Recent news of interest
In Light of Recent Events
MOVED TO > HERE
Karzai says Blackwater behind terrorism (in Afghanistan)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said US private security firms, including Xe Services LLC, formerly known as Blackwater, are being behind terrorism in the country.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said US private security firms, including Xe Services LLC, formerly known as Blackwater, are being behind terrorism in the country.
At a press conference in Kabul, Karzai said that US security companies have been behind explosions that have claimed the lives of women and children.
The Afghan president added that they have caused “blasts and terrorism” in different parts of Afghanistan over the past months.
The Afghan president said his administration cannot even distinguish between the bomb blasts carried out by US security firms and those of the Taliban militants.
“In fact we don’t yet know how many of these blasts are by Taliban and how many are carried out by them (US security companies).”
Blackwater has been involved in the murder of several Afghan citizens over the past years. The company has also been struggling with a trail of legal cases and civil lawsuits, including one for killing 17 Iraqi civilians during a Baghdad shootout in 2007.
Earlier in June, the CIA reportedly admitted that Blackwater had been loading bombs on US drones that target suspected militants in neighboring Pakistan.
The Afghan president has also pointed out that American private security firms are corrupt and have fueled nine years of war.
“Deals under the name of private security companies are cut in the hallways of American government buildings. It involves 1.5 billion dollars,” he said.
Karzai has accused security companies of running what he called an economic mafia based on crooked contracts.
“The money, 1.5 billion dollars, is being distributed there (in the United States) on Blackwater [sic] and this and that.”
The developments come as the notorious Blackwater has been awarded a five-year State Department contract worth up to USD 10 billion for operations in Afghanistan.
In August, Karzai ordered all security firms to disband before the end of the year.
Some diplomats and military officials say Karzai has been under intense pressure to reconsider his decision.
However, Karzai says he is steadfast in his decision to dissolve foreign security firms in the country despite US pressure to reconsider the decision.
The private companies are said to be in charge of providing security for foreign officials and embassies as well as development projects in Afghanistan.
Karzai has blamed mercenaries for civilian deaths and corruption in the troubled region.
The New Abu Ghraib – Atlantic magazine
By Kevin Charles Redmon
MAY 3 2010, 2:13 PM ET
There, according to a slim report released by Human Rights Watch last week, which has been widely disseminated in the Iraqi press and is based on Muscati’s interviews with 42 Muthanna detainees, nearly all the suspected insurgents–among them academics, physicians, and teenagers–were regularly tortured, including being “hung upside-down, deprived of air, whipped, beaten, given electric shocks, and sodomized.”
“We received authorization to visit the prisoners before the story was broken,” Muscati, a 36-year old Canadian born to Iraqi parents, when I reached him late last week in Baghdad. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been allowed to.”
The prisoners at Muthanna were from Mosul, Iraq’s predominantly Sunni second city and an al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia stronghold. In a series of anti-insurgent raids last fall, which Sunni provincial officials protested as warrantless, Iraqi forces swept the men up and threw them into the secret detention center, outside the purview of either the ministries of justice or defense.
The abuses were as regular as they were sadistic. Some men had their teeth knocked in, or fingernails pulled out. Others were sexually assaulted–with broomsticks and pistol barrels. Forced sex, involving both inmates and guards, was rampant. A son, standing before his naked father, was told to confess or see his father raped.
“The interrogators would tie my arms behind my back and blindfold me before they would hang me upside down and beat me,” one detainee told Human Rights Watch. “They would suffocate me with a bag until I passed out and would wake me with an electric shock to my genitals.”
Muscati said this was unique because it was so routine and systematic.
“The scars and bruisings we saw were identical on detainees–it seems that there was a practice, a policy, in this facility to use certain methods to extract information.”
It was close to midnight in Iraq and even through the static Muscati’s exhaustion was audible. “Sorry if I sound sedate. It’s just…it’s been a long day.”
In late March, when Iraq’s minister of human rights, Wijdan Salim, discovered the existence of Muthanna, the prison was shuttered and its detainees moved elsewhere.
“I think there are people in government who are just as disgusted as we are, and are trying to end these kinds of abuses,” said Muscati, praising Salim and her ministry for airing the scandal. “But not everyone in government is on the same page.”
Prime Minister Maliki has categorically denied any prior knowledge of the site. “There are no secret prisons in Iraq at all,” he said last Monday. (Asked how Maliki could have not known his special forces were operating the black site, Muscati demurred. “If he didn’t know what was going on, he should know now.”)
In early April, Muscati, along with his colleague Olivier Bercault, was given access to more than 300 of the men, in the new Baghdad prison where they’re being held in “cagelike” cells. Permitted just a few hours, and stripped of their cell phones, cameras and audio kits, Muscati and Bercault asked the groups of men to “show us their wounds. It was horrific what we saw: the welts on peoples back, the bruising on arms, nails that had been ripped out, these horrible marks.”
In one-on-one interviews, the brutality of the sexual violence was impossible to ignore, even if it was difficult to discuss. “It was conducted not necessarily for gratification but for humiliation. Especially in this culture, it’s extremely humiliating to be molested in the way that they were.”
Muscati told me that, when Salim and the human rights ministry first visited the site in March, many of the men “did speak out and tell their stories, and there were repercussions.” Before the site could be closed, “The abusers actually went back and inflicted more torture on those that had spoken out.”
He was surprised, then, at how open the men were with Western investigators. “They were just desperate to talk and tell their stories, because they’ve gone through this horrific ordeal. And they said, ‘We have nothing to lose. They’ve broken us, they taken us away from our families and humiliated us. What else can they do to us?'”
The abuses at Muthanna are said to highlight continuing sectarian violence in Iraq–Sunni prisoners tortured at the hands of Shiite captors–and much has been made over the political fallout of the report, especially given the narrow defeat of Maliki’s State of Law Coalition last month’s national elections.
“Disclosure of a secret prison in which Sunni Arabs were systematically tortured would not only become an international embarrassment,” read an internal U.S. embassy memo, “but would likely compromise the prime minister’s ability to put together a viable coalition with him at the helm.” (When asked for comment on Muthanna, the State Department’s Near East division failed to respond.)
But the facts on the ground are far more complicated than such a narrative suggests. “There’s a lot of people playing up the Sunni angle to this,” said Muscati, “but Iraq’s an equal opportunity torturer when it comes to detainees–Shiites are tortured as well. It’s not sectarian by nature.” He continued, “The treatment of prisoners has a long history of abuse in Iraq. Under Saddam’s time, torture was endemic. It’s unfortunately just business as usual.”
Maliki appears preoccupied to the threat of sectarian rhetoric, and last Monday, on state-controlled Iraqiya television, Malaki, “by turns denied, played down and distanced himself from the latest torture allegations,” calling them “‘lies’ and ‘a smear campaign’ hatched by foreign embassies and the media and then perpetuated by his political rivals.”
For their part, Sunni political leaders have seized the scandal as evidence of continued authoritarianism and disregard for the rule of law; one member of the parliamentary bloc opposing Maliki, a Sunni from Nineveh province, told the New York Times, “This secret prison has a sectarian character, and it shows that the security forces and the army have an iron fist outside the framework of the Constitution.”
Muscati, who has spent a year-and-a-half investigating Iraq’s many shades of grey for Human Rights Watch, was hesitant to promote such a black-and-white reading. “That angle tends to be simplified, in the sense that the government’s Shia, and it therefore makes sense that they would treat Sunnis in the manner, but it’s more complicated than that. Governments generally overreact when it comes to terrorism.”
Gabriel Gatehouse, a BBC reporter following the story in Baghdad, gave me a similar assessment. “There’s a certain worry that with the political situation being as fragile and uncertain as it is, the fact that most of these inmates were Sunnis could fuel some kind of tension. But to be honest, I haven’t seen any actual evidence of that, talking to people on the street.”
More troubling than the near-term political fallout is the impact of systematic, if secret, torture inside Iraqi prisons on a generation of Muslim men–and on the country’s emotional normalcy.
“There’s a cycle of violence that continues,” said Muscati. “When people are humiliated and degraded, it only creates this festering environment where, if people weren’t insurgents before, it gives them good reason to disavow the government. It radicalizes you, this kind of experience.”
“This breeds extremism,” a Sunni tribal leader from Nineveh told the New York Times. “In our country a man who is raped will commit suicide, and how do you think he will do it?”
As citizens of the United States, whose government provides essential support to the State of Israel and also supports a two-state settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must ask ourselves this important question: If we were Palestinians could we start our own nation in 2010 while 500,000 citizens of another country occupy our land and could we agree to watch helplessly as they grow in number to almost two million before the year 2050?
Americans know that the issue of Israeli settlements is an obstacle in the way of Middle East peace. But do we properly comprehend what Israeli settlements really are?
We must begin with Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. Israel is a signatory to this international agreement. So is the United States. Contrary to recent US Executive branch behavior, the Geneva Accords do carry the full weight of international law. Article 49 is simple, clear and is not a subject of controversy. It forbids an occupying power from moving its own civilian population onto occupied lands as permanent residents. Despite this prohibition Israel has constructed settlements outside and beyond its borders for more than 40 years.
Official Israeli figures show that 304,569 Israeli Jews now live on the West Bank in housing built on land that is not part of the State of Israel. That is the definition of a settlement. Those three hundred thousand settlers do not live in Israel yet they continue to call themselves Israelis and the State of Israel treats them as full citizens. The land on which these housing units have been built was forcibly conquered, taken by the armed forces of the State of Israel. Another 190,000 Israeli Jews live in East Jerusalem – in the Arab section of that city. These settlers also live in housing that was forcibly constructed after the military of the State of Israel removed Arabs already living there. These Israeli settlements in Jerusalem bring the total of Israeli settlers living outside the borders of their country to almost 500,000. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living on the West Bank and in Jerusalem.
As a point of reference, the half a million West Bank Israeli settlers use more water and own more guns than all of the Palestinians combined.
Israel counts among its citizens 5,593,000 Israeli Jews. This means that about 8.84% of all Israeli Jews now live on land that does not belong to them or to their country. How can we as Americans relate to this sort of national policy and this number of settlers? What if we were doing something similar?
The US Census currently estimates there are 304,059,724 people living in the United States. Imagine, if you can, that 8.84% of us, or 26,878,900 citizens of the United States, decided to move and go live in housing projects built in Canada, on Canadian land seized by US military forces, against the wishes of the Canadians. Then imagine the US government taking the position that all or nearly all of those 27 million settlers should remain in Canada – forever – not as new Canadians, never to become citizens of Canada – but as citizens of the United States. How would you feel about that? And how would you feel if you were a Canadian?
Some enlightened Israeli leaders, and their Americans supporters as well, say they are against any new settlements. They oppose expansion. They draw a line – no more settlers moving onto lands that don’t belong to Israel. That’s a start. However, there seems to be no opposition to something called “natural growth.”
Think about that for a moment, about what is called “natural growth.” Human populations are not constant. People die. New people are born. In Israel proper the growth rate is currently 1.8% per year. But, in the settlements the population is younger and openly determined to increase their strength of numbers. For them the birth rate is a political and religious issue. Population growth in the settlements is much higher than in Israel itself. In fact, it is an astounding 5.7%. By comparison, the Palestinian growth rate, among the world’s highest, is only 3.4%.
With a natural growth rate of 5.7% that means by next year, 2011, there will be almost 30,000 more Israeli Jews added to the settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – all without a single new settler moving in.
A rate of 5.7% is not uncommon for a mortgage in many places in the United States. Those Americans with such a mortgage already know that means the actual amount they will end up paying for their home will be about 3 to 4 times the original loan amount over 20 or 30 years.
If you are a Palestinian, the math and the impediment to any two-state solution is inescapable. If a Palestinian State is established today, and if not a single Israeli Jew ever moves into this new state – but those settlers who are already there are allowed to remain – there would be almost two million Israelis – all Jews, no Arabs – all citizens of Israel not citizens of a Palestinian State – all living in this Palestinian State – and all this in less than a generation.
Frightening as it may be to imagine 27 million US citizens living in Canada today, how scary is it to think of more than 80 million of them in 30 years?
That is the unavoidable, mathematical consequence of “natural growth” for Israeli settlements.
