25 May 2016 not only marks the 16th anniversary of the liberation of South Lebanon from 22 years of Israeli occupation and oppression by the Lebanese Resistance, but also the liberation of Lebanese political prisoners from the infamous Khiam prison. On 23 May 2000, 144 Lebanese prisoners were liberated from Khiam, 2 days before the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces.
3,000 Lebanese stormed Khiam, the site of infamous torture of Lebanese resisters, breaking the locks with axes and crowbars. “Set up by the Israelis in 1985 on a hill in the village of Khiam in the South Lebanon Governorate, the Khiam prison was considered to be one of the most ruthless detention and interrogation centers in the Middle East. While the Israelis governed the prison, which included 67 cells and more than 20 solitary confinement cells, they used the South Lebanon Army (SLA), an Israeli proxy militia made up of Lebanese nationals, to execute their orders,” wrote Rana Harbi in Al-Akhbar.
Over 5,000 Lebanese, including 500 women, were imprisoned in Khiam prison over the years. Lebanese who participated in all forms of resistance to the occupation and its proxy forces were tortured brutally inside the notorious prison. The prison after its liberation became a museum and symbol of the torture of the occupiers and the victory of the Lebanese people and their resistance, of their freedom obtained through struggle and years of resistance.
In 2006, when Israel attacked Lebanon, it bombed the Khiam site, leaving a pile of rubble at the site of the prison, as if attempting to destroy the memory of its torture, brutality – and its defeat – preserved by the Lebanese people. However, the memory and commitment to resistance of the former prisoners – many of whom continue to struggle and play leading roles in Lebanese movements and parties, including Hezbollah and the Lebanese Communist Party – and of the people, cannot be erased by the bombing of the prison site, just as they could not be erased by torture, solitary confinement, and years of imprisonment.
The liberation of Khiam prison was not merely symbolic; it was central to the liberation of South Lebanon, just as the liberation of Palestinian prisoners is central to the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The Lebanese people and Resistance continue to struggle against Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms; and the Palestinian people and their Resistance continue to struggle for the liberation of Palestine – its land, its people and its prisoners after over 68 years of occupation. The victory in South Lebanon and the liberation of Khiam remains an anniversary of liberation and a promise for future victories over torture, oppression and occupation.
The following testimonies of former prisoners held in Khiam prison were collected and published in Al-Akhbar by Rana Harbi in 2014:
Degol Abou Tass
In 1976, at the age of 16, I was arrested in a village in occupied Palestine for the first time. I told the Israelis that I trespassed by mistake. They knew I was lying but released me anyway. My parents packed my bags and forced me to leave the country. I found out later that I was the first Lebanese citizen to get arrested by the Israeli forces.
I came back to Rmeish [a village on the borders in South Lebanon] in the 1980s after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The civil war was still raging in Beirut but in the south different resistance movements, such as the Lebanese Communist Party, the Amal Movement, Syrian Social Nationalist Party and many other factions, united against the Israelis. A few months after my arrival, the SLA knocked on my parents door. I had to leave the country, again.
I was miserable. I couldn’t stay away for long. In the early 1990s I came back to Rmeish. All the armed groups were long gone. Hezbollah dominated the resistance scene. I tried to reconnect with old militia leaders but in vain.
One day, an old childhood friend pulled into my driveway. “Are you willing to fight with us?” he asked. I looked uncertain. “Us … Hezbollah,” he added. I climbed into his car and we drove away. In 1998, one of my neighbors ratted me out.
“A Christian with Hezbollah? Now that’s something,” the Israeli officer interrogating me said. “How much are they paying you? We will pay double, no triple. What is your price? We can work something out,” he continued. I remained silent. “Okay then Jesus, welcome to Khiam prison.”
In Khiam prison we died a hundred times every day. Torture included electric shocks, being tied naked to a whipping pole for hours under the burning sun in the summer and snow in the winter, and getting whipped and beaten continuously with metal rods, wires and nightsticks.
We were caged and treated like animals. Believe me, it wasn’t so much about the pain, but the humiliation.
On the morning of May 23, 2000, the guards were talking and walking outside, as usual. Suddenly, complete silence. You could hear a pin drop. We heard the daily UN airplane fly by so we knew it was 9:30 am. “Where did they go?” one prisoner asked. We had no idea.
“They are moving us to occupied Palestine,” yelled a prisoner in a cell right next to ours. I put my feet on the shoulders of two of my cellmates so that I can reach the small window right under the ceiling. “All of us?” I asked. “They will execute half and take half … this is what we heard,” replied another prisoner. Before I could even reply I heard a noise coming from a distance. I couldn’t see anything. The voices grew louder and louder.
“Looks like our parents are clashing with the SLA guards as usual,” one prisoner said. “I bet my mother is still trying to bring me food,” another exclaimed. And then we heard gunshots. People were screaming. More gunshots.
“They are shooting our parents!” said one frightened detainee. “No, the mass execution began. They will execute half of us remember!” replied another. Panic attacks. Anxiety. Fear.
I put my ear against the door. I heard ululations. I heard prayers. I heard women. I heard children. Suddenly, the door opening through which food was usually served broke wide open. “You are liberated, you are liberated!” I fell on my knees. I thought I was hallucinating. I put my fist out. Two men grabbed my fist. “Allah akbar, Allah akbar (God is the greatest) … you are liberated!” My cellmates were all kneeling on the floor in disbelief. The locks were getting smashed from the outside. I cried aloud and the door broke wide open. I don’t really remember what happened next.
I was the first prisoner to get caught on camera. My parents watched the liberation of Khiam on TV because Rmeish was still under occupation at the time. They didn’t recognize me though. My hair and beard were too long and well, I was screaming “Allah akbar!”
Fourteen years later, I’m living with my wife and children in Rmeish, and every morning I drink my coffee while looking over occupied Palestine.
In November 1990 I was picking up photos from a store in Marjeyoun, a city in south Lebanon, when I got arrested. I was 19 at the time.
They put a tight black cover over my head and made me strip naked. Suspended from my bound wrists from a metal pole, hot and cold water was thrown on me consecutively … hot cold hot cold until I was completely soaked. Then they attached electrodes to my chest and other particularly sensitive areas of my body and electrocuted me, repeatedly.
In the 70 day interrogation period, I was tortured three times per day. I used to lose consciousness and wake up to find myself stumbling blindly in a pitch-black, 1m by 80cm by 80cm solitary confinement room.
We were tied to window grills naked for days in painful positions, freezing water thrown at us in the cold winter nights. We were whipped, beaten, kicked in the head and the jaw, burned, electrocuted, had ear-shattering whistling in our ears, and deprived of food and sleep … it was hard, very hard.
I endured the pain. With time, I became numb. I survived it all without saying a word. I was winning, I thought.
One morning, they dragged me into the interrogation room. “You didn’t tell me your sister was this beautiful,” one of the SLA officers said. My whole world came crashing down. “Wait until you see his mother,” said another. Handcuffed, I threw myself on him from across the table. It costed me 14 hours in the “chicken cage,” a 90-cubic-centimeter enclosure used for extra-severe punishment.
The SLA used to bring in the wives, sisters and daughters of the prisoners and treat them in a vulgar manner like taking off their head scarves, groping them and threatening to rape them. For me, the mere thought was intolerable. “Your sister will pay you a visit tomorrow. You miss her don’t you?”
“I’m a Hezbollah fighter,” I confessed.
Up to 12 prisoners were crammed in a tiny room. We were buried alive. The cells were like coffins. Light and air hardly penetrated through the small, barred windows located near the ceiling. We could barely breathe. We used to relieve ourselves in a black bucket placed in the corner. The heavy odor of human sweat and wastes was intolerable. We showered every three or four weeks. Once a month, we were allowed into the “sun or light room” for 20 minutes only.
One night in 1991 I woke up to the deafening screams of a detainee being tortured in the yard. The louder he screamed, the harder he got whipped. His cries were unbearable, beyond anything I had ever heard before. “You are killing him, you animals,” one of my fellow cellmates shouted.
We started banging on the door of the cell, kicking it with our feet, yelling and asking them to stop. Other prisoners in other cells joined us, but the lashes kept falling and the cries continued. And then … silence. Youssef Ali Saad, father of eight, died under torture on that cold January night. One month later, Asaad Nemr Bazzi died because of medical neglect.
Do you know what the worst part was? Fellow Lebanese citizens did this to us. I almost died on the hands of a man named Hussein Faaour, my neighbor in Khiam. Abu Berhan, another torturer I remember was from Aitaroun. The SLA members were all Lebanese, mostly from the south. Family members, neighbors, childhood friends, classmates, teachers … Lebanese who decided to sell their land and people for cash.
Lebanese who are now living among us like nothing happened, as if they did nothing! It breaks my heart that our former tormentors have escaped punishment so easily.
Fourteen years later, I’m still waiting for justice.
In 1988, I was in Beirut purchasing medicine for my pharmacy in al-Taybeh (a village in South Lebanon) when the SLA forces, aware of my role in transferring arms to Hezbollah fighters, first came looking for me. They stormed into our house again a week later but my mother told them I was in Bint Jbeil. It was the truth but they didn’t believe her.
I remember opening the front gate that afternoon and seeing my mother waiting, weeping and trembling on the doorstep. “They took away your sister and your sister-in-law along with Hadi (her five-month-old baby.) My daughter, my grandson!” she cried. I put on my clothes and waited for the SLA on the front porch. My sister was 20-years-old at the time and I was 26. My mother begged me to run away, but I didn’t.
My mother collapsed on the ground next to the SLA vehicle. I sat in the backseat and they took me away.
Blindfolded I was shoved into the interrogation room. Boiling water was thrown on my face, and my fingers and ears were electrocuted. I didn’t say a word. This went on for a month.
“I heard Hadi is sick,” one of the Israeli officers told me one morning. He wasn’t lying. My sister in law got infected and breastfeeding her child was not an option anymore. Psychologically, I suffered greatly. I wished they would just beat me up instead. I struggled, but I remained silent. Two months later Hadi and his mother, along with my sister, got released. They were of no use to the Israelis anymore.
Women detainees, like men, were severely tortured. You see, gender equality is not always a good thing [she laughs]. Let me tell you how the torture stopped.
After spending 15 days in solitary confinement, I found out upon my return to the cell I shared with six other women that one of my fellow prisoners had an extremely disgusting skin rash. I examined her and as a pharmacist I knew that her rash was contagious. As planned, I got infected. Soon, my skin started changing and I looked like an acid attack victim.
Clearly disgusted by my deteriorating skin, the SLA guard dragged me by my hair into yet another torture session. The torturer, a woman, was waiting for me. With my hair still trapped between the guards fingers, he forced me down to my knees. Before the torturer’s fist reached my jaw, I told her that my skin condition was contagious. The guard instantly let go of my hair and they both took a step back. I tried to keep a straight face but I couldn’t hide my smile. Nobody laid a hand on me after that day.
Fourteen years later, I made peace with the past. My three years in Khiam were tough, but now I feel blessed. I really do.
Alhaqhr – May 21, 2016
This video tells the stories of four Palestinian children from occupied East Jerusalem, and sheds light on their suffering which represents the suffering of Palestinian children in Jerusalem in general.
In this UK Column News special, Mike Robinson speaks to Vanessa Beeley about Syria’s “first responder” group, the White Helmets who are being pushed forward for nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Do they deserve it?
For more background on this, please see our previous interview from November last year: http://youtu.be/mLa9ztvAGWw
Also see Vanessa’s articles on 21st Century Wire:
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – The 14 members of Abu Sadam’s family remain homeless after their home was destroyed by the Israel Army in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the Hizbet area of Wadi Joz, Jerusalem.
The family are calling for solidarity and support and would welcome visitors to join them.
If you want to help please contact: email@example.com.
RT | May 20, 2016
The American legal system is rapidly transforming itself with the expressed purpose of replacing much of international law. Be it within the realm of trade and banking, criminal prosecutions and even sports. The Americanization of law supplants the United Nations and the sovereignty of every state on the planet.
CrossTalking with Joe Lauria, Daoud Khairallah, and Toby Cadman.
After provoking Russia for decades, the United States government has apparently concluded that the Russians are all saints and decided to escalate the provocations with confidence that nothing will go wrong, or go nuclear. Either that or the U.S. government truly wants World War III.
I wouldn’t treat a diseased rat the way the United States treats Russia. The Russian government has exercised such incredible restraint that the United States has apparently decided it can get away with being even nastier, a move that is now openly described by Washington insiders as being driven by weapons profiteering:
“‘This is the “Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling” set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.'”
In fact, the United States spends well over 8 times what Russia does on militarism, not counting “Homeland Security” or Energy or State or Veterans, etc. The world still contains enough nuclear weapons to destroy human life if just a small fraction of them are used, and 93 percent of them belong to Russia and the United States.
Why aren’t the nukes gone, when Gorbachev was willing to give them up?
Because Reagan was unwilling to give up a stupid, non-functioning, and fraudulent technological defense against a threat that would not have existed if he had. That technology is back in the movie theaters and back in the news: Star Wars.
The Cold War continued. The Soviet Union broke up. Germany reunified. And the Cold War still continued at the Pentagon. The Warsaw Pact went away. NATO expanded. When Germany reunited, the United States promised Russia that NATO would never expand eastward. NATO then added the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Albania, and Croatia to its membership. Since the U.S.-facilitated coup in Ukraine, and against the desires of the Ukrainian people, NATO has been pushing for a partnership with Ukraine, as well as with Georgia.
Imagine if Russia had promised not to expand the Warsaw Pact and then added to its membership Greenland, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. If Russia claimed to have done all that to protect itself from Iran, how many U.S. pundits would treat that as a serious, non-laughable claim? And if Russia made a deal with Iran under which more stringent inspections than ever endured by any nation would verify that Iran had no threatening weapons, and if Russia bragged about this deal, but if Russia went right on expanding the Warsaw Pact, would the United States take that as the harmless gesture of friendship that NATO depicts its actions as?
NATO has also been “looking for a purpose” and rushing off to wage wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya. The United States and some of its NATO allies are waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. In a number of those places, drone wars and proxy wars have been turned into U.S. ground wars, perfectly primed for major expansion. Yet, the United States speaks of its actions as “defensive,” describes Russia as aggressive, and falsely accuses Russia of invading Ukraine, a mythical act that Hillary Clinton determined made Vladimir Putin the equivalent of “Hitler.”
Now the United States has sent ships to the Black Sea, sent tanks to Georgia, planned a huge military “exercise” in Poland, opened a “missile defense” site in Romania, which Russia calls a “direct threat” (and a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), and begun building another “missile defense” site in Poland. There’s a video online of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the new site in Romania, describing it as a “team effort” involving Romania, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK. Stoltenberg’s stilted speech claims repeatedly that “Missile defense is for defense. It is defensive.” Stoltenberg claims the “missile defense” missiles are too close to Russia to intercept Russian missiles, which misses the point that Russia views the U.S. missiles as offensive, not “defensive.”
Even CBS News finds it impossible to take NATO’s nonsense completely seriously:
“U.S. officials say the Romanian missile shield, which cost $800 million, is intended to fend off missile threats from Iran and is not aimed at Russia. But NATO decided in January 2015 to set up command-and-control centers in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria by the end of 2016 — at least partly in response to challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists and to reassure eastern partners.”
What challenges? Essentially the 10-foot giants landing in the U.S. rear and on both flanks simultaneously — in other words: money to be made.
Read this further bit from CBS News carefully:
“President Obama and other NATO heads of state and government met in September and ordered an overhaul of the alliance’s capabilities and defense posture, called the Readiness Action Plan, or RAP, to take into account Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and purported military interference in eastern Ukraine.”
The key word there is “purported.” It’s been years now since the weekly announcements that Russia had invaded Ukraine, something it obviously never did. And of course the people of Crimea voted to join Russia after the U.S. state department facilitated a violent coup in Ukraine that installed a government significantly made up of Nazis. CBS can’t bring itself to comment on whether or not there is any evidence of the “purported military interference,” so it just calls it “purported” and hopes that not too many people know what that word means.
Russia, believe it or not, is expressing some annoyance. As Jonathan Marshall recounts: “Moscow spokesmen have warned that Romania could become a ‘smoking ruins’ if it continues to host the new anti-missile site; threatened Denmark, Norway and Poland that they too could become targets of attack; and announced development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to penetrate the U.S. missile shield.”
Russian planes have come near U.S. ships and planes in recent weeks, although U.S. reports have generally failed to focus on the fact that those ships and planes were quite near Russia’s borders. These near misses at starting a war between the world’s major nuclear militaries present a far greater threat than is generally imagined, because most U.S. citizens have zero interest in starting World War III and so don’t think about it, but the U.S. government and NATO want blood. NATO’s new commander says he wants to be ready to fight Russia immediately.
Donald Trump blurted out the common sense solution of abolishing NATO but quickly backed off and reversed himself, as on so many other topics. Hillary Clinton has wholeheartedly supported NATO’s expansion from the beginning, when she was First Lady. Bernie Sanders generally accepts whatever the military is doing, so as not to rock the boat, which still might leave him the best of the three on foreign policy, as he so obviously is on domestic.
But a great deal can happen in 8 months. A lot can happen before anyone new is elected. And with all eyes focused on the election, it’s more likely than ever to do so. And what could happen makes climate change seem manageable by comparison.
RT | May 18, 2016
The Obama administration again says it supports the peace process to end the Syrian proxy war. However, there is still the demand for a political transition defined by Washington. And this demand is backed up by threats. Has this conflict entered a new stage for Syria and the region?
CrossTalking with Mohammad Marandi, Richard Weitz, and Kevork Almassian.
Two more Palestinian fishers were attacked and detained off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, 17 May, Ma’an News reported. Samih and Ibrahim Zayid were attacked by an Israeli gunboat while fishing, ordered off the boat, and detained; their boat was towed to the Ashdod port.
This comes after the detention and boat confiscation of 10 Palestinian fishers on Sunday, 15 May. Two of the fishers, Khamis Baker and Hasan Madi, remained imprisoned while the other eight were released. Two more fishing boats were confiscated on Sunday. Another fishing boat was damaged and submerged by the gunboat’s attack; the damaged boat was later recovered by Palestinian fishers. Dozens of shells were fired at the fishers and their boats; the fishers were ordered to take off their clothes, jump into the water, and swim toward the gunboats.
While Israeli authorities in April expanded the fishing zone designated for Palestinian fishermen to nine nautical miles in the southern Gaza Strip, and retained the six-mile zone in the north, fishermen regularly report detentions, live fire, and boat confiscation within these limits,” reported Ma’an.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015, and opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year.
PCHR noted that it “considers that attack as a grave violation of the fishermen’s right to sail and fish freely and to protect their property in the Gaza waters. Moreover, PCHR believes that such attacks against Palestinian fishermen constitute a form of collective punishment against them which aims to target fishermen and their livelihood. Furthermore, PCHR calls upon the international community to provide protection for Palestinian fishermen and their right to sail and fish freely, and to stop all forms of collective punishment against fishermen and their property which violate the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law.”
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a Palestinian grassroots organization, works with fishers and farmers in Palestine to defend their land and seas and their right to farm and fish in the face of occupation attacks. Saad al-Deen Ziadah of UAWC said that “Most of these attacks and violations occurred within the allowed fishing area by Israeli navy forces. These arrests are generally carried out under very intense situations – the Israeli navy shooting bullets and shells at the fishermen and their boats. It has been recorded that the Israeli navy targets the outboard engine of the boats, which is the ‘soul of the boat’, as the fishers say.”
UAWC video on Palestinian fishers in Gaza:
Scripps College students and faculty are protesting former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, saying they are outraged that a “war criminal” is headlining a graduation ceremony.
A number of staff members at the small liberal arts college have refused to sit on the same stage as the former diplomat during Saturday’s ceremony as a sign of protest.
Faculty members published a letter in the college newspaper citing the reasons they are “outraged,” focusing on Albright’s long record as secretary of state and US ambassador to the UN, where she shaped policy that saw the US intervene in many disastrous overseas conflicts and “supported several policies that led to the deaths of millions of people.”
Scripps is an all-female college with less than 2,000 students, and Albright’s almost-threatening comments about there being “a special place in hell” for women who don’t vote for Hillary Clinton did not sit well with students or faculty either.
“As a women’s liberal arts college, we should promote the advancement of women and transgender peoples broadly and not simply emulate and celebrate those individuals who participate in US state power and wield its violence.”
What the faculty members were most offended by were Albright’s now infamous comments in which she argued that the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi students had been “worth it.” The teachers pointed to the fact that “more Iraqis died as a result of 13 years of US-led and controlled sanctions than as a result of the 2003 US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.”
A deliberate decision to allow the 1994 Rwandan genocide to take place and the decision to bomb Yugoslavia for refusing to permit a US occupation were just two examples they cited in justifying their objections to her as the school’s commencement speaker.
However, Albright told the LA Times that the students “have a duty to listen to people that they might disagree with,” before falling back on the feminist card. “There’s plenty of room in the world for mediocre men, there’s none for mediocre women,” she lamented.
Albright is also booked to speak at Harvard’s JFK School of Government and the University of Denver’s graduation ceremonies, but has not been met with objections from faculty or students at those educational institutions, the LA Times says.
However, in April, Syracuse students protested Albright when she gave an Ethics lecture, describing the decision to invite her as “an absolute insult to the meaning of ‘ethics.’”
Other speakers have been forced to pull out of college speeches as well. Smith College objected to IMF leader Christine Lagarde as commencement speaker due to the International Monetary Fund’s role in “strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.”
Graduation school speeches can set colleges back over $100,000, but Scripps only covers travel fees. Other colleges have been criticized for spending obscene amounts of money on speakers ranging from reality stars to politicians. In a country where college debt has become a crippling problem for many young people, spending the equivalent of more than a year’s tuition on a graduation speech could appear to be out of touch with reality, as far as the students are concerned
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was paid $160,000 for a commencement speech at the University of Colorado, while reality star Snooki of Jersey Shore got $32,000 for speaking at Rutgers in 2011.
Scripps College’s 86th Annual Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 14 at 5:00 pm.
There are good reasons to harbor serious reservations about The Donald, given that he changes his position as frequently as most people change their clothes. But so far, he has been consistent in making an argument that is sorely underrepresented in the media and in policy circles: that our war-making in the Middle East has been a costly disaster with no upside to the US. Trump even cites, without naming him, Joe Stiglitz’s estimate that our wars have cost at least $4 trillion.
As Lambert put it, “I hate it when Trump is right.”
If you think Trump is overstating his case on Hillary’s trigger-happiness, read this New York Times story, How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk.
And on Clinton’s role in Libya, which Obama has since called the worst decision of his presidency:
Mrs. Clinton’s account of a unified European-Arab front powerfully influenced Mr. Obama. “Because the president would never have done this thing on our own,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.
Mr. Gates, among others, thought Mrs. Clinton’s backing decisive. Mr. Obama later told him privately in the Oval Office, he said, that the Libya decision was “51-49.”
“I’ve always thought that Hillary’s support for the broader mission in Libya put the president on the 51 side of the line for a more aggressive approach,” Mr. Gates said. Had the secretaries of state and defense both opposed the war, he and others said, the president’s decision might have been politically impossible.
And yes, that’s this Ben Rhodes.