‘Defense’ Secretary Leon Panetta
One of the big arguments against the Israel lobby theory is that our Middle East policy is driven by the military industrial complex. And so the Iraq war was a war for oil and military spending. This cynical materialist theory (spawned by Eisenhower in ’61) dismisses my cynical theory of history (spawned by realists in 2006), which turns on ideology and religion– that many of the war’s proponents wanted to make Israel safer by invading a country that had attacked Israel.
Well when I was in Cairo recently Issandr El Amrani, who largely agrees with me, said that if American corporate interests really were driving policy in the region, why not have a robust arms race among all the feuding countries there? Why not foster an arms race between Israel and Iran and Egypt– that would be great for profits! End the treaty between Israel and Egypt, let Egypt militarize itself even more…
But we don’t foster an arms race. And Leon Panetta explicitly does not want an arms race. From the Defense Secretary’s conversation with Kenneth Pollack at the Saban Forum Friday:
MR. POLLACK: …What do you think the consequences of Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would be and why do you – (inaudible)?
SEC. PANETTA:… once Iran gets a nuclear weapon, then they’re not – you will have an arms race in the Middle East. What’s to stop Saudi Arabia from getting a nuclear weapon? What’s to stop other countries from getting nuclear weapons in that part of the world? Suddenly we have an escalation of these horrible weapons that, you know, I think create even greater devastation in the Middle East.
So a key for all of us – for all of us is to work together – together – to ensure that that does not happen. We have made good progress in these efforts. We continue to make good progress in these efforts. That’s where we ought to continue to put our pressures, our efforts, our diplomatic, our economic, experts working together to make sure that that does not happen.
Village council head Fawzi Shehadeh said six residents of Yitzhar settlement attacked Salim Jamil Shehadeh near the local high school and took him away in a car. The settlers stole all 50 of his sheep, the councilor added.
Palestinian Authority settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas told Ma’an the government was conducting intensive negotiations with Israeli officials to secure the shepherd’s release.
On Saturday, settlers from Itamar violently assaulted elderly shepherd Najih Abdul-Qadir as he worked on his land east of Nablus, Doughlas said.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians in the same territory.
All settlements are considered illegal under international law.
French multinational Veolia is known for its involvement in several Israeli colonization projects in the occupied West Bank. In a public relations effort to sell a supposed commitment to peace, the company has lend its name to the Veolia Desert Challenge, an Israeli biking event held in the Naqab on 2 December.
This year’s event included a “The Race for Peace”. The organizers were delighted to invite one hundred Palestinians from the West Bank to participate and to “create eye level encounters,” they write on the English page of the website. On the pages in Arabic and Hebrew it is written that this is the first time that Palestinians from the West Bank will participate in the Veolia Desert Challenge. “We believe that Sport is yet another way to bring people together, reconcile and break down barriers. We invite you, Arabs & Jews, to come and enjoy a sporting experience in the great outdoors.”
The organizers target Palestinians with a web page in Arabic where they announce that participation is open to everybody from the West Bank, both sexes, if older than 14 years. Participation is free of charge for Palestinians, including travel costs from all governorates of the West Bank.
On the website page in Hebrew there is the remark “Pay attention – for some of the Palestinian participants it is the first time they are meeting with Israelis, we’d be happy if you arrive early morning to welcome them.” This is a bizarre statement considering how the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank will have interacted with Israeli soldiers at any of Israel’s hundreds of checkpoints. It also ignores the fact that more than 500,000 Israelis illegally live on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Veolia’s ignorant execs would do well to read the Fact sheet of November 2011 from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory which documents the aggressive behavior of settlers towards the indigenous Palestinians:
- The weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage has increased by 40% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 165% compared to 2009
- In 2011 three Palestinians have been killed and 167 injured by Israeli settlers. In addition, one Palestinian has been killed and 101 injured, by Israeli soldiers during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians
- OCHA has identified over 80 communities with a combined population of nearly 250,000 Palestinians vulnerable to settler violence, including 76,000 who are at high-risk
Meanwhile, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem writes about the checkpoints:
Israel’s severe restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the West Bank are enforced by a system of fixed checkpoints, surprise flying checkpoints, physical obstructions, roads on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel, and gates along the Separation Barrier. The restrictions enable Israel to control Palestinian movement throughout the West Bank as suits its interests, in a sweeping breach of Palestinians’ rights.
Prolonged checks and searches at some of the checkpoints, humiliating treatment by soldiers, and long lines deter Palestinian drivers from using some of the roads still open to their use. As a result, Palestinian movement on some of the main roads in the West Bank has dropped, and these roads are used almost exclusively by settlers.
There will be hardly a Palestinian from the West Bank, if any, who has not met Israelis. For example, those who managed to participate in the Veolia Desert Peace Race had to ask Israeli officials for a permit to enter into Israel in order to be able to travel to the Naqab. If they received a permit in time, the next hurdle would be the Israeli checkpoints on their way. Israeli soldiers would have studied the papers and decided if they could pass…. I wonder how many Palestinians made it to the Veolia Desert Challenge Race for Peace.
Supporting a “the Race for Peace” in the Naqab is not the way to support peace in the Middle East. A better way for Veolia would be to end immediately its involvement in all Israeli activities in the occupied West Bank.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung says abandoned explosives and land mines planted decades ago during the Vietnam War, have claimed the lives of more than 42,000 people.
The premier also added that since the end of the war in 1975, more than 62,000 Vietnamese people have also been injured as a result of unexploded bombs and mines, the Associated Press reported.
“The war’s painful legacy, which includes hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs and unexploded ordnance, continues to cause painful casualties every day,” he said during a United Nations-sponsored conference on Monday.
Dung said that his country needed US $500 million in domestic and international funds in order to clear the remaining bombs and mines.
The US used an estimated 16 million tons of bombs and ammunition while allied with the former South Vietnamese government.
During the conference, US Ambassador David Shear added that the US has provided Vietnam with US $62 million in aid to cope with the consequences of the war, which has “helped build the mutual trust and understanding between the U.S. and Vietnam that has allowed our bilateral relationship to flourish.”
According to Vietnam’s vice Labor Minister Bui Hong Linh, explosives remain on nearly 16 million acres of land, which is more than one-fifth of the country’s territories. This is while only five percent of the contaminated area has been cleared.
Experts say that the clearing process in Vietnam will take up to hundreds of years.
The Obama Regime Has No Constitutional Scruples
During an interview with the Russian news network RT on December 1, I said that the US Constitution had been shredded by the failure of the US Senate to protect American citizens from the detainee amendment sponsored by Republican John McCain and Democrat Carl Levin to the Defense Authorization Bill. The amendment permits indefinite detention of US citizens by the US military. I also gave my opinion that the fact that all but two Republican members of the Senate had voted to strip American citizens of their constitutional protections and of the protection of the Posse Comitatus Act indicated that the Republican Party had degenerated into a Gestapo Party.
These conclusions are self-evident, and I stand by them.
However, I jumped to conclusions when I implied that the Obama regime opposes military detention on constitutional grounds. Dahlia Lithwick reported in a Slate article that the entire Obama regime opposed the military detention provision in the McCain/Levin amendment. Lithwick wrote: “The secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, the director of the FBI, the CIA director, and the head of the Justice Department’s national security division have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the bill are a bad idea. And the White House continues to say that the president will veto the bill if the detainee provisions are not removed.”
I checked the URLs that Lithwick supplied. It is clear that the Obama regime objects to military detention. However, on further reflection I conclude that the Obama regime’s objection to military detention is not rooted in concern for the constitutional rights of American citizens. The regime objects to military detention because the implication of military detention is that detainees are prisoners of war. As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin put it: Should somebody determined “to be a member of an enemy force who has come to this nation or is in this nation to attack us as a member of a foreign enemy, should that person be treated according to the laws of war? The answer is yes.”
Detainees treated according to the laws of war have the protections of the Geneva Conventions. They cannot be tortured. The Obama regime opposes military detention, because detainees would have some rights. These rights would interfere with the regime’s ability to send detainees to CIA torture prisons overseas. This is what the Obama regime means when it says that the requirement of military detention denies the regime “flexibility.”
The Bush/Obama regimes have evaded the Geneva Conventions by declaring that detainees are not POWs, but “enemy combatants,” “terrorists,” or some other designation that removes all accountability from the US government for their treatment.
By requiring military detention of the captured, Congress is undoing all the maneuvering that two regimes have accomplished in removing POW status from detainees.
A careful reading of the Obama regime’s objections to military detention supports this conclusion. The November 17 letter to the Senate from the Executive Office of the President says that the Obama regime does not want the authority it has under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Public Law 107-40, to be codified. Codification is risky, the regime says. “After a decade of settled jurisprudence on detention authority, Congress must be careful not to open a whole new series of legal questions that will distract from our efforts to protect the country.”
In other words, the regime is saying that under AUMF the executive branch has total discretion as to whom it detains and how it treats detainees. Moreover, as the executive branch has total discretion, no one can find out what the executive branch is doing, who detainees are, or what is being done to them. Codification brings accountability, and the executive branch does not want accountability.
Those who see hope in Obama’s threatened veto have jumped to conclusions if they think the veto is based on constitutional scruples.
Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
QALQILIYA – Israeli forces on Monday demolished a manufacturing facility used to cut stone in Qalqiliya.
Witnesses told Ma’an that various military vehicles and bulldozers arrived at the village of Azzun and destroyed the structure, claiming that it was unlicensed.
Hussain Ghannam, the owner of the stone-cutting plant, said that the structure is located in Area C and has been there since 2008. The manufacturing facility was the source of income for eight families, he told Ma’an.
The Israeli civil administration had asked Ghannam to produce a title deed for the property and he was working with lawyers to have one issued.
The decision to destroy his property was completely unexpected, he said.
Area C covers 60 percent of the West Bank with a Palestinian population of about 150,000.
Israel retains military authority and full control over building and planning in Area C: as much as 70 percent of it is inaccessible to Palestinians, classified as Israeli settlement areas, firing zones, or nature reserves.
From 2000 to 2007, the Civil Administration approved just 5 percent of the applications for building permits submitted by Palestinians in Area C.
The Military Court at the Ofer Prison admitted Sunday that Israeli interrogators are using brutal methods to interrogate Palestinian detainees, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported.
PPS stated that the court had to drop all charges against detainee Ayman Hameedah, aged 23, who was detained by the Israeli Army on numerous charges.
The court ruled that it has to drop the charges due to the illegal methods used by the interrogators who tortured and abused his rights for two months at the Asqalan Prison.
The Israeli Prosecution brought seventeen charges against Hameedah, including what was described as “conducting undercover military attacks”, possession of arms, shooting, and attempted murder, the Palestine News and Info Agency, WAFA, reported.
PPS Lawyer, Tareq Barghouthi, managed to refute all Israeli claims against his client and accused the Israeli interrogators of using psychological and physical methods of torture.
The lawyer managed to prove his case after the court listened to defence witnesses, and to Israeli security and police interrogators who tried to justify their acts.
Barghouthi stated that in addition to extreme physical torture and abuse, his client was deprived from sleeping, was not allowed access to prescribed medications he takes due to a nerve disorder and his hands and legs were tied to a chair that was chained to the ground for several days. Furthermore, he received continuous threats of a prolonged interrogation, and they placed him under administrative detention for an extended period without charges.
The interrogators further threatened to arrest and interrogate family members of PPS lawyer Barghouthi, and even brought his brother in for interrogation. His lawyer was not allowed to visit him for forty days.
It seems that Iran has acquired a U.S. stealth drone which was illegally flying within its airspace.
A secret U.S. surveillance drone that went missing last week in western Afghanistan appears to have crashed in Iran, in what may be the first case of such an aircraft ending up in the hands of an adversary.Iran’s news agencies asserted that the nation’s defense forces brought down the drone, which the Iranian reports said was an RQ-170 stealth aircraft. It is designed to penetrate enemy air defenses that could see and possibly shoot down less-sophisticated Predator and Reaper drones.
U.S. officials acknowledged Sunday that a drone had been lost near the Iranian border, but they declined to say what kind of aircraft was missing.
The first reports of the drone crash came from Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency. “Iran’s army has downed an intruding RQ-170 American drone in eastern Iran,” the Arabic-language al-Alam state television network quoted an unnamed source as saying. “The spy drone, which has been downed with little damage, was seized by the armed forces.”
Reuters wrote that a U.S. official says there is no sign Iran shot down the drone. Of course Iran never claimed that it shot it down so this is a non-denial. Iran just “downed” the drone by some electronic warfare means.
The question now is “How did they do it?” Here are my speculative ideas on that.
As this is a stealth drone detecting it is the first problem. A usual monostatic radar where the emitter of the radar beam and the receiver which catches the echo from the airplane are in the same place would not find the drone. The drone’s form and its echo reducing coating would scatter the beam too much.
But by using bistatic radar where the emitter is separated from the receiver(s) by a distance that is comparable to the expected target distance even stealthy flying objects can be detected.
Detection by electronic means is also possible if the drone is receiving and sending information via its satellite link and not just silently following a preprogrammed flightpath. While the signal from the drone to the satellite is sent in a highly directional beam, a plane equipped with the necessary radios flying above the drone and near the line of sight between the satellite and the drone should be able to locate it. If the drone used its own radar to “look around” the recently delivered Russian Avtobaza “anti-stealth” system will likely have detected it.
The Iranians say it did not shoot the drone down but “downed” it with little damage. I think they may have actually landed it.