The conclusion seems simple enough. There can never be a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem so long as any Israeli civilian population continues to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The answer must be to let Israel be Israel; let Israel be safe and secure. But also let Palestine not be Israel too.
I share with you a detailed report published on the People’s Resistance mailing list analyzing the abduction of Dr. Aafia Siddqui and her ongoing trial in the US Courts. Please take time to read the report and if you agree with the contents then it would be a great help if you can join in the effort to spread the word far and wide to get more support for her.
On March 30, 2003, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui disappeared from Karachi along with her three minor children. Media reported that she had been taken by the US authorities with compliance of Pakistani authorities since the FBI had wanted to seek some information from her. In the face of general outcry, the US and Pakistani authorities quickly backtracked but then a year later Pakistani Foreign Office admitted publicly that Aafia had been handed over to the US.1
She became a concern for human rights organizations including Amnesty International who kept the case alive for five years. On July 6, 2008, political party Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf presented a British journalist in Islamabad who said there was reason to believe that Aafia was the “Prisoner 650? at Bagram (Afghanistan) and had undergone brutal rape and torture for five years. Outcry reaches a high water mark and urgent appeals were sent by Asian Human Rights Commission on July 22, to President George Bush and other persons of authority.
On August 4, the US authorities officially admitted of having Aafia in their custody but the US Department of Justice brought forth a charge sheet against her, claiming that she was arrested on July 17 (and not before) while loitering around near the residence of Ghazni’s Governor. They alleged that papers found in her handbag included instructions on making bombs and notes about installations in US.
They explained her wounds by saying that a day after her arrest she took an M4 rife which belonged to US military personnel and fired two rounds at close range, which missed, and she had to be shot in the torso.
On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan made a public statement saying that the US had no “definitive knowledge” of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children but only a few days later the Afghan authorities revealed that an 11-year-old boy had also been “arrested” with Aafia and this boy was then repatriated to be received by Aafia’s family as her eldest son.
The story narrated about this alleged episode is not plausible, and contradictions self-evident. Yet Aafia has been suffering pain and humiliation in US prison for more than two months now. There are fears that she is now being brainwashed in order to render her incapable of giving evidence against any atrocities that might have been committed against her.
Three anomalies in the trial
Basically: (a) victim has become the accused; (b) allegations are not being addressed in proper order; and (c) allegations against US authorities by human rights groups and concerned citizens are going un-addressed.
Victim has become the accused
Allegations not addressed in proper order
The case involves three allegations, not one. These need to be addressed in the order in which they appeared:
- The FBI’s declaration that it needed Dr. Aafia Siddiqui for interrogation (2003)
- Allegations allegation raised by human rights organizations and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf that Aafia Siddiqui was being illegally detained, raped and tortured by US authorities (with possible compliance of Pakistani authorities) for five years, and that her three minor children were in illegal detention. July 6, 2008 is the high water mark for this allegation.
- Allegation raised by US authorities against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui that she tried to assassinate US army personnel on July 18, 2008. This allegation was brought forth on August 4, 2008.
The first of these has not been legally pursued by authorities even after they admitted having custody of Aafia. Hence it may be considered as dropped.
The second allegation, which is against US authorities, has never been answered seriously except for a flat rebuttal in inappropriate and condescending tone (consider the US envoy’s open letter of August 16).
Now the third allegation is being addressed in a court of law without addressing the second.3 This leads to great confusion. The victim has been given into the custody of the party accused of committing offenses against her, and mandate is given to them to further curtail her liberties as a “high security risk”.
Let’s understand: it’s not as if US Government said that it would rather like to keep Aafia in a rehabilitation center in America for treatment of torments suffered by her during five-year-long illegal detention. The victim is now in custody of the party accused of committing the following atrocities against her:
- Abduction and illegal detention of the victim
- Abduction and illegal detention of the victim’s minor children
- Attempt of coercing the victim to sign false evidence
- Threatening the victim with murder of her children
- Sexual abuse, rape and torture
- Attempted brainwashing
- Possibly, murder of two of the victim’s minor children
The first step should have been to ensure that the party accused of committing these offenses didn’t have any further access to her with malevolent intent. The opposite has happened.
Aafia’s transfer from military to civil authorities doesn’t ensure that her abusers have lost influence: responding to journalists’ question about why they didn’t seek bail for Aafia, her lawyer answered, “There’s more in this case than meets the eye.”
What’s going wrong now
Following incidents which can be seen as injustice or malpractice have occurred after August 6, when Aafia was first presented in New York:
- Victim was remanded on implausible charges4
- Bail was not even sought by her lawyers5
- US envoy gave a questionable statement about victim’s children6
- It’s possible that the victim’s eldest son was brainwashed before being handed over by Afghan authorities7
- Motion to establish the victim as mentally unfit to stand trial, if accepted, will disqualify her from giving evidence later against her abusers
- At Carswell, the victim can be at risk of being brainwashed or rendered incapable of providing evidence
Two children of the victim are still missing. If they are still alive then it is possible that they are being used as hostages to pressurize her. Allegations of her illegal detention, rape, etc, and the abduction of her children, is going unaddressed.
Can she get justice from US legal system?
That question will arise only after a case is brought up to seek justice for her. The current trial has been registered against the victim and not against her abusers.
Unfounded speculation is bad but some speculation is required for arriving anywhere in legal matters. Here we are forced to choose between two options: either the story about Aafia’s alleged arrest and shooting as told by the DOJ is true, or it is false.
The story is not likely to be true. Consider this passage from rejoinder to US envoy’s letter by Kamran Shafi, journalist and former trainer in small arms:
By the way Excellency, if you care to notice, Aafia Siddiqui is about your build and dimensions. May I suggest you get one of your Marines at the embassy to bring you a US army-issue M4 rifle. Now ask him to clear the chamber, affix the magazine, put the rifle on ’safe’, and place it on the ground which would be the exact position in which Aafia Siddiqui found hers and with which she is alleged to have fired upon the US officer. You may very well fail to even cock it in 10 seconds, let alone find the safety catch, lift the rifle to your shoulder and fire it.8
It seems as if the US authorities knew that this story won’t stand a test in the court and their real strategy was to buy time for declaring Aafia mentally unfit or perhaps even to induce mental disorder while in custody.
Such speculation sounds harsh but once the DOJ story is rejected there is no way we can pass over it as an “honest mistake”. If the story is false then obviously we aredealing with an unusually ugly and disturbing cover-up of enormous dimensions.
We must not forget the three other victims in this case: Aafia’s minor children. The first is Ahmad Siddiqui, 11-year-old, and the anomalies in his case raise suspicions of a three-step approach to cover up brainwashing in captivity.9 First, deny having any “definitive knowledge” of the captive’s whereabouts. Second, admit that he was in detention even at the time of those denials. Third, send him home in mentally unstable state where he cannot recall details about captivity. There is a stark analogy between his fate and the contradictory reports now coming out about her mother: is she at step 2 now, undergoing brainwashing?
By the authorities’ own admission Ahmad’s detention at least from July 17 to August 22 was irregular: it was covered up despite urgent appeals from around the world.
The second victim is Aafia’s daughter Mariam, 10 years old (5 at the time of her disappearance), and the third is the youngest son Salman, 5 years old (six months at the time of his disappearance). Authorities deny having “definitive knowledge” of his whereabouts too.
It may be remembered that capture of minor children and infants for pressurizing their parents was described by Pakistan’s former president Pervez Muharraf as fair tactic while participating in American War Against Terror.10
What needs to be done
We need to be absolutely clear that the real issue here is the second set of allegations in which Aafia is victim, not accused.
By remaining silent on that issue now, the whole world is allowing a victim to become accused. Since this has already become one of the most famous trials of the new century, a bad precedent in this matter is likely to affect the future of human rights for very long time and almost everywhere in the world. Time is of essence here, because it seems as if evidence is being destroyed very fast.
The following steps may need to be taken without losing any further time:
- Human rights groups in US should file petition in a US court to the effect that Aafia’s trial is unfair and should be dismissed. It needs to be dismissed immediately, and in any case latest by November 7, i.e. forty days before the date which has been set for hearing whether or not Aafia is mentally fit to stand trial: there is reason to suspect that some foul play is going on which is likely to accomplish its ends by that date and evidence related to actual culprits will have been destroyed, possibly including memory of the victim herself.
- Separately, a complaint should be lodged against culprits who victimized Aafia earlier, and a plea should be made for the recovery of her two missing children.
- All peaceful and healthy means should be used for educating people in as many countries as possible about the AAFIA issue – especially the message that a victim should not be victimized and the meaning of justice should not be distorted.11
- Concerned citizens of the world need to explore whether there is a proper channel for taking up this issue beyond slogans, protests and demonstrations. If no such channel exists then it needs to be created.
- If any rights group decides to make a separate committee for pursuing this case, then that committee should also look into the wider implications and related issues, and hence “AAFIA” might be a good acronym for “Affirmative Action for the Freedom and Independence of All” (Aafia literally means comprehensive safety). Fresh grounds need to be broken for safeguarding human rights in these new times.
United Nations was a giant step towards peace, but what about “united humanity”? We need to alter certain perceptions now and we need to set new precedents.
Consequences for everyone
Terrorism is a serious threat which should not be trivialized the way it has been through the victimization of Aafia Siddiqui and her minor children. Genuine efforts being made against terrorism will also earn a bad name, if not fall flat on their face, if moral superiority is lost – and it will be lost if injustice in the case of Aafia Siddiqui completes its course.
The case is so complex, and its details so gruesome, that many still may not have realized what the possible outcome of her mistreatment might turn out to be. The analysis offered here may not be how everyone is seeing things now but it is likely to be how these things will be seen in times to come, as the truth gradually seeps into people’s conscience.
Then a great setback for human rights may be suffered because in our times such rights rest on the premise that people are entities who should be respected, their humanity cannot be usurped by any government and a person cannot be objectified before the mystique of state. Losing this one case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui can mean losing the very premise of human rights, and losing it in bright limelight.12
It is not just about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, but rather ironically, it is also about what her first name means literally in her native language: comprehensive safety. She is a highly educated woman who made it to the upper strata of middle class in two societies – Pakistan and US. What happened to her can happen to anyone, and it may happen more easily in future if bad precedent is set now.
For America, it is a moment of truth. The international community has been hearing so much about the “deposed” Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who used to take suo moto action on such cases, forcing his government and its much-dread intelligence agencies to become answerable to the court. For that he risked his job, personal freedom and the future of his children. Global observers are likely to notice that no judge in US seems to be as willing to take suo moto action in this case as Justice Chaudhry of Pakistan would have been even if such thing had been found in his jurisdiction. Tables are turning: at the going rate it might not be very long before US finds itself lagging behind developing countries in matters of awareness about human rights among the masses. For its own good, US ought to revise its take on this case.
1 Her children were not mentioned by FO, but President Musharraf later dropped hint in his autobiography that “arresting” minors and even infant children of accused was part of tactics being used in the US War Against Terror.
3 I am presuming that the first allegation has already been dropped by the party which raised it, so we need not address it anymore. In all fairness, we should be open to give it due importance, with proper attention to the whole context, in case the first party (i.e. the FBI) chooses to bring it back in the future.
4 Charge sheet against Aafia was implausible and inaccuracies could have been exposed through a simple simulation/demonstration. Yet the American judge gave remand of her person instead of sending her to a hospital as she deserved in view of her condition (she was still bleeding from bullet wounds)
6 On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan stated publicly that the US authorities have no definitive knowledge of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children. About ten days later the Afghan authorities stated that they had also “arrested” a boy along with Aafia. One could smell a rat here: a person of such prominence as US envoy is unlikely to risk a misleading statement unless the stakes are really high.
7 Aafia’s son, finally repatriated by Afghan authorities, cannot recall much and is having nightmares. Did the authorities deny knowledge of his whereabouts initially because at that time they were brainwashing him and were still unsure that it would work?
8 Published in Dawn (Karachi) on October 14. Earlier on September 10, Joane Mariner, an attorney with Human Rights Watch in New York wrote in Counterpunch, “If you trust the US story, you have to imagine that… more than the al Qaeda mom, as the New York Post dubs her, she would have to be al Qaeda’s Angelina Jolie.”
