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Hamas brings hope to war-hit Gaza

By BRETT REDMAYNE-TITLEY | Press TV | February 5, 2015

“You want to forget Israel, do so. We cannot do it. You want to forget Palestinian People? Go ahead. We Won’t.” – Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

Predictably, Hamas is back: stronger than ever.

On Jan 14, 2015, Hamas suddenly convened a session of the Gaza parliament, suspended since a unity deal between Fatah and Hamas was agreed upon, this past April. There was no attendance by, or invitation to, Fatah. Thanks to illegitimate president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, Gazans were left to rot in the post-war depths of Israeli created misery compounded with a bitter winter living amongst Israeli produced rubble. Deliberate delays in reconstruction, materials and funding; the ongoing, unchanged and crippling Israeli siege; and the Palestinian Authority’s withholding of tens-of-millions of dollars to pay monthly salaries to Gaza’s civil servants, have created a need for the return of an Hamas government, for the Gazan people in Gaza.

In a speech before the re-activated parliament, Deputy Speaker of the Gaza parliament, Ahmad Bahar, warned, “A blowup is at a distance of two-bow lengths or less if the international community does not take action to end the suffering of the people of Gaza.”

An interesting choice of metaphor. At the top of Hamas’ agenda is opening Gaza’s one sea port to travel and commerce, i.e., imports of goods and passengers, whether Israel likes it or not. As reported by Ma’an News Agency, “On Sunday, a ministerial committee in blockaded Gaza announced plans to take necessary measures to prepare the coastal enclave’s sole port.” Young Palestinian children have been taking part in activities aimed at making the seaport into a better looking place for visitors.

The port in Gaza City is currently restricted, by Israel, to fishermen. Israel, however, only allows them to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore. Opening the port and allowing fishermen access to all Palestinian waters were two main Palestinian demands during negotiations with Israel which ended the 50-day war in July and August. So, to prove the point, yesterday Israeli gun boats opened fire on fishermen that were inside that six-mile limit: just because they can. A similar incident was reported near Gaza City on January 31.

A border, a truce or a treaty with Gaza means nothing to Israel. This was highlighted this past Sunday morning when Israeli soldiers opened fire at unarmed Palestinian protesters marching near the border fence on their land, in their Gaza. This aggression came within days of Israel lifting quasi-restrictions on arresting, for maximum horror, Palestinian children at night (an average of 197 children are held in military detention every month, 13 per cent of whom are under the age of sixteen) and approving two-hundred-and-fifty more illegal settlement units after killing a Bedouin teenager audacious enough to protest this new Israeli land-grab on his ancestral lands. And, all the while, unchecked Israeli settlers were chopping down hundreds more olive trees: making sure that any future branch, offered in peace, would never survive, much less prosper.

Was this summer’s five week long nightly-news-reel review of the day’s grizzly carnage in Gaza not enough for the world to recognize the heinous mind-set that is fundamental to Israeli foreign policy? Did 2,129 Gazans, including 530 children, die uselessly in vain merely for the morbid titillation of a world momentarily distracted from their equally violent video games? Review of the divisive “progress” for peace in Gaza over the past six months shows that the answer is, oh, so shamefully, “yes.”

A newly bolstered Hamas is required. As the only sincere force for political and social good in Palestine this growing movement follows in the mold of Hezbollah’s effective example of leadership in Lebanon. Hamas leadership also provides badly needed social services and programs, and the only effective deterrent that the Israeli oppressors understand: armed resistance.

Hamas recruiting, reportedly, has increased dramatically in the post-war period. Training of all recruits and renewed preparedness for battle goes on daily. Of course. Likely, each and every Palestinian knows someone who was killed by targeted Israeli atrocity: perhaps a family member, perhaps a whole family. Remember: in Gaza, losing one’s whole family likely means having all your infant nieces and nephews, younger brothers or older sisters, your sons, your daughters, your father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, disappear, forever, in a cloud of collapsing concrete dust and Israeli gun powder smoke. Just six months ago, whole families were destroyed. Many times over.

A world of witnesses may have short memories: a Hamas recruit does not.

When the conditions for the truce with Hamas were agreed to by Israel, upon close examination of the troika selected to sit at the peace table (Egypt, Fatah, and Israel) without Hamas, only the disaffected, apathetic and myopic, would have bet a shekel on an actual peace treaty. Thanks to the skullduggery and complicity of this scheming troika, Gaza suffers worse than ever before. The three are in league in serving Israel’s goal of assimilating Palestinian territory via illegal settlements, walls and genocide, while all-the-time avoiding peace in order to continue their usual inhumane treatment, war crimes, violations of UN resolutions and inhumane immorality.

