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Ulterior motives behind sanctions on Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei

Press TV | July 4, 2015

27a884e8-a17a-436f-8837-7288060e4984Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the sanctions against Iran have nothing to do with the country’s nuclear activities or human rights record, adding that there are other motives behind the bans.

Addressing a group of university professors and researchers on Saturday night, Ayatollah Khamenei said those who have imposed sanctions on Iran are themselves the ones who foster terrorism and commit human rights violations.

The Leader said the sanctions against Iran have been imposed because the Islamic Republic has emerged as a nation, a movement and an identity guided by principles against the hegemonic system.

“Their objective is to prevent Iran from reaching a prominent civilizational status,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader also highlighted the special role of professors in educating a generation of self-reliable, confident and diligent youths who will further move Iran toward progress.

July 4, 2015 Posted by | Wars for Israel, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Samantha Power Lies to Congress About Civilian Shelling in Ukraine, Commits Felony

Russia Insider | July 3, 2015
  • The US Ambassador to the UN, she claims she believes majority of civilian shelling casualties are victims of the separatists.
  • The penalty for lying to Congress is up to 8 years of imprisonment.

samantha-powerAmbassador Power’s testimony was the subject of a story we ran on Monday of this week, and a helpful reader got back to us and pointed out that we had missed the most important part of it.

Apparently, Ambassador Power lied to the committee she was testifying before, thereby committing a felony.

Congressman Rohrabacher, one of the loudest critics of Obama’s Russia policy, asked her if she thought it might be possible that the majority of the civilian casualties killed in Ukraine were victims of the Ukrainian army.

It was a “gotcha” question, because this is a universally acknowledged fact.

Here is what the ambassador answered:

“I think it is highly unlikely on the basis of reports we have received from the United Nations and the OSCE.”

See 1.50 in the video:

This statement is demonstrably not true.  Reports from the UN and the OSCE conlusively demonstrate what it obvious to everyone even halfway paying attention – that the victims are almost universally victims of Ukrainian army shelling.

It is starkly preposterous to suggest otherwise, because even a dimwit could grasp that the separatists are unlikely to bomb their own people.

It is simply not plausible that the ambassador beleives this, and is not aware of the facts.

Ironically, Power is the author of a book which studies US foreign policy responses to genocide, so she has more than a passing interest in these issues. The book’s title is  A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,

She has made protection of human rights a hallmark of her career, yet she is one of the most energetic and committed boosters of the aggressive Ukrainian military campaigns in the East, which have featured the most barbaric human rights violations imaginable – shelling defenseless civilians –  children and elderly, with horrific, blood-curdling casualties, visible for all to see in gory detail on Youtube.

The shelling serves no military purpose and is done only to terrorize the local population in the hopes of triggering a Russian response.

Here is what the law says:

screenshot-www.answers.com_2015-07-02_20-40-15

July 4, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 5 Comments

Florida Man Accused of ‘Terrorism’ Based On Book Collection

Counter Current News | July 2, 2015

Imagine being falsely accused of terrorism for nothing more than the books you have read. Well that’s exactly what has happened to a Florida man named Marcus Dwayne Robertson.

The U.S. government composed “snippets of information from various sources, out of context, to weave together a narrative of terrorist ideation,” according to a Florida judge.

That judge just ordered the release of Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” an Orlando, Florida resident and Islamic scholar. Abu Taubah was accused of “supporting terrorism,” but the “evidence” against him amounted to nothing more than the books on his bookshelf.

Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” was incarcerated from 2011. The charges he faced, however, were tax fraud and illegal gun possession. Not exactly “terrorism.”

But following his arrest and conviction stemming from these charges, prosecutors added what they termed “terrorism enhancement” to the sentence.

There seems to be no rationale for this other than ABu Taubah’s religious orientation… that and his book collection.

This sentencing guideline modification would have locked Robertson up for 20 years.

But the judge’s recent rejection of this bizarre, Orwellian sentencing “enhancement”, led to the Islamic scholar being released immediately.

Robertson’s sentence was argued as justifiable by prosecutors who said the contents of his Islamic book collection were sufficient “evidence” that he was connected to terrorism.

Approximately two dozen eBooks that Robertson downloaded were presented as “evidence” of his “terrorist connections.”

Prosecutors highlighted passage after controversial passage, as though this could serve as legitimate evidence that someone is a terrorist. They didn’t seem to understand that the contents of a book someone owns cannot be used as evidence against them.

A memorandum obtained by First Look was issued along with Judge Gregory A. Presnell decision. That memorandum strongly rejected the government’s argument that eBook passages could be used as “evidence” of “terrorism.”

“[T]here was no evidence produced that Robertson ever accessed these particular documents, much less that he took their extremism to heart,” Presnell argued.

He made it clear that even if the Islamic scholar admitted to having read the eBooks in question, this would not and could not be used as evidence of terrorism.

“The government has never disputed Robertson’s claim of being an Islamic scholar,” he added. “It is not at all remarkable for an Islamic scholar to study, among many, many others, the writings of Islamic extremists.”

He said that beyond this, the prosecutors did “not even come close to proving… Robertson’s relatively minor income tax fraud was intended to promote a federal crime of terrorism.”

The judge noted that he received “hundreds of emails” over the last few weeks that urged him to lock up the man for no reason other than because he was a Muslim. These emails amount to little more than racism and bigotry in most cases, and fear-mongering and ignorance in the rest.

“In America, everyone has a right to say and believe what they want, within the bounds of the law,” Presnell said before declaring that Robertson would have to be released immediately.

Robertson’s lawyer Daniel Broderson agreed that “at no point did the government ever have any actual evidence [Robertson] advocated terrorism, so they attempted to use his library of books as a backhanded way of branding him as a terrorist. He spent four years in prison, two years of it in isolation, over a prosecution that was both unfounded and that completely ran afoul of the first amendment.”

