Aletho News


Einhorn on Getting to Yes with Iran

By Dan Joyner | Arms Control Law | July 13, 2013

I’ll try to stay calm as I write this. I’ll try.

I just read Robert Einhorn’s new article over at Foreign Policy entitled “Getting to ‘Yes’ with Iran.” Most of you will know that for the past four years, until May, Einhorn was a key member of the Obama administration’s diplomatic team working on the Iran nuclear issue, and was involved in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Because of this, I think its fair to take his opinions as fairly representative of the US perspective on the ongoing diplomatic process with Iran.

It’s honestly hard to know where to begin to criticize this piece. There’s so very much to criticize. I think the most maddening aspect to it is simply the tone throughout – the paternalistic, arrogant tone that drives most of the world crazy about US “diplomacy,” and makes them want to collectively scream at us “who the f#&*! do you think you are!?!”  Here are a few jewels:

The two sides could try to work out a road map containing the general elements or principles of a phased, comprehensive deal, including an outline of the key elements of an Iranian civil nuclear program that would be permitted in an end-state. . .

More specifically, any acceptable approach to permitting enrichment would have to provide confidence that Iran could not quickly or secretly “break out” of agreed arrangements and use its enrichment capabilities to produce highly-enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. This would require limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity (both in terms of numbers and types of centrifuges), restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium (in terms of quantities and locations), and special monitoring measures capable of detecting a breakout at the earliest possible moment. . .

The question of whether the negotiations’ end-state should include a domestic enrichment program cannot be answered until we have explored such practical arrangements with the Iranians. Such engagement will not be easy for either side. It will require the United States and its partners to do what they have so far avoided: talk about what would make an Iranian enrichment program acceptable. And it will require the Iranians to recognize that the United States and the international community will not accept an unrestricted enrichment program, but only a regulated capability that denies them the opportunity to convert their program rapidly or clandestinely to the production of nuclear weapons.

Do you hear it? How many times he uses words like “permit,” “accept,” and “acceptable”? This drives the rest of the world crazy – how the U.S. and the West generally put themselves in the position of parents telling other states – as if they were little children and not fully equal sovereigns – what they will accept and not accept, permit and not permit those states to do in their own countries! And if you don’t go along with these parental orders, the U.S. and E.U. will slap sanctions on you, like a parent punishing a child. Nevermind if there is no international legal basis either for the substantive “non-acceptance” of the activity, or for applying punitive sanctions, as is the case with Iran’s nuclear program. Dad’s going to do it anyway, because he knows what’s best, and because he can.

Do you not see how this drives other states crazy, and makes them want to defy these edicts from the West, just on principle? It’s basic schoolyard psychology. And we would feel and respond the same way, if the tables were turned.

But wait, there’s more. He also tries his hand at legally justifying the U.S. refusal to recognize Iran’s right to peaceful uranium enrichment:

The United States has been justified in rejecting an unfettered “right to enrich.” The Nonproliferation Treaty protects the right of compliant parties to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but it is silent on whether that right includes enrichment, which is a dual-use technology that can also produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Lawyers can debate whether a right to enrich is included in the treaty, but what is not debatable is that Iran has forfeited — at least temporarily — any right to enrichment (and reprocessing) until it can demonstrate convincingly that it is in compliance with its NPT obligations. For the time being, whatever rights it has to these technologies have been suspended by a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions, which are legally binding on all U.N. members, including Iran.

Well, I wrote a whole book on why he is wrong in his assessment of the NPT and Article IV. I’d be happy to explain it to him sometime, or he can just buy the book and read it (it’s out in paperback!), now that he’s out of office and has time to actually think about policies, instead of running around implementing them based on erroneous understandings. And as far as the Security Council resolutions are concerned, I’ve written about them as well, including in an article in the George Washington International Law Review. And I’m currently writing another piece in which I will discuss more thoroughly the issue of states’ rights in international law. In that piece I plan to demonstrate that the rights of states, including the one codified in NPT Article IV, have jurisprudential meaning and implications, and impose obligations on other actors to respect them – including the Security Council.  And when the Council acts to prejudice these rights, its decisions are null and void.

But coming back to a macro view of this piece by Einhorn, it really makes for a depressing read. It convinces me that there really is no hope for a practical, negotiated solution, as long as the U.S. approaches the negotiating table with this attitude and with these erroneous ideas about both the principle and practicality of what they’re hoping to accomplish through them.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ex-CIA station chief in Milan detained in Panama

RT | July 18, 2013

A former station chief with the CIA has been detained in Panama after being on the run from Italian police for more than a decade.

Robert Seldon Lady, 59, was reportedly brought into custody early Thursday after surfacing in the Central American country. An Italian court convicted him in 2009 in absentia of abducting an Egyptian terror suspect from the streets of Milan, and he was sentenced in early 2013 to nine years in prison. Only now, however, has he been caught, according to a statement made Thursday by the Italian justice ministry.

The case against Lady marked the first time ever that a CIA agent was accused of kidnapping and brought to trial. Twenty-two other Americans, mostly intelligence officers, were also convicted for their role in the “extraordinary rendition” of a Muslim cleric.

Lady was the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency post in Milan during the time of the abduction. He is accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and assisting in his years’ long detention which was reportedly accompanied with bouts of torture.

“I’m not guilty. I’m only responsible for carrying out orders that I received from my superiors,” Lady told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper in 2009.

Previously, Lady told GQ magazine in a candid interview that, “When you work in intelligence, you do things in the country in which you work that are not legal.”

“It’s a life of illegality,” said Lady, “But state institutions in the whole world have professionals in my sector, and it’s up to us to do our duty.”

“I console myself by reminding myself that I was a soldier, that I was in a war against terrorism, that I couldn’t discuss orders given to me,” Lady said to Italian journalists.

Lady had served just shy of a quarter-century with the CIA at the time of the crime. He described his former employer to GQ years later as “the vanguard of democracy” and his role as “the greatest job I ever had.”

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Language of Power: Obama’s “Humanitarian Hawk” & Israel’s New Gladiator at the UN

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | July 18, 2013
(Photo Credit: Pete Souza / White House)

In her first appearance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Samantha Power, Obama’s pick for next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that she will spend her time in the role much as her predecessor Susan Rice did: acting as Israel’s consummate defender, fear-mongering about Iran, and opposing any move to champion Palestinian human rights or self-determination.

Rice, who has been appointed as Obama’s National Security Adviser, has said repeatedly that the American delegation to the UN “often works in ‘lockstep’ with the Israeli delegation” and spends “an enormous amount of time defending Israel’s right to defend itself and defending Israel’s legitimacy.”

“It’s an issue of utmost and daily concern for the United States,” she declared last year.  A few months ago, she reiterated this point, insisting that her role as an apologist for the Israeli government is “a huge part of my work to the United Nations” and that the United States “will not rest in the crucial work of defending Israel’s security and legitimacy every day at the United Nations.”

Power has already proven herself a loyal replacement, disavowing any semblance of past critical thinking when it comes to Israeli human rights abuses and abrogation of international law and opposing fear-mongering about Iran’s nuclear program. It is no surprise Washington hawks and, even the Israeli government, are falling over themselves to sing her praises.

In her confirmation hearing yesterday, Power revealed her adherence to AIPAC talking points, essentially working her way down the tried and true list of boilerplate phrases.  “The United States has no greater friend in the world than the State of Israel,” she said, adding, “Israel is a country with whom we share security interests and, even more fundamentally, with whom we share core values – the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

“America has a special relationship with Israel,” she stated, to the surprise of no one and the consternation of George Washington‘s ghost. “I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she promised.

Perhaps her most disturbing comments, however, were about Iran.  Shamelessly exploiting the horror of the Holocaust to fear-monger about the Islamic Republic, she declared:

“…within this organization built in the wake of the Holocaust – built in part in order to apply the lessons of the Holocaust – we also see unacceptable bias and attacks against the State of Israel. We see the absurdity of Iran chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament, despite the fact that its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat to international peace and security.”

With this statement, Power, in her eagerness to check off all the buzzword boxes prescribed by AIPAC, directly contradicts the consistent assessment of the United States’ own intelligence community, which has repeatedly concluded that Iran is, in fact, not pursuing a nuclear weapons as it has no nuclear weapons program.

Early last year, an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told the Washington Post that Iran has not decided to pursue nuclear weapons, explaining, “Our belief is that they are reserving judgment on whether to continue with key steps they haven’t taken regarding nuclear weapons.”  At the time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta affirmed this position, admitting, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Soon thereafter, the New York Times reported, “Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier.” This, the paper noted, “remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”

Either Samantha Power is an idiot or she’s lying.

In fact, there was a time when Power wasn’t so confident in making such a declarative statement. In a 2008 interview with Miller-McCune, Power noted that she was “not an expert on Iran,” but condemned the “American sabre-rattling” of the George W. Bush administration. “The threats – implicit and explicit – of U.S. military action have united very diverse secular, Islamist and nationalist strands,” she said, adding that American “belligerence” had “backfired.”

When asked specifically about whether she thought “Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons,” Power replied, “It would surprise me if they weren’t, but I don’t know.”

Still, she disparaged the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate and simply assumed Iran “would see as in its interests to amass as much firepower as possible,” due to the foreign threats it faces. Nevertheless, she stated, “It does not seem as though the Iranian regime is close to possessing nuclear weapons” and said that “when U.S. leaders claim Iran poses an imminent threat, they are not currently heard as credible.”

Now, five years later, Power sounds exactly like Bush’s own UN Ambassador, perennial Iran hawk John Bolton, who in 2006, insisted to the UN Security Council that “Iran had defied the international community by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons” and that this “pursuit of nuclear weapons constituted a direct threat to international peace and security.”

Furthermore, Power’s incredulity regarding what she deems the “absurdity of Iran chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament,” betrays her own ignorance on Iran’s constantly repeated stance regarding nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Iran has long championed a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East and is a party to all disarmament treaties on weapons of mass destruction, including the Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Israel, however, is not a member to any of them.

Last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated that Iran fully supports the establishment of a NWFZ, but that Israel, and its American backers, presented the “only obstacle to the creation of such a zone…due to its persistent refusal to join the NPT and to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards system.”  The United States consistently blocks crucial international conferences dedicated to nuclear non-proliferation for the sole purpose of protecting Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal from scrutiny.

Samantha Power has surely embraced her new role in Turtle Bay as Israel’s stalwart apologist.

Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s hasbarist-in-chief, once called Susan Rice a “gladiator” fighting in the United Nations on behalf of Israel.  There is no question Samantha Power will, for the sake of our “special relationship” and “shared values” with an aggressive, nuclear-armed, settler-colonial apartheid state, similarly take up the sword and continue to unleash hell on the entire Middle East.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Benjamin & His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Lies: Netanyahu Cries ‘Wolf’…Again

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | July 16, 2013

“[An Iranian nuclear bomb] was a lot further away 15 years ago when I started talking about it. It was a lot further away 10 years ago. It was a lot further away five years. It was a lot further away five months ago. They are getting there, and they are getting very, very close.”

– Benjamin Netanyahu, March 7, 2012

“Red line, white line, black line and the like is for children. This is the level of this guy’s character.”

– Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, October 2, 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the Sunday morning airwaves to spout tired talking points about the non-existent threat Iran’s safeguarded, civilian nuclear program poses to Israel, the United States, and presumably Neptune and Krypton.

In a renewed propaganda blitz, Netanyahu told CBS‘ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” that Iran is getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and resurrected a number of embarrassing phrases including “red line,” “credible military threat” and something about ticking clocks.

“They’re edging up to the red line,” Netanyahu said. “They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate – that is, within a few weeks.” He also said Iran is “building ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] to reach the American mainland in a few years.”

Dismissing the recent Iranian election as irrelevant to what he insists are devious Iranian intentions, Netanyahu called Hassan Rouhani, who will be inaugurated as Iran’s new president on August 3rd, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” whose maniacal strategy will be, “Smile and build a bomb.”

The media carried the news with headlines like “Israeli PM threatens to strike Iran” and “Israel Increases Pressure on U.S. to Act on Iran,” quoting Netanyahu as claiming that, when it comes to blah blah blah, “I won’t wait until it’s too late.” We’ve been here before.

It was boring then and it’s boring now.

