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The Real American Exceptionalism

From Torture to Drone Assassination, How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card

By Alfred W. McCoy | Tom Dispatch | February 24, 2015

“The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond damaged his reputation for decades, today his ideas have achieved unimagined influence. They have, in fact, shaped the neo-conservative view of presidential power that has become broadly bipartisan since 9/11. Indeed, Schmitt has influenced American politics directly through his intellectual protégé Leo Strauss who, as an émigré professor at the University of Chicago, trained Bush administration architects of the Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky.

All that should be impressive enough for a discredited, long dead authoritarian thinker. But Schmitt’s dictum also became a philosophical foundation for the exercise of American global power in the quarter century that followed the end of the Cold War. Washington, more than any other power, created the modern international community of laws and treaties, yet it now reserves the right to defy those same laws with impunity. A sovereign ruler should, said Schmitt, discard laws in times of national emergency. So the United States, as the planet’s last superpower or, in Schmitt’s terms, its global sovereign, has in these years repeatedly ignored international law, following instead its own unwritten rules of the road for the exercise of world power.

Just as Schmitt’s sovereign preferred to rule in a state of endless exception without a constitution for his Reich, so Washington is now well into the second decade of an endless War on Terror that seems the sum of its exceptions to international law: endless incarceration, extrajudicial killing, pervasive surveillance, drone strikes in defiance of national boundaries, torture on demand, and immunity for all of the above on the grounds of state secrecy. Yet these many American exceptions are just surface manifestations of the ever-expanding clandestine dimension of the American state. Created at the cost of more than a trillion dollars since 9/11, the purpose of this vast apparatus is to control a covert domain that is fast becoming the main arena for geopolitical contestation in the twenty-first century.

This should be (but seldom is considered) a jarring, disconcerting path for a country that, more than any other, nurtured the idea of, and wrote the rules for, an international community of nations governed by the rule of law. At the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899, the U.S. delegate, Andrew Dickson White, the founder of Cornell University, pushed for the creation of a Permanent Court of Arbitration and persuaded Andrew Carnegie to build the monumental Peace Palace at The Hague as its home. At the Second Hague Conference in 1907, Secretary of State Elihu Root urged that future international conflicts be resolved by a court of professional jurists, an idea realized when the Permanent Court of International Justice was established in 1920.

After World War II, the U.S. used its triumph to help create the United Nations, push for the adoption of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ratify the Geneva Conventions for humanitarian treatment in war. If you throw in other American-backed initiatives like the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank, you pretty much have the entire infrastructure of what we now casually call “the international community.”

Breaking the Rules

Not only did the U.S. play a crucial role in writing the new rules for that community, but it almost immediately began breaking them. After all, despite the rise of the other superpower, the Soviet Union, Washington was by then the world sovereign and so could decide which should be the exceptions to its own rules, particularly to the foundational principle for all this global governance: sovereignty. As it struggled to dominate the hundred new nations that started appearing right after the war, each one invested with an inviolable sovereignty, Washington needed a new means of projecting power beyond conventional diplomacy or military force. As a result, CIA covert operations became its way of intervening within a new world order where you couldn’t or at least shouldn’t intervene openly.

All of the exceptions that really matter spring from America’s decision to join what former spy John Le Carré called that “squalid procession of vain fools, traitors… sadists, and drunkards,” and embrace espionage in a big way after World War II. Until the creation of the CIA in 1947, the United States had been an innocent abroad in the world of intelligence. When General John J. Pershing led two million American troops to Europe during World War I, the U.S. had the only army on either side of the battle lines without an intelligence service. Even though Washington built a substantial security apparatus during that war, it was quickly scaled back by Republican conservatives during the 1920s. For decades, the impulse to cut or constrain such secret agencies remained robustly bipartisan, as when President Harry Truman abolished the CIA’s predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), right after World War II or when President Jimmy Carter fired 800 CIA covert operatives after the Vietnam War.

Yet by fits and starts, the covert domain inside the U.S. government has grown stealthily from the early twentieth century to this moment. It began with the formation of the FBI in 1908 and Military Intelligence in 1917. The Central Intelligence Agency followed after World War II along with most of the alphabet agencies that make up the present U.S. Intelligence Community, including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and last but hardly least, in 2004, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Make no mistake: there is a clear correlation between state secrecy and the rule of law — as one grows, the other surely shrinks.

World Sovereign

America’s irrevocable entry into this covert netherworld came when President Truman deployed his new CIA to contain Soviet subversion in Europe. This was a continent then thick with spies of every stripe: failed fascists, aspirant communists, and everything in between. Introduced to spycraft by its British “cousins,” the CIA soon mastered it in part by establishing sub rosa ties to networks of ex-Nazi spies, Italian fascist operatives, and dozens of continental secret services.