Speaking to The Intercept after he was released, Robertson said, “they’re trying to find an indirect way to sentence people with non-terrorism charges as though they’d committed terrorism offenses, without having to provide the preponderance of evidence that is normally required in such cases. You own a few books and some guy tells an informant you said something, and suddenly that is legal basis enough to sentence you to prison for decades.”

He added that he “lost all those years, in jail, in terrible conditions, away from my family. After all that, they couldn’t produce one single statement from me that supported terrorism.”

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments

Protest commemorating one year anniversary of the killing of Mohammad Abu Khdeir met with military violence

International Solidarity Movement | July 3, 2015

Ramallah – On July 2, 2015, in honor of the first anniversary of the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Palestinian activists with international supporters blocked a settlers-only road leading to the illegal Adam settlement. Demonstrators cited this road as the road that the murderers took in their search for a Palestinian victim. Journalists, Palestinian and international activists, suffered from pepper spray burns and several were hospitalized.

“This is the first in a week of demonstrations for Muhammad Abu Khdeir. One of the murderers, Yosef Haim Ben-David, is from the Adam settlement. This is why the demonstration was held at this settlers-only entrance,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in.

Demonstrators blocked the road to settler traffic in both directions until the Israeli Army and Border Police dispersed the non-violent demonstrators and journalists by pepper-spraying indiscriminately. Three Palestinian activists, four journalists, and two International ISM volunteers were pepper sprayed in the eyes and mouth by a masked Army officer. An ISM co-founder as well as journalists from Roya TV Channel, Reuters, and Palestine TV were severely pepper sprayed in the eyes requiring hospitalization.

The soldiers threw sound percussion grenades at demonstrators and chased people. In addition to the pepper spray, they shoved journalists and Palestinian activists to the ground.

After the soldiers and border police chased the demonstrators off the road and down a hill, they continued to throw percussion grenades even as the demonstrators stood at a distance waiting to find fellow demonstrators.

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking to terrorists

By Amelia Smith | MEMO | July 2, 2015

One week ago, Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgai opened fire on tourists near Sousse, Tunisia, killing 38 people. On the same day, a man was beheaded in France and a bomb detonated in a Shia mosque in Kuwait killing 27. ISIS claimed responsibility for all three.

Amidst the media coverage that follows terrorist attacks such as these, two schools of thought generally emerge: one asserts that terrorists are driven by religious ideology and the other that they are driven by political motives, principally western foreign policy. “All the evidence suggests that this is deeply political,” says Richard Jackson, Deputy Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand. “It’s the conclusion of all the serious scholars I’m aware of that, in particular, the invasion of Iraq was the single most radicalising event for militants across the Middle East and in European and Western countries.”

“That makes complete sense,” he continues. “Because if we look at this kind of terrorism it wasn’t around in the same form and the same level or even close to the same extent 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. Islam’s been around for hundreds of years… but this is a very modern phenomenon and it’s very, very connected to the politics of the Middle East, particularly to the invasions to Guantanamo, to Abu Ghraib torture, to drone strikes and so on.”

“What you’ve got to remember is that the west has killed 1.3 million people in Iraq. That’s likely to drive any reasonable person into a rage and cause immense grievance.”

The Tunisian government responded to last Friday’s attacks by issuing an order to close more than 80 mosques. Jackson, who is also Chief Editor of Critical Studies on Terrorism and runs a blog on the subject, explains that one of the oldest precepts of theories on terrorism states that isolated acts of violence push the state to respond by cracking down, which in turn intensifies grievances against the state and mobilises support.

The theory, he says, “is that you provoke the power to respond in a disproportionate way, which then creates grievance, which then gives terrorists more support and leads eventually to a broader, deeper movement that can perhaps consider moving to the next stage, which would be a kind of a civil war or an insurgency and then eventually overthrowing [the] regime.” […]

Last year, Jackson took a break from writing academic books to pen Confessions of a Terrorist, a fictional account of a dialogue between a wanted terrorist and a British intelligence officer. Jackson says he has always wanted a novel to give to his students but only found literature that painted terrorists out to be Hollywood-style villains.

Confessions of a Terrorist questions the taboo of talking to terrorists and the fear many have that doing so will lead to understanding and sympathising with their behaviour. “I think that it’s really important that we talk to them so we know what we really want and so that we understand what they’re trying to achieve and why they think they have to use violence… and whether if the situation was reversed we would do the same thing… [T]he reality is in many ways we go and commit a lot of violence overseas and then when people react against that and fight back we get all shocked and surprised. So we need to talk to them.”

“If you look at the academic research, you find out that actually most terrorist groups are not defeated through military means, but a much higher proportion of them stop their terrorism through political dialogue,” he continues. “So once you start talking to them and once you bring them into the political process, once you listen to what their grievances are and try and address them terrorism subsides.”

One of the consequences of not talking to terrorists, believes Jackson, is that we have dehumanised them which allows us to take away their human rights and justifies acts such as killing them with drones. “As a consequence countless innocent people have been killed… Countless innocent people have been tortured; have been kidnapped and taken to these horrible, secret prisons around the world. All kinds of human rights abuses have been carried out and as a result we in many ways have betrayed our own values and that’s because we’ve dehumanised the terrorists and that’s why I think it’s really important to re-humanise them.”

The language of terrorism is thus a way of defining the “other” and drawing a distinction between us and them, good versus evil, freedom lovers against freedom haters and soldiers and patriots against terrorists, says Jackson: “You can look through history – recent and long in the past –and realise that actually governments commit exactly the same acts as so-called terrorists. They use violence to try and terrify groups of people and intimidate groups of people. Sometimes, they plant bombs in public places or blow up or hijack planes. There are so many examples.”

A lot of terrorist scholars argue, therefore, that if the definition of terrorism is applied objectively a lot of state violence can be classified as state terrorism. “But again, that’s a very difficult narrative to make and to be accepted in public because we like to have these clear lines between our good legitimate violence which comes out of the authority of the state and illegitimate, illegal violence,” says Jackson.

“The problem is that when those two forms of violence look identical and you can’t tell the difference between them; [then] there comes to be a question over [whether] our violence [is] actually that legitimate.”

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Israeli forces detain 550 Palestinians in six months

Press TV – July 3, 2015

Israeli forces have detained 550 Palestinians, including women and children, in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of 2015.

328177CThe detainees, who were arrested in the southern city of al-Khalil (Hebron), included seven women and 105 teenagers, Amjad Najjar, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in al-Khalil, said on Thursday.

The Palestinian official added that 225 of the detainees received sentences through the Israeli practice of the so-called administrative detention, under which Palestinians are kept behind bars without charge or trial for months or even years.

According to Najjar, 78 Palestinian patients “who faced a real life threat as a result of detention” were among the inmates in Israeli jails, where they receive no “medical treatment.”

He noted that Israeli forces treat the Palestinian detainees in a “savage and inhuman way during detention.”

The PPS report pointed out that many of those detained during the six-month period were from the town of Beit Ummar, where over 60 residents, mostly minors, were arrested between January and March.

Earlier reports by the PPS showed that Israel detained 383 Palestinians across the West Bank in December 2014.

Over 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly incarcerated in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps.

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freedom Flotilla: ‘Tasering my friend Charlie was an act of terrorism’

By Richard Sudan | RT | July 1, 2015

Despite the Israeli authorities’ claims that the seizure of a Freedom Flotilla boat was ‘uneventful’, footage has emerged that indicated that they tasered a Swedish aid worker.

The boats making up Freedom Flotilla 3 (FF3) have been prevented from reaching the besieged people of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid. The flotilla’s flagship Marianne was boarded by the Israeli military and taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod earlier in the week. By now, some of the crew members have been released, while others remain detained.

Meanwhile, the boat I was meant to be on has not yet left a Greek port. It will head to Gaza at some point. I have been asked not to publish the details. But we will go.

The Israeli authorities claim that their soldiers were ‘non-violent’ as they took over the Marianne, which amounted to an illegal act of piracy, as the vessel was in international waters at the time it was intercepted. The Israeli authorities claimed that there were no injuries when they seized the boat which they had no right to do, legally or morally. The illegal act has been described as ‘uneventful’.

Unsurprisingly though, footage has emerged which shows that the opposite is true. The video shows Arab member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) Basel Ghattas, who I had long conversations with on my trip, first addressing the Israeli Navy before the soldiers boarded the Marianne. The footage then shows Israeli Navy thugs repeatedly tasering Swedish activist and humanitarian aid worker Charlie Andreasson.

Charlie has spent much time in Gaza. He’s a really nice guy and a genuine individual, the kind of selfless character you meet when preparing for a campaign like this. I had the pleasure of talking with him many times as we prepared for Freedom Flotilla 3, and ate dinner with him just a few days ago.

I watched the video of Charlie being tasered and knew it was him before I even read the article.

It was a sickening feeling. According to Oxford dictoniaries.com a taser is ‘a weapon firing barbs attached by wires to batteries, causing temporarily paralysis’. In reality though, tasering is an extremely violent act which can even cause death. There are campaign groups which lobby against the use of tasers by police for this very reason.

But this is how Israel routinely behaves. In typical fashion the Israeli leadership has sought to distract attention from its own crimes. Netanyahu wrote a letter published in the press and delivered to the activists on the boat. He says they must have gotten lost and perhaps should have headed to Syria. He exploits one tragedy to cynically justify another.

And here he does it again, suggesting that Israel is a beacon of light, justice, surrounded by hostile neighbors in the Middle East trying valiantly to uphold those oh so cherished values we hold dear. You can almost hear the harps playing and the angels singing when you read the letter his press office wrote for him on his behalf. He invites the readers to be “Impressed by the only democracy in the Middle East”.

Well Benjamin, we invite you to go to Gaza and to see what Israel’s democracy looks like if you happen to be a Palestinian and born in Gaza. He says that the leadership in Gaza is “using children as human shields.” Perhaps this comment is written by Netanyahu’s office to deflect attention from the fact that Israel killed hundreds of Palestinians last year including many children, and has done so since 1948.

Netanyahu claims that the people on the flotilla were bringing weapons to Gaza. This is false and nothing but an attempt by Israel to save face in the wake of yet another act of piracy committed at sea. They have to say that we are terrorists, because as it is, the world forming a much clearer picture as to the true extent and nature of Israel’s war crimes.

I’ll end here with a story that Charlie told me once when we were sitting down talking, in the company of two other activists.

Charlie told of a time he was in Gaza, and saw a young man shot by an Israeli soldier, possibly a sniper, as they found themselves under attack as is routine in Gaza.

Charlie and whoever else was there couldn’t help the Palestinian man as they were still being shot at. They had to watch him die, unable to reach him as he lay just a few feet away. They then had to inform the father that his son was dead-while the body of his son still lay in the road, unable to be recovered. The boys’ father thanked them.

I’ve never even seen the image of this happening, but yet I can’t shake it from my mind. Charlie is a brave person and didn’t deserve the treatment he got by the Israeli navy.

The Israeli soldiers are brainwashed and carrying out the work of Netanyahu’s war criminal regime. The sooner people wake up to this the better.

Richard Sudan, is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet. Follow him on Twitter.

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel Continues to Cripple Gaza with its Sea Blockade

“No humanitarian crisis here” say Netanyahu and Ya’alon

By Stuart Littlewood | Dissident Voice | July 1, 2015

Governments should support brave humanitarian voyagers and back their play in future.

Welcome to the latest chapter in a long tale of unspeakable cruelty.

Israel’s military are once more raiding mercy ships on the high seas in an effort to prevent humanitarian aid reaching the 1.8 million souls in shattered Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Swedish boat Marianne with 18 passengers has been “interdicted” by Israeli commandos 85 miles from the Gaza coast and towed to Ashdod. The three other vessels in the flotilla turned back and another big-hearted mission ended “with a whimper”.

Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon called his operation to deprive desperate, poverty stricken Gazans a “success”. The Marianne‘s passengers would be be deported. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” he added.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting Hamas and ignores all of the horrors in our region”, and he added that a panel established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon determined that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is lawful.

“Israel is a democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law.” He stressed there was no “siege” of Gaza,

There’s no siege of Gaza, no humanitarian crisis? Anyone who’s been there knows Netanyahu and Ya’alon are liars.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said on Monday that at around 2:00am the Marianne reported that she was surrounded by three Israel Navy boats in international waters some 100 nautical miles from the Gaza coast. Radio contact was then lost. In a statement they said:

We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’, because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the Estelle were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.

“Reckless to travel to Gaza”

Britain has ‘form’ when it comes to disregarding international law and keeping the Israeli blockade going. Back in July 2009, I received a letter from the office of Britain’s then foreign secretary, David Miliband, in reply to questions about Israel’s hijacking of the mercy ship Spirit of Humanity on the high seas and the outrageous treatment of six peace-loving British citizens including the skipper. They were en route to Gaza, not Israel, had their gear stolen or damaged and were thrown into Israeli jails. The letter said:

All those on board, including six British nationals, were handed over to Israeli immigration officials. British consular officials had good access to the British detainees and established that they were treated well.

That’s not the story the peaceful seafarers told. They were assaulted, put in fear for their lives and deprived of their liberty for fully a week – a long time in a stinking Israeli jail – for committing no offence whatsoever.

The letter continued:

The Foreign Secretary said in the House of Commons on 30 June that it was ‘vital that all states respect international law, including the law of the sea’… We regularly remind the Israeli government of its obligations under international law on a variety of issues, including with respect to humanitarian access to Gaza as well as Israel’s control of Gazan waters…

Our Travel Advice makes clear that we advise against all travel to Gaza, including its offshore waters; that it is reckless to travel to Gaza at this time…

So, instead of keeping the seaways open, it seems the British Government was colluding with Israel to keep part of the Holy Land off-limits to British pilgrims, humanitarians and businesspeople and implicating itself in the collective punishment inflicted by the Israeli regime on the citizens of Gaza.

A year later the Mavi Marmara was the target for armed assault on the high seas by Israeli commandos, who left 9 passengers dead and dozens injured. The vessel was part of the Free Gaza flotilla. When reports were coming in that Israeli gunboats had “intercepted” the flotilla 90 miles out to sea and threatened humanitarian workers that they would be boarded and towed to an Israeli port, I emailed Britain’s then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg: “Where is the Royal Navy when it’s needed to protect life and limb of the 30-odd British nationals?”

Ministers had themselves received advanced warning of Israel’s intention to stop the flotilla “by any means”, and the British people wanted their government to do them proud and provide real protection for those brave souls in their peaceful mission to bring relief to Palestinians whose lives were made a living hell by the bully-boys of the Middle East.

They were, after all, only doing the right thing… doing what the West’s cowardly leaders wet their pants at the very thought of doing.

Blockade “unacceptable and unsustainable”. So why is it still in place 9 years later?

A few months earlier, in the run-up to the general election, Clegg had written in The Guardian:

…And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis.

But Clegg, now in power and able to act, was as wimpy as every senior minister before him when put to the test:

The Government was very clear in its disapproval of the Israeli actions which ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life.

We have underlined the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events… Israel’s announcement of an inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel is an important step forward….

These events… arose from the unacceptable and unsustainable blockade of Gaza…. It has long been the view of the Government that restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which called for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and called on states to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation persisting there.

It is essential that there is unfettered access – not only to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, but to enable the reconstruction of homes and livelihoods and permit trade to take place.

It was then — and still is now — pointless calling for the blockade to be lifted. Israel’s repeated promises to “ease it” are purely cosmetic. In 2010 incoming goods to Gaza rose by a miserable 7 or 8% while the block on exports remained. That’s all the West’s feeble hand-wringing achieved.

UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (America abstained on Israel’s orders, according to former prime minister Ehud Olmert) called for the reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. To this day there is no sign of Israeli compliance.

The following year, 2011, MP Caroline Lucas quizzed foreign secretary William Hague in the Commons, as recorded by Hansard (29 June)….

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion): Earlier today, Palestine solidarity groups, politicians, teachers and others marked the anniversary of the attacks on the Free Gaza flotilla last year by sailing down the river outside Parliament and marking the launch of a new Free Gaza flotilla. As the Foreign Secretary has previously said that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable, will he tell us what further action he is taking to help get the siege lifted, and will he do everything that he can to get guarantees that this new flotilla will be safe from attack?

Mr Hague: We have continued to take the action that I set out in the House last year. We have urged Israel greatly to improve access to Gaza. It has taken some steps, but those steps have not been as fruitful as we had hoped when they were set out. Egypt has now opened an important crossing into Gaza, which may also provide some relief. The answer relies on the general lifting of a blockade of Gaza and on a negotiated two-state solution in the middle east. However, embarking on new flotillas is not the way in which to bring that about. We advise against all travel to Gaza by British nationals, which includes people who may be thinking of boarding a flotilla to go there. We hope that Israel will make only a proportionate response to any such flotilla, but it is, none the less, not the way in which to sort out the problems of the middle east. Such problems require negotiations in good faith by the parties concerned.

Hague’s answer might have been written by Israeli speech writers. He insisted that flotillas were “not the way”. Well, what is? The proper way to break a siege, which the UN itself calls “illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, is surely for the UN to apply sanctions. Failing that, the right thing would be for UN warships to break the siege… or for international civil society to do it escorted by UN warships or by warships belonging to the nation(s) of the flagged humanitarian vessels threatened with piratical aggression.

The proper way for Israel to avoid trouble would be to end its illegal blockade of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the rest of Palestine, and not interfere with humanitarians going about their lawful business.

As for “negotiations in good faith”, when did they ever happen?

A year after Israel’s murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara Hague was making more daft remarks in the House of Commons:

• “Our clear advice to British nationals is not to travel to Gaza.” Music to Israel’s ears, of course, as Hague helped to legitimize the illegal sea blockade..

• “Their welfare [meaning the British nationals on board] is our top priority.” Hague knew of Israel’s intention to go to any lengths, including the use of lethal force, to stop the mercy ships but took no precautionary action.

• He referred to “individuals who are allegedly involved in violence against Israeli servicemen during the boarding”, but failed to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli storm-troopers dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness in international waters.

• “Restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed in United Nations Security Council resolution 1860.” Bravo, he gets that bit right. But Resolution 1860 goes much further and calls for the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, which provides for:

– the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
– bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
– the building of a new seaport in Gaza
– re-opening of the airport in Gaza

When did we see any of that happen?

Hague was challenged by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the straight-talking Jewish MP, who pointed out that any one of the 37 UK citizens might have been killed when the Israelis “committed a war crime of piracy in international waters, kidnapping and murder—and all in pursuit of upholding an illegal blockade on Gaza that amounts to collective punishment…” He asked Mr Hague for his assurance that further steps would be taken if the Israelis failed to comply with the modest request that had been made.

But Hague sidestepped, saying: “It is our strong advice to British nationals, as it has been in the past and will be in the future, not to travel to Gaza — let me make that absolutely clear — as they would be going into a dangerous situation, but it is absolutely wrong to maintain the blockade.”

MP Jeremy Corbyn asked if it wasn’t time for sanctions such as revoking the EU-Israel trade agreement. Hague replied that he did not think imposing sanctions was the right policy either – but gave no reason.

MP Frank Dobson suggested that Britain and the other European members of NATO should give naval protection if another flotilla were to set off for Gaza, with the Royal Navy reverting to its traditional role of protecting the freedom of the seas. Hague dismissed this too.

As usual, no consequences for Israel’s crimes were contemplated. And the Government chicken coop happily clucked its approval as Hague handed the Israelis total victory. Today, five years on, Israel is making the same threats and committing the same acts of piracy against the latest flotilla.

Legal or not?

Israel’s naval blockade is illegal and so was Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara and other Gaza-bound vessels in international waters in May 2010. So said the United Nations fact-finding mission set up by the Human Rights Council.

The Mission’s team, chaired by Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, QC, a retired Judge of the International Criminal Court, reported they were “satisfied that the blockade was inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and that as such the interception could not be justified and therefore has to be considered illegal…

The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law… No case can be made for the legality of the interception and the Mission therefore finds that the interception was illegal.

That wasn’t all. The naval blockade was implemented in support of the overall closure regime.

As such it was part of a single disproportionate measure of armed conflict and as such cannot itself be found proportionate. Furthermore, the closure regime is considered by the Mission to constitute collective punishment of the people living in the Gaza Strip and thus to be illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Intercepting the Mavi Marmara on the high seas was “clearly unlawful” and could not be justified even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations [the right of self-defence].

The Centre for Constitutional Rights also concluded that the Israeli blockade was illegal under international law:

Due both to the legal nature of Israel’s relationship to Gaza – that of occupier – and the impact of the blockade on the civilian population, amounting to ‘collective punishment’, the blockade cannot be reconciled with the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law. It is recalled that the international community, speaking through both the United Nations and individual States, has repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The flotilla did not seek to travel to Israel, let alone ‘attack’ Israel. Furthermore, the flotilla did not constitute an act which required an ‘urgent’ response, such that Israel had to launch a middle-of-the-night armed boarding… Israel could also have diplomatically engaged Turkey, arranged for a third party to verify there were no weapons onboard and then peacefully guided the vessel to Gaza.

Craig Murray was Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and responsible for giving political and legal clearance to Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorised blockade against Iraqi weapons shipments. He is therefore an internationally recognized authority on these matters. Referring to the participation of an American boat he said:

Right of free passage is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a US flagged ship on the High Seas is subject to United States legal jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for protection from attack on the High Seas…

Israel has declared a blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral civilian vessels on the High Seas in terms of enforcing that embargo, under the legal cover given by the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. There are however fundamental flaws in this line of argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.

Sporadic attacks from Gaza did not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that would trigger the right to impose a naval blockade, he said. When the UK suffered continued terrorist attack from the IRA (Irish Republican Army), sustaining many more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza, it would have been ridiculous to argue that the UK had a right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland.

The EU Commission declared that “all those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza should do so through established channels”. The “established channel” for delivering goods to Gaza is, of course, the time-honoured route by sea, which is protected by maritime and international law. Flotilla organizers have offered their cargoes for inspection and verification by a trusted third party to allay Israel’s fears about weapon supplies. They should not have to deal direct with the belligerent regime that’s cruelly turning the screws on civilians with an illegal blockade. Anyone suggesting they must hand over their cargo to the aggressor seeks to legitimize the blockade, which we all know to be illegal and a crime against humanity.

Quite simply, an attack on civilian ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza cannot be justified by the existence of a blockade that violates international law. So Israel doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Nor does the cowardly British Government. Nor do the 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs who, for whatever dark reasons, love and adore the abhorrent Israeli regime and the war criminals who run it. Therefore “all good men and true” should rally to support those brave humanitarian voyagers and ensure their governments back their play in future.

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Uncritical of Justifications for Shooting Escaped Convict

By Matt Pepe | Just The Facts | June 29, 2015

After nearly a month on the run after breaking out of a maximum-security prison in Upstate New York, convicted murderer David Sweat was shot on Sunday by a New York State trooper and apprehended. Two days earlier fellow convicted murderer and escapee Richard Matt was shot dead by a federal agent nearby. While Governor Andrew Cuomo was quick to label Sergeant Jay Cook, who shot and captured Sweat, a “hero” – a claim that was repeated by CNN, the Daily News, Time and many other outlets – there was no serious analysis about whether Cook’s use of lethal force was legally justified.

The Associated Press published “Trooper had law on his side when he shot unarmed escapee” (6/29/15), which was widely reprinted nationally and internationally. The article makes the case appear definitively open and shut.

“A state trooper had the law on his side when he shot unarmed prison escapee David Sweat, apparently in the back, as the convicted killer ran toward a forest near the Canadian border,” the AP wrote.

Their source: one legal expert. Maria Haberfeld, head of the law and police science department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the AP : “You cannot shoot a fleeing felon, but certainly you can shoot the one who poses a real threat. There was no reason to believe this person who had killed a police officer before was not posing a real threat.”

The AP cites the 1986 Supreme Court decision Tennessee v. Garner defining the condition that deadly force may only be used if “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” The AP also notes a New York State law permits the use of deadly force against a dangerous convict escaping from a detention facility.

While the AP says that “experts” differentiated the shooting from the case of Walter Scott, who was gunned down in South Carolina after a traffic stop, only the head of the National Association of Police Organizations is quoted to make this point. He said “these prisoners … they’re not presumed to be an innocent citizen walking down the street.”

The only opinions the AP mentions countering arguments for the legality of shooting Sweat are “some people online” who “questioned the decision to fire.”

It wouldn’t have been hard to at least find sources questioning the legal basis for shooting an unarmed man clearly not posing a immediate threat to the officer or anyone else.

Ten days earlier, Amnesty International released a report titled “Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States,” which found that neither U.S. Constitutional law nor a single state law meets international standards concerning the use of force by police officers.

“Amnesty International reviewed US state laws – where they exist – governing the use of lethal force by law enforcement officials and found that they all fail to comply with international law and standards. Many of them do not even meet the less stringent standard set by US constitutional law,” the report says.

So even if it were true that the shooting of David Sweat was legal according to state and/or Constitutional law, it could still be the case that it does not meet the legal justifications of international treaties to which the United States is a party.

According to Principle 9 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials: “Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

This is clearly a much more stringent standard than that established in the Garner case. Not only is an officer required to act in self-defense (or defense of a third person), but there must be an “imminent threat of death or serious injury” and the shooting must be “strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

The sequence of events leading to the shooting of Sweat, according to the New York Times, was that after being asked by Sergeant Cook to approach him, “instead Mr. Sweat turned and fled across a field toward the tree line.” Cook “patrolling by himself, gave chase and finally opened fire, striking Mr. Sweat twice in the torso, because he realized the fugitive was going to make it to the woods and possibly disappear.”

While Sweat had been convicted of the murder of a police officer, which would have established the justification to use lethal force against him under New York law, it would be much harder to argue he presented an “imminent threat” as he was unarmed and there was no one else nearby. He had been on the lam for more than three weeks without harming anyone. If he were to have escaped to the woods without being detained, would that have constituted an imminent threat?

There was no mention in the Associated Press article of any investigation into the shooting. As Amnesty noted: “All cases of police use of lethal force must be subject to an independent, impartial and transparent investigation and if the evidence indicates that the killing was unlawful, the police officer responsible should be criminally prosecuted.”

There are enough questions surrounding the shooting of an unarmed man to warrant an investigation, regardless of whether Sweat was a convicted murderer. Instead the officer is quickly called a hero and the media follow suit in their hero worship.

Sweat is reportedly in serious condition at Albany Medical Center. The media seems willing to ignore his rights because of the horrific crimes he was convicted of. But despite his crimes, he is legally still entitled to the right to life that every person – even the most hardened criminal – enjoys.

With the shooting of Sweat coming so soon after the Amnesty report, media organizations could have drawn attention to the higher standard for the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers under international law that the report documents, which quite likely were not met. They could have at least mentioned that relevant international law exists and is something American law enforcement are obligated to follow.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

“Just Say Anything!” – The US Responds to the UN Review of its Human Rights Record

By Janet Phelan – New Eastern Outlook – 29.06.2015

The US has a history of making inaccurate statements to international bodies in order to advance its global agenda. One need only look at the statements made on the international stage prior to the invasion of Iraq to realize that the intention to invade Iraq was not going to be hindered by a realistic assessment of its “weapons of mass destruction” program.

In recent UN convenings, we are now seeing false statements put on the record by high-ranking US officials concerning the US’s domestic agenda. As the UN has no dominion over the domestic issues within the United States, one can only view these coordinated efforts by the US officials as a studied effort at propaganda.

This past May, the UN reviewed the human rights record of the United States. Known as the UPR (Universal Periodic Review), this session in May marked the second such review, the first having taken place in 2010. Civil society was invited to submit reports and over ninety NGOs and grassroots organizations did so. In addition, over 110 UN member nations also voiced their concerns as to the US’s human rights record.

Criticisms and concerns were entered on many different issues. The failed campaign promise of President Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay was mentioned repeatedly. So were the failures of the United States to ratify many human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention on the Rights of the Child, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as well as other international treaties.

Racial profiling and police killings of US citizens, many if not most being African Americans, were raised as consistent concerns. In addition, recommendations were made that the US halt its application of the death penalty and also establish a national human rights agency.

The tone of the US response was quite a bit different from the tack taken in 2010. Gone were the promises, empty as they were. Instead, the US adopted a regimented and in some cases a somewhat belligerent defense of what might be considered indefensible activities. And where belligerence might have failed to impress, outright lies were employed.

Muted belligerence was clearly in evidence in the statements made by Brigadier General Richard Gross, legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who addressed concerns about Guantanamo Bay and the detainees. “The detainees are detained lawfully,” he declared. According to Gross, there were 242 detainees at the beginning of the Obama administration and 116 have been transferred out since then. He stated that 122 remain. As these figures omit four individuals, it is assumed that they have died.

Alarmingly, Gross made the following revelations: Of the remaining 122, he told us, 57 are designated for transfer. Out of the 65 others, 10 are currently facing charges or have been convicted. The remaining 55, he stated, will be reviewed by the periodic review board. In other words, 55 individuals have been detained for years without being charged. This is hardly in accordance with US law, which guarantees a speedy trial, among other legal considerations.

And it is US law which pertains to the detainees. Supreme Court decisions have granted the detainees protections under US law, including the right of habeas corpus. Over 200 writs of habeas corpus have been filed by Guantanamo Bay detainees. Not one has been granted.

Police abuse is of grave concern to many different sectors. The US attempted to assuage these concerns with outright lies. Indeed, the US continued on with its hooey about the non-existent “hundreds of federal prosecutions” for police abuse that it tried to front a few months back at the Convention Against Torture meeting in Geneva. As discussed in this article, the actual numbers of federal prosecutions for police abuse could be counted on the fingers of one hand. 

Rather than correct the previous misstatements, the US officials amplified the bogus figures, and cited a total of 400 such prosecutions. The Big Lie is always the best, and for those who gagged on the overblown figure of 330 such prosecutions stated at the CAT by Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower a few months back, the new figure of 400 such prosecutions provides an even bigger loogey to swallow.

For students of effective propaganda, it might be of interest to note that the US did not use David Bitkower, a white man, as the mouthpiece for this lie on the occasion of the UPR. As previously noted, most of the police killings involve a black victim, and accordingly, the US used one of its black DOJ officials, James Cadogan, to deliver this line of horse puckey. Cadogan is Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General.

Well, using the facade of race to convince the naïve population that it was getting something other than more of the same worked in the 2008 election, did it not?

It looks like the US, seemingly on a roll of grandiose pronouncements as to its diligent protection of human rights, did not stop with this false figure. Other declarations were made at the UPR which were similarly suspect. For example, according to Kevin Washburn, with the Department of the Interior, the US has restored about a million acres to Indian tribes under this administration. Well, that sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?

The problem arises in verifying Washburn’s “million acre” pronouncement. As it turns out, Washburn also testified before a Congressional subcommittee just a scant three days after he made the “million acre” declaration to the UN. In his testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, US House of Representatives on May 14, Washburn testified that the Obama administration had restored “approximately 300,000 acres to tribes.” 

That constitutes a rather serious difference in figures. In accordance with the Uncle Tomism seen in using African American Cadogan to speak on police abuse, Washburn, who is the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, also claims to be a member of the Chickasaw Nation, an Oklahoma tribe.

At the 2010 UPR, the US promised to ratify the Convention On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In fact, Congress voted against ratification in 2012. In the US report to the UPR for the 2015 review, the US stated that “The United States has robust protections to prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities and has actively enforced these protections since our last report.” In fact, multiple ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complaints have been filed with the Department of Justice, stating profound violations of rights affecting the elderly and disabled by state courts. According to recent statements made by an ADA employee to this reporter, not one of these complaints has been pursued by the DOJ.

Another red flag appeared in the US’s statements about the number of federal hate crimes prosecutions. The US claimed that over 200 individuals had been convicted under federal hate crime laws, including the Shepard/Byrd Act, in the past five years.

This reporter contacted the DOJ press office as well as the FBI and was refused details on hate crime convictions. A dedicated internet search, including DOJ and FBI websites as well as newspaper reports, turned up a total of 72 convictions for federal hate crimes since 2009. Sixteen of these convictions—for the infamous Amish beard cutting defendants– were subsequently reversed in 2014, leaving a grand total of 56.

Parenthetically, as the press office at the US DOJ refused to supply factual documentation (such as case numbers and names), this reporter filed a Freedom of Information Request for this information. It is possible that the fulfillment of this request will provide a different perspective. For the edification of the readers, the last FOIA request by this reporter was filed in 2009. I am still awaiting the response.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the lack of transparency in the Obama administration and cited multiple problems with FOIA. According to the article, “Most Administrations play games with FOIA, but the Obama White House has turned stonewalling into an art form.” 

The WSJ article goes on to discuss the following ploys being utilized to evade replies to FOIA requests– imposing sky high fees, failing to process requests within the legal time limit, destroying information and excessively redacting information.

Access to accurate information is a fundamental part of a democracy. If the citizenry is kept in the dark about the nature of its governance, it will not be able to make appropriate decisions. Those in power who play a shell game with the facts of their activities do so in accordance with the dedicated purpose of any liar–fear of exposure and avoidance of accountability.

Janet C. Phelan, investigative journalist and human rights defender that has traveled pretty extensively over the Asian region, an author of a tell-all book EXILE.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

SWAT Raids Wrong Home, Breaks Windows, then Issues Family Citation for Broken Windows

This case gives a new and an even more despicable meaning to the term, “Broken Windows Policing”

SWAT-Team-Raids-Wrong-Home-Breaks-Windows-on-Home-Issue-Citation-for-Broken-Windows

By Matt Agorist | The Free Thought Project | June 30, 2015

St. Louis, MO — Leon Walker and his family were settling down for dinner last week when they were violently interrupted as flashbang grenades came flying into their house and began exploding.

The front door was kicked down, and armed assailants rushed in with AR-15 rifles drawn and pointed Walker and his family. These armed and incredibly incompetent and dangerous assailants were members of the St. Louis Police Department’s SWAT team.

The SWAT team was looking for an evil man who allegedly committed the ‘crime’ of selling a substance to willing customers. This man’s name was Darron Ford, and he lived two doors down from the Walker family.

The fact that the man they were looking for lived two doors down was of no consequence to these thugs in uniform as they went along with the raid, in full. For two hours, police, who knew they were at the wrong address, tore the home of Leon Walker apart in search of a non-existent reason to justify their idiocy.

Never let a botched SWAT raid go to waste.

Had Walker tried to defend his home against the armed invaders, he would have been killed, and the world would have never known about it. The blurb on the nightly news would have been that police kill an armed man who fired on them.

“Obviously they think they’re being invaded,” family attorney Bevis Schock said. “The hope is that they won’t fight back but that they’ll cower in fear – the flight response rather than the fight response.”

Schock says that police should have stopped their madness once they realized they were at the wrong home. However, they were on an apparent mission to destroy and intimidate.

After the life-threatening home invasion and subsequent destruction of their home, the St. Louis Police Department sent out a building inspector. In turn, the inspector issued the Walker family a citation for a window the SWAT team broke during the raid!

“In this case the insult was to have the building inspector cite them for the window that had been broken by the police an hour earlier as part of the entry, and that’s outrageous,” Schock said.

The Walker family could have been killed by these barbarians as they followed their controller’s orders to seek out illicit substances. Instead of an apology for threatening all their lives and ransacking their home, the Walkers were extorted!

The Walker family has since filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Louis. The taxpayers will now foot the bill for the belligerent idiocy of the St. Louis SWAT team.

The Walker’s situation is hardly an isolated one either. Also this month, and in the same town, another family was wrongfully raided by St. Louis SWAT. Angela Zorich and family were subject to a massive military-style raid during which their house was destroyed, their beloved dog killed, and their mother kidnapped. The reason for this war-like assault on a family — Zorich was on hard times and was temporarily unable to pay her gas bill.

Sadly, many Americans are still unable to see the horrors of the massive and brutally negligent police state that has exploded in this country. The apologists sit back and tell people that if they don’t do anything wrong, they don’t have anything to worry about.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

After 15 Years of Killing Journalists Pentagon Writes It Into Manual

Having liberally assassinated journalists in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya Pentagon has done the logical next step and openly wrote the practice into its code of conduct

By Marko Marjanović | Russia Insider | June 26, 2015

Four weeks into NATO’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia American bombs slammed into Belgrade’s main television station massacring 16 employees of Serbia’s state television broadcaster (RTS).

All killed were civilians but these were the 1990s. Sloban Milošević was “Adolph Hitler” and Serbs were “his willing executioners”.* Serbian civilian deaths didn’t matter. Thus BOOM! Program director dead, security guard dead, electrician dead, cameraman dead, sound technician dead, make up lady dead…

Tony Blair and a host of NATO spokespeople appeared before cameras to explain these people deserved to die – they were part of Milošević’s “machinery of hate”. No bombs hit them in turn.

RTS had been covering Serbia’s civilian deaths caused by NATO but this wasn’t the reason it was hit – as said nobody really cared and besides RTS had been taken off satellite by NATO and could no longer broadcast beyond Yugoslavia. However, NATO’s strategy in the war had been to make the life of Serbian civilians so miserable they would beg Milošević to capitulate – and RTS’ mix of airing patriotic music videos and reports of NATO carnage was doing a decent job of propping up Serb morale and resolve.

RTS was interfering with NATO’s strategy – it was giving the Serbian populace a measure of comfort and strength – this made it a top target of those who needed it broken.

Stretchering a victim of RTS bombing, April 23, 1999

Next stop Iraq. April 8th 2003 American tanks finally smashed into downtown Baghdad – Iraq had been conquered. Americans marked the occasion by opening fire on journalists in three separate locations in the city.

Offices of Qatar’s Al-Jazeera were hit by an air strike. Offices of United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi satellite channel likewise. Finally a US tank fired into the Palestine Hotel – Bagdad’s more well-known hotel and a well-known base for foreign journalists. In all Americans’ attacks on journalists that day killed three and wounded four.

This was just the beginning. Iraq became a veritable killing ground for journalists including due to attacks by American occupiers. In the first two years of the occupation alone 13 journalists are known to have been killed by American fire.

Most famously in 2007 a US helicopter crew deliberately gunned down two Iraqi reporters for Reuters along with a dozen other civilians – this was the so called “collateral murder” incident later brought to light and made famous by WikiLeaks.

Throughout the Iraq occupation US bitterly complained about reporting done by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah. It accused them of inflaming the Arab street against the US and helping to fuel the Sunni resistance in Iraq.

The two were repeatedly banned from reporting from Iraq by the US-installed government in Baghdad. Likewise in 2004 the US launched the Al-Hurra Arab-language satellite channel to try to rival the two.

Finally, during the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya the alliance repeated its performance during the bombing of Yugoslavia and deliberately took out a Libyan TV compound slaying three journalists.

It may be the case that US military has only now produced a “law of war manual” explaining its policy of killing journalists, but it is the case it has been at it for at least 15 years.

The thing to understand is that Pentagon has convinced itself that media has dealt it its greatest defeat in history – the hugely traumatic loss in the Vietnam War. In Pentagon’s retelling of the Vietnam debacle journalists delivered a fatal stab in the back of a war effort that was on the cusp of turning things around.

The problem according to US military wasn’t so much US atrocities and real strategic setbacks, but the fact the knowledge of these was spread by journalists to the people at home.

Vietnam – the high tide of American war reporting

That is to say the main lesson Pentagon drew from the Vietnam War was the need to control information coming out from the war zone. Military thinkers spent the next two decades thinking about the ways to accomplish this and eventually perfected it into an art form.

Thus the highly managed and highly favorable coverage of US military invasion of Iraq – served up by embeded journalists assigned to this or that unit of the US military. But if embedding journalists showed to just what degree they may be tamed it also served to highlight how unfriendly and dangerous (at least in the Pentagon’s imagination) the remaining independent journalists were by comparison.

In Pentagon’s thinking an independent journalist threatens its control of information coming out of the war zone and therefore threatens “the mission” – that above all is what really makes him a “legitimate” target.

The rest, the nonsense about “unprivileged belligerents” and what not – that’s just sophistry and mumbo jumbo to obscure the fact that US military – the armed force of the “land of the free and the home of the brave” believes in murdering civilian non-combatants.


* Serbs had been so thoroughly collectively demonized in the west that the neocon Charles Krauthammer could openly complain from the pages of Washington Post that the bombing wasn’t killing enough Serbian civilians and the liberal interventionist Thomas Friedman could call from the pages of The New York Times for Serbia to be bombed back into the Middle Ages and spark no mainstream outrage whatsoever. Link

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

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