The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to end all security cooperation with Israel, Palestinian officials say.
According to reports on Thursday, the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) of the PLO, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, made the decision to cut all forms of security cooperation with Israel after two-day discussions in Ramallah.
“Security coordination in all its forms with the authority of the Israeli occupation will be stopped in the light of its (Israel’s) non-compliance with the agreements signed between the two sides,” the PCC, the second highest Palestinian decision-making body, said in a statement.
Tel Aviv “should shoulder all its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people in the occupied state of Palestine as an occupation authority according to international law,” the statement read.
The statement also called on the United Nations Security Council to “determine a deadline to end the Israeli occupation and ensure that the state of Palestine is enabled to practice its sovereignty on its land occupied since 1967, including its capital east Jerusalem and, resolve the issue of refugees according to resolution 194.”
“The concept of a Jewish state is rejected and also of a (Palestinian) state with provisional borders is rejected. Any formula that will keep an Israeli military or settler presence on any part of the land of the state of Palestine is rejected,” the statement further read.
At the opening of the two-day talks, attended by officials from the PCC, on Wednesday, Abbas (pictured below) denounced a decision by the Israeli regime to withhold Palestinian tax revenues worth more than $100 million a month.
“How are they allowed to take away our money? Are we dealing with a state or with a gangster?” he asked.
The two-day meetings, attended by legislators, union leaders, and other figures, focused on a review of interim agreements with the Israelis.
In response to Palestinian efforts to finally attain membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Tel Aviv announced a freeze on the revenues transfer in January.
Palestinians are continuing efforts to file war crime charges against the regime at the ICC.
The Palestinian president further called the tax freeze a provocation, noting that “peaceful, popular resistance is the only way for us” in the fight against Israel.
Abbas also asked “all countries of the world to recognize the state of Palestine.”
“But we want to say to the Israeli side, these recognitions do not mean in any way that we do not want to negotiate, or that we’re running away from negotiations,” Abbas said, adding that talks would continue with “whoever” wins the Israeli general elections on March 17.
Do you hear that? It’s starting.
The predictable drumbeat of dire warnings about what will happen if portions of the Patriot Act – the post-9/11 law being used to conduct controversial NSA dragnet surveillance – are allowed to expire on June 1 has already begun.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, issued what is likely to be the first of many vague warnings from the intelligence community on Monday. Faced with the expiration of the part of the Patriot Act that allows the bulk collection of information about Americans’ phone calls, Clapper brought out the favored hypothetical of the surveillance hawk: An unspecified attack will occur, which would have been prevented if Congress had reauthorized the dragnet collection of Americans’ phone calls.
“If that tool is taken away from us… and some untoward incident happens that could have been thwarted if we had had it,” Clapper said, “I hope that everyone involved in that decision assumes the responsibility.”
There’s just one problem with this particular bit of emotional blackmail, however. The pesky, rather inconvenient fact is that the government’s mass surveillance programs operating under Section 215 of the Patriot Act have never stopped an act of terrorism. That is not the opinion of the NSA’s most ardent critics, but rather the findings of the president’s own review board and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This program has had over a decade to prove its value, and yet there is no evidence that it has helped identify a terrorism suspect or “made a concrete different in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
In less than three months, Section 215 will expire unless Congress takes action to extend that authority. As that deadline approaches, we will be hearing more from folks in the intelligence community who would like to see the program continued indefinitely.
Congress would do well to remember that this is a program that is sweeping up vast amounts of data on innocent Americans in violation of their constitutional rights. It’s also one that, despite the rhetoric, has not succeeded in making us any safer. In fact, even Director Clapper has expressed support for some reform of Section 215.
The drumbeat of doom is only going to get louder between now and June. But it can’t drown out the truth. Surveillance reform is urgently needed to rein in out of control government spying and to restore our rights.
By Felicity Arbuthnot | Global Research | March 5, 2015
“If justice and truth take place,
If he is rewarded according to his just desert,
His name will stink to all generations.” (William Wesley, 1703-1791.)
On the evening of 19th November 2014, the charity Save the Children (STC), with a gala event in New York, “recognized” Tony Blair – whose government enjoined in the ending of the fledgling lives of children on an industrial scale in Afghanistan and Iraq – with their “Global Legacy Award.”
In Iraq’s decimation of course, Blair’s regime was responsible for the dodgy dossier alleging Saddam Hussein’s ability to annihilate in “forty five minutes”, thus persuading for war, but had also enjoined with the US between 1997 and 2003 in ensuring, via the United Nations Sanction Committee that Iraq’s infants and children were denied all normality from the womb to their young deaths at an average of 6,000 a month.
Blocked were scanners to check the developing foetus, incubators for the frail newly arrived, paediatric oxygen, paediatric syringes, tracheal suction tubes to clear airway obstructions and all needed to combat a challenging start to life in order to become a healthy toddler and enter happy childhood.
For those who survived to childhood, reading and exercise books, paper, pens, pencils, blackboards, toys, tricycles, bicycles, scooters, all juvenile joys and normality were vetoed. When they suffered what are normally relatively simply treated ailments, infections, asthma, the antibiotics, inhalers needed were invariably also vetoed or fatally delayed. All policies endorsed by Blair’s government.
Then Iraq’s deprived, traumatized children were bombed and invaded in an action largely publicly justified by his government’s documented lies.
