Fooling Most Of The People Most Of The Time Is What American Politics Are About, Even When It Comes To The Threat Of Nuclear War
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | July 28, 2016
I read a column recently, and it was imbued with hopeful thinking about America’s political establishment dealing with its constituents concerning the now increasing threat of nuclear catastrophe.
The author said the piece was intended as “Drano” to clear the political pipes, but I am afraid that much as I sometimes enjoy the same author’s pieces, this one for me had to be characterized as illusion. It may have a lot to do with the author not being a native of the United States, and I do think my background in that country and having studied its history removes any possibility of illusion ever seriously taking hold.
When did America’s establishment ever discuss, in elections or at other times, issues of war and peace for the people’s understanding and consent?
There was no mandate for Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or a dozen other conflicts.
Of course, once a war gets going, there is a tendency for Americans to close ranks with flags and ribbons and slogans such as “Support our troops” and “Love it or leave it.”
The senior leaders know this psychological pattern, and they count on it, every time.
The fundamental problem in America’s government is an elaborate political structure much resembling democracy but with actual rule by a powerful establishment and a set of special interests – all supported by a monstrous security apparatus and a huge, lumbering military, which wouldn’t even know what to do with itself in peace.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any apparent solution to this horrible political reality, and, while once it affected primarily Americans themselves, today it affects the planet.
There is an intense new element that has been added to America’s governing establishment: the drive of the neo-cons for American supremacy everywhere, for complete global dominance, and it is something which is frighteningly similar to past drives by fascist governments which brought only human misery on a vast scale.
The neo-cons’ underlying motive, I believe, is absolute security for America’s colony in the Middle East, Israel – put another way, their concern is for Israel’s hegemony over its entire region with no room for anyone else to act in their own interests. It is only if the United States is deeply engaged all over the planet that Israel can constantly benefit from its strange relationship with America.
It did not require the neo-cons to interest America’s establishment with interfering in other people’s affairs. America has a long history of doing so, stretching back to the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, the brazen seizure of Hawaii from its people and going right up to the pointless War in Vietnam and Cambodia in the hope of keeping the Pacific Ocean effectively an American lake. But the neo-cons have added a new force, a new impulse to something which would be better left alone, and they are very influential in American affairs.
Ordinary Americans are not interested in world affairs, and there is a great deal of evidence to support that statement. American Imperialists of earlier times disparaged this tendency to just want peace at home with the pejorative name, isolationism, and avoiding isolationism became an excuse for a whole series of wars and interventions.
So, Americans today cannot be allowed to fall back into their natural tendency of not caring. Thus we have the drive of the neo-cons and, tragically, thus we have America being driven into direct confrontation with Russia. And with China, too, of course, but Russia is my focus since Russia is the only country in the world literally capable of obliterating the United States. There is unquestionably a sense here of Rome wanting to go after Carthage, although cavalry, swords, spears, and catapults no longer can settle such conflicts.
The situation is compounded by the American establishment’s dawning realization that its days of largely unquestioned supremacy in the world are fading into memory, as other countries grow and develop and have important interests in world affairs. In many respects, it has been a long downhill slide for the average American since the economic heyday of the 1950s. Decline in real incomes, decline in good job opportunities at home, the export of American industries abroad to areas of less costly labor, and the virtual collapse of American towns and cities in many places, Detroit being perhaps the most sorrowful case of many – all these are evident year-in and year-out.
I do think the American establishment simply does not know how to handle its role in a brave new world, but do something it clearly thinks it must, and that is an extremely dangerous state of mind. It is armed with vast armies and terrible weapons so that it retains a sense of being able to act in some way to permanently reclaim its place, an illusion if ever there was one.
We know from scholars of the past the role that the mere existence of terrible military power can play in disaster. Huge standing armies were one of the major underlying causes of the First World War, a conflict in which twenty millions perished. Germany repeated the effort with Hitler’s government working tirelessly to create what was to become the finest and most advanced army the world had ever seen until that time, but it, too, ended in disaster, and of even greater proportions. America has not discovered the secret to making itself invulnerable, although I fear that its establishment believes that it can do so, and that represents the most dangerous possible thinking.
Contrary to political speeches, America’s establishment has never shown great concern over the welfare of ordinary Americans, and today its lack of concern is almost palpable. Washington’s white-maned, over-fed, crinkly-faced Senators spend virtually every ounce of effort in two activities: raising funds from special interests for re-election (estimated at two-thirds of an average Senator’s time) and conspiring on how to keep America dominant in the world. Anything else is just piffle. America’s unique place in the world of 1950 took care of ordinary Americans, not any effort by government. Again, the utter contempt for ordinary Americans perhaps offers a dark element in the thinking of America’s establishment when it comes to possible nuclear war.
Russia is not, of course, a direct threat to neo-con interests, except when it comes to matters like Syria, a deliberately-engineered horror to bring down the last independent-minded leader in the Middle East and to smash and Balkanize his country, parts of which, Israel has always lusted after in its vision of Greater Israel. The coup in Ukraine, which borders along a great stretch of Russia, represented a direct challenge to Russia’s security, offering a place ultimately to be filled with hostile forces and missiles and American advisors – all of which was expected to silence Russia’s independent voice in the world and its ability to in any way thwart neo-con adventures, if not, in the longer-range, savage dreams of some, to provide a platform for the ultimate destruction or overthrow of Russia herself.
Russia’s effective countering with skillful moves in its own interests both in Syria and Ukraine has driven some of America’s establishment to the edge of madness, and that madness is what we see and hear in Europe. Europe is once again being turned into a vast armed camp, and it is now seething with anti-Russian rhetoric, threats, and activities such as huge war games, the largest of which occurred around the anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Russia, the single most destructive event in all of human history.
America has created deliberately a situation almost as dangerous as the days of the Cuban missile crisis, which itself arose from the American establishment’s belief that it had every right to interfere in Cuba’s affairs.
We have another element, now compounding the danger, in a far greater variety and level of sophistication of weapons, including some nuclear weapons whose controlled yields are regarded by America’s military as being perhaps “usable” in a theater like Europe. The installation of anti-missile systems near Russia is very much part of this threat since these systems not only are intended to neutralize Russia’s capacity for response to a sudden, massive attack but to provide a cover for future covert, easily-done substitution of other kinds of missiles into the launchers, faster-arriving, nuclear-armed missiles which would indeed be an element in such an attack.
Russia, a country twice invaded with all the might of Germany and before that by Napoleon’s Grande Armeé, cannot be expected just to sit and do nothing. It won’t. It cannot.
The world must not forget that America’s military, a number of times in the past, created complete plans for a massive, surprise nuclear attack on what was then the Soviet Union, the last of which I am aware was in the early 1960s, and it was presented as being feasible to President Kennedy, who is said to have left the Pentagon briefing sick to his stomach.
Nuclear war, just as with any other kind of war, can happen almost by accident through blunders and careless acts and overly-aggressive postures. Just let the blood of two sides get up enough, and an utter disaster could quickly overtake us. Constantly decreasing the possibilities for accidents and misunderstandings is a prime responsibility of every major world leader, and right now the United States is pretty close to having completely abdicated its responsibility.
Jerry Brown unequivocally describes Perry, who held many important positions in the past, including the U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1994-1997, as a double-hated man.
On the one hand, as the U.S. Secretary of Defense he helped to build a formidable U.S. nuclear arsenal several decades ago, being responsible for important technological advances with respect to U.S. nuclear forces, like launching the B-2 a heavy strategic bomber; revitalizing the aging B-52, a bomber from the same category as SOA (Strategic Offensive Arms) inventory; putting the Trident submarine program back on track; and making an ill-fated attempt to bring the MX ICBM, a ten-warhead missile, into operation.
On the other, William J. Perry has been identified as a staunch proponent of avoiding nuclear danger, nowadays, when he has retired and embarked “on an urgent mission to alert us to the dangerous nuclear road we are travelling.” He is clearly calling American leaders to account for what he believes “are very bad decisions”, such as the precipitous expansion of NATO right up to the Russian border (William J. Perry was a very brave man when he became the lone Cabinet member who opposed President Bill Clinton’s decision to give Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic immediate membership in the Alliance). William J. Perry has also not been supportive of President George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia in 2002.
It is interesting to note that a person who took an active part in the continuous U.S. SOA and TNW (tactical nuclear weapons) build-up today has concluded that there could be no acceptable defence against a massive-scale nuclear attack. According to him, the great paradox of the nuclear age is that deterrence of nuclear war is sought by building ever more lethal and precise weapons. For the sake of reality it should be underscored that this notion has to be attributed exclusively to the USA, who has a long time ago embarked upon an “offensive unconditional nuclear deterrence strategy” which has not practically been changed so far.
Jerry Brown observes that William J. Perry is convinced that parity is “old thinking” because nuclear weapons can’t actually be used – the risk of uncontrollable and catastrophic escalation is too high. Seemingly, he shares the earlier maxim once articulated by President Ronald Reagan: “A nuclear war cannot be fought, because it can never be won.”
Unfortunately, in his remarks Jerry Brown has made a number of inaccuracies in describing some facts of the immediate past and the present-day military-political environment.
He writes that: “…both the Soviet Union and the United States had developed hydrogen bombs”. In reality, the USA was the first state that produced H-bomb (1952), the USSR responded lately (1953). As is known, the USA was the first one who has produced an A-bomb; while the Soviet Union did so only in 1949. The USA was the first one who has created a classic SOA triad (ICBM, SLBM and heavy bombers), and MIRV ICBM. The USSR followed suit.
That is why it is irrelevant to claim that “the Soviets just stepped up their nuclear efforts and so did the U.S.”
Jerry Brown reminds about the Cuban missile crisis, but does not clarify that it has been initiated by Washington who unilaterally has deployed medium-range nuclear missiles “Jupiter” with 1 megaton each in Italy and Turkey, and at a time when the USA had nuclear warheads superiority over the Soviet Union as 17:1 (revelation by Robert McNamara). Only after that dangerous action Moscow has decided to move its SNF to Cuba (note: before the Cuban missile crisis has been resolved, the Soviet leaders have not even authorized to install nuclear warheads upon the missiles and combat aircraft brought to Cuba).
Jerry Brown is of opinion that the Cold War was over, and the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were located not only in Russia, but also in three new republics that “were not capable of protecting them.” After the demise of the USSR, Russia has brought all SOA and TNW from these republics back to its territory, despite the fact that all these nuclear assets have been strongly protected. This measure has been agreed upon between Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus and the Western nuclear powers.
I do not believe that the Cold War is over despite the Paris Charter for a New Europe heralded that in 1990. The Cold War has entered a new phase – qualitatively more dangerous that its first phase. Cold War 2.0 is characterized by a vast military build-up of NATO near the Russian borders, and a complete stalemate in arms control: currently there are 15 unresolved issues in this domain between the USA and Russia. In the first stage of Cold War Moscow and Washington signed 7 nuclear arms control accords, CWC and BWC, CFE-1 and CFE-1A treaties, a number of CBM arrangements. Since 2010 nothing has been done in this sphere.
So, it is incorrect to state that “the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States did not make any effort to slow nuclear competition; they did just the opposite.”
The reaction of Moscow to the fielding of the U.S. ground-based BMD assets in Europe was portrayed by Jerry Brown inaccurately. Such elements plus sea-based components of the U.S BMD “shield” really create formidable threat to Russia and its allies because of two major reasons:
(a) the launching tubes of the U.S. BMD system Mk-41 can house not only defensive interceptors, but also offensive cruise missiles and other war-fighting means in the framework of the “Prompt Global Strike” which can be used as a first-strike weapon versus Russia;
(b) the U.S. and NATO BMD system has been tied up to their nuclear and conventional forces – such “appropriate mix” has been stamped up at the three recent NATO Summits in Chicago (2012), Newport (2014) and Warsaw (2016).
Washington still does not want to abrogate its Cold War thinking: to cancel its first use of nuclear weapons’ concept. All U.S. Administrations have declined to accept several Soviet and Russian initiatives on that issue.
President Barack Obama failed to ratify the CTBT (1996), though he has promised to do it during his presidency.
Recently, in the framework of NATO the debates on the further strengthening of this largest military bloc reliance on nuclear weapons have intensified.
The talk is about expanding the geographic scope and the total number of military exercises conducted with simulated use of bombs equipped with mock nuclear warheads, carrying military computer games on the use of nuclear weapons on the European continent, as well as the development of special scenarios on transformation of hypothetical conflict involving the general conventional forces into the conflicts with the use of nuclear weapons.
Suggestions have been made that in the course of combined command and staff games of a “new type” with the help of computer simulation while resolving non-nuclear and nuclear tasks in the scenario of the regional and global environment the condition of the “use of Russian strategy of nuclear escalation” as a counterweight to the “nuclear counter-escalation” to NATO is included. The idea of involving in such games not only representatives of the military, but also high-ranking civilian government officials participating in making the important decisions of national importance is articulated.
On June 25, 2015, during a hearing before the Committee on Armed Services of the US Congress devoted to the prospective role of nuclear weapons the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work called to oppose to the Russian nuclear doctrine by the U.S. nuclear capabilities with the aim to launch a strategy of “de-escalation of escalation.” In other words, it is interpreted in Washington in such a way that an escalation of threats of the limited use of nuclear weapons should be used to de-escalate conflicts fought with conventional weapons.
Commenting on the debate that took place during the meeting of the defense ministers of the member countries’ of the “transatlantic solidarity” in Brussels on 8 October 2015, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to NATO Adam Thomson has publicly complained that before the Alliance held separate military exercises with the use of conventional and nuclear weapons, but has never tested the transformation of the first type of exercises in the second ones. But he further recognized with appreciation that the recommendation of the “transformation of NATO military exercises with the use of conventional weapons into nuclear drills” became the focus of attention within the Alliance.
Pentagon chief Ashton Carter on the same day told a news conference that the transatlantic pact should prepare an “updated instructions on the use of nuclear weapons” in order to adapt to new threats and challenges of the 21st century and, in particular, called for “better integrate non-nuclear and nuclear deterrence.” His compatriot Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Secretary General, said at the Berlin Security Conference November 17, 2015, the Alliance also must “modernize nuclear deterrence, strengthening his best means of early warning and intelligence.”
In 2014-2016 in order to develop new nuclear posture the U.S. strategic nuclear forces held several military exercises in Central and Eastern Europe, and North Africa, employing heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
In March 2004 Washington initiated on the constant basis a large-scale NATO air patrol operations in the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, code-named “Baltic Air Policing”. It involves combat aircraft (DCA), which are potential carriers of tactical nuclear weapons. Over the past twelve years, i.e. from March 2004 to July 2016, fifteen countries of the Alliance, that is, more than half of NATO member-states have been participated in this operation near Russian borders, including the three major Western nuclear powers: the USA, the United Kingdom and France. This operation is conducted day-in-day-out, and 365/366 days per annum.
Washington is modernizing its TNW, including those fielded in Europe, and has no intention to pull them back to the CONUS.
Two of the five existing types of nuclear bombs, namely B-61-7 and B-61-11, as well as a new perspective bomb B-61-12 have “of strategic importance”, as may be delivered to targets not only by tactical aircraft but also by heavy strategic bombers B-52H and B-2A: each can carry 16 such bombs. Both types of strategic bombers can to travel the distance of 11,000 km without refueling in the air, and more than 18,000 km with mid-air refueling. For this reason these types of bombs in the documents of the Pentagon and the State Department are labeled as “strategic”.
A new bomb B-61-12 with a pin-point accuracy is a first-strike nuclear weapon.
Hans Kristensen, a Danish researcher, working at FAS, points out that “… it is expected that in the next decade, NATO’s nuclear forces will undergo major improvements that will affect increasing quality performance characteristics of both the nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. The planned modernization will significantly increase the military potential of the Alliance’s nuclear policy in Europe.”
The “doomsday” clock is ticking. Nowadays it shows 23.57. Too alarming.
What to do? Seemingly, three initial steps are badly needed.
First. To make a pledge of no-fist-use of nuclear weapons a universal norm, starting from the USA and Russia. As a preliminary step towards this goal to make a commitment to resort to a defensive unconditional nuclear deterrence that threatens no one. Such notion will require no costs.
Second. The USA should withdraw all its TNW from Europe and the Asian part of Turkey.
Third. A multilateral new ABM Treaty limiting the number of BMD interceptors and their geographical deployments has to be elaborated.
The next U.S. Administration has to seriously consider these steps.
Prof. Vladimir Kozin is Head of Advisers’ Group at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences of the Russian Federation. More substantial remarks on these topics can be found in his monographs: “Evolution of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense and Russia’s Stance” (1945-2013); “The U.S. Military Doctrine and its Military Policy Forecasting till 2075: Critical Analysis and Practical Recommendations” (in Russian); “Military policy and strategy of the USA in geopolitical dynamics of the XXI century” (as a co-author; in Russian); “Militarization of Outer Space and Its Impacts on Global Security Environment”; “The U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Reduction or Modernization?” (in Russian; the English translation ongoing); “Evolution of the U.S. Missile Defense Beyond 2040 and Russia’s Stance”; “The Chicago Triad of the USA and NATO and its Consequences for Russia” (in Russian).
By Afraa Dagher – Activist Post – July 27, 2016
On June 23, 2016, The Daily Star reported that the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party announced that it would hold a vote next month in order to choose a new leader after a party tribunal rejected the re-election of incumbent Asaad Hardan.
There is now a new movement inside the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP) which calls itself the Movement of July 8 which has worked to overthrow Hardan.
The opposition to the re-election of Assad Hardan has criticized him for his policy towards the leadership in Syria. In other words, he has been criticized for his support of Syria in its war for sovereignty and unity, an idea that is supposed to be a basic principle of the SSNP itself.
Under the SSNP’s own document and the section entitled “The Aim Of The Syrian Socialist National Party,” the SSNP clearly states:
I. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES
The eight basic principles of the SSNP embody the doctrine of Syrian nationalism. They proceed in a logical order from a declaration of the existence and nature of the Syrian nation (first principle), to an identification of the character of its cause (second and third principles), to a clarification of its genesis (the fourth principle) and its homeland (fifth principle). The basis of national unity (sixth principle), the sources of national character and consciousness (seventh principle), and the guiding principles of national militancy (eighth principle) are then defined.
First Basic Principle: Syria is for the Syrians and the Syrians are a complete nation.
Second Basic Principle: The Syrian cause is an integral national cause completely distinct from any other cause.
Third Basic Principle: The Syrian cause is the cause of the Syrian nation and the Syrian homeland.
Fourth Basic Principle: The Syrian nation is the product of the ethnic unity of the Syrian people which developed throughout history.
Fifth Basic Principle: The Syrian homeland is that geographic environment in which the Syrian nation evolved. It has distinct natural boundaries and extends from the Taurus range in the northwest and the Zagros mountains in the northeast to the Suez canal and the Red Sea in the south and includes the Sinai peninsula and the gulf of Aqaba, and from the Syrian sea in the west, including the island of Cyprus, to the arch of the Arabian desert and the Persian gulf in the east. (This region is also known as the Syrian Fertile Crescent).
Sixth Basic Principle: The Syrian nation is one society.
Seventh Basic Principle: The Syrian Social Nationalist movement derives its inspiration from the talents of the Syrian nation and its cultural political national history.
Eighth Basic Principle: Syria’s interest supersedes every other interest.
In order to make it appear as if they are being reasonable, the SSNP attempts to present Hardan as a “government agent” by saying “Assad Hardan is supporting the Syrian government,” and then going on to criticize the relationship saying that the SSNP is a secular socialist party, not a sectarian or Alawite party. Of course, using the words “Alawite” or “sectarian” is simply a sneaky way to abandon Syria and all of Syrians under a false pretext. The Syrian government is not “Alawite” or “Sectarian” and this has been proven time and time again. This specific use of language is that which has been used by the U.S.-backed rebels and the West itself. The idea is to present the Syrian government and Syrian society as being comprised of sects in order to misrepresent both and divide everyone amongst themselves in Syria.
Another tactic used by these critics is to claim that Hardan is too concerned with what is happening inside Syria and that he should focus on the war with Israel. This is a clear attempt to force the SSNP to stop fighting with the Syrian government against terrorists because who could ever separate the war on Syria from Israel? Even the most naïve people, those who may not belong to any party or have any education, should be able to recognize this. You do not have to be Syrian or Arab or know anything about Syria’s history to recognize this ploy.
Without a doubt, especially after over five years of war, it should be clear that this war is not against one sect. It is a war waged by deception, a proxy war against the unity of Syria and the whole region for Israel’s benefit and the creation of “Greater Israel.”
The critics of Hardan are nothing but tools of the United States. The U.S. has its own agenda which involves the shredding of Syria and creating another strange entity within the wider country called Rojava in Northern Syria, for one thing. But the opposition faction within the SSNP also supports this idea of a Kurdistan in Northern Syria.
At this point, I should mention a point about the Kurds and their Constitution.
As Al-Monitor reports,
The name Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System was chosen from among three proposed names, including Rojava-Kurdistan Democratic Federal System Marbo Beth Nahrin and Northern Syria Democratic Federal System. The regulatory committee members have indicated in previous statements that the Constituent Assembly is based upon the Swiss model.
According to some media analyses, the Kurds prepared and approved the draft constitution too soon. Article 5 specifies that the federation shall have an independent flag, and Article 66 paved the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations with foreign countries, despite the Syrians having yet to agree on the form of the future Syrian state. The majority of them fear that the declaration of the federation would be the beginning of a project to divide Syria, since it would be made by the Kurds and the Kurdish self-administration, which the Syrians view as enemies.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the Kurds forces are fighting along with the US backed forces, like the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces!
With all of this in mind, one can see why the U.S. is interested in working with the SSNP in order to manipulate it and further divide the Syrian opposition to Western aims. Of course, whenever the United States praises a party or attempts to work closely with it, it is never for a good reason. It is always so that it can use that party in its war or somehow at the negotiating table when it wants to wrest some type of “political solution” for the countries whom the United States is trying to destroy.
So here, in a nutshell, is the U.S. plan:
The United States is interested in using the SSNP against Syria and the Ba’ath party in the future but they cannot do so with a pro-Syria leader like Asaad Hardan. The opposition faction within the SSNP like Hardan’s critics, however, tend to support the “federalization” of Syria and the creation of a Kurdistan within Syrian territory. These individuals can indeed be useful to the United States.
As Andrew Korybko wrote in his article “The Democratic Partition Of Syria,” Additionally, the US establishment curiously seems to be on the verge of accepting the SSNP as a legitimate party in Syria, which is extraordinarily odd because it has hitherto only held out this “right” for the “moderate rebel” terrorists that it and its regime change coalition support.
The al-Ba’ath Party (Ba’ath meaning “renaissance” or “resurrection”), is a mixture of Arab nationalism, pan-Arabism, Arab socialism, and anti-imperialism. It calls for unification of the Arab world into a single state and its motto is “Unity, Liberty, Socialism” which refers to Arab unity and freedom from non-Arab interference and control.
Despite all of the U.S. treachery, the Ba’ath Party and the SSNP have a mutual interest – the unity and sovereignty of Syria. Hopefully, the opposition within the SSNP that is currently arrayed against Hardan and who are falling into the hands of the United States, will not succeed in assisting in the division of Syria and the Syrian people.
The United States has made many attempts to destroy Syria from the inside. Whether it is by the proxy terrorists known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, a plan for “federalization,” or by corrupting and infiltrating Syrian political parties like the SSNP, the U.S. has not given up on its attempt to destroy the secular government of our country.
The Syrian Constitution welcomes every political party and does not base recognition on religion. Syria needs all of its patriotic parties. If the SSNP is now working with the U.S., it needs to be revealed. Syria must never be divided.
Afraa Dagher is a political analyst currently residing in Syria. She has made numerous media appearances commenting on the current state of affairs inside Syria as well as the nature of the current crisis. She has appeared on RT, PRESS TV, and is a regular guest on Activist Post writer Brandon Turbeville’s Truth on the Tracks radio program.
A collective open letter has been signed by many professors of international law and legal researchers. Entitled “A plea against the abusive invocation of self-defence as a response to terrorism” it has been circulating on the internet for a few weeks.
Among the signatories, of which there are more than 230 professors and almost 50 assistants/researchers (see the list available here as at 25 July; it is updated regularly by the Centre de Droit International de l´Université Libre de Bruxelles), there are distinguished members of the international law community as well younger practitioners. The objective of this collective initiative is to challenge the invocation of the legal argument of self-defence by several states in the context of the so called “war” against ISIS.
As is well known, the UN Charter has been extremely clear on the unique exception to the prohibition of the use of force since its adoption in 1945 — self-defence — and military operations authorised by Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter. However, since 9/11, interpretations made by the United States and its allies have been made to give legal support for unilateral military operations in the territory of a state without the previous consent of its authorities. In a recent note published on the website of the European Journal of International Law (EJIL), we read that: “Particularly since 9/11, several States have supported a broad reading of the right to use force in self-defence, as allowing them to intervene militarily against terrorists whenever and wherever they may be. A consequence of that conception is that any State could be targeted irrespective of whether that State has ‘sent’ the irregular (in this case terrorist) group to carry out a military action or has been ‘substantially involved’ in such an action.”
The use of force in self-defence must be exercised in conformity with the conditions laid down in international law, and particularly the UN Charter. On this very particular point, it must be recalled that France presented to the Security Council a quite surprising draft resolution after the Paris attacks of 13 November last year (see the full text here of the “blue version” circulated among UN delegations) which avoided any reference to the Charter in its operative paragraphs; it is possibly a great “première” of French diplomacy at the United Nations and was analysed in a short note. Resolution 2249 was used a few weeks later in a British parliamentary debate to justify air strikes in Syria, without major clarifications (see this modest note about this).
The text of the global open letter (available here in French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic) considers, among other arguments, that: “Thus, numerous military interventions have been conducted in the name of self-defence, including against Al Qaeda, ISIS or affiliated groups. While some have downplayed these precedents on account of their exceptional nature, there is a serious risk of self-defence becoming an alibi, used systematically to justify the unilateral launching of military operations around the world. Without opposing the use of force against terrorist groups as a matter of principle — particularly in the current context of the fight against ISIS — we, international law professors and scholars, consider this invocation of self-defence to be problematic. In fact, international law provides for a range of measures to fight terrorism. Priority should be given to these measures before invoking self-defence.”
Furthermore, the signatories of this collective letter state: “…we consider that terrorism raises above all the challenge of prosecution and trial of individuals who commit acts of terrorism. A variety of legal tools are available in this respect. They relate first and foremost to police and judicial cooperation (chiefly through agencies such as INTERPOL or EUROPOL), aiming both at punishing those responsible for the crimes committed and preventing future occurrence of such crimes. Although there is certainly room for improvement, this cooperation has often proved effective in dismantling networks, thwarting attacks, and arresting the perpetrators of such attacks. By embracing from the outset the ‘war against terrorism’ and ‘self-defence’ paradigms and declaring a state of emergency, there is a serious risk of trivialising, neglecting, or ignoring ordinary peacetime legal processes.”
It must be noted that international law scholars and researchers around the world can sign this document until 31 July. The text recalls a certain number of very clear rules that the diplomats in New York know better than anyone — despite the ambiguous interpretations made by some of their colleagues, in particular since the beginning of air strikes in Syria, without the consent of its de facto authorities — on the extremely vague notion of an ‘unwilling or unable’ State, justifying, for some diplomats, military operations on its territory without its previous consent. I refer to this very recent article published in The Netherlands.
The collective document also states that: “…the maintenance of international peace and security rests first and foremost with the Security Council. The Council has qualified international terrorism as a threat to the peace on numerous occasions. Therefore, aside from cases of emergency leaving no time to seize the UN, it must remain the Security Council’s primary responsibility to decide, coordinate and supervise acts of collective security. Confining the task of the Council to adopting ambiguous resolutions of an essentially diplomatic nature, as was the case with the passing of resolution 2249 (2015) relating to the fight against ISIS, is an unfortunate practice. Instead, the role of the Council must be enhanced in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Charter, thereby ensuring a multilateral approach to security /…/ However, the mere fact that, despite its efforts, a State is unable to put an end to terrorist activities on its territory is insufficient to justify bombing that State’s territory without its consent. Such an argument finds no support either in existing legal instruments or in the case law of the International Court of Justice. Accepting this argument entails a risk of grave abuse in that military action may henceforth be conducted against the will of a great number of States under the sole pretext that, in the intervening State’s view, they were not sufficiently effective in fighting terrorism.”
It must be noted that, in February, Canada’s new government decided to cease air strikes in Syria and Iraq. We read in this official note produced by the Canadian Armed Forces that: “ In accordance with Government of Canada direction, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ceased air strike operations in Iraq and Syria on 15 February 2016. From their first sortie on 30 October 2014 to 15 February 2016, the CF-188 Hornets conducted 1378 sorties resulting in 251 airstrikes (246 in Iraq and 5 in Syria), expended 606 munitions and achieved the following effects: 267 ISIL fighting positions, 102 ISIL equipment and vehicles, and, 30 ISIL Improvised Explosive Device (IED) factories and ISIL storage facilities.”
In 2015, a Canadian scholar concluded an extremely interesting article on air strikes in Syria and Iraq in the following terms: “However, there is a further legal hurdle for Canada to overcome. Unless Canada can attribute ISIS´ attacks in Iraq to Syria, then the question becomes whether Canada may lawfully target ISIS, as a non-state actor in Syria’s sovereign territory, using the ‘unwilling or unable’ doctrine to prevent ISIS’ extraterritoriality attacks against Iraq. This justification moves significantly away from the Nicaragua, Congo and Israeli Wall cases’ requirement for attribution. There appears to be a lack of consensus on whether opinion juris and state practice have accepted the ‘unwilling or unable’ doctrine as customary international law. There is no escaping the conclusion that Canada’s air strikes on Syria are on shaky, or at least shifting, legal ground.”
The signatories of the open letter, the number of whom is increasing daily, include scholars from different continents and of different ages; they conclude by reaffirming that: “The international legal order may not be reduced to an interventionist logic similar to that prevailing before the adoption of the United Nations Charter. The purpose of the Charter was to substitute a multilateral system grounded in cooperation and the enhanced role of law and institutions for unilateral military action. It would be tragic if, acting on emotion in the face of terrorism (understandable as this emotion may be), that purpose were lost.”
corbettreport – July 27, 2016
TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=19364
Since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15th, the name of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen is on everyone’s lips. So who is Fethullah Gulen? Well, that depends who you ask…
The developments in Turkey are taking a dramatic turn. All Indications are that the Turkish government is in possession of definite information that the attempted military coup was orchestrated by the United States. (Anadolu )
The Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag made an open allegation in a television interview,
- The US knows that Fethullah Gülen (the cleric who lives in Pennsylvania) carried out this coup. Mr. Obama knows this just as well as he knows his own name. I am convinced that American intelligence knows it too.
Bozdag is known to be one of the closest and trusted political associates of President Recep Erdogan. The well-informed Turkish political commentator Semih Idiz wrote that “This belief (Bozdag’s allegation) goes all the way to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It implies that Washington knew what was coming and did nothing to warn Ankara. The pro-government Islamist media has even claimed that the U.S. tried to kill Erdoğan with this coup attempt.”
The government has taken into confidence Turkey’s two main opposition parties – the Kemalist party CHP (Republican Party) and the nationalist party MHP (Nationalist Movement Party). The ruling AKP (Justice & Development Party) and the CHP and MHP have set aside their political differences and have voiced support for Ankara’s demand to Washington for the extradition of the Islamist cleric Fetullah Gulen. No doubt, this grand reconciliation could have implications in the downstream for the fractured Turkish political landscape. (VOA)
The MHP leader Davlut Bahceli has spoken publicly about a possible deep-rooted US conspiracy to trigger civil war conditions in Turkey. Bahceli also hinted that the coup plot was likely masterminded from the Incirlik air base used by the US forces, under the supervision of the US commander in Afghanistan. Two Turkish generals serving in Afghanistan have been detained by the Turkish intelligence at Dubai airport.
Bahceli has tabled a motion in the parliament seeking clarification on “rumours” that the CIA was behind the coup plot. A falshpoint arises if the government makes the details available. The Turkish media reported that Ankara has warned the authorities in Pakistan regarding the elite schools run by Gulen’s organization in that country. (See the Deutsche Welle report Secular Pakistanis resist Turkey’s ‘authoritarian demands.)
The Obama administration is unlikely to extradite Gulen, given his key role in US intelligence operations in the Central Asian region, while Turkey has made this the litmus test of US’ goodwill and sincerity as ally. Significantly, the New York Times featured an article over the weekend authored by Gulen where he urged Washington not to extradite him. Gulen wrote,
- His (Erdogan’s) goal: To ensure my extradition, despite a lack of credible evidence and virtually no prospect for a fair trial. The temptation to give Mr. Erdogan whatever he wants is understandable. But the United States must resist it.
Washington probably anticipates that a showdown with Ankara may become unavoidable in a very near future over the Gulen issue. The US State Department has advised dependents and families of US diplomatic personnel posted in Turkey to leave the country. Another travel advisory on Monday counselled US nationals to “reconsider travel to Turkey at this time”. (here)
It becomes extremely significant that amidst all this, President Erdogan will be traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, to meet President Vladimir Putin on August 9. This will be Erdogan’s first trip abroad after the coup and he is signalling that restoring friendly ties with Russia is his topmost priority. Of course, Erdogan will be keenly interested in close cooperation between the intelligence agencies of Turkey and Russia. The prominent Turkish columnist Murat Yetkin wrote today,
- The question lingers in the air about whether Russia, whose intelligence services have been accused by the Democratic Party in the U.S. of intercepting their electronic communications, would provide any material to Erdoğan linking Gülen to the coup plotters. It certainly seems there is a lot of exchange of information going on nowadays, as was revealed by Çavuşoğlu, who said that Turkey has warned a number of countries, including the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, about a possible coup plot by Gülenists who infiltrated the state apparatus there through their school network. Moscow has already closed Gülen’s school network in Russia, accusing it of cooperating with the CIA.
The meeting between Putin and Erdogan promises to be a defining moment in Russia’s relations with the West in the post-cold war era. If a major NATO country such as Turkey crosses the ‘red line’ by forging ties with Russia at the present juncture that will be in strategic defiance of the US’ containment strategy against Russia. It can turn out to be a far bigger setback to the US regional strategies than the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, because it weakens the entire western alliance system.
Europe, in particular, will be holding its breath over the fate of its moribund ‘one in, one out’ deal with Turkey over the refugee flow. Erdogan said on German TV on Tuesday that Europe is not a ‘sincere’ interlocutor. The issue is hugely controversial in Europe, given the lengthening shadows of terrorism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces growing public demand to quit. (BBC, AFP )
For 17 months, since the Minsk Agreements were signed in February 2015 to try to bring peace to the eastern Ukraine the Kiev regime, and its neo-Nazi and NATO allies, have been preparing for a new offensive against the east Ukraine republics. On July 22nd the Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated in a letter to the UN Security Council that “a relapse of large-scale military operations in eastern Ukraine may bury the process of peace settlement there.” He then called on Kiev’s allies to pressure Kiev to back off its war preparations which include the continuous shelling of civilian areas by Ukraine heavy and medium artillery and constant probing attacks by Ukraine and foreign units over the past spring and summer months.
The commander of the Donetsk Republic forces stated in a communiqué on July 22 that the region along the contact line between the two sides was shelled 3,566 times in one week alone ending on the date of the communiqué and confirmed the information set out in Churkin’s letter and reports of the Organisation For Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the Kiev regime had transferred more heavy artillery, mortars, tanks, multiple rocket launchers to the front.
The shelling has destroyed civilian housing, a water treatment plant and other infrastructure with the clear objective of forcing out the residents and to prepare the ground for a large scale offensive. Ambassador Churkin added that not only were regular Kiev forces massing in the east but they had also deployed the new-Nazi Azov and Donbas “volunteer” battalions, and that Kiev has begun a wide ranging seizure of land in the neutral zone and the towns located there.
Of course the blame for all these criminal actions by NATO and its marionettes in Kiev is placed on Russia as we have seen set out in both the Atlantic Council Report earlier this year and in the NATO Warsaw Communiqué on July 9th in which NATO put the ultimatum to Russia, “do what we say or you will see what we will do”. The day before Ambassador Churkin sent his letter to the Security Council, the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in a speech at the Centre of Strategic and International Studies stated that the “sanctions”, that is, the economic war being carried out against Russia by the NATO countries, would only stop if Russia did what it was told.
The Germans have also made noises about being prepared to halt this economic warfare against Russia, about how much they regret it and how they desire only peace and harmony, but, again, only if Russia adheres to their demands.
The attacks on the Donbas republic civilian areas are of course war crimes and crimes against humanity to which the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court responds with her practiced silence despite the fact she has accepted two letters from the Kiev regime providing the ICC with jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes committed there. But, of course, neither Kiev, nor their NATO bosses that control the prosecutor of the ICC have any intention of laying war crimes charges against themselves.
The Russian fear of a renewed offensive against the Donbas republics is a real one since the Warsaw Communiqué issued by NATO on July 9th stated emphatically that NATO does not recognise the republics, that Ukraine needs to be reunited by force if necessary, and that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine. The increased military activity in eastern Ukraine is taking place at the same time that there is increased activity in the Baltic centred on the Russian base at Kaliningrad, a strategic objective for NATO in order to control the Baltic sea lanes and air space and the approaches to St. Petersburg. Crimea is an objective because of the Russian naval base at Sevastopol, the seizure of which was one of the primary objectives of the NATO coup that overthrew the government of President Yanukovich. It is the main objective in the on going NATO “Sea Breeze” naval exercise in the Black Sea.
The situation has become increasingly dangerous as the war against Russia is conducted without limits, that is, across all sectors of life from the military and economic to sports. The International Olympic Committee has now banned the core of the Russian Olympic track and field team from competing at the Games, plus any others who have faced doping allegations in the past, an act of collective punishment that is totally unjustified since it is based on the dubious statements of a wanted man in Russia, Grigory Rodchenkov, who is singing for his supper in the United States, and will sing any song they want him to. The whole scandal is motivated not by problems with doping, but by an attempt to further isolate Russia from the world and slander its leadership and people. The result is that the Olympic Games will be a farce both as a sports event and as a symbol of peace in the world and should be cancelled or boycotted.
On top of all this, compelling evidence is daily coming out that the attempted coup against the government of Turkey was instigated by the Americans and its partners in other NATO countries in order to stop President Erdogan from a rapprochement with Russia. The timing alone of the coup indicates that; for it took place just a few days after Erdogan apologised to President Putin regarding the shoot down of the Russian plane, and just after rumours circulated that he would kick the US out of their base at Incirlik and give it to Russia.
The Turkish government has accused the US of being involved at least indirectly by supporting Turkish Islamist émigré elements led by the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, an arch enemy of President Erdogan, who resides in the US and appears, to Erdogan, to be linked to the coup. Stories have also appeared in the Turkish press of the arrest of the two pilots that shot down the Russian plane over Syria, who happen to be, according to the accusations, the same two pilots that attempted to shoot down Erdogan’s plane the night of the coup. It is stated, though not confirmed, in the Turkish press that these two men worked for the CIA.
On Monday July 25th, it was reported in the Turkish press that American General John Campbell, former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan was central to the planning of the coup and that it was financed with CIA money through meetings at the US base at Incirlik. If these accusations are correct then the attempted coup constitutes act of aggression by the United States and its allies against Turkey, an attack by NATO on a NATO member.
The British on the same day floated a story in the Daily Express that their special forces, the SAS, are ready to go into to Turkey to “rescue UK citizens” in the event of a second coup attempt and predicted civil war in Turkey of there is a second coup attempt. They stated,
“With fears rebels could be about to try to overthrow the government for a second time, which is likely to result in a Turkish civil war, troops have moved into neighbouring Cyprus and are preparing a rescue mission to save stranded Britons.
Defence chiefs have drawn up emergency plans and fully armed soldiers, together with members of the Special Forces Support Group, are ready to fly into areas popular with tourists and help families get home safely.
Hundreds of jets, helicopters and other aircraft will be drafted in to help the estimated 50,000 Brits flee the danger.”
This means that Britain as well as the US are prepared to help a second coup attempt against Erdogan and further confirms their involvement in the first coup attempt, as does the reported refusal of the Germans to allow Erdogan’s plane to enter German air space to seek refuge when it appeared he had been overthrown. That decision turned out to be a mistake as he quickly recovered his wits, returned to Turkey and broke the coup.
However this turns out, the principal target remains Russia. Erdogan’s rapprochement with Russia and falling out with NATO weakens NATO in its war against Russia and provides Russia with another card to play, even if it may be the Joker.
Meanwhile in the United States the war against Russia has become a dangerous internal political issue as the Clinton camp accuses Donald Trump of being a Russian agent and his campaign financed by Russian money, essentially accusing Trump of treason. Trump laughs all this off but the fact that these absurdities can even get the attention of the news media shows how desperate things are. New York Times columnist Andrew Rosenthal wrote a column on the 25th of July with the title “Is Donald Trump Putin’s Puppet” then proceeded to state that he was Putin’s pet poodle at the least.
But things get even more curious as the FBI states it is investigating whether emails “leaked” by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organisation, were provided to him by Russia after Russia hacked into the email system of the Democratic National Convention. The Russians deny this absurd charge but so far I have not seen Julian Assange deny that they are his source and we must wonder what his true motivations are if the effect of his “leak” is to have Russia accused of hacking into US government and political party email systems thereby supporting the NATO propaganda against Russia.
It also begs the question as to why Assange would get involved in American party politics at all by publishing emails that would supposedly damage the Clinton campaign for the benefit of the Trump campaign. Is he working for Trump? Is he working for Clinton trying to make it look like Trump works for Russia, or, as is more likely, is he working for those who want to bring down both Trump and Russia? Andrew Rosenthal for the Times, quipped, “it’s eerie, at best, that Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks chose this moment to release the stolen emails…”
But it is not so “eerie” if the exercise is meant to smear Russia and a candidate for President who is willing to at least talk with the Russians. Perhaps his supporters can ask him and report back what his answer is because his actions raise serious questions as to his motivations, his intentions, and his connections. Someone is playing us. It’s about time we found out who.
“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him?” – St. Stephen.
The terrorist attack today on a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray where a Catholic priest was murdered and several hostages taken and killed, is part of the ‘Islamic State’s (Da’esh) attempt to spread their war on ‘Western civilisation’ from the metropolis to the provincial town. This now generalises the heightened fear experienced by the French public in the wake of the Nice attack.
Reports indicate that the attackers have been ‘neutralised’. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has taken the opportunity to show his political prowess. “Legal quibbles and precautions and pretexts for incomplete actions are now not admissible”, he said. French President Francois Hollande said, “Da’esh has declared war on us”. The rule of law will soon be suspended and people will be imprisoned or worse without trial, this is what the statements of Sarkozy and Hollande mean. Once again, we see that the terrorists have been shot dead before they could be interrogated. It seems taser-guns and highly sophisticated non-lethal weapons are of no use when it comes to Da’esh. Adel Kermiche, one of the terrorists shot dead, was known to police and he had reportedly attempted to join Da’esh in Syria twice. He had been released from prison in March 2016 and wore an electronic surveillance bracelet. Father Jacques Hamel, was known among the local community for his efforts at inter-religious dialogue.
Da’esh is an army of mercenaries which was formed in US prison Camp Bucca in 2006 under the supervision of the US military. The group has been used as a proxy force against the reconstituted Iraqi state allied to Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic, also a close ally of Russia. Troops for the Islamic State are recruited in Europe with the approval of Brussels, according to Israeli intelligence sources. The public are being told that the Islamic State is the enemy of the West. The facts show, however, that the Islamic State is a fake enemy created to destroy countries resisting subservience to global financial, corporate and military agencies of imperial power or, in short, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
As terrorist attacks now become a daily occurrence in Europe with the Nice and Munich atrocities followed by minor assaults such as the machete attack in Germany a few days ago, the descent into civilisational suicide is accelerating. The attack on a Catholic church may be significant. The attack occurred in the church of Saint Stephen. One of the proto-martyrs of the church, Saint Stephen, is famous for his damning critique of the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles. The Jewish Sanhedrin court sentenced him to death by lapidation (stoning). St. Stephen is considered ‘anti-Semitic’ by some scholars. The Sanhedrin Courts were re-established in Israel. In 2015, the Sandedrin Court in Jerusalem declared it would put Pope Francis on trial for the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state. He has also been criticised by the self-declared Jewish court of being too friendly with the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein.
Although the Catholic church is currently more subordinate to Judaism than at any point in its history, the Vatican’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state is a thorn in the side of hard-line Zionists. We have shown before that the Islamic State is a proxy army of Israel, which is being used to pave the way for a Greater Middle East or, in other words, a Greater Israel. Tel Aviv has not disguised its support for the Islamic State in Syria. Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has said that he would prefer Da’esh in Syria, to Assad.
The same terrorists who attacked today have been beheading and torturing priests and nuns in Syria for years, yet the Vatican has been obmutescent. The Vatican is a key actor in the Western/Zionist empire but it has not yet been completely taken over. Christendom, or what is left of it, is another target of the Zionist New World Order. The creation of a right-wing Christian Zionist movement in France would drive religious and ethnic divisions further, thus sabotaging efforts to awaken working-class consciousness and solidarity – the only hope we have of winning the war on terror, which is, and always has been, both a class war and a spiritual war.
I spent last week in Guantánamo Bay, where I was supposed to be observing four days of pre-trial hearings in the military commission prosecution of the 9/11 defendants. But as is so often the case, on three of those days, the hearings were closed. On the single day of open hearings, the proceeding focused on the government’s destruction of key evidence in the case. This past weekend, defense lawyers confirmed that the evidence concerns a secret CIA black site abroad where the defendants and others were severely tortured.
Almost 15 years have passed since the attacks of 9/11, and yet the Guantánamo military commissions are still muddling through pre-trial motions, with virtually the same confusion and lack of transparency that has characterized these proceedings for years. The dichotomy between the importance of the proceedings and their virtual absence from public discourse is astonishing.
The proceedings that did take place last week focused on the government’s destruction of evidence, which may have been irreplaceable for the defense, and over which the judge had issued a protective order. Defense attorney David Nevin, who represents Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, referred to this evidence as “among the most important evidence of the case.” As Nevin argued, the government’s torture and mistreatment of the defendants is central to the question of whether they can lawfully be subject to the death penalty.
This key issue has been percolating for some time.
More than two years ago, the judge presiding over the trial, Army Col. James L. Pohl, issued a protective order to preserve what’s now confirmed as CIA black site evidence. At some point after that, the prosecution had a closed-door hearing with Judge Pohl. Without defense counsel’s participation or even knowledge, the prosecution convinced the judge to lift the protective order, and the government then destroyed the evidence. The defense lawyers said they didn’t know that the protective order had been lifted and the evidence destroyed until 18 months after the fact, at which point it was far too late to go to court to prevent the damage. Although the prosecution characterized the lack of notice about the evidence’s destruction as “regrettable,” it claims that no harm resulted.
Because of the secret destruction of this critical evidence, the defense team requested that both the prosecution team and Judge Pohl be recused and that a separate judge decide whether recusal is appropriate. On Thursday, defending the secrecy in which the evidence was destroyed, prosecutor Bob Swann said to Judge Pohl, “There is no reason to recuse yourself. You have done nothing wrong, nor have we.”
The public doesn’t know exactly what this evidence consisted of or whether the government may still be able to remedy some of the damage. But what is important here is that evidence – in particular, evidence of torture and mistreatment of the defendants – was withheld from the defense and deliberately destroyed in one of the most important capital cases in U.S. history.
If I could distill one message from the prosecution’s argument on Thursday, it was this: The government’s right to secrecy trumps other considerations, including the defendants’ rights. This argument applied to evidence of the shocking torture to which these men were subjected, rendering it an inconvenient but irrelevant fact. With public support for torture on the rise and a presidential candidate who openly applauds torture and wants to return to the most extreme forms of inhuman and degrading treatment, the government’s apparent efforts to obfuscate its use of torture are deeply troubling.
When these proceedings began, the Bush-era torture policies were still in place. When Obama came into office in 2009, he confirmed an end to those policies, renounced torture, and vowed to close the Guantánamo detention center within a year. Now, nearly eight years later, Guantánamo is still open, and the most important terrorism trial in our country’s history is stumbling through initial proceedings, marred by yet more allegations of government misconduct.With President Obama’s departure on the horizon and his legacy at stake, there has been nothing that resembles justice coming out of these Guantanamo tribunals.
corbettreport – July 25, 2016
TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=19281
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Wall Street-backed warmonger whose potential election as President of the United States this November poses an existential threat not just to Americans but to all of humanity.
Sanders didn’t just fall from grace. He crashed, burned and resoundingly proved politicians can never be trusted.
Nothing they say is credible. For months, supporters believed he was the anti-Clinton, campaigning against what she represents – an agenda of endless wars of aggression, world peace at risk, neoliberal harshness, police state terror, the worst of all possible worlds.
She’s the most recklessly dangerous choice for president in US history, the most wicked, the most legally, ethically and morally challenged.
In mid-July, Sanders sold out, betrayed his loyal supporters, proved himself just another self-serving dirty politician by endorsing Clinton, embarrassing himself in the process.
On day one of the Democrat War Party convention, he again made a spectacle of himself before a nationwide audience – assuming the role of Clinton puppet, relegating himself to irrelevance.
He touted a “political revolution” the whole world knows is fake. His populist rhetoric resoundingly rang hollow. Who can believe anything a Judas says, a despicable scoundrel selling out to wealth and power while continuing the charade of supporting populism over privilege.
Bush/Obama policies created a protracted Main Street Depression. Half of US households are impoverished or bordering it. Workers need two or more rotten jobs to survive if they can find them.
America resembles Guatemala, not the home of the free and the brave, beautiful for its privileged class alone, a classic example of thirdworldism.
Sanders lied claiming “(w)e have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.”
What a shameless misrepresentation of harsh reality! He put his thumb in the eyes of tens of millions of suffering Americans – one missed paycheck away from homelessness, hunger and despair.
He praised Obama instead of condemning him, duplicitously claiming Clinton supports a progressive agenda, a scandalous perversion of truth.
The rest of his remarks included similar mumbo jumbo rubbish repeated endlessly while campaigning -meaningless rhetoric, exposed by endorsing Clinton, shamelessly praising her, bashing Trump.
He reduced himself to a caricature of the phony persona he displayed on the stump. Support for Clinton means endorsing imperial wars, democracy for the few alone and tyranny heading toward becoming full-blown while pretending otherwise.
Saying “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her here tonight” showed everything he claims to stand for is a Big Lie.
It’s pure fantasy, duplicitous doublespeak, the lowest denominator of political dishonesty, stringing along his supporters, betraying them when it most mattered.
His soul was for sale all along. He’s now a footnote in the deplorable history of US politics, hugely corrupted, impossible to fix.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
For months, Bernie Sanders supporters and surrogates have complained about unfair treatment from the Democratic National Committee—only to have these concerns dismissed by media observers as petulance and conspiracy-mongering:
- Mediaite: Bernie Sanders Fans’ DNC ‘Collusion’ Conspiracy Theory Is Embarrassing Garbage
- LA Times: ‘Hillary Clinton Is Not Winning Because of a Conspiracy’
- Daily Kos: ‘There Was the General Conspiracy Theory That Everyone at the DNC Was Out to Get Him’
This weekend, Wikileaks revealed thousands of hacked emails from within the DNC that showed what the New York Times described as “hostility” and “derision” towards the Sanders campaign from top party officials.
While it’s impossible to know whether systemic pro-Hillary Clinton bias at the DNC was decisive in the 2016 Democratic primary race, we now know beyond any doubt that such a bias not only existed, but was endemic and widespread. DNC officials worked to plant pro-Clinton stories, floated the idea of using Sanders’ secular Judaism against him in the South, and routinely ran PR spin for Clinton, even as the DNC claimed over and over it was neutral in the primary. The evidence in the leaks was so clear that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned her role as DNC chair—after her speaking role at the Democratic National Convention this week was scrapped—while DNC co-chair Donna Brazile, who is replacing Wasserman Schultz in the top role, has apologized to the Sanders camp.
Pro-Clinton pundits were quick to dismiss what was literally a conspiracy to railroad the Sanders campaign as nothing more than a yawn:
So what was once dismissed out of hand—that the DNC was actively working against the Sanders campaign—is now obviously true, but not a big deal. This is a textbook PR spin pattern seen time and time again, what might be called the Snowden Cycle: X is a flaky conspiracy theory → X is revealed to be true → X is totally obvious and not newsworthy.
Instead, Clinton partisans decided to focus on the alleged Russian links behind the DNC hack. Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall (7/23/16) released a rather paranoid rundown the day of the leaks on how Putin was conspiring with Trump (a fairly good debunking of which can be found here), soon after dismissing the substance of the leaks as Russian propaganda white noise. Many soon followed suit: The DNC leaks as Russian spy operation was the preferred talking point of the day, omitting or glossing over what the leaks actually entailed.
The actual culpability of Russia for those leaks, it’s worth noting, is still unproven. The only three parties that have audited the hack are contractors for the US government, and the DNC’s initial story has since changed considerably. At first the DNC (and by extension their security firm CrowdStrike) said ”no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken,” but this later turned out not to be true at all.
Six weeks since the hack was first revealed by the Washington Post (6/14/16), no one in the US government, including the FBI and White House (who have reportedly reviewed the situation in detail), have implicated or even suggested Russian involvement in the leak–neither on the record nor anonymously. Thus far, all suggestions to this effect have taken place outside the organs of the United States government — a common and deliberate conflation that even led to this correction in the Vox recap of the situation (7/23/16):
Correction: I misread the Washington Post‘s story on last month’s DNC hack and misattributed the Russia link to the US government rather than independent security researchers.
Thus far, the Obama administration has avoided any such claims. Indeed, if one reads carefully, so have the security firms in question. Buried in the followup report by the Washington Post (6/20/16) alleging “confirmation” of Russian involvement is the admission by the three firms (the “experts” Clinton’s camp refers to) that they cannot be sure WikiLeaks’ alleged source Guccifer 2.0 is Russian, let alone an agent of “Putin”:
Analysts suspect but don’t have hard evidence that Guccifer 2.0 is, in fact, part of one of the Russian groups who hacked the DNC….
It is also possible, researchers said, that someone else besides the Russians were inside the DNC’s network and had access to the same documents.
The evidence typically cited to counter this discrepancy is from an alleged chat Guccifer 2.0 had with Vice (6/16/16) showing fingerprints of a Russian plot. But the two pieces of evidence in question–that Russian metadata was left on the files and the person in question couldn’t speak native Romanian–raise more questions than they answer. If this was such a high-level FSB plot, why couldn’t the once legendary “KGB” scrub routine metadata, or find someone who speaks native Romanian? Either Russia is an omnipotent threat wielding its influence over the US and Europe’s otherwise pristine body politic, or they’re a bunch of incompetent bumbling idiots. Meanwhile, actual evidence for Russia’s involvement, as Vox notes, remains elusive.
The DNC’s interest in painting this as a Russian plot also bears mentioning. Around the same time this was going down, Bloomberg (6/22/16) suggested the DNC itself was looking to play up the Russian espionage angle as a means of obfuscating what they knew would be “embarrassing revelations”:
A spokesman for Baker & McKenzie didn’t respond to requests for comment. DNC spokesman Luis Miranda said the party worked only with CrowdStrike and the law firm Perkins Coie.
If the Democrats can show the hidden hand of Russian intelligence agencies, they believe that voter outrage will probably outweigh any embarrassing revelations, a person familiar with the party’s thinking said.
This strategy, as explained by a DNC insider a month ago, is now playing out exactly as predicted: The “outrage” over Russia’s “hidden hand” is being used to outweigh the damning substance of the leak itself. Parlay this with the recent uptick in “Trump as Putin puppet” conspiracy takes, and what you have is a clear picture of a partisan media that would rather float pitches for a Manchurian Candidate reboot than confront the repeated attempts by an ostensibly neutral DNC to undermine one candidate in favor of another.