“If sanctions don’t work, they have to know that you’ll be prepared to take military action — that’s the only thing that will get their attention,” Netanyahu said, suggesting that Iranians are subhumans who only understand grunts and shoves, rather than rational actors preserving and protecting their inalienable national rights and refusing to back down to offensive and illegal demands made by serially-aggressive nuclear-armed bullies.

Netanyahu urged the United States government to “make clear that the nuclear option” – whoops, Freudian slip of the war criminal’s tongue – “the military option which is on the table is truly on the table,” but lamented that there seemed to be “no sense of urgency” when it comes to stopping Iran from doing something every intelligence agency on the planet – including Israel’s – says it’s not doing.

The Israeli Prime Minister and his military and political acolytes, have repeatedly called for the United States to issue a “credible military threatagainst Iran. Netanyahu did so again at a Cabinet meeting prior to his appearance on “Face the Nation.”

Threatening – let alone committing – an unprovoked attack on Iran is unquestionably a violation of the United Nations Charter.

Still, an obsession is an obsession and, at least, Netanyahu isn’t ashamed of being obsessed. “Iran is the most important, the most urgent matter of all,” he whined, before throwing up a silly hodgepodge of scary-sounding words in an attempt to be taken seriously. All the problems in the world – including Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestine – won’t amount to a hill of beans, he cried, if the “messianic, apocalyptic, extreme regime” in Tehran acquires “atomic bombs.” Such a ghastly scenario would present “a terrible, catastrophic change for the world and for the United States,” he said, because the United States apparently isn’t part of the world. (Actually, considering the isolation the United States and Israel – along with lackey states like Palau and Micronesia – face in the United Nations, Netanyahu may be on to something here.)

Of course, the often-repeated assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Iran is not actually building a bomb and has no nuclear weapons program went unmentioned, as did the fact that Iran has supposedly been “a year or so” away from developing nuclear weapon for roughly a decade now.

Unsurprisingly, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer challenged none of Netanyahu’s assertions; all the warmongering and propaganda was given a free pass.  This is especially bizarre considering, in January 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Schieffer on the same program, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Netanyahu has been leading the charge against Iran since the mid-1990s, warning of weapons programs that don’t exist and calling for sanctions and explicit military threats. His talking points since then literally have not changed – and are identical to those he used to encourage the United States to invade Iraq a decade ago.

Here’s a reminder of why the Israeli Prime Minister’s CBS interview may actually have been a rerun:

The suggestion that Iran would soon be in possession of, or be in a position to quickly manufacture, nuclear weapons has been in constant circulation for nearly three decades. In 1984, Iran was reportedly moving “very quickly” towards a nuclear weapon and could have one as early as 1986. By the early 1990’s, the CIA predicted Iran was “making progress on a nuclear arms program and could develop a nuclear weapon by 2000,” later changing their estimate to 2003.

Israeli estimates have always been of an especially hysterical quality.  In March 1992, The Jerusalem Report, noting that “Israel keeps a wary watch on Teheran’s march to the Bomb,” predicted that, “[b]y the year 2000, Iran will almost certainly have the Bomb.”

A few months later, Israeli Major General Herzl Budinger insisted that, unless “Iran’s intensive effort to develop atomic weapons is not ‘disrupted,'” it would “become a nuclear power by the end of the decade.”  Then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared similar assessment later that year.

On November 8, 1992, the New York Times reported Israel was confident Iran would “become a nuclear power in a few years unless stopped.” An Israeli “senior army officer” feared “the Iranians may have a full nuclear capability by the end of the decade.”

In March 1993, a Washington Post report headlined “Israel seeking to convince U.S. that West is threatened by Iran” noted that Israeli leaders attempting to push their American counterparts into taking a stronger stance on Iran. The article quoted then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warning of “megalomaniacal” Iran intent on establishing “a Middle East empire.”

The alarm was still ringing a couple of years later when, on January 11, 1995, Benjamin Netanyahu told a nearly empty Knesset hearing that “within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material.”

His solution to this crisis? “[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S. It necessitates economic sanctions on Iran,” he declared.

By 1996, Israeli assessments put an Iranian nuclear bomb four years away. One year later, they confidently predicted it would happen by 2005. By mid-2001, Israel was still holding fast to its 2005 deadline and reaffirmed such a warning in 2003.

By 2004, however, an Israeli intelligence report determined that “within three years Iran would have the means to produce an atomic bomb by itself.” In 2005, Israel’s Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Iran was “less than one year away.” At the same time, Israeli Military Intelligence’s prediction was 2007, then 2008, later revised to 2012, then returned to 2008. In 2007, Israeli Military Intelligence said Iran would become nuclear weapons capable by mid-2009. A year later, the 2009 threshold referred to “an operable nuclear weapon,” rather than just capability.

When 2009 rolled around, then-Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu told an American Congressional delegation that Israeli “experts” determined Iranian nuclear weapons capability “was probably only one or two years away,” while Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak put the window of opportunity to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons at a mere six to 18 months. At the time, Mossad chief Meir Dagan insisted, “the Iranians will have by 2014 a bomb ready to be used, which would represent a concrete threat for Israel.”

Later that same year, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, “argued that it would take Iran one year to obtain a nuclear weapon and two and a half years to build an arsenal of three weapons. By 2012 Iran would be able to build one weapon within weeks and an arsenal within six months.” A month later, Netanyahu said, “Iran has the capability now to make one bomb or they could wait and make several bombs in a year or two.”

By 2010, some Israeli officials said Iran was only a year away from a bomb, some said it “one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability,” and others said it still had seven years to go. An unnamed “Israeli policy maker” revealed to Jeffrey Goldberg that Iran would have a nuclear weapon “nine months from June – in other words, March of 2011.” In early 2011, the prediction jumped to 2015.

Nevertheless, a year later, the Times of London claimed an Israeli security report assessed Iran may become a nuclear power “within a year,” a conclusion subsequently confirmed by Ehud Barak. Six months later, in mid-2012, Barak suggested that Iran would take “several years” for Iran to “turn nuclear.” Shortly thereafter, Netanyahu reportedly put the “red line” of Iranian nuclear capability at just “a few months away,” later telling the United Nations in September (along with his trusty cartoon bomb drawing) that Iran would have “enough enriched uranium for the first bomb” by mid-to-late 2013. By October, Ehud Barak added an extra “eight to 10 months” to the timeline.

Accompanying all of these predictions, of course, have been fever-pitched threats of an ever-imminent Israeli military strike on Iran and its nuclear infrastructure. In 2012, the predictions of such an illegal assault were especially incessant. Not a month went by without hysterical rumors of a new Middle East war in the offing.

This past January, a new prediction emerged. McClatchy Newspapers reported that “Israeli intelligence officials now estimate that Iran won’t be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015 or 2016, pushing back by several years previous assessments of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” The report is based on “[i]ntelligence briefings given to McClatchy over the last two months” which “confirmed that various officials across Israel’s military and political echelons now think it’s unrealistic that Iran could develop a nuclear weapons arsenal before 2015. Others pushed the date back even further, to the winter of 2016.”

In early March 2013, Netanyahu claimed that “Iran is getting closer” to his self-determined “red line” of nuclear weapons capability and is “putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.” Later that same month, in a joint press conference in Jerusalem with President Obama, Netanyahu warned of “Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons” before reiterating his position that “in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action.”  Soon thereafter, the Israeli press publicized claims by anonymous Israeli officials that “Iran could have the capability to build a nuclear bomb by July.”

Well, it’s July, so Netanyahu tells us Iran is getting “closer and closer.”

Sadly, Netanayhu’s tired propaganda never seems to elicit the glazed-over, yawning-inducing dismissal from the U.S. press that it so sorely deserves; rather, he gets to schedule high-profile interviews on major networks whenever he wants to reissue his warmongering bromides.

A diplomatic cable sent from sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in 2005, published by Wikileaks, noted that, despite Israeli warnings that Iran would reach a critical nuclear weapons capability within six months, some Israeli “officials admitted informally that these estimates need to be taken with caution. The head of the MFA’s [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] strategic affairs division recalled that GOI assessments from 1993 predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest.”

Another cable from 2009 wondered whether “the Israelis firmly believe” their hysterical predictions about Iran’s nuclear progress “or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States).”

In truth, Netanyahu himself is increasingly viewed as an Israeli Chicken Little.  In early 2013, McClatchy Newspapers reported that Israeli officials “have said there’s a widening gulf between Netanyahu’s remarks and the intelligence reports he receives,” and quoted one unnamed “intelligence officer” as wondering, “Did we cry wolf too early?”

While the alarmism will surely continue unabated, the answer is obvious.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Make it happen on purpose, UK private security as terrorism vector

RT | July 18, 2013

The widening of the spiral of fear and increasing demand for ‘protection’ creates an international protection racket cartel indistinguishable, only in that they call themselves ‘legal’, from organized criminal gangs.

UK security firms Serco and G4S, described as ‘indispensable’ to Britain’s criminal justice system, have been overcharging the government by ‘tens of millions of pounds’ for criminals who had long finished their sentences or been dead for years.

How many kicks in the teeth, or near misses, can this British Government endure before it sees 21st Century ‘terrorism’ for what it is? An organized assault on our collective peace and safety with the purpose of spawning real terrorist cells.

Profit led policing

On Thursday July 11, 2013 Conservative Justice Secretary Chris Grayling delivered a progress report to the House of Commons on the privatization of UK Criminal Justice. His voice was trembling as though he himself could neither believe nor bear the consequences of what he was reading.

Two firms, he explained, Serco and G4S, have been overcharging the government by ‘tens of millions of pounds’ for electronic tagging of offenders, as well as continuing to charge the taxpayer for criminals who had long finished their sentences and some who had been dead for years.

The same week a London inquest jury delivered its verdict that Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga was unlawfully killed while being restrained by G4S guards. His plane was waiting to take off at London’s Heathrow airport when he died and a series of racist SMS texts were also found on the G4S guards’ phones.

Founded in 2004, G4S employs over 600,000 people in 125 countries with revenue of £7.5bn, making it the world’s largest security company. Despite its size G4S appears to have little regard for international law, taking on private prison work in Palestine/Israel which is alleged to contravene Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Transporting prisoners from the occupied territory into the country of the occupier.

Serco and G4S are now so deep into Britain’s criminal justice system the Guardian recently described them as ‘indispensable’. Serco manage six prisons including Oakwood ‘super-jail’ and two immigration removal centres. G4S manage police custody cells, a 999 emergency response service, county control room, police station and court facilities.

Britain’s criminal justice system is indeed becoming utterly entangled in the G4S web. The initiative is shifting with immense pressure being put on Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to sign up to G4S privatization deals which promise to slash budgets. In times of ‘austerity’ private security firms are getting the whip hand.

Although the ‘savings’ may look good, privatizing the criminal justice system moves society closer to the abyss. As the profit motive creeps in and accountability leaves by the side door we may as well dispense with the word ‘justice’ entirely. US Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr, for example, was sentenced to 28 years in jail in May 2013’s ‘kids for cash’ scandal where over 4,000 children were given maximum jail terms in exchange for over $2m in bribes from the private firm that ran the jails.

Protection racket cartel

In July of 2012 London prepared to host its first Olympics since 1948. But behind the scenes one thing threatened to spoil it for everyone. The main security firm was playing games with the Olympic Committee and the government.

G4S said it was ready, all the risk assessment boxes were ticked and certified. The trouble was they were lying. With only a month to go until the great show got on the road recruitment was nowhere near the numbers required and training was pitiful.

With only three weeks to go the British army saved the day, stepping in with 3,500 soldiers to replace the senior and mid-ranking G4S staff. How that came about is a cautionary tale about private security that was never fully told by the London press.

The world’s biggest private security firm G4S had a £300m contract to hire 10,500 staff for the games. They made sure it all looked good for police and Olympic organisers on paper … but unbeknown to them media savvy G4S trainee Ben Fellows was busy collecting particulars from his G4S classmates about just what a disaster of a ‘training operation’ was unfolding around them.

On Friday June 22nd, five weeks before the opening ceremony, Ben sensationally broke cover on my Bristol radio show under the pseudonym ‘Lee Hazledean’. With quotes like “If a terrorist wants to get into the Olympics all they have to do is queue up” he detailed the G4S shambles and became an internet sensation, clocking up over 120,000 YouTube views in a little over a week.

But his story presented the London media with a problem: if printed and transmitted tens of thousands of Olympic enthusiasts might stay away. One teenage girl, initially delighted with tickets her parents had bought her, told me after she heard the interview “I don’t want to go the Olympics any more… but I don’t know how to tell my mum”.