As the world’s new sovereign, Washington used the CIA to enforce its chosen exceptions to the international rule of law, particularly to the core principle of sovereignty. During his two terms, President Dwight Eisenhower authorized 104 covert operations on four continents, focused largely on controlling the many new nations then emerging from centuries of colonialism. Eisenhower’s exceptions included blatant transgressions of national sovereignty such as turning northern Burma into an unwilling springboard for abortive invasions of China, arming regional revolts to partition Indonesia, and overthrowing elected governments in Guatemala and Iran. By the time Eisenhower left office in 1961, covert ops had acquired such a powerful mystique in Washington that President John F. Kennedy would authorize 163 of them in the three years that preceded his assassination.

As a senior CIA official posted to the Near East in the early 1950s put it, the Agency then saw every Muslim leader who was not pro-American as “a target legally authorized by statute for CIA political action.” Applied on a global scale and not just to Muslims, this policy helped produce a distinct “reverse wave” in the global trend towards democracy from 1958 to 1975, as coups — most of them U.S.-sanctioned — allowed military men to seize power in more than three-dozen nations, representing a quarter of the world’s sovereign states.

The White House’s “exceptions” also produced a deeply contradictory U.S. attitude toward torture from the early years of the Cold War onward. Publicly, Washington’s opposition to torture was manifest in its advocacy of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the Geneva Conventions in 1949. Simultaneously and secretly, however, the CIA began developing ingenious new torture techniques in contravention of those same international conventions. After a decade of mind-control research, the CIA actually codified its new method of psychological torture in a secret instructional handbook, the “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation” manual, which it then disseminated within the U.S. Intelligence Community and to allied security services worldwide.

Much of the torture that became synonymous with the era of authoritarian rule in Asia and Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s seems to have originated in U.S. training programs that provided sophisticated techniques, up-to-date equipment, and moral legitimacy for the practice. From 1962 to 1974, the CIA worked through the Office of Public Safety (OPS), a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development that sent American police advisers to developing nations. Established by President Kennedy in 1962, in just six years OPS grew into a global anti-communist operation with over 400 U.S. police advisers.  By 1971, it had trained more than a million policemen in 47 nations, including 85,000 in South Vietnam and 100,000 in Brazil.

Concealed within this larger OPS effort, CIA interrogation training became synonymous with serious human rights abuses, particularly in Iran, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Brazil, and Uruguay. Amnesty International documented widespread torture, usually by local police, in 24 of the 49 nations that had hosted OPS police-training teams. In tracking torturers across the globe, Amnesty seemed to be following the trail of CIA training programs. Significantly, torture began to recede when America again turned resolutely against the practice at the end of the Cold War.

The War on Terror 

Although the CIA’s authority for assassination, covert intervention, surveillance, and torture was curtailed at the close of the Cold War, the terror attacks of September 2001 sparked an unprecedented expansion in the scale of the intelligence community and a corresponding resurgence in executive exceptions.  The War on Terror’s voracious appetite for information produced, in its first decade, what the Washington Post branded a veritable “fourth branch” of the U.S. federal government with 854,000 vetted security officials, 263 security organizations, over 3,000 private and public intelligence agencies, and 33 new security complexes — all pumping out a total of 50,000 classified intelligence reports annually by 2010.

By that time, one of the newest members of the Intelligence Community, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, already had 16,000 employees, a $5 billion budget, and a massive nearly $2 billion headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Maryland — all aimed at coordinating the flood of surveillance data pouring in from drones, U-2 spy planes, Google Earth, and orbiting satellites.

According to documents whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked to the Washington Post, the U.S. spent $500 billion on its intelligence agencies in the dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, including annual appropriations in 2012 of $11 billion for the National Security Agency (NSA) and $15 billion for the CIA. If we add the $790 billion expended on the Department of Homeland Security to that $500 billion for overseas intelligence, then Washington had spent nearly $1.3 trillion to build a secret state-within-the-state of absolutely unprecedented size and power.

As this secret state swelled, the world’s sovereign decided that some extraordinary exceptions to civil liberties at home and sovereignty abroad were in order. The most glaring came with the CIA’s now-notorious renewed use of torture on suspected terrorists and its setting up of its own global network of private prisons, or “black sites,” beyond the reach of any court or legal authority. Along with piracy and slavery, the abolition of torture had long been a signature issue when it came to the international rule of law. So strong was this principle that the U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously in 1984 to adopt the Convention Against Torture. When it came to ratifying it, however, Washington dithered on the subject until the end of the Cold War when it finally resumed its advocacy of international justice, participating in the World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in 1993 and, a year later, ratifying the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

Even then, the sovereign decided to reserve some exceptions for his country alone. Only a year after President Bill Clinton signed the U.N. Convention, CIA agents started snatching terror suspects in the Balkans, some of them Egyptian nationals, and sending them to Cairo, where a torture-friendly autocracy could do whatever it wanted to them in its prisons. Former CIA director George Tenet later testified that, in the years before 9/11, the CIA shipped some 70 individuals to foreign countries without formal extradition — a process dubbed “extraordinary rendition” that had been explicitly banned under Article 3 of the U.N. Convention.