Israel wants conflict in Gaza and, again, war. As General of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmad Jibril accurately and historically stated, “When someone approaches you through force and drives you out (from your land), you should confront it only with force as that enemy understands. No language, but force.” All observations indicate that Hamas is preparing to take up the sword and, again, defend Gaza.

The first garrison will likely be the Gaza seaport.

Solely due to their quest for international recognition and justice, this past month has been exemplary of Gaza’s plight. To start the New Year, on Jan 2., after repeated and vicious public encouragement from Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas reluctantly joined the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite Netanyahu’s constant warnings. The court is headed by international lawyer and sincere champion of true humanity, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of Gambia. So, Israel is furious at the prospect of a fair trial, which it will lose, sending a pack of Zionists running, finally, from international warrants. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that, “this step will be a spark of hope that Palestinians will be able to see the Israeli leadership prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes.”

The cunning tactics employed by this troika ever since shows why the rise in Hamas’ renewed political strength is now required and that its upcoming use of the al-Qassam brigades will not be surprising.

This week, due to Israeli pressure on the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) William Schabas, a Canadian academic who was tasked in August with leading a separate United Nations backed group examining war crimes during the Israeli regime’s military offensive in Gaza, has resigned. He wrote in a letter “My views on Israel and Palestine, as well as on many other issues, were well known and very public,” adding, “This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.” Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said on Tuesday, “This clearly displays the organized Israeli state terrorism that targets anyone who tries to unveil the truth and bring Israeli leaders to account in the international forums.”

Of Course.

Fresh from massacring, last week, at least twenty-three Egyptians in clashes between police and protesters on the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, current president-for-life, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is playing host to the supposed Gaza peace talks, had his pet Supreme Court, on Saturday, ban Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam brigades and list it as a “terrorist” organization.

This is the same court that, as previously ordered by el-Sisi, outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after having already changed the constitution in order to legally legitimize the coup that jailed Mohamed Morsi and, hence, his unopposed election as president, last year. An Hamas political official told Reuters, “We reject the Egyptian court’s decision against Qassam Brigades. It is a political, dangerous decision that serves only the Zionist occupation. After the court’s decision, Egypt is no longer a mediator in Palestinian-Israeli matters.”

As part of the cease-fire, Egypt guaranteed that its Rafah border crossing would open regularly. This has actually meant infrequent, unannounced openings of no more than three days, creating chaos. On the Egyptian side trucks full of goods were halted to a trickle and perishable goods allowed to rot, just like the Gazans, on the other side of the fence. As few as 300 people a day have managed to cross.

Previously, el-Sisi, as peace broker, had shown his sincerity to his task by finding and closing all tunnels across the Egyptian-Gaza border, further starving Gaza from its last lifeline of desperately needed goods. Then he ordered his military to shoot-to-kill any Gazans approaching his imposed 400 meter de-militarized zone on the Gaza side of the border fence. Gazan Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra told the AFP news agency on Friday that a youth was shot “in the back and the bullet settled in the heart. He died on the spot”. He was identified as Palestinian, Zaki Houbi. He was 17 years old.

Far- a-field, arch-villain, Bibi Netanyahu, was busy influencing a change of heart in his paid-for minions in the EU parliament. Before leaving for Europe in a lather, after the Jan. 2nd ICC disaster, he had already re-arrested all the Palestinian prisoners who had been released, per the cease-fire, from illegal detention in Israeli jails, including the duly-elected Hamas officials from the 2006 election. He next reacted by furiously, yet again, illegally freezing $127 million in tax revenues that by law must be transferred to the Palestinian Authority so that tens of thousands of public sector workers will finally be paid, as promised. For BiBi, that was just a warm-up. Israeli forces on Thursday destroyed a water network which feeds Palestinian villages and Bedouin dwellings in the northern Jordan Valley.

Suddenly, despite the ruling by the General Court of the European Union, on Dec. 17, that said correctly, “the blacklisting of Hamas in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgments but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet,” all twenty-eight EU member states decided to appeal the court’s decision.

Now, the United Nations has stopped rebuilding homes in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip amid freezing temperatures, citing lack of funds from pledged donors.

Said a UNHRW spokesman, “$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo (aid) conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.”

Now, Israeli politicians are calling on the 122 member states of the International Criminal Court to cut all its funding in response to the beginning of its inquiry into probable war crimes in Gaza last year. Obviously, “[this] provides it (Israel) with the cover for its crimes against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Such is Zionist influence. Just like that.

As for Mr. Abbas, the recent cancelation of the Swedish ambassador’s visit said all that was needed. With his PA storm troopers, dressed in American made, black-on-black, riot gear, in daily battle with West Bank citizens, a meeting was apparently too risky in Ramallah. As the first EU member nation to formally recognize Palestine, this past October, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was set to meet with Abbas and Israeli officials in Israel instead. This week, she indefinitely postponed a planned trip to Israel, reportedly in response to Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman’s refusal to meet with her when she came. Now, Mahmoud Abbas will fly to Stockholm on Feb. 10, fresh from serving up an obviously mushy UN draft resolution for Palestinian statehood that, as designed, failed to overcome the expected veto.

Hamas has been busy shoring up preparations, which also means foreign political support, new funding sources, besides stocks of munitions. A senior Hamas official on Thursday demanded that a seaport be fully opened in Gaza, warning of an “explosion” if Israel’s siege and the Egyptian closure of Rafah continue. He called on the “free people of the world’ to send ships to break the blockade, and urged the Arab League, the OIC, and Arab nations to uphold their responsibilities to Gaza.

Senior Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar said that his Movement gave the consensus government the chance to bear its responsibilities towards Gaza Strip. The results are obvious.

The stage appears to be set for another direct conflict between Israel and Hamas. Gaza cannot continue to suffer, after already suffering one of the most barbaric attacks in modern history. The people will not stand for it. Hamas will not stand for it. With more troops in training, new and replenished weaponry, increased sources of funding, and Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza hungry for real national leadership, Hamas is ready. The only Government ever properly elected in Palestine is back.

With the re-opening of parliament the intention will be to open the Gaza City port, and therefore Gaza, to the world. Israel be damned. A port is a necessary lifeline, but also a statement of sovereignty for Gaza. Like the flag, a port is also a symbol of freedom: for Palestine. It will be defended. The prognostication now becomes: How many people will Israel kill when Hamas and a sympathetic world apply the cease-fire agreement; using Gaza’s territorial waters to bring promised relief via Gaza’s port.

As Mao famously, and accurately observed long ago,” Without An Army For The People: There is nothing for the people.”

Sadly, Israel has given this army for the people of Gaza no other alternative but death. Hamas prepares to fight.

Before it’s too late again, World: what say you?

Je suis Gaza? Je suis Hamas?

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Report: 500 Palestinians Are Currently Held Under Administrative Detention

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC News | February 5, 2015

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the current number of Palestinians, held by Israel under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, has arrived to 500.

The PPS said the Hebron district, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, witnessed the highest number of arrests and Administrative detention Orders.

It added that twelve administrative detainees, including democratically elected legislators, have been held under such orders for many years.

The detained legislators are Mohammad Jamal Natsha, Hatem Qfeisha, Mohammad Bader, ‘Azzam Salhab, Nayef Rajoub, Basem az-Za’arir, Samir al-Qadi, all from Hebron, in addition to Abdul-Jabbar Foqaha and Hasan Yousef from Ramallah, Mohammad Abu Teir and Ibrahim Abu Salem from Jerusalem, in addition to Abdul-Rahman Zeidan from Tulkarem.

The PPS said 208 of the 500 administrative detainees are from Hebron, including Ahmad Shabana, who spent eighteen years in Israeli prisons, including 13 years under Administrative Detention orders.

His latest arrest was on February 2 2014, and has been held since then; he also participated in the June 2012 61-day hunger strike, along with all Administrative Detainees.

Furthermore, detainee ‘Omar al-Barghouthi, 61 years of age, from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, has been detained since June of last year,

His repeated arrests led to him spending more than 25 years in Israeli prisons, including twelve years under Administrative Detention orders.

Israel “justifies” the use of Administrative Detention by claiming to have “secrets files” against the detainees, that neither the detainees, nor their lawyer can have access to.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

EU Parliament cancels visit of Israeli official who has ‘blood on his hands’


MEMO | February 5, 2015

Left-wing politicians in the EU Parliament undermined a visit by Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai because he has “blood on his hands” according to Northern Ireland MEP Martina Anderson.

Mordechai, who is one of the commanders of the Israeli elite force, is the coordinator for the Israeli government activities with the European Parliament regarding the Palestinian territories. His visit, which was due on Tuesday, was cancelled shortly before it was due to take place.

Portuguese parliamentarian Marisa Matias, from the European United Left–Nordic Green Left grouping, was quoted as saying that “giving him [Mordechai] a platform to host a lecture would legitimise his violations of international law and human rights”.

She pointed out: “Rather than giving a warm welcome to those, who stand for repression and apartheid, the EU institutions should pressure the Israeli government to abide by the rules of international law and UN resolutions.”

Calling for prosecuting him and his likes, she said: “We must bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Another member of the same political grouping, Northern Ireland MEP Martina, chairwoman of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Palestine Legislative Council, welcomed the cancellation, even though she said the reasons behind it were unclear.

However, she said: “We condemn the fact that it was set to go ahead in the first place. We cannot accept someone with such a track record being welcomed to the European Parliament. Put simply, this man has blood on his hands.”

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli war crime suspects may be able to run but they cannot hide

By Dr Daud Abdullah | MEMO | February 5, 2015

The resignation of William Schabas from his post as head of the UN commission to investigate possible war crimes during Israel’s 2014 onslaught on Gaza was always on the cards. From the time of his appointment in August last year, he has been subjected to a relentless campaign that questioned both his integrity and impartiality.

The manner and timing of his resignation, weeks before the commission presents its report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), recalls the case of Judge Richard Goldstone who was forced to disassociate himself from the findings of another UN enquiry into the 2008-09 war on Gaza. Instead of subjecting himself to similar humiliation, Schabas decided to throw in the towel sooner rather than later.

While Israeli officials may count this as a victory, it does not lift the spectre of war crimes charges against them. Nor will it alter Israel’s image as an international pariah. Whether Schabas stayed or resigned is, therefore, actually irrelevant. Israel has never, and never will, cooperate with an independent investigation into its wartime conduct. Hence, the claim that the UNHRC is innately biased must be seen for what it is — a rather pathetic attempt to evade accountability.

Lawyers acting on behalf of human rights organisations in Gaza point out that all the evidence presented to the UN suggests that there is a compelling a case for a formal investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The character assassination of Schabas will not change the course of events.

What is at stake is whether or not Israel acted within the confines of the law that governs armed conflict. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s claim that the UNHRC “is the same body that only in 2014 passed more resolutions against Israel than against Iran, Syria and North Korea combined” is immaterial; it’s simply an attempt to deflect world attention from the real issue.

Did the UNHRC set out deliberately to malign Israel as Netanyahu claims? On 23 July2014, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reiterated the fact that war crimes and crimes against humanity are two of the most serious types of crimes in existence. She noted that in the case of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip the “credible allegations that they have been committed must be properly investigated.”

A newly published survey by Chatham House — the Royal Institute of International Affairs — showed that 35 per cent of Britons said that they “feel especially unfavourable towards” Israel. The study, conducted in 2014, showed that the number of those viewing Israel unfavourably had actually increased by 18 points since 2012, presumably because of its military campaign in Gaza which led to thousands of casualties among Palestinian civilians.

Significantly, the categories of international crimes referred to by Pillay originated in the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945-46. Though intended to deal with those responsible for the persecution of Jews in Europe, their writ was never confined to the Nazi leadership. Robert H Jackson, the former US Supreme Court Justice and prosecutor at Nuremberg, wanted to make it clear, “That if this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”

Given the circumstances which led to the tribunal it seems utterly mind-boggling that Israel should today seek to deny others the benefit and protection of the laws used at Nuremburg. As such, none of these laws will be worth the paper they are written on as long as Israeli officials continue to enjoy apparent impunity and evade accountability for their actions. The consequences of this selective approach to justice and the rule of law are already evident across the Middle East and beyond.

Moreover, not even the countries that support Israel have been spared the consequences of its disregard for the rule of law. Consider, for example, the 2010 assassination of a Hamas official, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, in a Dubai hotel. Several of the suspects involved used false passports of several European countries to carry out the operation. Apart from the expulsion of junior diplomats from Britain, Australia and Ireland, not one of the 29 Israeli suspects have been brought before a court of law.

More than anyone, Israelis who have hunted down Nazi war criminals for decades are well positioned to know that the pursuit and prosecution of those believed to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity is relentless and not bound by time. Their perceived success in bringing down William Schabas will have absolutely no bearing on the Palestinian quest for justice. Israeli war crime suspects may be able to run but they cannot hide; they may continue to avoid arraignment at The Hague but they know for sure that they have already lost in the court of world opinion. In the grand scheme of things, it is perhaps this which matters most, for Israel must remain isolated and a pariah in the community of nations until justice is seen to be done.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Demonstrators face military violence for protesting Israeli President Rivlin’s visit

International Solidarity Movement | February 5, 2015

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Monday, February 2nd, Palestinian demonstrators faced military violence at the hands of Israeli forces in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron). Protesters gathered in Bab Al-Zawiye, on the H1 (Palestinian administered) side of Shuhada checkpoint, to denounce Israeli president Reuven Rivlin’s visit to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah. Israeli sodliers and border police fired rounds of tear gas and numerous stun grenades, injuring at least two protesters.