Running straight after Fellows’ interview Oxford economist & terrorism expert Martin Summers, reminded us that lawyer Kurt Haskell spotted the 2009 Underpants bomber being allowed onto the plane without a passport… again by private security.

He also pointed out the alleged 9/11 hijackers boarded the doomed planes in Boston via private security firms. If those attacks are being carried out by a private military company ICTS & G4S could, far from preventing, be the facilitators of terror attacks said Summers.

The next week, on Tuesday 26 June 2012 the Director General of MI5 Jonathan Evans appeared on Channel 4 News. Gone was the “wide open to terror” claim. Security correspondent Simon Israel just repeated Evans’ assertion that “the Olympics Games is not an easy target for terrorists”.

Except perhaps, Evans said, there may be an Iranian, Syrian or Hezbollah attack. What these countries and factions could hope to gain from bombing the Olympics neither Simon Israel, nor Jonathan Evans, who has since been replaced, attempted to explain.

So Ben Fellows was right because with three weeks to go 3,500 British soldiers were drafted in to take charge and the story of the G4S fiasco dominated national headlines for a week. Now the fix was in the London media were safe.

With less of a fanfare, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced he would no longer be coming to London. He and his staff had been promised special permission to stay in the central athletes only Olympic Village so he wouldn’t have to walk far and could observe the Jewish Shabbat. Under the new security regime they would have to stay outside the park like everyone else. You can tell real security, nobody bypasses it.

Back in September 2004, private Israeli software firm Verint Systems were granted privileged security access to the London Underground. This was ten months before the 7/7 London bombings.

Verint won a contract to install and operate ‘smart’ CCTV. So smart in fact that all the hundreds of expected images of July 2005 alleged bombers getting onto or travelling on the three bombed tube trains were ‘lost’.

So what of this company’s bona-fides’? Verint’s parent company Comverse Technologies had an embarrassing chairman. Israeli Kobi Alexander fled the US in 2006 and went straight on to the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list after stealing from his own firm.

Charged on 35 counts he was chased by Wall Street regulators the Security & Exchange Commission (SEC). Finally being run to ground via Germany to Namibia. In 2010 he paid a fine of $53m to avoid going to court and regain his freedom to travel.

A previous incarnation of Verint Systems, Comverse Infosys, was implicated in the US’s 2001 AmDocs spying scandal where Israeli phone software, installed on US telecom networks, was being used to warn Israeli mafia drug traffickers to switch phones and identities when the FBI were tapping their phones. 200 or so Israelis were arrested and most deported.

But what about the most recent terror attacks? The April 2013 Boston bombings has some of the most serious problems of FBI and mainstream media credibility to date. Not only does there seem to be little to connect the official suspects to the bombing but a private ‘Craft’ security guard at the scene has a black bag that seems to ‘disappear’ around the time the bomb went off.

“Hey Bro, Where’d Your Backpack Go” was one set of images from the finish line circulated to tens of thousands when CBS 60 Minutes’ Twitter account was hacked. Again it appears to anyone with the time to take a look for themselves that private security should be a prime suspect in that bombing.

Neither does mainstream press seem to question why one of the FBI’s two official ‘prime suspects’, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was filmed under arrest, naked, unharmed and being sat down in the back of a police car but then somehow died of horrific wounds sustained when he was previously ‘run over’ by his brother Tamerlan.

If even just a small proportion of these allegations are true then ‘double your money’ private security firms paid for providing security at an event or location may be abusing that privileged access for ‘quid pro quo’ deals. Certainly the mainstream press are simply not asking even the most obvious questions.

Unscrupulous staff, ex mercenaries as some are, can then also be paid for tip-offs, to turn a blind eye, possibly with a nod and a wink from the top. They may even actually plant bombs themselves. A ‘false flag’ attack can have a massive political impact and, if the media oblige and look the other way, be blamed on the enemy of the day.

These dangers should make it clear that secretive and profit motivated private security companies must under no circumstances be allowed to replace publicly accountable police or armed forces.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Make it happen on purpose, UK private security as terrorism vector

The University of California and the Military Industrial Complex

Why Janet Napolitano Should Fit Right In

By DARWIN BOND-GRAHAM | CounterPunch | July 18, 2013

Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano’s nomination to be the 22nd president of the University of California announced days ago has already provoked skepticism and opposition from numerous faculty and students. Christopher Newfield, a professor of English at UCSB, wrote on his widely read blog that Napolitano is “unqualified to be a university president,” due to her lack of academic background and knowledge of how universities operate. “She has no political network in California,” added Newfield, “no local knowledge of the players, no constituency in the state, no national or state-based academic network, no direct understanding of the state’s history or current society.”

The UC’s graduate student union which represents thousands of student employees across the ten campuses, from Berkeley to San Diego, stated in a press release that they are “shocked and troubled,” by Napolitano’s nomination. “We fear that this decision will further expand the privatization, mismanagement, and militarized repression of free speech that characterized Mark Yudof’s presidency and will threaten the quality and accessibility of education.”

Yudof of course was UC’s cigar chomping, bald, and gruff president recruited from the University of Texas in 2008 to replace Robert C. Dynes and whip the school’s administration into shape. Dynes was a physicist who presided over various scandals including one that has been emblematic of the decline of universities across the U.S. over the past two decades: bloated and growing executive compensation packages even while colleges trim their budgets, lay off faculty, and hike tuition. UC’s executives were lambasted in the press for their six-figure salaries and cronyism until the Regents, that lofty board of millionaires, mostly friends and donors to the Governor of California given ultimate power of the nation’s largest university, told Dynes it was time to retire back to his laboratory at San Diego.

Napolitano is a departure from Yudof and Dynes in that she doesn’t appear to have been selected purely for her unique qualifications to handle the crisis de jour for the University. Yudof cleaned up Dynes’ mess. Dynes was recruited by several of the Regents in order to assemble Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a private corporation in which the university is a partner with Bechtel. LANS, as it’s called, was a creature to necessity; in the early 2000s another set of scandals —spying, theft, and various deadly accidents— threatened one of the UC’s most prized possessions, it’s sole, lucrative, and much coveted contract to manage the nation’s largest nuclear weapons laboratory in the high desert of the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico. Dynes arrived largely to assemble the UC’s joint bid for the contract with Bechtel and a few other large military-industrial corporations. He was successful in keeping UC wed to the nuclear lab.

Prior to Dynes was Richard Atkinson, an academic’s academic, a former head of the National Science Foundation, and Chancellor of UC San Deigo. Many UC faculty today look back on Atkinson as the ideal type, his reign the good old days, the high water mark for UC, untainted by worldly corruption and materialism, a set of little cities upon golden California hills where patient scientists and scholars could plod away at their research unhurried and secure in tenure and prestige.

But the UC has always been run by cops, spooks, weaponeers, and financiers at the top. The very first board of Regents in 1868 included William Ralston, California’s top banker whose wealth was built from deposits of the Comstock silver mines, and whose financial empire collapsed upon his wild speculative schemes. The second board of Regents included Irving Scott, a proto-Northrop Grumman building warships for the U.S. military. Scott’s company, the Union Iron Works, built the USS Oregon battleship which was deployed in the 1890s to the Philippines where it shelled the filipinos into submission – for their own childish good said UC’s leaders.

UC’s tenth president was selected partly based on his anthropological work in service of the growing U.S. imperium in Asia. David Prescott Barrows led the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes, “re-educating” the Filipinos, indoctrinating them into American culture, and the English language used by their new rulers. Barrows was molding colonial subjects. He once wrote as if he were molding play dough: “the physique of the Filipino is also being modified for the better. The race is physically small, but agile, athletic and comely.” Barrows concluded in a patriarchal tone, “in the face of these benefits the Filipinos are not unappreciative.”

By the time Clark Kerr took the reigns of UC in the 1960s era, UC had become the uncontested heavy weight champion of the military-industrial-academic complex. Yale could certainly boast deeper ties and more recruits sent yearly to the CIA, but UC Berkeley had John McCone, industrialist, weapons manufacturer, and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and for his crowning achievement in the halls of the national security state, director of the CIA from 1961 to 1965. Yale sent the future spied, Berkeley’s patron McCone ran the show. Today there is a building named after McCone on Berkeley’s campus, but history is alive. If one looks deeper into UC’s federal labs, and into its administration and faculty, one will find live lines to Langley.

McCone was just one among many of UC’s ultra-powerful spooks and Pentagon dons who sloshed money and personnel and gadgetry between Washington and California. After Clark Kerr’s ouster by right-wing, red hunting Regents and the nation’s paranoid FBI director, Charles Hitch took over the nation’s biggest and still fast growing university. Hitch was an economist brought to UC Berkeley to teach business, but his scholarly expertise lay in the economics of military budgeting. Among his greatest hits: The Economics of Defense in the Nuclear Age; Decision-Making for Defense; The Defense Sector and the American Economy, and; Defense Economic Issues, all very dry tomes patiently and authoritatively discussing the most scientifically effective ways to spend billions of tax dollars on nuclear-tipped intercontinental missiles. Professor Hitch was appointed assistant secretary of defense by Kennedy just prior to his taking the post of UC president. It was a natural progression.

Skeptics of Napolitano’s nomination to be UC president point out that running a big federal bureaucracy doesn’t make for skills transferable to UC, but in Hitch’s case that was in fact part of the reason the Regents selected him. Hitch was a budget man for the Cold War defense contractors and Uncle Sam. He was also chairman of the Budget Review Board and the Capital Outlay Review Board for UC while on faculty. So what better man to run the entire integrated show, not just lecturing and writing about how to budget the military-industrial-academic complex, but in fact drafting the operative budgets for the Pentagon and later the UC?

Napolitano does differ from the previous 21 white men who presided over the University of California in being a woman. She’s not different at all with respect to her career and connections to the national security state. Plenty of UC’s leaders, from Chancellors to the Regents to the President have been insiders in the Pentagon, the nuclear weapons complex, and other branches of the warfare state. However, DHS chief Napolitano is unlike the previous UC presidents in that she is an academic outsider, and that is the singular and new difference she signals, a full departure from a presidency that once required the credentials of scholarship and pedagogy.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Laughing at Snowden’s Asylum Requests

Consortium News | July 18, 2013

The mainstream U.S. news media has been chuckling over the “irony” of NSA leaker Edward Snowden asking asylum from Latin American countries purported to suppress press freedom. But the smugness misses both the complex realities abroad and the U.S. government’s own assaults on information, says a group of scholars.

An Open Letter to the Media:

The supposed “irony” of whistle-blower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme. Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and MSNBC have hammered on this idea since the news first broke that Snowden was seeking asylum in Ecuador.

It was a predictable retread of the same meme last year when Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the Ecuadorian government deliberated his asylum request for months.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Of course, any such “ironies” would be irrelevant even if they were based on factual considerations. The media has never noted the “irony” of the many thousands of people who have taken refuge in the United States, which is currently torturing people in a secret prison at Guantanamo, and regularly kills civilians in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries. Nor has the press noted the “irony” of refugees who have fled here from terror that was actively funded and sponsored by the U.S. government, e.g. from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, and other countries.

But in fact the “irony” that U.S. journalists mention is fantastically exaggerated. It is based on the notion that the governments of Venezuela under Chávez (and now Maduro) and Ecuador under Correa have clamped down on freedom of the press. Most consumers of the U.S. media unfortunately don’t know better, since they have not been to these countries and have not been able to see that the majority of media are overwhelmingly anti-government, and that it gets away with more than the U.S. media does here in criticizing the government.

Imagine if Rupert Murdoch controlled most U.S media outlets, rather than the minority share that his News Corp actually owns – then you’d start to have some idea what the media landscape in Ecuador, Venezuela and most of Latin America looks like.

The fact is that most media outlets in Ecuador and Venezuela are privately-owned, and oppositional in their orientation. Yes, the Venezuelan government’s communications authorities let the RCTV channel’s broadcast license expire in 2007. This was not a “shut down”; the channel was found to have violated numerous media regulations regarding explicit content and others – the same kind of regulations to which media outlets are subject in the U.S. and many other countries.

Even José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch – a fierce critic of Venezuela – has said that “lack of renewal of the contract [broadcast license], per se, is not a free speech issue.” Also rarely mentioned in U.S. reporting on the RCTV case is that the channel and its owner actively and openly supported the short-lived coup d’etat against the democratically-elected government in 2002.

A July 10th piece from the Washington Post’s editorial board – which has never hid its deep hatred of Venezuela, Ecuador and other left governments in Latin America – describes another supposed grave instance of the Venezuelan government clamping down on press freedoms. The editorial, which was given greater publicity through Boing Boing and others, describes the case of journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is credited with breaking the news of Chávez’s cancer in June 2011. The Post champions Bocaranda as a “courage[ous]” “teller of truth” and dismisses the Venezuelan government’s “charges” against him as “patently absurd.”

In fact, Bocaranda has not been charged with anything; the Venezuelan government wants to know whether Bocaranda helped incite violence following the April 14 presidential elections, after which extreme sectors of the opposition attacked Cuban-run health clinics and homes and residences of governing party leaders, and in which some nine people were killed mostly chavistas.

The government cites a Tweet by Bocaranda in which he stated false information that ballot boxes were being hidden in a specific Cuban clinic in Gallo Verde, in Maracaibo state, and that the Cubans were refusing to let them be removed. Bocaranda later deleted the Tweet, but not before it was seen by hundreds of thousands.

So while the Post dismisses the case against Bocaranda as “absurd,” the question remains: why did Bocaranda state such specific information, if he had no evidence to support it? Indeed, any such evidence would be second hand unless Bocaranda had seen the supposed “hidden” ballot boxes and the actions by the Cubans himself.

The Venezuelan government’s summons for Bocaranda to explain himself is being characterized as a grave assault on press freedom, and perhaps it is an over-reaction – after all, many journalists report false information all the time. But wasn’t Bocaranda’s Tweet irresponsible, especially given the context of a volatile political situation?

In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has been widely condemned in the U.S. media – in much reporting as well as commentary – for suing a prominent journalist, Emilio Palacio, for defamation. The defamatory content was, in fact, serious. It relates to a 2010 incident in which Correa was first assaulted and then later held captive by rebelling police in what many observers deemed an attempt at a coup d’etat.

Military forces ultimately rescued Correa. But in a February 2011 column referring to the episode, Palacio alleged that Correa had committed “crimes against humanity,” and that he had ordered the military forces to fire on the hospital where he was being held at the time. So Correa sued Palacio for defamation and won. What some U.S. media outlets have failed to mention is that he subsequently pardoned Palacio, and had made clear from the beginning that he would have dropped the lawsuit if Palacio ran a correction.

In other words, all that Correa did was exercise his right as a citizen under the law to sue someone who had printed an outrageous lie about him. This is a right that most elected officials have in most countries, including the United States. Former AP reporter Bart Jones has written:

“Would a network that aided and abetted a coup against the government be allowed to operate in the United States? The U.S. government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt — and thrown its owners in jail. Chavez’s government allowed it to continue operating for five years, and then declined to renew its 20-year license to use the public airwaves.”

Considering the massive extent of “national security” overreach following the 9/11 attacks, it is almost incomprehensible to imagine what a U.S. administration’s reaction to a coup attempt would be, but it certainly would not be as restrained as in Ecuador or Venezuela, where a fiercely critical press not only exists, but thrives.

Many commentators have cited Reporters Without Borders [known as RSF, from its French initials] and other media watchdog groups’ criticisms of Ecuador’s proposed new “Organic Law of Communication.” In an example of true irony, such supposedly objective journalists have been more critical of Ecuador’s proposed media reforms than RSF itself has been, which noted that:

“…we think that other provisions conform to international legal standards. They include restrictions on broadcasting hours for the protection of minors, the prohibition of racist and discriminatory content and the prohibition of deliberate calls for violence. Finally, the provisions governing nationally-produced broadcasting content are broadly similar to those in force in most other countries.”

Organizations such as RSF and Freedom House are supposed to be impartial arbiters of press freedom around the world and are rarely subject to scrutiny. Yet both have taken funding from the U.S. government and/or U.S.-government supported organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (which was set up to conduct activities “much of [which]” the “CIA used to fund covertly,” as the Washington Post reported at the time, and which also provided funding and training to organizations involved in the afore-mentioned 2002 Venezuelan coup) and other “democracy promotion” groups.

The NED has spent millions of dollars in Venezuela and Ecuador in recent years to support groups opposed to the governments there. This conflict of interest is never noted in the press, and RSF and Freedom House, when they are cited, are invariably presented as noble defenders of press freedom, for whom ulterior motives are apparently unimaginable.

The true irony in the cases of Snowden, Assange, Manning and others is that the U.S. government, while claiming to defend freedom of the press, speech and information, has launched an assault on the media that is unprecedented in U.S. history.

The extreme lengths to which it has gone to apprehend (witness the forced downing of President Evo Morales’ plane in Austria) and punish (Bradley Manning being the most obvious example) whistle-blowers is clear. Apparently less understood by some U.S. journalists is that it is part of an assault on these very freedoms that the U.S. government pretends to uphold.

The U.S. government’s pursuit of Wikileaks – through grand jury and FBI investigations, and open condemnation of Julian Assange as a “terrorist” – is a blatant attack on the press. It seems too many journalists forget – or willingly overlook – that Wikileaks is a media organization, and that the leaks that have so infuriated the U.S. government, from the “Collateral Murder” video to “Cablegate”, Wikileaks published in partnership with major media outlets including the New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and others.

Now, as Edward Snowden’s leaks are published in The Guardian and other outlets, efforts have been launched to delegitimize journalist Glenn Greenwald, and some in the media have been all too willing to take part in attacking one of their own, simply for exposing government abuse – i.e. doing journalism.

There is a long history of partnership between traditional, corporate media outlets in the U.S. and those in Latin America. Due to a variety of reasons, including educational, class and often racial backgrounds, journalists throughout the hemisphere often tend to share certain biases. It is the journalist’s duty to be as objective as possible, however, and to let the media consumer decide where the truth lies.

Likewise, eagerly going along with double standards that reinforce paradigms of “American exceptionalism” and that overlook the U.S.’ long, checkered human rights history and minimize the importance of over a century of U.S. intervention and interference in Latin America does a great injustice to journalism and the public.

Likewise, media distortions of the state of democracy and press freedoms in countries that are routinely condemned by the U.S. government – such as Venezuela and Ecuador – contribute to a climate of demonization that enables U.S. aggression against those countries and damages relations between the people of the U.S. and our foreign neighbors.