9 The word “definitive knowledge” in US envoy’s statement leaves an uncomfortable impression of preparing for a future moment when it may turn out to be otherwise and then it could be said that the knowledge which the US authorities had in this matter was not “definitive” but of some other sort (The statement said, “The United States has no definitive knowledge as to the whereabouts of Ms Siddiqui’s children”). Was Ahmad being subjected to brainwashing so that his detention could not be revealed till making sure that the process had been successful?
10 In the Line of Fire: A Memoir by Pervez Musharraf published in 2006 by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, p.224.
11 In Pakistan and Islamic countries this case study can be specially useful: given the peculiar nature of this case, the masses are likely to accept the message and apply it to other injustices against the weak.
Imagine if, an hour from now, a robot plane swooped over your house and blasted it to pieces. The plane has no pilot. It is controlled with a joystick from 7,000 miles away, sent by the Pakistani military to kill you. It blows up all the houses on your street, and so barbecues your family and your neighbors until there is nothing left to bury but a few charred slops. Why? They refuse to comment. They don’t even admit the robot planes belong to them. But they tell the Pakistani newspapers back home it is because one of you was planning to attack Pakistan. How do they know? Somebody told them. Who? You don’t know, and there are no appeals against the robot.
Now imagine it doesn’t end there: These attacks are happening every week somewhere in your country. They blow up funerals and family dinners and children. The number of robot planes in the sky is increasing every week. You discover they are named “Predators,” or “Reapers” — after the Grim Reaper. No matter how much you plead, no matter how much you make it clear you are a peaceful civilian getting on with your life, it won’t stop. What do you do? If there were a group arguing that Pakistan was an evil nation that deserved to be violently attacked, would you now start to listen?
This sounds like a sketch for the next James Cameron movie — but it is in fact an accurate description of life in much of Pakistan today, with the sides flipped. The Predators and Reapers are being sent by Barack Obama’s CIA, with the support of other Western governments, and they killed more than 700 civilians in 2009 alone — fourteen times more than the 7/7 attacks in London. Last month there was the largest number of robot plane bombings ever: 21. Over the next decade, spending on drones is set to increase by 700 percent.
The US government doesn’t even officially admit the program exists: Obama’s most detailed public comment on it was when he jokingly told the Jonas Brothers he would unleash the drones on themif they tried to chat up his daughter. But his administration says, behind closed doors, that these robot-plane attacks are “the only show in town” for killing suspected jihadis. They do not risk the lives of US soldiers, who remain in Virginia and control the robot planes using a Playstation-style panel. They kill “with accuracy,” they say, and “undermine the threat to the West” by “breaking up training camps, killing many people conspiring against us, and putting the rest on the run.”
But is this true? The press releases uncritically repeated by the press after a bombing always brag about “senior al Qaeda commanders” killed — but some people within the CIA admit how arbitrary their choice of targets is. One of their senior figures told the New Yorker: “Sometimes you’re dealing with tribal chiefs. Often they say an enemy of theirs is Al Qaeda because they want to get rid of somebody, or they made crap up because they wanted to prove they were valuable so they could make money.”
Indeed, Robert Baer — a former senior figure in the CIA — says the agency now prefers to kill a suspect than capture them and assess their guilt or find out what they know:
Targeted killings are easier for the CIA or for the military to deal with than taking someone prisoner. No one really ever questions a killing, but when you take someone prisoner, then you are responsible for the person and then the headaches come. We have a logic which leads to more and more targeted killings.
Think about that sentence: “No one ever really questions a killing.” How do we know who they are slaughtering? Just look at how good the CIA was at selecting people to put in Guantanamo: Almost all had to be released after being Kafkaed because they were demonstrably innocent, and included senile old men and children.
True, the program has certainly extrajudicially killed some real jihadis. But the evidence suggests it is creating far more jihadis than it kills — and is making an attack on you or me more likely with each bomb.
Drone technology is relatively new: It was pioneered in the 1980s by the right-wing American defense contractor James Neal Blue, who wanted to use it against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. It was then developed by the Israelis. They now routinely use remote-controlled robot aircraft to bomb the Gaza Strip. I’ve been in Gaza during some of these attacks. The people there were terrified — and radicalized. A young woman I know who had been averse to political violence and an advocate of peaceful protest saw a drone blow up a car full of people — and she started supporting Islamic Jihad and crying for the worst possible revenge against Israel. Robot drones have successfully bombed much of Gaza from secular Fatah to Islamist Hamas to fanatical Jihad.
Is the same thing happening in Pakistan? David Kilcullen is a counterinsurgency expert who worked for General Petraeus in Iraq and now advises the State Department. He has shown that two percent of the people killed by the robot-planes in Pakistan are jihadis. The remaining 98 percent are as innocent as the victims of 9/11. He says: “It’s not moral.” And it gets worse: “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased.”
Professor John Cole puts it more bluntly:
When you bomb people and kill their family, friends and neighbors, it pisses them off. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former home. This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al Qaeda before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be.
The polling from Pakistan shows that a desire to strike back against the US increases after every drone attack. (The floods were seen as a great opportunity to ramp up the attacks.) That translates into young men volunteering for the jihad. It’s why all the people who have been captured or defected from Osama Bin Laden’s circle, from his bodyguard to his son, say the same: He is delighted when Western governments fight back by recklessly killing Muslims. It vindicates his story that the West is evil, and sends waves of recruits his way.
Of course jihadism is not motivated solely by attacks against Muslim countries by the West. Some of it is motivated by a theocratic desire to control and tyrannize other humans in the most depraved ways: to punish women who wish to feel the sun on their hair, or novelists who want to write freely. Yet it is a provable fact that violence against Muslims tips many more people into retaliatory jihadi violence against us. Even the 2004 report commissioned by that notorious lefty Donald Rumsfeld said that “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” was the primary reason for jihadism.
A good example of this is Faisal Shahzad, the 31-year-old Pakistani-American who tried to plant a bomb in Times Square in May. A police survey of his emails over the past ten years found he was obsessed with US attacks on Muslims and insistently asked: “Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when the rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?” The Pakistan drone attacks — on the part of the world he came from — were the final spur for him. When he was arrested, he asked the police: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” At his trial, he was asked how he could possibly justify planting a bomb that would have killed children. He said: “When the drones hit, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody… I am part of the answer… I’m avenging the attack.”
When I interviewed former jihadis in Britain, they all said the same. One of them, Hadiya Masieh, summarized their view by asking: “What are we meant to do, just stand still and let them cut our throats?”
Yet many people defend the drones by saying: “We have to do something.” If your friend suffered terrible third-degree burns, would you urge her to set fire to her hair because “you have to do something”? Would you give a poisoning victim another, worse poison, on the grounds that any action is better than none?
I detest jihadism. Their ideology is everything I oppose distilled: Their ideal society is my Hell. It is precisely because I want to really undermine them — rather than pose as macho — that I am against this robot slaughter. It enlarges the threat. It drags us into a terrible feedback loop, where the US launches more drone attacks to deal with jihadism, which makes jihadism worse, which prompts more drone attacks, which makes jihadism worse — and on and on, in a state with nuclear weapons, and with many people in Europe who are from the terrorized region. It could be poised to get even worse: Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars says the US has an immediate plan to bomb 150 targets in Pakistan if there is a jihadi attack inside America.
The real and necessary fight against jihadism has to have, at its core, a policy of systematically stripping them of their best recruiting tools. Yet Obama and the CIA are doing the opposite — to an accompanying soundtrack of the screams of innocent civilians, and the low, delighted chuckle of Osama Bin Laden.
Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent. To read more of his articles, click here or here.
To read an earlier article by Johann about the growing role of robots in warfare, click here.
You can follow Johann’s updates on this issue, and others, at http://www.twitter.com/johannhari101
An oath for the few excludes the many in an ethnocracy
In all likelihood, I will be one of the very first non-Jews expected to swear loyalty to Israel as an ideology rather than as a state.
Until now, naturalising residents, like the country’s soldiers, pledged an oath to Israel and its laws. That is the situation in most countries. But soon, if the Israeli parliament passes a bill being advanced by the government, aspiring citizens will instead be required to uphold the Zionist majority’s presumption that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”.
My application for citizenship is due to be considered in the next few months, seven years after my marriage to a Palestinian citizen of Israel. The country’s 1.3 million Palestinians — usually referred to by officials as “Israeli Arabs” — are a fifth of the population. I, like a few others in my position, am likely to make such a pledge through gritted teeth and with my fingers crossed behind my back. Whatever I declare publicly to interior ministry officials will be a lie. Here are the reasons why.
One is that this law is unapologetically racist. It applies only to applicants for citizenship who are non-Jews. That is not because, as most observers assume, all Jews in Israel would willingly make the pledge but because one significant group would refuse, thereby nullifying their right to become Israelis. That group is the ultra-Orthodox, religious fundamentalists distinctive for their black dress, who are the fastest growing group among Israel’s Jewish population. They despise Israel’s secular state institutions and would make a loyalty oath only to a state guided by divine law.
So Israel is demanding from non-Jews what it does not require of Jews.
Another reason is that I do not believe a Jewish state can be democratic, any more than I believe a democratic state can be Jewish. I think the two principles are as incompatible as a “Christian and democratic state” or a “white and democratic state”. I am not alone in this assessment. Eminent academics at Israel’s universities think the same. They have concluded that the self-declared Jewish state qualifies not as a liberal democracy but as a much rarer political entity: an ethnocracy.
One of the leading exponents of this view, Professor Oren Yiftachel of Ben Gurion University in the Negev, points out that in ethnocracies, the democratic aspects of the regime are only skin deep. Its primary goal is to maintain one ethnic group’s dominance over another. Israel, it should be noted, has many laws but none guarantees equality. The discrimination, Prof Yiftachel notes, is legislated into the structure of citizenship so that one ethnic group is entitled to privileges at the expense of the other group in all basic aspects of life: access to land and water, the economy, education, political control, and so on.
Even the ethnic group’s majority status is maintained through sophisticated gerrymandering: Israel gives citizenship to Jewish settlers living outside its recognised borders, while banning the Palestinians it expelled in 1948 from ever enjoying immigration rights that are shared by Jews worldwide.
The third reason is that the new oath itself strengthens an elaborate structure of institutionalised discrimination based on Israel’s citizenship laws.
Few outsiders understand that Israel provides citizenship under two different laws, depending on whether you are a Jew or a non-Jew. All Jews and Jewish immigrants, as well as their spouses, are entitled to automatic citizenship under the Law of Return. Meanwhile, the citizenship of Israel’s Palestinians — as well as that of naturalising spouses like myself — is governed by the Citizenship Law. It is this bifurcated citizenship that made possible a previous outrage: Israel’s ban on the right of its Palestinian citizens to win citizenship, or often even residency rights, for a Palestinian spouse through naturalisation.
It is again the Citizenship Law for Palestinians, not the Law of Return for Jews, that Israel is preparing to revise to force the spouses of Palestinian citizens, myself included, to pledge an oath to the very state that confers on them and their Palestinian partners second-class citizenship.
The fourth reason is that this oath is a classic example of “slippery slope” legislation. Despite the exultations of Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right minister who campaigned under the election slogan “No loyalty, no citizenship”, this law in its current formulation will probably apply to only a few hundred applicants each year.
Currently exempt are all existing citizens, whether Jews or Palestinians; non-Jewish spouses of Jews naturalising under the Law of Return; and Palestinian partners blocked entirely from the naturalisation process. Only the tiny number of non-Jewish spouses of Israel’s Palestinian citizens will have to take the pledge. But few believe that the oath will remain so marginal for ever. A principle of tying citizenship rights to a declaration of loyalty is being established in Israel for the first time.
The next targets for this kind of legislation are the non-Zionist political parties of Israel’s Palestinian minority. The Jewish parties are already formulating bills to require parliament members to swear an oath to a “Jewish and democratic state”. That is designed to neuter Israel’s Palestinian parties, all of which share as their main platform a demand that Israel reform from a Jewish state into a “state of all its citizens”, or a liberal democracy.