Yet Save the Children honoured Blair – to immediate condemnation. In the UK a petition on site “38 Degrees” quickly garnered nearly 125,000 signatures in protest (UK only, world wide it would certainly have been in orders of magnitude more.)
Judging by the uproar on blogs, Twitter, social media sites, it has been a spectacular own goal for Save the Children with countless supporters cancelling their subscriptions or donations.
At a meeting with Brendan Cox, the charity’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, a small delegation with Robin Priestley of 38 Degrees, handed in the petition and in a meeting: “ … all had to agree that it was impossible to remove the Award from Tony Blair now …” (1) Given the damage caused by this insane honour, Mr Cox should surely have committed to moving heaven and earth to doing exactly that.
However, now he has a chance. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s UK Chief Executive, who personally delivered the invitation to Tony Blair and was a former aide to him as Prime Minister, apologized on 3rd March (sort of) on BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme.
He was sorry for the offence caused and that it had become an “unnecessary distraction” (2) from the organization’s work. Given Blair’s record in endorsing child deaths and resultant uproar the Award caused and the redesign of their logo to “Kill the Children” found across social media, it was not a “distraction” but an outrage.
Upsetting people, said Mr Forsyth: “ … is not really what we do at Save the Children.” Really? After this so close to home, can their judgement in differing global cultures possibly be trusted?
There was some verbal footwork about the Award being for Blair’s work in Africa, however this is defined as a “Global Legacy Award.” The former Prime Minister’s “legacy” is mass graves of dead children from Kandahar to Falluja.
Moreover, according to Blair’s Faith Foundation website: “Mr. Blair was recognised for his work … in 2005 to pledge to double aid to Africa and provide 100 per cent debt relief to eligible countries, as well as his work in partnership with African governments through the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).” It might be worth trawling the potentially “double aided” and “100 per cent debt relief” countries to see if and how many of the beneficiaries he might have one of his many lucrative advisory roles with. Politics is hardly known for lack of back scratching.
The Daily Mail on line also quotes Mr. Forsyth as stating: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I’m very sorry for that.” Another verbal sleight of hand and it was not “several staff.” By 28thNovember, The Guardian reported: “An internal petition circulated among Save the Children employees around the word is to be presented to head office.” Describing the award as “morally reprehensible” and calling for it to be rescinded, the petition has gathered more than 500 staff signatures.”(3)
The letter accused Save the Children of “a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values.”
Their ”Vision, Mission and Values” (4) include:
* “We aspire to live to the highest standards of personal honesty and behaviour; we never compromise our reputation and always act in the best interests of children.” Tell that to Iraq’s five million orphans and their uncounted counterparts in Afghanistan, to the bombed, orphaned, traumatized children of Gaza who the “Middle East Peace Envoy” has ignored.
* ”A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.” Think about it, Save the Children. Were words ever more hollow after the honouring of a man mired in the destruction of every aspiration in that sentence.
* “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.” Endorsed is seemingly one to whom “breakthrough” and “immediate and lasting change” is deprival of life, childhood, parents, home, healing, freedom from fear and all semblance of normality. “Lasting change” indeed.
On 5th December 2014, a letter (5) was sent to Save the Children by Inder Comar of the legal firm Comar Law, San Francisco. outlining starkly the enormity of the illegality of the attack on Iraq in which Mr Blair had been so integral. It pointed out that Save the Children’s hero’s name is entered at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in its “Register of War Criminals.”
The correspondence, in which I declare an interest, was sent on behalf of Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and myself included:
‘As you may be aware, in March 2003, Mr. Blair, while Prime Minister, likely participated with several high-ranking United States leaders in committing the crime of aggression against Iraq. The crime of aggression is the “supreme international crime,” as declared by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. In addition to being prohibited by international law, the crime of aggression is a crime also defined by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, over which it may have the opportunity to exercise jurisdiction in the coming years. “Resort to a war of aggression is not merely illegal, but is criminal.” United States v. Hermann Goering, et al., 41 AM. J. INT’L L. 172, 186, 218-220 (1946); see also Charter Int’l Military Tribunal, art. 6(a), Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1546, 82 U.N.T.S. 279.
‘As you may also be aware, in 2004, Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq War illegal and in contravention of the United Nations Charter.1
‘In 2006, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz, stated that the Iraq War was a “clear breach of law.”2 “There’s no such thing as a war without atrocities, but war-making is the biggest atrocity of law.”
‘In 2010, a Dutch inquiry concluded that the Iraq War had no basis in international law.3
‘In 2010, Hans Blix, the former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, stated that it was his “firm view” that the Iraq War was illegal.4
‘In 2012, judges empanelled before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, an independent commission headed by former judges and involving input from several international law scholars, concluded that a prima facie case existed that Mr. Blair committed the crime of aggression against Iraq. The tribunal reported its findings to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and entered the name of Mr. Blair in its “Register of War Criminals.” ‘
“Was there any consideration to the optics of giving this Award to Mr. Blair in light of the fact that many of Save the Children’s current management – including Jonathan Forsyth, Jonathan Powell, Sam Sharpe and Fergus Drake – have intimate ties with Mr. Blair and his government? Was there any consideration to the moral paradox of providing this Award to a person whose destitute victims are concurrently succored by Save the Children staff?”
It demands: “Please confirm that Save the Children will rescind the Global Legacy Award forthwith.”
There has been no reply. That action however, would a gesture of, albeit belated, tangible apology and might be a start at repairing Save the Children’s tattered image.