The demonstration was organised by local Palestinian organisation Youth Against Settlements against the visit of the Israeli president to the settlement, which is illegal under international law and serves as a frequent source of oppression and violence against local Palestinians. Palestinians claimed their own rights, trampled by the military occupation, in the face of the visit’s attempt to legitimate the settler colonisation. Some signs called for opening the once vibrant and now closed Shuhada street, some for an end to the illegal settlements, some for President Rivlin to be brought before the International Criminal Court.

Around fifty Palestinians began the demonstration outside of Shuhada Checkpoint, holding signs and banners and hanging Palestinian flags on the fence. Israeli forces stopped them from passing through the checkpoint, preventing them from protesting on Shuhada street, near where the president was due to speak. As protesters continued to demonstrate, holding signs, waving flags and chanting for an end to occupation, a group of Israeli soldiers and border police exited the checkpoint and pushed protesters further back. Soldiers also occupied the roofs overlooking Bab Al-Zawiye “I just heard a soldier on a roof say ‘okay, enough’ and five minutes later they started throwing stun grenades and tear gas,” stated an ISM activist. “It was extremely sudden, and very scary.”

Israeli forces targetted Palestinian activists and organizers, hitting many in the legs with stun grenades and tear gas grenades. One man was hit directly with a stun grenade, which detonated right by his leg. “He screamed and fell down, rolling on the ground” one ISM activist recalled. Another man was also hit in the head with a stun grenade after the Israeli forces continued to use potentially lethal force against unarmed Palestinian protesters.

Demonstrators then attempted to continue the protest into the souq (Al-Khalil’s Old City market), but Israeli forces threatened them with stun grenades and prevented them from advancing. The protesters decided to go back after the army launched one stun grenade directly into the group of demonstrators. The protest eventually dispersed in Bab Al-Zawiye, after being targeted by a few more rounds of tear gas grenades.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s James Bond Complex

By Sheldon Richman | FFF | February 4, 2015

Today, American politicians of both major parties — conservatives, “moderates,” and so-called liberals alike — insist that the United States is an “exceptional,” even “indispensable” nation. In practice, this means that for the United States alone the rules are different. Particularly in international affairs, it — the government and its personnel — can do whatever deemed necessary to carry out its objectives, including things that would get any other government or person branded a criminal.

This is nothing new. “American exceptionalism” goes back to the founding. When American politicians set their sights on Spain’s North American possessions, they were driven by the same attitude. In their view the new “Empire of Liberty,” as Jefferson called it, was destined to replace the old, worn-out empires of Europe in its hemisphere. They had no doubt that the Old World’s colonial possessions would eventually fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, either formally or informally.

Acquisition through negotiation was preferred over war by a good number of presidents, secretaries of state, and members of Congress, but if war was necessary, they intended to be prepared and to let Spain and her fellow colonial powers know it. Thus the push for a global navy under James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams before 1820. Manifest destiny! (Congress’s constitutional war power was a burr under the saddle for Adams and others, who thought war-making was properly an executive power.)

Today we see signs of the doctrine of American exceptionalism all around. U.S. foreign policy is not bound in the ways in which U.S. officials expect other countries’ foreign policies to be bound. America is special, chosen. So the rules are different.

We might say America has a James Bond complex. In the eyes of many Americans, the United States has a “Double O.” Bond said the Double O indicated “you’ve had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some assignment.” As Ian Fleming’s series went on, the Double O became a license to kill. Judging by how the U.S. government gets away with murder, terrorism and other horrible offenses, it apparently has a de facto license to kill. Although by the U.S. definition, nothing it does can ever qualify as murder and terrorism.

The signs can be perceived in Americans’ pronounced lack of interest in seeing the country’s governing elite held accountable for its aggressive wars, abuse of prisoners, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, sponsored genocide and occupation, and so on.

U.S. rulers have waged aggressive genocidal wars (against the Indians and Vietnamese, for example), have brutally put down colonial rebellions (against the Filipinos, for example), facilitated genocidal policies carried out by client dictators (in Indonesia, for example), underwritten repressive dictatorships and brutal occupations (in Egypt and Palestine, for example), and instigated in antidemocratic coups (in Iran and Chile, for example).

When has an American official been placed in the dock to answer for these crimes?

Instead, officials from whose hands the blood of countless innocents drips are treated like dignitaries, even royalty. When 91-year-old Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state who presided over the deaths of countless Vietnamese and others, appears anywhere, such as a Senate hearing, he’s accorded the reverence that parishioners pay to their priests — while peace activists, who want him held responsible, are called “low-life scum” by a fawning senator. When Madeleine Albright, a former UN ambassador and secretary of state, writes a new book, talk-show hosts climb over one another to interview her — never asking how she could have thought that killing half a million Iraqi children in the 1990s was an acceptable price for the Clinton administration’s attempt to drive Saddam Hussein from office.

Will George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld face charges for their wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan? For their drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia? For their torture programs? Will Barack Obama ever have to defend himself against murder counts for his drone kills? Will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bear consequences for the havoc she unleashed in Libya?

Of course not. The United States is the Double-O nation. Its rulers need not fear judgment. They have a license to kill.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Court presses US govt to act on withheld photos of post-9/11 detainee abuse

RT | February 5, 2015

A federal court insists it wants the Department of Defense to supplement the 2,100 pictures showing US military abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan with an individual reason for not making each of them public.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein gave a week to the government on Wednesday either to submit a written estimate of how long it might take to comply with the August 2014 ruling and list individual exemptions for the disclosure of the photographs, or to appeal the court’s decision.

“I have a feeling where we are at this point – to make up a phrase – at a line in the sand,” Hellerstein said, as cited by the Guardian.

The photographs in question depict abuse at US detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan following 9/11 attacks. They are believed to be more disturbing than the notorious images of torture and humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

The legal battle for making the classified cache of 2,100 abuse photos public has been led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) since 2004. The watchdog initiated the case after it was denied the release of photos under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Hellerstein ruled in 2005 that the government had to make the pictures public. The ruling was supported by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008.

However, a bill passed by the US Congress in 2009 made it possible for the Department of Defense to conceal images it deemed dangerous for Americans. That same year, President Obama denied the release of the photographs on the grounds they would “further inflame anti-American opinion and … put our troops in greater danger.”

The bulk concealment of abuse pictures is something judge Hellerstein believes wrong. That’s why he ruled in August 2014 that individual reasons should be given for the non-disclosure of each of the photos.

The government has not complied, providing instead a general assessment of the photos, done by associate deputy general counsel Megan M. Weis. She sorted the photos into three categories based on the extent of injury suffered by the detainee, if a US service member was depicted and the location of the photograph. Weis then took samples from each of the categories and showed them to a group of senior military officials, who recommended that CIA Director Leon Panetta keep the images secret.

“I could give you more time to satisfy my ruling…but I am not changing my view,” Hellerstein told the government on Wednesday, as cited by Newsweek.

“Some are harmless” he said of the pictures, while describing others as “highly prejudicial.”

Hellerstein also offered looking through the images with the government, as a way of complying with the court ruling.

In December, the intelligence committee of the US Senate released report detailing the CIA’s use of torture on prisoners in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Sleep deprivation and the simulated-drowning practice known as waterboarding were listed among the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA.

The report released to the public consists of only a 524-page summary out of the full 6,000-page document. It has most of the details blacked out, such as the names of those involved.

The UN and major human rights groups have urged prosecution of those responsible US officials, listed in the Senate’s report. The Justice Department however said it would not pursue charges.


Obama admin withholding 2,100 US military torture photos

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | February 4, 2015

The disclosure that convicted al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui has identified leading members of the Saudi government as financers of the terrorist network potentially reshapes how Americans will perceive events in the Middle East and creates a risk for Israel’s Likud government which has forged an unlikely alliance with some of these same Saudis.

According to a story in the New York Times on Wednesday, Moussaoui said in a prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of the group’s donors and that the list included Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar bin Sultan, longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many leading clerics.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas. (White House photo)
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas. (White House photo)

“Sheikh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money,” Moussaoui said in imperfect English — “who is to be listened to or who contributed to the jihad.”

Although Moussaoui’s credibility came under immediate attack from the Saudi kingdom, his assertions mesh with accounts from members of the U.S. Congress who have seen a secret portion of the 9/11 report that addresses alleged Saudi support for al-Qaeda.

Further complicating the predicament for Saudi Arabia is that, more recently, Saudi and other Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms have been identified as backers of Sunni militants fighting in Syria to overthrow the largely secular regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The major rebel force benefiting from this support is al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

In other words, the Saudis appear to have continued a covert relationship with al-Qaeda-connected jihadists to the present day.

The Israeli Exposure

And, like the Saudis, the Israelis have sided with the Sunni militants in Syria because the Israelis share the Saudi view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – reaching from Tehran and Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut – is the greatest threat to their interests in the Middle East.

That shared concern has pushed Israel and Saudi Arabia into a de facto alliance, though the collaboration between Jerusalem and Riyadh has been mostly kept out of the public eye. Still, it has occasionally peeked out from under the covers as the two governments deploy their complementary assets – Saudi oil and money and Israeli political and media clout – in areas where they have mutual interests.

In recent years, these historic enemies have cooperated in their joint disdain for the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt (which was overthrown in 2013), in seeking the ouster of the Assad regime in Syria, and in pressing for a more hostile U.S. posture toward Iran.

Israel and Saudi Arabia also have collaborated in efforts to put the squeeze on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who is deemed a key supporter of both Iran and Syria. The Saudis have used their power over oil production to drive down prices and hurt Russia’s economy, while U.S. neoconservatives – who share Israel’s geopolitical world view – were at the forefront of the coup that ousted Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

The behind-the-scenes Israeli-Saudi alliance has put the two governments – uncomfortably at times – on the side of Sunni jihadists battling Shiite influence in Syria, Lebanon and even Iraq. On Jan. 18, 2015, for instance, Israel attacked Lebanese-Iranian advisers assisting Assad’s government in Syria, killing several members of Hezbollah and an Iranian general. These military advisors were engaged in operations against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Meanwhile, Israel has refrained from attacking Nusra Front militants who have seized Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria told me that Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with these Nusra forces.

An Odd Alliance

Israel’s odd-couple alliances with Sunni interests have evolved over the past several years, as Israel and Saudi Arabia emerged as strange bedfellows in the geopolitical struggle against Shiite-ruled Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and southern Lebanon. In Syria, for instance, senior Israelis have made clear they would prefer Sunni extremists to prevail in the civil war rather than Assad, who is an Alawite, a branch of Shiite Islam.

In September 2013, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

And, in June 2014, speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

Skepticism and Doubt

In August 2013, when I first reported on the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia in an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower,” the story was met with much skepticism. But, increasingly, this secret alliance has gone public.

On Oct. 1, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hinted at it in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike.

Amid the bellicosity, Netanyahu dropped in a largely missed clue about the evolving power relationships in the Middle East, saying: “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

The next day, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reported that senior Israeli security officials had met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States who was then head of Saudi intelligence.

The reality of this unlikely alliance has now even reached the mainstream U.S. media. For instance, Time magazine correspondent Joe Klein described the new coziness in an article in the Jan. 19, 2015 issue.

He wrote: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

Though Klein detected only the bright side of this détente, there was a dark side as well, as referenced in Moussaoui’s deposition, which identified Prince Turki as one of al-Qaeda’s backers. Perhaps even more unsettling was his listing of Prince Bandar, who had long presented himself as a U.S. friend, so close to the Bush Family that he was nicknamed “Bandar Bush.”

Moussaoui claimed that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, at a time when Bandar was the ambassador to the United States.

According to the New York Times article by Scott Shane, Moussaoui said he was assigned to “find a location where it may be suitable to launch a Stinger attack and then, after, be able to escape,” but that he was arrested on Aug. 16, 2001, before he could carry out the reconnaissance mission.

The thought of anyone in the Saudi embassy, then under the control of “Bandar Bush,” scheming with al-Qaeda to shoot down George W. Bush’s Air Force One is shocking, if true. The notion would have been considered unthinkable even after the 9/11 attacks, which involved 15 Saudis among the 19 hijackers.

After those terror attacks which killed nearly 3,000 Americans, Bandar went to the White House and persuaded Bush to arrange for the rapid extraction of bin Laden’s family members and other Saudis in the United States. Bush agreed to help get those Saudi nationals out on the first flights allowed back into the air.

Bandar’s intervention undercut the FBI’s chance to learn more about the ties between Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 perpetrators by giving FBI agents only time for cursory interviews with the departing Saudis.

Bandar himself was close to the bin Laden family and acknowledged having met Osama bin Laden in the context of bin Laden thanking Bandar for his help financing the jihad project in Afghanistan during the 1980s. “I was not impressed, to be honest with you,” Bandar told CNN’s Larry King about bin Laden. “I thought he was simple and very quiet guy.”

The Saudi government claimed to have broken ties with bin Laden in the early 1990s when he began targeting the United States because President George H.W. Bush had stationed U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, but – if Moussaoui is telling the truth – al-Qaeda would have still counted Bandar among its supporters in the late 1990s.

Bandar and Putin

Bandar’s possible links to Sunni terrorism also emerged in 2013 during a confrontation between Bandar and Putin over what Putin viewed as Bandar’s crude threat to unleash Chechen terrorists against the Sochi Winter Olympics if Putin did not reduce his support for the Syrian government.

According to a leaked diplomatic account of a July 31, 2013 meeting in Moscow, Bandar informed Putin that Saudi Arabia had strong influence over Chechen extremists who had carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Russian targets and who had since deployed to join the fight against the Assad regime in Syria.

As Bandar called for a Russian shift toward the Saudi position on Syria, he reportedly offered guarantees of protection from Chechen terror attacks on the Olympics. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year,” Bandar reportedly said. “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

Putin responded, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism.”

Bandar’s Mafia-like threat toward the Sochi games – a version of “nice Olympics you got here, it’d be a shame if something terrible happened to it” – failed to intimidate Putin, who continued to support Assad.

Less than a month later, an incident in Syria almost forced President Barack Obama’s hand in launching U.S. air strikes against Assad’s military, which would have possibly opened the path for the Nusra Front or the Islamic State to capture Damascus and take control of Syria. On Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious sarin attack outside Damascus killed hundreds and, in the U.S. media, the incident was immediately blamed on the Assad regime.

American neocons and their allied “liberal interventionists” demanded that Obama launch retaliatory air strikes even though some U.S. intelligence analysts doubted that Assad’s forces were responsible and suspected that the attack was carried out by extremist rebels trying to pull the U.S. military into the civil war on their side.

Yet, pushed by the neocons and liberal war hawks, Obama nearly ordered a bombing campaign designed to “degrade” the Syrian military but called it off at the last minute. He then accepted Putin’s help in reaching a diplomatic solution in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

Later, the Assad-did-it case crumbled amid new evidence that Sunni extremists, supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, were the more likely perpetrators of the attack, a scenario that became increasingly persuasive as Americans learned more about the cruelty and ruthlessness of many Sunni jihadists fighting in Syria. [See’sThe Mistaken Guns of Last August.”]

Targeting Putin

Putin’s cooperation with Obama to head off a U.S. military strike in Syria made the Russian president more of a target for the American neocons who thought they finally had reached the cusp of their long-desired “regime change” in Syria only to be blocked by Putin. By late September 2013, a leading neocon, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, announced the goal of challenging Putin and recognizing his sore point in Ukraine.

Taking to the Washington Post’s op-ed page on Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and an important step toward ultimately ousting Putin. Gershman wrote, “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents.  … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.” [See’sNeocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.“]

However, in early 2014, Putin was obsessed with Bandar’s implicit threat of terrorism striking the Sochi Olympics, thus distracting him from the “regime change” – being pushed by NED and neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland – next door in Ukraine.

On Feb. 22, 2014, putschists, spearheaded by well-organized neo-Nazi militias, drove elected President Viktor Yanukovych and his government from power. Putin was caught off-guard and, in the resulting political chaos, agreed to requests from Crimean officials and voters to accept Crimea back into Russia, thus exploding his cooperative relationship with Obama.

With Putin the new pariah in Official Washington, the neocon hand also was strengthened in the Middle East where renewed pressure could be put on the “Shiite crescent” in Syria and Iran. However, in summer 2014, the Islamic State, which had splintered off from al-Qaeda and its Nusra Front, went on a rampage, invading Iraq where captured soldiers were beheaded. The Islamic State then engaged in gruesome videotaped decapitations of Western hostages inside Syria.

The Islamic State’s brutality and the threat it posed to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-dominated government of Iraq changed the political calculus. Obama felt compelled to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in both Iraq and Syria. American neocons tried to convince Obama to expand the Syrian strikes to hit Assad’s forces, too, but Obama realized such a plan would only benefit the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

In effect, the neocons were showing their hand – much as Israeli Ambassador Oren had done – favoring the Sunni extremists allied with al-Qaeda over Assad’s secular regime because it was allied with Iran. Now, with Moussaoui’s deposition identifying senior Saudi officials as patrons of al-Qaeda, another veil seems to have dropped.

Complicating matters further, Moussaoui also claimed that he passed letters between Osama bin Laden and then Crown Prince Salman, who recently became king upon the death of his brother King Abdullah.

But Moussaoui’s disclosure perhaps cast the most unflattering light on Bandar, the erstwhile confidant of the Bush Family who — if Moussaoui is right — may have been playing a sinister double game.

Also facing potentially embarrassing questions is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, especially if he goes through with his planned speech before a joint session of Congress next month, attacking Obama for being soft on Iran.

And, America’s neocons might have some explaining to do about why they have carried water not just for the Israelis but for Israel’s de facto allies in Saudi Arabia.


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

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments