor Malloy even stated openly at a press conference:
“The Lt. Governor and I have been spoken to, in an attempt that we might be prepared for something like this playing itself out in our state”
Surely people were generally aware of the strong likelihood, that at some point in the future there would be another mass shooting somewhere by a young adult, if only because of the well-known yet intentionally under-reported link between the adverse affects of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs and such shootings. SSRI drugs, which can cause individuals who are taking them to become both violent and suicidal, continue to be widely prescribed in cases of mental depression, and this trend continues because it is very profitable for the pharmaceutical producers. Hence critics point to such SSRI drugs, perhaps also in conjunction with violent video games, as root causes of mass shooting incidents rather than the availability of guns, which have been part of American culture for over a century, whereas the abundance of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs is a comparatively new phenomenon.
However, the hallmark of recent mass shooting incidents in the US and Europe has been that they involved the use of semi-automatic handguns at close range, but not so-called assault rifles. Since getting these popular assault rifles banned has been the top priority in the context of future gun control legislation by such advocates as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer, the terror event that politicians would need to be awaiting, to then exploit the resulting crisis opportunity for their agenda, would almost have to be an extremely gruesome mass shooting, involving innocent children, and carried out with an assault rifle. Yet, given the modus operandi pattern of mass shootings in America, how likely could the probability of such an ad hoc scenario actually be? How many years would agenda-driven politicians be ready to wait to introduce already prepared legislation?
Seen in the context of what has quickly followed legislatively, the unusual Sand Hook massacre certainly came very conveniently, and this in itself arouses caution regarding the official narrative and details.
Leaving aside aforementioned expressions of advance preparation from top politicians, a careful analysis of the accumulated reports on that day – police scanner audio, network television news footage as events were unfolding, helicopter shots of the scene, witness testimony, police reports, an announcement by the chief coroner, photographs from the scene, etc. – clearly reveals, that the Sandy Hook massacre did not play itself out in the manner subsequently described in the common and ultimately unsustainable media narrative, which partially draws upon imagery of drills conducted elsewhere. Events that day were not as simplistic as is now presented, so it is very important to investigate and find out what actually happened.
The well established fact is, that children are routinely killed in US drone attacks, in such countries as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, in the pursuit of some nebulous policy of “combating terrorism”; there have also been numerous instances of children having been explicitly targeted for annihilation in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza, by soldiers and settlers who enjoy the wide support of both the US Administration and its Congress. According to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, a policy vis-à-vis Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children was “worth it”, as she once stated in a televised interview.
During recent decades Operation Gladio conducted mass casualty events in Western countries for the purpose of a “strategy of tension” in which the public is made to seek the government’s protection from an ubiquitous threat. The powerful authors of these crimes have never been brought into check.
Consequently, at this time one cannot categorically preclude the possibility of the Connecticut event having been a carefully planned operation, utilizing a hit-team of assassins, decoys, helpers, handlers and trained disinformation agents.
If people in power have no qualms about killing children incidentally, in their pursuit of political agendas, why should one imagine them to have hesitations now, in a different instance closer to home, where the political agenda, to enact a policy of gun control, is far more critical to retaining state authority than an ideological foreign policy objective?
If the carefully staged mass slaughter of children appears to be a threshold prerequisite for generating sufficient public outrage in an already jaded and violent society – just so long as the operators are effective at placing the blame onto a “mentally deranged lone gunman” patsy, under some seemingly plausible scenario, and the general public never notices – will that price have been “worth it” in retrospect, when politicians may invoke the many hundreds of hypothetical lives that they will assert “were saved” because of the legislation they would otherwise have not been able to implement?
Will the proposed legislative actions actually enhance public safety or mostly the state’s monopoly on violence?
In looking at the incident at Sandy Hook analytically, it is helpful to detach oneself from the distorted narrative set by the media and see the event from a more contextual and logical perspective, while taking into account past experience of incidents that turned out to be different from the manner they were initially presented. One must not be influenced, for example, by the fact that the alleged lone gunman, Adam Lanza, who is unable to tell his side of the story, has already been publicly vilified. Subliminally, a biased perspective can already arise simply from the publication of an undated mug shot photo of him with manipulated eyeball imagery, to make him appear as a lunatic.
Since the possibility of a sophisticated operation cannot be excluded one may then consider such a scenario, however inconvenient this alternative version may be.
As is the case in complicated operations intended to create the false public impression of having been carried out by a different party, careful planning, execution, and follow-up are necessary. Since this is usually difficult to pull off successfully, tell-tale mistakes will occur along the way, and these flaws will subsequently stand out and arouse suspicion.
What appears particularly odd in the case of the Sandy Hook event is the paucity of people who reported hearing loud gunshots. Since gun reports from fired .223 Remington or 5.56 x 45 mm cartridges are exceedingly loud, a hundred rounds being fired – for “overkill”, to make the scene appear more gruesome and ensure that there are no surviving witnesses – must certainly have alerted a much larger number of people, even hundreds of yards away outside the school premises. Instead, however, one witness, a young boy, later reported on camera, that what must have been the rifle shots sounded to him like the custodian knocking things over. A young girl reported hearing a racket. Another boy, who was apparently close enough to have seen and smelled smoke, reported that he “heard something like a person was kicking on a door”. Where are the many accounts of children and neighbors providing scary accounts of many rounds of gunfire? If the media could have presented them, they would have had a sensationalistic field day, full of such ear witness stories. Furthermore, the police radio would have noted the multiple callers, and consequently there would have been a much greater sense of urgency. In light of this noteworthy absence, it is reasonable to assume that the shootings may have been carried out with sound suppressors screwed onto the barrels of the rifles, commando style. Only a few shots, including that of the semi-automatic pistol that killed Adam Lanza, would not have entailed sound suppression. Unlike in some Hollywood movies, sound suppressors are not “silencers”, so that rifle gunfire noise would have still been audible as such nearby, at least to the woman who reported having called the 911 emergency services from underneath her desk.
We should remain alert for further irregularities that may become evident. We should also cautiously examine the proposed solutions.