Aletho News


UK: Woolwich attack sparks Labour calls for snooper’s charter

Press TV – May 23, 2013

Labour peers have urged British Deputy Prime Minister and Lib-Dems leader Nick Clegg to stop opposing the Communications Data Bill, dubbed the snooper’s charter by the opponents, in the wake of the Woolwich attack.

Former Labour home secretary Lord Reid and former security minister Lord West urged Clegg to drop his opposition to the legislation after a soldier was beheaded by the knife-wielding attackers in Woolwich, southeast London.

Appearing on BBC’s Newsnight, Lord Reid said the police and intelligence services should have tools they need to prevent these kinds of attacks.

Privacy watchdog Big Brother Watch, however, said it was “wholly wrong for [Lord Reid] to be arguing for a change of policy before the details of what has happened in Woolwich are clear.”

The snooper’s charter, if passed, would allow bulk, warrantless, unaccountable examination of all online activities by government agencies in the country, which according to critics would harm Britons’ freedom and privacy.

The so-called snooper’s charter was proposed by Home Secretary Theresa May, despite the coalition government’s agreement in 2010 to end the storing of emails and Internet records “without good reason”.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Comments Off on UK: Woolwich attack sparks Labour calls for snooper’s charter

Colombia: extrajudicial executions killing still ongoing according to report

By George Nelson | The Argentina Independent | May 24, 2013

The Centre for Popular Research and Education (Cinep) in Bogotá has reported that during 2012 there were 11 separate cases of extrajudicial executions in Colombia, suggesting that executions known as ‘false positives’ are still ongoing. A further eight cases of arbitrary detention have also been reported, amassing a total of 52 victims.

The false positives scandal refers to the Colombian military’s alleged sanctioned practice of killing civilians and then dressing them up in guerrilla fatigues in order to present them as combat kills. Reports show that the executions usually target farmers, social activists, and political opponents.

The scandal is part of continuous armed conflict between Colombia’s government and the FARC and ELN, both guerilla forces. In May last year the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) alleged that over 3,000 civilians had been killed between 2002 and 2008 as a result of the conflict.

Cinep also claim that the general state of human rights in Colombia is poor with members of the paramilitary “the greatest violators” responsible for 565 cases, followed by the police with 268. Giraldo Serna, of Cinep, said, “Threats, tortures, disappearances, deaths, and social cleansing are still implemented in Colombia.”

The government denied ‘false positives’ are still occurring but Cinep believes the problem is far greater than people think. “Those who justify the false positives don’t realise they are damaging the prestige of the police force,” said Cinep spokesman Alejandro Angulo.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hospital patients in Gaza poisoned by gas from Israel

MEMO | May 24, 2013

It has been announced that four Palestinian patients were poisoned by carbon monoxide gas sent to Gaza hospitals as nitrous gas.

Palestinian Health Minister, Mofeed al-Mokhalalati, affirmed that four patients were poisoned by the carbon monoxide gas as they were injected with it in the belief that it was nitrous gas used in anesthesia.

Al-Mokhalalati said that Israel is being blamed for the poisoning as it is the sole source of nitrous gas brought to Gaza hospitals.

He said that he had commissioned a group of experts to form a fact finding committee into the poisoning and to understand how carbon monoxide containers managed reach Gaza’s hospitals.

The Minister said that his ministry was obliged to postpone all surgical operations until further notice. “We have stopped all surgical operations until we are able to check all medical tools and equipment imported through Israel,” he said.

Patients in Gaza wait for months to undergo surgical operations in Gaza hospitals which have suffered greatly as a consequence of the six-year siege imposed by Israel.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Comments Off on Hospital patients in Gaza poisoned by gas from Israel

A million Israeli landmines planted in occupied Palestinian West Bank

MEMO | May 23, 2013
The 1997 Ottawa Treaty bans the use of mines, but countries like the US and Israel have opted to not sign the treaty

About a million landmines have been planted by the Israeli occupation in occupied Palestinian West Bank, official Palestinian data has shown.

The Commissioner General of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Washington, Maan Erekat, said: “The number of Israeli landmines planted is between 800,000 to a million.”

During his meeting with UN and NGO officials in New York on Wednesday, Erekat said: “This significant number of landmines poses great direct danger to the safety and security of Palestinian citizens.” He discussed efforts with the officials he met to remove these landmines.

Erekat reiterated the importance of “continuing the efforts being exerted by the UN and NGO in cooperation with Palestinian parties to remove the landmines planted around the occupied West Bank.”

The Israeli occupation has planted landmines in the Palestinian territories since it occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 under “security” pretexts.

