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3,000 euro Google search: French blogger gets fined for re-posting indexed govt files

RT | February 10, 2014

A French appeals court has fined an activist 3,000 euros for publishing documents accessed via an open hyperlink in a Google search. The “hacker” was prosecuted despite the fact that the government agency owning the files didn’t pursue a case against him.

For the French blogger, Olivier Laurelli, nicknamed “Bluetouff,” it all started with a simple Google search. While browsing the web for what he claims was an irrelevant subject, the co-founder of the tech-savvy activist news site Reflets.info came across a link to an online documents archive of the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor (ANSES).

The link led to a trove of 7.7 Gigabytes of files on public health, and Laurelli decided they might be worth looking through. For what he later said was for more convenient reading, the activist downloaded the entire online directory with a common Linux tool, and then transferred them to his desktop.

At the time, the blogger judged that the freely available documents of a public establishment “ought to be” legally available for the public to see, quotes the Ars Technica blog.

But soon after posting some scientific slides from the archives on his website, Laurelli realized that he was wrong.

ANSES discovered their archive was accessed only after the slides on “nano-substances” went public on Reflets.info, French media said. Citing possible “intrusion into a computer system and data theft from a computer,” the agency filed a report with the police, also prompting the French Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) to launch a case.

According to the activist himself, the investigators’ decision to pursue a criminal case against him was fueled by the fact he used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that masked his IP address as a Panamanian one. The VPN was actually provided by a security company he owned called Toonux.

Laurelli was then indicted with fraudulently accessing and keeping data, which, according to the French Criminal Code carries up to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of 30,000 euro (about $41,000).

While testifying, Laurelli admitted he did spot a requirement for login and password at an upper level directory when he tried browsing the ANSES resource further, but there was no explicit indication that the directly accessible files he stumbled on required authorization and were illegal to obtain.

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Comments Off on 3,000 euro Google search: French blogger gets fined for re-posting indexed govt files

That commenter on your blog may actually be working for the Israeli government

By Cecilie Surasky | July 14, 2009

Straight out of Avigdor Lieberman’s Foreign Ministry: a new Internet Fighting Team! Israeli students and demobilized soldiers get paid to pretend they are just regular folks and leave pro-Israel comments on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites. The effort is meant to fight the “well-oiled machine” of “pro-Palestinian websites, with huge budgets… with content from the Hamas news agency.” The approach was test-marketed during Israel’s assault on Gaza, and by groups like Give Israel Your United Support, a controversial effort to use instant-access technology to crowd-source Israel advocates to fill in flash polls or vote up key articles on social networking sites.

Will the responders who are hired for this also present themselves as “ordinary net-surfers”?

“Of course,” says Shturman. “Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the policy-explanation department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis. They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the Foreign Ministry developed.”

The full article, translated by Occupation Magazine into English here:

The Foreign Ministry presents: talkbackers in the service of the State
By: Dora Kishinevski
Calcalist 5 July 2009

Translated for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

After they became an inseparable part of the service provided by public-relations companies and advertising agencies, paid Internet talkbackers are being mobilized in the service in the service of the State. The Foreign Ministry is in the process of setting up a team of students and demobilized soldiers who will work around the clock writing pro-Israeli responses on Internet websites all over the world, and on services like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The Foreign Ministry’s department for the explanation of Israeli policy* is running the project, and it will be an integral part of it. The project is described in the government budget for 2009 as the “Internet fighting team” – a name that was given to it in order to distinguish it from the existing policy-explanation team, among other reasons, so that it can receive a separate budget. Even though the budget’s size has not yet been disclosed to the public, sources in the Foreign Ministry have told Calcalist that in will be about NIS 600.000 in its first year, and it will be increased in the future. From the primary budget, about NIS 200.000 will be invested in round-the-clock activity at the micro-blogging website Twitter, which was recently featured in the headlines for the services it provided to demonstrators during the recent disturbances in Iran.

“To all intents and purposes the Internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” Elan Shturman, deputy director of the policy-explanation department in the Foreign Ministry, and who is directly responsible for setting up the project, says in an interview with Calcalist. “Our policy-explanation achievements on the Internet today are impressive in comparison to the resources that have been invested so far, but the other side is also investing resources on the Internet. There is an endless array of pro-Palestinian websites, with huge budgets, rich with information and video clips that everyone can download and post on their websites. They are flooding the Internet with content from the Hamas news agency. It is a well-oiled machine. Our objective is to penetrate into the world in which these discussions are taking place, where reports and videos are published – the blogs, the social networks, the news websites of all sizes. We will introduce a pro-Israeli voice into those places. What is now going on in Iran is the proof of the need for such an operational branch,” adds Shturman. “It’s not like a group of friends is going to bring down the government with Twitter messages, but it does help to expand the struggle to vast dimensions.”

The missions: “monitoring” and “fostering discussions”

The Foreign Ministry intends to recruit youths who speak at least one foreign language and who are studying communications, political science or law, or alternatively those whose military background is in units that deal with information analysis. “It is a youthful language”, explains Shturman. “Older people do not know how to write blogs, how to act there, what the accepted norms are. The basic conditions are a high capacity for expression in English – we also have French- and Swedish-speakers – and familiarity with the online milieu. We are looking for people who are already writing blogs and circulating in Facebook”.

Members of the new unit will work at the Ministry (“They will punch a time card,” says Shturman) and enjoy the full technical support of Tahila, the government’s ISP, which is responsible for computer infrastructure and Internet services for government departments. “Their missions will be defined along the lines of the government policies that they will be required to defend on the Internet. It could be the situation in Gaza, the situation in the north or whatever is decided. We will determine which international audiences we want to reach through the Internet and the strategy we will use to reach them, and the workers will implement that on in the field. Of course they will not distribute official communiquיs; they will draft the conversations themselves. We will also activate an Internet-monitoring team – people who will follow blogs, the BBC website, the Arabic websites.”

According to Shturman the project will begin with a limited budget, but he has plans to expand the team and its missions: “the new centre will also be able to support Israel as an economic and commercial entity,” he says. “Alternative energy, for example, now interests the American public and Congress much more than the conflict in the Middle East. If through my team I can post in blogs dealing with alternative energy and push the names of Israeli companies there, I will strengthen Israel’s image as a developed state that contributes to the quality of the environment and to humanity, and along with that I may also manage to help an Israeli company get millions of dollars worth of contracts. The economic potential here is great, but for that we will require a large number of people. What is unique about the Internet is the fragmentation into different communities, every community deals with what interests it. To each of those communities you have to introduce material that is relevant to it.”

The inspiration: covert advertising on the Internet

The Foreign Ministry admits that the inspiration comes from none other than the much-reviled field of compensated commercial talkback: employees of companies and public-relations firms who post words of praise on the Internet for those who sent them there – the company that is their employer or their client. The professional responders normally identify themselves as chance readers of the article they are responding to or as “satisfied customers” of the company they are praising.

Will the responders who are hired for this also present themselves as “ordinary net-surfers”?

“Of course,” says Shturman. “Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the policy-explanation department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis. They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the Foreign Ministry developed.”

Test-firing in the Gaza War

According to Shturman, although it is only now that the project is receiving a budget and a special department in the Foreign Ministry, in practice the Ministry has been using its own responders since the last war in Gaza, when the Ministry recruited volunteer talkbackers. “During Operation Cast Lead we appealed to Jewish communities abroad and with their help we recruited a few thousand volunteers, who were joined by Israeli volunteers. We gave them background material and policy-explanation material, and we sent them to represent the Israeli point of view on news websites and in polls on the Internet,” says Shturman. “Our target audience then was the European Left, which was not friendly towards the policy of the government. For that reason we began to get involved in discussions on blogs in England, Spain and Germany, a very hostile environment.”

And how much change have you effected so far?

“It is hard to prove success in this kind of activity, but it is clear that we succeeded in bypassing the European television networks, which are very critical of Israel, and we have created direct dialogues with the public.”

What things have you done there exactly?

“For example, we sent someone to write in the website of a left-wing group in Spain. He wrote ‘it is not exactly as you say.’ Someone at the website replied to him, and we replied again, we gave arguments, pictures. Dialogue like that opens people’s eyes.”

Elon Gilad, a worker at the Foreign Ministry who coordinated the activities of the volunteer talkbackers during the war in Gaza and will coordinate the activities of the professional talkbackers in the new project, says that volunteering for talkback in defence of Israel started spontaneously: “Many times people contacted us and asked how they could help to explain Israeli policy. They mainly do it at times like the Gaza operation. People just asked for information, and afterwards we saw that the information was distributed all over the Internet. The Ministry of Absorption also started a project at that time, and they transferred to us hundreds of volunteers who speak foreign languages

and who will help to spread the information. That project too mainly spreads information on the Internet.”

“You can’t win”

While most of the net-surfers were recruited through websites like giyus.org, which was officially activated by a Jewish lobby [and has basically the same goal and modus operandi], in some cases is it was the Foreign Ministry that took the initiative to contact the surfers and asked them to post talkbacks sympathetic to the State and the government [of Israel] on the Internet and to help recruit volunteers. That’s how Michal Carmi, an active blogger and associate general manager at the high-tech placement company Tripletec, was recruited to the online policy-explanation team.

“During Operation Cast Lead the Foreign Ministry wrote to me and other bloggers and asked us to make our opinions known on the international stage as well,” Carmi tells Calcalist. “They sent us pages with ‘taking points’ and a great many video clips. I focussed my energies on Facebook, and here and there I wrote responses on blogs where words like ‘Holocaust’ and ‘murder’ were used in connection with Israel’s Gaza action. I had some very hard conversations there. Several times the Foreign Ministry also recommended that we access specific blogs and get involved in the discussions that were taking place there.”

And does it work? Does it have any effect?

“I am not sure that that strategy was correct. The Ministry did excellent work, they sent us a flood of accurate information, but it focussed on Israeli suffering and the threat of the missiles. But the view of the Europeans is one-dimensional. Israeli suffering does not seem relevant to them compared to Palestinian suffering.”

“You can never win in this struggle. All you can do is be there and express your position,” is how Gilad sums up the effectiveness so far, as well as his expectations of the operation when it begins to receive a government budget.

(*) “department for the explanation of Israeli policy” is a translation of only two words in the original Hebrew text: “mahleqet ha-hasbara” – literally, “the department of explanation”. Israeli readers require no elaboration. Henceforth in this article, “hasbara” will be translated as “policy-explanation”. It may also be translated as “public diplomacy” or “propaganda”.

Source

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong

By Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. | February 7th, 2014

I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming… when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.

These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably.

I’ve updated our comparison of 90 climate models versus observations for global average surface temperatures through 2013, and we still see that >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH):

CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013

Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.

And if humans are the cause of only, say, 50% of the warming (e.g. our published paper), then there is even less reason to force expensive and prosperity-destroying energy policies down our throats.

I am growing weary of the variety of emotional, misleading, and policy-useless statements like “most warming since the 1950s is human caused” or “97% of climate scientists agree humans are contributing to warming”, neither of which leads to the conclusion we need to substantially increase energy prices and freeze and starve more poor people to death for the greater good.

Yet, that is the direction we are heading.

And even if the extra energy is being stored in the deep ocean (if you have faith in long-term measured warming trends of thousandths or hundredths of a degree), I say “great!”. Because that extra heat is in the form of a tiny temperature change spread throughout an unimaginably large heat sink, which can never have an appreciable effect on future surface climate.

If the deep ocean ends up averaging 4.1 deg. C, rather than 4.0 deg. C, it won’t really matter.

~

Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.

Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.

