Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in Syria involving false flags and the assassination of key government officials… in 1957
If you are a dutiful western television viewer, you might think that moderate, amphetamine-fueled foreign fighters only recently began to cry out for democracy in Syria. But you are dreadfully mistaken. Syria has demanded freedom from its oppressive legitimate leaders for more than fifty years. According to a 2003 report in the Guardian, Syria has been on Democracy’s “to-do list” for a long-ass time! Check this out:
Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to “eliminate” the most influential triumvirate in Damascus.
The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments,” the report says. “CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension.” That meant operations in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, taking the form of “sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities” to be blamed on Damascus.
The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee”, and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.
Ah, history. In 1957, it was PG-13 “border clashes”. Now we have “government chemical weapons attacks against orphans”, which, despite whatever evidence Bellingcat found on Facebook, have been completely debunked, and by actual experts. Instead of the “Free Syria Committee”, we now have the “Free Syrian Army”. Oh, and we saved the best for last. Here’s why the 1957 plan fell apart:
The plan was never used, chiefly because Syria’s Arab neighbours could not be persuaded to take action and an attack from Turkey alone was thought to be unacceptable.
Acceptable in 2015, though! Good heavens, nothing changes.
Our current nightmare is nothing more than a poorly-conceived lie gathering dust in a CIA archive.
On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.
U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, “JSOC investigates JSOC, that’s part of the problem.”
Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.
What makes this attack unique is not that U.S.-led forces attacked a hospital or killed civilians, but that, for the first time in many years, a Western NGO found itself operating behind enemy lines in territory controlled by Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) or Taliban. Doctors Without Borders (or MSF for its French initials) thus found itself subject to U.S. rules of engagement under which Afghans have lived and died in their thousands for the past 14 years, effectively excluded from the protections formally guaranteed to civilians, the wounded and medical facilities by the Geneva Conventions.
While UN officials have condemned the attack on MSF in Kunduz, the UN itself has been complicit in the under-reporting of civilian casualties in ACF-held territory in Afghanistan. The UN has issued reports on civilian casualties based only on the small number of civilian deaths that it has fully investigated. When Western officials and media have cited these numbers as estimates of total civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the UN has failed to correct that misleading and dangerous impression.
For instance, when the UN documented 80 civilian killings in U.S. night raids in 2010, this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN that year. Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, estimated that 420 civilians were killed in all 73 incidents.
But Nadery still failed to make it clear that these 73 incidents were only the ones reported to the UN, which had little or no access to ACF-held areas that were targeted by thousands of U.S. night raids and the bulk of 5,100 U.S. air strikes in 2010. U.S. officials and the Western media have used these absurdly low estimates of civilian casualties in Afghanistan to whitewash the deadly effects of 60,000 U.S. air strikes and thousands of special forces night raids over the past 14 years.
‘War Is Not Pretty’
As a former U.S. Navy Seal told the New York Times, “War is not this pretty thing the United States has come to believe it to be.” But it is not really “the United States” that has come to see war as a “pretty thing.” Rather it is our leaders who have targeted the American public with propaganda or “Stratcom” – “strategic communications” — to disguise the horrific reality of war, while providing JSOC and other U.S. forces with secrecy and legal cover to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions.
As retired Admiral James Stavridis told the Times, “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don’t want that out in public.”
While U.S. forces feel free to disregard the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the People On War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that ordinary people in war-torn countries like Afghanistan hold strongly to the international legal conventions that are supposed to protect them.
This ICRC report did find the United States exceptional, not in believing war to be “pretty,” but in its failure to educate its people and its soldiers about the Geneva Conventions and the protections they guarantee to civilians in wartime.
While three-quarters of people in other developed countries knew that soldiers in war “must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone,” only 52 percent of Americans were aware of this basic principle of military law. Twice as many Americans as people in other countries subscribed to an erroneous and lower legal standard that military operations should only “avoid civilians as much as possible.”
The ICRC concluded that, “Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax.”
U.S. officials claim that their air strikes are carefully designed and vetted by military lawyers and planners to ensure minimum “collateral damage,” but William Arkin discovered a dirty little secret about this process when he was invited to observe an attack on an alleged ACF leader in Afghanistan from the safety of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar.
Arkin watched on a large TV screen as A-10 Warthog planes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a convoy of vehicles. U.S. officials explained that 1,000-pound bombs would have caused more casualties, while 150-pound Hellfire missiles might have missed their target, so the 500-pound bombs were carefully chosen to kill the target without causing unnecessary casualties.
But then one of the planes did something unexpected. It turned to make a second pass and blanketed the whole area with 30mm armor-piercing shells from its Gatling gun, which fires 65 shells per second. A “precision strike” had just turned into an indiscriminate massacre. A U.S. official quickly told Arkin that this was “not unauthorized.”
The dirty little secret Arkin had discovered was that, once such an operation is under way, special forces ground controllers in the area take full control, and the plans drawn up by lawyers and controllers far from the action no longer apply. Similar rules may have applied to the U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, making it difficult for anyone in Washington or Kabul to stop them once they were under way.
Senior U.S. military officers have told Dana Priest of the Washington Post that more than 50 percent of U.S. special forces night raids target the wrong person or house. But that didn’t stop President Obama making them a central tactic in his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, boosting the number of night raids from 20 raids in May 2009 to 1,000 per month a year later.
There is no reason to believe that U.S. air strikes are more accurate or based on better intelligence than night raids by special operations forces. British military adviser Kamal Alam explained to the BBC last Friday that Russian air strikes in Syria are likely to be more accurate than U.S. ones because they have the critical advantage of being guided by Syrian military intelligence on the ground.
Alam noted that even the Iraqi government depends on Syrian military intelligence in its campaign against the Islamic State, and added that this is a source of embarrassment to U.S. officials, who have no such human intelligence capabilities in Syria or Iraq.
Maybe the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz will force more Americans to confront the ugly reality of the devastating air war our country has waged across half a dozen countries for 14 years. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Endless Air Wars.”]
Whether any institution can succeed in holding U.S. officials legally accountable for the bombing of the MSF hospital or not, it may finally bring home the horrors and the indiscriminate nature of our country’s endless air war to millions of Americans. U.S. propaganda will try to portray this as a tragic isolated incident. It is not. It is a war crime, and only the latest in a 14-year-long policy of systematic war crimes.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
In the late morning of June 26th, 1975, two young FBI agents named Jack Coler and Robert Williams entered the property of Lakota Sioux elders Harry and Cecelia Jumping Bull while ostensibly investigating the theft of a pair of cowboy boots, and engaged in a firefight with several native activists who were camped there. Those two FBI agents and a young Indian named Joe Stuntz would be dead by mid-afternoon, slain in the South Dakota sun. Leonard Peltier, one of the activists camped at Jumping Bull that day, is currently serving back-to-back life sentences for the deaths of Coler and Williams. No investigation into the death of Stuntz was ever undertaken.
Reports of military style bunkers and strongholds and large stockpiles of weapons on the Jumping Bull property were disseminated to the American public within the days following this incident, but such reports were promptly found to be fabricated. In an enforced absence of the media during the first days after the event, the deaths of the agents were told to be execution-style murders, the work of hateful, vengeful native militants. This, too, proved to be false. The agents, it seems, did not announce themselves that day and so appeared simply as two armed white men on reservation land. A compelling case has been made that Coler and Williams drove onto that land that day and fired shots for no reason but to set into motion the chain of events which followed.
Violence against Indians on the greater Pine Ridge Reservation was entirely common at that time, and although at least some of that violence was funded and enabled by the FBI, the agency usually maintained a slightly more removed role than it did on this day. Dick Wilson, chairman of the Oglala Lakota Sioux was a militant assimilationist who had made it his mission throughout the early 1970s to suppress and punish expressions of native identity. He and his heavily armed, often drunk and extremely violent private squad of henchmen began terrorizing the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1972. Throughout his reign, uninvestigated violent deaths would befall more than one hundred residents of the reservation, and a climate of fear was pervasive. The Pine Ridge reservation, under Wilson’s rule, achieved the highest per-capita murder rate in the country and the dark clouds of alcoholism and poverty hung over everyday life there. Wilson received funds, arms, and reportedly alcohol from the federal government to operate and fuel his militia. The native activists camped on the Jumping Bull property on June 26th, 1975 were largely present as a response to these conditions, offering support and security to the residents of Pine Ridge in the face of Wilson’s thuggery.
Relations between such Native American traditionalist activists, loosely organized under the banner of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and various government agencies had become explosive through the early 1970s. AIM was inspired in part by the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers but uniquely mobilized around pan-native spiritual practices, identity, and a vision that sought not necessarily advancement within the broader society, but the right to exist unmolested and to live a form of traditional native life without the violence and manipulation and strategic neglect so commonly experienced at the hands of the US government.
Two-and-a-half years before the Pine Ridge shootout, supporters of AIM had assembled in the town of Custer, South Dakota to respond to the sentencing of Darold Schmitz for the murder of an Indian named Wesley Bad Heart Bull. While the two men had essentially engaged in a drunken tussle which resulted in Bad Heart Bull’s death, several witnesses testified to hearing Schmitz earlier in the evening state that “he was going to kill him an Indian.” After word got out of an involuntary manslaughter verdict and low bail, AIM leaders mobilized and dozens of supporters flooded the little town of Custer. While AIM leaders Russell Means, Dennis Banks, Leonard Crow Dog and Dave Hill were in talks with local officials, the victim’s grieving mother, Sarah Bad Heart Bull was beaten by police while attempting to enter the courthouse. The ensuing conflict between Indians and police turned into a riot in which several buildings were burned. (Sarah Bad Heart Bull was subsequently sentenced to one to five years in prison while Schmitz never served one day.)
This incident is commonly considered the impetus for the 1973 occupation of the Wounded Knee memorial site by AIM activists and the subsequent 71-day standoff between two hundred AIM supporters and an army of federal agents, U.S. marshals, Dick Wilson’s thugs, and local ranchers. Russell Means and Dennis Banks were tried in 1974 as leaders of AIM and the primary organizers of that occupation. Means and Banks were acquitted after a disastrous and circus-like trial. The presiding judge, Fred Joseph Nichol, was so astonished by the questionable prosecutorial feats that he was, as quoted in Peter Matthiessen’s In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, moved to words of derision for the FBI.
It’s hard for me to believe that the FBI, which I have revered for so long, has stooped so low. I am forced to conclude that the prosecution acted in bad faith at various times throughout the course of the trial and was seeking convictions at the expense of justice. [ … ] The waters of justice have been polluted, and dismissal, I believe, is the appropriate cure for the pollution in this case.”
By June of 1975, the FBI was apparently frustrated beyond clear-headedness. Matthiessen’s exhaustive account elucidates the details of the incident at Jumping Bull which would eventually result in Leonard Peltier’s conviction. Among the most striking is the fact that while agents Coler and Williams were ostensibly investigating the theft of a pair of cowboy boots, a myriad of law enforcement and paramilitary forces totaling at least 250 men were assembling within a few miles of the Jumping Bull property, which was soon surrounded.
Throughout the exchange of fire, all of the Indians involved were able to escape into the hills, except for the fallen Joe Stuntz. Leonard Peltier, who was certainly among those who fled, eventually escaped to Canada, from where he was extradited back to the U.S. and tried for the murders of agents Coler and Williams.
Peltier’s extradition and trial proved to be even more fraught with fraud than the Means-Banks trial. The prosecution depended largely on the testimony of a mentally unstable woman named Myrtle Poor Bear who later admitted that she had been threatened and coerced by the FBI. Although she was groomed to damn Peltier, she later admitted that she had never met him.
Despite this and several other witnesses’ claims of coercion at the hands of the FBI, ballistics evidence which concluded in favor of Peltier’s innocence, and a general lack of evidence, Leonard Peltier was convicted and sentenced to two back-to-back life sentences.
He remains in prison today, at the United States Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, where he was moved after being severely beaten by inmates at a facility in Canaan, Pennsylvania in 2009. He is today 70-years-old. Several presidents, including Barack Obama, have flirted with the idea of granting Peltier clemency amidst enormous pressure from the international human rights community, intellectuals, celebrities, and spiritual leaders, though none has yet followed through. Recent reports highlight Peltier’s failing health and lack of proper medical treatment.
Peltier is considered by many of his supporters to have been arbitrarily chosen for conviction after earlier attempts to convict AIM leaders failed. Although obviously a controversial and contentious subject, enough evidence has emerged in defense of Peltier over the years that he counts among his supporters the Dalai Lama, the late Nelson Mandela, the late Mother Theresa, the European Parliament, the National Lawyers Guild, Angela Davis, Amnesty International, The Human Rights Alliance, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and many others who believe that he is held as a political prisoner.
With the 1983 publication of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Peter Matthiessen was sued for libel by the FBI and related parties. As Martin Garbus explains in the afterword for the second edition of the book, the very existence of that edition is significant in the face of these legal battles.
The printing of this new edition is thus a joyful occasion for those of us who care about the dissemination of ideas, no matter how controversial, and worry about any erosion of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is a defeat for former South Dakota Governor William Janklow, for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and for FBI Special Agent David Price, all of whom tried to stop this book by filing suits in three stages, waging an eight-year litigation, and calling and threatening booksellers and book buyers. It is also a defeat for all those who wish to keep this country in the dark about abuses against its citizens in the past and present eras.”
Matthiessen’s legal victories essentially validated all accounts in the book as sound.
In addition to the 1991 edition of Matthiessen’s book, the 1992 documentary, Incident at Oglala, produced and narrated by Robert Redford, also helped to renew public interest in Peltier’s story. The Washington Post review of that film states: “Only the willfully partisan will disagree [Peltier’s] trial was anything but a government-cooked travesty.”
Efforts are ongoing to convince President Obama to grant clemency to Peltier, as are efforts to prevent just such a thing from happening. His next parole hearing is scheduled for 2024.
The hysterical campaign launched against the Iran nuclear deal by the flag-waving militarist partisans in and around the US congress has terribly obfuscated the issues included in the deal. Not surprisingly, the campaign has created a number of misconceptions regarding both the actual contents of the deal and the main disagreements between the advocates and opponents of the deal.
One such misconception is that the deal is, or must be, more advantageous to Iran than the US and Israel; otherwise, the simple logic goes, there would not be so much opposition to it. Such impressions, created simply by all the hue and cry on the part of the opponents of the deal are patently false. Even a cursory reading of the nuclear agreement reveals that, as I pointed out in a recent article on the issue, it is highly skewed against Iran. Not only does the agreement downgrade and freeze Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology, it also limits the scope of the county’s scientific research and development, jeopardizes its national security or defense capabilities and, perhaps most importantly, undermines its national sovereignty.
So, considering the fact the deal represents a big win for the US and its allies and, by the same token, a major loss for Iran, why all the uproar against it?
A number of reasons can be thought of for all the war party’s feverish hullabaloo. The main reason, however, seems to be that while the deal obviously represents a fantastic victory for the US and its allies, it nonetheless falls short of what the war party projected and fought for, that is, devastating regime change by military means, similar to what was done to Iraq and Libya.
The second misconception that the war party’s vehement opposition to the nuclear deal has created is that their ultimate goal vis-à-vis Iran is significantly different from that of the Obama administration and other proponents of the deal. In reality, however, the difference between the opponents and proponents of the deal is largely tactical; strategically, both factions pursue the same objective: regime change in Iran.
While the advocates of the deal have in recent years switched their tactics from direct military intervention and regime change from without to soft-power methods of regime change from within, the opponents of the deal continue to insist that overwhelming military force and escalating economic strangulation are the more effective means of regime change in Tehran, that is, regime change from outside.
This does not mean that the advocates of the nuclear deal have ruled out the military option altogether—by no means. As President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other administration officials have frequently pointed out, the military option is on the table when/if needed, that is, if Iran fails to carry out all the punishing obligations under the nuclear deal.
The tactical switch by the proponents of the deal from military to soft-power methods of regime change did not come about overnight, or by an epiphany. For over thirty years since the 1979 revolution in Iran, which significantly undermined the U.S. influence in that country and elsewhere in the region, these proponents, like their counterparts in the war party, pursued policies of regime change from outside. These included instigation of and support for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, training and supporting destabilizing terrorist organizations to attack Iran from all corners of the country, constant war and military threats, efforts to sabotage the 2009 presidential election through the so-called “green revolution,” and systematic escalation of economic sanctions.
Not only did these evil schemes fall short of their nefarious goal of “regime change” in Iran, they in fact drove the country to become a major power in the region.
In the face of the brutal economic sanctions and constant military threats, Iran embarked on a relatively radical path of a public/state-guided economy that successfully provided both for the war mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable living conditions of its population. By taking control of the commanding heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy makers at the time also succeeded in taking significant steps toward economic self-reliance, which further thwarted the geopolitical plans of the US and its allies to bring Iran to its knees, or to overthrow its government.
Having thus failed at its plots of “regime change” from without, a major faction of the US ruling class, headed by the Obama administration, now seems to have opted for regime change (or reform) from within; that is, through political and economic rapprochement with Iran—using the nuclear negotiations as a starting point, or transitional channel.
What has made this option more promising in recent years is the rise of a well-organized, Western-oriented neoliberal capitalist class in Iran whose chief priority seems to be the ability to do business with their counterparts in the West.
Many of the once revolutionary leaders who successfully managed the 1980-88 war economy have now become business entrepreneurs and prosperous capitalists. Having effectively enriched themselves in the shadow of the public sector economy, these folks are now ready to do business American style, that is, follow the neoliberal/austerity model of economics.
It is thus understandable why major factions within Iran’s ruling circles, represented largely by the Rouhani administration, have no stomach for a regimented, war-like economy; and why they support the highly disgraceful compromises made by Iran’s nuclear negotiators to the United States and its allies. For the rich and powerful elites of these circles issues such as nuclear technology or national sovereignty are of secondary importance to self-enrichment, or profit motive.
It follows that the Obama administration and other US advocates of the nuclear deal opted for negotiation with Iran only after they came to the realization that (a) continuing on the path of regime change from outside tended to be ineffective, or even counterproductive, and (b) the rise of a pro-US, collaborationist capitalist class in Iran increasingly promised to be a more effective vehicle of spreading the US influence in Iran and, ultimately, of regime change from within.
Indeed, the Obama administration’s recent approach of relying primarily on business/market forces of regime change, or modification, without ruling out the military option is likely to be more effective in achieving its goal than the war party’s reckless insistence on escalating sanctions and military threats.
The effectiveness of this approach lies in the fact that, as pointed out earlier, the nuclear deal would significantly limit Iran’s military and defense capabilities. The deal would also avail the US extensive knowledge of Iran’s economic, technological, security, and military capabilities and, therefore, vulnerabilities. This means that if at any time in the future Iran defies or resists the heavy-handed imperialistic designs of the United States, the US can then employ its war machine more effectively as it would have the necessary information on strategic places or targets to be attacked or bombarded.
This is no speculation or conspiracy theory. It is, indeed, a scenario projected by the Obama administration officials and other advocates of the nuclear deal as they promote it ahead of the next month’s critical vote in Congress. “In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran” .
Commenting on this ominous depraved scheme, Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Michael Crowley of Politico, “It’s certainly an argument I’ve heard made. . . . We’ll be better off with the agreement were we to need to use force” .
To see how this menacing projection is not simply an abstract or partisan argument, suffice it to remember the fact that this is exactly what was done to Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the United States and its allies used disingenuous negotiations with Saddam Hussein and Muammar al-Qaddafi as pretexts to collect information about their military/defense capabilities and, then, used the information thus acquired for targeted bombardment and effective invasion.
 Michael Crowley, The ultimate argument in favor of the Iran deal: The agreement would make it easier to bomb Iran, administration officials have told lawmakers.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), and The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007).
Psychologists colluded with CIA to keep ethics code in line with post 9/11 torture needs – damning report
The US’s leading professional psychologists’ organization helped justify CIA and Pentagon torture programs, a new 542-page report shows. The psychologists involved later profited from torture-related contracts.
The report, concluded this month, examined the involvement of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the validation of the so-called program of enhanced interrogation, under which terror suspects were subjected to torture at CIA black cites and at the Pentagon’s Guantanamo Bay prison facility.
The document prepared by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, says some of the APA’s senior figures, including its ethics director, pushed to keep the association’s ethics code in line with DoD’s interrogation policies. Other prominent external psychologists took actions that aided the CIA’s torture practices, defending it from growing dissent among its own psychologists.
“The evidence supports the conclusion that APA officials colluded with DoD officials to, at the least, adopt and maintain APA ethics policies that were not more restrictive than the guidelines that key DOD officials wanted,” the report published on Friday by the New York Times said. “APA chose its ethics policy based on its goals of helping DoD, managing its PR, and maximizing the growth of the profession.”
The Hoffman report focuses on the APA’s close ties with the Pentagon and can be viewed as complimentary to last December’s Senate report that exposed the brutality of post 9/11 CIA tactics towards terror detainees, the NYT said. It also gives additional details about how the intelligence agency adopted the enhanced interrogation program and solicited outside advice to stem concerns among its own medical professionals.
The report also describes several instances in which senior figures involved in the program moved into the private sector to get lucrative contracts from the CIA and the Pentagon. For instance, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the psychological association and a member of the CIA advisory committee, was asked by Mr Kirk Hubbard (CIA psychologist who was chairman of the agency advisory committee), to provide an opinion about whether sleep deprivation constituted torture. The conclusion was that it did not.
Later, Matarazzo became a partner in Mitchell Jessen and Associates, a contracting company created by James Mitchel and Bruce Jessen to consult with the CIA on their interrogation program. They were instructors for the Air Force’s SERE (survival, evasion, rescue and escape) program, in which US troops are subjected to simulated torture to prepare them for possible capture. They adapted the program’s techniques for use against terror detainees, the report said.
After the Hoffman report was made public, the American Psychological Association issued an apology.
“The actions, policies and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values,” Nadine Kaslow, a former president of the organization, said in a statement. “We profoundly regret and apologize for the behavior and the consequences that ensued.”
One of the more immediate consequences of the report was the resignation of the APA’s ethics chief, Stephen Behnke, according to the Guardian. The psychologists coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist, the report said. He later received a Pentagon contract for training interrogators, without notifying the American Psychological Association’s board.
Kaslow told the newspaper that Behnke’s last day at the APA was July 8, after the association received Hoffman’s report, and that further resignations were likely to follow.
A similarly damning report on the APA’s involvement in US government torture programs was published in April.
A 17-year-old autistic boy was thrown onto the sidewalk by New York City police officers, punched in the face, arrested, hauled to the precinct for questioning and released without charges, according to a lawsuit.
Troy Canales was standing in front of his Bronx home on the night of November 12, 2014, when two officers drove up in a police car demanding to know what he was doing, according to the Manhattan federal court lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the officers clearly had no training in how to deal with people with special needs when they began questioning Canales, who is able to talk but has a hard time making eye contact with strangers.
“[Canales] was extremely scared, but told the officers that he was just ‘chilling’ and was not doing anything,” the suit stated.
“[The officers] each grabbed the plaintiff’s arms and forcefully threw him down on the sidewalk, smashing his head against the concrete. [The officers] kneed plaintiff in the back and punched him in the face as he screamed to his family for help.”
Canales’ mother and brother came out of the house and saw him cuffed on the ground. They told the police he was autistic but the cops ignored them and took the teenager to the precinct, said the complaint.
Canales was held for an hour until his mother, Alyson Valentine, spoke to the commanding officer, who apologized and said, ‘things like this happen” before releasing the teen.
Police officers had no explanation for the assault or the arrest except to say that one officer “feared for his life” when he spoke to Canales on the sidewalk, according to the lawsuit.
In the wake of the beating, Valentine said her son became reclusive and it took professional therapy to help him go out of the house again.
“Every other house on the block, there’s a child with disability,” Valentine told DNAinfo. “A lot of them don’t come outside that much. If you’re policing the neighborhood, you should know the people.”
A lawyer for Troy Canales, now 18, said the NYPD violated the teen’s civil rights during the November 2014 incident. The federal lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and better training for police officers to deal with people with special needs.
A New York City Law Department spokesman said the suit is under review, reported the New York Post.
The United States Air Force is taking steps to update the Cold War-era B61 nuclear bomb to Mod 12 ‒ or twelfth iteration ‒ completing tests with a mock up version of the weapon in Nevada’s Great Basin Desert.
The B61 has been a top weapon in the US nuclear arsenal since its development at the height of the Cold War in 1963. The intermediate-yield thermonuclear weapon can be delivered by a supersonic aircraft. It is designed to cause a two-stage radiation implosion, but it is a “gravity bomb” – which just means that it’s unguided.
The once USSR-facing technology might seem to be an anachronism in this day and age, but President Barack Obama has taken initiative in keeping this weapon alive and well, despite a hefty price tag. The total cost of the program is estimated to be as high as $11 billion, according to the New York Times – and that’s just to update it to its current version.
This seems to be at odds with Obama’s promise of not fielding any new nuclear warheads, which he made during a speech in Prague in 2009. In that same speech, he explained his vision of a United States with less reliance on nuclear arms, and ultimately a world where nuclear weapons are a thing of the past.
The truth looks rather different. A testimony, ominously titled ‘China, India and Pakistan – growing nuclear capabilities with no end in sight,’ was given to Congress by Dr. Ashley J. Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“The nuclear weapon programs in these three countries are worthy of attention because they are active, expanding, and diversifying,” the testimony warns.
India and Pakistan are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which came into force in 1970.
A multinational NATO military training “Agile Spirit 2015” has officially started in Georgia, uniting military personnel from six countries. It comes amid Russia’s mounting concerns over NATO’s military buildup in the region.
The US, Bulgarian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Latvian military will accompany Georgia’s Battalion 42 in the two-week-long military exercises that officially started on Wednesday, RIA-Novosti reported.
The annual joint training, that first started in 2011, this year involves 220 US Marine Corps servicemen. It is to take place at the Vaziani military base, located some 25 kilometers away from Tbilisi. Vaziani is a former Soviet and Russian air force base until Russian forces withdrew in 2001 under a European conventional arms reduction agreement.
The exercise follows the line of the Wales summit in September 2014, where the alliance agreed upon founding a NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center within the framework of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, introduced back then by allied leaders.
In an opening speech on Wednesday, major-General Kapanadze said that “Georgian soldiers took part in many international operations and are continuing to contribute to global peace alongside our partners,” Agenda website reported.
“Our cooperation is more than just a partnership – it is brotherhood of arms,” Kapanadze added.
“These military exercises in Georgia – a country that launched an unprovoked attack on South Ossetia in 2008,which led to the death of 12 Russian peacekeepers and a brief military conflict between Georgia and Russia – are the latest in a series of alarming moves by NATO that underscore the organization’s threatening stance towards Russia,” journalist Robert Bridge told RT.
The Russian Foreign ministry has long been criticizing the military buildup in the neighboring states, which goes “under the false pretext of alleged ‘aggressive behavior’ by our country” and is accompanied by “unfriendly and malicious” rhetoric.
“We are not threatening anyone and we seek to resolve all conflict situations through political means, with respect towards the international law and other nations’ interests,” President Putin said in June, underlying though that Russia needs strong, modern and adequately armed military force to face the challenges “that we cannot ignore”.
Georgia, an active contributor to alliance’s operations, has long planned to join NATO. In 1994, the former Soviet republic joined the Partnership for Peace program. After the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, the bilateral cooperation only “deepened”, according to a NATO statement.
“I don’t think there is any realistic chance of Georgia joining NATO in the coming years. In fact, it is more likely that Georgia will increasingly thaw relations with Moscow, for economic reasons, as the penny drops in Tbilisi that the West was good at false promises, but not delivering actual help,” journalist Bryan MacDonald told RT.
In August 2008, a brief military conflict between Russia and Georgia broke out, after Tbilisi launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia prompting Moscow’s peace enforcement operation. It ended up in Russian official recognition of the two former Georgian autonomous republics as independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has destroyed evidence in an ongoing lawsuit against it, which alleges that police use a secret quota system to make arrests, new documents claim.
The class action suit alleges that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito were secretly applying pressure to officers to issue more arrests after falling short of quotas for traffic offenses and low-level crime, resulting in up to 850,000 wrongful summonses – or written notifications to a party telling them where and when they need to be in court. Some summons cases leave the recipient with a criminal record.
The allegations that a “quota system” for arrests exists at the NYPD are supported by emails, paperwork and text messages. One text message stated:
“We missed seat belt number by 30 last week unacceptable. if need be u guys will go with me 2 traffic stat 2 explain why u missed [sic].”
However, other such records have been destroyed, despite the city agreeing to surrender the information more than a year ago, the New York Post reports, citing a letter filed in the Manhattan federal court by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The lawyers claim that they discovered documents by obtaining them from third-party emails, including one of an NYPD captain writing, “This has to stop” when referring to an officer having only one arrest in over 50 hours of overtime.
But when the emails were requested, the city couldn’t produce them, even after searching.
“The production confirms what plaintiffs feared but defendants have repeatedly denied: Defendants have destroyed evidence that is unquestionably relevant to this matter,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Elinor Sutton wrote in a letter, the Post reported.
The letter continues, “It is simply not tenable that Commissioner Kelly and Chief Esposito did not – in the entire period of 2007 through the present – write or receive emails using terms related to the word ‘summons.’”
“The spoliation of this evidence clearly demonstrates Defendants’ bad-faith, grossly negligent, or at least, negligent destruction of relevant documents.”
She added that documents from meetings about crime statistics may have been shredded due to a policy that NYPD officers testified about previously.
The trial is expected to be held early next year.
The US government will pay the salaries to the staff of Georgia’s former President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now serving as a new governor of Odessa Region, Ukraine, Saakashvili said, adding that California police will also train Odessa’s officers.
“Within the framework of Odessa’s anti-corruption pressure, the US government agreed to provide funds for the salaries of the new team of [Mikhail] Saakashvili,” Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page after the meeting with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Ukraine.
He added that American police officers from California “will train new Odessa police.”
Pyatt has repeatedly voiced his support for Saakashvili. Earlier in July he said that Washington “fully supports Mikheil Saakashvili and his team, and we will do everything so that they can succeed.”
US authorities have recently been sending other instructors to train local forces in Ukraine. In April, paratroopers of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, arrived in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov to provide training for Ukrainian government troops. Pyatt then posted on Twitter several pictures of the US paratroopers marching through the airport in the city.
Saakashvili became governor of Odessa Region back in May. He was personally appointed by President Petro Poroshenko.
He was also given Ukrainian citizenship under Poroshenko’s personal decree, published on his website, as the Ukrainian constitution says that only a citizen can become an official at governor level.
Saakashvili left Georgia in autumn 2013, days before his presidential term expired. He has been living abroad ever since.
In spring 2014, Georgia’s new ruling coalition accused Saakashvili of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state budget. Georgia’s prosecutors have started an investigation into the case. However, Saakashvili denies the charges against him, saying the funds went towards attracting foreign investors to the country.
Apart from embezzlement, Saakashvili has several other cases ongoing against him. He is accused of abuse of power during the crackdown on anti-government protests in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on November 7, 2007. He was also allegedly involved in the attack on the opposition TV station Imedi, which was seized by Georgian special forces on the same day, and the appropriation of the founder’s assets.
Emails of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published by the State Department expose that the Qatari Royal family made efforts to befriend the American politician through former British PM Tony Blair’s spouse, Cherie Blair.
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, a wife of the former emir of Qatar and mother of the ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani, established contact with Clinton via Cherie Blair.
The Blair and Clinton families have been political and personal friends since the 1990s.
“Sheika Moser (Sheikha Mozah) has approached me privately saying they are keen to get their relationship with the USA onto a more positive footing and she was hoping for a ‘women to women’ one to one private meeting with you,” Cherie Blair wrote to Clinton in May 2009. “I am sure the conversation would not be confined to these issues but would be about the U.S./Qatar relationship generally,” Blair wrote, mentioning joint philanthropic interests among issues Clinton and Mozah could talk about.
Blair did her best to persuade Hillary Clinton to get acquainted with “someone who has real influence in Qatar,” the newly-released documents show.
“I could make time to meet in DC during the weeks of June 8th and 15th. Would that work?” Clinton gave in on May 26, promising to rearrange her schedule to “fit her time.”
Yet Sheikha Mozah was unable to meet with Clinton on suggested dates in June 2009 “due to prior commitments” and proposed to meet “immediately after Ramadan/Eid week of September 27, 2009.”
Altogether, on Tuesday the State Department released over 1,900 of Clinton’s emails (3,000 pages). Within this bulk of information, there are 19 emails that have to do with Clinton/ Mozah getting acquainted with each other.
The royal Al-Thanis family of Qatar is known for its fabulous wealth gathered on the back of the petroleum and liquefied natural gas trade. Over the last decades, Qatar rulers spent billions on increasing its influence in Western capitals. The Al-Thanis invested particularly heavily in London, the Guardian claims.
The scale of the Qatar royal family’s investment in the British capital remains largely unknown. Al-Thanis own Harrods, the Olympic village and Shard completely, along with certain property in Hyde Park. A quarter of Sainsbury’s, large share of Barclays and 8 percent of the London Stock Exchange all belong to them, as well as the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square.
Earlier this year it emerged that the Clinton Foundation allegedly received multiple foreign donations during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
A newly-released book accused the Clinton Foundation, run by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, of accepting quid pro quo donations from foreign sources while Hillary was secretary of state.
It was revealed that governments that had received frequent criticism from the State Department for repressive policies – countries like Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – had donated to the Clinton Foundation and gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons.
In late May, the FIFA corruption scandal also cast its shadow over the Clintons, as it emerged that the Clinton Foundation received at least $50,000 and as much as $100,000 from the football governing body.
“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Hillary Clinton told NBC News in May.
The Guardian reports that the Blair family has done some favors for Qatar’s rulers, too.
Although Tony Blair stepped down from his post as PM in 2007, his influence remains in place. In 2012 he brokered a $50-billion commodities deal between Glencore and Xstrata, which brought him $1 million.
Later the same year the former Labor leader assisted the Qataris in getting a share in a £1-billion-valued group owning such prestigious hotel as Berkeley, Claridge’s and Connaught, the Guardian claims.
In this regard, the Faith Foundation mirrors the Clinton Foundation, set up by the former US President Bill Clinton after leaving his post in 2001.
From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.
The Clinton Foundation’s donor list includes some 200,000 names, among them foreign financial institutions and Wall Street-based financial organizations, international energy conglomerates and governments, the government of Qatar included, which allegedly has given between $1 million and $5 million in donations to the Clintons.