Right after his public address to a shaken nation on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush gave his staff wide-ranging secret orders to use torture, adding (in a vernacular version of Schmitt’s dictum),“I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” In this spirit, the White House authorized the CIA to develop that global matrix of secret prisons, as well as an armada of planes for spiriting kidnapped terror suspects to them, and a network of allies who could help seize those suspects from sovereign states and levitate them into a supranational gulag of eight agency black sites from Thailand to Poland or into the crown jewel of the system, Guantánamo, thus eluding laws and treaties that remained grounded in territorially based concepts of sovereignty.

Once the CIA closed the black sites in 2008-2009, its collaborators in this global gulag began to feel the force of law for their crimes against humanity. Under pressure from the Council of Europe, Poland started an ongoing criminal investigation in 2008 into its security officers who had facilitated the CIA’s secret prison in the country’s northeast. In September 2012, Italy’s supreme court confirmed the convictions of 22 CIA agents for the illegal rendition of Egyptian exile Abu Omar from Milan to Cairo, and ordered a trial for Italy’s military intelligence chief on charges that sentenced him to 10 years in prison. In 2012, Scotland Yard opened a criminal investigation into MI6 agents who rendered Libyan dissidents to Colonel Gaddafi’s prisons for torture, and two years later the Court of Appeal allowed some of those Libyans to file a civil suit against MI6 for kidnapping and torture.

But not the CIA. Even after the Senate’s 2014 Torture Report documented the Agency’s abusive tortures in painstaking detail, there was no move for either criminal or civil sanctions against those who had ordered torture or those who had carried it out. In a strong editorial on December 21, 2014, the New York Times asked “whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity.” The answer, of course, was yes. Immunity for hirelings is one of the sovereign’s most important exceptions.

As President Bush finished his second term in 2008, an inquiry by the International Commission of Jurists found that the CIA’s mobilization of allied security agencies worldwide had done serious damage to the international rule of law. “The executive… should under no circumstance invoke a situation of crisis to deprive victims of human rights violations… of their… access to justice,” the Commission recommended after documenting the degradation of civil liberties in some 40 countries. “State secrecy and similar restrictions must not impede the right to an effective remedy for human rights violations.”

The Bush years also brought Washington’s most blatant repudiation of the rule of law. Once the newly established International Criminal Court (ICC) convened at The Hague in 2002, the Bush White House “un-signed” or “de-signed” the U.N. agreement creating the court and then mounted a sustained diplomatic effort to immunize U.S. military operations from its writ. This was an extraordinary abdication for the nation that had breathed the concept of an international tribunal into being.

The Sovereign’s Unbounded Domains

While Presidents Eisenhower and Bush decided on exceptions that violated national boundaries and international treaties, President Obama is exercising his exceptional prerogatives in the unbounded domains of aerospace and cyberspace.

Both are new, unregulated realms of military conflict beyond the rubric of international law and Washington believes it can use them as Archimedean levers for global dominion. Just as Britain once ruled from the seas and postwar America exercised its global reach via airpower, so Washington now sees aerospace and cyberspace as special realms for domination in the twenty-first century.

Under Obama, drones have grown from a tactical Band-Aid in Afghanistan into a strategic weapon for the exercise of global power. From 2009 to 2015, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force deployed a drone armada of over 200 Predators and Reapers, launching 413 strikes in Pakistan alone, killing as many as 3,800 people. Every Tuesday inside the White House Situation Room, as the New York Times reported in 2012, President Obama reviews a CIA drone “kill list” and stares at the faces of those who are targeted for possible assassination from the air.  He then decides, without any legal procedure, who will live and who will die, even in the case of American citizens. Unlike other world leaders, this sovereign applies the ultimate exception across the Greater Middle East, parts of Africa, and elsewhere if he chooses.

This lethal success is the cutting edge of a top-secret Pentagon project that will, by 2020, deploy a triple-canopy space “shield” from stratosphere to exosphere, patrolled by Global Hawk and X-37B drones armed with agile missiles.

As Washington seeks to police a restless globe from sky and space, the world might well ask: How high is any nation’s sovereignty? After the successive failures of the Paris flight conference of 1910, the Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare of 1923, and Geneva’s Protocol I of 1977 to establish the extent of sovereign airspace or restrain aerial warfare, some puckish Pentagon lawyer might reply: only as high as you can enforce it.

President Obama has also adopted the NSA’s vast surveillance system as a permanent weapon for the exercise of global power. At the broadest level, such surveillance complements Obama’s overall defense strategy, announced in 2012, of cutting conventional forces while preserving U.S. global power through a capacity for “a combined arms campaign across all domains: land, air, maritime, space, and cyberspace.” In addition, it should be no surprise that, having pioneered the war-making possibilities of cyberspace, the president did not hesitate to launch the first cyberwar in history against Iran.

By the end of Obama’s first term, the NSA could sweep up billions of messages worldwide through its agile surveillance architecture. This included hundreds of access points for penetration of the Worldwide Web’s fiber optic cables; ancillary intercepts through special protocols and “backdoor” software flaws; supercomputers to crack the encryption of this digital torrent; and a massive data farm in Bluffdale, Utah, built at a cost of $2 billion to store yottabytes of purloined data.

Even after angry Silicon Valley executives protested that the NSA’s “backdoor” software surveillance threatened their multi-trillion-dollar industry, Obama called the combination of Internet information and supercomputers “a powerful tool.” He insisted that, as “the world’s only superpower,” the United States “cannot unilaterally disarm our intelligence agencies.” In other words, the sovereign cannot sanction any exceptions to his panoply of exceptions.

Revelations from Edward Snowden’s cache of leaked documents in late 2013 indicate that the NSA has conducted surveillance of leaders in some 122 nations worldwide, 35 of them closely, including Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, former Mexican president Felipe Calderón, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After her forceful protest, Obama agreed to exempt Merkel’s phone from future NSA surveillance, but reserved the right, as he put it, to continue to “gather information about the intentions of governments… around the world.” The sovereign declined to say which world leaders might be exempted from his omniscient gaze.

Can there be any question that, in the decades to come, Washington will continue to violate national sovereignty through old-style covert as well as open interventions, even as it insists on rejecting any international conventions that restrain its use of aerospace or cyberspace for unchecked force projection, anywhere, anytime? Extant laws or conventions that in any way check this power will be violated when the sovereign so decides. These are now the unwritten rules of the road for our planet.  They represent the real American exceptionalism.

Alfred W. McCoy is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is the author of Torture & Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation, among other works.

Copyright 2015 Alfred W. McCoy

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secret Police Facility “Black Site” Discovered Inside America, Detaining & Torturing Americans

By Jay Syrmopoulos | The Free Thought Project | February 24, 2015

Chicago, Ill. – In a startling report from the Guardian, details have been revealed about Chicago police detaining American citizens at “black sites.” These sites are similar to those used by the CIA around the world to interrogate/torture alleged terrorists.

The stunning revelation of the Chicago Police Department operating what amounts to an off-the-books interrogation facility is threatening, to say the least. The facility apparently operates outside the bounds of the U.S. Constitution, and its discovery exposes the very real and present danger of the threat posed by the police state to American freedom and liberty.

Housed in a warehouse on Chicago’s west side, Homan Square has long been the home to secretive police work. Attorneys as well as protesters, tell a tale of being systematically being denied their constitutional rights.

According to the Guardian,

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

• Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
• Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
• Shackling for prolonged periods.
• Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
• Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

In addition, no one is booked into Homan Square. Thus, there is no way of allowing anyone to account for their whereabouts as would typically happen at a precinct. When attorneys attempt to gain access due to a client being inside, they are summarily turned away from the “secure facility.”

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

According to Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor the practices entrenched in the operation of Homan Square violate both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

According to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid, one man had his booking information changed in the central booking database.  He was then taken to Homan Square with no record of the transfer. After his stint at Homan Square, he was taken to the hospital with a head injury, and she was finally able to find him.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Then, in a case that highlights the extremely ominous nature of Homan Square, 44-year-old John Hubbard was pronounced dead on February 2, 2013 after being found “unresponsive inside an interview room.”

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office “could not locate any record for the Guardian indicating a cause of Hubbard’s death. It remains unclear why Hubbard was ever in police custody,” the Guardian reports.

We are clearly teetering on the brink of total despotism and violations of the Constitution. This egregious practice must be investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Justice if they hope to keep the social fabric from unraveling.

James Trainum, a retired Washington DC homicide detective, who now studies national policing issues for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project said,

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist.”

The egregious nature of this clear and present danger to American liberty cannot be overstated. According to Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project,

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

Revelations like this case show how easy it is for constitutional protections to be completely disregarded and how quickly the slide into tyranny can occur.

Let’s get the word out and wake people up, by sharing this article wide and far. The time has come to unite and demand the systemic changes necessary to create a more just society and sustaining liberty.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

Slick Tricks from US Assassination Instruction Manual

By Robert Barsocchini | Blacklisted News | February 23, 2015

The US definition of assassination in a 1953 instruction manual includes that assassination is “the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer”, “whose death provides positive advantages” to the organization that performs the killing.

All conceivable methods for carrying out and hiding or publicizing assassinations, depending on the situation, have long been conceived by US militants.  The following is a brief sample of tips and tricks advised by the US:

Orders for secret assassinations will never “be written or recorded.”

“All planning must be mental; no papers should ever contain evidence of the operation.”

Discussion of the assassination will be “confined to an absolute minimum of persons. Ideally, only one person will be involved.”

“Except in terroristic assassinations”, in which publicity is necessary for psychological effect, the assassin “should have an absolute minimum of contact with the rest of the organization and his instructions should be given orally by one person only.”  This leaves no tracks and helps keep the operation secret, confined to an inner circle of the most vetted, reliable killers.

Sometimes, to help conceal the act, an unwitting person is to be used and “killed with the subject”.  These types of operations are called “lost”.

In lost operations, the US advises using mentally unstable individuals, or “fanatics”, who can be used, killed in the operation, and blamed entirely, allowing the US to deny involvement.

“In lost assassination, the assassin must be a fanatic of some sort. Politics, religion, and revenge are about the only feasible motives. Since a fanatic is unstable psychologically, he must be handled with extreme care. He must not know the identities of the other members of the organization, for although it is intended that he die in the act, something may go wrong.”

When it is desired that a killing is not revealed as an assassination, “the contrived accident is the most effective technique.”

“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.”

The assassin can then play the “horrified witness”, so that “no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary”.

Sometimes, as in the US assassination of civil rights leader Fred Hampton, it will be necessary to “drug the subject” before killing him.

Particularly if “the subject is under medical care”, killing him or her with “drugs can be very effective”.  “An overdose of morphine administered as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect.”  (The US has since also been documented to have a gun that can shoot people with undetectable poisons that “caused heart attacks and cancer.”)

When firearms are used, they should be selected to “provide destructive power at least 100% in excess of that thought to be necessary”.

But since their “possession is often incriminating” and they “may be difficult to obtain”, often a “hammer”, “baseball ball”, or a “heavy stick” is preferable to a firearm, especially due to “universal availability” of such objects.  With these, blows need simply “be directed to the temple, the area just below and behind the ear, and the lower, rear portion of the skull. Of course, if the blow is very heavy, any portion of the upper skull will do.”

Using machine guns for assassination will usually “require the subversion of a unit of an official guard at a ceremony, though a skillful and determined team might conceivably dispose of a loyal gun crow [sic] without commotion and take over the gun at the critical time.”

If a shotgun is used the “barrel may be ‘sawed’ off for convenience”.

“The sound of the explosion of the proponent in a firearm can be effectively silenced by appropriate attachments”, though the use of silencers has been hyped beyond their effectiveness.

When Obama chooses to publicize his assassinations by intentionally leaking information about them to the press, they are thus here defined by the US as “terroristic”.

On using explosives for assassinations, the manual states that “in terroristic and open assassination[s]” like many of Obama’s, bombs “can provide safety” for the assassin and “overcome guard barriers” – and this was long before today’s advancements in remote-controlled bomb detonation, a method favored by Obama for executing suspects.

The manual states that one consideration when using explosives for assassination is the “moral” dilemma involved in “indiscriminate killing” of “casual bystanders”, though this has apparently been little deterrent for Obama, who, since entering office, has further relaxed official US standards on knowingly killing civilians.

Here is historian William Blum’s list of US assassinations or attempted assassinations of major leaders of foreign governments since 1945, when the US became the world’s dominant organization:

  • 1949 – Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader
  • 1950s – CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of more than 200 political figures in West Germany to be “put out of the way” in the event of a Soviet invasion
  • 1950s – Chou En-lai, Prime minister of China, several attempts on his life
  • 1950s, 1962 – Sukarno, President of Indonesia
  • 1951 – Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea
  • 1953 – Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran
  • 1950s (mid) – Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader
  • 1955 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
  • 1957 – Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt
  • 1959, 1963, 1969 – Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia
  • 1960 – Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq
  • 1950s-70s – José Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life
  • 1961 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, leader of Haiti
  • 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo (Zaire)
  • 1961 – Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic
  • 1963 – Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam
  • 1960s-70s – Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, many attempts on his life
  • 1960s – Raúl Castro, high official in government of Cuba
  • 1965 – Francisco Caamaño, Dominican Republic opposition leader
  • 1965-6 – Charles de Gaulle, President of France
  • 1967 – Che Guevara, Cuban leader
  • 1970 – Salvador Allende, President of Chile
  • 1970 – Gen. Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile
  • 1970s, 1981 – General Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama
  • 1972 – General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence
  • 1975 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire
  • 1976 – Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica
  • 1980-1986 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life
  • 1982 – Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran
  • 1983 – Gen. Ahmed Dlimi, Moroccan Army commander
  • 1983 – Miguel d’Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
  • 1984 – The nine comandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate
  • 1985 – Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader (80 people killed in the attempt)
  • 1991 – Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq
  • 1993 – Mohamed Farah Aideed, prominent clan leader of Somalia
  • 1998, 2001-2 – Osama bin Laden, leading Islamic militant
  • 1999 – Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia
  • 2002 – Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan Islamic leader and warlord
  • 2003 – Saddam Hussein and his two sons
  • 2011 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and also writes professionally for the film industry. Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Gaza in Ruins After Receiving Only 5% of Pledged Reconstruction Funds

By Ken Klippenstein | Reader Supported News | February 23, 2015

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), discusses the causes and consequences of the fact that only about 5% of pledged donations have reached Gaza.

Ken Klippenstein: What has been the impact of the failure of donor aid funds to reach Gaza?

Chris Gunness: Let me illustrate that with one simple vignette. I was in Gaza yesterday, and I met a grandfather living in the northern area, which is near the fence with Israel. The man is 62. Two of his grandchildren froze to death (i.e., died of hypothermia) during the storm known as Huda, which was in January.

They are living, 15 of them, in a shack, which I assumed when I saw it from the road was for animals. When I went there, it was a tiny, three-roomed wooden structure covered in leaky plastic. It was raining, so water was flowing in. And that is the very place where baby Salima died on the 21st of January at the age of just 40 days old.

The floor is sand, and on top of that they’ve put threadbare carpets. When you sit on them, they’re so wet and cold [that] it’s no protection whatsoever. Baby Salima basically got rained on all night. There was nowhere for them to go. Her body was blue and trembling. They took her to the hospital, and after one night the doctor phoned up and said that Salima was dead. Another grandchild, a boy, was 50 days old. He was in a UN shelter; it was freezing cold, and he died very suddenly of hypothermia.

There are about 110,000 homes which are either completely uninhabitable or very badly damaged. Assuming each home has between six and eight people, that’s 600,000-800,000 people, approximately. So in terms of both the depth of the suffering and the breadth of the humanitarian impact, it’s immense.

KK: Why haven’t the donor funds gone through? We heard so many different countries, from the Gulf states to the West, pledged aid – $5.4 billion, in fact.

CG: Your question is a very good one. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. It’s not from lack of appeals from us; it’s not from want of me telling stories like this; it’s not from lack of donors being given the figures, analysis, what the cost will be in human terms. All of this stuff they know, so there’s absolutely no shortage of information.

KK: What obligation does the West – particularly the United States, but also Europe – have to reconstruct Gaza, given that they are the ones who armed Israel? The West armed Israel with precisely the same weapons that were used to destroy Gaza in this last operation.

CG: And also, it’s those same donors who all met in Cairo [and agreed to rebuild Gaza] – without any security guarantees that it’s not going to be completely leveled again in another couple of years’ time, as has happened for the last six years. There have been three wars since 2009.

You should also ask what are the responsibilities of the belligerent parties, because in a conflict, the belligerent parties are responsible for the protection of civilians.

I think if you look at the Palestinian refugees in Gaza … we have a situation where Gaza is under blockade and the political pressures that need to come to bear to lift the blockade are not being effectively brought to bear. So the blockade continues.

Not only do huge swaths of Gaza look like an earthquake just hit, but it’s proven very difficult to reconstruct, because the funds simply are not there.

What is the point of reconstructing Gaza if the place is not allowed to have a functioning economy? Do you want gleaming white, new houses and totally impoverished people because the population can’t export?

What you need in an economy like Gaza is to be able to import raw materials to make things [like] garments and export them. If you can’t export them, then you can’t have a functioning economy. The people of Gaza are incredibly entrepreneurial. They’re very proud. They don’t want to suffer the indignities of aid dependency.

What are the obligations of the international community? One of their obligations is to put pressures to bear on the right place so that the blockade is lifted by Israel and the people of Gaza are allowed to trade. If you trade, you can have a disposable income; if you have a disposable income, you can buy things.

We don’t want to be going to the donor community with our begging bowl in hand and asking for money. It’s much better if people in Gaza can have their own economy. Of course they’ll need assistance reconstructing the place, but thereafter, they need to have a functioning economy. Otherwise they’re going to be condemned for decades more to this life-support system known as international aid.

KK: Israel has necessitated this aid by its blockade since Gaza doesn’t have a viable economy?

CG: Yeah. In the year 2000, there were 80,000 people in UNRWA’s food distribution. Fifteen years later, it’s 10 times that – 800,000. A lot of that aid dependency is due to the fact that there’s a blockade and Gaza cannot trade.

Unemployment is 44%. Food insecurity is rising. 90% of the water in Gaza is undrinkable. That’s the impact of the blockade. It’s devastating.

KK: As a UN official, could you comment on what obligations Israel has [under international law] as the occupying force in the Palestinian territories?

CG: In the UN, Israel is an occupying power, and has obligations to provide services, housing, water, electricity; all the things which protected populations need to have in situations of occupation. It’s all very clearly stipulated in the 4th Geneva Convention.

KK: What has been the effect of the destruction of the supply tunnels running from Egypt to Gaza?

CG: Make no mistake, the destruction of the tunnels has devastated a lifeline to the people of Gaza. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever about that. But the majority of the crossings into Gaza are through Israel.

The Rafah crossing – I’ve been through it – is a single road in one direction. A very narrow road, actually. And a very narrow single road in the other direction. It is not a crossing through which you would want to mount a major import-export or aid operation to 1.8 million people.

KK: How does the failure of the aid to reach Gaza now compare with previous instances?

CG: This is as bad as it’s ever been, I think. After the Cairo conference where the donor community pledged $5.4 billion, we created a plan for $720 million [in aid]. That was for essentially two things: rental properties for people whose houses had been destroyed, and for repair and reconstruction. That $720 million plan has a deficit of $585 million.

I’ve never known it to be this bad and I’ve been here for 9 years.

KK: I imagine failing to reconstruct Gaza represents a security risk.

CG: Having 1.8 million desperate, isolated, destitute people at any country’s doorstep – especially given the history, and given that there’s a fence around it and a blockade – how can that ever be considered to be in anybody’s interest – not just Israel, but all of us?

The Palestinian cause is a source of anger and frustration in many places, including across the Middle East. So it’s in nobody’s interest anywhere in the world to have Gaza in the state that it’s in.

[This transcript has been lightly edited.]

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sisi passes anti-terrorism law

Mada Masr | February 24, 2015

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a new law on terrorism, announced in the official Gazette on Tuesday morning.

The law’s 10 articles focus on defining terrorist entities, listing such groups and bodies, and stipulating legal processes for appealing these lists.

The law has been widely criticized since it was first drafted, with some claiming it restricts civil liberties.

Article one of the law defines terrorist entities as: “any association, organization, group or gang that attempts to, aims to, or calls for destabilizing public order; endangers the wellbeing or safety of society; harms individuals or terrorizes them, or endangers their lives or freedoms or rights or safety; endangers social unity; harms the environment or natural resources or monuments or communications or transportation or funds or buildings or public or private property, or occupies them; obstructs the work of public authorities or the judiciary or government entities or local municipalities or houses of worship or hospitals or scientific institutions or diplomatic missions or international organizations; blocks public or private transportation, or roads; harms national unity or threatens national peace; obstructs the implementation of the constitution or laws or bylaws; uses violence or power or threats or acts of terrorism to achieve any of its goals.”

The second article gives the prosecution the right to draw up lists of identified terrorist entities, including groups that are officially ruled as terrorist organizations. The prosecution will also be tasked with generating lists of “terrorists” found guilty of organizing identified terrorist groups.

The law stipulates that organizations designated as terrorist entities must remain on such lists for three weeks, and if no judicial order is issued to confirm the nature of these organizations, the prosecution retains the right to extend the period for further investigation.

Penalties against designated terrorist entities can include dissolving the organization, suspending its activities, shutting down its headquarters, banning meetings held by its members, halting funding to the organization directly or indirectly, freezing assets owned by the organization or its leaders, banning membership to, or promotion of, the group, and temporarily banning the group from political participation.

Mohamed Zaree, Egypt program manager at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) told Mada Masr previously that the law broadens the definition of a terrorist act to such an extent that it could encompass “crimes and even legal activities that do not relate to terrorism, including terms which are difficult to define legally, such as ‘severely undermining public order,’ ‘subjecting the safety, interest, or security of society to danger,’ ‘disrupting the authorities from carrying out some of their activities,’ ‘subjecting the lives, rights, or freedoms of citizens to danger,’ ‘preventing educational institutions from carrying out their work,’ and ‘[carrying out] acts which seek to hinder the implementation of the constitution or the law’.”

Given this broad definition, political groups, activists and civil society organizations could potentially be targeted under the law, he warned.

“It is clear that the principle aim of this bill in its current form is not to counter terrorism, but rather to restrict such groups, movements, and organizations from existing. This provision could easily be interpreted to punish individuals or organizations which call for constitutional or legal reforms, even if done peacefully,” Zaree claimed.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

“If you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”

International Solidarity Movement | February 24, 2015

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – 

During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.

Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.

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The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies

Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.

The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish State forces kill Palestinian teen in Duheisha refugee camp

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | February 24, 2015

312793_345x230Israeli soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, shot and killed a Palestinian teen, and wounded several others on Tuesday at dawn.

Medical sources said the slain young man has been identified as Jihad Shehada al-Ja’fary, 19 years of age.

The sources added that al-Ja’fary was shot by a live round that penetrated his left shoulder, and lodged in his chest causing a severe bleeding.

The soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from reaching the seriously wounded man, and he bled to death before the medics managed to move him to the al-Yamama hospital, in Bethlehem.

His body was then moved to the Beit Jala governmental hospital, and will later be moved to a forensic center.

The slain Palestinian was standing on his home’s rooftop, overlooking the main road, when he was shot.

Eyewitnesses said scores of soldiers invaded the camp in an attempt to kidnap a Palestinian, an issue that led to clashes between the soldiers and local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles on them.

The army fired gas bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets and rounds of live ammunition, causing several injuries.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli settlement activities increased by 40% in 2014

MEMO | February 24, 2015

Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories increased by 40 per cent during 2014, Anadolu has reported. According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, which campaigns against illegal settlement construction, Israel started building 3,100 residential units in the Palestinian territories last year. It added that tenders for 4,485 additional residential units were published throughout 2014.

“On 30 January,” notes a Peace Now report, “tenders were issued for 450 more units in the occupied West Bank by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Between 31 March 2009 and last month, the NGO pointed out, the two governments led by Netanyahu promoted at least 106 construction plans for 13,077 different residential units in 57 settlements.