Dr. Spencer’s first popular book on global warming, Climate Confusion (Encounter Books), is now available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Comments Off on 95% of Climate Models Agree: The Observations Must be Wrong

US Media rewriting history to blame Iran for nuclear standoff

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | February 10, 2014

With the publication of Gareth Porter’s book about the history of Iran’s nuclear program entitled appropriately “Manufactured Conflict” and the up-coming publication of Daniel Joyner’s book which touches on the legalities of Iran’s nuclear program, I pretty much have nothing to write about these days but I have been enjoying the mess that we see in the media as the Gatekeepers of Opinion scamble to re-tune their messages:

The current meme they’re trying to sell is that the negoatiations are the result of a shift of policy by Iran, which was itself the result of the sanctions — rather than conceeding that the sole item which had stifled negotiations for years until now was the US insistence that Iran first abandon enrichment before engaging in negotiations about abandoning the rest of the nuclear program, and that the sanctions did not force Iran to the negotiating table but in fact prevented a resolution that could have been reached years ago in accordance with Iran’s multiple compromise offers.

For example, according to the Washington Post,

“But Khamenei has approved a less combative approach to the West, especially in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. That is fueling hope here that Iran can win a lifting of tough international sanctions, the root of its economic woes”

Nonsense. Whatever Ahmadinejad’s faults, it was he that went before the UNGC and re-announced Iran’s long-standing offer to suspend 20% enrichment — the subject of the much lauded agreement reached recently with the Rouhani government. In fact Iran had been offering to place additional, non-legally required limitations on its nuclear program for YEARS but was consistently snubbed by the US which continued to insist that Iran has to first abandon enrichment before any talks could happen.

Don’t let them re-write the history to suit themselves.

Oh and Carnegie Endowment head Jessica Matthews is back to writing fiction about Iran’s nuclear program. It makes for quite entertaining reading as a purely fictional account of history, in which for example the Iranians,

“For more than fifteen years, intelligence and on-the-ground inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed nuclear facilities, imports of nuclear technology, and research that had no civilian use.”

Actually the IAEA has repeatedly and consistently stated that it has never found any evidence of non-civilian nuclear program in Iran.

And in fact IAEA officials complained that US intelligence failed to back up the allegations.

According to Jessica Matthews’ :

“There is no formal, legal “right” to enrichment or any other nuclear activity.”

Yes, world. The 14 nations that enrich uranium today do so by virtue of the fact that God gave them special permission to do so, or was it Jessica Matthews? — and did not give that permission to Iran. Sorry Iran, you don’t have the same sovereign rights as other nations.

But I won’t go into a fib-by-fib analysis here.

Anyway, even after the Obama administration finally gave up on the “zero enrichment” precondition to talks, they tried to claim that the ultimate agenda of the talks was still Iran abandoning enrichment — though this has been looking less and less likely too. AIPAC and Nuttyyahoo are left flopping in the wind nonetheless.

For its part, the New York Times has been trying its hardest to try to blow some life into the carcass of the “alleged studies” claims, first by promoting the “Polonium studies” nonsense that the IAEA itself said was resolved to Iran’s credit years ago, and now by failing to mention that the “neutron initiator” claims involving the bridgewire detonators which are the subject of today’s news, were dismissed by the IAEA as frauds according to IAEA Director ElBaradei’s book, which apparently none of the journalists bothered to read — Oh yeah, lets not forget that the Israelis accused Elbaradei of being an “Iranian agent” and a “despicable person” for that.

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Comments Off on US Media rewriting history to blame Iran for nuclear standoff

Terrorism with a “Human Face”: Syria Al Qaeda “Freedom Fighters” are “Not Killing Civilians”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | February 10, 2014

The attacks by opposition forces largely integrated by Al Qaeda terrorists can no longer be denied.

What is now occurring is a re-branding of the various terrorist formations covertly support by Western intelligence.

The latest slur of media disinformation consists in providing a “human face” to Al Qaeda.

While the media acknowledges that the Al Nusrah front is integrated by Al Qaeda affiliated rebels, the  Islamist rebels affiliated with the New Islamic Front –which has received Washington’s ascent– are now portrayed as “freedom fighters” involved strictly in para-military operations.

Media Fabrications

According to the media reports:

1. The opposition rebels are predominantly Syrian nationals.

2. They are not targeting innocent civilians.

3. They are acting in a responsible fashion. They are no longer involved in terrorist acts.  They are targeting government forces and the pro-government National Defense Force militia, set up in towns and villages across Syria.

The attack on an Alawite village in the province of Hama

A Reuters report pertaining to a recent rebel attack on an Alawite village in the province of Hama suggests that civilians deaths are few in number, largely the result of “collateral damage”, attributable to  “neglect” pertaining to the government evacuation programs from the areas of combat.

Read carefully (emphasis added). The Reuters report casually denies the atrocities committed by US-NATO-Saudi sponsored terrorists:

Islamist fighters battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces seized control of an Alawite village in the central province of Hama on Sunday, part of an offensive to try to cut off supply routes from Damascus to the north of the country.

The report denies, despite ample evidence, that the “freedom fighters” killed civilians. Detailed government data on civilian casualties are dismissed;

But the government said the dead were mainly women and children and accused the fighters of committing a massacre on the eve of the resumption of peace talks in Geneva.”

Reuters prefers to quote the “evidence” provided by the fake UK based Syrian Observatory. Those killed were part of the government’s militia forces:

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the Islamists killed 25 people in the village of Maan, mainly from a pro-Assad National Defence Force militia.

Residents of Maan, around 5 miles east of Syria’s main north-south highway, are from the same Alawite minority as the Assad family which has ruled Syria for the last four decades.

The Observatory said most women and children had been evacuated from the village before it was taken over.

(Reuters report Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2014

The “freedom fighters” are “overwhelmingly” Syrian national

The Reuters report fails to acknowledge something which is amply documented by media reports and official data: most of the rebels are mercenaries recruited in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, not to mention several European countries including Britain and France.

The “freedom fighters” are “overwhelmingly” Syrian nationals according to Reuters:

Rebels fighting to overthrow Assad are overwhelmingly from the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, backed by Islamist and jihadi fighters from across the Islamic world.

“Video footage released on Sunday showed a rebel fighter performing Muslim prayers on top of a municipal building after the seizure of Maan, one of several sites in Hama targeted by the rebels in recent days. Another video showed the dead body of a pro-Assad fighter.

The Observatory said most women and children had been evacuated from the village before it was taken over.

(Reuters report Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2014

Yarmouk: The Palestinian Urban Suburb

A BBC report pertaining to the Palestinian Yarmouk, urban suburb of Damascus, sustains the legend of opposition “activists” and “freedom fighters”  coming to the rescue of  Palestinians:

The situation has grown desperate since last summer when the Syrian army blocked regular supplies to the camp in an attempt to force out rebels [Al Qaeda terrorists supported by US-NATO] holed up inside.

Activists’ videos and photographs have shown little children crying in hunger and with visible signs of malnutrition. Residents told the BBC that recently there have been about 100 deaths from starvation.

Palestinians are evacuated from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, on February 2, 2014 (photo credit: UNRWA/AFP)

The strategy of the Al Qaeda rebels advised by Western and Israeli Special Forces has been to block the supply routes of food and essential commodities.  And then the media comes in and blames the government:

“Babies also died because there was no milk. Their mothers couldn’t breastfeed them because they were sick and undernourished.”

Palestinians in Yarmouk say they have resorted to eating boiled herbs and plants found growing near their homes.

The insinuation is that government forces –which have acted in support of the Palestinians– are responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk.

At the same time, the BBC refutes its own lies. It acknowledges that the Syrian authorities supported the Palestinians from the very outset:

The unofficial camp was set up as a home for refugees who left or were forced from their original homes because of the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel.

