WASHINGTON – President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law today. The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill.
“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”
Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again. said Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today. Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA’s detention authority.”
The bill also contains provisions making it difficult to transfer suspects out of military detention, which prompted FBI Director Robert Mueller to testify that it could jeopardize criminal investigations. It also restricts the transfers of cleared detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries for resettlement or repatriation, making it more difficult to close Guantanamo, as President Obama pledged to do in one of his first acts in office.
The candidate supported by progressives — President Obama … holds heinous views on a slew of critical issues and himself has done heinous things with the power he has been vested. He has slaughtered civilians — Muslim children by the dozens — not once or twice, but continuously in numerous nations with drones, cluster bombs and other forms of attack. He has sought to overturn a global ban on cluster bombs. He has institutionalized the power of Presidents — in secret and with no checks — to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA, far from any battlefield. He has waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, the protection of which was once a liberal shibboleth. He rendered permanently irrelevant the War Powers Resolution, a crown jewel in the list of post-Vietnam liberal accomplishments, and thus enshrined the power of Presidents to wage war even in the face of a Congressional vote against it. His obsession with secrecy is so extreme that it has become darkly laughable in its manifestations, and he even worked to amend the Freedom of Information Act (another crown jewel of liberal legislative successes) when compliance became inconvenient.
He has entrenched for a generation the once-reviled, once-radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism powers of indefinite detention, military commissions, and the state secret privilege as a weapon to immunize political leaders from the rule of law. He has shielded Bush era criminals from every last form of accountability. He has vigorously prosecuted the cruel and supremely racist War on Drugs, including those parts he vowed during the campaign to relinquish — a war which devastates minority communities and encages and converts into felons huge numbers of minority youth for no good reason. He has empowered thieving bankers through the Wall Street bailout, Fed secrecy, efforts to shield mortgage defrauders from prosecution, and the appointment of an endless roster of former Goldman, Sachs executives and lobbyists. He’s brought the nation to a full-on Cold War and a covert hot war with Iran, on the brink of far greater hostilities. He has made the U.S. as subservient as ever to the destructive agenda of the right-wing Israeli government. His support for some of the Arab world’s most repressive regimes is as strong as ever.
Most of all, America’s National Security State, its Surveillance State, and its posture of endless war is more robust than ever before. The nation suffers from what National Journal‘s Michael Hirsh just christened “Obama’s Romance with the CIA.” He has created what The Washington Post just dubbed “a vast drone/killing operation,” all behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy and without a shred of oversight. Obama’s steadfast devotion to what Dana Priest and William Arkin called “Top Secret America” has severe domestic repercussions as well, building up vast debt and deficits in the name of militarism that create the pretext for the “austerity” measures which the Washington class (including Obama) is plotting to impose on America’s middle and lower classes… Full article at Salon.com
In almost half of all states the only way that you can voice your opposition to these despicable policies is to register as a Republican 30 days (in some states less) prior to the primary election. As a registered Republican you have the privilege of voting for the candidate that has taken a contrary position on all of these issues, Ron Paul.
You can also help send Romney or Gingrich packing as an added perk. But be sure to re-register as a Republican in time.
From The Center for Voting and Democracy:
Voters of any affiliation may vote for the candidate of whatever party they choose. Some of these open primary states may not have party registration at all; however open primary states do prohibit voters in X primary from going on to participate in Y’s primary or runoff. Yet, this prohibition can be difficult to enforce.
The crucial issue in open primary states is “crossover” voting, which can contribute to the victory of a nominee closer to the center or radically further away. It most often involves members of Party Y (either in an area dominated by Party X or when Party Y’s nominee is a foregone conclusion) voting for the Party X candidate whose views are the most reconciliable with their own. Though this brings the race closer to the center, Democratic and Republican party establishments generally dislike open primaries.
Occasionally, there are concerns about sabotage, or “party crashing,” which involves voting for the most polarizing candidate in the other party’s primary to bolster the chances that it will nominate someone “unelectable” to general election voters in November. An example is Republicans voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary.
Only voters registered with a given party can vote in the primary. Parties may have the option to invite unaffiliated voters to participate. Typically, however, independent voters are left out of the process entirely unless they choose to sacrifice their freedom of association for the opportunity to have their say in who represents them. Closed primaries may also exacerbate the radicalization that often occurs at the primary stage, when candidates must cater to the “base,” yet the “fringe” of the party are typically more motivated to turn out.
In a few states, independent voters may register with a party on Election Day. However, they must remain registered with that party until they change their affiliation again. A couple of states even allow voters registered with one party to switch their registration at the polls to vote in another party’s primary. In these rare instances, a closed primary can more closely resemble open or semi-closed primaries than the closed primaries of other states.
Independents may choose which party primary to vote in, but voters registered with a party may only vote in that party’s primary. The middle ground between the exclusion of independents in a closed primary and the free-for-all of open primaries, the semi-closed, primary mostly eliminates the concern about members registered to other parties “raiding” another’s election.
Of course people who align with Party X may theoretically still vote in Party Y’s primary if they just register as independent, but it appears most voters do not think that way. Moreover, the potential for sabotage through tactical party registration is also present in the strictest of closed primaries.
Top Two/ non-partisan primary:
This method puts all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters then face off in the general election. This type of system is used in California, Louisiana, and Washington, as well as in Nebraska for non-partisan election such as for the state’s legislature.
Note on terminology: “Top Two” primaries are often referred to as “open primaries,” but that terminology has long been used in reference to the type of party primaries in which all voters may choose in which party’s primary to participate. By contrast, the “Top Two” system eliminates party primaries altogether. It is more accurately described as “nonpartisan primaries.” It would be more precise and less confusing to at least call them “nonpartisan open primaries.”
The following is a running list of states by types of party primary, updated December 2011:
|State||Closed||Open||Semi-Closed||Source||Remarks||Presidential Primary or Caucus|
|Alabama||x||Ala. Code § 17-13- 7||Open|
|Alaska||R||D||Alaska Stat. §§ 15.25.014, 15.25.060||Parties select who may vote in their primaries. To vote in the GOP primary, a voter must be registered as a Republican 30 days before Election Day.||Open|
|Arizona||x||Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. No. I99-025 (R99-049)||Arizona uses a “Presidential Preference” system instead of a traditional primary system. Voters must be registered for a party in order to receive a ballot.||Closed|
|Arkansas||x||Ark. Code Ann. § § 7-7-306- 308||Open|
|California||N/A||N/A||N/A||Proposition 14; CA S.B. 28||California uses the “Top Two” Plan. On June 8, 2010 voters passed Prop. 14 to create a nonpartisan blanket primary system in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot and the top two vote recipients face off in the general election.||R: Closed; D: Semi-Closed|
|Colorado||x||Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-7-201||Closed, but unaffiliated voters may, however, change their party registration up until Election Day. Affiliated voters must change affiliation 29 days prior to the election.||Closed|
|Connecticut||x||Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 9-431, 9-59||Parties may choose to allow for semi-closed elections if they make a change to their party rules; however, as of now, the primaries remain closed.||Closed|
|District of Columbia||x||D.C. Code Ann. § 1-1001.09(g)(1); 1-1001.05(b)(1)||Closed primary for D.C. elected officials such as Delegate, Mayor, Chairman, members of Council, and Board of Education.||Closed|
|Delaware||x||Del. Code Ann. § 3110||Closed|
|Florida||x||Fla. Stat. Ann. § 101.021||Closed|
|Georgia||x||R: Semi-Closed; D: Open|
|Hawaii||x||Haw. Rev. Stat § 12-31||No party affiliation at registration.||Open|
|Idaho||R||D||Idaho Code Ann. § 34-904A||Until 2011, all Idaho primaries were open. After the GOP obtained a declaratory judgment that mandating open primaries violated freedom of association and was thus unconstitutional in Idaho Republican Party v. Ysura, the legislature passed a bill allowing parties to choose which type of primary they use. Democrats have chosen a semi-closed primary; unaffiliated voters may register a party at the polls on election day, but they are bound to that party affiliation at the next election.||R: Closed; D: Semi-Closed|
|Illinois||x||10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/7-43, -45||Voters declare their party affiliation at the polling place to a judge who must then announce it “in a distinct tone of voice, sufficiently loud to be heard by all persons in the polling place.” If there is no “challenge,” the voter is given the primary ballot for his or her declared party.||Semi-Closed|
|Indiana||x||Ind. Code §§ 3-10- 1-6, 1-9||Classified as a “modified open” primary.” A voter must have voted in the last general election for a majority of the nominees of the party holding the primary, or if that voter did not vote in the last general election, that voter must vote for a majority of the nominees of that party who is holding the primary. However, there is really no way to enforce this, and cross-over occurs often. The same modified open primary is used for the presidential primary.||Open|
|Iowa||x||Voters may change party on the day of the primary election.||Closed|
|Kansas||R||D||Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 25-3301||Federal courts declared KS law unconstitutional and now the parties decide who will vote in their primaries. In 2012, Republicans will hold closed primaries; however, they will allow unaffiliated voters to register Republican on election day. Democrats will allow both affiliated and unaffiliated voters to vote.||Closed|
|Kentucky||x||Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 116.055||Closed|
|Louisiana||x||Act 570||The congressional primaries changed from a closed system to an open system with the passage of Act 570, effective January 1, 2011||Closed|
|Maine||x||Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, §§ 111, 340||Closed|
|Maryland||x||Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law §§ 3- 303, 8-202||Parties may choose to hold open primaries, but must notify the State Board of Elections 6 months prior.||Closed|