This RQ-170 drone type became known as the “Beast of Kandahar” when it was first observed there four years ago. Flying U.S. stealth drones in Afghanistan is obvioulsy necessary to escape the Taliban’s radars (not). The drone is quite big with an estimated wingspan of 65 feet (20m) to 90 feet (27m) and a takeoff weight of some 10,000 lbs.
When the drone is in the air it is controlled via a satellite link from a remote operating station. But during start and landing the drone is piloted via line-of-sight radio by an operator near the start or landing field. This is necessary because the remote satellite link has a delay of several hundred milliseconds which is just too much latency to correct wind sheer and other problems during takeoff and landing.
What the Iranians seem to have done is to take over the drone’s line-of-sight control. This after electronically disrupting its satellite link. Disrupting the satellite link alone would not be enough as the drone would then have followed some preprogrammed action like simply flying back to where it came from. With the line-of-sight control active a satellite link disruption would not lead to a preprogrammed abort.
We can reasonably assume that the Iranians have some station near Kandahar Airport that is listening to all military radio traffic there. They had four years to analyze the radio signaling between the ground operator and such drones. Even if that control signal is encrypted pattern recognition, during many flights over four years would have given them enough information to break the code.
Iran will take care to hide the drone well as the U.S. would likely try to destroy it if its location would become known. When the Chinese collected parts of a stealth F-117 stealth plane that was downed in Yugoslavia the U.S. bombed their embassy in Belgrade.
Having acquired an only slightly damaged state of the art stealth drone Iran will be able to copy a lot of its technology as well as to find new measures against such drones. There will also bee a lot of interest from other sides into this technology. We can bet that the military attaches from the Russian, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and other embassies are already queuing up in the Iranian Defense Ministry and ready to make some very lucrative offers.
Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone
The Los Angeles Times reports:
A drone that Iranian officials claimed to have shot down may be an unarmed U.S. reconnaissance aircraft that went missing over western Afghanistan late last week, according to U.S.-led forces in that country.
“The operators of the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status,” NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said in a statement.
Iranian media reported Sunday that the country’s armed forces had shot down a U.S. drone that they said violated Iranian airspace along the eastern border. Iran borders Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east.
An Iranian military official quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency said the aircraft suffered minor damage and was in the possession of the armed forces. He identified the aircraft as an “RQ170″ type drone and said Iranian forces were “fully ready to counter any aggression.”
When the existence of the RQ-170 first entered the public domain after it was photographed in Afghanistan, it quickly got dubbed the “Beast of Kandahar.”
As a highly classified stealth aircraft the question was: why would the US be flying a drone designed to evade radar when the Taliban have no radar? Speculation suggested that its areas of operation were more likely over Pakistan and perhaps spying on nuclear facilities in Iran.
In May this year the Washington Post reported that this aircraft had indeed been used to “fly dozens of secret missions deep into Pakistani airspace and monitor the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed.”
So how did the operators manage to lose such valuable piece of equipment last week? Someone fell asleep at the wheel? Very unlikely during such a critical intelligence operation. A technical malfunction? Maybe, but in such an event it would seem more likely that the aircraft would have crashed and been destroyed.
Another possibility is that “lost control” is another way of saying hijacked. In other words, U.S. remote pilots lost control as Iranians took control.
There may be a connection with another drone story — this one about a drone that Israel lost.
Late last month, Richard Silverstein “revealed” that an Israeli drone brought down over Southern Lebanon by Hezbollah had been booby-trapped and later unwittingly taken to a weapons depot where it was remotely detonated. It was a story so implausible that it seemed like Israeli intelligence could only feed it to a scoop-hungry blogger since most journalists simply wouldn’t take it seriously.
If the story was indeed an Israeli fabrication then it was probably concocted in order to cover up a much more important story: that Hezbollah has managed to refine its tools of electronic warfare to a point that puts in jeopardy all of Israel’s drone missions over Lebanon.
If that was the case this would have serious consequences since it is widely assumed that in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, reprisal attacks on Israel from Lebanon would swiftly follow. In such a situation, Israel could not afford to have lost one of its most valuable intelligence gathering tools — the means on which it might depend to prevent missile strikes on Tel Aviv.
In other words, if Israel’s ability to defend itself from attacks from Lebanon has been significantly degraded, it might need to be a bit more cautious about threatening to attack Iran.
Israel is flying less sophisticated drones than the RQ-170, but even so, whatever skills Hezbollah has been acquiring in its counter-drone operations it has very likely been sharing with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Might this provide part of the explanation about how the U.S. lost and Iran found a drone that supposedly went “missing”?