Although the Syrian authorities did not give citizenship to refugees, they had full access to employment and social services. Many say they had relatively good lives compared to their counterparts in other Arab countries.

Yet the BBC in its coverage of Yarmouk, insinuates that the terrorists integrated by Western advisers had the support of the Palestinians against the Syrian government and that ultimately the “freedom fighters” allowed the supply routes to be opened to the United Nations relief programs led by the UNRWA:

Armed rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad moved into the camp and found support among some Palestinian groups.

After months of negotiations, a deal was struck at the end of last year between the Syrian authorities and Palestinian representatives to allow food to be delivered to the camp. BBC, February 10, 2014.

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Comments Off on Terrorism with a “Human Face”: Syria Al Qaeda “Freedom Fighters” are “Not Killing Civilians”

Big Media Again Pumps for Mideast Wars

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | February 4, 2014

Journalistically, there’s a problem with this passage from Monday’s New York Times: “Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of Israel … castigated Iran as being dedicated to a nuclear weapon and acting to deceive, and he repeated Israel’s warning that it would not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.” Can you tell what the flaw is?

If the New York Times were acting in a professional and objective manner, the next line would have read something like: “Of course, Israel itself developed a nuclear bomb in secret decades ago and now has possibly the most sophisticated undeclared nuclear arsenal on earth.” But the Times chose not to remind its readers of Israel’s stunning hypocrisy as a rogue nuclear-armed state condemning Iran for supposedly harboring a desire for a nuke, a weapon that Iran doesn’t have and says it doesn’t want.

That sort of double standard is common in the mainstream U.S. news media when reporting on Israel and its Muslim adversaries. But to let an Israeli official get away with castigating Iran for contemplating something that Israel has already done – without mentioning the hypocrisy – is a clear violation of journalistic standards. Indeed, it is evidence of bias.

Meanwhile, the neocon editors of the Washington Post are continuing their new campaign to pressure President Barack Obama into issuing more military ultimatums to Syria, another Israeli “enemy.” The logic seems to be that if Obama keeps issuing ultimatums eventually Syria won’t comply or won’t be able to comply, thus creating a casus belli, much as when President George W. Bush demanded that Iraq surrender WMD that it didn’t have.

In a double-barreled blast on Tuesday, the Post published a lead editorial and then a separate op-ed by its editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt making essentially the same argument – that Obama’s diplomacy over Syria has failed and that it’s time for more military threats or even a military intervention in Syria’s civil war. That “theme” was quickly picked up by other U.S. news outlets, including “liberal” MSNBC.

Yet, the real problem with Obama’s Syria strategy is that it is still based on his blustering pronouncements during Campaign 2012 when he was trying to sound tough in order to fend off the more hawkish, neocon rhetoric of Republican Mitt Romney.

During that period, Obama was drawing “red lines” regarding Syria and declaring that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go.” Obama insisted that the purpose of any peace talks must be to dissolve Assad’s government and replace it with one organized by Assad’s opponents, in other words, Assad’s negotiated surrender.

But that was never realistic, however unsavory Assad and his regime might be. He still represents major segments of Syrian society, including blocs of Alawites (an offshoot of Shiite Islam) and Christians. Plus, the strongest part of the rebel movement, seeking Assad’s ouster, is the contingent of radical jihadists representing extreme Sunni groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda and some even more extreme who are vowing to exterminate the Alawites and other “heretics.”

Baiting Obama

In the midst of this complex and dangerous mix, the Post’s neocon editors are baiting Obama to stop being so weak, so “inert,” as Hiatt wrote.

On Sunday, the Post’s editors demanded that Obama issue a new military ultimatum regarding delays in Assad’s delivery of chemical weapons to a UN agency for destruction. On Tuesday, the argument was that Obama must intervene militarily to prevent Syria from becoming a base for al-Qaeda militants to plot attacks against the American “homeland.”

“Once again, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda may be using territory they control to plot attacks against the United States, even as [Secretary of State John] Kerry pursues his long-shot diplomacy and Mr. Obama offers excuses for inaction,” the Post’s editorial read.

“With or without U.N. action, it is time for the Obama administration to reconsider how it can check the regime’s crimes and the growing threat of al-Qaeda. As Mr. Kerry reportedly conceded, for now it has no answers.”

Hiatt reiterated the same points in his companion op-ed: “It is no secret that the Obama administration’s Syria policy, to the extent that one exists, is failing. Now the man with the unenviable task of implementing that policy, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, has acknowledged as much, according to two U.S. senators who spoke with him Sunday, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

“Kerry said that the Geneva negotiating process hasn’t delivered, they said, and that new approaches are needed. … Now, though, a new factor has emerged. Last week, in Senate testimony that got less attention than it deserved, Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Syria ‘is becoming a center of radical extremism and a potential threat to the homeland.’”

Hiatt continued: “Havens in Syria, in other words, could play the same role that Afghan refuges offered al-Qaeda before 9/11. As the West cold-shouldered moderate and secular forces, extremist ranks have swelled in Syria to as many as 26,000, including 7,000 foreigners, Clapper said.”

Not surprisingly, given the always-hawkish views of McCain and Graham, their proposed “new approaches” to this new threat involved military interventions in Syria. Graham wanted to unleash armed drones over the country, while McCain called for establishing “a safe zone in which to train the Free Syrian Army and care for refugees, protected by Patriot missiles based in Turkey,” Hiatt wrote.

Which Side?

Of course, a big part of the Syrian problem is that al-Qaeda-connected extremists are fighting as part of the rebel coalition against Assad’s army. Indeed, the jihadists are considered, by far, the most effective part of the rebel force. To a significant degree, the Sunni jihadists – funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states – are the rebel army.

In other words, the semantic trick that the Post is pulling off is to conflate the existence of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria with the Syrian government when they are actually on opposite sides, bitterly fighting one another. The Post’s argument is a bit like blaming Fidel Castro for harboring al-Qaeda operatives in Cuba without mentioning that they are locked up at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo and thus outside Castro’s control.

Currently, the Syrian government is engaged in a brutal campaign to root out these “terrorists” – as well as other armed rebels – and is killing lots of civilians in the process. While there may be no easy solution to this catastrophe, the idea of another U.S. military intervention could easily lead to even more death and destruction.

As Hiatt noted, “Obama has doubted that the United States could intervene in such a messy conflict without making things worse. He reportedly worries that even a limited commitment would inexorably suck the nation into something deeper. There certainly is no public clamor to intervene.”

But lack of public support for another Mideast war is no concern to Hiatt and other Post editors who have never really apologized for helping to mislead the American people into the Iraq invasion which resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Indeed, the Iraqi bloodbath — initiated by President Bush and promoted by the neocons — has already been forgotten, as the Post cited the Syrian civil war as the worst humanitarian disaster since the Rwanda genocide in the 1990s, jumping over the Iraqi carnage of the past decade.

Now, Hiatt and the other neocons are promoting “themes” designed to maneuver Obama into another Mideast conflict, pushing the hot button of al-Qaeda “refuges” as if Assad is protecting the extremists, not trying to kill them.

Yet, if preventing al-Qaeda from establishing a safe haven in Syria is now the top U.S. concern – and not just the latest neocon excuse for another U.S. invasion of a Muslim country – then a more logical approach might be to seek a power-sharing arrangement between Assad’s government and the more moderate opposition, creating a united front against the jihadists.

Such an agreement could be followed by a coordinated strategy to rid Syria of these extremists. Obama also might put the squeeze on the Saudis and other oil-rich sheiks to stop funding the Sunni jihad inside Syria.

But the U.S. insistence that Assad negotiate his own surrender – especially when his forces have gained the upper hand militarily – will simply ensure more fighting and killing, while the neocons ramp up their pressure on Obama for one more “regime change.”

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on Big Media Again Pumps for Mideast Wars