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Azerbaijan Hub for Mossad’s Assassination & Espionage Operations against Iran

To-Be-NATO Ally Azerbaijan Proves its NATO-Worthiness

By Sibel Edmonds | Boiling Frogs Post |February 12, 2012

Today Iran’s foreign ministry summoned Azerbaijan’s ambassador to rebuke him for Azerbaijan’s alleged link to Mossad operations against the Iranian government. Earlier today, the London Times reported that Israel’s Mossad has been using Azerbaijan as a hub to spy on the Islamic Republic, citing testimony from a still- anonymous Mossad agent.

“Following the movements of the terrorists involved in assassination of Iranian scientists in Azerbaijan republic and the facilities provided to them to go to Tel Aviv in collaboration with Mossad spy network.”

Iran’s Press TV reports further on the meeting:

In a Sunday meeting with Azerbaijan’s envoy to Tehran Javanshir Akhundov, the Director General of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’ Office for Commonwealth and Caucasus Affairs voiced strong objection to the presence and unrestricted activity of Mossad intelligence agents in Azerbaijan, who are involved in espionage activities against the Islamic Republic.

The Times of London reported Saturday, citing testimony from an anonymous Mossad agent active in Azerbaijan referred to only as Shimon,

“This is ground zero for intelligence work,” Shimon told the Times. “Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country.”

            …

Last month Boiling Frogs Post broke the newly brewing story-line in the war propaganda against Iran involving an alleged Iranian terror plot in Azerbaijan, and had a follow up on the emerging ‘alleged’ details in the ‘alleged’ plot claiming Israeli diplomats and religious figures were the intended targets of the alleged Iranian assassination plot. We also provided analysis on the mainstream media spin on these developments here, and emphasized the timing and way-too-familiar false flag quality of the alleged plot:

While the pressure and the venues of attacks on Iran have been growing and escalating- think nuclear arms development accusations, meddling in Iraq accusations, alleged assassination attempt against Saudi Diplomat in the US accusations …, we suddenly get a brand new allegation accusing Iran of plotting a terror act in Azerbaijan. Not only that, the targets of this alleged terror plot happen to be none other than Israel. If that doesn’t give you pause, make it a long pause, followed by firm skepticism, well, your mental faculties may be in need of a serious check-up followed by a thorough tune-up.

We were the first site in the US to break and cover the story last month. We will continue our coverage and keep you posted.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Azerbaijan Hub for Mossad’s Assassination & Espionage Operations against Iran

NGO Monitor declares terminology used by Israel’s Danny Ayalon to be “anti-Semitic”

By Ben White – The Electronic Intifada – 02/13/2012

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, recently reported back on her visit to Palestine/Israel — and the conclusions are no surprise for anyone familiar with Israeli apartheid.

Rolnik writes that “Israel’s land and planning regime has discriminated against certain groups on the basis of their ethnic origin,” noting Israel’s “frontiers of dispossession” where the state implements “a strategy of Judaisation and control of the territory.”

For her use of the term “Judaization,” Rolink earned the drummed-up outrage of right-wing pressure group NGO Monitor, which screamed “anti-Semitism” and demanded her resignation. Claiming the term “originated with Arab rejectionists” and is “promoted by fringe [NGOs]”, the group called Judaization “an anti-Jewish racist term which suggests that the presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable”.

One person who will have been worried to read NGO Monitor’s press release is Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who can only hope that the lobby groups’ keen body of researchers never alight on his own declaration that “the focus for today is to Judaize the Negev and the Galilee”.

Joking aside, NGO Monitor’s ridiculous reaction is either disingenuous or ignorant, since the term ‘Judaization’ is common currency for Israeli academics and politicians to refer to policies aimed at boosting the Jewish population in areas deemed to have ‘too high’ a proportion of Palestinians.

These policies of land confiscation and settlement are not new. As Professor Hillel Cohen, of the Hebrew University, put it, “the project of ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ commenced when the state was founded and has continued in various guises to the present day”.

Another Israeli academic, Dr Haim Yacobi of Ben-Gurion University, has written how “the Judaization project is driven by the Zionist premise that Israel is a territory and a state that ‘belongs’ to, and only to, the Jewish people.”

Like Danny Ayalon, other Israeli public officials speak of this ‘demographic’ struggle – such as Rabbi Dov Lior’s call for the public to act to “Judaize“ the town of Nazareth Illit, or the local council head who said, “We want to Judaize the Wadi Ara area…The state wants to put this place in order so that the Arabs won’t rear their heads.”

Thus those who try and say “Judaization” suggests the “presence of Jews is alien and unacceptable” have got it half right, but suffer from that classic Zionist problem: projection.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 2 Comments

Gaza water and sewer infrastructure displaces neighborhood

By Rami Almeghari | The Electronic Intifada | 13 February 2012

Gaza City – “Many of us women and children have gathered here at this mosque, after bulldozers demolished our homes. Unfortunately, those who displaced us are not the Israelis this time, but our own brothers in Gaza,” said an angry Umm Khaled al-Najjar, 50, as she held her grandson.

Al-Najjar and dozens of other women and children from the Hamami coastal neighborhood in western Gaza City took shelter last Wednesday at the mosque on the al-Rashid road after the demolitions of their homes on the orders of the Gaza municipality and the Gaza Lands Authority.