Next in Lieberman’s sights, of course, are all of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinians, who will be expected to become Zionists or face a loss of citizenship and possibly expulsion. I may be one of the first non-Jews to make this pledge, but many are sure to be forced to follow me.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). Read other articles by Jonathan, or visit Jonathan’s website.
October 15, 2010, Jonathan Cook
Pentagon Author Exposes Zelikow’s Key Role in 9/11 Cover-Up
In an interview on the Fox Business Network , a retired U.S. intelligence officer accused the official in charge of the 9/11 Commission of a cover-up of intelligence failures leading up to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Appearing on the political talk show Freedom Watch , Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and the author of Operation Dark Heart , amuch-hyped new book on the war in Afghanistan, spoke about his mid-October 2003 encounter with Dr. Philip Zelikow, then executive director of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.
During a fact-finding mission to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan , Zelikow’s team was briefed by Shaffer on Able Danger , a DIA data mining project that had allegedly identified Mohammed Atta as a threat to the U.S. a year before 9/11.
Parenthetically, the “Mohammed Atta” identified by Able Danger may have been an imposter operating under a stolen identity, as occurred in the assassination of a senior Hamas official in Dubai . In an interview with a German newspaper, reported by theGuardian , Mohammed Atta’s father claimed that his son had nothing to do with the attacks and was still alive a year after 9/11.
Whichever Mohammed Atta was referred to by Shaffer in Bagram, Zelikow reportedly“fell silent with shock at the news.”
According to Shaffer, Zelikow came to him at the end of the meeting, gave him his card, and said: “What you said today is critically important, very important. Please come see me when you return to Washington D.C. ”
On his return to Washington in January 2004, Shaffer immediately contacted Zelikow’s office and was told to “stand by.” After a week passed, Shaffer called again, and this time was told by Zelikow’s staff: “We don’t need you to come in. We have all the information on Able Danger we need. Thank you anyway.”
None of the information provided by Shaffer appeared in the 9/11 Commission’s 585-page report , however.
In September 2005, more than a year after the publication of the 9/11 report, Shaffer said he met with one of the 9/11 commissioners in Philadelphia . Over lunch, he told the commissioner what he had told Zelikow in Afghanistan . The commissioner said that “he had never heard any of this,” adding that, “had he heard of it, it would have been something that was very much of interest to he [sic] and the commission.”
“So there’s a lot of things that never made it in that 9/11 report?” asked Judge Andrew Napolitano, the host of Freedom Watch .
“Things were either by negligence left out, or, and I believe, by purpose left out,” Shaffer replied.
Another guest on the show, Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, spoke of a similarly frustrating experience with the 9/11 Commission staff director.
Describing the 9/11 Commission Report as “a whitewash, and a lie from top to bottom,” Scheuer said he provided Zelikow with over 400 pages of official government documents detailing intelligence failures before 9/11.
“I never heard one word back from Zelikow,” he said.
“They all seemed very interested in what you had to say,” the former CIA officer added, referring to meetings he had with Zelikow and his staff, “but at the end of the day, it didn’t make it into the report.”
This is not the first time that questions have been raised about Zelikow’s handling of the 9/11 Commission.
In his 2009 book, The Commission , Philip Shenon, an investigative reporter for theNew York Times , wrote about “how tightly Zelikow was able to control the flow of information on the commission,” and that “everything” was “run through” him.
While Zelikow’s tight control of the commission excluded disturbing evidence from national security experts like Shaffer and Scheuer, a dubious scholar like Laurie Mylroie was afforded ample opportunity to promote the most spurious justification for the Iraq war. Mylroie, whose major booster in government was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, argued that Iraq had been involved in every major terrorist attack against the United States since the early 1990s, including 9/11. During commission hearings on al-Qaeda, Zelikow, writes Shenon, “made sure that she had a prominent place at the witness table.”
And why wouldn’t he? After all, Zelikow had an important role in, as Shenon puts it, “developing the scholarly underpinnings for the Iraq war.” It was Zelikow who had authored a thirty-one-page “preemptive war” doctrine which George W. Bush announced to the world in 2002 as “ The National Security Strategy of the United States .”
“Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?” Zelikow asked an audience at the University of Virginia in September 2002. In a rare moment of candour, Zelikow proceeded to explain that the real reason for preemptive war against Iraq was “the threat against Israel .”
Judge Napolitano asked Lt. Col. Shaffer if the commissioner in Philadelphia had said whether anyone on the 9/11 Commission “had an agenda, or was covering up for somebody, or was protecting somebody.” The commissioner’s reply was, according to Shaffer: “Everybody on the commission was covering for someone.”
Given the fatal career implications of broaching such a taboo subject , not to mention Rupert Murdoch’s well-known devotion to the State of Israel , it’s hardly surprising that the Fox presenter didn’t probe too deeply into who Philip Zelikow might have been covering for .
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan .
October 16, 2010, Dissident Voice
Obama’s robot wars endanger us all
Mon 18 Oct 2010
The drones have killed some jihadis. But the evidence suggests they create far more jihadis than they kill – and make an attack on me or you more likely with each bomb
Imagine if, an hour from now, a robot-plane swooped over your house and blasted it to pieces. The plane has no pilot. It is controlled with a joystick from 7,000 miles away, sent by the Pakistani military to kill you. It blows up all the houses in your street, and so barbecues your family and your neighbours until there is nothing left to bury but a few charred slops. Why? They refuse to comment. They don’t even admit the robot-planes belong to them. But they tell the Pakistani newspapers back home it is because one of you was planning to attack Pakistan. How do they know? Somebody told them. Who? You don’t know, and there are no appeals against the robot.
Now imagine it doesn’t end there: these attacks are happening every week somewhere in your country. They blow up funerals and family dinners and children. The number of robot-planes in the sky is increasing every week. You discover they are named “Predators”, or “Reapers” – after the Grim Reaper. No matter how much you plead, no matter how much you make it clear you are a peaceful civilian getting on with your life, it won’t stop. What do you do? If there was a group arguing that Pakistan was an evil nation that deserved to be violently attacked, would you now start to listen?
This sounds like a sketch for the next James Cameron movie – but it is in fact an accurate description of life in much of Pakistan today, with the sides flipped. The Predators and Reapers are being sent by Barack Obama’s CIA, with the support of other Western governments, and they killed more than 700 civilians in 2009 alone – 14 times the number killed in the 7/7 attacks in London. The floods were seen as an opportunity to increase the attacks, and last month saw the largest number of robot-plane bombings ever: 22. Over the next decade, spending on drones is set to increase by 700 per cent.
The US government doesn’t even officially admit the programme exists: Obama’s most detailed public comment on it was when he jokingly told the boy band the Jonas Brothers that he would unleash the drones on them if they tried to chat up his daughter. But his administration says, behind closed doors, that these robot-plane attacks are “the only show in town” for killing suspected jihadis. They do not risk the lives of US soldiers, who remain in Virginia and control the robot-planes as if they were in a video game. They “undermine the threat to the West” by “breaking up training camps, killing many people conspiring against us, and putting the rest on the run”.
But is this true? The press releases uncritically repeated by the press after a bombing always brag about “senior al-Qa’ida commanders” killed – but some people within the CIA admit how arbitrary their choice of targets is. One of their senior figures told The New Yorker: “Sometimes you’re dealing with tribal chiefs. Often they say an enemy of theirs is al-Qa’ida because they want to get rid of somebody, or they made crap up because they wanted to prove they were valuable so they could make money.”
True, the programme has certainly killed some real jihadis. But the evidence suggests it is creating far more jihadis than it kills – and is making an attack on you or me more likely with each bomb.
Drone technology was developed by the Israelis, who routinely use it to bomb the Gaza Strip. I’ve been in Gaza during some of these attacks. The people there were terrified – and radicalised. A young woman I know who had been averse to political violence and an advocate of peaceful protest saw a drone blow up a car full of people – and she started supporting Islamic Jihad and crying for the worst possible revenge against Israel. Robot-drones have successfully bombed much of Gaza, from secular Fatah to Islamist Hamas, to the brink of jihad.
Is the same thing happening in Pakistan? David Kilcullen is a counter-insurgency expert who worked for General Petraeus in Iraq and now advises the State Department. He has shown that two per cent of the people killed by the robot-planes in Pakistan are jihadis. The remaining 98 per cent are as innocent as the victims of 9/11. He says: “It’s not moral.” And it gets worse: “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased.”
Professor of Middle Eastern history Juan Cole puts it more bluntly: “When you bomb people and kill their family, it pisses them off. They form lifelong grudges… This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be.” This is why all the people who have been captured or defected from Osama Bin Laden’s circle, from his bodyguard to his son, say the same: he is delighted when Western governments fight back by recklessly killing Muslims.
Of course jihadism is not motivated solely by attacks against Muslim countries by the West. Some of it is motivated by a theocratic desire to control and tyrannise other humans in the most depraved ways: to punish women who wish to feel the sun on their hair, for one. Yet it is a provable fact that violence against Muslims tips many more people into retaliatory jihadi violence against us. Even the 2004 report commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld said that “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” was the primary reason for jihadism.
A good example of this is Faisal Shahzad, the 31-year-old Pakistani-American who tried to plant a bomb in Times Square in May. A police survey of his emails over the past 10 years found he obsessively asked: “Can you tell me a way to… fight back when the rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?” The Pakistan drone attacks – on the part of the world he came from – were the final spur for him. When he was arrested, he asked the police: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” At his trial, he said: “When the drones hit, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill everybody… I am part of the answer… I’m avenging the attack.”
Yet many people defend the drones by saying: “We have to do something.” If your friend suffered terrible third-degree burns, would you urge her to set fire to her hair because “you have to do something”? Would you give a poisoning victim another, worse poison, on the grounds that any action is better than none?
I detest jihadism. Their ideology is everything I oppose: their ideal society is my Hell. It is precisely because I want to really undermine them – rather than pose as macho – that I am against this robot-slaughter. It enlarges the threat. It drags us into a terrible feedback loop, where the US launches more drone attacks to deal with jihadism, which makes jihadism worse, which prompts more drone attacks, which makes jihadism worse – and on and on, in a state with nuclear weapons, and with many people in Europe who are from the terrorised region. It could be poised to get even worse: Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars says the US has an immediate plan to bomb 150 targets in Pakistan if there is a jihadi attack inside America.
The real and necessary fight against jihadists has to have, at its core, a policy of systematically stripping them of their best recruiting tools. Yet Obama and the CIA are doing the opposite – to an accompanying soundtrack of the screams of innocent civilians, and the low, delighted chuckle of Osama Bin Laden.
October 15, 2010, The Independent
Sunnis in Iraq Allied With U.S. Quitting to Rejoin Rebels
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and DURAID ADNAN
BAQUBA, Iraq — Members of United States-allied Awakening Councils have quit or been dismissed from their positions in significant numbers in recent months, prey to an intensive recruitment campaign by the Sunni insurgency, according to government officials, current and former members of the Awakening and insurgents.
Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.
The defections have been driven in part by frustration with the Shiite-led government, which Awakening members say is intent on destroying them, as well as by pressure from Al Qaeda. The exodus has accelerated since Iraq’s inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, which have left Sunnis uncertain of retaining what little political influence they have and which appear to have provided Al Qaeda new opportunities to lure back fighters.
The Awakening members’ switch in loyalties poses a new threat to Iraq’s tenuous social and political balance during the country’s ongoing political crisis and as the United States military prepares to withdraw next year.
“The Awakening doesn’t know what the future holds because it is not clear what the government intends for them,” said Nathum al-Jubouri, a former Awakening Council leader in Salahuddin Province who recently quit the organization.
“At this point, Awakening members have two options: Stay with the government, which would be a threat to their lives, or help Al Qaeda by being a double agent,” he said. “The Awakening is like a database for Al Qaeda that can be used to target places that had been out of reach before.”
The Awakening began in 2006, when Sunni insurgents and tribal leaders began turning against Al Qaeda and other extremists — a change that played a major role in pulling Iraq back from deadly sectarian warfare. The former insurgents were initially paid by the American military, with promises that they would eventually get jobs with the government.
But Awakening leaders and security officials say that since the spring, as many as several thousand Awakening fighters have quit, been fired, stopped showing up for duty, or ceased picking up paychecks.
During the past four months, the atmosphere has become particularly charged as the Awakening members find themselves squeezed between Iraqi security forces, who have arrested hundreds of current and former members accused of acts of recent terrorism, and Al Qaeda’s brutal recruitment techniques.
As part of the militants’ unusual, though often convincing strategy, Awakening members that Al Qaeda fails to kill are then sought out to rejoin the insurgency. They are offered larger paychecks than their $300 a month government pay and told that they would be far safer.
The government, which says it is trying to integrate the Awakening into broader Iraqi society, has further angered the group recently by confiscating its weapons, saying Awakening fighters lack proper permits, and stripping some fighters of their ranks, which the government says were not properly earned. The pay of some Awakening leaders has also been reduced.
Iraqi officials in Baghdad say they are aware of only a handful of Awakening members who have quit recently, and they are unapologetic about the government’s treatment of the fighters.
“Fighting the Al Qaeda organization does not mean you are giving service to the government or to the people, and that you deserve gifts, rank, presents or benefits,” said Zuhair al-Chalabi, head of the National Reconciliation Committee, set up to heal the country’s sectarian divides. “It is a national duty.”
The Awakening has long complained about Iraq’s reluctance to hire more of its members into the Army and police, and about receiving salaries late. Those problems persist, members say.
As of July, less than half — 41,000 of 94,000 — of the Awakening’s fighters had been offered jobs by the government, according to the United States Defense Department. Much of the employment has been temporary and involved menial labor. The government has hired only about 9,000 Awakening members for the security forces, with officials blaming budget constraints.
Leaders of the Awakening, who so far do not appear to be among those leaving, say they are not surprised about the defections given what they call the group’s marginalization by the government and its abandonment by the American military.
United States forces had overseen the Awakening in some areas of the country as recently as last year, including in Diyala Province, the violent area northeast of Baghdad that is one of Al Qaeda’s remaining strongholds. The United States relinquished control of the group as it began ceding more oversight of security to the Iraqi government. The American military declined to comment on the Awakening’s troubles.
One Awakening leader in Diyala, Bakr Karkhi, said during an interview that nearly two dozen of his fighters had rejoined Al Qaeda during the past few weeks, a process he said had been occurring throughout Sunni areas of Iraq. Other fighters, he said, had abruptly stopped reporting for duty. “I became suspicious when some of them started making questionable comments, so I expelled them,” he said. “Others left the Awakening on their own and then disappeared from their villages. We found out they were conducting illegal operations and cooperating with armed groups, including Al Qaeda.”
Awakening fighters say recent entreaties by Al Qaeda — messages that have been passed along by relatives or posted on Internet Web sites — have included pledges not to disrupt tribal traditions, one of the issues that drove a wedge between the majority of Sunni tribes and the insurgency.
A man who identified himself as a member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia said recently that the recruitment of disaffected Awakening members had been successful in Baquba, the capital of Diyala.
“Many of those who called themselves the Awakening felt remorse,” said the man, who used the nom de guerre, Abu Mohammed al-Daeni. “They believed they were making a mistake by helping the occupiers and have now returned to Al Qaeda. I can say that the number is increasing every day.”
Diyala has also witnessed a number of incidents in which police say Awakening fighters have helped Al Qaeda detonate bombs and commit other violent acts.
“The Awakening is not helping the police,” said Lt. Gen. Tariq al-Assawi, the province’s security forces commander. “They are not telling us if Al Qaeda is in the area. They are not warning us about car bombs that go off in places they are responsible for securing. A lot of them are definitely helping the insurgents.”
Muthana al-Tamimi, head of the provincial council’s security committee, said Awakening members were clearly returning to the insurgency, but that Baghdad should share the blame.
“The Awakening needs government support,” he said. “They’re not getting it, so they’re an easy bite for terrorists.”
Since January, more than 90 Awakening fighters in Diyala have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism, the authorities said. During that same period, about 100 Awakening members have been killed or wounded by Al Qaeda, according to the Awakening. The police acknowledge that almost half of those arrested were later released for lack of evidence, bolstering the Awakening’s claims of harassment.
Al Qaeda’s carrot-or-stick strategy with the Awakening was on display during a recent phone call received by Hussam al-Majmaei, the Awakening leader in Diyala Province.
The caller was Jihad Ibrahim Halim, who had been a Qaeda commander before his arrest last year. He was calling from prison.
Mr. Halim, who is Mr. Majmaei’s cousin, told him that for his own good he should rejoin the insurgency because Al Qaeda would slaughter those who had opposed them, Mr. Majmaei included. Mr. Majmaei, 27, chuckled and made his own threats before hanging up. The call, he said, was part of an ongoing “seduction.”
So far, Mr. Majmaei said he had not been swayed by Al Qaeda’s promises of money and power.
“I would never join them,” he said. “But they have no doubts. They believe in what they are saying and I see how others might bend.”
Reporting was contributed by Yasir Ghazi from Baghdad, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Baghdad, Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Babil and Anbar Provinces.
This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the “Reprints” tool that appears next to any article. Visit www.nytreprints.com for samples and additional information. Order a reprint of this article now.
Oil change reignites debate over GPS trackers
SAN FRANCISCO – Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.
The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.
Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi’s Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property — a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.
One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell’s novel, “1984”.
“By holding that this kind of surveillance doesn’t impair an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, the panel hands the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives,” wrote Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a blistering dissent in which a three-judge panel from his court ruled that search warrants weren’t necessary for GPS tracking.
But other federal and state courts have come to the opposite conclusion.
Law enforcement advocates for the devices say GPS can eliminate time-consuming stakeouts and old-fashioned “tails” with unmarked police cars. The technology had a starring role in the HBO cops-and-robbers series “The Wire” and police use it to track every type of suspect — from terrorist to thieves stealing copper from air conditioners.
That investigators don’t need a warrant to use GPS tracking devices in California troubles privacy advocates, technophiles, criminal defense attorneys and others.
The federal appeals court based in Washington D.C. said in August that investigators must obtain a warrant for GPS in tossing out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring. That court concluded that the accumulation of four-weeks worth of data collected from a GPS on Jones’ Jeep amounted to a government “search” that required a search warrant.
Judge Douglas Ginsburg said watching Jones’ Jeep for an entire month rather than trailing him on one trip made all the difference between surveilling a suspect on public property and a search needing court approval.
“First, unlike one’s movements during a single journey, the whole of one’s movements over the course of a month is not actually exposed to the public because the likelihood anyone will observe all those movements is effectively nil,” Ginsburg wrote. The state high courts of New York, Washington and Oregon have ruled similarly.
The Obama administration last month asked the D.C. federal appeals court to change its ruling, calling the decision “vague and unworkable” and arguing that investigators will lose access to a tool they now use “with great frequency.”
After the D.C. appeals court decision, the 9th Circuit refused to revisit its opposite ruling.
The panel had concluded that agents could have gathered the same information by following Juan Pineda-Moreno, who was convicted of marijuana distribution after a GPS device alerted agents he was leaving a suspected “grow site.”
“The only information the agents obtained from the tracking devices was a log of the locations where Pineda-Moreno’s car traveled, information the agents could have obtained by following the car,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the three-judge panel.
Two other federal appeals court have ruled similarly.
In his dissent, Chief Judge Kozinski noted that GPS technology is far different from tailing a suspect on a public road, which requires the active participation of investigators.
“The devices create a permanent electronic record that can be compared, contrasted and coordinated to deduce all manner of private information about individuals,” Kozinksi wrote.
Legal scholars predict the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately resolve the issue since so many courts disagree.
George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said the issue boils down to public vs. private. As long as the GPS devices are attached to vehicles on public roads, Kerr believes the U.S. Supreme Court will decide no warrant is needed. To decide otherwise, he said, would ignore a long line of previous 4th Amendment decisions allowing for warrantless searches as long as they’re conducted on public property.
“The historic line is that public surveillance is not covered by the 4th Amendment,” Kerr said.
All of which makes Afifi’s lawyer pessimistic that he has much of a chance to file a successful lawsuit challenging the FBI’s actions. Afifi is represented by Zahra Billoo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Islamic civil rights group.
Afifi declined comment after spending last week fielding myriad media inquiries after wired.com posted the story of his routine oil change and it went viral on the Internet.
Still, Billoo hopes the discovered GPS tracking device will help publicize in dramatic fashion the issue of racial profiling the lawyer says Arab-Americans routinely encounter.
She said Afifi was targeted because of his extensive ties to the Middle East, which include supporting two brothers who live in Egypt and making frequent overseas trips. His father was a well-known Islamic-American community leader who died last year in Egypt.
“Yasir hasn’t done anything to warrant that kind of surveillance,” Billoo said. “This was a blatant example of profiling.”
FBI allegedly caught using
GPS to spy on student
|By Kim Zetter, WiredOctober 8, 2010 12:09 p.m. EDT | Filed under: Gaming & Gadgets|
An FBI spokesman wouldn’t acknowledge that the GPS tracking device belonged to the agency.
- A California student found a GPS tracker on his car, which he says belongs to the FBI
- A friend of the student posted pictures of the device to the social news website Reddit
- The student says he was confronted by FBI agents, who asked him to return the gizmo
(Wired) — A California student got a visit from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online.
The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do.
It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted their expensive device back, the student told Wired.com in an interview Wednesday.
The answer came when half-a-dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at Yasir Afifi’s apartment complex in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday demanding he return the device.
Afifi, a 20-year-old U.S.-born citizen, cooperated willingly and said he’d done nothing to merit attention from authorities. Comments the agents made during their visit suggested he’d been under FBI surveillance for three to six months.
An FBI spokesman wouldn’t acknowledge that the device belonged to the agency or that agents appeared at Afifi’s house.
“I can’t really tell you much about it, because it’s still an ongoing investigation,” said spokesman Pete Lee, who works in the agency’s San Francisco headquarters.
Afifi, the son of an Islamic-American community leader who died a year ago in Egypt, is one of only a few people known to have found a government-tracking device on their vehicle.
His discovery comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying it’s legal for law enforcement to secretly place a tracking device on a suspect’s car without getting a warrant, even if the car is parked in a private driveway.
Brian Alseth from the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state contacted Afifi after seeing pictures of the tracking device posted online and told him the ACLU had been waiting for a case like this to challenge the ruling.
“This is the kind of thing we like to throw lawyers at,” Afifi said Alseth told him.
“It seems very frightening that the FBI have placed a surveillance-tracking device on the car of a 20-year-old American citizen who has done nothing more than being half-Egyptian,” Alseth told Wired.com
Afifi, a business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, discovered the device last Sunday when he took his car to a local garage for an oil change. When a mechanic at Ali’s Auto Care raised his Ford Lincoln LS on hydraulic lifts, Afifi saw a wire sticking out near the right rear wheel and exhaust.
Garage owner Mazher Khan confirmed for Wired.com that he also saw it. A closer inspection showed it connected to a battery pack and transmitter, which were attached to the car with a magnet. Khan asked Afifi if he wanted the device removed and when Afifi said yes, Khan pulled it easily from the car’s chassis.
“I wouldn’t have noticed it if there wasn’t a wire sticking out,” Afifi said.
Later that day, a friend of Afifi’s named Khaled posted pictures of the device at Reddit asking if anyone knew what it was and if it mean the FBI “is after us.” (Reddit is owned by CondeNast Digital, which also owns Wired.com).
“My plan was to just put the device on another car or in a lake,” Khaled wrote, “but when you come home to 2 stoned off their asses people who are hearing things in the device and convinced its a bomb you just gotta be sure.”
A reader quickly identified it as an Orion Guardian ST820 tracking device made by an electronics company called Cobham, which sells the device only to law enforcement.
No one was available at Cobham to answer Wired.com’s questions, but a former FBI agent who looked at the pictures confirmed it was a tracking device.
The former agent, who asked not to be named, said the device was an older model of tracking equipment that had long ago been replaced by devices that don’t require batteries. Batteries die and need to be replaced if surveillance is ongoing so newer devices are placed in the engine compartment and hardwired to the car’s battery so they don’t run out of juice. He was surprised this one was so easily found.
“It has to be able to be removed but also stay in place and not be seen,” he said. “There’s always the possibility that the car will end up at a body shop or auto mechanic, so it has to be hidden well. It’s very rare when the guys find them.”
He said he was certain that agents who installed it would have obtained a 30-day warrant for its use.
Afifi considered selling the device on Craigslist before the FBI showed up. He was in his apartment Tuesday afternoon when a roommate told him “two sneaky-looking people” were near his car.
Afifi, already heading out for an appointment, encountered a man and woman looking his vehicle outside. The man asked if Afifi knew his registration tag was expired. When Afifi asked if it bothered him, the man just smiled.
Afifi got into his car and headed for the parking lot exit when two SUVs pulled up with flashing lights carrying four police officers in bullet-proof vests.
The agent who initially spoke with Afifi identified himself then as Vincent and told Afifi, “We’re here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It’s federal property. It’s an expensive piece, and we need it right now.”
Afifi asked, “Are you the guys that put it there?” and the agent replied, “Yeah, I put it there.” He told Afifi, “We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”
Afifi retrieved the device from his apartment and handed it over, at which point the agents asked a series of questions — did he know anyone who traveled to Yemen or was affiliated with overseas training? One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago. It had “something to do with a mall or a bomb,” Afifi said. He hadn’t seen it before and doesn’t know the details of what it said. He found it hard to believe Khaled meant anything threatening by the post.
“He’s a smart kid and is not affiliated with anything extreme and never says anything stupid like that,” Afifi said. “I’ve known that guy my whole life. ”
The agents told Afifi they had other agents outside Khaled’s house.
“If you want us to call them off and not talk to him we can do that,” Afifi said they told him. “That was weird. … I didn’t really believe anything they were saying.”
When he later asked Khaled about the post, his friend recalled “writing something stupid,” but said he wasn’t involved in any wrongdoing. Khaled declined to discuss the issue with Wired.com.
The female agent, who handed Afifi a card, identified herself as Jennifer Kanaan and said she was Lebanese. She spoke some Arabic to Afifi and through the course of her comments indicated she knew what restaurants he and his girlfriend frequented. She also congratulated him on his new job. Afifi got laid off from his job a couple of days ago, but on the same day was hired as an international sales manager of laptops and computers for Cal Micro in San Jose.
The agents also knew he was planning a short business trip to Dubai in a few weeks. Afifi said he often travels for business and has two teenage brothers in Egypt whom he supports financially. They live with an aunt. His U.S.-born mother, who divorced his father five years ago, lives in Arizona.
Afifi’s father, Aladdin Afifi, was a U.S. citizen and former president of the Muslim Community Association here, before his family moved to Egypt in 2003. Yasir Afifi returned to the U.S. alone in 2008, while his father and brothers stayed in Egypt, to further his education he said. He knows he’s on a federal watchlist and is regularly taken aside at airports for secondary screening.
Six months ago, a former roommate of his was visited by FBI agents who said they wanted to speak with Afifi. Afifi contacted one agent and was told the agency received an anonymous tip from someone saying he might be a threat to national security. Afifi told the agent he was willing to answer questions if his lawyer approved. But after Afifi’s lawyer contacted the agency, he never heard from the feds again until he found their tracking device.
“I don’t think they were surprised that I found it,” he told Threat Level. “I’m sure they knew when I found it. … One of the first questions they asked me was if I was at a mechanics shop last Sunday. I said yes, that’s where I found this stupid device under my car.”
Afifi’s attorney, who works for the civil liberties-focused Council on American Islamic Relations, said this kind of tracking is more egregious than the kind her office usually sees.
“The idea that it escalates to this level is unusual,” said Zahra Billoo. “We take about one new case each week relating to FBI or law enforcement visits [to clients]. Generally they come to the individual’s house or workplace, and there are issues that arise from that.”
However, she said that after learning about Afifi’s experience, other lawyers in her organization told her they knew of two people in Ohio who also recently discovered tracking devices on their vehicles.
Afifi’s encounter with the FBI ended with the agents telling him not to worry.
“We have all the information we needed,” they told him. “You don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring. ”
They shook his hand and left.
Copyright 2010 Wired.com.
New Side-by-Side Gaza Flotilla
Discredits Israeli Version of Events
WASHINGTON D.C., October 7, 2010: A comprehensive report examining the minute-by-minute versions of the same events during the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla attack by Israelwas released by two charity groups today. Contrasting passenger testimonies against official Israeli accounts side-by-side to each other, a complete picture can be seen as to exactly what transpired in the days and hours leading up to the incident as well as its aftermath.
The attack took place in international waters in the early hours of May 31, 2010 as humanitarian aid workers carrying goods and supplies, including medical equipment, attempted to break the Israeli-imposed blockade on Gaza. The attack on the six ships in the flotilla led to the deaths of nine passengers on the Turkish-supported Mavi Marmara ship. The result has been an intense worldwide condemnation of Israeli policies towards the increase in aid missions.
The Timeline and Inconsistencies Report, co-sponsored by the International Bureau of Humanitarian NGOs (IBH) in Geneva and Paris, and the Friends of Charities Association (FOCA) in Washington D.C., takes each individual action as it happened, and aligns the passenger version against the Israeli account. The “conclusions are in sharp contrast to the Israeli official version of events,” the report found.
Released as an advance copy coincidentally on the same day as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued its damning conclusions of Israeli actions, the timeline analysis lets the evidence speak for itself.
Tom Nelson, lawyer and spokesperson for FOCA, presented the Timeline Report to colleagues in Europe this week. “It got absolutely raving positive reviews here in Brussels,” he said, adding, “It is a powerful supplement to the UN Human Rights Commission report.”
IBH and FOCA conducted the research over a 4-month period based on information gathered from passenger testimonies, government authorities, world press coverage, official videos and film smuggled from the ship, as well as the United Nations report, Israeli self-inquiry, and Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) report.
Conclusions show that Israel clearly manipulated evidence to bolster its argument that the attack on the Mavi Marmara was in self-defense against armed violent activists. Using second-by-second analysis, the reports shows how six of the nine passengers killed were victims of execution-style murders by the Israeli soldiers.
Examples of manufactured computer-generated images installed into the official Israeli video released are revealed as individual frames.
The report goes on to note that when passengers were detained and independently and consistently testified to being beaten, sexually harassed and abused, “no argument as to imminent threat could be justified” by the Israeli authorities.
The report can be viewed and downloaded at
An Executive Summary can be viewed at
America involved in endless wars
Georgie Anne GeyerUniversal Press Syndicate
Fri 15 Oct 2010
WASHINGTON — Every day now, at least if you peruse one of the big Eastern American newspapers, you read about our wars: Fighting in Afghanistan, in its 10th year! Collapse in Pakistan! American troops still in Iraq! American troops and/or drone strikes in Somalia, Yemen and various countries of Africa, plus threats to China over oil in the South China Sea!
If you plumb just a little bit below that warfare on the surface, you will find that current Pentagon outlays are roughly $700 billion annually, the U.S. spending more on its military than the rest of the world combined. That we have approximately 300,000 troops stationed abroad, occupying some 76l bases, or euphemistically called “sites,” in 39 foreign countries — an “empire of bases.” And that the Pentagon, being neat and precise in its habits, has divided up the planet into eight “unified commands” in order to, well, order the world.
Ahhh, but all this military expansionism is merely temporary, the loyal American citizen will say. It is a result of America’s having to fight the Cold War with the Soviets — and now, on top of that, having to face down Islamic radicalism. It is not, in short, who we are, a peaceable people forced into wars against our better selves. But instead of patting ourselves on the back, perhaps we ought to study a quote of the great philosopher Joseph Schumpeter, who wrote of the military created by imperialist states: “Created by the wars that required it, the machine now created the wars it required.”
Indeed, there is a growing school of military men and political thinkers coming to the fore who believe that the United States is now creating wars it either thinks it requires or that it simply desires to fight, to illustrate its predominance and grandeur before the world. This is not a line of thought that is easily going to fade away.
If you wonder about this growing camaraderie of unusual “peaceniks,” one of the books you should pick up is “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.” The author is the respected Andrew J. Bacevich, retired U.S. Army colonel and professor of history and international relations at Boston University. And his operative words are “permanent war” or, as he sometimes puts it, “perpetual war.”
Bacevich, who often appears on television with his revisionist viewpoints, recalls first how the original Founding Fathers saw even the young America as a leader of the world — a “city upon a hill: where the city’s inhabitants should seek not to compel or enforce, but to exemplify and illuminate.” Instead, in a total turnaround, today America seeks to frighten and to enforce its will.
Vietnam, of course, was the first warning of the new era. But Bacevich is astonished at the degree to which America, and especially the military, barely learned from Vietnam. “In retrospect,” he writes, “what distinguishes the legacy of Vietnam is not how much things changed, but how little.”
We came to the point where there is only one person at the top of the Pentagon/White House leadership who has personal memories of Vietnam; where generals speak of “a generational war” or a 50- to 100-year war against Islamic radicalism or “open-ended” wars — and the American people seem to pay not the slightest attention.
Is it because the troops are volunteers and not draftees? Because newspapers around the country have declined to such an extent that they barely print anything on Afghanistan or Iraq? Because our public life — television, radio, movies, political campaigns — has become so violent and filled with eternal conflict the American public no longer finds war an unusual activity? Or perhaps because of the common American idea that if America is good, then all of its actions must naturally be benign? One could make any of those points with perfectly cogent argumentation.
The Eastern papers are filled with portions of Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars,” showing the degree to which Obama disagreed with his generals on Afghanistan — but in the end, he went along with them. Meanwhile, another book, “Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq” by John W. Dower, makes many of the same points as Bacevich.
Finally, Bacevich looks at the generation of officers represented by Gen. David Petraeus, commander in Afghanistan, and finds that, “They came to view war as commonplace, a quasi-permanent aspect of everyday reality. Moreover, their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan persuaded them to see armed conflict as an open-ended enterprise. Wars no longer ended.”
Ironically, we were the most blessed of all nations, not only in the integrity of our original principles but in our sheer physical security. But instead of using that security for peaceable motives and to build up our own culture, schools, industries and infrastructure, we have used exactly this moment in history to travel about the world looking for wars to fight. The 9/11 attack could have been easily — and truly — revenged by special forces, by intelligence agents and by cunning diplomacy aimed precisely at al-Qaida, and not by fighting every nation between here and the Khyber Pass. It is time we paid serious attention to why we seem to have opted for perpetual war instead.
— Universal Press Syndicate
October 13, 2010, The News Herald
The White Noise of War
Sat 16 Oct 2010
In the high-vaulted main hall of Union Station in Washington, DC, the sound of a drone attack interrupts the morning rush hour. A dozen people suddenly freeze in place. Some point up into the air. Others crouch with hands over their heads in a vain attempt at self-protection. The commuters on their way to and from the trains pause to look at the stationary figures. After a minute or so, the leaf-blower sound of the drone attack cuts off, and the figures crumple to the ground, crying out in pain. As the cries of the victims fade, two attendants cover the bodies with blood-stained sheets.
A banner unfolds. A chant begins. The commuters in Union Station receive their termination notices. “You are a child living in Miranshah, Pakistan,” reads one of these flyers. “Your house is adjacent to a militant compound. A ‘kill chain’ comprised of U.S. officials mandates that a pilotless drone aircraft should fire on the building where you live. On August 23rd, 2010, a CIA drone-operated Hellfire missile kills you, two other children, and four women.”
This mock drone attack (you can see the video here)–along with others in San Francisco, Boston, and Madison–takes place on the anniversary of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Many commuters walk by the scene and pay scant attention to the five-minute performance. This is, after all, Washington, DC: Protests, civil disobedience, and political street theater are a feature of the landscape.
But there’s another, more disturbing reason for the indifference. On October 7, we entered our tenth year of the Afghanistan War. The air war, the Pentagon pronouncements, the daily invocations of patriotism: These have all combined to create a white noise that drowns out the voices of opposition at home and abroad. This white noise of war is a drone sound that makes others duck and cover but renders Americans dangerously complacent.
So far, the Obama administration’s policies have been part of the problem, not the solution. The president authorized a surge in troops on the ground and asked Congress to increase the money we’re paying for that war. At the same time, the administration has dramatically increased the frequency of drone attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan — from two to three a week to five attacks every week in September.
These drone attacks aren’t the pinpoint strikes the Pentagon would like us to believe. We are killing as many as 50 civilians for every extremist leader targeted. Anti-American sentiment has surged in Pakistan and throughout the Muslim world. According to arecent New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow poll, nearly nine out of 10 people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) oppose the U.S. military pursuing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their region and “nearly 70 percent of FATA residents instead want the Pakistani military alone to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the tribal areas.”
The hearts and minds have spoken. But they can’t be heard above the white noise of war.
This poll was conducted before a U.S. gunship mistakenly killed three Pakistani soldiers in an attack on a military outpost in Pakistan. The United States apologized. But Pakistanis remain outraged.
“Why should NATO only acknowledge its mistake in the killing Frontier Corps personnel?” asks the English-language Pakistani newspaper, The Nation. “Does the state of Pakistan not value the lives of its civilians? Surely the Pakistan government should have responded to this half-baked apology with a demand for a proper apology for all the NATO intrusions into FATA which have killed Pakistani citizens?” Pakistan temporarily closed its borders to NATO transport for the Afghanistan War. Too bad Islamabad reopened the border, writes Foreign Policy In Focus blogger Russ Wellen — it was a perfect opportunity for Washington to begin “in earnest to back away from the crime scene that has become Afghanistan.”
What outrages Pakistan barely registers here in the United States. According to aGallup poll from last month, the issue of war — including the fear of war — ranked as the most important issue facing the United States for only three percent of respondents. “National security” and “war in Iraq” scored even lower. And this data is remarkably consistent going back to March. A politically savvy president would shift the money from areas of relative indifference (war) to areas of relative obsession (jobs and the economy).
Today, of course, everyone is focused on the mid-term elections and the prospects of a big Republican win . “Whereas Obama seemed to do all the right things in his quest for the presidency, he seemed to make all the wrong moves as chief executive,” writes FPIF columnist Walden Bello in Lessons of the Obama Debacle. “His prioritizing of health care reform, a massively complex task, has been identified as a key blunder. This decision certainly contributed to the debacle. But other important factors related mainly to his handling of the economic crisis, a primary concern of the electorate, were perhaps more critical.”
That economic crisis will continue to dominate the second half of Obama’s term. It won’t be easy to push through job-creation policies in the face of Republican obstructionism (and Democratic wishy-washiness). Hamstrung on domestic policy, he could still act boldly in the global realm, creating a foreign policy legacy that could stand beside health care reform. Ending the Afghanistan War, alongside the troop withdrawals from Iraq, could be that legacy. Such courageous acts could create a buzz for Barack Obama, perhaps even enduring applause, that would qualify, finally, as a fitting substitute for the white noise of war.
October 13, 2010 by Foreign Policy in Focus
3,000 Dead In US-Complicit 9-11 Atrocity
And 8 Million Dead In US War On Terror
The US-dominated World Mainstream media are legitimately remembering the 3,000 dead in the 9-11 atrocity for which some top scientific and intelligence experts hold the US responsible. However, in marked contrast, World Mainstream media ignore the 8 million dead (mostly Asian women and children) in the post-9-11 US War on Terror (a war for Oil and Hegemony) driven politically by racist Zionist and neocon American terror hysteria, anti-Arab anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The world is marking the 9th anniversary of the 9-11 atrocity in which, (1) according to some top scientific and intelligence experts, the US Government, with likely Israeli state terrorist support, killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11 to launch the War on Terror for oil, US hegemony and US-Israeli domination of the Middle East or (2) religious fundamentalists in Central Asian caves without state intelligence, armed forces, or military-industrial infrastructure achieved a devastating attack on Metropolitan United States that the Axis Powers failed to do in World War 2 and, furthermore, did so for no obvious cost-benefit reasons.
Two Swiss scholars, Professors Daniele Ganser and Albert A. Stahel of the University of Zurich, reported in the largest Swiss newspaper, “Blick”, have seriously questioned the “official Bush version” of what happened on 9/11 (see “Je mehr wir forschen, desto mehr zweifeln wir” [“the more we research the more we doubt”], Blick, 15 September 2006:http://www.blick.ch/news/ausland/9-11/artikel45057 ). Professor Ganser: “3,000 humans were sacrificed for strategic interests. The more we explore, the more we doubt the Bush version. It is conceivable that the Bush government was responsible. Bush has lied so much already! And we already know that the US government planned an operation in 1962 that was approved by the Pentagon that would have sacrificed innocent US citizens for the government’s own interests …We only ask questions” (see “US responsible for 9-11? Swiss scholars Professors Daniele Ganser and Albert A. Stahel doubt official Bush version” : https://sites.google.com/site/afghanistangenocideessays/us-responsible ).
Professors Ganser and Stahel presented 3 sensible hypotheses for 9-11: “There are three theories, which we should treat equally:
1. “Surprise theory” – Bin Laden and Al Qaeda implemented the attacks.
2. “Let it happen on purpose” – The US Government knew the Al Qaeda plans and did not react in order to legitimize a series of wars.
3. “Made it happen on purpose” – The attacks were actually planned and orchestrated by the Pentagon and/or US secret services.”
How do these 3 hypotheses about the 9/11 atrocity stack up when one considers Means, Opportunity and Motive (MOM)?
1. “Surprise theory” than “men in caves” did 9-11.
Unlike the US and Apartheid Israel, the “men in caves” (all former US-backed Muslim-origin terrorists) had no vast army, navy, air force, military-industrial complex, or state intelligence apparatus (no Means), did not have the ability to countermand massive anti-hijacking and other emplaced security systems (no Opportunity) and had no rational reason to embark on a terrorist atrocity that would lead to the global decimation of their associates and the US Alliance killing of 7 million Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan alone (no Motive). In World War 2 the Axis Powers with their massive military, industrial and intelligence resources only managed to kill 6 Americans in Mainland United States (a clergyman saw his wife and 5 church children killed by a Japanese balloon bomb device in Oregon on 5 May 1945; see “Japanese balloon bomb deaths story”, Balloon Bombs: ”:http://www.japaneseballoonbombs.com/articles/balloonbombdeaths.html ).
2. US let 9-11 happen on purpose.
A particularly authoritative account of this hypothesis has been presented by Michael Meacher MP (UK environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003): “Massive attention has now been given – and rightly so – to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq . But far too little attention has focused on why the US went to war, and that throws light on British motives too. The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan was a natural first step in launching a global war against terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction, the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great deal murkier. We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president), Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld’s deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush’s younger brother) and Lewis Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff). The document, entitled Rebuilding America’s Defences, was written in September 2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The plan shows Bush’s cabinet intended to take military control of the Gulf region whether or not Saddam Hussein was in power… The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the “global war on terrorism” has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda – the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this myth and junior participation in this project really a proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there was ever need to justify a more objective British stance, driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical change of course. (Michael Meacher, “This war on terrorism is bogus”, The Guardian, 6 September 2003:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/sep/06/september11.iraq ).
Polls indicate that one third of Americans believe that the US Government was involved e.g. this report: “More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East, according to a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll” (see “Was 9/11 an inside job?”, Seattle PI, 3 August 2006:http://www.seattlepi.com/national/279827_conspiracy02ww.html ” ). Further, it has been reported that “A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 17 nations finds that majorities in only nine of them believe that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States” (see “Poll: a quarter of Germans think the US did 9-11?”, Passport, 10 September 2008: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2008/09/10/
A petition signed by 100 prominent Americans and 40 9/11 family members demanded a full, independent investigation of what really happened on 9-11. The statement’s list of signatories includes Presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate David Cobb, Catherine Austin Fitts, a member of the first Bush administration, Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern. Other signatories include former US Ambassador to Iraq Edward L. Peck and environmentalists like Randy Hayes and John Robbins (see “9/11 statement signed by 100 prominent Americans”, WantToKnow.info:http://www.wanttoknow.info/911statement ). The statement said in part: “ On August 31, 2004, Zogby International, the official North American political polling agency for Reuters, released a poll that found nearly half (49.3%) of New York City residents and 41% of those in New York state believe US leaders had foreknowledge of impending 9/11 attacks and “consciously failed” to act. Of the New York City residents, 66% called for a new probe of unanswered questions by Congress or the New York Attornney General. In connection with this news, we have assembled 100 notable Americans and 40 family members of those who died to sign this 9/11 Statement, which calls for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war. ”
And of course the US had the Means (US military, intelligence and security domination of the US ), Opportunity (ditto) and Motive (to launch the War on Terror for US occupation of the Middle East and Central Asia for oil, gas and US and Israeli hegemony).
3. The US made 9-11 happen “on purpose”.
A number of key scientific, military and intelligence experts have advanced this most compelling of the 3 hypotheses. As stated in item #2 above, the US had Means, Opportunity and Motive (MOM). There is compelling scientific evidence that a huge jet plane flown by experts could not have landed on a dime at the door of the Pentagon as asserted by the “official Bush version “ of 9-11 and that the 3 World Trade Center buildings were brought down by explosive demolition (proven by the discovery by Professor Niels Harrit and colleagues of the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, that unexploded nano-thermite high explosive was present in all WTC dust samples examined). Some of these expert opinions are presented below.
Scholars for 9/11 Truth has set out expert evidence that the US was involved in 9-11 (see: http://911scholars.org/ ).
Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice has set out a detailed series of links to the expert views of many other rational, eminent and technically expert people who reject the “official conspiracy theory” and who believe that the US was variously involved in the 9-11 atrocity (see: http://stj911.org/ ).
Many respected senior members of the US military, intelligence services, and government have expressed significant criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report. Some even allege government complicity in the terrible acts of 9/11 (see “9/11 Commission Report questioned by senior military, intelligence and government officials”, WantToKnow.info: http://www.wanttoknow.info/officialsquestion911commissionreport ).
Swiss Professors Daniele Ganser and Albert A. Stahel of the University of Zurich, reported in the largest Swiss newspaper, “Blick”, have seriously questioned the “official Bush version” of what happened on 9/11 (see “Je mehr wir forschen, desto mehr zweifeln wir” [the more we research the more we doubt”], Blick, 15 September 2006:http://www.blick.ch/news/ausland/9-11/artikel45057 ; and “US responsible for 9-11? Swiss scholars Professors Daniele Ganser and Albert A. Stahel doubt official Bush version”: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanistangenocideessays/us-responsible ): “3,000 humans were sacrificed for strategic interests. The more we explore, the more we doubt the Bush version….We only ask questions.”
Professor Niels Harrit and colleagues (Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen , Copenhagen , Denmark ) : “We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center . Examination of four of these samples, collected from separate sites, is reported in this paper. These red/gray chips show marked similarities in all four samples…Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered din the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material” (see Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, Bradley R. Larsen, “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe, The Open Chemical Physics Journals, vol.2, pp.7-31 (25): http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCPJ/2009/00000002/00000001/7TOCPJ.SGM ).
Jim Hoffmann (a top US software engineer who has extensively analyzed the 3 WTC building demolitions : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Hoffman ) : “The implications of the discovery of unspent aluminothermic explosives and matching residues in World Trade Center dust are staggering. There is no conceivable reason for there to have been tons of high explosives in the Towers except to demolish them, and demolition is blatantly incompatible with the official 9/11 narrative that the skyscrapers collapsed as a result of the jetliner impacts and fires. The discovery of active thermitic materials adds to a vast body of evidence that the total destruction of the Towers were controlled demolitions, and to the subset of that evidence indicating the use of aluminothermic materials to implement those demolitions” (see Jim Hoffmann, “Explosives Found in World Trade Center Dust. Scientists Discover Both Residues And Unignited Fragments Of Nano-Engineered Thermitic Pyrotechnics In Debris From the Twin Towers”, 9-11 Research, 9 December 2010: http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/thermite/explosive_residues.html ) .