If State Honours, Knighthoods and Peerages can be withdrawn from those subsequently deemed unworthy of their bestowal, surely so can Save the Children’s woefully misplaced Global Award.
“Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”—Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain
It’s one thing to know and exercise your rights when a police officer pulls you over, but what rights do you have when a private cop—entrusted with all of the powers of a government cop but not held to the same legal standards—pulls you over and subjects you to a stop-and-frisk or, worse, causes you to “disappear” into a Gitmo-esque detention center not unlike the one employed by Chicago police at Homan Square?
For that matter, how do you even begin to know who you’re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear police uniforms, carry police-grade weapons, and perform many of the same duties as public cops, including carrying out SWAT team raids, issuing tickets and firing their weapons.
This is the growing dilemma we now face as private police officers outnumber public officers (more than two to one), and the corporate elite transforms the face of policing in America into a privatized affair that operates beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment.
Mind you, it’s not as if we had many rights to speak of, anyhow.
Owing to the general complacency of the courts and legislatures, the Fourth Amendment has already been so watered down, battered and bruised as to provide little practical protection against police abuses. Indeed, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’re already operating in a police state in which police have carte blanche authority to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance. Expanding on these police powers, the U.S. Supreme Court recently gave law enforcement officials tacit approval to collect DNA from any person, at any time.
However, whatever scant protection the weakened Fourth Amendment provides us dissipates in the face of privatized police, who are paid by corporations working in partnership with the government. Talk about a diabolical end run around the Constitution.
We’ve been so busy worrying about militarized police, police who shoot citizens first and ask questions later, police who shoot unarmed people, etc., that we failed to take notice of the corporate army that was being assembled under our very noses. Looks like we’ve been outfoxed, outmaneuvered and we’re about to be out of luck.
Indeed, if militarized police have become the government’s standing army, privatized police are its private army—guns for hire, if you will. This phenomenon can be seen from California to New York, and in almost every state in between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private security industry is undergoing a boom right now, with most of the growth coming about due to private police doing the jobs once held by public police. For instance, Foley, Minnesota, population 2600, replaced its police force with private guards.
Technically, a private police force is one that is owned or controlled by a non-governmental body such as a corporation. Those who advocate for privatized services and limited government hail the shift towards private police as a step in the right direction by getting the government out of the business of policing and allow market principles to dictate an officer’s success, i.e., if an officer abuses his authority, he can easily be fired.
Read the fine print, however, and you’ll find that these private police aka guns-for-hire a.k.a. private armies a.k.a. company police officers a.k.a. secret police a.k.a. conservators of the police a.k.a. rent-a-cops don’t exactly remove the government from the equation. Instead, they merely allow them to work behind the scenes, conveniently insulated from any accusations of wrongdoing or demands for transparency. Indeed, most private police officers are either working for private security firms that are contracted by the government or are government workers moonlighting on their time off.
What began as a job detail for wealthy communities and businesses looking to discourage burglaries has snowballed into a lucrative enterprise for private corporations. Today these private police can be found wherever extra security is “needed”: at hospitals, universities, banks, shopping malls, gated communities, you name it.
As historian Heather Ann Thompson notes, “private security firms have come substantially to supplement, if not completely to replace, the publicly-funded public safety presence of troubled inner cities ranging from Oakland, to New Orleans, to small towns in states such Minnesota, to entire neighborhoods—sometimes extremely rich, sometimes desperately poor—in urban centers such as Atlanta and Baltimore.”
For example, in New Orleans, a 50-person private police squad funded by a “voluntary” hotel tax is being charged with enforcing traffic, zoning and other non-emergency laws in the French Quarter.
In Seattle, off-duty Seattle Police officers moonlighting as a private security force patrol wealthy neighborhoods “approximately six nights/days a week for five hours each shift. Officers are in uniform, carry police radios and their police firearms and drive unmarked personal vehicles.”
In California, private mercenaries—many of them ex-U.S. Special Forces, Army Rangers and other combat veterans—equipped with AR-15 rifles use unmarked helicopters to police cannabis farms and cut down private gardens without a warrant.
Yet while these private police firms enjoy the trappings of government agencies—the weaponry, the arrest and shoot authority, even the ability to ticket and frisk— they’re often poorly trained, inadequately screened, poorly regulated and heavily armed. Now if that sounds a lot like public police officers, you wouldn’t be far wrong.
First off, the label of “private” is dubious at best. Mind you, this is a far cry from a privatization of police. These are guns for hire, answerable to corporations who are already in bed with the government. They are extensions of the government without even the pretense of public accountability. One security consultant likened the relationship between public and private police to public healthcare: “It’s basically, the government provides a certain base level. If you want more than that, you pay for it yourself.”
The University of Chicago’s police department (UCPD) is a prime example of how private security firms are being entrusted with the legal status of private police forces (which sets them beyond the reach of the rule of law) and the powers of public ones. With a jurisdiction that covers a six-square-mile area and is home to 65,000 individuals, the majority of whom are not students, UCPD is one of the largest private security forces in America.
The private police agency, modeled after the tactics of NYPD chief William Bratton, criminalizes nonviolent activities such as loitering, vandalism, smoking marijuana, and dancing “recklessly” and punishes minor infractions severely in order to “discourage” violent crime. To this end, the UCPD can search, ticket, arrest, and detain anyone they choose without being required to disclose to the public its reasons for doing so. Not surprisingly, the UCPD has been accused of using racial profiling to target individuals for stop-and-frisks.
Second, these private contractors are operating beyond the reach of the law. For example, although private police in Ohio are “authorized by the state to carry handguns, use deadly force and detain, search and arrest people,” they are permitted to keep their arrest and incident reports under wraps. Moreover, the public is not permitted to “check the officers’ background or conduct records, including their use-of-force and discipline histories.” As attorney Fred Gittes remarked, “There is no accountability. They have the greatest power that society can invest in people — the power to use deadly force and make arrests. Yet, the public and public entities have no practical access to information about their behavior, eluding the ability to hold anyone accountable.”
So what happens when the government hires out its dirty deeds to contractors who aren’t quite so discriminating about abiding by constitutional safeguards, especially as they relate to searches and heavy-handed tactics? If you think police abuses are worrisome, security expert Bruce Schneier warns that “abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.”
As Schneier points out, “Many of the laws that protect us from police abuse do not apply to the private sector. Constitutional safeguards that regulate police conduct, interrogation and evidence collection do not apply to private individuals. Information that is illegal for the government to collect about you can be collected by commercial data brokers, then purchased by the police. We’ve all seen policemen ‘reading people their rights’ on television cop shows. If you’re detained by a private security guard, you don’t have nearly as many rights.”
Third, more often than not, the same individuals are serving in both capacities, first on the government payroll, then moonlighting for the corporations. Not surprisingly, given the demand for private police, you’ll find that police in most cities work privately while they are off-duty. Some private officers started off as public officers, then made the switch once they saw how lucrative the field could be.
This gives rise to another interesting phenomenon, a schism, if you will, between what is permissible in the private sector versus and what is allowed in the public sector, and how it affects those who travel between both worlds. We saw this played out in St. Louis, Missouri, when an off-duty police officer, working a secondary shift for a private security firm, shot and killed a teenager.
Fourth, what few realize is that these private police agencies are actually given their police powers by state courts and legislatures, which do not require them to act in accordance with the Constitution’s strictures or be accountable to “we the people.” As legal analyst Timothy Geigner observes, “They’re hiding from public scrutiny behind the veil of incorporation, which may rank right up there among the most cynical things a government organization has ever done. It’s a move one might find in the corporate republic of some dystopian novel. I say that because it’s truly not as though the police departments in question are attempting to claim some kind of exemption within public records law. They’re just putting up a stone wall.”
It’s not as if we have much in the way of local, publicly accountable police forces now; they all answer to the militarized agencies that provide their equipment and training. These private cops simply swell the government’s ranks and serve as the private arm of the law.
In fact, the Department of Justice has been one of the most vocal advocates for the benefits that private security—which has twice the budget and manpower as their government counterparts—can provide in partnership with public police. These so-called “benefits” are outlined in the DOJ’s guidebook entitled “Operation Partnership: Practices and Trends in Law Enforcement and Private Security Collaborations,” which focuses on how both sectors can share cutting-edge technology, information, and personnel resources. Sounds cozy, doesn’t it?
As history shows, we’re not forging a new path with these private police agencies, either. In fact, we’re simply following a model established long ago, not only by Hitler and Mussolini, who relied on private guards to do their bidding, but also by the likes of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who relied on their own private police force, the Pinkertons, who had broad authority to “harass or hurt anyone their employers deemed a threat—be they a worker trying to get a fair wage or a poor person begging near the doorstep of a mansion.”
Nevertheless as historian Heather Ann Thompson points out, “despite countless historical accounts of why private policing of public spaces is a bad idea in a democracy, ordinary Americans have raised little ruckus today when, once again, only those Americans with money are assured access to security and protection.” Thompson continues:
Worse, astonishing faith has been expressed in the much-touted proposition that private police forces, in fact, act in the best interests of the public. Where is the concern, if not the outrage, that there is virtually no regulation when it comes to private policing in America’s inner cities? Not only can individuals with little if any training police public spaces, but in various locales they are even authorized to make arrests and wield firearms. What is more, unlike public police, private security officers are not required by law to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights and, more incredibly, they are allowed to use force, in some circumstances even deadly force, if they deem it necessary to do so.
What we’re finding ourselves faced with is a government of mercenaries, bought and paid for with our tax dollars, all the while claiming to be beyond the reach of the Constitution’s dictates.
When all is said and done, privatization in the American police state amounts to little more than the corporate elite providing cover for government wrong-doing.
Either way, the American citizen loses.
Deltona, Florida – Twenty six-year-old Derek Cruice was shot and killed by police in cold blood this Wednesday inside of his home on Maybrook Drive in Deltona.
Witnesses say that police were conducting a “no-knock” raid where they knocked down the door with a battering ram and entered the home with their weapons drawn. Friends who were inside the home told reporters that police fired their weapons without hesitation, and that it was blatantly obvious that Cruice was unarmed, as he was wearing basketball shorts and no shirt. The friends were also quick to point out that there were no weapons on the property at all.
“Volusia County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators and the Street Crimes Unit were attempting to serve a search warrant at a residence. They were met with resistance and a shooting occurred,” Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said in a statement.
“That is completely a lie. I was there; I watched the whole thing. There was no advancement. There was no reaching for anything. The guy was wearing basketball shorts like I am. It’s kind of hard to conceal anything or hide anything when this is all you have on,” roommate Steven Cochran told reporters.
Friends of Cruice said he is not a violent person, and that he was a great human being.
“I drove by, because it feels surreal and Derek was one of the nicest guys I know. You know, it’s not fair for this to happen to somebody like Derek,” friend Devin McGraw said.
Cruice was probably a wonderful and generous person just as his friends describe him, and he is not accused of committing any violent crimes, nor is he accused of any theft, or fraudulent activity. He was accused of vending substances that the government has laws against, but there weren’t even any drugs found in the home.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington this week to prepare the American people for war against Iran. Backed by American neoconservatives, the Israel lobby, and assorted other war hawks, Netanyahu insists that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon and thus is an “existential threat” to Israel. He has no confidence that President Obama will negotiate an agreement that once and for all will end Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.
Thus the prime minister’s objective is nothing less than to wreck the current negotiations and push America into a regime-changing war against Iran.
Netanyahu’s narrative is a fabric of lies and omissions.
To begin, Iran has not sought a nuclear weapon, and the country’s leader declares such weapons contrary to Islam. (For details, see Gareth Porter’s well-documented Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) For a quarter century, Netanyahu has warned that an Iranian bomb is imminent. But U.S. and Israeli intel say he’s wrong.
Iran nevertheless wants to reassure the world so that crushing economic sanctions will be lifted. Hence, the current negotiations. (Iran made similar overtures before.)
Iran’s government is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), subjecting it to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which can account for every atom of uranium.
Members of the NPT are free to have a civilian nuclear-power program, including the ability to enrich uranium, and Iran insists that it be treated as other members are. Nevertheless, for decades the U.S. government has exerted pressure to stop Iran from having a civilian nuclear industry. When Iran a few years ago agreed to forgo enrichment and obtain enriched uranium from abroad, the U.S. government blocked the deal. Netanyahu and his American allies oppose Iran’s having any enrichment capability.
Moreover — and this ignored fact seems rather important — Israel is the nuclear monopolist of the Mideast. That hardly anyone talks about this is at once remarkable and unsurprising. But think about it: Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads — some of them on invulnerable submarines capable of surviving a first strike. Even if Iran built one warhead, it would be useless — except as a deterrent against Israel — and the country’s rulers know it. Israel has not signed the NPT and does not submit to IAEA inspections. It is a nuclear rogue state.
As Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine (published by the establishment Council on Foreign Relations), said on CNN recently, Israel could “destroy Iran this afternoon.” If there is an existential threat, Israel is the source and Iran is the target.
How does Netanyahu’s alarmist narrative look now?
It is erroneously believed that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. In fact, Israel and the United States have been waging war — economic, covert, proxy, and cyber — against Iran for decades. Since the repressive U.S.-backed Iranian regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a close friend of Israel, was overthrown in 1979, Israel’s leaders have openly rattled sabers at the Islamic Republic. American presidents have repeatedly declared that “all military options are on the table” — which would include nuclear weapons. The United States helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein fight a war of aggression against Iran in the 1980s, providing him with components for chemical weapons and satellite intelligence. Why wouldn’t Iran feel threatened by the United States and its close ally Israel? Even so, Iran has not threatened to attack Israel or America.
Netanyahu would have us believe the Iranian regime wants to exterminate all Jews. But that’s hard to square with the continuous presence of a Jewish community in Iran — today the largest in the Muslim Middle East — for two thousand years. Iran’s steadfast opposition to Israel’s institutionalized injustice against the Palestinians is not anti-Semitism.
So why is Netanyahu pushing war? Among several reasons, demonizing Iran reduces pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. Many Israelis prefer building Jewish settlements on Palestinians’ land instead. Moreover, Israel’s rulers oppose any development — such as an Iranian-U.S. detente — that could diminish Israel’s U.S.-financed hegemony in the region.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe all around. Netanyahu and his hawkish American allies — the same people who gave us the disastrous Iraq war and ISIS — must be repudiated.
How Hillary Clinton Exposed Her Emails To Foreign Spies… In Order To Hide Them From The American Public
So the whole Hillary Clinton email story is getting worse and worse for Clinton. We already noted that there was no way she couldn’t have known that she had to use government email systems for government work, as there was a big scandal from the previous administration using private emails and within the early Obama administration as well. This morning we discovered that Clinton also gave clintonemail.com email addresses to staffers, which undermines the argument made by Hillary’s spokesperson that it was okay for her to use her own email address because any emails with staffers would still be archived by the State Department thanks to their use of state.gov emails. But that’s clearly not the case when she’s just emailing others with the private email addresses.
As we noted yesterday, there are two separate key issues here, neither of which look good for Clinton. First, is the security question. There’s no question at all that as Secretary of State she dealt with all sorts of important, confidential and classified information. Doing that on your own email server seems like a pretty big target for foreign intelligence. In fact, Gawker points out, correctly, that Hillary’s private email address was actually revealed a few years ago when the hacker “Guccifer” revealed the inbox of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. So it was known years ago that Clinton used a private email account, and you have to think it was targeted.
Anonymous State Department “cybersecurity” officials are apparently shoving each other aside to leak to the press that they warned Clinton that what she was doing was dangerous, but couldn’t convince her staff to do otherwise:
“We tried,” an unnamed current employee told Al Jazeera. “We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.”
The AP has a somewhat weird and slightly confused article detailing the setup of the email system, but seems to imply things that aren’t clearly true.
It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.
The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.
While Eric Hoteham may be a mysterious non-entity, as Julian Sanchez points out, an early Clinton staffer was named Eric Hothem. Of course, Stanford cybersecurity guru Jonthan Mayer also notes that Hillary’s old home server is still online and running Windows Server 2008 R2.
However, the AP reports that the email has moved around a bit over the past few years:
In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.
Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.
That likely means the email was much more secure after July of 2013, but it certainly raises questions about how secure it was for years before that.
Though, we do know that it was secure from one thing: FOIA requests. That is the second of the two big issues raised by this whole thing. By using her own email setup, she was clearly able to hide important documents from FOIA requests. In fact, as Gawker notes, her staff’s defense of the use of her private email, actually now confirms emails as legit that the State Department denied existed back when Gawker made a FOIA request years ago.
That’s because following that Guccifer hack, Gawker filed a FOIA for those emails and was told they don’t exist. Yet, now Clinton staffers point to that old Gawker article to suggest that the private email address is “old news,” thus confirming that the emails were legit, even though the State Department denied them.
The Clinton camp’s claims about the email account being above-board is also contradicted by the State Department’s response to Gawker’s inquires two years ago. After we published the story about Blumenthal’s correspondence with Clinton, we filed a FOIA request with the agency for all correspondence to date between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, specifically including any messages to or from the firstname.lastname@example.org account. The screenshots and other documents released by Guccifer—which have now been validated by Clinton’s spokesman—confirmed that such messages existed.
But the State Department replied to our request by saying that, after an extensive search, it could find no records responsive to our request. That is not to say that they found the emails and refused to release them—it is conceivable, after all, that the State Department might have attempted to deny the release of the Clinton-Blumenthal correspondence on grounds of national security or Blumenthal’s own privacy. Instead, the State Department confirmed that it didn’t have the emails at all.
Which is exactly why Clinton used a non-State Department email server to conduct her official business.
According to the NY Times, the State Department says that it won’t go back to correct the FOIA requests that it responded to in the past, saying that such records didn’t exist. Instead, it will only now search the emails that have been turned over by Clinton’s staff. That is another 50,000 emails, but no one knows what emails the staff removed or refused to turn over.
Either way, there are two huge problems here. Clinton likely exposed her emails to foreign spies, while keeping them away from the American public.
We are about to witness what may be one of the strangest trials ever. For one thing, the central narrative we’ve been provided of the Boston Marathon bombing makes little sense.
Take the defendant’s past. It provides few clues to suggest that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might have been inclined to commit any sort of mayhem, much less on a massive scale. Even his now-dead, more aggressive older brother, Tamerlan, doesn’t exactly seem like the sort to prepare and detonate bombs to harm large numbers of innocent fellow Bostonians.
Furthermore, neither brother is known to have had the expertise to make the explosive devices unleashed at the Marathon, which experts have characterized as sophisticated. They also aren’t known to have the sort of experience or practiced skill with guns or incendiary devices of the sort they’re described as deploying—with ruthless bravado—during a protracted face-off with large numbers of experienced, heavily armed law enforcement officers, some of whom had military training.
Then there is the small matter of evidence. Here, one is struck by the huge gap between what we think we know—based on an unremitting campaign of leaks from the government—and what actually has been seen or publicly established.
The main piece of evidence—the famed video the government claims to have of the defendant putting down his bomb-laden backpack—has not been seen by the public. Yet many people think they have watched it. Even an appellate judge involved in the Tsarnaev case was under the mistaken impression he had seen such a video.
In fact, as WhoWhatWhy has repeatedly noted, the video may not even exist, because there is no proof of its existence. This week, finally, the conventional media made the same point. (It turns out that former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was being less than honest when he said he had seen that video—not only had he not seen it, but neither, most likely, had those who described it to him.)
Then, too, much has been made of a “confession” Tsarnaev allegedly wrote on the wall of the boat in which he was ultimately captured. But any honest reading of what we’ve been shown so far certainly can’t be called an outright confession. It doesn’t refer to specific actions, and parts of it are rote recitation of a Muslim expression of faith that’s sometimes invoked when a Muslim is near death. Last rites? Maybe.
But the FBI also admitted that the boat was left out in the open for days, which would be violation of the strict chain-of-custody required to preserve evidence for trial. So it’s impossible to rule out tampering.
What else do we think we know? The indictment catalogues purported behavior that looks incriminating, and may well be good enough for an indictment, but that certainly doesn’t prove guilt, even if we can be sure it is all true, which we cannot:
• Dzhokhar read material from the Internet that discusses Jihad.
• Dzhokhar looked at bomb-making instructions on the Internet.
• Tamerlan bought fireworks in New Hampshire (not nearly enough firepower to cause the blasts seen at the finish line, according to fireworks experts).
• Tamerlan and Dzhokhar went to a firing range in New Hampshire (once) and fired handguns while there. (Does this explain their purported proficiency with firearms and explosives? Hardly.)
• About 10 days before the bombing Tamerlan used the Internet to order electronic components that could be adapted for use in making IEDs.
• Dzhokhar opened a pre-paid cell phone account the day before the bombing. While such an act could certainly be portrayed as terrorist tradecraft, it could equally be written off as typical college-kid behavior.
• Dzhokhar had a backpack in his dorm room containing broken-up fireworks.
Clearly enough for an indictment, but does it prove he’s guilty?
Then there is the small matter of…actually providing the public with meaningful and complete answers. So far, we’ve seen little indication that either the prosecution or the defense has a desire to establish the full story behind the attacks and their aftermath.
For example, evidence of links between the older brother and the FBI—and, through family and other connections, the CIA—has been swept under the rug. This cries out for investigation into whether the government is covering up something. Especially when one considers the government’s well-established practice of recruiting people—often hapless loners—to infiltrate terrorists groups and then foster and participate in terror plots.
Even the Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen laments the fact that we’re unlikely to get much of this critical backstory. Nonetheless Cullen’s article is mis-titled “Closing in on the truth in the tangled Tsarnaev case,” when it’s exactly the tangled parts we’re unlikely to see straightened out.
Of course, the prosecution will not “go there”—that is, honestly follow the facts wherever they may take us. But neither, it seems, will Tsarnaev’s defense. They have seemed hamstrung in their ability to investigate, and appear to have convinced their client that his only hope is to admit his guilt and hope to avoid the death penalty.
He would presumably do this by letting himself be characterized as an unfortunate under the influence of a more malign elder sibling.
Not Wholly Innocent Either
On the other hand, one cannot buy the line of certain critics who contend that the entire government case has been fabricated. After all, we have a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev emerging from a boat in which he seems to have been hiding. If he didn’t do anything, why would he be hiding and/or on the run? Also, we know that he was at the Marathon, and like his brother, was wearing a backpack (not that that means much, in and of itself.)
We also don’t know if he was a participant in the murder of MIT Officer Sean Collier. The policeman was assassinated by hooded figures on a nearly empty night-time campus a good distance from the brothers’ likely whereabouts. Indeed, many aspects of the Collier shooting don’t make a lot of sense—for example, why would the brothers have killed him to obtain his firearm if they had one already—and then, why shoot him and leave his gun behind? So we don’t necessarily know who killed Collier, or why.
Still, the government claims to have made a ballistics match between the pistol used to kill Collier and the one found in the street after the chaotic Watertown shootout in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev purportedly died. Will the defense have the opportunity to scrutinize that evidence? Will the rest of us?
Also, a friend of Dzhokhar’s who’s facing decades in prison for his own troubles appears to be willing to testify that he gave Dzhokhar the pistol in question, in return for a lesser sentence. Will the defense get to scrutinize the details of that plea deal?
Those are but a sampling. And there is much, much more that we don’t know. Meanwhile, what we do know is next to nothing.
Which makes it all the more disturbing that the media has allowed the public to believe the opposite: that there is virtually nothing yet to be uncovered.
Let us hope, for the sake of our own national sanity, that we are in for some courtroom surprises. That we will get the clarity and the candor compulsory for a free society and a healthy democracy, rather than a hopped up, ill-informed lynch mob.
The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 50 grams of sugar a day for the sake of preventing obesity and tooth decay.
The ‘50 gram’ amount is equal to 12 teaspoons of sugar. If that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that a single can of soda already contains around 10 teaspoons.
The WHO recommendations that this limit include all types of free sugars such as glucose, fructose, table sugar added to processed foods and drinks and those naturally present in fruit juices, honey and syrups.
A recent WHO survey showed, predictably, that people around the globe eat much more sugar than they really need. Both kids and adults in North America and Central America sweeten their lives with more than 95 grams of sugar every day. To reach overall average, this figure should be halved.
In some areas the figure is even higher. For example an average resident in South America gets 130 grams of sugar on daily basis.
The WHO insists that free sugar should cover less than 10 percent of an individual’s daily energy intake.
“We have solid evidence that keeping the intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of [being] overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development said in a statement.
Current results differ a lot depending on the area. In Hungary and Norway sugar covers less than 8 percent of daily intake, while Spanish and British people get 17 percent of their daily energy from sugar. Portugal is among the worst performers as data showed rates among children there were as high as 25 percent.
CYPRUS – FOREIGN MINISTER Ioannis Kasoulides has hit back at the US government, after officials in Washington expressed displeasure at a recent trip to Moscow by President Nicos Anastasiades.
“The [US] discontent focused on the fact that they believe that Putin’s government should be isolated by the 28 EU Member States and all other members of the North Atlantic Alliance”, Kasoulides was quoted as telling CyBC, by Russian agency Sputnik.
But he added that the United States is not “entitled to be displeased,” as Washington does not seem to be concerned by the aggressive policy of Turkey toward Cyprus, at the same time blaming Moscow for the crisis in Ukraine.
Washington rebuked Anastasiades on Monday after his widely publicised trip to Russia last week.
The US signaled how angry it is with Cyprus when Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokesperson for the US Department of State said this is not the time for “business as usual with Russia”.
She made the unusually sharp remark after being asked to comment on the recent visit of Anastasiades to Moscow and St Petersburg.
The visit came amid strong Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, the worst since the Cold War.
More than 350 Israeli soldiers who took part in last summer’s military onslaught on the Gaza Strip have since received psychiatric counseling for post-traumatic stress, an Israeli report has revealed.
The report, published Wednesday in the Israel Today newspaper said that soldiers had undergone treatment for symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress, including disorientation, low productivity and recurring nightmares.
The newspaper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the number of soldiers receiving psychiatric treatment following last summer’s onslaught on Gaza was higher than those who did so following previous operations.
For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea. More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed and 10,626 injured during unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip this past summer.
According to the UN, the Israeli military killed at least 495 Palestinian children in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge.” The al-Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights puts it at 519.
All three figures exceed the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in the last decade.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 3,106 Palestinian children were injured in the seven- week assault. The UN estimates that 1,000 children will suffer a permanent disability as a result of their injury.