“They attacked our neighborhood early on Wednesday morning,” al-Najjar told The Electronic Intifada. “A contingent of police including female officers stormed the home and I fainted after the police hit my son in his back. Believe me, what happened is similar to Israeli actions against us for the past four decades, it is unbelievable, unbelievable.” The interview took place on Wednesday afternoon, as bulldozers were still flattening the area.

Abdullah Miqdad is another area resident. An elderly man, he was sitting on the road with many other men from the same demolished neighborhood. Anger, sadness and depression were drawn on the face of Miqdad and his neighbors, as the loud roar of the bulldozers could be heard in the background.

“I am the head of an eight member family and I recall that my father and I, when I was a child, were forced out of the Palestinian town of Hamama back in 1948, when Israeli occupation forces expelled us all from Palestine,” Miqdad said. “I wonder why they have done this excessive thing to us.”

Adel Abu Shiail owned a small grocery shop and house in the area. Both were victims of the bulldozers. “What happened to us has let our tears flow,” Abu Shiail said. “Yes, I cried, for this was my home for many years. I cried for the shop that was my main source of income for me and my five daughters. Where should we go, what should we do now?”

Abu Shiail said that he used to work in Israel, but that became impossible after 2000 due to tightened closures and the store had been his main sustenance.

Local fisherman and resident Ahmad Abu Samaan expressed the shock that many of his neighbors felt: “We never expected that these people, who must be our national authority, would even dare to attack us so brutally and force us out of our homes in which we lived for decades. Why did they do it? Why?”

Official explanations

Gaza authorities say the demolitions are necessary to implement a major traffic improvement project.

At the Gaza municipality building in Gaza City, those responsible for the demolitions were more than happy to provide their own explanation of what was going on.

“We in the municipality have rarely executed such major projects in the coastal city. This is due to the fact that the Israeli blockade of Gaza as well as the frequent Israeli army attacks on the region prevented us doing so,” Hatem al-Sheikh Khaleil, an engineer, said, “This is the first time that we embark on such a large-scale bulldozing as we are going to start a major infrastructure project.”

Khaleil said the project — to widen the 40 kilometer al-Rashid coastal road and install a sewage and water network in the coastal area of western Gaza City — was in cooperation with the Gaza-based Lands Authority and the Palestine Telecommunication Company, under a German grant of 11 million ($14.5 million).

The al-Rashid coastal road is one of two main roads in the Gaza Strip and much of the traffic here relies on it, especially in summer time. The road is too narrow to absorb the traffic of 1.6 million residents of the tiny coastal territory, according to municipal officials in Gaza.

“For the past six months we have been trying to kick off this vital infrastructure project. It is true that Gaza needs a lot of repair from the great damage that the region has suffered due to the Israeli blockade and attacks. So it is also imperative that we start such an internationally-funded project,” Khaleil added.

Over the past five years, the Gaza authorities have been unable to commence reconstruction projects across the coastal enclave due to continued lack of raw materials, caused by the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This is the first time since the blockade that Palestinians in Gaza are able to execute major infrastructure projects.

Compensation

The Palestinian Lands Authority in Gaza told the Electronic Intifada that the fifty displaced families will be transferred to government-owned lands in southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

“For the past six months, the Lands Authority sent out several notices to these families to vacate their homes ahead of demolitions,” Amal Shamali, a spokesperson for the Lands Authority said.

“We negotiated with representatives of the families over a land swap in the northern Gaza Strip and near the beach also. The chief of the Lands Authority himself went along with representatives of the families to the Attatra area, but later they refused our offer,” she added.

According to the Lands Authority, the targeted Hamami neighborhood has always been government-owned land and therefore, from an official point of view, the residents were squatters.

“On 17 January, the Hamas-led cabinet in Gaza approved compensation to the residents of the Hamami neighborhood, on which the expansion of the road and the sewage water network will be implemented. The government allocated urgent assistance of $1,500 for each displaced family to rent a home for six months. Also, under the land swap, each family will get a piece of land from 150 square meters to 300 square meters at a discounted price, to be paid by monthly installments for a period of ten years,” Shamali said.

Yet such arrangements were not on the minds of the shocked residents of the now demolished neighborhood.

“At least they should have notified us about the demolitions a few days ago, not come overnight abruptly and start bulldozing our homes. This is so cruel by a government that is supposed to be our own Palestinian national government,” said Adel Abu Shiail, angrily pointing his finger at a bulldozer that had just demolished his store.

The displaced families now face an uncertain future, far from the homes in which many have lived for 63 years.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

~

“Alternative” media sources, including Pacifica radio, reported this story without providing the context shown above under the heading “official explanation”.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Do TV Networks ‘Practice’ for War?

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 02/13/2012

Alexander Cockburn’s latest piece at CounterPunch (2/10/12) included this from a tipster:

I was visiting ABC News the other day to see a friend who works on graphics. When I went to his room, he showed me all the graphics he was making in anticipation of the Israeli attack on Iran; not just maps, but flight patterns, trajectories and 3-D models of U.S. aircraft carrier fleets.

But what was most disturbing–was that ABC, and presumably other networks, have been rehearsing these scenarios for over two weeks, with newscasters and retired generals in front of maps talking about missiles and delivery systems, and at their newsdesks-–the screens are emblazoned with “This Is a Drill” to assure they don’t go out on air (like War of the Worlds).

Then reports of counter-attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon with rockets on Israeli cities–it was mind-numbing. Very disturbing–when pre-visualization becomes real.

Does that kind of thing actually happen? Well, yeah.

CBS “practiced” covering a U.S. bombing of Iraq back in 1998–and the footage was apparently fed to a satellite (L.A. Times, 2/20/98):

CBS jumped the gun Friday on a possible U.S. attack on Iraq: The network inadvertently transmitted a practice news report via satellite that could be picked up by television stations and viewers with special equipment.

To try out new graphics for combat coverage in the event the U.S. goes forward with the threatened bombing of Iraq, CBS anchor Dan Rather was rehearsing with Pentagon correspondent David Martin over a closed line between CBS‘s New York headquarters and its Washington news bureau. The report was mistakenly sent up to a communications satellite.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Comments Off on Do TV Networks ‘Practice’ for War?

US federal agencies seek software to monitor social media

Press TV – February 13, 2012

US government agencies are looking for digital tools that can extract information from social media to predict everything from future terrorist attacks to foreign uprisings.

According to requests posted online, US federal law enforcement agencies are looking for potential contractors to build software that can monitor the entire universe of social media.

The Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Federal Bureau of Investigation are among US agencies that are looking for ways to automate the process of identifying emerging threats and upheavals from social websites.

“Social media has emerged to be the first instance of communication about a crisis, trumping traditional first responders that included police, firefighters, EMT, and journalists,” the FBI wrote in its request.

“Social media is rivaling 911 services in crisis response and reporting,” the request added.

The proposals have raised privacy concerns among advocates who worry that such monitoring efforts could breach user’s privacy.

The FBI says their proposed system is only meant to monitor publicly available information and words that relate to criminal activities.

The software sought by the Defense Department would track information posted by the social media to identify threats that could affect US soldiers in the battlefield.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Decoding the Pentagon’s Budget Numbers

By WINSLOW T. WHEELER | CounterPunch | February 10, 2012

This Monday, February 13, the Pentagon will release the details of its fiscal year 2013 budget.  The press, congressional staff and think tank-types go through an annual routine, scrambling to get out their take on the numbers and some selected issues.  Some of these efforts are quite predictable; this year we will surely hear about –

•   how much growth or cuts are in the budget, depending on which baseline people select;

•   what is the spending for the F-35, or the next generation bomber, or whatever hardware is the focus of attention;

•   how much will US bases in Europe lose to help pay for the “pivot” toward Asia, and

•   what is the administration going to do about sequestration next year?

These and more clever questions are sure to be asked.  But if this year is like the past, the numbers, specifically those in the Pentagon’s press release, will be the wrong ones, and many of the important and fundamental issues will be distorted or ignored.

What follows is an effort to help people through the maze.

This year, the Defense Department has already released the top line numbers for 2013 and the next four years.  They are at http://www.defense.gov/news/Fact_Sheet_Budget.pdf.  But, as usual, they are incomplete-even for knowing the top line.  They are discretionary spending (annual appropriations) and do not include mandatory spending (entitlement programs) in the DOD budget.  The latter amount is only a few billion dollars (peanuts in DOD budget terms), but that only starts the list of missing numbers.

To identify defense spending not in the Pentagon budget you also need to know what the Department of Energy is spending for nuclear weapons, and what other agencies are spending for the National Defense Stockpile, the Selective Service and other activities that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) calls “Defense-related activities” in the “National Defense” budget function.

You probably will not find these in the Pentagon’s press materials because they frequently aren’t there.  You can always find them at the OMB website, which will post its materials at some point Monday morning.  But you’ll need to know just where to find the complete and accurate number display on the defense budget, lest you get lost in the blizzard of tables and tomes that OMB releases on budget day.  At the OMB website, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb, hunt down a document in the 2013 budget materials called “Analytical Perspectives;” then go to the “Supplemental Materials” and find a table titled “Policy Budget Authority and Outlays by Function, Category, and Program.” For the past two years, it’s been numbered Table 32-1.  All the National Defense spending categories are there: DOD, DOE/Nuclear, the other cats and dogs, and both discretionary and mandatory spending are listed.  They are right at the top of this long table; “National Defense,” or budget function 050, is the first display.  Get those numbers straight, and for completeness and accuracy you will be head and shoulders above the herd using just the Pentagon press release.  There you can also find what the actual numbers were for 2011 and 2012, which given the chaos in Congress, has not been easy to sort out.

Getting to table 32-1 in Analytical Perspectives can be tricky.  For example for 2012, it is not listed in the Table of Contents to “Analytical Perspectives,” and the “Supplemental Materials” for the entire budget did not show it; you want the “Supplemental Materials” for “Analytical Perspectives.”  Also, in the past, there have been other tables labeled 32-2 or something close, but they show the wrong numbers.  You don’t want them; you want “Policy Budget Authority and Outlays by Function, Category, and Program,” and it should, repeat should, be numbered 32-1, unless OMB has messed around with its formatting for 2013.  Perplexing?  Yup.

Next, you might want to assess national security spending not in the Pentagon or even the “National Defense” budget. In what should be Table 32-1 you can also find the budgets for Veterans Affairs (function 700) for additional costs of past and current wars, and International Affairs (150) for military and economic aid and other State Department programs integral to national security spending.

You can also find some spending for military retirement and DOD health care that is not in the National Defense budget function.  They, however, are hard to tease out. You can find them if you word search in the pdf version of Table 32-1, especially in functions 550, 600 and 900 for “military retirement” and “DOD Retiree Health Care.” But they are a thicket of positive and negative numbers and tricky to net out to an accurate number.  Perhaps it is best to simply be aware that they are there and that they can amount to low double digits of billions of dollars.  Ask your favorite budget geek what they net out to.  If he or she can’t sort it out in a day or two, get a new budget geek.

You still do not have all the defense related numbers.  You don’t have the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Go back to the “Supplemental Materials” for “Analytical Perspectives.”  There find “Appendix — Homeland Security Mission Funding by Agency and Budget Account” or “Table 33-1.”  (At least that’s what they were labeled for 2012.) They should list the budget for DHS which is embedded inside the various budget functions in Table 32-1.  But be careful; make sure you are not double counting any homeland security funding that shows up in both the National Defense budget function or 150 or 700 and the DHS budget.  There should be tables that help you avoid the double counting.

Don’t look for any intelligence community spending; it’s $80 billion, give or take, but it’s not shown; it’s classified and embedded inside the 050 numbers.  Don’t try to add anything for intel; if you do, you will be double counting about $80 billion.

Perhaps you will decide to include the defense share of the national debt, specifically the share of the interest payment in 2013 for the debt that can be attributed to DOD, or National Defense, or all of the above for 2013.  Find the total interest payment in function 900 and make your calculation.

Add it all up and you will get about $1 trillion, very probably more; if you don’t get that high, you are missing something-something big.

Next you may want to make comparisons to show where defense spending is headed.  Some will compare this defense budget to previous plans, showing a gigantic reduction.  Some will compare it to last year’s spending, showing a tiny reduction-basically a flat budget.  One comparison is mostly phony; one is not.  (Hint: Last year I planned to win the lottery.  I didn’t; ergo, my flat salary this year means a gigantic pay cut.)

If you want to go viral on phoniness, compare contemporary spending to historic defense spending using percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the measure.  That way you can pretend the big recent increases are big decreases, and more huge increases should be oh-so affordable.  Avoid this gimmick, especially those who use it. Apply that thought also to people who use the same gimmick for non-defense spending.

Finished with the numbers?  Why not address some of the long term, fundamentally important (and disturbing) trends in US defense spending?  Two chapters in the anthology “The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It” address such things.  One is by Chuck Spinney, and I think it’s an important exposition.  Find it at http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/01-spinney-w-covers.pdf.  The other expands on DOD’s habitual misdirection on numbers and briefly addresses the shrinking and aging that are continuing in our combat forces and their equipment.  I wrote that one; find it at http://pogoarchives.org/labyrinth/08-wheeler-w-covers.pdf.  I am sending you this piece with enough time before budget day on Monday to read those short essays and to conjure up your own take on what they mean for questions you should be asking Monday.

I hope this helps.  Have fun on budget day.

Winslow T. Wheeler is director of the Straus Military Reform Project and editor of  The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , | Comments Off on Decoding the Pentagon’s Budget Numbers

Army Officer’s Leaked Report Rips Afghan War Success Story

By Gareth Porter | IPS | February 13th, 2012

An analysis by Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, which the U.S. Army has not approved for public release but has leaked to Rolling Stone magazine, provides the most authoritative refutation thus far of the official military narrative of success in the Afghanistan War since the troop surge began in early 2010.

In the 84-page unclassified report, Davis, who returned last fall after his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, attacks the credibility of claims by senior military leaders that the U.S.-NATO war strategy has succeeded in weakening the Taliban insurgent forces and in building Afghan security forces capable of taking primary responsibility for security in the future.

The report, which Davis had submitted to the Army in January for clearance to make it public, was posted on the website of Rolling Stone magazine by journalist Michael Hastings Friday. In a blog for the magazine, Hastings reported that “officials familiar with the situation” had said the Pentagon was “refusing” to release the report, but that it had been making the rounds within the U.S. government, including the White House.

Hastings wrote that he had obtained it from a U.S. government official.

Contacted by IPS Friday, Davis would not comment on the publication of the report or its contents.

Writing that he is “no Wikileaks guy Part II”, Davis reveals no classified information in the report. But he has given a classified version of the report, which cites and quotes from dozens of classified documents, to several members of the House and Senate, including both Democrats and Republicans.

“If the public had access to the classified reports,” Davis writes, “they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is true behind the scenes.”

Davis is in a unique position to assess the real situation on the ground in Afghanistan. As a staff officer of the “Rapid Equipping Force”, he traveled more than 9,000 miles to every area where U.S. troop presence was significant and had conversations with more than 250 U.S. soldiers, from privates to division commanders.

The report takes aim at the March 2011 Congressional testimony by Gen. David Petraeus, then the top commander in Afghanistan, and the Defence Department’s April 2011 Report to Congress as either “misleading, significantly skewed or completely inaccurate”.

Davis attacks the claim in both the Petraeus testimony and the DOD report that U.S. and NATO forces had “arrested the insurgents’ momentum” and “reversed it in a number of important areas”.

That claim is belied, Davis argues, by the fact that the number of insurgent attacks, the number of IEDs found and detonated and the number of U.S. troops killed and wounded have all continued to mount since 2009, the last year before the addition of 30,000 U.S. troops and 10,000 NATO troops.

Davis notes that Petraeus and other senior officials of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the U.S.-NATO command in Afghanistan, have boasted of having killed and captured thousands of insurgent leaders and rank and file soldiers, cut insurgent supply routes and found large numbers of weapons caches as well as depriving the insurgents of their main bases of operation since spring 2010.

If these claims were accurate measures of success, Davis writes, after the Taliban had been driven out of their strongholds, “there ought to have been a reduction in violence not a continual, unbroken string of increases.”

In fact, Davis writes, Taliban attacks “continued to rise at almost the same rate it had risen since 2005 all the way through the summer of 2011″ and remained “well above 2009 levels in the second half of 2011″ even though it leveled off or dropped slightly in some places.

Davis notes that total attacks, total number of IEDs and total U.S. casualties in 2011 were 82 percent, 113 percent and 164 percent higher, respectively, than the figures for 2009, the last year before the surge of 30,000 troops. The annual number of U.S. dead and wounded increased from 1,764 in 2009 to 4,662 in 2011.

The veteran Army officer quotes Congressional testimony by Adm. Mike Mullen December 2, 2009 as citing a lesser increase in Taliban attacks in 2009 of 60 percent over the 2008 level as a rationale for a significant increase in U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, implying that the war was being lost.

Davis leaves no doubt about his overall assessment that the U.S. war effort has failed. “Even a cursory observation of key classified reports and metrics,” Davis concludes, “leads overwhelmingly to the conclusion that over the past two years, despite the surge of 30,000 American Soldiers, the insurgent force has gained strength….”

Davis is also scathing in his assessment of the Afghan army and police who have been described as constantly improving and on their way to taking responsibility for fighting the insurgents.

“What I saw first-hand, in virtually every circumstance,” writes Davis, “was a barely functioning organization – often cooperating with the insurgent enemy….”

Both in his longer report and in an article for Armed Forces Journal published online February 5, Davis recounts his experience at an Afghan National Police station in Kunar province in January 2011. Arriving two hours after a Taliban attack on the station, Davis asked the police captain whether he had sent out patrols to find the insurgents.

After the question had been conveyed by the interpreter, Davis recalls, “The captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.”

“No! We don’t go after them,” he quotes the captain as saying. “That would be dangerous!”

According to Davis, U.S. troops who work with Afghan policemen in that province say they “rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints”, allowing the Taliban to “literally run free”.

Describing the overall situation, Davis writes, “(I)n a number of high profile mission opportunities over the past 11 months the ANA (Afghan National Army) and ANP (Afghan National Police) have numerous times run from the battle, run from rumors, or made secret deals with the Taliban.”

The draft posted online notes after that statement that the classified version of the paper has been “redacted”, indicating that Davis provides further details about those “secret deals” in the classified version.

The Army dissenter calls on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to “conduct a bi-partisan investigation into the various charges of deception or dishonesty in this report….” He urges that such a hearing include testimony not only from senior military officials but from mid- and senior-level intelligence analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies.

Both Senate and House Armed Services Committees have exhibited little or no interest in probing behind the official claims of success in Afghanistan. That passive role reflects what many political observers, including some members of Congress, see as cozy relationships among most committee members, military leaders, Pentagon officials and major military contractors.

It remains to be seen whether Davis’s success in raising the issue of misleading claims of success in a front-page New York Times story February 6 and in subsequent television appearances will bring pressure on those committees from other members to hold hearings on whether senior military officials are telling the truth about the situation in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan is brushing off Davis’s critique as having no importance. During a briefing in which he claimed continued steady progress in Afghanistan, Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, dismissed the Davis report as “one person’s view of this”.

~

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Army Officer’s Leaked Report Rips Afghan War Success Story

Road to Damascus… and on to Armageddon?

By DIANA JOHNSTONE | CounterPunch | February 13, 2012

Paris – What if pollsters put this question to citizens of the United States and the European Union:

“Which is more important, ensuring disgruntled Islamists freedom to overthrow the secular regime in Syria, or avoiding World War Three?”

I’ll bet that there might be a majority for avoiding World War III.

But of course, the question is never framed like that.

That would be a “realistic” question, and we Westerners from the heights of our moral superiority have no time for vulgar “realism” in foreign policy (except Ron Paul, crying out in the wilderness of Republican primaries).

Because, in the minds of our political ruling class, the United States has the power to “make reality”, we need pay no attention to the remnants of whatever reality we didn’t invent ourselves.

Our artificial reality is coming into collision with the reality perceived by most or at least much of the rest of the world.  The tenets of these conflicting views of reality are armed to the teeth, including with nuclear weapons capable of leaving the planet to insects.

Theoretically, there is a way to deal with this dangerous situation, which has the potential of leading to World War.  It is called diplomacy.  People capable of grasping unfamiliar ideas and understanding viewpoints other than their own, examine the issues underlying conflict and use their intelligence to work out solutions that may not be ideal but will at least prevent things from getting worse.

There was even an organizational structure created for this: the United Nations.

But the United States has decided that as sole superpower it doesn’t really need to stoop to diplomacy to get what it wants, and the United Nations has been turned into the instrument of US policy. The clearest evidence of this was the failure of the UN Security Council to block the NATO powers’ abuse of the ambiguous and contested Responsibility to Protect (“R2P”) doctrine to overthrow the Libyan government by force.

Early this year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rejoiced that: “The world has embraced the Responsibility to Protect – not because it is easy, but because it is right. We therefore have a moral responsibility to push ahead.”  Morality trumps the basic UN principle of national sovereignty. Ban Ki-moon suggests that pushing ahead with R2P is no less than the “next test of our common humanity”, and announces: “That test is here – in Syria.”

So, the Secretary General of the UN considers the “moral responsibility” of R2P his main guideline to the crisis in Syria.

In case there was any doubt, the Libyan example demonstrated what that means.

A country whose rulers do not belong to the Western club made up of NATO countries, Israel, the emirs of the Gulf states and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, is wracked by opposition demonstrations and armed rebellion, with the mix of the two making it difficult to sort out which is which.  Western mainstream media hasten to tell the story according to a standard template:

The ruler of the country is a “dictator”.  Therefore, the rebels want to get rid of him simply in order to enjoy Western-style democracy.  Therefore, the people must all be on the side of the rebels. Therefore, when the armed forces proceed to repress the armed rebellion, what is happening is that “the dictator is killing his own people”.  Therefore, it is the Responsibility 2 Protect of the international community (i.e. NATO) to help the rebels in order to destroy the country’s armed forces and get rid of (or kill) the dictator.

The happy ending comes when Hillary Clinton can shout gleefully, “We came, we saw, he died!”

Thereupon, the country sinks into chaos, as armed bands rove, prisoners are tortured, women are put in their place, salaries are unpaid, education and social welfare are neglected, but oil is pumped and the West is encouraged by its success to go on to liberate another country.

That at least was the Libyan model.

Except that in the case of Syria, things are more complicated.

Unlike Libya, Syria has a fairly strong army.  Unlike Libya, Syria has a few significant friends in the world. Unlike Libya, Syria is next door to Israel. And above all, the diversity of religious communities within Syria is much greater and more potentially explosive than the tribal divisions of Libya.  The notion that “the people” of Syria are unanimously united in the desire for instant regime change is even more preposterous.

Electoral democracy is a game played on the basis of a social contract, a general consensus to accept the rule that whoever gets the most votes gets to run the country.  But there are societies where that consensus simply does not exist, where distrust is too great between different sectors of the population. That could very well be the case in Syria, where certain minorities, including notably the Christians and Alawites, have reason to fear a Sunni majority that could be led by Islamists who make no secret of their hostility to other religions.  Still, perhaps the time has come to overcome that distrust and build an electoral democracy with safeguards for minorities.  However, the one sure way to set back such a move toward democracy is a civil war, which is certain to revive and exacerbate hatred and distrust between communities.

Last month, at CounterPunch Aisling Byrne called attention to results of a public opinion poll funded by no less than the Qatar Foundation, which cannot be suspected of working for the Assad regime, given the Qatar royal family’s lead position in favor of overthrowing that regime. The key finding was that “while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a specter that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future.”

This indicates a very complex situation.  Syrians want free elections, but they prefer to have Assad stay in power to organize them.  This being the case, the Russian diplomatic efforts to try to urge the Assad regime to speed up its reforms appear to be roughly in harmony with Syrian public opinion.

While the Russians are urging President Assad to speed up reforms, the West is ordering him to stop the violence (that is, order his armed forces to give up) and resign.  Neither of these exhortations is likely to be obeyed.  The Russians would almost certainly like to stop the escalation of violence, for their own good reasons, but that does not mean they have the power to do so.  Their attempts to broker a compromise, decried and sabotaged by Western support to the opposition, merely put them in line to be blamed for the bloodshed they want to avoid.  In a deepening civil war situation, the regime, any regime, is most likely to figure it has to restore order before doing anything else.  And restoring order, under these circumstances, means more violence, not less.

The order to “stop killing your own people” implies a situation in which the dictator, like an ogre in a fairy tale, is busily devouring passive innocents.  He should stop, and then all the people would peacefully go about their business while awaiting the free elections that will bring the blessings of harmony and human rights. In reality, if the armed forces withdraw from areas where there are armed rebels, that means turning those areas over to the rebels.

And who are these rebels?  We simply do not know…

With uncontrolled armed groups fighting for control, the insistent Western demand that “Assad must step down” is not really even a call for “regime change”.  It is a call for regime self-destruction.

As in Libya, the country would de facto be turned over to rival armed groups, with those groups that are being armed covertly by NATO via Turkey and Qatar having an advantage in hardware.  However, the likely result would be a multi-sided civil war much more horrific than the chaos in Libya, thanks to the country’s multiple religious differences.  But for the West, however chaotic, regime self-destruction would have the immediate advantage of depriving Iran of its potential ally on the eve of an Israeli attack.  With both Iraq and Syria neutralized by internal religious conflict, the strangulation of Iran would be that much easier – or so the Western strategists obviously assume.

At least initially, the drive to destroy the Assad regime relies on subversion rather than outright military attack as in Libya.  A combination of drastic economic sanctions and support to armed rebels, including fighters from outside, notably Libya (whoever they are), reportedly already helped by special forces from the UK and Qatar, is expected to so weaken the country that the Assad regime will collapse.  But a third weapon in this assault is propaganda, carried on by the mainstream media, by now accustomed to reporting events according to the pattern: evil dictator killing his own people.  Some of the propaganda must be true, some of it is false, but all of it is selective.  The victims are all victims of the regime, never of the rebels.  The many Syrians who fear the rebels more than the present government are of course ignored by the mainstream media, although their protests can be found on the internet. A particular oddity of this Syrian crisis is the way the West, so proud of its “Judeo-Christian” heritage, is actively favoring the total elimination of the ancient Christian communities in the Middle East.  The cries of protest that Syrian Christians rely for protection on the secular government of Assad, in which Christians participate, and that they and other minorities such as the Alawites may be forced to flee if the West gets its way, fall on deaf ears.

The story line of dictators killing their own people is intended primarily to justify harsh Western measures against Syria. As in Bosnia, the media are arousing public indignation to force the US government to do what it is in fact already doing: arming Muslim rebels, all in the name of “protecting civilians”.

Last December, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said that the “end of the Assad regime would constitute Iran’s greatest setback in the region yet – a strategic blow that will further shift the balance of power in the region against Iran”.  The “protection of civilians” is not the only concern on the minds of US officials.  They do think of such things as the balance of power, in between their prayer breakfasts and human rights speeches.  However, concern with the balance of power is a luxury denied less virtuous powers such as Russia and China. Surely the shift in the balance of power in the region cannot be limited to a single country, Iran.  It is meant to increase the power of Israel, of course, but also the United States and NATO.  And to decrease the influence of Russia.  Thrusting Syria into helpless chaos is part of the war against Iran, but it is also implicitly part of a drive to reduce the influence of Russia and, eventually, China.  In short, the current campaign against Syria, is clearly in preparation for an eventual future war against Iran, but also, obscurely, a form of long term aggression against Russia and China.

The recent Russian and Chinese veto in the Security Council was a polite attempt to put a brake on this process. The cause of the veto was the determination of the West to push through a resolution that would have demanded withdrawal of Syrian government forces from contested areas without taking into consideration the presence of armed rebel groups poised to take over. Where the Western resolution called on the Assad regime to “withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks”, the Russians wished to add: “in conjunction with the end of attacks by armed groups against State institutions and quarters and towns.”  The purpose was to prevent armed groups from taking advantage of the vacuum to occupy evacuated areas (as had happened in similar circumstances in Yugoslavia during the 1990s).  Western refusal to rein in armed rebels was followed by the Russian and Chinese veto on Febuary 4th.

The veto unleashed a torrent of insults from the Western self-styled “humanitarians”.  In an obvious attempt to foster division between the two recalcitrant powers, US spokespersons stressed that the main villain was Russia, guilty of friendship with the Assad regime.

Russia is currently the target of an extraordinary propaganda campaign centered on demonizing Vladimir Putin as he faces a lively campaign for election as President.  A prominent New York Times columnist attributed Russian support to Syria to an alleged similarity between Putin and Assad.  As we saw in Yugoslavia, a leader elected in free multi-party elections is a “dictator” when his policies displease the West. The pathetically alcoholic Yeltsin was a Western favorite despite shooting at his parliament.  The reason was obvious: he was weak and easily manipulated.  The reason the West hates Putin is equally and symmetrically obvious: he seems determined to defend his country’s interests against Western pressure.

The European Union has become the lapdog of the United States. This week the European Union is continuing to impoverish the Greek people in order to squeeze out money, among other things, lent by German and French banks to pay for expensive modern weaponry sold to Greece by Germany and France.  Democracy in Europe is being undermined by subservience to a dogmatic monetary policy.  Unemployment and poverty threaten to destabilize more and more member states.  But what is the topic of the European Parliament’s main monthly political debate this week?  “The situation in Russia.”  One can count on orators in Strasbourg to lecture the Russians on “democracy”.

American pundits and cartoonists have totally internalized their double standards, so that Russia’s comparatively modest arms deliveries to Syria can be denounced as cynical support to dictatorship, whereas gigantic US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are never seen as relevant to the autocratic nature of those regimes (at most they may be criticized on the totally fictitious grounds of being a threat to Israel).  To be “democratic”, Russia is supposed to cooperate in its own subservience to Washington, as the United States pursues construction of a missile shield which would theoretically give it a first-strike nuclear capability against Russia, arms Georgia for a return war against Russia over South Ossetia, and continues to encircle Russia with military bases and hostile alliances.

Western politicians and media are not yet fighting World War III, but they are talking themselves into it. And their actions speak even louder than words… notably to those who are able to understand where those actions are leading.  Such as the Russians. The West’s collective delusion of grandeur, the illusion of the power to “make reality”, has a momentum that is leading the world toward major catastrophe.  And what can stop it?

A meteor from outer space, perhaps?

DIANA JOHNSTONE is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at  diana.josto@yahoo.fr

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Syria Rejects Arab Peacekeeping Plan as “Flagrant” Interference

Al-Manar | February 13, 2012

Syria rejected an Arab League plan to send international forces to Syria, saying it was determined to restore security.

“Syria rejects decisions that are a flagrant interference in the country’s internal affairs and a violation of its national sovereignty”, government official said, in a report Monday by SANA state news agency.

“This decision will not prevent the Syrian government from fulfilling its responsibilities in protecting its citizens and restoring security and stability”.

The Arab League on Sunday urged the United Nations to a joint peacekeeping force to Syria, and said it had “agreed to open contacts” with the opposition.

Arab League diplomats “will ask the UN Security Council to issue a decision on the formation of a joint UN-Arab peacekeeping force to oversee the implementation of a ceasefire,” said a League statement.

They would also “open channels of communication with the Syrian opposition and offer full political and financial support, urging (the opposition) to unify its ranks”.

Syria’s ambassador to Cairo denounced the measures, with Algeria and Lebanon expressing reservations about them.

“The Syrian Arab Republic categorically rejects the decisions of the Arab League,” which “reflects the hysteria of these governments” after failing to get foreign intervention at the UN Security Council, said Yusef Ahmed.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel Lobby Pushes for US Action Against the Syrian Government

By Stephen J. Sniegoski | The Passionate Attachment | February 13, 2012

In Russia Today’s recent Crosstalk program on Syria, guest James Morris was brave enough to incisively point out the taboo fact that the Israel lobby has been in the forefront in pushing a hardline interventionist approach for the US toward that divided country. The host and the two other guests on the show pooh-poohed the idea on the grounds that (in their minds) it would not be in Israel’s national interest to topple the secular Assad regime and possibly bring about an Islamist state that could be even more hostile to Israel. But when one moves from speculation to an analysis of the actual position of members of the Israel lobby, one can see that Morris was completely correct. Moreover, Morris was completely correct in pointing out that the Israel lobby’s position has nothing to do with ending oppression, and everything to do with Israeli security, as members of the Israel lobby have perceived Israel’s interest (which might not be the same as the Crosstalk threesome.)

The neoconservatives, the vanguard of the Israel lobby, have especially been ardent in their advocacy of a hardline, interventionist position toward Syria. Evidence abounds for this finding, but it is best encapsulated by an August 2011 open letter from the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (an organization which claims to address any “threat facing America, Israel and the West”) to President Obama, urging him to take stronger measures against Syria. Among the signatories of the letter are such neocon luminaries as: Elliott Abrams (son-in-law of neocon “godfather” Norman Podhoretz and a former National Security adviser to President George W. Bush); the Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot; “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol; Douglas Feith (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under George W. Bush and an author of the “Clean Break” policy paper); Joshua Muravchik (affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute [AEI], the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and “Commentary”); Frederick W. Kagan (AEI, co-author of the “surge” in Iraq); Robert Kagan (co-founder of the Project for the New American Century PNAC); James Woolsey (head of the CIA under Clinton and chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies); Randy Scheunemann (former President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and foreign affairs adviser to John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign); Reuel Marc Gerecht (former Director of the Project for the New American Century’s Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at AEI); Michael Makovsky (advisor to the propagandistic Office of Special Plans, which was under Douglas Feith); John Hannah (senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [WINEP] and a former national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney); and Gary Schmitt (AEI and former President for the Project for a New American Century).

As Morris notes in his presentation, elimination of the Assad regime in Syria was not an idea conceived by either the neocons or the broader Israel lobby; rather it can be traced back to the Israeli Likudniks, being articulated by Oded Yinon in his 1982 piece, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.” In this article, Yinon called for Israel to use military means to bring about the dissolution of Israel’s neighboring states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-statelets that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon’s model for the entire Middle East. Yinon wrote: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 51)

What stands out in the stark contrast to the debate taking place today is that Yinon’s rationale for eliminating the dictatorial regimes in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East had absolutely nothing to do with their oppressive practices and lack of democracy, but rather was based solely on Israel’s geostrategic interests-the aim being to permanently weaken Israel’s enemies. The neoconservatives took up the gist of the Yinon’s position in their 1996 Clean Break policy paper, whose authors included neocons Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, which was presented to then incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It urged him to use military force against a number of Israel’s enemies, which beginning with Iraq would include “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.” Once again the fundamental concern was Israeli security, not liberty and democracy for the people of those countries. (“The Transparent Cabal,” p. 90)

Numerous neocons before and after 9/11 expressed the need to confront Syria in order to protect the security of both the United States and Israel, whose interests they claimed coincided. And this position on Syria was concurred in by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, one month before the US invasion of Iraq, identified it, along with Libya and Iran, as an ideal target for future US action. Sharon stated: “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons [of] mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 172)

A month after Bush’s 2004 re-election, Bill Kristol would emphasize the key position of Syria in the “war on terrorism.” He wrote in the “Weekly Standard” that because Syria was allegedly interfering with America’s efforts to put down the insurgency in Iraq, it was thus essential for the United States “to get serious about dealing with Syria as part of winning in Iraq, and in the broader Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” pp. 253-254)

The close ties between Syria and Iran would begin to provide a fundamental reason for the neocons’ desire to take action against Syria. It was this factor that shaped neocon thinking on the Israel’s July 2006 incursion into Lebanon. Some months after the Israeli invasion, neocon Meyrav Wurmser would affirm that it was neocon influence in the Bush administration that was setting US policy on Lebanon, with the aim being a direct Israeli confrontation with Syria. “The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space,” Wurmser stated. “They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hizbullah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its strategic and important ally should be hit.” Furthermore, “If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran that it would have weakened it and [changed] the strategic map in the Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 278)

And any action by Iran to protect its Syrian ally would provide a casus belli for the United States to attack Iran, which is what the neocons sought. Michael Ledeen opined, “The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279)

Bill Kristol argued the same point in his article, “It’s Our War,” underscoring the need for direct American involvement in the ongoing conflict. America “might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression [arms provided to Hezbollah] with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279)

As can be seen, the goal of eliminating the Assad Baathist regime has existed among Israeli Likudniks and the neocons for some time. And it currently propels the demand for militant action against the Syrian government. Moreover, action taken against Syria has become viewed as a way of seriously weakening Iran (perceived as a much more dangerous enemy), or even leading to war with it. That Israel might not benefit from regime change in Syria, and that some in Israel might actually fear such a development, does not alter the obvious fact that the neocons and much of the overall Israel lobby support it. And it is they who affect the policy of the United States.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments