Speak2Tweet: Google & Twitter Partner Up with US State Dept. to Monopolise Information Flow Out of Syria
Amid Internet and telephone network outages in Syria, US-trained opposition activists are using US-supplied satellite phones to contact Google & Twitter’s ‘Speak2Tweet‘ service. Despite these efforts, the service seems so far to be a resounding failure.
Internet and telecommunications networks have been failing across Syria, leading some including Tony Cartalucci to speculate that NATO may be preparing a psychological warfare operation(1) to bolster the flagging unconventional war against Syria.
Recent developments add weight to this theory. There are now reports(2) that Google and Twitter have re-launched their ‘Speak2Tweet’(3) service to ostensibly aid isolated Syrians affected by the communication network outages.
This is reminiscent of Iran’s CIA-sponsored(4) ‘Green Revolution‘ in 2009 wherein Twitter followed White House instructions(5) to delay its scheduled maintenance, in order to provide continued service to Iran’s Green opposition. If this event hinted at Twitter’s possible status as being a CIA tool in this respect, today’s events should leave little doubt.
‘Speak2Tweet‘ is a communication service which allows the user to dial a conventional telephone number and leave a voice message which is then posted to https://twitter.com/speak2tweet where web users can listen. Speak2Tweet was first launched during Egypt’s January 25th ‘revolution’ back in 2011.
At this important time for Google, Hillary Clinton offered an interesting tidbit yesterday. While giving an especially servile, fawning speech at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy’s Opening Gala Dinner in Washington D.C, she quoted Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt(6) who recently called Israel, “the most important high tech center in the world, after the United States.” I will leave it to the reader to decide whether this suggests a central Israeli role in Google’s recent ventures.
After interviewing Google’s Christine Chen, Al Arabiya tellingly reported:(3) “Although phone connections are also are suspended, some Syrians were able to call and get through.”
This begs the question: if Internet and telecommunications networks have been failing across Syria, how does the opposition manage to communicate using Speak2Tweet, which requires the user to call an international telephone number (using either a mobile telephone or landline)?
US State Department provided Syrian opposition activists with satellite communications equipment and training
Ever since August 2012 Syrian opposition activists have been travelling to Istanbul, Turkey, to receive satellite communications equipment and training from the U.S. State Department.(7) The UK Telegraph reported in August 2012 that the US State Department’s Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) was overseeing this scheme, with $25 million reportedly being set aside for the project, and a further $5 million coming from Britain.
According to ForeignPolicy.com(8) the activists are all ‘given a satellite phone and computer‘ at the end of their training, and they are expected to return to Syria.
It is important to note at this point that satellite telephony is not affected by Internet and telecommunications network outages, and indeed satellite telephones allow users to call any conventional telephone number. In fact satellite phones are often used in warzones and in areas affected by natural disasters, as terrestrial cell antennas and networks are often damaged and non-operational in such cases.
In view of this it is highly likely as many have posited, that the country-wide communications outages were engineered by the NATO-GCC axis, with a view to allowing the opposition activists to monopolise the information flow using the satellite equipment and training given to them by the U.S. State Department. It should be noted that Google has been involved in training ‘Arab Spring’ opposition activists(9) through its partnership with the US State Department’s Movement.org.
The voice messages that are posted to the service can be listened to online at: https://twitter.com/speak2tweet. After listening to a sample of the messages, at this point in time the service seems to be a resounding failure insofar as the NATO-GCC axis is concerned. Messages range from merely “Allahu Akbar“, to garbled nonsense, and they do nothing to bolster the ongoing propaganda campaign against the Syrian regime. Furthermore, the Speak2Tweet service has most definitely not ‘made waves’ online, with many web users not even being aware of its existence.
Though many of the Speak2Tweet audio messages seem to be coming from people outside Syria, it is eminently clear that the US State Department intended their activist-proxies whom they had trained and supplied with satellite telephones in Istanbul, to be the only people within Syria able to use the service.
As with all aspects of the now struggling NATO-GCC unconventional war against sovereign Syria, this too seems to have been an embarrassing failure and a waste of time and money.
(1) ‘URGENT: NATO Preparing Psy-Op in Syria’ by Tony Cartalucci.
(2) ‘Google reactivates Speak2Tweet for Syrian Internet cutoff’ – CNET.com, November 30, 2012.
(3) ‘Google and Twitter re-launch ‘Speak2Tweet’ to aid isolated Syrians’ – Al Arabiya, Saturday, 01 December 2012.
(4) ‘Color revolution fails in Iran’ by Thierry Meyssan
(5) ‘US confirms it asked Twitter to stay open to help Iran protesters’ – The Guardian, Wednesday 17 June 2009.
(6) ‘Remarks at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy 2012 Saban Forum Opening Gala Dinner’ – U.S. State Department
(7) ‘Britain and US plan a Syrian revolution from an innocuous office block in Istanbul’ – The Telegraph, 26 Aug 2012.
(8) ‘Holding Civil Society Workshops While Syria Burns’ – ForeignPolicy.com, OCTOBER 10, 2012.
(9) ‘Google’s Revolution Factory’ by Tony Cartalucci.
The recent hostilities between the Gaza Strip and Israel have to be viewed in context of a broader geopolitical chessboard. The events in Gaza are tied to Syria and the US’s regional maneuvers against Iran and its regional alliance system.
Syria has been compromised as a conduit for weapons to Gaza, because of its domestic instability. Israel has capitalized on this politically and militarily. Benjamin Netanyahu has not only tried to secure his own election victory in the Knesset through an attack on Gaza, but has used the US-sponsored instability in Syria as an opportunity to try and target the arms stockpiles of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu calculated that Gaza will not be able to rearm itself while Syria and its allies are distracted. The bombing of the Yarmouk arms factory in Sudan, which Israel says was owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was probably part of this plan and a prelude to Israel’s attack on Gaza.
In this chess game, sit the so-called “Moderates”— a misleading label jointly utilized by Messrs George W. Bush Jr. and Tony Blair to whitewash their regional cabal of tyrants and backward regimes — alongside the Obama Administration and NATO. These so-called Moderates include the desert dictators of the feudal Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, and Turkey. In 2011, the ranks of the Moderates were augmented by the NATO-installed government of Libya and the GCC/NATO-supported anti-government militias that were unleashed in Syria.
On the other side of the chessboard defiantly sits the Resistance Bloc composed of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah (and Hezbollah’s partners in Lebanon, like Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement), the so-called Palestinian Rejectionists, and increasingly Iraq. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as a new regional force, is being increasingly prodded into the Moderate camp by the US and the GCC in an attempt to ultimately play the sectarian card against the Resistance Bloc.
Stark contrasts between Gaza and Syria
Israel’s attack on Gaza was a litmus test. All those voices continuously pushing for America’s McJihad against the Syrian government in the name of freedom vanished from their podiums or suddenly went silent when Israel attacked Gaza. Al Jazeera’s tele-preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Saudi Arabia’s dictator-selected Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz went silent. Adnan Al-Arour — the Saudi-based exiled kooky Syrian cleric who, as one of the spiritual heads of the Syrian anti-government forces, has threatened to punish anyone that says that Al-Qaeda is among their ranks — even berated Hamas and the Palestinians for fighting Israel.
The fighting in Gaza really placed them in a fix. Here we see the contradictions in their “Arab Spring.” We now see who really pays lip service to Palestinian liberation and who does not. Moreover, the foreign supporters of the Syrian National Coalition, a rehash of the Syrian National Council, are ironically all supporters of Israel.
This is why mentioning the support that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have provided for Gaza has become a taboo among the supporters of the anti-government forces in Syria. All they can say is that any acknowledgment of the support that Tehran, Damascus, and Hezbollah have provided to Gaza is an attempt to sanitize “Bashar Al-Assad and his supporters.”
Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah helped the Palestinians in Gaza
The Iranian Fijr-5 symbolically ingrains Tehran’s support for Palestine. Despite the fact that Israel and Gaza are by far not equal, it was predominately Iranian arms and technology that changed the balance of power. Tehran has been the main ally and supporter of the Palestinian resistance. The US, Israel, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Iran itself have all acknowledged this in different ways.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is unapologetically pro-Iranian, has openly stated that everything Gaza used in the fight against Israel, from its bullets to missiles, has been generously provided by Tehran. It was even reported during the fighting that Hezbollah, using a special unit dedicated to arming the Palestinians, resupplied the Gaza Strip with some of its own long-range missiles.
This has all taken place while the cads in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey have instead armed the Syrian anti-government militias. Egypt and Jordan continue to be major partners in preventing Iranian arms from reaching the Palestinians.
Palestinian fighters have also been trained in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Ironically, the anti-government forces in Syria are also targeting members of the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria.
The support that the Resistance Bloc has given the Palestinians puts those actors, like Turkey and Qatar, opposed to the Syrian government in a real predicament. These so-called Sunni states were embarrassed; not only did they fail to help a predominately Sunni population, but their insincerity was exposed. This is why there is an active effort to deny the support that Iran and its allies have provided for Gaza.
A boy looks up as he walks in the rubble of a destroyed shop in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 26, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A boy looks up as he walks in the rubble of a destroyed shop in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 26, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
De-linking Hamas from Resistance Bloc to start a Muslim Civil War
As a back story to all this, the Israeli attack on Gaza and the Moderate’s wooing of Hamas is more than just about neutralizing Gaza. Hamas leaders are being tempted to choose between the Moderate and Resistance camps and increasingly between governing or active resistance to the Israeli occupation. Through this, some form of accommodation to the US and Israel is being sought from Hamas. The aims are to de-link the Palestinians, particularly Hamas, from the Resistance Bloc in order to portray Iran and its allies as a Shiite alliance bent on dominating the Sunnis.
If you are foolish enough to fall prey to it, welcome to the unfolding “American fitna” (schism) that aims to ignite a regional Muslim civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis. The Obama administration is trying to construct and line up a Sunni axis against the region’s Shiite Muslims.
It is a classic strategy of divide and conquer that envisions America and Israel dominating the region as the Muslims are incapacitated by their bloodletting. The Shia are systematically being vilified courtesy of the new media war: Iran, Hezbollah, Bashar Al-Assad (an Alawi who is increasingly labeled a Shiite for the benefit of this project), and Nouri Maliki’s administration in Iraq are being portrayed as the new oppressors of the Sunnis. In their place Turkey, with its virtually stillborn neo-Ottomanism foreign policy, and Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood are being presented as the champions of the Sunnis. Never mind that Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi has continued the blockade of Gaza for Israel or that Turkey’s Erdogan lost his voice for a while when Israel began bombing Gaza.
The US is trying to use Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to control Hamas, because it was Cairo that established a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. While Iran offers military technology, logistical support, and finance the Egyptians are being presented as Gaza’s ticket to establishing some form of normality and the GCC as alternative funding. This is why Qatar’s Emir Al-Thani visited Gaza to tempt Hamas with his declining supply of petro-dollars.
Shiite and Sunni divisions are political constructs
Inside Hamas there are internal differences over this. While Damascus, Tehran, and Hezbollah desired some form of public acknowledgment about their vital assistance to Hamas and the Palestinians, Hamas officials were careful about their statements. When Khaled Meshaal thanked Egypt, Qatar, and Tunisia during an important press conference, he narrowly mentioned Iran.
Meshaal’s politicking was not lost on Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who responded hours later by rhetorically asking who supplied and painstakingly transferred the Fajr-5 missiles into Gaza? Nasrallah asked people to look past Gaza’s fair-weather friends, like the Qataris and Saudis who think they can buy their ways into the grace of the Palestinians, but to look at Gaza’s tested friends who allowed Gaza to stand on its own two feet. Then the Lebanese leader reaffirmed the ongoing support of the Resistance Bloc for the Palestinian people.
Despite its politburo’s position on Syria, Hamas is still a part of the Resistance Bloc. There is a new format now. If Greece and Turkey were at odds with one another as two NATO allies, then Hamas can have its differences with Syria and still be allied with the Resistance Bloc against Israel.
The divide in the Middle East is not a sectarian one between Shiites and Sunnis, but fundamentally political. The alliance of the predominately Sunni Muslim Palestinian resistance movements and the Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s largest Christian political party, with predominately Shiite Muslim Iran and Hezbollah should defuse such a perception that the US and its allies are trying to cultivate.
- A Different War in Gaza, and the war ahead (alethonews.wordpress.com)
It is a rather curious time for Hollywood to launch a blockbuster movie based on the worst US-Iranian diplomatic fallout in history. Currently Iran is threatened with attack from the West almost on a daily basis, and sanctions have devastated the rial, plunging millions into poverty for the crime of (allegedly) developing the same weapons that Iran’s agitators enjoy without reprisal. Meanwhile, in the fantasy emporiums of high street cinemas, millions of moviegoers across the world are invited to imagine the opposite scenario, a tale in which the innocent Western subject is faced with extinction at the whim of an Iranian aggressor.
Ben Affleck’s Argo is a nail-biting thriller based on the incredible true story of the CIA operation that rescued 6 American diplomats from the turmoil of a revolutionary Iran. Conspicuously, the film barely touches on the central humiliating debacle of the Iranian hostage crisis in which 52 Americans were held for 15 months and 8 American servicemen were killed during a fiasco of a ‘rescue mission’, commonly blamed for costing Carter the 1980 election. Instead, the narrative depicts a parallel, minor side-story of an America that duped the Persians with lashings of moral superiority and Machiavellian cunning. Indeed, an uninitiated Western audience would almost certainly leave the cinema with the firm impression that the Iranian hostage crisis was one of the most triumphant episodes of US history – instead of one of the most embarrassing.
Ben Affleck’s film goes out of its way to deflect the kind of criticism I offer here. He begins the movie with a quick narrated round-up of Iran’s pre-revolutionary history, including a confession of the CIA-MI5 coup that replaced the democratically elected Mosaddegh with the universally despised Shar. In one scene, an Iranian mocks our heroic CIA protagonist with dialogue straight out of Edward Said’s Orientalism, accusing the American of seeking “snake charmers and flying carpets”.
Affleck is clearly well-versed in standard post-colonial discourse. His film delivers its main points with a disingenuous candour that enables the audience to feel superior without feeling like a supremacist. But the pseudo Western self-criticism is undercut by the fact that, aside from one traitor, there is not one single Iranian who is remotely likeable in the entire film. The Iranians in Argo are essentially a screaming, braying mass of hysterical mobs. They bang on cars, smash buildings, exploit children, torch flags and torment innocent people. They are scary, suspicious, and innately violent.
Most harrowing of all, their streets are peppered with cranes hung with the corpses of collaborators. For the audience, it is almost impossible to root for any character that acquiesces in such a harrowing spectacle. And yet, for some reason, the fact that the American Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad in the state of Utah in 2010 never made it into a Hollywood movie. Gardner’s death wouldn’t seem too pretty in HD surround-sound either. In short, Argo ultimately reinforces the binary opposition of a civilized West and a savage Iran. We hear a lot of Farsi in the movie, but only when Farsi is spoken by a Western character is the dialogue given subtitles. Farsi spoken by Iranian characters in the film is merely incomprehensible noise. Here the film accurately mirrors our contemporary reality, in which we inflict our discourse on Iranians, but are incapable of listening to theirs.
We all know that in Hollywood, narratives are applauded for their appeal, not their accuracy. Fictional reconstructions of past events do not claim to ask questions about history. What they do provide are parables loaded with collective wishes, hopes, fears and unarticulated anxieties. In this movie (and in real life) the Americans escape Iran by pretending to be a Canadian film crew with a real, bona fide Jewish Hollywood producer, LA studio backing, reviews in the Californian press, posters, merchandise and a genuine commissioned script about alien invaders taking over the planet. It is this movie within a movie that makes Argo a complex example of the power of fiction, to not only tell a story, but also to shape reality. Both espionage and film making rely on telling complicated lies that people need, not necessary to believe in, but to suspend our disbelief. As such, Argo provides a respite from America’s encroaching anxiety surrounding its own impotence at a time when it was locked in conflict with an enemy it failed to conquer in the past. It retells the tale of the worst fiasco in US/Iranian history as if the West had triumphed. But the West didn’t triumph then, and it may not triumph now. The film implores us to differentiate between what we know and what we believe. It tells us that if we all invest in the myth of Western omnipotence the West might prevail. Let’s see if it works.
Visit Sarah’s website.
Gaza City – The past few days have been harrowing, yet still deeply inspiring in Gaza as people in the strip must carry on with their lives after the Israeli army’s deadly 8 day offensive operation “Pillar of Cloud” which killed at least 160 Palestinians and left over 1000 wounded, many of them severely. To “carry on” in Gaza does not mean returning to predictable routines or a reasonable set of expectations of calmness in what amounts to everyday life in most parts of the world. This is exceptionally true for Palestinian fishermen who return to the daily struggle with the Israeli Navy to fish in waters that are rightfully theirs.
There has been no ceasefire for these men who bravely attempt to exercise not only their legal rights, but perhaps more urgently, the human right to fulfil the most basic of needs, such as feeding their families and paying rent. Since November 26th, 2012, 15 fishermen have been arrested and 6 boats destroyed. As participants in an emergency delegation to Gaza, we have had the opportunity to speak to several of the fishermen arrested, members of their families, and a Palestinian activist, Maher Alaa, who was documenting the situation while aboard one of the adjacent boats, which also received heavy gunfire. We spoke with concerned relatives in the afternoon after the attacks, but we did not get the full story until Maher returned in the evening.
Israeli gunboat off coast of Gaza.
The scene Maher described was chaotic, but not uncommon. Only one boat sailed the full length of six nautical miles, the distance supposedly conceded by Israel as a term of the ceasefire, before it was attacked. Israeli Navy and helicopters assaulted the others boats, most far inwards of six miles, with live fire periodically from the early morning until evening. (It’s also essential to keep in mind that Gazans were guaranteed 20 nautical miles for fishing in the Olso Accords.) The boat of Jamal Baker (20) was completely destroyed. Others had engines destroyed from bullets. Five men from the al-Hessi family were ordered to take off their clothes and jump into the water, which is a common humiliation tactic deployed by the Israeli Navy. They were then forcefully arrested at gunpoint and their boat impounded for the second time in one year. The al-Hessi’s boat alone was the main source of income for the twenty-five person crew and the families depending on them.
Another brave Gazan fisherman, Mohammed Morad Baker (40), was fired upon and ordered to strip his clothes and leave his boat. According to Maher, he looked directly at the Israeli gunboat captain and responded loudly “You can put a bullet in my head before I will jump into the water.” He then draped his body over the engine to protect it. This brave act apparently caught the Israeli soldiers off guard as he was then able to navigate another course and avoid being detained.
In the aftermath of an eight day war and what Dr. Khalil Abu-Foul of the Palestine Red Crescent describes as a “chronic, acute and protracted state of emergency” in Gaza, the heroic acts of fishermen like Mohamed Baker are often left out of the broader mainstream media’s discussion of military and diplomatic victory or defeat.
It has often been said that “existence is resistance” in Palestine. From what I have seen here, Gazans are doing far more than just existing. They are standing up with dignity and ingenuity to a slow and inhuman process of destabilization and colonization that many feel is intended to gradually force Gaza to become uninhabitable for Palestinians. Mohamed Baker and the other fishermen’s refusal to acquiesce to the destruction of their livelihoods is a victory over the cowardly conscience of Israeli soldiers who make sport of shooting at unarmed men, most of whom are very poor and supporting families with over ten children.
It’s also heartening to witness that after such a traumatic eight days where many people did not leave their houses for fear of their lives, Gaza’s streets are alive. Just across from our apartment at Al-Bakri Tower, families are filling a wedding hall. Dozens of youth pile into the back of trucks, enthusiastically beating on drums. Adults and children alike laugh and hold hands as they perform Debke, a traditional wedding dance. Though Khalil Shahin, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, has spent long nights taking only as little as two hours of sleep while documenting and double checking the casualties and injuries from the conflict to avoid duplication, he still smiles brightly as he tells of reviving plans for his daughter’s upcoming wedding, which had been postponed due to the fighting.
In the afternoons, children pour out of the schools, many of which were used to shelter thousands during the recent bombings. They kick cans and soccer balls while approaching our delegation with openness, curiosity and playfulness. The shock they have just endured will likely remain with them in some ways for the rest of their lives, but the strong sense of community and family is evident. I cannot help but wonder how children and families from the United States would cope given such conditions, especially with the breakdown of the communal structure and obsessive focus on individualism in our culture.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful things I have seen throughout our short time here is that, despite the very legitimate anger, mourning and failure of the political process to provide scarcely any justice to Palestinians, the Gazans I have met know better than to waste their lives on hate. The suffering they have seen all around them is too great to wish upon others. Just today we sat with Dr. Anton Shuhaibar, a Palestinian physician and also one of Gaza’s 3,000 Christians, who described at length his hope for a solution that includes psychological healing for all parties involved, especially the youth, so that both Israel and Palestine’s children can live as neighbours. His sentiment was not without critique of long needed political changes that would have to be implemented for this vision to be a possibility. However, the intention I sensed from his words reminded me of what Mamie Till uttered so profoundly in response to the brutal and racist lynching of her son in Mississippi in the fall of 1955: “I have not a minute to hate. I’ll pursue justice for the rest of my life.”
Palestinian farmer in Johr Al-Deek.
Gaza’s farmers continue to pursue justice on the issue of land rights. Yesterday, November 29th at approximately 9:30 AM, members of our delegation accompanied other international solidarity activists and Palestinians from the Ministry of Agriculture to the farm of Ahmad Hassan Badawi who lives and farms along the border with Israel in an area called Johr Al-Deek. Mr. Badawi has remained on his land despite multiple incursions and direct attacks from the Israeli Occupation Forces, including attacks during the recent Israeli offensive which killed many of his sheep and chickens.
Much of Ahmad’s farmland has now been rendered useless by Israel’s arbitrarily declared buffer zone, which has confiscated around twenty -per cent of Gaza’s arable land. After the November 21st ceasefire, negotiations were supposedly in place that Hassan would now be able to farm within 300 meters of the fence. The allowed distance has often changed and has nothing to do with international law or any understandable pattern. After we heard from Hassan and other farmers about their situation, we approached the barb wire fence, which also separates residents of Johr al-Deek from their former water source. In a manner of minutes, multiple shots were fired in our direction by Israeli soldiers. Moments later, tear gas canisters were launched within a few feet of where we were standing. This treatment was mild compared to many other instances, including the killing of a young Palestinian named Anwar Abdul Hadi Musallam Qudaih (20) in Khan Yunis on November 23rd and the injury of 14 others.
One does not need to travel far in any direction to witness the destruction wreaked by the Israeli offensive. Yesterday in Tal al-Hawa we met with Ahmed Suleman Ateya. His entire house and a small olive grove were destroyed when Israel targeted an empty house across the street ostensibly used by militants. His was not the only other house flattened nearby by Israel’s “precision guided” missile strikes. A former farmer, Ahmed is sixty-six years old and has no money to rebuild and no permanent place to house his family who are staying with relatives in Al-Tufah while he searches for scrap metal from the rubble of his home to sell for a few shekels. As we talked with Ahmed, an Islamic relief agency arrived to provide him with a heavy blanket for the winter and a few other items. Mr. Ateya received them gratefully and with a dignity which escapes those who have not suffered such loss.
Ahmad Hassan Badawi amid ruins in Gaza City.
The wounds from operation “Pillar of Cloud” are obvious and the stories we have heard are tragic, but a spirit of resilience and determination is equally visible in the eyes of the families we have visited. Last night, Gazans were in the streets celebrating the UN General Assembly’s decision to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state. The United States was one of only nine UN countries, including Israel and Canada, to vote against the resolution. Even so, Palestinians continue to extend hospitality to the members of our delegation as relentlessly as the fishermen who refuse to be pushed from their waters. It is my hope that residents of the United States will learn such strength based in friendship and resistance to inhumane policies, demanding that our government recognize the aspirations and political rights of Palestinians that have been ignored now for decades.
- PCHR Statement On Ongoing Attacks Against Palestinian Fishermen In Gaza (imemc.org)
- Palestine: More land taken in WB, two succumb to serious injuries, 70 year old farmer assaulted, & Gaza’s fishermen taken (realisticbird.wordpress.com)
- PCHR Statement On Ongoing Attacks Against Palestinian Fishermen In Gaza (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
Never before seen files on Britain’s cruel colonial grip on Kenya have revealed a desperate attempt to cover up the massacre of unarmed prisoners during the Mau Mau uprising.
Eleven prisoners at the Hola detention camp were brutally clubbed to death and dozens more injured by prison wardens on March 3 1959 after they refused to work.
One of three elderly Kenyans, who last month won a High Court ruling to sue the British government for damages over torture, claims he was beaten unconscious during the incident.
Despite the overwhelming evidence nobody has ever been prosecuted.
Shockingly, the previously secret documents show that British colonial officials refused to identify individuals involved and attempted to blame the deaths on the prisoners “drinking too much water.”
The prison camp was one of many built during the uprising in which suspected rebels were detained by British colonial forces, often in dire conditions.
Shortly before the Hola deaths, a plan had been drawn up by colonial authorities allowing prison staff to use force to make detainees work if they refused, the Foreign Office files released by the National Archives show.
Prison officer Walter Coutts told the inquest into the Hola deaths that the detainees either “willed themselves to death or had died because they drank too much water.”
But a colonial official’s assistant, Kenyan Johannes Ezekiel, said he saw camp commandant Michael Sullivan moving between groups of prison warders, and could “see perfectly well what was going on.”
Mr Ezekiel’s comments were discounted by attorney-general Eric Griffith-Jones, who was in charge of criminal prosecutions, as he was “strongly suspected” to have links with Kenyan nationalist opposition politician Tom Mboya.
After post-mortem examinations revealed the deaths were caused by violence, the commissioner of prisons, who authorised the plan to use force, claimed that he had warned there were risks.
To make matters worse the attorney-general caused uproar in Britain after announcing that no charges could be brought against any individuals.
He said in a secret letter to the Kenyan chief secretary: “No evidence was available to establish whether any, and, if so, what, injuries had been inflicted by the beating in question or on whom.”
The Hola deaths signalled the beginning of the end of Britain’s clampdown on the Mau Mau uprising as colonial authorities began to close prison camps around Kenya in the following years.
Kenya declared independence from Britain just over four years after the Hola deaths, on December 12 1963.
Separate government files, also released for the first time today, show that colonial officials in Cyprus had considered producing adventure comic books and running an essay competition in the 1950s as part of a propaganda bid to stop youngsters rebelling against British rule.
Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960.
Boxes containing top secret files about former British colonial rule have gone missing, with those relating to Singapore possibly destroyed. Declassified colonial Kenyan files earlier played a key role in proving the UK responsible for grave abuses.
Britain has admitted that it was aware that 170 boxes of files were transferred to Britain from former colonies. But the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister David Lidington said that the government did not know what had happened to the files afterwards.
“It remains the case that the FCO is still unable to confirm the existence or destruction of 170 boxes of top secret colonial administration files known to have been returned to the UK,” Lidington told AFP.
“There is some evidence that the Singapore-related top secret colonial administration files were destroyed as part of a review of FCO post files in the 1990s.”
The FCO is continuing the search for the files and any evidence relating to their possible destruction.
The revelation comes after files relating to British rule in Kenya and Cyprus were declassified, made public and played a key in a court case by three elderly Kenyans who say they were tortured during the British army’s suppression of the 1950s Mau Mau Rebellion.
At the court hearing an archive of 8,800 secret files were examined. The released documents proved attempts by UK authorities to cover-up the killings of 11 prisoners during the uprising and showed that detainees had been battered to death by warders at the Hola detention camp.
A British court granted a historic victory to the three Kenyans, allowing them to claim damages for the suffered abuses when imprisoned during the Mau Mau uprising, including castration, beatings and severe sexual assaults.
The Kenyan case set a historical precedent and it is estimated that 2,000 other surviving Kenyans imprisoned during the Mau Mau insurgency can know sue the British government, which could have significant consequences for the government.
Overall, Britain used to have total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule. However, all have their own internal leadership and most are self-governing.
- How Britain covered up a brutal Kenya massacre (morningstaronline.co.uk)
The New York Times editorial page (11/30/12) weighs in on the Obama administration’s drone policies. What the paper wants is more accountability: The government “must stay within formal guidelines based on the rule of law.”
That’s all well and good–but the paper should do a better job of counting the innocents killed by drone attacks. The Times explains that aspect of the story this way:
For eight years, the United States has conducted but never formally acknowledged a program to kill terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban away from the battlefield in Afghanistan. Using drones, the Central Intelligence Agency has made 320 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, killing 2,560 or more people, including at least 139 civilians, according to the Long War Journal, a website that tracks counterterrorism operations.
That’s an astonishingly low rate of civilian deaths. And it’s fiercely contested by researchers who have tracked the CIA drone program.
So why would the Times use what would appear to be one of the lowest estimates of the civilian toll? The paper is aware of the Bureau’s work. In February, the Times reported on their research–but, for the sake of “balance,” allowed an anonymous U.S. government source smear the Bureau as Al Qaeda sympathizers.
The Long War Journal, the Times failed to tell readers, is a project of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose advisers include William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Joe Lieberman and Iran/Contra conspirator Robert McFarlane.
In the end, the editorial’s call for the government to give a clearer picture of the drone policy is undercut by the fact that the paper does not seem all that interested in knowing how many innocents that policy has killed.
- Reining in Obama and His Drones (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Counting the bodies in the Pakistani drone campaign (thebureauinvestigates.com)
That Associated Press story displaying a graph alleged to be part of an Iranian computer simulation of a nuclear explosion — likely leaked by Israel with the intention of reinforcing the media narrative of covert Iranian work on nuclear weapons – raises serious questions about the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) claim that it has credible evidence of such modeling work by Iran.
The graph of the relationship between energy and power shown in the AP story has now been revealed to contain absurdly large errors indicating its fraudulence.
Those revelations indicate, in turn, that the IAEA based its publication of detailed allegations of nuclear weapons-related Iranian computer modeling on evidence that should have been rejected as having no credibility.
Former senior IAEA inspector Robert Kelley, who has challenged the accuracy of IAEA reporting on Iran, told Lobe Log in an e-mail that “It’s clear the graph has nothing to do with a nuclear bomb.”
“The pretty, symmetrical bell shaped curve at the bottom is not typical of a nuclear explosion but of some more idealized natural phenomena or mathematical equation,” he said. “Clearly it is a student example of how to perform integrals to which someone has attached some meaningless numbers.”
Nuclear physicists Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress also pointed out that the graph depicted by AP is not only so rudimentary and crude that it could have been done by an undergraduate student, but is based on a fundamental error of mind-numbing proportions.
The graph shown in the AP story plots two curves, one of energy versus time, the other of power output versus time. But Butt and Dalnoki-Veress noted that the two curves are inconsistent. The peak level of power shown in the graph, they said, is nearly a million times too high.
After a quick look at the graph, the head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Cal State Sacramento, Dr. Hossein Partovi, observed, “[T]he total energy is more than four orders of magnitude (forty thousand times) smaller than the total integrated power that it must equal!” Essentially, the mismatch between the level of total energy and total power on the graph is “more than four orders of magnitude”, which Partovi explained means that the level of energy is 40,000 times too small in relation to the level of power.
One alert reader of the account of the debunking of the graph at the Mondoweiss blog cited further evidence supporting Kelley’s observation that the graph shown by AP was based on an another graph that had nothing to do with nuclear explosions.
The reader noted that the notation “kT” shown after “energy” on the right hand scale of the graph does not stand for “kilotons” as Jahn suggested, but “Boltzmann constant” (k) multiplied by temperature (T). The unit of tons, on the other hand, is always abbreviated with a lower case “t”, he pointed out, so kilotons would be denoted as “kt”.
The reader also stated that the “kT” product is used in physics as a scaling factor for energy values in molecular-scale systems, such as a microsecond laser pulse.
The evidence thus suggests that someone took a graph related to an entirely different problem and made changes to show a computer simulation of a 50 kiloton explosion. The dotted line on the graph leads the eye directly to the number 50 on the right-hand energy scale, which would lead most viewers to believe that it is the result of modeling a 50 kiloton nuclear explosion.
The graph was obviously not done by a real Iranian scientist — much less someone working in a top secret nuclear weapons research program — but by an amateur trying to simulate a graph that would be viewed, at least by non-specialists, as something a scientist might have drawn.
Although AP reporter George Jahn wrote that officials who provided the diagram did so “only on condition that they and their country not be named”, the country behind the graph is not much of a mystery.
Blogger Richard Silverstein has reported that a “highly-placed Israeli source” told him the diagram “was stolen by the Mossad from an Iranian computer” using one of the various malware programs deployed against Iran.
Whether one chooses to rely on Silverstein’s reporting or not, it is clear that the graph is part of a longer stream of suspicious documents supposedly obtained by Israeli intelligence from inside Iran’s nuclear program and then given to the IAEA over the past few years.
Former IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei refers in his memoirs to documents provided by Israel in 2009 “purportedly showing that Iran had continued with nuclear weapons studies until at least 2007.” ElBaradei adds that the Agency’s “technical experts” had “raised numerous questions about the documents’ authenticity”, and suggested that US intelligence “did not buy the “evidence” put forward by Israel” in its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate.
Jahn’s story indicates that this and similar graphs were the basis for the IAEA’s publishing charges by two unnamed states that Iran had done computer modeling that the agency said could only have been about nuclear weapons.
Jahn cites a “senior diplomat who is considered neutral on the issue” as confirming that the graph accompanying his story was one of “a series of Iranian computer-generated models provided to the IAEA by the intelligences services of member nations.”
Those “computer generated models” were discussed in the November 2011 report, which referred to “[i]nformation provided to the Agency by two Member States relating to modelling [sic] studies alleged to have been conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Iran….” The unnamed member states were alleging that the Iranian studies “involved the modelling [sic] of spherical geometries, consisting of components of the core of an HEU nuclear device subjected to shock compression, for their neutronic behaviour at high density, and a determination of the subsequent nuclear explosive yield.”
Nothing in that description of the alleged modeling is documented by the type of graph shown by the AP story.
The IAEA report concludes by saying, “The information also identifies models said to have been used in those studies and the results of these calculations, which the Agency has seen.”
In other words, the only evidence that the IAEA had actually seen was the graphs of the alleged computer modeling, of which the graph shown in the AP story is alleged to be an example. But the fact that data on that graph has been credibly shown to be off by four orders of magnitude suggests that the Israeli claim of Iranian computer modeling of “components of the core of an HEU nuclear device subjected to shock compression” was completely fabricated.
Former IAEA Inspector Kelley also told Lobe Log that “We can only hope that the claim that the IAEA has relied on this crude hoax is false. Otherwise their credibility has been shattered.”
– Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Stevie Wonder cancels performance for the Friends of the Israel “Defense” Forces following international outcry
Washington, D.C. — Following a growing outcry from individuals, human rights organizations, and public figures from around the world, renowned musician and civil rights leader Stevie Wonder has cancelled a planned performance for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Annual Fundraiser Gala. In conjunction with letters and phone calls from Israelis, Palestinians, other artists and public figures, three international petitions had garnered more than 10,000 signatures, including an open letter by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation that garnered more than 4,000 signatures in less than 24 hours directly preceding the announcement.
A statement issued by Wonder read in part: “with a heart that has always cried out for world unity, I will not be performing at the FIDF Gala on December 6th… As a Messenger of Peace, I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere.”
Wonder’s representatives said that the United Nations had also recommended cancellation in light of Wonder’s official designation as a UN “Messenger of Peace.” Symbolically, the announcement came on November 29, 2012, the annual UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, marking 65 years since the UN voted to partition Palestine, leading to the exile and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, whose descendants number more than 7 million today. Stevie’s performance had been set to take place one week later in Los Angeles.
Wonder’s effective boycott of FIDF constitutes a major victory for the international campaign based on a 2004 Palestinian civil society call for cultural boycott against institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and discriminatory practices. It illustrates the mobilization power of the growing international movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, based on similar tactics used to help end apartheid in South Africa.
Bassem Nasir, a Palestinian writer who had reached out to Wonder, said: “As a longtime fan, I am delighted that the inspiration I have long received from Wonder has been reaffirmed. More importantly, as a Palestinian, I am grateful that he had the courage to stand against the injustices done to my people. I hope more artists do the same and boycott Israel.”
Cindy and Craig Corrie — the parents of American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli soldier driving a U.S.-made Caterpillar bulldozer as she was protecting a Palestinian family’s home from demolition in Gaza — commended the decision. The Deputy National Director and Director of Development for FIDF, Pinhas Zoaretz, was the commanding officer of the Israeli military’s Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade when Rachel was killed. “We are heartened by reports that Stevie Wonder has decided not to perform for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. The death, destruction, confiscation of land, and suppression of basic human rights executed by the Israeli military do not merit the support of those who yearn for justice, peace, and security for all in the region.”
For more information, contact Anna Baltzer; email@example.com; 202-332-0994.
In a statement issued on Friday, NAM strongly condemned the opposition of the US, Russia, Britain and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the conference that was originally scheduled to be held in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, in December, upon an agreement reached during the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
The movement emphasized that the conference should be held before the end of 2012, voicing the NAM member states’ full support for the establishment of a Middle East region free of nuclear weapons.
It also urged the Israeli regime, the only non-signatory to the NPT in the Middle East, to destroy its nuclear weapons, place its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) supervision and carry out all its atomic activities in accordance with international non-proliferation regulations.
On November 23, the US announced that the Helsinki conference cannot be convened at this point due to the special conditions in the Middle East.
The major event has reportedly been cancelled on US worries that its long-time ally in the region, the Israeli regime, would come under fire as the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Israel is widely known to possess between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei called on Friday for joint efforts to pursue the idea of creating a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction.
He said that the nuclear weapons of Israel, which has a dark background in state terrorism and resorting to aggression, threat and bullying against other countries, are a real threat to regional and international peace.
“It is necessary that the international community swiftly and firmly counter this threat,” the Iranian envoy pointed out.
The Israeli regime rejects all the regulatory international nuclear agreements – the NPT in particular – and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.
- Iran Urges Israel to Join NPT (en.rian.ru)
- NAM calls for total nuclear disarmament (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- US cancels ME nuclear conference to protect “Israel” & over 100 NAM states support Iran’s program (realisticbird.wordpress.com)