International law considers the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territories captured by Israel in 1967. All construction of Jewish settlements on the land is illegal. Palestinian negotiators have insisted that the establishment and building of Israeli settlements has to end before the stalled peace talks with Israel can resume.

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

US Orders PA, PLO to Pay $650 Million for Decade-Old Attacks

Al-Akhbar | February 24, 2015

A US jury on Monday found the Palestinian Authority (PA) liable for six attacks in Jerusalem that killed and injured Americans, awarding victims and their families more than $218 million in damages.

Under the US “anti-terrorism” act, the damages are automatically tripled, meaning that the PA and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are liable to pay more than $650 million.

Israeli authorities welcomed the decision as a “moral victory,” but the Palestinians accused the lawsuit of being politically motivated and vowed to appeal.

The jury reached its verdict following two half-days of deliberations, ending a landmark trial under US district judge George Daniels in New York that lasted more than five weeks.

The six attacks killed 33 people and wounded more than 390 others between January 2002 and January 2004.

The bombings and shootings were carried out by Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — blacklisted as terrorist organizations in the United States — during the second Palestinian uprising against the Zionist state.

The 12-member jury decided unanimously that the PA and PLO were liable on 25 separate counts connected to the six attacks.

They apportioned individual damages ranging from $1 million to $25 million to Americans who were injured or lost loved ones.

The total falls well short of the $1 billion sought by lawyers for 11 plaintiff families when the trial opened in mid-January.

‘Moral victory’ for Israel

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the decision as a “moral victory for the state of Israel and for victims of terrorism.”

“Terrorism is an integral part of the very structure of the Palestinian Authority,” Lieberman said.

US attorney for the plaintiffs, Kent Yalowitz, welcomed the verdict.

“This is a great day for our country, it’s a great day for those who fight terror, we’re so proud of our families who stood up,” he told reporters.

It remains unclear if and how the PA can pay, as it is in serious financial difficulty because Israel has frozen its tax revenues.

Mahmoud Khalifa, Palestinian Authority deputy information minister, expressed dismay at the verdict and vowed to appeal what he called “baseless” charges.

He said the case was politically motivated by “anti-peace factions” in Israel to block a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are confident that we will prevail, as we have faith in the US legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing,” he said in a statement.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.

In 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Arafat declared the existence of a State of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the State’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”

Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent, believed to have become 17 percent after massive Israeli settlement building, of historic Palestine in exchange for peace with Israel.

Numerous Palestinian factions, including Hamas, as well as pro-Palestine advocates support a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would be treated equally, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable and that it would mean recognizing a state of Israel on territories seized forcefully by Zionists before 1967.

They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.

‘Exaggerated’ testimony

The plaintiffs argued that the PA and PLO should be held responsible for providing material support to the groups responsible for the attacks, blacklisted as a foreign terrorist organizations in the United States.

The court also heard that members of the two groups were on the payroll of the two organizations.

Israeli lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told reporters in New York that she would leave no stone unturned in forcing the Palestinians to pay.

“We’re going to take steps against their assets, they have assets in the United States, in Israel. We’re going to go after bank accounts and money that they are getting paid on a monthly basis in Israel, for instance.”

Defense attorneys refused to comment after the verdict.

Lawyers for the PA contended during the trial that the leadership should not be held responsible for “crazy and terrible” attacks carried out by people who acted independently.

“There is no conclusive evidence that the senior leadership of the PA or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence,” lawyer Mark Rochon argued in court last week.

He said the plaintiffs “exaggerated” testimony to make the Palestinian Authority “look bad” based in part on Israeli intelligence.

The six attacks took place against Hebrew University, in Jaffa Road, King George Street, against the number 19 bus and in French Hills, an illegal Zionist settlement in east Jerusalem.

The trial adds a new dimension to the decades-long Zionist occupation of Palestine and tensions between the Palestinian people and Israel.

Violent practices by Israeli Occupation Forces and illegal settlers against Palestinians are endemic and often abetted by the authorities.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

In 2014, Israeli forces detained 1,266 Palestinian children below the age of 15 in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem.

According to the PLO, more than 10,000 Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem have been held by the Israeli army for varying periods since 2000.

Since September 2000, following the Second Intifada, at least 9,100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, including 2,053 Palestinian children, the equivalent of one Palestinian child being killed every three days for the past 14 years.

The verdict came two weeks after the United Nations approved the Palestinian Authority to formally join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1. Although the US claims that the protection of human rights is one of its cornerstones, it slammed the PA’s ICC membership, rejecting the Palestinians’ right to hold Israel accountable for large-scale massacres.

As an ICC member, the PA can open probes into Israeli crimes and rights violations during the Israeli summer assault on Gaza and the period leading up to it.

For 51 days in August, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from the coastal enclave.

More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed, including 505 children, and 10,626 were injured by unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed to push lawsuits in several countries against the PLO in retaliation of the ICC bid.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

February 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment