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Charles Krauthammer “weeps” because his beloved War on Terror might be ending

By Justin Doolittle | Crimethink | 5.31.2013

Charles Krauthammer likes war. Any war, really, but the War on Terror in particular. It’s kind of his raison d’être; no one cares what he has to say about domestic policy, so if this glorious clash between the Last, Best Hope on Earth and The Islamofascistterroristevildoers were to end, he might just sink into relative irrelevance.

Charles has written a new column and he is very upset that President Obama seems to believe that this war should not continue into eternity:

Obama says enough is enough. He doesn’t want us on “a perpetual wartime footing.” Well, the Cold War lasted 45 years. The War on Terror, twelve so far. By Obama’s calculus, we should have declared the Cold War over in 1958 and left Western Europe, our Pacific allies, the entire free world, to fend for itself — and consigned Eastern Europe to endless darkness.

This is actually false. Krauthammer is evidently unaware that the War on Terror was first declared by the Reagan administration in 1983. It was re-declared by the Bush administration in 2001. The United States has been waging its War on Terror, in fact, for thirty years now. Moving on:

This is John Lennon, bumper-sticker foreign policy – “Imagine World Peace.” Obama pretends that the tide of war is receding.

Just take a minute to consider the absurdity of these two sentences. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in a recent column, Barack Obama “has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world.” It’s simply delusional to claim that Obama is some Lennon-like hippie who rejects military violence; his prosecution of this war, in several areas, has been even more ruthless and intense than that of his predecessor. Obama has surely surpassed Krauthammer’s wildest expectations in his penchant for killing Muslims around the world. Apparently, though, it’s not sufficient. More death and destruction are needed.

Krauthammer then spends a few paragraphs paying tribute to one of the other loves of his life, the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and excoriating Obama for not thinking it’s awesome and wanting to keep it open forever. Then he lies about Obama wanting to “return us to pre-9/11 defenselessness,” whatever the hell that means. Writing this column, and contemplating the possibility that more Muslims will not be killed, apparently sent Krauthammer into an emotional tailspin, because he finishes by stating that Obama’s radical pacifism is “enough to make you weep.”

This is the guy considered by Villagers to be a particularly “sophisticated” critic of Obama.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Charles Krauthammer “weeps” because his beloved War on Terror might be ending

How AIPAC Rules

By JEFF KLEIN | CounterPunch | May 31, 2013

Last week the Senate passed Resolution 65, mandating a new round of sanctions against Iran and promising to support Israel if it should choose to launch a unilateral war.  The bill contradicted explicit US policy in a number of areas:  it imposed secondary penalties on US allies; it lowered  the bar for military action to Israel’s preferred language of “nuclear capability” rather than acquisition of a nuclear weapon; and it interferes with the attempt to reach a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear impasse at a delicate time.  No wonder Secretary of State John Kerry implored Congress not to pass the bill when he testified before the Senate Foreign relations committee last month.

Nevertheless, the Senate bill came to a vote on May 22, and the result – in a roll call vote – was 99-0 in favor of the bill.

In the last Congress, another Iran Sanctions measure – an amendment attached to the 2012 Defense Appropriation Bill — was also opposed by the Obama administration. The provision, probably illegal under WTO rules, mandated secondary penalties against foreign banks which did business with Iran’s oil sector (US banks were already banned from doing so).  Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee “to express the Administration’s strong opposition to this amendment because, in its current form, it threatens to undermine the effective, carefully phased, and sustainable approach we have taken to build strong international pressure against Iran.”  Two State Department officials of the Administration testified against the amendment; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry also opposed the measure.

However, when the amendment’s sponsors insisted on a roll call vote, it passed 100-0.  Even Senator Kerry voted for the measure he had earlier opposed.

To understand how this can happen, it is useful to look at the Israel Lobby’s legislative MO — as well as the larger dynamic around Israel advocacy within the US Congress, in our political system and in the press.

AIPAC, of course, is the premier Israel Lobby organization.  Every March at its annual Conference the group assembles a huge turnout of moneyed and grassroots lobbyists.  Scores of members of Congress from both parties and political aspirants of all stripes jockey to express their loyalty to the Lobby.  It is at these conferences that AIPAC’s major legislative priorities for the year are unveiled.  This always includes renewed (and increased) military aid for Israel and for the last ten years or so various measures to oppose, sanction and preferably make war on to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran — Israel’s last remaining serious military opponent in the Middle East.

Here is the way it works.

–In the days before the yearly AIPAC conference in early March, reliable members of Congress from both parties – preferably non-Jews – are prevailed upon to submit AIPAC-drafted bills with a substantial number of initial bi-partisan sponsors.  This year the highlighted legislation included House Res. 850, The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, introduced on February 28 by California Democrat Rep. Edward Royce and 31 co-sponsors (16 Democrats and 15 Republicans); and Senate Res. 65, Strongly Supporting the Full Implementation of United States and International Sanctions On Iran, also introduced on February 28 by the every dependable Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and 22 initial co-sponsors (13 Democrats and 9 Republicans).  Another bill, apparently a late entry from the March 2-4 Conference itself, did not follow the preferred pattern.  House Res. 938, The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 was introduced hurriedly on March 4 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL27] with only two Democratic co-sponsors.  These three bills embodied AIPAC’s 2013 declared legislative priorities: Prevent Iranian Nuclear Weapons Capability; Strengthen U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation;  Support Security Assistance for Israel.

– Then, before leaving Washington, the AIPAC Conference attendees launch themselves on Capitol Hill to recruit more co-sponsors for the AIPAC bills.  Initially, this is mostly pushing on an open door, as many legislators are eager to join the bandwagon;  some were simply not asked earlier in the interest of bi-partisan balance; some were not quick enough to get listed when the initial bills were introduced.  Within a few weeks of the AIPAC Conference Senate Res. 65 had an additional 55 co-sponsors, House Res. 850 added more than 250 sponsors; and House Res. 983 more than 150.

–The effort continues to line up more cosponsors with the aim of securing an irresistible momentum for the bills.  Many legislators simply take more time to pin down; others (few) might have been reluctant holdouts persuaded not to find themselves isolated against the AIPAC juggernaut.  An AIPAC staffer once famously bragged that “in twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on a napkin”. It took a little longer this time, but Senate Res. 65 already had 91 co-sponsors before it came up for a vote. House Res. 850, still pending, now has 351 co-sponsors; H. Res. 983 has 271.

–Not all AIPAC-initiated legislation follows this pattern.  Other bills or amendments come up during the year and are pushed as opportunities or needs present themselves.  Some of these bills – and the frequent “Congressional Letters” of support for Israel — have little practical impact on policy but are part of AIPAC’s promotion of discipline among US legislators.  I call it “puppy training,” so that members of Congress are reflexively obedient to AIPAC’s legislative agenda.  The 29 standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress in 2011 are a good illustration of the outcome.  Pavlov had nothing on the Israel Lobby.

It might be tempting to conclude – as AIPAC and its allies contend – that Congress acts in response to the overwhelming public support for Israel.  However, it is important to observe that votes on the Lobby’s bills are rarely much publicized in the US – as opposed to Israeli –mainstream media.  Of course, the pro-Israel political machine, the Rightwing and Zionist blogosphere do pay close attention, ever-ready to reward or punish legislative misbehavior. Most of the public remains, by design, completely unaware of these political maneuverings.  Not long ago, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor proposed voting separately on military aid to Israel so as to insulate it from potential cuts to Pentagon spending, but he was quickly persuaded to drop the idea.  The Israel Lobby prefers to have the $3 billion plus in annual aid to Israel discretely hidden within the vast Defense Appropriation Bill.

So the power of AIPAC derives not fundamentally from Israel’s vast popularity.  Although opinion polls do regularly confirm the public supports Israel at a much higher level than the Palestinians (no surprise), substantial pluralities still prefer that the US stay neutral in the conflict.  I have seen no polling about support for the billions in military aid to Israel each year.  It is hard to imagine that the majority response would be anything but negative in the light of cuts to funding other popular government programs. Not surprisingly the Lobby prefers “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the question of yearly$billions for Israel.

The apparent dominance of the Israel Lobby in Congress stems from what I would call “asymmetric politics”.  AIPAC represents the power of a well-funded and single-issue political machine.  It is quick to punish recalcitrant legislators – or to reward good behavior with dollars and campaign support from the many PACS and rich donors who take its direction.

On the other side, the advocates for Palestinian rights are scattered, poor and little threat to incumbent legislators. The Arab and Muslim communities cannot match the Israel Lobby’s Jewish financial base or its mobilized grassroots numbers. Many of their communities are relatively new in the US, insecure and targeted by the well-funded complex of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim mobilization since 9/11.  The great mass of the public are simply not involved and not paying much attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict or much aware of pro-Israel political power in Congress.

Seen in this light, members of Congress – ever averse to risk, as are all elected officials – are behaving rationally when they defer to the Israel Lobby.  They pay little or no price for playing ball with AIPAC and risk a backlash with no apparent reward if they don’t.

As for the broader anti-war and progressive movements, even when they have adopted good positions on Palestinian rights or opposing the Lobby-supported drive for war with Iran, these issues usually turn out to be “expendable” in comparison to other agendas.

Two recent examples will illustrate this dynamic.

This Spring, a well-established national peace organization, with a significant branch in Massachusetts, decided to endorse Democratic Rep. Ed Markey prior to the special primary election for John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat.   Markey is on the right side of most issues progressives hold dear, but he was also an initial supporter of the Iraq War.  And he has become a very reliable backer of Israel-Lobby legislative priorities, where in Massachusetts he is something of an outlier on these issues. He was among only three Massachusetts delegation co-sponsors of H. Res. 850 and among only two of H. Res. 983.  He is also a dependable signer of whatever letter AIPAC is collecting signatures for, such as the one supporting the assault on Gaza a few years ago.

Some members of the peace organization argued in favor of no endorsement for Markey – at least in the primary – because of his poor record on Iran and Palestine, but they were outvoted.  The majority argued that an endorsement and fundraising for Markey would give them “access” to promote better positions on these issues after the election.  A cynic may wonder whether Markey, or any other progressive legislator would take this seriously.  A long-serving national board member of the group resigned in protest.

Then there is Massachusetts’ celebrity Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Many of her progressive supporters were uneasy over the boiler-plate pro-Israel language on her campaign web site, however there was little doubt that she was a genuine populist on other issues and would bring a rare progressive voice to the halls of Congress.  This, in large measure, she has done.

However, when push came to shove, Sen. Warren was persuaded to add her name as a sponsor to Senate Res. 65 – late to be sure (not until May 7) – and she joined in the unanimous vote in favor of the bill.  Now Warren, a faculty member of Harvard Law School undoubtedly knows the score on the Israel and Iran issues.  It is hard to imagine she hasn’t had certain conversations in the Faculty Club about Palestine, heard about the many events at her school on issues of Human Rights and International Law in the Middle East or understood the role of the Israel Lobby in war-promotion and military spending.

No doubt Warren rationalized her vote pragmatically.  Why risk becoming an isolated Senate freshman and losing her political credibility?  Why not submit to what was required in order to give her space to battle on other political issues she cared about?  For Senator Warren – as for so many progressives and Liberals — her seat is worth the price of a vote for AIPAC.

This is the way asymmetric politics works for the Israel Lobby.  It is the dynamic that puts our country in opposition to most of the world with respect to International Law and peace in the Middle East.  And it may yet succeed in getting us into a war with Iran.

Jeff Klein is a retired local union president, peace and justice activist, Palestinian rights supporter.  He just started a blog at http://atmyangle.blogspot.com/ and can be reached at jjk123@comcast.net

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Police Shot Me, Then Cuffed Me”, Says Victim Of Bank Attack

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | May 31, 2013

A young Palestinian man, from the Negev, who was shot and seriously injured by Israeli Police fire when an armed Israeli man attacked the Hapoalim Bank in Beersheba, on Monday May 20, stated that the Israeli Police shot and cuffed him, after instantly profiling him as the assailant.

Omar Waleeedy - aljabha.org
Omar Waleeedy – aljabha.org

The Israeli man killed four persons, and then killed himself, after the bank refused to give him a 6,000 NIS loan. The Arab man, Omar Al-Waleedy, 22, was shot by four live rounds leading to serious injuries.

Israeli Ynetnews has reported that Al-Waleedy, remained on life support for ten days, and when he told his story, the Police said that “his version was inconsistent with the outcome of the investigation”.

He said that he hid under a table, fearing for his life when he saw the gunman, but when the Police stormed the bank, they shot and wounded him.
In his testimony, Al-Waleedy said; “I thought the Police arrived to save me from the killer who killed four, but they shot me”.

From his hospital bed in Soroka Israeli hospital in Beersheba (Be’er As-Sabe’), Al-Waleedy said; “I arrived at the bank with my Jewish friend, Iran Sabri, in order to open an account for him, all of a sudden, a white-bearded man stormed into the Bank and opened fire in different directions”.

“I laid onto the ground, pretending to be dead; the attacker took a female employee hostage, and went to the toilets, then my friend and I rushed to the main door of the Bank”, he said, “The Police allowed my friend to pass, but they shot me, then they handcuffed me before evacuating the bank building”.

Following the incident, the Police claimed that eyewitness testimonies indicate that the Police “did not open fire at Al-Waleedy during the attack”.

On Thursday at night, May 31, the family of Al-Waleedy forced Police investigators out of his hospital room, and refused to allow them to interrogate him.

They asked the police to allow him to rest, and recover; the Police then arrested four.

One of the relatives said that the Police were “adding insult to injury” by trying to question Al-Waleedy on his hospital bed, “injustice took place the moment they shot him and took him to hospital in handcuffs”, he said.

According to Ynet, the police said that the fact the Al-Waleedy was unconscious made it impossible for the investigators to question him.

The Police also stated that the crime scene investigation led to the conclusion that the Police “did not open fire at Al-Waleedy at any time during the attack”, Ynet said, and added that a source at the Soroka Medical center indicated that “it is possible that Al-Waleedy was shot by the same gun that killed the four victims.”

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Comments Off on “The Police Shot Me, Then Cuffed Me”, Says Victim Of Bank Attack

President Foreshadows New Internet Surveillance Proposal During National Security Speech

By Trevor Timm | EFF | May 30, 2013

President Obama gave an influential speech on counter terrorism and national security policy last week, and while much of the media coverage discussed the President’s remarks on Guantanamo prison and drone strikes, buried in the speech was a line just as critical to civil liberties online.

Half way through the speech, Obama said he wanted to “review […] the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse.”

We certainly agree with the president, we need new privacy protections for our digital communications, and it’s encouraging to hear him suggest support for such proposals. After all, we know that the vast surveillance authorities have given to law enforcement over the last decade—like the Patriot Act, FISA Amendments Act, and National Security Letters—have been serially abused. Unfortunately, President Obama has actively defended these laws and policies in Congress and the courts, despite promising to reform them as a candidate.

There are still many measures his administration could support in the coming months to protect American’s communications. The White House could formally support reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which still says law enforcement agencies do not need warrants to obtain emails over 180 days old. The White House could come out in favor of warrant protection for cell-phone location information since it’s requested by authorities literally millions of times a year without a warrant. In the wake of the Associated Press scandal, Obama could also support a bill to require a court order for call records of all Americans.

But the first half of Obama’s statement—about “review […] the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication”—is quite troubling. The line is likely an allusion to CALEA II, a dangerous proposal the New York Times has reported the administration “is on the verge of backing.” The measure would force companies like Google and Facebook to install backdoors in all of their products to facilitate law-enforcement access, putting both our privacy and security at risk.

Law enforcement certainly doesn’t need more legal authorities to conduct digital surveillance. As mentioned above, Congress has already been provided a huge amount of new surveillance authority that has been abused. As former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire said in 2011, “today [is] a golden age for surveillance.”

Indeed, it seems that law enforcement is working at cross-purposes with folks concerned about actual cybersecurity. Just a few months ago in his State of the Union address, Obama himself talked about hackers who “steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail” and  “foreign countries and companies [that] swipe our corporate secrets.” Requiring real-time back doors into all of our communications would make those kinds of attacks easier. Recently, a group of more than a dozen of the nation’s best cybersecurity experts published a paper explaining why such a proposal would be a disaster for Internet security, giving hackers all over the world a central point of vulnerability to target.

And of course the FBI has still failed to put forth any evidence showing a bill to “intercept new kinds of communications” is needed at all. According to government statistics, from 2006-2010, the FBI has been ultimately thwarted by encryption zero times in their criminal investigations.

Citing privacy concerns, the White House commendably has threatened to veto CISPA, the cybersecurity bill. It should also jettison this ill-conceived CALEA II proposal in favor of privacy and security.

Email and call the White House today to tell them you oppose any plan to make Internet companies build government backdoors into your communications.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on President Foreshadows New Internet Surveillance Proposal During National Security Speech

CIA whistleblower imprisoned despite prosecutor’s promise

RT | May 30, 2013

The former CIA analyst who spoke out against the agency’s use of torture says he’s been deemed a “threat to public safety” and is serving his prison sentence in a crowded jail cell despite being promised admission to a federal work camp.

John Kiriakou, 48, has been at Loretto Federal Correctional Institution near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since February after he took a plea deal offered by the federal government. He was facing decades in prison if convicted under the charge initially lobbed by the US Department of Justice, violating the Espionage Act, but the government allowed him last year to plead guilty to a single count of disclosing information that identified a covert agent in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Kiriakou made headlines in 2007 when he spoke at length to reporters at ABC News about the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of waterboarding as an interrogation tool against suspected terrorists. Prior to the interview he spent several years working for the agency abroad following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, serving as head of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan before leaving the CIA and condemning his country’s use of torture. Now three months into his prison sentence, the website Firedoglake has published the first of Kiriakou’s “Letters from Loretto.”

I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official US government policy,” Kiriakou writes. “But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.

Despite being told by prosecutors and the presiding judge that he’d serve his sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp, Kiriakou says he has been held at the main facility because the Bureau of Prisons deemed him a “threat to the public safety.”

My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight,” he writes.

Kiriakou says he volunteered to teach fellow prisoners as part of Loretto’s GED program, but his counselor dismissed his request. He now works as a janitor in the prison’s chapel and makes just over five dollars a month.

In regards to the other inmates, Kiriakou says he’s been largely accepted into the prison.

My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hitman. The Aryans whispered that I was a ‘Muslim hunter,’ but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write communication appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good,” he writes.

Elsewhere, Kiriakou says that Loretto’s Special Investigative Service, “the prison version of every police department’s detective bureau,” tried to convince him that a fellow inmate, allegedly the uncle of an accused terrorist, was told to kill him.

But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison?” he writes.

In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we could have spent the rest of our sentences in the SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat,” he says.

He also says that his cell was ransacked by prison officials in a shake-down after correcting a guard who mispronounced his name.

Lesson learned: [Corrections officers] can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned,” he says.

Kiriakou is expected to finish his sentence in August 2015. Before going to Loretto, he said at an event in Washington, “I never tortured anybody, but I’m heading to prison while the torturers and the lawyers who papered over it and the people who deceived it and the men who destroyed the proof of it–the tapes– will never face justice.”

In 2012, Kiriakou was indicted on one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, three counts of violating the Espionage Act, and one count of making false statements. He pleaded to the IIPA violation last October, prompting then-CIA director David Petraeus to hail the conviction.

This case yielded the first IIPA successful prosecution in 27 years, and it marks an important victory for our Agency, for our Intelligence Community, and for our country,” Petraeus said. “Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws.” Petraeus resigned two months later after it was revealed that he had an extramarital affair with his biographer.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on CIA whistleblower imprisoned despite prosecutor’s promise

Iranian-American given 25-yr jail term

Press TV – May 30, 2013

An American judge has passed a 25-year prison sentence for the Iranian-American citizen Manssor Arbabsiar over allegations of his participation in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US.

On Thursday, New York federal Judge John Keenan passed the maximum sentence and said Arbabsiar must be taught a lesson for his involvement in a plot that Washington cannot tolerate.

His lawyers argued for a jail term of 10 years and said that he is suffering from mental disorders.

Arbabsiar was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on September 29, 2011.

He was detained on charges of planning to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir in a bomb attack at a restaurant in Washington.

Arbabsiar signed a plea bargain offered to him by Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was represented by Sabrina Shroff, a federal public defender, appointed by the court.

Arbabsiar’s family says that the plea bargain was signed under duress. They add that Shroff misguided them about the terms of the plea agreement.

Iran has said the case was a false scenario made up by American and Israeli officials.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Comments Off on Iranian-American given 25-yr jail term

Moscow disappointed political games prevented investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria

RT | May 31, 2013

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that “political games” prevented Russia from investigating the data on the use of toxic substances in Aleppo: the UN Secretariat couldn’t respond promptly to Moscow’s demand to look into the matter.

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which killed 26 people, including government forces.

Several countries, including Israel, the UK, France and the US – all vocal critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad – all claimed they had evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

Damascus denied that a chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian army, blaming the rebels and Turkey for the incident: “The rocket came from a place controlled by the terrorists and which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey,” Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi alleged in an interview with Interfax news agency.

Lavrov spoke following the reports that Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of alleged Syrian militants, who were reportedly planning a terrorist attack on the southern Turkish city of Adana.

Russia expressed concern over the incident, urging for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Almost a month ago, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said that Damascus was ready to have the UN investigation team look into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria.

“We were ready and we are always ready, right now, to receive the delegation that was set up by [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon to investigate what happened in Khan al-Assal,” Muqdad said, referring to the March 19 incident near Aleppo.

Syrian rebels are accused of using a rocket with a chemical warhead, killing 25 people and injuring 86, according to SANA news agency.

The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than two years now, with more than 80,000 people killed, according to UN estimates.

In his latest statement on the matter, Lavrov noted the Russian government’s concern over the issue due to the chance of provocations around the situation.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Moscow disappointed political games prevented investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria

James Comey ain’t your homie

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | May 29, 2013

President Obama is reportedly picking a former hedge fund executive turned senior Bush administration official at the Justice Department by the name James Comey to be his next head of the FBI. Like Chuck Hagel, this largely meaningless nomination in terms of actual policy is being played up as meaningful by the hacks whose job it is to do that sort of thing.

Forget the pundits. Here’s what the nomination means, if anything, by way of remarks Comey made at a press conference in 2004:

Had we tried to make a case against Jose Padilla through our criminal justice system, something that I, as the United States attorney in New York, could not do at that time without jeopardizing intelligence sources, he would very likely have followed his lawyer’s advice and said nothing, which would have been his constitutional right.

He would likely have ended up a free man, with our only hope being to try to follow him 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and hope — pray, really — that we didn’t lose him.

Trials can be so inconvenient, especially when the criminal justice system only affords the state a 93 percent conviction rate. You really don’t want to take any risks when it comes to national security. Indeed, “We could care less about a criminal case when right before us is the need to protect American citizens and to save lives,” Comey told reporters, presumably grabbing his genitals. “We’ll figure out down the road what we do with Jose Padilla.” His remarks mean he will do well at the FBI, that Comey, leading a department where protecting Americans has long served as justification for ignoring their rights.

Padilla ended up being labeled an “enemy combatant” and stashed away in a Naval brig, spending nearly four years in solitary confinement, which in the words of a psychiatrist who examined him led to the “destruction of a human being’s mind.” Despite his years spent being tortured in military custody, however, Padilla was ultimately tried and convicted within the civilian criminal justice system. A final punch to the gut, because this America and we are terrible: the mentally destroyed Padilla’s original conviction of 17 years in prison for expressing an interest in (if not actually engaging in) violent jihad was overturned for being too lenient.I hope you like your humor dark.

(Transcript via Kevin Gosztola)

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on James Comey ain’t your homie

Obama’s “illusion of movement” on Guantanamo

RT | May 31, 2013

President Obama may pledge to finally close Guantanamo’s doors, but all his words are just an illusion, while prisoners are suffering at the notorious detention facility.

Human rights lawyer David Remes, who represents 17 Guantanamo detainees has been talking to RT.

RT: President Obama has made numerous promises over the years to close Guantanamo Bay prison. Is it likely to happen?

David Remes: I don’t see how it can happen under the current circumstances. For one thing, President Obama keeps blaming Congress for preventing him from transferring detainees. As long as he puts responsibility on Congress, it’s unlikely that he will make major moves. In addition, he’s set up this new system for releasing Yemenis, whereby they have to go through another review process, which is likely to take a long time if it happens at all. So I think what he said sounded good, as usual, but, once again, it only provides the illusion of movement. The men face a very bleak circumstance in Guantanamo in terms of being transferred.

RT: Has the hunger strike involving over a hundred detainees influenced the pledge to close the facility?

DR: I haven’t talked to anyone yet, I’m going to speak to a couple of them tomorrow afternoon. But I imagine, based on what we’ve discussed in the past, that this was all a big snooze to them. Obama has no credibility down there. The men even say that they prefer Bush because he released detainees. I think this will be disregarded or just snorted at with cynicism.

RT: Some inmates from Yemen have already been cleared for release – but what about those from other countries?

DR: There are about thirty other detainees, from other countries, who have been approved for transfer. About half of them can be sent home to their own countries, but about half have to be re-settled in third countries because of concerns about torture in their own countries. Ambassador Dan Fried who has been appointed to place the detainees was on the verge to transfer these men when Congress stepped in, and that’s basically why his office was closed. They are the most promising candidates for transfer, but I don’t really think it’s going to happen very soon.

RT: In the event of Guantanamo actually closing, is it likely Washington will use other secret detention centers?

DR: If they are secret, we don’t know about them. I’m not trying to be flip about it. I also don’t think that the US is using secret centers – although obviously, if they are secret, I don’t know for sure. I think they may be handing men over to countries of origin or we may be just drowning these people instead of imprisoning them.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Obama’s “illusion of movement” on Guantanamo

Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Spends $100 Million on Private College Stadium

TNR | May 29, 2013

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | | Comments Off on Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Spends $100 Million on Private College Stadium

America’s Long History of Bloodletting

By Lawrence Davidson | Consortium News | May 30, 2013

There is an American tradition of frequent war. Indeed, over the course of the country’s history the United States has been at war almost constantly. Some of these have been relatively short conflicts like interventions in various Central American venues. Some have been much larger and longer affairs, like the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam.

The point to be drawn from this is that the people of the United States are (perhaps unconsciously) acclimated to always being in one sort of armed conflict or another. Unfortunately, this history renders a recent public statement by the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeb Johnson, into just a bit of fanciful idealism. He insisted “war must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs.” Certainly not for Americans.

An Army sergeant peers out the door of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on the way to pick up soldiers in a training operation at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 23, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Percy Jones)

With their active assumption that the U.S. represents the world’s best chance for the victory of “good” against “evil,” Americans seem willing to battle on as long as they are convinced they are winning and the casualties are low. That may be why there was no popular protest when Michael Sheehan, Obama’s assistant secretary of defense for “special operations,” told a Senate hearing that the country’s “war on terror” might last “at least 10 or 20 years” longer (it has already been going on 12 years). In the mainstream media, there was not even a noticeable raising of an anchorperson’s eyebrows!

The reason given for Sheehan’s prognosis was that al-Qaida, and its franchise allies, keep recreating themselves as fast as their alleged leaders can be droned into oblivion. Missing from the congressional and media reaction was the obvious question of “how come” such groups keep recreating themselves?

Many middle-echelon State Department analysts familiar with the Middle East know the answer has something to do with the fact that U.S. policies in the region have not significantly changed since the 9/11 attacks. Most of the personnel above the middle echelon are political appointees who keep asserting that what motivates the al-Qaida types is religious fanaticism.

Of course there are religious fanatics at work on both sides of the “war on terror,” but those in the Middle East have grievances to focus on and U.S. policies are seen as one source of those. The fact that the “war on terror” is largely a consequence of American policies cemented into place by powerful special interests calls into question President Barack Obama’s recent assertion that “this is a just war, a war waged proportionally in last resort and in self-defense.”

It also suggests that the struggle is likely to go on and on until its ruinous consequences become so obvious to the voting public that the politicians are forced to break with their special-interest supporters. This is the real criterion for change, for, under the present circumstances, there will always be “terrorists” out there who, to reword (and correct) an assertion by President George W. Bush, “hate our policies.”

And what is there not to hate about draconian sanctions, the arming of dictators, and giving opened-ended support to the most racist state in the region?

Rules of Engagement

In the meantime, President Obama has been trying to create “rules of engagement” for the use of the government’s primary weapon in this endless war: those remote controlled bombs we call drones. These rules will, he says, provide “clear guidelines, oversight and accountability” and satisfy partisan congressional grumblings, if not the more pertinent questions of human rights advocates.

To this end the White House has issued guidelines concerning procedures for counterterrorism operations such as drone attacks. The guidelines tell us “there must be a legal basis for using lethal force” and decisions to use such “force against individual terrorists outside the United States and areas of active hostilities are made at the most senior levels of the U.S. Government.” The document then lays out other specific preconditions for the use of lethal force, among which are:

1. “Near certainty” that the terrorist target is present.

2. “Near certainty” that noncombatants will not be injured or killed.

3. An assessment that “capture is not feasible at the time of the operation.”

4. An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in “the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.”

5. An assessment that “no other reasonable alternatives exist” to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.

Finally, “International legal principles, including respect for sovereignty and the law of armed conflict, impose important constraints on the ability of the United States to act unilaterally – and on the way in which the United States can use force. The United States respects national sovereignty and international law.”

The problem with these guidelines, beyond a number of undefined terms such as “near certainty,” “reasonable” and “feasible,” is that its criteria misrepresent reality or are utterly unreliable. For instance, under international law there is no “legal” basis for this sort of use of “lethal force.”

What the Obama administration (and the Bush regime before it) has done is take up the illegal Israeli “targeted assassination” program, which constitutes the behavior of a rogue state. Even from a domestic legal prospective, Obama’s criteria for targeted assassination will be carried out behind closed doors. There will be no due process. And there will be no accountability for “mistakes.”

Finally, nothing in the guidelines is enacted into legislation and therefore, assuming an effort to actually follow their criteria, they are specific to the Obama presidency and have no authority over his successors. As Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, put it, “a mere promise that the U.S. will work within established guidelines . . . provides little confidence that the U.S. is complying with international law.”

Throughout the country’s history of one war following another, there has been a parallel history of cyclical deterioration and recovery of constitutional rights.

However, with the government’s wholehearted embrace of targeted assassination, as well as modern surveillance technology and the precedent of offshore prisons for “enemy combatants,” one wonders if, from now on, the recovery of rights will ever be fully equal to their loss. Maybe now it really will be all downhill for freedom in the “land of the free.”

~

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on America’s Long History of Bloodletting