There are about 51 landmine fields scattered around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, especially in the Jordan valley, the north and west of the West Bank, near the ‘Green Line,’ around Israeli settlements and around large empty spaces where Israeli soldiers practice their military drills.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on A million Israeli landmines planted in occupied Palestinian West Bank

What an Anonymous U.S. Official Says About Iranians in Syria

By Peter Hart | FAIR | May 22, 2013

The Washington Post’s Anne Gearan reports today (5/22/13) that Iran is in the thick of the Syria war, according to an anonymous U.S. official:

Iran has sent soldiers to Syria to fight alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

An unknown number of Iranians are fighting in Syria, the official said, citing accounts from members of the opposition Free Syrian Army, which is backed by the United States. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a strategy session that Secretary of State John F. Kerry is to hold Wednesday with key supporters of the Syrian opposition.

The rationale for granting anonymity–a privilege that outlets are supposed to extend only rarely–is curious; it’s not clear why the government would need to say things anonymously in order “to preview a strategy session” about Syria.

Even more curious, though, is whether or not the source in question actually said this.  At EA Worldview (5/22/13), Scott Lucas took a look at the briefing that produced the story, and what the State Department official actually said was this:

It is the most visible effort we have seen of Hezbollah to engage directly in the fighting in Syria as a foreign force. We understand there are also Iranians up there. That is what the Free Syrian Army commanders are telling us. I think this is an important thing to note, the direct implication of foreigners fighting on Syrian soil now for the regime.

washpost-iran-syriaSuggesting that the Free Syrian Army believes Iranians are in Syria–which is probably true–is not the same thing as saying “Iran has sent soldiers to Syria” to fight on Assad’s behalf. And in answering followup questions, the anonymous State Department official admits that “to be very frank, I don’t have any estimates of numbers and I don’t know that they are directly involved in the fighting.” The source also says the Iranians “could be doing a little of both advising and fighting” and that “the reports that we’re getting… are not consistent.”

But Gearan’s question at the briefing would strongly suggest that she was pushing a stronger line about Iranian involvement than the anonymous source:

Are we now, based on your earlier comments about Iranian fighters being involved, looking at a proxy war? I mean, you’re talking about arming the rebels on one side, and the Iranians are clearly arming the others and fighting on behalf of the others on the other side. Are we now basically in a war with Iran?

The source doesn’t go as far out on this issue as Gearan’s question was pushing. But it didn’t really matter. As you can see in the pages of the Washington Post, an official Iranian role in the fighting was treated almost like a fact–which might be the point of having anonymous briefings like this.

Iran dismisses claims about military presence in Syria

Press TV – May 24, 2013

An Iranian deputy foreign minister has rejected claims about Tehran’s military presence in Syria, dismissing the allegations as a “blame game” orchestrated by the Syrian opposition groups.

“Iranian forces have never been, and are not present in Syria, and I deny this claim,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia-Pacific Affairs Abbas Araqchi said in Ankara on Thursday.

“The real enemies of Syria make such claims to provoke that country’s people [against Iran] and divert developments [in Syria] in the wrong direction,” said Araqchi, who is also Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman.

He emphasized that the crisis in Syria cannot be resolved through military means, adding that the unrest in the Arab country should be resolved politically. … Full article

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

ACLU Comment on Obama’s National Security Speech

By Anthony D. Romero | ACLU | May 23, 2013

President Obama is right to say that we cannot be on a war footing forever, but the time to take our country off the global warpath and fully restore the rule of law is now, not at some indeterminate future point. Four years into his presidency, President Obama has finally taken the first steps to jump-start his administration’s effort to make good on early campaign promises to close Guantánamo and recognized the human cost of failing to act. These are encouraging and noteworthy actions.

To the extent the speech signals an end to signature strikes, recognizes the need for congressional oversight, and restricts the use of drones to threats against the American people, the developments on targeted killings are promising. Yet the president still claims broad authority to carry out targeted killings far from any battlefield, and there is still insufficient transparency. We continue to disagree fundamentally with the idea that due process requirements can be satisfied without any form of judicial oversight by regular federal courts.

We are particularly gratified that President Obama embraced our recommendations to use his authority to allow prompt transfer and release of Guantánamo detainees who pose no national security threat and that have been cleared by the military and intelligence agencies. We also applaud his appointment of a high level official to supervise the process for closing Guantánamo once and for all.

But there are other problems that must still be addressed. The unconstitutional military commissions must be shuttered, not brought to the United States. While the president expressed appropriate concern about indefinite detention, he offered no clear plan for ending this unconstitutional policy for those who have not been tried or cleared for release.

President Obama’s efforts to repair his legacy in the eyes of future historians will require that he continue to double down if he is to fully restore this nation’s standing at home and abroad. The ACLU realizes that Congress has thrown significant barriers in closing Guantánamo. But in some areas Congress has been more progressive, having recently demanded legal memoranda that claim to authorize the illegal killing program. The ACLU stands ready to work with, and if necessary do battle with, those elements of government that impede our nation’s obligations to honor the rule of law and to protect our values while safeguarding our security.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on ACLU Comment on Obama’s National Security Speech

For Obama civilian deaths are O.K. because the enemy kill civilians also

By Damian Lataan | May 24, 2013

In a speech to the National Defense University yesterday outlining his new policies regarding the use of drones in targeted killings US President Obama told his audience;

…before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.

This last point is critical, because much of the criticism about drone strikes – at home and abroad – understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But as Commander-in-Chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties – not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places –like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu – where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.

At least Obama is admitting – contrary to CIA director John Brennan’s claims that no civilians have been killed in drone strikes – that there are civilians being killed in these attacks though he is inferring that civilian deaths are not as high as some are reporting (though the Human Rights Institute are saying that some non-government reports are actually under-reporting the numbers) suggesting that the people of the world should believe US assessments rather than ‘non-governmental reports’. (Why would anyone want to believe ‘US assessments’ after the Iraq WMDs fiasco?)

Obama goes on to say that the civilian deaths will ‘haunt him’ and all those involved in the killings for ‘as long as we live’. This is unadulterated and utterly transparent garbage. Obama and his willing killers that operate the drones couldn’t care less about the civilian casualties. They do it time and time again. Thousands of civilians have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan alone and each time Obama thinks it’s enough just to say; ‘Sorry. We didn’t mean it. We’ll do our best to ensure it doesn’t happen again’, but, of course, it does happen again – and again, and again. Obama then sinks to new low levels of rhetoric by resorting to the use of moral relativism as he attempts to justify civilian deaths by saying that the ‘enemy they are targeting also kill civilians’.

The reality is that Obama and the US kill the enemy off battlefield simply because they can and they really are not in the slightest bit concerned about the civilian deaths except inasmuch that it may adversely effect public opinion; hence the attempts at justification. What doesn’t seem to have been thought through yet is the possibility that America’s enemy may one day have the same ability to kill by remote control. What then when scores of American citizens die when the enemy makes an attempt to assassinate an American political or military leader via a remotely controlled weapon?

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on For Obama civilian deaths are O.K. because the enemy kill civilians also

Israel’s Hand in Guatemala’s Genocide

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | May 23, 2013

At the height of Guatemala’s mass slaughters in the 1980s, including genocide against the Ixil Indians, the Reagan administration worked with Israeli officials to provide helicopters that the Guatemalan army used to hunt down fleeing villagers, according to documentary and eyewitness evidence.

During testimony at the recent genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, one surprise was how often massacre survivors cited the Army’s use of helicopters in the scorched-earth offensives.

Journalist Allan Nairn, who covered the war in Guatemala and attended the Rios Montt trial, said in an interview, “one interesting thing that came out in the trial, as witness after witness testified, was a very substantial number of them talked about fleeing into the mountains and being bombed, attacked and machine gunned from U.S. planes and helicopters.

“At the time this was going on, I was aware this was happening in some cases, but from the testimony of the witnesses, it sounded like these attacks from U.S. planes and helicopters were more frequent than we realized at the time. That’s an example of how we don’t know the whole story yet – how extensive the U.S. complicity was in these crimes.”

Part of the mystery was where did Guatemala’s UH-1H “Huey” helicopters come from, since the U.S. Congress continued to resist military sales to Guatemala because of its wretched human rights record. The answer appears to be that some helicopters were arranged secretly by President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff through Israeli intelligence networks.

Rios Montt began pressing the United States for 10 UH-1H helicopters in June 1983, as his military campaign was ramping up. Since Guatemala lacked the U.S. Foreign Military Sales credits or the cash to buy the helicopters, Reagan’s national security team looked for unconventional ways to arrange the delivery of the equipment.

On Aug. 1, 1983, NSC aides Oliver North and Alfonso Sapia-Bosch reported to National Security Advisor William P. Clark that his deputy Robert “Bud” McFarlane was planning to exploit his Israeli channels to secure the helicopters for Guatemala, according to a document that I discovered at Reagan’s presidential library.

“With regard to the loan of ten helicopters, it is [our] understanding that Bud will take this up with the Israelis,” wrote North and Sapia-Bosch. “There are expectations that they would be forthcoming. Another possibility is to have an exercise with the Guatemalans. We would then use US mechanics and Guatemalan parts to bring their helicopters up to snuff.”

By then, McFarlane had a long and intimate relationship with Israeli intelligence involving various backdoor deals. [For more on McFarlane’s Israeli channels, see’sHow Neocons Messed Up the Mideast.”]

Israeli Channel

McFarlane’s approach to Israel for the helicopters was successful, according to former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who described some of the history behind Israel’s activities in Guatemala in his 1992 memoir, Profits of War.

Ben-Menashe traced the Israeli arms sales to Guatemala back to a private network established in the 1970s by Gen. Ariel Sharon during a gap when he was out of the government. Sharon’s key representative in Guatemala was a businessman named Pesach Ben-Or, and through that channel, Israel supplied military gear to Guatemala’s security services in the 1980s, Ben-Menashe wrote.

In an interview on Thursday, Ben-Menashe said the Israelis supplied a total of six helicopters to the Guatemalans along with computers and software to keep track of alleged subversives who could then be identified and executed. Ben-Menashe said he learned of the mass slaughters during his travels to Guatemala and reported back to his Israeli superiors about the atrocities involving the equipment that they had authorized. The response, he said, was concern but inaction.

“They weren’t for killing these people, not at all,” Ben-Menashe said. “But they thought their interest was to help the Reagan people. If the Reagan people wanted it [the equipment sent to Guatemala], they would do it. [They thought,] ‘this is bad, but is it any of our business? Our American friends are asking for our help, so we should help them.’”

After our phone interview had ended, Ben-Menashe called me back to stress that the Israelis were unaware of the genocidal nature of the Guatemalan military campaigns against the Ixil Indians, although the Israelis did recognize that they were assisting in mass murders of dark-skinned Guatemalans.

“As we saw it, they [Guatemalan military authorities] were targeting all non-white villagers who were sitting on fertile lands that the white Guatemalans wanted,” he said, adding that when he reported this information to his superiors, “the Israelis rolled their eyes [in dismay] but said, ‘this is what our friends in the Reagan administration want.’” [For more on Ben-Menashe’s work for Israeli intelligence, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Besides the helicopters for hunting down villagers who fled into the jungles, the computer equipment and the sophisticated software made the Guatemalan killing machine vastly more efficient in the towns and cities. A former U.S. Green Beret operating in Guatemala once told me that he witnessed Guatemalan security forces stopping buses and inputting identification numbers of the passengers into a computer to select those who would be dragged off to the side of the road and summarily shot.

Death Lists

From first-hand reporting in Guatemala, journalist Nairn also observed the security advantages gained from detailed death lists. Nairn said soldiers under Gen. Otto Perez Molina, the current president, “described how they would go into town armed with death lists provided them by G2 military intelligence, death lists of people who were suspected of being collaborators of the guerrillas or critics of the army.

“They told how they would strangle people with lassos, slit women open with machetes, shoot people in the head in front of the neighbors, use U.S. planes, helicopters and 50 [kilo]gram bombs to attack people if they fled into the hills.”

Nairn said, “The U.S. had also arranged for Israel to step in and become the principal supplier of hardware to the Guatemalan army, in particular assault rifles, the Galil automatic rifle. This was because the administration was running into problems with Congress, which wouldn’t go along with a lot of their plans to aid the Guatemalan military, so they did an end run by using the government of Israel.”

Though the focus of the case against Rios Montt has been the genocide inflicted on Ixil villages in the northern highlands – where some 626 villages were eradicated by the Guatemalan military – those massacres were only part of the estimated 200,000 killings perpetrated by right-wing Guatemalan regimes since a CIA-sponsored coup ousted an elected government in 1954.

The bloodbath was at its worst in the 1980s during Ronald Reagan’s presidency as he encouraged the anti-leftist slaughters that claimed the lives of some 100,000 Guatemalans. Reagan expanded his support for the Guatemalan security forces even though the CIA was keeping his administration informed of the systematic killings underway.

Another document that I discovered in the archives of the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, revealed that Reagan and his national security team in 1981 agreed to supply military aid to Guatemala’s dictators so they could pursue the goal of exterminating not only “Marxist guerrillas” but people associated with their “civilian support mechanisms.” [See’sRonald Reagan: Accessory to Genocide.”]

As for Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala for 17 especially bloody months in 1982-83, the 86-year-old ex-general was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity by a criminal court on May 10 and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

But that conviction was overturned on Monday on a 3-2 vote by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court which is still dominated by allies of the military and the oligarchy. As for the Reagan administration officials and the Israelis who aided and abetted Rios Montt and his fellow generals, there is no indication that any accountability will be exacted.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s Hand in Guatemala’s Genocide