Moreover, the UN said as many as 1,500 children have been orphaned by Israeli attacks that killed their parents, while 6,000 children will have a parent with a lifelong disability.
The besieged enclave has also seen widespread destruction of its infrastructure, reaching levels of devastation that UN chief Ban Ki Moon called “beyond description” in a visit to the Strip on October 14.
Some 100,000 people remain displaced while 450,000 don’t have access to running water.
Meanwhile, the official, who holds a senior position in the Israeli military’s psychiatric department, said that “hundreds” of soldiers have sought psychiatric treatment for “severe stress.”
He said that 80 percent of the soldiers to have undergone treatment had since been “fully rehabilitated” and returned to service.
Treatment was carried out at southern Israel’s Re’im military base where affected soldiers received up to eight hours of treatment each day, the official was quoted as saying.
A report published in January revealed that at least 10 Israeli soldiers committed suicide in 2014, including four who took part in the onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
In September, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the three troops from the elite Golani Brigade had suffered psychological problems in connection to their participation in the recent offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Also in September, 43 reservists and former members of Israel’s elite army intelligence unit have announced in a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they refuse to serve in the military, slamming “abuses” of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, annexed East Jerusalem and Gaza.
On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.
The Six-Day War
The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse. Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.
But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.
Censored voices uncensored
For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.
The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.” One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”
In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense, even though Israel invariably attacks first, and kills overwhelming numbers of Palestinians – mostly civilians. Each time, many fewer Israelis are killed by Palestinian rockets.
Israel’s false self-defense claim
The film begins by showing a map of Israel surrounded by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, with arrows from each country aimed at Israel. The IDF soldiers felt those Arab countries posed an existential threat to Israel. “There was a feeling it would be a Holocaust,” one soldier observed. The Israeli media claimed at the time that Egypt had attacked Israel by land and by air on June 5, 1967. According to British journalist Patrick Seale, “Israel’s preparation of opinion” was “brilliantly managed,” a “remarkable exercise in psychological warfare.”
In his book, “The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War,” published by Cambridge University Press, Ohio State University law professor John Quigley documents conversations by high government officials in Israel, the United States, Egypt, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain leading up to the Six-Day War. He draws on minutes of British cabinet meetings, a French government publication, U.S. documents in “Foreign Relations of the United States,” and Russian national archives. Those conversations make clear that Israel knew Egypt, Syria and Jordan would not and did not attack Israel, and that Israel initiated the attacks.
Egypt was the only one of the three Arab countries that had a military of any consequence. Israeli General Yitzhak Rabin told the Israeli cabinet that the Egyptian forces maintained a defensive posture, and Israeli General Meir Amit, head of Mossad (Israeli’s intelligence agency), informed U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that Egypt was not poised to attack Israel. Both the United States and the Soviet Union urged Israel not to attack. Nevertheless, Israel’s cabinet voted on June 4 to authorize the IDF to invade Egypt.
“After the cabinet vote,” Quigley writes, “informal discussion turned to ways to make it appear that Israel was not starting a war when in fact that was precisely what it was doing.” Moshe Dayan, who would soon become Israel’s Minister of Defense, ordered military censorship, saying, “For the first twenty-four hours, we have to be the victims.” Dayan admitted in his memoirs, “We had taken the first step in the war with Egypt.” Nevertheless, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gideon Rafael reported to the Security Council that Israel had acted in self-defense.
“The hostilities were attacks by the Israeli air force on multiple Egyptian airfields, aimed at demolishing Egyptian aircraft on the ground,” according to Quigley. On June 5, the CIA told President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Israel fired the first shots today.”
Article 51 of the UN Charter authorizes states to act in collective self-defense after another member state suffers an armed attack. Although Jordan and Syria responded to the Israeli attacks on Egypt, they – and Egypt – inflicted little damage to Israel. By the afternoon of June 5, Israel “had virtually destroyed the air war capacity of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria,” Quigley notes. “The IDF achieved the ‘utter defeat’ of the Egyptian army on June 7 and 8.”
The United States empowers Israel
U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that U.S. officials were “angry as hell, when the Israelis launched their surprise offensive.” Yet, Quigley notes, “Israel’s gamble paid off in that the United States would not challenge Israel’s story about how the fighting started. Even though it quickly saw through the story, the White House kept its analysis to itself.”
Although Security Council resolution 242, passed in 1967, refers to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories it acquired in the Six-Day War.
Israel has abandoned its claim that Egypt attacked first. Yet the international community considers that Israel acted in lawful anticipatory self-defense. Quigley explains how the UN Charter only permits the use of armed force after an armed attack on a UN member state; it does not authorize anticipatory, preventive, or preemptive self-defense.
“The UN did not condemn Israel in 1967 for its attack on Egypt,” Antonio Cassese of the University of Florence explained. Quigley attributes this to Cold War politics, as the USSR supported Egypt. “For the United States in particular, Israel’s success was a Cold War defeat for the USSR. The United States was hardly prepared to condemn Israel after it performed this service.”
The United States continues to support Israel by sending it $3 billion per year in military aid, even when Israel attacks Gaza with overwhelming firepower, as it did in the summer of 2014, killing 2,100 Palestinians (mostly civilians). Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven civilians were killed.
If Israel were to mount an attack on Iran, the United States would invariably support Israel against Iran and any Arab country that goes to Iran’s defense. Indeed, Netanyahu intoned to Congress, “may Israel and America always stand together.”
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.”