|Massachusetts||x||Mass. Gen. Laws ch.53 §37||Semi-Closed|
|Michigan||x||Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.575; Public Act 163||Voters do not have to declare a political party to vote; but must vote for all one party once they enter the voting booth.||Closed|
|Minnesota||x||Minn. Stat. § 204D.08||Open|
|Mississippi||x||Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-575||No registration by party affiliation. However, in order to participate in the primary, a voter must support the nominations made in that primary.||Open|
|Missouri||x||Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.397||R: Semi-Closed; D: Open|
|Montana||x||Mont. Code Ann. § 13-10-301||No party registration in MT. Each voter has the choice which ballot to use on Election Day.||Open|
|Nebraska||x||Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-702||Partisan primaires are closed, meaning congressional primaries are closed; however unaffiliated voters may vote for a candidate of a particular party.||Semi-Closed|
|Nevada||x||Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 293.287, 293.518||Closed|
|New Hampshire||x||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann § 659:14||Closed primaries in effect; but the statute allows for semi-closed primary if that party’s rules allow for it.||Semi-Closed|
|New Jersey||x||N.J. Stat. Ann. § 19:31-13.2||Closed|
|New Mexico||x||N.M. Stat. §1-12-7.2||Parties may choose to allow for semi-closed elections if they make a change to their party rules; however, as of now, the primaries remain closed.||Closed|
|New York||x||N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-304||Closed|
|North Carolina||x||N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 163-59, -119||State law provides for closed primaries, but both parties have opened them up to unaffiliated voters, who may choose on Election Day.||Semi-Closed|
|North Dakota||x||N.D. Cent. Code, § 40-21-06||No party registration.||R: Closed; D: Open|
|Ohio||x||Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3513.19||Voters’ right to vote in the primary may be challenged on the basis that they are not affiliated with the party for whom they are voting in the primary.||Closed|
|Oklahoma||x||Okla. Stat. §26-1-104||Closed|
|Oregon||x||Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 247.203, 254.365||Closed|
|Pennsylvania||x||25 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2812||Closed|
|Rhode Island||x||R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 17-9.1-23||An unaffiliated voter for the past 90 days may designate his or her party affiliation on election day by voting for that party in the primary.||Semi-Closed|
|South Carolina||x||S.C.Code Ann. §§ 7-11-10||A U.S. District Court judge ruled inGreenville County Republican Party Executive Committee v. South Carolina, that South Carolina’s open primary is constitutional.||Open|
|South Dakota||R||D||S.D. Codified Laws § 12-6-26||Parties may choose to allow for semi-closed elections. Democrats have opened up their primaries to allow unaffiliated voters to vote.||R: Closed; D: Open|
|Tennessee||x||Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-115||Voters must affiliate with a party, but may choose to affiliate with that party on the election day. In Tennessee, voters are not registered with party affiliations.||Closed|
|Texas||x||Tex Elec. Code Ann. § 172.086||No registration by party; voters are not held to affilation of past election. Each year, voters have a clean slate and must choose on primary day whether to vote by a party affilation or as unaffiliated; voters are held to that affiliation in the runoff. For the presidential primary, it is the same system as of December 19, 2011.||Open|
|Utah||R||D||Utah Code Ann. §§ 20A-2-107.5||Parties may choose to open up the primary. Currently, Republicans have a closed primary while Democrats have opened up the primary.||R: Closed; D: Open|
|Vermont||x||Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, § 2363||No registration by party. For presidential primary, voters must declare which ballots they want.||Open|
|Virginia||x||Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-530||If a primary is called, it will be open.||Open|
|Washington||N/A||N/A||N/A||Wash. Rev. Code § 29A.52.112, 29A.36.171||Similar to California’s Top Two system.||R: Closed; D: Semi-Closed|
|West Virginia||x||W. Va. Code § 3-5- 4||Technically a closed system, but all parties allow any voter who is not registered with an official party to request their ballot for the Primary Election.||Semi-Closed|
|Wisconsin||x||Wis. Stat. § 6.80||Voters may vote for only one party, but do not have to be affiliated with any party before coming into vote on Election Day.||Open|
|Wyoming||x||Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 22-5-212||A voter can change his or her party affiliation on election day.|
Russia’s December 4 elections filled 450 State Duma seats, Russia’s Federal Assembly lower house.
Claims of electoral fraud followed. All elections have irregularities. At issue is whether results are comprised. Election monitor Golos accusations were spurious. America’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds it. It supports regime change in non-US client states.
It backs opposition groups, conducts propaganda campaigns, and does openly what CIA operatives do covertly to destabilize sitting governments.
Its mission is subverting, not promoting democracy. It operates with State Department funding and direction. It serves US imperial interests destructively against targeted countries.
So do USAID, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). They meddle internally against sitting governments. One way is by funding Golos.
It calls itself a Russian NGO established in 2000 to defend democratic rights and civil liberties. Claiming it’s Russia’s only “independent” electoral watchdog is duplicitous. It represents imperial Washington’s interests against those of Russia’s people and government. Moreover, by taking foreign funding, it violated Russian law.
Since early December, Russia’s seen on and off street protests. On December 25, RIA Novesti headlined, “Tens of thousands rally in new election protest in Russia,” saying:
Peaceful crowds filled “Moscow’s Sakharov Avenue on Saturday to demand a rerun of parliamentary elections they claimed had been rigged, as well as liberal reforms in Russia, turning the temperature up on Vladimir Putin and his plans to return to the Kremlin.”
Nonetheless, a VTsIOM December 10 – 11 poll showed most Russians support him. However, his 51% job approval rating dropped from 61% in late November and 68% in January. Street protests and legitimate social justice grievances are responsible.
Even though Russia’s GDP rose 70% and living standards improved markedly during his tenure as president, millions of Russians still suffer from Yeltsin’s post-soviet era “shock therapy.”
As a result, 80% of Russian farmers went bankrupt, 70,000 state factories closed, an epidemic of unemployment raged, half or more of all Russians became impoverished, a permanent underclass was created, and crime, suicides, mortality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS soared to intolerable levels.
GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth at the expense of millions of harmed Russians.
Ignoring essential needs, Yeltsin let corruption and criminality flourish. One scandal followed another. Money-laundering became sport. Billions in stolen wealth were hidden in Western banks or offshore tax havens.
Many problems remain unresolved, especially given today’s global economic crisis. In April, Pravda.ru headlined, “Poverty in Russia grows faster than expected,” saying:
According to the Russian Federal Statistics Agency, another 2.3 million joined the ranks of Russia’s 22.9 million impoverished population. However, “(m)any experts believe that official statistics (don’t) reflect the real state of affairs and (are) very often” understated.
Therefore, poverty remains a major growing problem. For millions, wages and pensions aren’t enough to get by. Economic weakness exacerbates conditions. As a result, street protests perhaps reflect hard times more than anger over election results.
In contrast to Russia, America’s electoral process is scandalously flawed. More on it below.
Major Media Scoundrels Bash Russia
America’s media target all non-US client states, including China and Russia. On December 8, a New York Times editorial headlined, “Mr. Putin Seeks a Scapegoat,” saying:
He’s “determined to resurrect the Soviet playbook. His United Russia Party tried to steal a parliamentary election on Sunday, and, when the results still delivered a stinging rebuke, he claimed the United States was whipping up protests and demonstrations.”
Though not a decisive majority, United Russia won 49.67% of the vote, compared to the Communist Party’s 19.15% second place finish. Hardly a “stinging rebuke.” Moreover, independent analysts and observers explained a free and fair process. Results weren’t compromised by relatively few regularities.
As explained above, Washington very much interfered as it has done repeatedly in numerous other elections. In Haiti’s 2010 first round and 2011 runoff, brazen manipulation rigged the process to install stealth Duvalierist Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly president. New York Times editorials ignored his illegitimacy, backed fraud, and effectively said Haitians need to move on.
Washington indeed may be behind on and off Russian street protests. The pattern is familiar. Over decades, America advanced the technique. In the 1990s, RAND Corporation strategists developed the concept of “swarming” to explain “communication patterns and movement of” bees and other insects which they applied to military conflict by other means.
Washington used it successfully against Serbia’s Milosevic. NED, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute were involved.
It repeated during Georgia’s Rose Revolution, ousting Edouard Shevardnadze for Mikhail Saakashvili. A US-installed stooge, he’s governed ruthlessly and repressively in office.
Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution was similar, ousting Viktor Yanukovych for Viktor Yushchenko, Washington’s man.
America’s manipulated 2007 Myanmar Saffron Revolution and Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution failed. Both countries remain targeted for regime change.
Very possibly, Russia’s street protests are made-in-the-USA. It wouldn’t be the first time nor last. Supportively, America’s media pretend otherwise. Putin accused Hillary Clinton of meddling. The Times editorial called his charge “bizarre,” saying:
“Mrs. Clinton and the White House did the right thing (by) critici(zing Russia’s) vote. She also expressed support for the ‘rights and aspirations’ of the Russian people.”
In fact, political Washington abhors democracy at home and abroad. Imperial wars, numerous coups, internal subversion and destabilization, homeland repression, and rigged elections prevent it. Major media scoundrels approve.
On December 24, they featured Russian protests. New York Times writers Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz headlined, “Vast Rally in Moscow Is a Challenge to Putin’s Power,” claiming 120,000 turned out. Other reports estimated crowd size at from 50 – 80,000.
Ria Novosti said “tens of thousands.” So did the Washington Post in an article headlined, “Protesters flood Moscow demanding reforms.” It focused on social needs, not electoral fraud in contrast to The Times highlighting comments about dissolving Parliament, holding new elections, and comparing Putin to Brezhnev.
Managed news, misinformation, and hyperbole characterize America’s media. Truth and full disclosure aren’t their long suit. Or Washington’s.
The Jerusalem-based Human Rights Centre has warned that Israel’s municipality has already started to apply its policy of isolating Palestinian districts from the rest of the city. In fact, claims the Centre, the process began two years ago. “The plans of Israeli Mayor Nir Barkat, suggest that the isolation of some Palestinian neighbourhoods are in fact old plans which were raised for the first time two years ago,” the HRC told Quds Press.
In a statement, the HRC pointed out that this includes the exclusion of Jerusalem residents through the withdrawal of their residence permits; since the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem started in 1967, 14,266 Palestinians have had their permits withdrawn.