Signed by:

Thomas Adams, Visiting Professor, Tulane University
Marc Becker, Professor, Department of History, Truman State University
Julia Buxton, Venezuela specialist
Barry Carr, Honorary Research Associate, La Trobe University, Australia
George Ciccariello-Maher, Assistant Professor, Drexel University
Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American Studies, Salem State University

Luis Duno-Gottberg, Associate Professor, Caribbean and Film Studies, Rice University
Steve Ellner, Professor, Universidad de Oriente, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
Arturo Escobar, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Nicole Fabricant, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Towson University
Sujatha Fernandes, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate
Center, City University of New York
John French, Professor, Department of History, Duke University
Lesley Gill, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University
Greg Grandin, Professor, Department of History, New York University
Daniel Hellinger, Professor, Department of Political Science, Webster University
Forrest Hylton, Lecturer, History and Literature, Harvard University
Chad Montrie, Professor, Department of History, UMASS-Lowell,
Deborah Poole, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University,
Margaret Power, Professor, Department of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
Gerardo Renique, Associate Professor, Department of History, City College of the City University of New
Suzana Sawyer, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California
T.M. Scruggs, Professor Emeritus, School of Music, University of Iowa
Steve Striffler, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Orleans
Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor, Department of History, Pomona College
Sinclair Thomson, Associate Professor, Department of History, New York University
Jeffery R. Webber, Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary, University of
Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Laughing at Snowden’s Asylum Requests

Israel going ahead with hotels on historic cemetery

MEMO | July 18, 2013

Maariv newspaper has revealed that the Israeli-run Jerusalem municipality has started to develop plans for tourist hotels and related facilities on parts of the historic Ma’man Allah Cemetery in the holy city. The hotels and buildings are to be built in the south-central section of the cemetery, opposite the so-called Museum of Tolerance, which is also being built in the cemetery.

The newspaper noted that the municipality Finance Committee has allocated around $75,000 for the planning of the project, in cooperation with an Israeli company.

In response, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowments and Heritage has issued a warning about the scheme which, it insists, is a flagrant violation of the sanctity of the deceased. “This is also a serious violation of the feelings of Muslims all over the world,” said the foundation, “and a continuation of the crimes of the Israeli establishment in the largest and oldest Muslim cemetery in Palestine.” The Israeli authorities have already dug up hundreds of graves in order to build schools and playgrounds on the site.

The foundation explained that the Israeli Ministry of Justice recently cancelled plans to build new courts on the same site. A local and international campaign has been launched by Al-Aqsa Foundation against Israel’s plans for the cemetery; there are at least 8 new projects planned.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel going ahead with hotels on historic cemetery

Netanyahu denies reports of Israel agreeing to peace talks along ’67 borders

Al-Akhbar | July 18, 2013

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Thursday previous reports stating that Israel had agreed to a proposed formula for new peace talks with the Palestinians under which the border of their future state would be along lines that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.

An Israeli official had previously said on Thursday that Israel was open to talks based on the 1967 borders, but with agreed land swaps and Palestine recognizing Israel as a “Jewish state.”

The denial comes as a blow to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been working for the past six months to restart peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

Kerry had urged Israel on Wednesday afternoon to carefully consider a 2002 peace initiative approved by the Arab League.

“Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations – a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,” he had said.

The plan, put forward by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, offered full recognition of Israel but only if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees. Softening the plan three months ago, a top Qatari official raised the possibility of land swaps in setting future Israeli-Palestinian borders.

Speculation had been rife that Kerry, now in the region for his sixth time since March in an effort to revive peace talks that deadlocked in 2010, may be close to a breakthrough.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was conferring with Palestinian leaders on Thursday to decide whether to accept Kerry’s proposals for renewing talks with Israel.

Kerry said on Wednesday after talks with Abbas in neighboring Jordan that gaps between the sides had “very significantly” narrowed. An Arab League committee endorsed Kerry’s proposals for resuming peace talks, saying they “provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations.”

However, the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law, is still to be resolved. Palestinians are refusing to return to negotiations without a freeze on settlement activity, as Israel has greenlighted the construction of hundreds of settlement homes in the past several months.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

FBI withholds autopsy of Tsarnaev associate ‘shot in head’ during questioning

RT | July 17, 2013

The FBI has ordered a Florida medical examiner’s office not to release the autopsy report of a Chechen man who was killed during an FBI interview in May over his ties to one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers.

The autopsy report for Ibragim Todashev, 27, killed by an FBI agent during an interrogation which took place in his apartment on May 22 was ready for release on July 8. However, the FBI barred its publication, saying an internal probe into his death is ongoing.

“The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” according to a statement by Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando.

The forensic report was expected to clarify the circumstances of Todashev’s death. The Bureau’s statement issued on the day of the incident provided no details of what transpired, saying only that the person being interviewed was killed when a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”

Back in May Ibragim Todashev’s father showed pictures of his dead son’s body at a press conference in Moscow, revealing he had been shot six times.

“I only saw things like that in movies: shooting a person, and then the kill shot. Six shots in the body, one of them in the head,” Abdulbaki Todashev said .

The medical examiner’s office promised to check on a monthly basis whether the FBI is ready to grant permission for release of the autopsy report.

Todashev was interrogated by the FBI several times following the Boston Marathon bombings, with the final interview resulting in a fatal altercation. He was supposedly questioned over his alleged role in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, which bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been implicated in. Todashev was reportedly about to sign a written statement which would have tied him to the murders when he allegedly attacked an FBI agent.

Investigators, most of them speaking anonymously, would later offer conflicting accounts of what happened in Todashev’s final minutes, with some claiming the man brandished a knife and others insisting he was unarmed

Despite the FBI’s promise to look into the case, civil rights activists have called for an independent investigation.

The US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division announced on Monday it was overseeing a federal inquiry into the shooting incident.

“Federal prosecutors will review the evidence and make an independent determination whether a federal criminal investigation is warranted,” the Boston Herald cites a letter by US Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy L. Austin as saying.

Todashev’s widow, Reniya Manukyan, welcomed news of the federal inquiry.

“We are glad that DOJ started. Hopefully it will bring more attention of the public and everybody will question the FBI and why they are not releasing anything,” she said.

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 1 Comment