The Centre noted that over the past two years it has received complaints from citizens of Jerusalem who live in the neighbourhoods in question that the occupation authorities have not been issuing local tax demands, claiming that they “live outside the wall” and “are, therefore, no longer in Jerusalem”.
One of the great paradoxes of history are the claims of imperialist politicians to be engaged in a great humanitarian crusade designed to liberate nations and peoples, while practicing the most barbaric conquests, destructive wars and large scale bloodletting of conquered people in historical memory.
In the modern capitalist era, the ideologies of imperialist rulers vary over time, from the early appeals to “the right” to wealth, power, colonies and grandeur to later claims of a ‘civilizing mission’. More recently imperial rulers have propagated, many diverse justifications adapted to specific contexts, adversaries, circumstances and audiences.
This essay will concentrate on analyzing contemporary US imperial ideological arguments for legitimizing wars and sanctions to sustain dominance.
Contextualizing Imperial Ideology
Imperialist propaganda varies according to whether it is directed against a competitor for global power, or whether as a justification for applying sanctions, or engaging in open warfare against a local or regional socio-political adversary.
With regard to established imperial (Europe) or rising world economic competitors (China), US imperial propaganda varies over time. Early in the 19th century, Washington proclaimed the “Monroe Doctrine”, denouncing European efforts to colonize Latin America, privileging its own imperial designs in that region. In the 20th century when the US imperial policymakers were displacing Europe from prime resource based colonies in the Middle East and Africa, it played on several themes. It condemned ‘colonial forms of domination and promoted ‘neo-colonial’ transitions that ended European monopolies and facilitated US multi-national corporate penetration. This was clearly evident during and after World War 2, in the Middle East petrol-countries.
During the 1950s as the US assumed imperial primacy and radical anti-colonial nationalism came to the fore, Washington forged alliances with the declining colonial power to combat a common enemy and to prop up post-colonial powers. Even with the post World War 2 economic recovery, growth and unification of Europe, it still works in tandem and under US leadership in militarily repressing nationalist insurgencies and regimes. When conflicts and competition occur, between US and European regimes, banks and enterprises, the mass media of each region publish “investigatory findings” highlighting the frauds and malfeasance of its competitors ..and US regulatory agencies levy heavy fines on their European counterparts, overlooking similar practices by Wall Street financial firms.
In recent times the rising tide of militarist imperialism and colonial wars fueled by Israeli proxies in the US state has led to some serious divergences between US and European imperialism. With the exception of England, Europe made a minimum symbolic commitment to the US wars and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Germany and France concentrated on expanding their export markets and economic capacities; displacing the US in major markets and resource sites. The convergence of US and European empires led to the integration of financial institutions and the subsequent common crises and collapse but without any coordinated policy of recovery. US ideologists propagated the idea of a “declining and decaying European Union”, while the European ideologues emphasized the failures of Anglo-American de-regulated, ‘free markets’ and Wall Street swindles.
Imperial Ideology, Rising Economic Powers and Nationalist Challengers
There is a long history of imperialist “anti-imperialism”, officially sponsored condemnation, exposés and moral indignation directed exclusively against rival imperialists, emerging powers or simply competitors, who in some cases are simply following in the footsteps of the established imperial powers.
English imperialists in their heyday justified their world-wide plunder of three continents by perpetuating the “Black Legend”, of Spanish empire’s “exceptional cruelty” toward indigenous people of Latin America, while engaging in the biggest and most lucrative African slave trade. While the Spanish colonists enslaved the indigenous people, the Anglo-American settlers exterminated them…..
In the run-up to World War II, European and US imperial powers, while exploiting their Asian colonies condemned Japanese imperial powers’ invasion and colonization of China. Japan, in turn claimed it was leading Asia’s forces fighting against Western imperialism and projected a post-colonial “co-prosperity” sphere of equal Asian partners.
The imperialist use of “anti-imperialist” moral rhetoric was designed to weaken rivals and was directed to several audiences. In fact, at no point did the anti-imperialist rhetoric serve to “liberate” any of the colonized people.In almost all cases the victorious imperial power only substituted one form colonial or neo-colonial rule for another.
The “anti-imperialism” of the imperialists is directed at the nationalist movements of the colonized countries and at their domestic public. British imperialists fomented uprisings among the agro-mining elites in Latin America promising “free trade” against Spanish mercantilist rule; they backed the “self-determination” of the slave holding cotton plantation owners in the US South against the Union; they supported the territorial claims of the Iroquois tribal leaders against the US anti-colonial revolutionaries … exploiting legitimate grievances for imperial ends. During World War II, the Japanese imperialists supported a sector of the nationalist anti-colonial movement in India against the British Empire. The US condemned Spanish colonial rule in Cuba and the Philippines and went to war to “liberate” the oppressed peoples from tyranny….and remained to impose a reign of terror, exploitation and colonial rule…
The imperial powers sought to divide the anti-colonial movements and create future “client rulers” when and if they succeeded. The use of anti-imperialist rhetoric was designed to attract two sets of groups. A conservative group with common political and economic interests with the imperial power, which shared their hostility to revolutionary nationalists and which sought to accrue greater advantage by tying their fortunes to a rising imperial power. A radical sector of the movement tactically allied itself with the rising imperial power, with the idea of using the imperial power to secure resources (arms, propaganda, vehicles and financial aid) and, once securing power, to discard them. More often than not, in this game of mutual manipulation between empire and nationalists, the former won out … as is the case then and now.
The imperialist “anti-imperialist” rhetoric was equally directed at the domestic public, especially in countries like the US which prized its 18th anti-colonial heritage. The purpose was to broaden the base of empire building beyond the hard line empire loyalists, militarists and corporate beneficiaries. Their appeal sought to include liberals, humanitarians, progressive intellectuals, religious and secular moralists and other “opinion-makers” who had a certain cachet with the larger public, the ones who would have to pay with their lives and tax money for the inter-imperial and colonial wars.
The official spokespeople of empire publicize real and fabricated atrocities of their imperial rivals, and highlight the plight of the colonized victims. The corporate elite and the hardline militarists demand military action to protect property, or to seize strategic resources; the humanitarians and progressives denounce the “crimes against humanity” and echo the calls “to do something concrete” to save the victims from genocide. Sectors of the Left join the chorus, finding a sector of victims who fit in with their abstract ideology, and plead for the imperial powers to “arm the people to liberate themselves” (sic). By lending moral support and a veneer of respectability to the imperial war, by swallowing the propaganda of “war to save victims” the progressives become the prototype of the “anti-imperialism of the fools”. Having secured broad public support on the basis of “anti-imperialism”, the imperialist powers feel free to sacrifice citizens’ lives and the public treasury, to pursue war, fueled by the moral fervor of a righteous cause. As the butchery drags on and the casualties mount, and the public wearies of war and its cost, progressive and leftist enthusiasm turns to silence or worse, moral hypocrisy with claims that “the nature of the war changed” or “that this isn’t the kind of war that we had in mind …”. As if the war makers ever intended to consult the progressives and left on how and why they should engage in imperial wars.!
In the contemporary period the imperial “anti-imperialist wars” and aggression have been greatly aided and abetted by well-funded “grass roots” so-called “non-governmental organizations” which act to mobilize popular movements which can “invite” imperial aggression.
Over the past four decades US imperialism has fomented at least two dozen “grass roots” movements which have destroyed democratic governments, or decimated collectivist welfare states or provoked major damage to the economy of targeted countries.
In Chile throughout 1972-73 under the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, the CIA financed and provided major support – via the AFL-CIO–to private truck owners to paralyze the flow of goods and services. They also funded a strike by a sector of the copper workers union (at the El Teniente mine) to undermine copper production and exports, in the lead up to the coup. After the military took power several “grass roots” Christian Democratic union officials participated in the purge of elected leftist union activists. Needless to say in short order the truck owners and copper workers ended the strike, dropped their demands and subsequently lost all bargaining rights!
In the 1980’s the CIA via Vatican channels transferred millions of dollars to sustain the “Solidarity Union” in Poland, making a hero of the Gdansk shipyards worker-leader Lech Walesa, who spearheaded the general strike to topple the Communist regime. With the overthrow of Communism so also went guaranteed employment, social security and trade union militancy: the neo-liberal regimes reduced the workforce at Gdansk by fifty percent and eventually closed it, giving the boot to the entire workforce. Walesa retired with a magnificent Presidential pension, while his former workmates walked the streets and the new “independent” Polish rulers provided NATO with military bases and mercenaries for imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2002 the White House, the CIA , the AFL-CIO and NGOs, backed a Venezuelan military-business – trade union bureaucrat led “grass roots” coup that overthrew democratically elected President Chavez. In 48 hours a million strong authentic grass roots mobilization of the urban poor backed by constitutionalist military forces defeated the US backed dictators and restored Chavez to power. Subsequently oil executives directed a lockout backed by several US financed NGOs. They were defeated by the workers’ takeover of the oil industry. The unsuccessful coup and lockout cost the Venezuelan economy billions of dollars in lost income and caused a double digit decline in GNP.
The US backed “grass roots” armed jihadists to liberate Bosnia and armed the“grass roots” terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army to break-up Yugoslavia. Almost the entire Western Left cheered as, the US bombed Belgrade, degraded the economy and claimed it was “responding to genocide”. Kosovo “free and independent” became a huge market for white slavers, housed the biggest US military base in Europe, with the highest per-capita out migration of any country in Europe.
The imperial “grass roots” strategy combines humanitarian, democratic and anti-imperialist rhetoric and paid and trained local NGO’s, with mass media blitzes to mobilize Western public opinion and especially “prestigious leftist moral critics” behind their power grabs.
The Consequence of Imperial Promoted “Anti-Imperialist” Movements: Who Wins and Who Loses?
The historic record of imperialist promoted “anti-imperialist” and “pro-democracy” “grass roots movements” is uniformly negative. Let us briefly summarize the results. In Chile ‘grass roots’ truck owners strike led to the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and nearly two decades of torture, murder, jailing and forced exile of hundreds of thousands, the imposition of brutal “free market policies” and subordination to US imperial policies. In summary the US multi-national copper corporations and the Chilean oligarchy were the big winners and the mass of the working class and urban and rural poor the biggest losers. The US backed “grass roots uprisings” in Eastern Europe against Soviet domination, exchanged Russian for US domination; subordination to NATO instead of the Warsaw Pact; the massive transfer of national public enterprises, banks and media to Western multi-nationals. Privatization of national enterprises led to unprecedented levels of double-digit unemployment, skyrocketing rents and the growth of pensioner poverty. The crises induced the flight of millions of the most educated and skilled workers and the elimination of free public health, higher education and worker vacation resorts.
Throughout the now capitalist Eastern Europe and USSR highly organized criminal gangs developed large scale prostitution and drug rings; foreign and local gangster ‘entrepeneurs’ seized lucrative public enterprises and formed a new class of super-rich oligarchs Electoral party politicians, local business people and professionals linked to Western ‘partners’ were the socio-economic winners. Pensioners, workers, collective farmers, the unemployed youth were the big losers along with the formerly subsidized cultural artists. Military bases in Eastern Europe became the empire’s first line of military attack of Russia and the target of any counter-attack.
If we measure the consequences of the shift in imperial power, it is clear that the Eastern Europe countries have become even more subservient under the US and the EU than under Russia. Western induced financial crises have devastated their economies; Eastern European troops have served in more imperial wars under NATO than under Soviet rule; the cultural media are under Western commercial control. Most of all, the degree of imperial control over all economic sectors far exceeds anything that existed under the Soviets. The Eastern European ‘grass roots’ movement succeeded in deepening and extending the US Empire; the advocates of peace, social justice, national independence, a cultural renaissance and social welfare with democracy were the big losers.
Western liberals, progressives and leftists who fell in love with imperialist promoted “anti-imperialism” are also big losers. Their support for the NATO attack on Yugoslavia led to the break-up of a multi-national state and the creation of huge NATO military bases and a white slavers paradise in Kosovo. Their blind support for the imperial promoted “liberation” of Eastern Europe devastated the welfare state, eliminating the pressure on Western regimes’ need to compete in providing welfare provisions. The main beneficiaries of Western imperial advances via ‘grass roots’ uprisings were the multi-national corporations, the Pentagon and the right-wing free market neo-liberals. As the entire political spectrum moved to the right a sector of the left and progressives eventually jumped on the bandwagon. The Left moralists lost credibility and support, their peace movements dwindled, their “moral critiques” lost resonance. The left and progressives who tail-ended the imperial backed “grass roots movements”, whether in the name of “anti-Stalinism”, “pro-democracy” or “anti-imperialism” have never engaged in any critical reflection; no effort to analyze the long-term negative consequences of their positions in terms of the losses in social welfare, national independence or personal dignity.
The long history of imperialist manipulation of “anti-imperialist” narratives has found virulent expression in the present day. The New Cold War launched by Obama against China and Russia, the hot war brewing in the Gulf over Iran’s alleged military threat, the interventionist threat against Venezuela’s “drug-networks”,and Syria’s “bloodbath” are part and parcel of the use and abuse of “anti-imperialism” to prop up a declining empire. Hopefully, the progressive and leftist writers and scribes will learn from the ideological pitfalls of the past and resist the temptation to access the mass media by providing a ‘progressive cover’ to imperial dubbed “rebels”. It is time to distinguish between genuine anti-imperialism and pro-democracy movements and those promoted by Washington, NATO and the mass media.
The Western press has dutifully — and uncritically — repeated harrowing tales of the Syrian government’s “siege of Homs” — the 4,000 government forces randomly shelling the city, the snipers everywhere killing anyone on the streets, even the troops’ digging trenches to prevent the people from escaping the mass slaughter of the innocents. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, whose information is dependent on reports from their allied rebel contacts inside Syria (as was the case with the myriad Libyan “human rights groups” operating in the UK, US, and Switzerland), has peppered its website with lurid tales of death and destruction in Homs, calling it a “Bloody Christmas” Sunday. The Syrian Observatory claimed that 34 were slaughtered in Homs on Monday alone. The New York Times reported that the Arab League monitors were urged to speed to Homs before the destruction of that city was complete.
But somebody did not get the memo.
Upon arrival and inspection of Homs, the Arab League monitors reported seeing “nothing frightening” in the city of Homs — supposedly the focal point in the uprising against the Assad government. They were “reassured” by what they saw. Surely the thousands of tanks, the death moat, the random mortaring of the city by government forces, the near total destruction, would have been visible to the observers.
The reaction was prompt and severe. The rebels screamed “foul,” as they fully expected the monitors to take the script and run with it. Caught in what appears to be another big lie to gain foreign military support for regime change, the rebel groups and their allies in London doubled down:
“Basma Kodmani, a spokesperson for the Syrian National Council (SNC), told French radio France Inter on Tuesday that the monitors were subject to ‘all sorts of manipulation’. She said that some 40,000 prisoners had been removed from the prison they were being held in, installed in a military barracks five kilometres away and replaced by false prisoners who gave observers a scripted account of events. She also added that entire families were posing as armed gangs to back up government claims about the militants’ identity.”
Sound a little hysterical?
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that the Syrian regime had secretly changed the street signs so as to trick the observer teams! Other rebels claimed that the government had pulled its tanks out at the last minute. Syrian Observatory president Rami Rahmane, claimed in the French press that “the retreat of the tanks was a ‘ruse’ and bombing could have started again at any moment.”
But if the government had been bombing the neighborhoods in Homs where the observers were headed and only removed their tanks at the last minute, surely there would be ample evidence of the shelling. Street sign changing is one thing, covering up destruction left by mortar rounds fired into buildings is quite another. Perhaps there were secret teams of stonemasons dispatched in the night to patch up the buildings?
This moment of clarity will no doubt be short-lived, however. It will be explained away as the mistaken conclusions of a few rogue observers. Already the head of the mission, a military general from Sudan, is being discredited as a “human rights violator.” France is blasting the monitor team, with its foreign ministry releasing a statement that “The Arab League observers should return to the city of martyrs (Homs) without delay and … establish the necessary contact with the civilian population.”
The rebel “Free Syrian Army” has called a cease-fire and is attempting to contact the observer teams. (Ceasefire? I thought these were peaceful protests.) And the hundreds of thousands of pro-government protestors are ignored in the Western press — they do not fit in with the regime change script. As with Libya, evidence to the contrary will be dismissed and evidence to support regime change will be even more exaggerated and will be repeated without skepticism in the Western media.
Remember in Libya, not that long ago after all, where the chief engine driving the military intervention, Soliman Bouchuiguir of the Swiss-based Libyan League for Human Rights, admitted on video that his evidence of Gaddafi’s slaughter was simply made up out of thin air by the rebels. Evidence? “There is no evidence,” he stated.
These are articles by Philip Weiss (calls himself progressive Jew, and the motto of his website “Mondoweiss The War of Ideas in the Middle East“)
Quote from the website:
Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective.
It has four principal aims:
- To publish important developments touching on Israel/Palestine, the American Jewish community and the shifting debate over US foreign policy in a timely fashion.
- To publish a diversity of voices to promote dialogue on these important issues.
- To foster the movement for greater fairness and justice for Palestinians in American foreign policy.
- To offer alternatives to pro-Zionist ideology as a basis for American Jewish identity.
My Jewish Problem: Jewish Superiority, Jewish Elite
“Still it is interesting that my friend and I shared a premise: Jews are superior; for whatever reason Jewish culture is superior in areas of modern civilized achievement”
by Philip Weiss on May 10, 2006
I went to a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah on Saturday and in some part because of my blog, and its discussion of Jewish politics, felt a little alienated. I forgot to get a yarmulke, then I ran to get one. I wondered who if anyone there had seen my ideas. Later, at the reception, I got into a discussion about these issues with an old friend, who was joined by a friend of his.
My friend said he was a secular Jew and asked me how I define myself. An assimilating Jew, I said. Shortly after that, his friend said, I don’t know what an assimilating Jew is, and walked away.
My friend is more intellectual. He said, What do you think will be lost if Jews assimilate into America? He answered his own question: the excellence that Jews have brought to any number of endeavors, science, the arts, finance, education, and so forth.
I said, But what if these qualities are more widely shared with assimilation? Will our excellence pull up others’ mediocrity?
He said, I think those qualities will be diluted. I.e., lost.
I said I wondered if the process wasn’t inevitable. Jews are successful and prominent, and the more successful people get, the more sociological pressure there is on them to melt in, including pressure on their children to marry out. That is what happened to me. I went to the Ivy League because my family pushed me to excel and I met people who weren’t anti-Semitic. I liked the water.
I had to admit to my friend my indifference as to whether the institutional element of my tribe persists. Religion may well be necessary to social structure and order, but we need some new ones. Pedophilia seems to be inherent to the Catholic church; and its hierarchy is covering it up. Islam has all kinds of problems, with free speech, patriarchalism, and the tolerance of violence. Indifference or disdain for Palestinian suffering seems inherent to the Jewish church. I don’t see why I should revere these institutions.
Still it is interesting that my friend and I shared a premise: Jews are superior; for whatever reason Jewish culture is superior in areas of modern civilized achievement.
In discussing My Jewish Problem on this blog, that’s a core Jewish value I would point to: Jewish exceptionalism. Belief in that idea underlies so much of Jewish social attitudes and achievement. (Maugham extols it in The Alien Corn; Hemingway throws it in Robert Cohn’s face in The Sun Also Rises). Larry Summers sought to broach the issue of Jewish innate intelligence in his notorious women-and-science speechof January 2005:
…Catholics are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society;… white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and… Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture. These are all phenomena in which one observes underrepresentation, and I think it’s important to try to think systematically and clinically about the reasons for underrepresentation.
Summers was bumping backwards into the fact of Jews as an elite. And, sociologically, Jewish achievement in the last generation is stunning. We entered the Establishment. A Jewish hedge fund guy who owns oil tankers chairs the American Enterprise Institute, the harbor to Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, and fount of bad ideas.
That’s why this is a public issue: this elite has conducted itself at times in Jewish ways that deserve discussion. Specifically, the neoconservative promotion of a deluded disastrous war out of some degree of love for Israel, and the degree to which their agenda has been afforded political cover by the larger, liberal Jewish community—that is the heart of my interest. When you consider the overall failure of the Jewish intelligentsia and of Democratic politicians to even look at the way religious zealots on the West Bank are affecting American foreign policy, you have to ask, What does secular Judaism mean? Does it also have its faith-based ideologies?
But outside of private conversations like the one I had at the bar mitzvah, these things are not discussed. Of course there is a reason for that. The last time Jews had such prominence in the life of societies, Europe in the first third of the last century, we know what happened. The Nazis pointed to the Jewish elite as a cause for extermination. So the Holocaust has acted as a ban on our even broaching the issue. Myself I don’t have any choice, it’s mine. It’s knit into the fabric of my life, from my tribal beginnings to my achievement phase as a youth, to my involvement in progressive ideas post 9/11.
We’re just smarter, that’s why
by Philip Weiss on June 28, 2011
Over the weekend I watched Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on CSPAN (talking about a good issue, phone companies stealing from their customers in quiet unauthorized ways) and I thought what I always think when I see Genachowski: I was once his boss.
I was an editor at a New York journalism publication in the 1980s, and Julius was an intern or an assistant there for a time while he was an undergraduate at Columbia.
My wife likes to point out here that I got fired from the job, and it was the last time I ever worked in an office. But I have a different point to make.
I got hired to that job by an old friend, who just happened to be Jewish. The top editor of the publication also happened to be Jewish, and so did the managing editor (who was very pro-Israel). There was one editor who wasn’t Jewish. Smart guy, and a poet. He used to say “neckbolt” a lot.
Genachowski was Jewish, with European refugees survivors in his own family, I believe. And the guy who came in as an assistant editor after me, who I helped hire, was also Jewish.
On CSpan the other day, Genachowski shared the stage with Sarah Rosen Wartell of the Center for American Progress and Joel Gurin, chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC. I’m guessing both are Jewish, but I don’t know.
Oh, and full disclosure: when I had a chance in 2008 to bring someone in as co-editor of this website, he was Jewish.
My friends and I came of age during the meritocracy. Standardized tests and all that. No more quotas. A good thing, too. Only the meritorious would get ahead.
But if you don’t think kinship networks mean anything, well– you can believe anything you like. I’m just too old to be that naive.
Do Jews Dominate in American Media? And So What If We Do?
by Philip Weiss on February 17, 2008
At least a half dozen times in recent months, the suggestion has come from serious people that Jews predominate in the American media–that if we are not dominant, we are a major bloc. In a Yivo event on Jews in journalism I’ve blogged about, a questioner said that Jews’ outsize proportion in the media has granted us “a large influence over power.” In his groundbreaking paper on the New York Times’s role in shaping American policy toward Israel, Jerome Slater spoke of “religious beliefs and identifications” that affected the Times, and cited former executive editor Max Frankel’s admission in his memoir (one also cited by Walt and Mearsheimer): “I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.”
Lately broadcast reporter John Hockenberry related that he wanted to do a piece on the hijackers’ motivation after 9/11 but that NBC executive Jeff Zucker scotched the notion:
“Maybe,” Zucker said, “we ought to do a series of specials on
firehouses where we just ride along with our cameras. Like the show Cops,
only with firefighters.”… [H]e could make room in the
prime-time lineup for firefighters, but then smiled at me and said, in
effect, that he had no time for any subtitled interviews with jihadists
raging about Palestine. [Weiss’s emphasis]
Then last month at a forum at the Nixon Center, former Bushie Dov Zackheim said, Jews don’t dominate the policy-making process, but the media is a different story…
I don’t know that anyone has visited the simple question raised by these statements: Do Jews dominate the media? This is something I know about personally. I’ve worked in print journalism for more than 30 years. I’ve worked for many magazines and newspapers, and for a time my whole social circle was editors and writers in New York. I don’t know television. I don’t know Washington journalism well. I don’t know the west coast. My sample is surely skewed by the fact that I’m Jewish and have always felt great comfort with other Jews. But in my experience, Jews have made up the majority of the important positions in the publications I worked for, a majority of the writers I’ve known at these place, and the majority of the owners who have paid me. Yes my own sample may be skewed, but I think it shows that Jews make up a significant proportion of power positions in media, half, if not more.
Before considering what this means, let me make my experience concrete:
My serious journalism began at the Harvard Crimson in the 70s. A friend said the paper was a Jewish boys club; it was dominated by middle class Jews– as apparently today there are a lot of Asians. Many of these Jews are now powerful presences in the media. Zucker is one of them. My first paying job was in Minneapolis. Five Harvard guys started a weekly; four of them were Jewish, including the publisher paying our meager salaries. I remember our editor walking the halls parodying the jingle we had on the radio. The jingle went: “We’ve got the news, we’ve got the sports…” He sang it as “We’ve got the Jews, we’ve got the sports.” Funny.
I was hired by a Jewish editor at my next job, the Philadelphia Daily News in 1978, and when I started freelancing in 1981, Jewish Harvard friends got me work at the Columbia Journalism Review and the Washington Monthly. A gentile brought me in at Harper’s and the New Republic. It was at the New Republic, a launching pad for any number of highly-successful journalists, that I briefly associated with Marty Peretz, and did a story for him mocking the United Nations, whose judgment he seeks at every turn to nullify because the U.N. is critical of Israel.
Fast forward. In New York, I have worked for a dozen magazines. Most of my editors have been Jewish. Both my book publishers were Jewish. At one point at one publishing house, the editor, his boss, and her boss were all Jewish, and so was the lawyer vetting the work—I remember her saying she would never travel to Malaysia because of the anti-Semitic Prime minister. Oh–and the assistant editor was half-Jewish.
I should point out that I have worked with many gentile editors and writers, and I have never been aware of any employment discrimination against them (though I may not be the best source). In fact, at Spy, the three top editors were all non-Jews and when I used the epithet WASP it was removed from my copy. But that is the exception. Generally it’s been Jews Jews Jews. When I hear NPR do a piece with its top political team and both are Jews…
when a Jewish friend calls me and gossips about lunches with two top news execs at major publications who are both Jewish and who I’ve known for 20 years… when a Jewish editor friend tells me that Si Newhouse would be disturbed if Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter– who has done such courageous work against the Iraq war– did anything to expose the Israel lobby… and when I say that my income has been derived overwhelmingly from Jewish-owned publications for years—this is simply the ordinary culture of the magazine business as I know it.
I have some ideas why Jews have predominated, but that’s not the purpose of this posting. Last year Senator Russ Feingold, buttonholed on CSPAN about why so many speakers on air were Jewish, said, “Well, we’re good at talking…” That’ll do for now.
The real issue is, Does it matter? Most of my life I felt it didn’t. It’s just the way it is, at this point in history. It will change (as Clyde Haberman pointed out at that Yivo event). Jews are the latest flavor of the establishment. In his landmark book, The Jewish Century, Slezkine reports that Jews were the majority of journalists in Berlin and Vienna and Prague, too, in the late 1800s, if I remember correctly.
Now I think it does matter, for two reasons. Elitist establishment culture, and Israel. As to elitism, I worry when any affluent group has power and little sense of what the common man is experiencing. I feel the same discomfort with my prestige-oriented “caste” that E. Digby Baltzell did with his calcified caste, the WASPs–when he called for an end to discrimination against Jews in the early ’60s. The values of my cohort sometimes seem narrow: globalism, prosperity, professionalism. In Israel the values are a lot broader. None of my cohort has served in the military, myself included. A lot of our fathers did; but I bet none of our kids do. Military service is for losers–or for Israelis.
So we are way overrepresented in the chattering classes, and way underrepresented in the battering classes. Not a great recipe for leadership, especially in wartime. Then there’s Israel. Support for Israel is an element of Jewish religious practice and more important, part of the Jewish cultural experience. Even if you’re a secular Jewish professional who prides himself on his objectivity, there is a ton of cultural pressure on you to support Israel or at least not to betray Israel. We are talking about a religion, after all, and the pressures faced by Jews who are critical of Israel are not that different from what Muslim women who want greater freedom undergo psychically or by evangelical Christians who want to support gay rights. It is worth noting that great Jewish heretics on the Israel question suffer anger or even ostracism inside their own families. Henry Siegman talked about this on Charlie Rose once, I recall–that even close family were not speaking to him over Israel. And I have seen this for myself on numerous occasions. There is not a lot of bandwidth on this issue. Conversations about Israel even inside the liberal Jewish community are emotionally loaded, and result in people not speaking to one another. I lost this blog at a mainstream publication because the editor was Jewish and conservative on Israel and so was the new owner, and the publisher had worked for AIPAC. And all of them would likely call themselves liberal Democrats.
As former CNN correspondent Linda Scherzer has said, “We, as Jews, must understand that we come with a certain bias…We believe in the Israeli narrative of history. We support the values that we as Americans, Westerners, and Jews espouse. Thus, we see news reporting through our own prism.”
There are many American Jewish journalists who have done great independent work re Israel/Palestine. Richard Ben Cramer and the late Robbie Friedman leap to mind. But both these guys are exceptional, and had to overcome/ignore a ton of pressure that most of us would quail under. They had to step outside the Jewish family to do their work…
The result is that Americans are not getting the full story re Israel/Palestine. Slater says this dramatically in his paper–that the Times has deprived American leadership of reporting on the moral/political crisis that Israel is undergoing, one that Haaretz has covered unstintingly. At Columbia the other night, Jew, Arab and gentile on a panel about the human-rights crisis in Gaza all said that Americans are not getting the full story. Ilan Pappe has marveled in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, that the Nakba is all but unmentioned in the U.S.–while Haaretz has sought at times to document it, for instance a former officer saying in 2004 that if he had not helped to destroy 200 villages in southern Israel in ’48, there would be another million Palestinians in Israel. To repeat Scherzer’s admission: “We believe in the Israeli narrative of history…”
Why does the American press behave differently from the Israeli press? I think the answer is guilt. The Jewish cohort of which I am a part has largely accepted the duty that Max Frankel felt, of supporting Israel. This duty is rarely interrogated, and yet consciously or not we all know that American public opinion/leadership is critical to Israel’s political invulnerability; and we think that if we take their fingers out of the dike, who knows what will happen. That is a ton of responsibility. This responsibility is not executed with special care.
Generally, my cohort hasn’t been to Israel, hasn’t seen the West Bank. But they do feel kinship with Israeli Jews, and–above all–have guilt feelings about the Holocaust, or the American Jewish silence about it during the event, the Jewish passivity; and they are determined not to be passive during Israel’s neverending existential crises. And thus they misunderstand Israel and fail to serve their readers.
The same Philip Weiss , the progressive, who is struggling with his problem of “Jewish superiority and Jewish elite” described what it means to be Jewish to him using the very disturbing words:
“Tribalism”, “Jewish Self-interest”, “Us-ness”, “Distinction to them”, “Sense of Difference”, and an “Elite Identity”
Philip Weiss, the progressive, also admitted that his anti-zionist stance is “concerned with a Jewish self-interest”. Then he elaborated: “A theory of political life based on altruism or concern for victims purely is doomed to fail.”
Philip Weiss, the progressive, who claims that “Islam has all kinds of problems, with free speech, patriarchalism, and the tolerance of violence”, sees it perfectly OK to ban a Palestinian Muslim from commenting on his “progressive” website, it appears that as far as Mr. Philip Weiss’s concerned, I am not a member of his “elite tribe”, and my voice does not particularly serve his “Jewish self-interest”, therefore, censoring my comments and muffling my voice is not much of a worry to him.
Heck, I am only a Palestinian, you know, one of those who “don’t exist” and whose homeland “never existed”, and the principle of freedom of speech does not apply to them.
How ironic to read this call for “give us your money” kind of thing on Philip’s website: “Help Mondoweiss Break the Media Blockade” while at the same time he actively participates in blocking an authentic Palestinian voice.
He IS part of the media blockade, and his slogan aught to be “Help Mondoweiss Enforce the Media Blockade”
This is the email that was sent to Philip after he censored my comments, he did NOT have the politeness to even acknowledge the email with a response:
- Dear Philip I would like to ask a direct question: are you censoring a Palestinian voice? or is it just a routine slow moderating methods? I have posted these comments on your website, but apparently, whomever is moderating the site chose to mute a Palestinian voice.
- I find this rather shocking, specially when your site presents itself as a “progressive”, which deals with the “war of ideas in the ME”. to be frank and honest, I am sick and tired of people who pretend to be supporters, pretending to speak for the sake of, and on behalf of Palestinians, yet at the same time muting our faint voices even in the comment section!
- These are the comments that are CENSORED at Mondoweiss:
- First comment:
- The article that has prompted this interview with Philip was Jewish Voice for Peace? Really?? .
- Second comment:
- and for more info about the ideology that I talked about earlier:
- The worm is in the can
- Supremacist and Racist
- Chabad Chabad around the world
- BEHOLD WORLD.. BREAKING NEWS
- NO… This is not a Synagogue
- Meet the Rebbe
- Chabad Lubavitch & the zionist Law-Makers
- Why the Rebbe hates Islam?
- World Leaders and the Rebbe
- chabad in US Senate & congress
- Meet the Jewish Settlers
- Sharing Our House with Settlers
- Third comment:
- “This presentation uncovers the side of Jewish-zionist-Israeli face that is kept carefully hidden from the general public. I present it here in all its ugliness, for the sake of truth and truth-seekers.
- Disclaimer: Quoting people and books is NOT antisemitism
- A “Benign” culture with “Benign individuals”!
Iran will be exporting $1 billion of electricity by March 2012
Pakistan’s minister of water and power says his country has signed an agreement with an Iranian private company to import 5,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Iran.
Syed Naveed Qamar further added that according to the agreement, two power plants will be built near the Iranian city of Zahedan and in Gwadar region of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
The minister went on to say that Pakistan is currently having problems generating sufficient electricity due to the shortage of adequate resources for operating power plants, including low water reserves. The shortage may worsen as natural gas consumption and demand for energy continue to rise, he added.
Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) has already announced that the country will need 15,500 MW of electricity this year, but can only generate 9,500 MW and is short of 6,000 MW of electricity.
The minister said that the launch of the two new gas-fueled power plants will reduce electricity price in the country, adding that the imported electricity will be sent to all parts of Pakistan, including Balochistan province.
Iran is currently exchanging electricity with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nakhichevan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.
According to the Iranian Energy Ministry statistics, the country will be exporting up to USD 1 billion of electricity by March 2012.
Iran’s total power generation capacity stands at 63,403 MW while total length of the power grid exceeds 780,000 km.
Exchange of electricity with neighboring countries reached 1,341 MW in late December 2010. The top exporter was Armenia with 237 megawatts, and the top importer of the Iranian electricity was Iraq with 650 megawatts.
Iran seeks to become a major regional exporter of electricity and has attracted more than USD1.1 billion in investments to build three new power plants.
Behind a mysterious December 22 Associated Press story about “finding of fact” by a District judge in Manhattan Friday that Iran assisted al Qaeda in the planning of the 9/11 attacks is a tapestry of recycled fabrications and distortions of fact from a bizarre cast of characters.
The AP story offers no indication of the nature of the evidence in the case except that former members of the 9/11 Commission and three Iranian defectors provided testimony. What it didn’t say was that at least two of the Iranian defectors have long been dismissed by US intelligence as “fabricators” and that the two “expert witnesses” who were supposed to determine the credibility of those defectors’ claims are both avowed advocates of crackpot conspiracy theories about Muslims and Shariah law who believe the United States is at war with Islam.
The ostensible purpose of the case brought by families of 9/11 terror attack victims was to win damages from those responsible for 9/11. Dozens of such cases involving different terrorist attacks have been brought to US courts over the years, in which “default judgments” have been made against Iran over various attacks in which Iran was allegedly involved, but there is no chance of getting any money for the families.
The only real effect of the case is to promote right-wing political myths about Iran. One of the peculiarities of such cases is that the witnesses are not subject to cross examination in court. The witnesses have every incentive, therefore to indulge in false testimony, knowing that there will be no one to challenge them.
“A Fabricator of Monumental Proportions”
The lawyers and the “expert witnesses” behind the accusation of Iran in regard to 9/11 hoped to sell the press and public on recycled claims first made by Iranian “defectors” several years ago that they had personal knowledge of Iranian participation in the 9/11 plot. The lawyers produced videotaped affidavits by three such defectors who were identified, with a dramatic flourish, as Witnesses “X,” “Y” and “Z.”
In the one public hearing held on the case, the lawyers revealed the identity of purported former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi – probably a pseudonym – and described his testimony that he had received a series of “coded messages” from a former colleague in the Iranian government in the late summer and early fall of 2001 warning that a terrorist attack against the United States was being planned, and that it was a plan that had been concocted by Tehran in the late 1980s.
Although the judge and the public were being led to believe that this is somehow new information going beyond what was known by the 9/11 Commission report, it is, in fact, very old information and has long been completely discredited. Mesbahi’s story doesn’t hold up, for several reasons, and the most obvious is that, despite his claim that he was warned nearly a month before the 9/11 attacks that civilian airliners would be crashed into buildings in major US cities, including Washington and New York on September 11, he never conveyed that information to the US government before that date.
In October 2001, Mesbahi claimed to right-wing journalist Kenneth R. Timmerman, as reported in Timmerman’s 2005 book that he had tried calling the legal attaché at the US Embassy in Berlin, but was “unsuccessful in several attempts.” But he did not claim any other attempt to reach a US consulate or the US Embassy in Germany by fax, e-mail or letter before September 11, nor did he go to the US Embassy in person to convey this warning. He told Timmerman that he called an Iranian dissident contact in the United States who, he believed, had contacts with US intelligence agencies only some hours after the attacks on New York and Washington.
It wasn’t the first time Mesbahi had claimed inside information about Iranian involvement in a terrorist attack only after the attack had taken place. He had told investigators working on the December 1988 terror bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that Iran had asked Libya and Abu Nidal to carry out the attack on the personal orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. Unfortunately for his credibility, however, he had not come forward with the allegation until after the bombing had happened.
He had also provided affidavits to Argentine investigators in the case of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, claiming his well-informed friends in Iranian intelligence had tipped him off that the decision to bomb the Jewish Community Center had been made at a meeting attended by top Iranian officials in August 1993.
But in fact, by his own admission Mesbahi had not worked for Argentine intelligence since 1988, and the FBI Hezbollah Office’s James Bernazzani, who had helped the Argentine intelligence service with the investigation in 1997, told me in a November 2006 interview that American intelligence officials had concluded Mesbahi did not have the continued high-level access to Iranian intelligence officials throughout the 1990s and beyond that he was claiming. They regarded him as someone who was desperate for money and ready to “provide testimony to any country on any case involving Iran,” according to Bernazzani.
Mesbahi wasn’t even consistent in the story he told about the alleged “coded messages.” In an interview with Timmerman, Mesbahi stated that he had gotten two messages from his contact, one on September 1, 2001 and a second three days later. And Timmerman wrote that his alleged contact had “phoned him again” on September 4, indicating that Mesbahi had made no reference to an elaborate scheme to send coded messages through articles in Iranian newspapers.
But in his affidavit to the 9/11 court case, he said he had gotten three messages – on July 23, August 13 and August 27 – and that the coded messages were placed in newspaper articles. Timmerman, who referred the lawyers to Mesbahi, discretely avoided pointing out the huge discrepancy between the two stories, which clearly indicates that Mesbahi fabricated the tale of messages in newspaper articles to make it more dramatic and convincing.
The second defector, Hamid Reza Zakeri, claimed he had been an officer of Iran’s Ministry of Information and Security and had provided security for a meeting at an airbase near Tehran on May 4, 2001 attended by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Osama bin Laden’s son Saad bin Laden. He also claimed to have seen replicas of the twin towers, the White House, the Pentagon and Camp David in the entry hall to the main headquarters of the MOIS with a missile suspended above the targets, and “Death to America” written in Arabic (rather than Farsi) on the side.
Like Mesbahi, Zakeri also first told his tale to Timmerman, who recounts it in his 2005 book. Zakeri, who apparently defected from Iran in late July 2001, claimed he had told the US Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 26, 2001 about the alleged meeting and replicas, warning them that he believed the Iranians and al Qaeda were planning an attack on those targets that would occur September 11. But CIA officials denied categorically to Timmerman that Zakeri had given any such warning to the Embassy and called Zakeri “a fabricator of monumental proportions” and “a serial fabricator.” Zakeri failed an FBI polygraph test in 2003, according to Timmerman.
Crackpot Hate-Islam Extremists as “Expert Witnesses”
Significantly, no reputable retired intelligence analyst on Iran was asked to help judge the testimony of the Iranian defectors. Instead, Clare M. Lopez and Bruce Tefft, both former CIA covert operations case officers, were invited to be “expert witnesses,” in large part to view the videotaped testimony of the three Iranian defectors and assess their credibility.
Based on the record of their public statements, however, they were selected for that role because they could be counted upon to endorse the defectors’ allegations of Iranian involvement in planning the 9/11 attacks and any other assertion, no matter how outlandish, that suggested Iranian guilt.
Lopez has been linked with the neoconservative faction of the Bush administration and the pro-Likud Party extreme right ever since she became Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee in 2005. Through a series of policy papers issued that year, the Committee sought to support from outside the push by a group of pro-Likud officials within the administration for a policy of regime change in Iran.
In particular, the Committee called for using the Mujahedin-E-Khalq or MEK, the armed opposition group listed by the US State Department as a terrorist group because of its assassinations of US officials during the regime of the Shah and bombings of large civilian events in Iran. The MEK had long enjoyed close working relations with Israel, but not with the United States, and the State Department had continued to oppose delisting and alliance with the MEK against Tehran, as proposed by the Defense Department and the Vice-President’s office.
Since 2009, Lopez has been a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy founded and headed by notorious Islam-hating extremist Frank J. Gaffney. One of Lopez’s projects has been to stir up public fear over an alleged threat to America – not from al Qaeda attacks, but from subversion by Muslim-Americans. She is one of a number of authors of a book published by Gaffney’s Center in October 2010 called “Shariah: the Threat to America,” which declares, “The United States is under attack by foes who are openly animated by what is known as Shariah (Islamic Law).”
Revealing the project’s anti-Islam paranoia, the book asserts, “Shariah dictates that non-Muslims be given three choices: convert to Islam and conform to Shariah; submit as second class citizens (dhimmis), or be killed.”
In a videotaped talk she gave on February 23, 2011, Lopez said Muslims, “believe they should be in charge of the world.” The main threat from Islam, she said, is “stealth Jihad” waged by Muslims who “hide behind a moderate image,” but whose “purpose is still the same” as that of al Qaeda.
A second aspect of Lopez’s work for Gaffney has been to intimidate opponents of the hard-line policies toward Iran – and especially the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) – by accusing them of being covert lobbyists for Iran.
Tefft, who retired from the CIA’s Operations Division in 1995, is even more explicit in arguing that there is a worldwide war against Islam. “We are fighting a 14-century war against Islam and its adherents, Muslims,” he declared in an interview with the right-wing website FrontPage in October 2007. “And it is a war that they have declared on all non-Muslims….” Islamic ideology requires Muslims to “make the world Islamic under the Caliphate, and to convert, kill or enslave all non-Muslims….” When the interviewer suggested that there are “moderate Muslims,” Tefft responded, “I don’t think so….” he said. “Were there ‘good’ or ‘moderate’ Nazis?”
Tefft referred to the way “the West” had “prevailed” over Islam with the “defeat of the marauding armies of Islam at the Gates of Vienna in 1529″ and added, “We need to recall that period…and again contain Islam to its existing borders.”
When asked by this writer in a phone interview last week if he had been aware of the advocacy of Islamophobe arguments by Lopez and Tefft, Thomas Mellon, Jr., one of two lead lawyers in the case, did not answer directly, but said, “To the extent that you are accurate, we would say, fine, take them out.” He insisted that the lawyers for the case had not relied on any one of the ten “expert witnesses” listed on the case.
Also playing a central role in weaving the tale of Iranian complicity in the 9/11 attacks for the court case was the right-wing author and anti-Iran activist Kenneth R. Timmerman. According to the lawyers’ brief on the case, it was Timmerman who sought out one of the attorneys, Timothy B. Fleming, and brought to his attention the three Iranian “defectors” who claimed personal knowledge that Iran was involved in the planning of 9/11.
Like Lopez, Timmerman has been linked with hardline pro-Likud organizations and involved in efforts to overthrow the regime in Tehran. Along with Joshua Muravchik, and a group of Iranian exile foes of the Islamic regime, he established the “Foundation for Democracy in Iran” in 1995.
Timmerman has also expressed views sympathetic to the Hate-Islam movement. His 2003 book, “Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War against America,” portrays the United States and Israel as innocent victims of a vicious campaign against the West by whole Islamic societies that refuse to accept the US-Israeli narrative on terrorism. And his new novel, “St. Peter’s Bones,” has been praised by notorious Islam-hater Robert Spencer for revealing the “long-hidden origins of Islam.”
The “Material Support” and “Save Haven” Ploys
The most egregious allegations of Iranian complicity in 9/11 come from three former staff members of the 9/11 Commission – Daniel Byman, Dietrich Snell and Janice Kephart. They had all worked on the section of the 2004 report that had given heavy emphasis to the fact that Iran had not stamped the passports of Saudis who had later become hijackers in the 9/11 attacks when they entered Iran. The section had suggested that this and other evidence could indicate Iranian complicity in the plot, even if it could not yet be proven.
In their affidavits to the court, those three former staffers, two of whom (Snell and Kephart) are lawyers, argue that Iran’s failure to stamp the passports of the al Qaeda operatives constituted provision of “material support” to al Qaeda in executing the 9/11 attacks. US anti-terrorist law specifies that the provision of “material support” to terrorists includes any “service” to terrorists if the provider is “knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out” a terrorist action.
However, a key piece of information in a different chapter of the 9/11 Commission report shows that Iran’s failure to stamp passports was not intended to aid al Qaeda. On page 169, the report says that, in order to avoid the confiscation by Saudi authorities of passports bearing a Pakistani stamp, the Saudi al Qaeda operatives, “either erased the Pakistani visa from their passport or traveled through Iran, which did not stamp visas directly into passports.” In other words, the Iranian practice of not stamping visas directly into passports applied to everyone. And since, as the Commission report acknowledged, there was no evidence of Iranian foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the existence of that policy did not support the thesis of Iranian “material support” for the al Qaeda plot.
The Commission staff went back to the two senior planners of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, in July 2004, to ask them specifically about the Iranian failure to stamp the passports of the hijackers, but, strangely, the Commission report gives no indication of what they said about whether the Iranian practice was intended to assist al Qaeda. Either the staff never asked the question, or the answer was ignored because it contradicted the line that those staff members were pushing in 2004 and are still pushing today.
The former Commission staffers also joined right-wing activists in highlighting the intelligence Commission report statements that “an associate of a senior Hizbullah operative” was on the same mid-November flight from Beirut to Tehran as a group of future hijackers, and that Hezbollah officials in Beirut and Iran had been “expecting the arrival of a group [from Saudi Arabia] during the same time period.” The former staffers insist that these could not have been coincidences and that they had to mean that Iran was involved in the al Qaeda plot.
The argument that the presence of an “associate” of a top Hezbollah official on the same flight as future al Qaeda hijackers could not have been a coincidence is absurd. There were obviously many “associates” of top Hezbollah officials, most whom would have had occasion to travel to Iran frequently. The statistical likelihood that one of them would be on the same flight as the future hijackers would not be so small as to merit suspicion.
And the very same section of the Commission report provides a clear explanation of the anticipation of a group traveling from Saudi Arabia to Iran that reveals the conspiratorial interpretation as dishonest. It says that a senior Hezbollah operative – said to have been Imad Mugniyeh – visited Saudi Arabia in October 2000 to “coordinate activities” there, that he planned to assist a group traveling to Iran in November, and that intelligence reports showed the planned visit to Iran involved a “top Hezbollah commander” and “Saudi Hezbollah contacts.”
But that didn’t stop the lawyers for the case from twisting the Commission report to fit the desired narrative: “The ‘activities’ that Mughniyah went to coordinate,” clearly revolved around the hijackers’ travel, their obtaining new Saudi passports and/or US visas for the 9/11 operation, as several of them did, as well as the hijackers’ security, and the operation’s security.”
Paul Pillar, who was the CIA’s senior intelligence officer on the Middle East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005 and had previously been the senior analyst at the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, was categorical about the matter when I interviewed him in 2006. The facts detailed in the Commission Report about passports, travel of the hijackers through Iran, and the presence of a Hezbollah official on one of the flights “don’t show Iranian collusion with al Qaeda,” he told me.
The lawyers’ brief refers to “the existence of a secret network of travel routes and safehouses” worked out from the mid-1990s onward as being “confirmed by al Qaeda military chief Saef al Adel in a May 2005 interview.” That implies that secret arrangements on such “travel routes and safehouses” were made between al Qaeda and the Iranian government. But al-Adel said nothing of the sort. He made it clear in his interview with a Saudi journalist that the Iranians who helped them with housing and logistics were not connected with the Iranian regime.
The “expert witnesses” and the lawyers carefully skirt the fact that in the latter half of the 1990s – at a time when the United States was officially still “neutral” on the civil war in Afghanistan – Iran was providing funding, arms and other support to the Northern Alliance, the non-Pashtun forces seeking to overthrow the Taliban regime which bin Laden and al Qaeda were helping to keep in power.
That Iranian support for the Northern Alliance was still ongoing when the organization’s chief, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was assassinated September 10, 2001 by two Arabs posing as journalists. The leader of the CIA’s post-9/11 covert paramilitary team in Afghanistan, Gary Schroen, reported that there were two IRGC Colonels attached to the Commander of the Northern Alliance, Bismullah Khan, when the CIA team arrived. Nevertheless, Lopez and Tefft as well as Israeli journalist Ronan Bergman, a former intelligence officer in the Israeli Defense Forces who boasts of his “close personal contacts” with senior Israel intelligence and military officials, cite reports supposedly originating with German intelligence that Iran helped al Qaeda operatives carry out the Massoud assassination.
All the “expert witnesses” insist vehemently that Iran continued to provide “safe haven” for al Qaeda operatives who fled from Afghanistan to Iran after 9/11, allowing them to direct terrorist activities against Saudi Arabia in particular. But that accusation merely recycles the claim first made in early 2002 by Bush administration officials seeking to prevent negotiations between the United States and Iran and push for the adoption of a regime change strategy in Iran.
The central pretense of the neoconservative “safe haven” ploy was that, if any al Qaeda operatives were able to function in Iran, Iran must have deliberately permitted it. But the United States has been unable to shut down al Qaeda’s operation in Pakistan after a decade of trying, despite the cooperation of the Pakistani intelligence service and the drone coverage of the tribal areas. If the same criteria applied to Iran were to be applied to the Bush administration and the government of Germany, they could be accused of having provided “safe haven” for al Qaeda operatives prior to 9/11.
In fact, after US complaints about al Qaeda presence in Iran in late 2001, Tehran detained nearly 300 al Qaeda operatives, and gave a dossier with their names, passport pictures and fingerprints to the United Nations. Iran also repatriated at least 200 of those detainees to the newly formed government of Afghanistan.
US Ambassador Ryan Crocker revealed last year that, in late 2001, the Iranians had been willing to discuss possible surrender of the senior al Qaeda officials it was detaining to the United States and share any intelligence they had gained from their investigations as part of a wider understanding with Washington. But the neoconservative faction in the administration rejected that offer, demanding that Iran give them the al Qaeda detainees without getting anything in return.
Iran’s crackdown on al Qaeda continued in 2002-03 and netted a number of top officials. One of the senior al Qaeda detainees apparently detained by Iran during that period, Saif al-Adel, later told a Jordanian journalist that Iran’s operations against al Qaeda had “confused us and aborted 75 percent of our plan.” The arrests included “up to 80 percent” of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s group, he said, and those who had not been swept up were forced to leave for Iraq.
In further negotiations with the Bush administration in May 2003, Iran again offered to turn over the senior al Qaeda detainees to the United States in return for the MEK captured by US forces in Iraq. The Bush administration again refused the offer.
By 2005, a “senior US intelligence official” was publicly admitting that 20 to 25 top al Qaeda leaders were in detention in Iran and that they were “not able to do much of anything.”
In 2008, one US official told ABC news that administration officials had not been raising the al Qaeda issue publicly, because “they believe Iran has largely kept the al Qaeda operatives under control since 2003, limiting their ability to travel and communicate.”
But in the world of the right-wing Islam-hating extremists and others pushing for confrontation with Iran, reality is no obstacle to spinning tales of secret Iranian assistance to al Qaeda.
Dr Chris Busby interviewed 20th December 2011 by Theo Chalmers on Sky TV’s “One Step Beyond” about Fallujah, Fukushima and the cover-ups over the health effects of exposure to radioactivity
French boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners have called on their government to abandon a €318 million deal to buy Heron TP drones from Israel Aircraft Industries. Meanwhile, senior members of France’s Senate have called publicly for the country to abandon the purchase on grounds that the Israeli drones are unsuited to the needs of the armed forces.
Campaign against Israeli drones
A petition launched by Campagne BDS France urging the government to end the deal and calling for an immediate military embargo on Israel has already garnered more than 1300 signatures. The text states:
No to the purchase by France of 318 million euros worth of Israeli drones!
An immediate military embargo against Israel!
On 20 July the French Ministry of Defence took the scandalous decision to buy from Israel more than 318 million euros worth of war weapons. When this outlaw state is guilty, day after day, of grave violations of international law, when there is a climate of austerity, when there are calls for demilitarization and for sanctions against Israel’s impunity, we are outraged by the disgraceful choice made by the Ministry of Defence.
Israel has a well established record of violations of international law and human rights, on display in its various military operations and aggressive attacks, incursions and occupations of Palestinian territories and other Arab countries, in its abusive and indiscriminate use of force and in the deliberate targeting of civilians and infrastructure. All of which result in a ceaseless repetition of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The BDS French Campaign joins the Palestinian BNC in calling for an immediate military embargo against Israel, similar to that imposed upon South Africa in the past. We demand the immediate cancellation of the contract to purchase drones from Israel.
Decision to buy Israeli drones “surprises” French Senate
Earlier this month, the vice-chairs of the foreign affairs and defence and armed forces committees of the French Senate wrote an open letter in Le Monde strongly opposing the decision. The four senators, two from President Nicholas Sarkozy’s UMP party and two from the Socialist opposition, wrote (my translation):
On July 20, the Minister of Defence, Gérard Longuet, chose to equip our forces with the Heron TP, manufactured by the Israeli company IAI [Israel Aircraft Industries] and imported by Dassault. This decision caused surprise in the Senate. When a state undertakes to equip its forces it must be done impartially, in a rational, that is to say, measurable manner: at what price, what specifications, and what industrial sovereignty? If possible it must reconcile all these objectives, otherwise it must prioritize the security of its soldiers and the effectiveness of its armed forces.
The senators added that the Israeli drone was unsuited to French needs. The Heron TP, they wrote, is “big, slow and vulnerable in degraded weather conditions.” They advocated purchasing the US-made Reaper drone instead.
Their support for the Reaper underscores that the senators, while strongly opposing the Israeli drone, did not raise any ethical concerns about the purchase. Their opposition – according to their words – is strictly on technical merit.
Nonetheless, with a significant core of opposition to buying from Israel already in place it may well be easier for BDS campaigners to bring more public pressure to abandon the deal.
French campaign follows in Finland’s footsteps
Last July, the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) came out publicly in support of an arms embargo on Israel and called for an end to “all military-related training and consultancies with the Israeli army, military companies and academic research institutions.”
Although overall appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are down slightly this year from Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) remains a consistent winner in the battle of the budget.
In the FY 2012 consolidated spending act (Public Law 112-074) signed by President Barack Obama last Friday, TSA received about $7.85 billion, up $153 million from 2011. TSA and US Customs and Border Protection, perhaps two of the three most visible DHS agencies along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both received increases although the total DHS budget dropped to $39.6 billion in base discretionary funding in FY 2012, down about $111 million from last year.
The TSA funding included several hundred million dollars for 250 additional advanced imaging technology (AIT) devices — the whole body imagers that scan air travelers for any contraband concealed on their bodies. The additional funding came from a congressional conference committee that approved TSA plans to move forward with deployment of the AIT machines despite a House vote on June 2 on a spending bill that would have denied TSA the money for the devices.
House Republicans included the restriction in their bill not out of a sense that the devices are too intrusive — an idea championed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — but rather out of an estimation from Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, that TSA could withstand a cut in funding for the devices while they adjust to fielding and upgrading previously funded devices, which sometimes stood unmanned at US airports in 2011 due to a lack of staff to operate them.
The Senate sought to sustain funding for the AIT devices in a DHS appropriations bill introduced in September, and the Senate view clearly carried the day in conference committee negotiations between the two chambers.
In addition to the AIT devices, TSA received funds for 140 new behavior detection officers, 12 additional multi-modal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams, 20 additional explosives detection canine teams, and 53 air cargo security staffers.
The 2012 consolidated spending law directed TSA to report on its strategy for achieving 100 percent screening of US-bound international air cargo, a requirement set by the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (PL 110-53).
TSA Administrator John Pistole has been emphasizing TSA’s commitment to screening high-risk international air cargo in recent months despite an assurance that the agency would achieve 100 percent screening in the near future. Pistole recently revised his estimates to say TSA would not achieve 100 percent screening of US-bound international cargo for several years. The agency met a deadline to screen 100 percent of domestic air cargo in 2008.
The law further told TSA to produce a five-year strategic investment plan for passenger-screening technology as well as spending plans for checked baggage equipment, checkpoint security technology and air cargo security.
TSA also must improve training and outreach to meet the needs of populations that face unique screening challenges such as some disabled travelers, comply with privacy and civil liberties laws when screening passengers, and review its complaint process.
The consolidated spending law allocated TSA a total budget of $7.85 billion but about 2.3 billion in fees such as the aviation security fee offsets some of that funding.
The base funding of roughly $5.5 billion provided $4.1 billion for screening operations with $543 million specifically funding explosives detection systems. It also funded about $205 million for checkpoint support and $1.1 billion for aviation security direction and enforcement.
Moreover, a major initiative to upgrade the Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing system throughout TSA received about $164 million for the modernization and consolidation of the agency’s credentialing efforts.
TSA also got about $1 billion for transportation security support and intelligence collection activities and another $966 million for the Federal Air Marshal Service.
The spending bill restricted TSA to hiring no more than 46,000 full-time transportation security officers or airport screeners or the part-time equivalent of that number.