Major General Albert N. Stubblebine (graduate of the U.S. Military Academy West Point, class of 52, distinguished 32 year career in the U.S. Army and retired as the Commanding General of the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command , INSCOM): “You look at the buildings falling, they didn”t fall down because of an airplane hit them, they fell down because explosives went off inside. Demolition. Look at Building 7 for God sakes … I do not believe the free press is free anymore… The press is saying what they have been told to say about this. Now do I have proof about this? No. But I believe that all the stories that were told about 9/11 were false” (see “ Major General Albert Stubblebine Towers fell down because of explosives”, World for 9-11 Truth”, 29 June 2009: http://world911truth.org/major-general-albert-stubblebine-towers-fell-down-because-of-explosives/ ).
Professor Francesco Cossiga (63rd prime minister and 8th president of Italy, professor of law at the University of Sassari, and intelligence intimate) in an interview with leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (2007): “As I’ve been told, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow [interview appeared on 30 November 2007] the most important chain of newspapers of our country should give the proof, with an exceptional scoop, that the video (which in reality is an audio tape, NdR) in which appears Osama, leader of “the great and powerful movement of islamic revenge Al Quaeda” – God bless him! – and in which are formulated threats to our ex president Berlusconi, is nothing more than a fake realized inside Mediaset studios [the huge television group owned by Berlusconi] in Milan and sent to arabic television station Al Jazeera. The trap was organized to create solidarity for Berlusconi, who is having lot of problems related to the tangle between RAI and Mediaset. From circles around Palazzo Chigi, nerve centre of direction of Italian intelligence, it is noted that the non-authenticity of the video is testified from the fact that Osama bin Laden in it ‘confessed’ that Al Qaeda was the author of the attack of the 11 September on the Twin Towers in New York, while all of the democratic circles of America and of Europe, in the front lines being those of the Italian centre-left, now know well that the disastrous attack was planned and realized by the American CIA and Mossad with the help of the Zionist world to put under accusation the Arabic Countries and to persuade the Western powers to intervene in Iraq and Afghanistan” (see “ Francesco Cossiga ” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Cossiga ).
General Leonid Ivashov (vice-president of the Russian Academy on geopolitical affairs. He was the chief of the department for General affairs in the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Defense, secretary of the Council of defense ministers of the Community of independent states (CIS), chief of the Military cooperation department at the Russian federation’s Ministry of defense and Joint chief of staff of the Russian armies) (2006): “Terrorism is the weapon used in a new type of war. At the same time, international terrorism, in complicity with the media, becomes the manager of global processes. It is precisely the symbiosis between media and terror, which allows modifying international politics and the exiting reality. In this context, if we analyze what happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States , we can arrive at the following conclusions: 1. The organizers of those attacks were the political and business circles interested in destabilizing the world order and who had the means necessary to finance the operation. The political conception of this action matured there where tensions emerged in the administration of financial and other types of resources. We have to look for the reasons of the attacks in the coincidence of interests of the big capital at global and transnational levels, in the circles that were not satisfied with the rhythm of the globalization process or its direction. Unlike traditional wars, whose conception is determined by generals and politicians, the oligarchs and politicians submitted to the former were the ones who did it this time. 2. Only secret services and their current chiefs – or those retired but still having influence inside the state organizations – have the ability to plan, organize and conduct an operation of such magnitude. Generally, secret services create, finance and control extremist organizations. Without the support of secret services, these organizations cannot exist – let alone carry out operations of such magnitude inside countries so well protected. Planning and carrying out an operation on this scale is extremely complex. 3. Osama bin Laden and “Al Qaeda” cannot be the organizers nor the performers of the September 11 attacks. They do not have the necessary organization, resources or leaders. Thus, a team of professionals had to be created and the Arab kamikazes are just extras to mask the operation. The September 11 operation modified the course of events in the world in the direction chosen by transnational mafias and international oligarchs; that is, those who hope to control the planet’s natural resources, the world information network and the financial flows. This operation also favored the US economic and political elite that also seeks world dominance” (see General Leonid Ivashov, “International terrorism does not exist: September 11 attacks were the result of a set-up”, Global Research, 23 January 2006: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1789 ) .
Andreas von Bülow (state-secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Defence (1976-1980) and German Minister for Research and Technology , 1980-1982): “Planning the attacks was a master deed, in technical and organizational terms. To hijack four big airliners within a few minutes and fly them into targets within a single hour and doing so on complicated flight routes! That is unthinkable, without backing from the secret apparatuses of state and industry” and “If what I say is right, the whole US government should end up behind bars…They have hidden behind a veil of secrecy and destroyed the evidence – that they invented the story of 19 Muslims working within Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’eda – in order to hide the truth of their own covert operation” (see “Andreas von B ülow”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_von_B%C3%BClow )..
25 US military officers have spoken out against the Bush Administration lies about the 9/11 atrocity . The views of these men are particularly noteworthy because of their unquestionable patriotism, their military service and their technical expertise. What these American military heroes are saying is actually unexceptional in the sense that it has all been said by themselves and others before. Thus not just military men and scientists recognize the “impossibility” of the “official Bush version” e.g. an aviation gas fire cannot melt or even soften steel; it is hard enough to crash a light aircraft at ground level into a tree-surrounded building like the Pentagon, let alone a huge airliner; the absence of passenger effects from the various sites; the minimal-resistance collapse of the Twin Towers mimicking “perfect” demolitions; the collapse of the WTC7 building that had not been hit by a plane and which had suffered only minor fires etc etc (see Gideon Polya “US did 9/11? US Military Officers Challenge “official Bush version” of 9/11”:https://sites.google.com/site/afghanistangenocideessays/us-did-9-11 )..
US Navy Commander Kolstad about the “official Bush version” account of American Airlines Flight 77 that allegedly crashed into the Pentagon: “At the Pentagon, the pilot of the Boeing 757 did quite a feat of flying. I have 6,000 hours of flight time in Boeing 757’s and 767’s and I could not have flown it the way the flight path was described. I was also a Navy fighter pilot and Air Combat Instructor and have experience flying low altitude, high speed aircraft. I could not have done what these beginners did. Something stinks to high heaven!” (see Gideon Polya “US did 9/11? US Military Officers Challenge “official Bush version” of 9/11”: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanistangenocideessays/us-did-9-11 ).
Former U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Jeff Dahlstrom on what happened on 9/11 and why it happened : “The US government and the news media, once again, were lying to the world about the real terrorists and the public murder of 2,972 innocents on 9/11. The ‘Patriot Act’ was actually written prior to 9/11 with the intention of destroying the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was passed by Congress, based upon the government’s myth of 9/11, which was in reality a staged hoax. 9/11 was scripted and executed by rogue elements of the military, FAA, intelligence, and private contractors working for the US government. In addition to severely curtailing fundamental rights of Americans, the 9/11 crime was then used by this administration, the one I originally voted for and supported, to justify waging two pre-emptive wars (and most likely a third war), killing over 4,500 American soldiers, and killing over one million innocent Afghan and Iraqi people. It was all premeditated. Treason, a false flag military operation, and betrayal of the trust of the American people were committed on 9/11 by the highest levels of the US government and not one person responsible for the crimes, or the cover-up, has been held accountable for the last six years” (see Gideon Polya “US did 9/11? US Military Officers Challenge “official Bush version” of 9/11”: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanistangenocideessays/us-did-9-11 ).
Alan Hart , eminent UK Middle East expert and journalist, ) has reported that according to “consultants who work for leading engineering and construction firms” the 3 buildings destroyed in the World Trade Center were brought down by explosive demolition and quite likely involving the Israelis: “The twin towers were brought down by a controlled ground explosion, not the planes….My guess is that at an early point they [Mossad] said to the bad guys in the CIA – hey this operation’s running what do we do, and the zionists and the neo-cons said let’s use it” (see “Alan Hart breaks silence about 9/11 on Kevin Barrett Show”, 9/11 Truth Norcal, 26 May 2010: http://norcaltruth.org/2010/05/26/alan-hart-breaks-silence-about-911-on-kevin-barrett-show/ ).
Dr Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan, ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College) : “Several things are very clear to me from a careful assessment of both official and critical evaluations of the 9/11 attacks. First, the striking aircraft alone simply could not have brought down either of the two buildings in the manner in which they fell, much less a third building which was not hit by a plane (I expect the one intended to do that as a “cover” had ended up in that Pennsylvania field), given the available physical evidence and a wealth of expert testimony. This means the attackers had assistance on the ground, and it had to have been active before the attacks occurred: preparing buildings for controlled demolition is not something done haphazardly in the midst of chaos. Second, only two intelligence agencies had the expertise, assets, access and political protection to execute 9/11 in the air and on the ground: our CIA and Israel ‘s Mossad. Only one had the incentive, using the “who benefits” principle: Mossad. And that incentive dovetailed perfectly with the neo-con’s agenda and explicitly expressed need for a catalytic event to mobilize the American public for their wars, using American military power to destroy Israel ‘s enemies. Only the unexpected strength of the Iraqi resistance kept Syria and Iran from being attacked in the second Bush Administration. Thus, the evidential trail for 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq run from PNAC, AIPAC and their cohorts; through the mostly Jewish neo-cons in the Bush Administration; and back to the Israeli government. None of the denials and political machinations can alter that essential reality. Terms such as treason, betrayal and deceit do not overstate the case against them.” (see Dr Alan Sabrowsky, “Treason, Betrayal and deceit: 9’11 and beyond”, Information Clearing House”, 10 September 2009: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23460.htm ).
Underscoring this is the appalling, sustained, over 2 century record of pathological deceit by the US in the interests of war, expansion, theft and hegemony. The Bush Administration alone was found to have told 935 untruths about Iraq in the run-up to the illegal invasion of that country (see “Study: Bush, aides made 935 false statements in run-up to war”, CNN, 23 January 2008: http://articles.cnn.com/2008-01-23/politics/bush.iraq_1_intelligence-flaws-iraq-and-al-qaeda-study?_s=PM:POLITICS ).
Means, Opportunity and Motive (MOM) analysis makes a compelling case that the US did 9-11, most likely with the involvement of the genocidal racist Zionists running Apartheid Israeli state terrorism.
The American and Israeli perpetrators are well protected by layers of Mainstream media and politicians lying by commission and lying of omission. The biggest of the Big Lies of the Mainstream media and politicians in the Western Murdochracies is a huge lie of omission over post-9-11 deaths associated with the War on Terror. While we are endlessly (and quite properly) told of the 3,000 Americans who died on 9-11 and the US Alliance military deaths in Occupied Iraq (4,736 as of today) and in Occupied Afghanistan (2,071 as of today) (see: http://icasualties.org/ ), Mainstream media and politicians resolutely refuse to report the horrendous post-invasion deaths of the Indigenous inhabitants of Iraq and Afghanistan that now total about 7 million – over 2,300 innocent people murdered by the US Alliance for every person killed on 9-11, an event that even according to the “official US version of 9-11” involved no Iraqis nor any Afghans.
UNICEF data indicate that every 3 days more Occupied Afghans die avoidably under US, NATO and Australian occupation (3,700) than the number of those who were killed on 9-11 (3,000), an atrocity that did not involve any Afghans according to the “official US version of 9-11”- indeed, according to some top scientific and intelligence experts the US did 9-11, some saying with likely Israeli terrorist complicity (see:http://bellaciao.org/en/spip.php?article19999 ).
Bring on war crimes trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for all those involved in the US Alliance-imposed, ongoing Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide (3.5 million post-invasion non-violent deaths from deprivation, possibly 1.0 million post-invasion violent deaths, 2.4 million post-invasion under-5 year old infant deaths, 3-4 million refugees plus a further 2.5 million Pashtun refugees generated by the US in NW Pakistan:https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/ ).
Bring on the war crimes trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for all those involved in the US Alliance-imposed, ongoing Iraq Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide (1.1 million post-invasion non-violent deaths from deprivation, 1.4 million post-invasion violent deaths, 0.8 million post-invasion under-5 year old infant deaths, 5-6 million refugees plus 0.2 million violent deaths in the Gulf War, 1.7 million non-violent deaths from deprivation under Sanctions and 1.2 million under-5 infant deaths under Sanctions:https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ ).
September 11 should primarily remembered for the anniversary of the launching of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movement for peaceful resistance in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1906 (see “Sept. 11: creating history of a different kind”, The Hindu:http://www.hinduonnet.com/mag/2002/10/06/stories/2002100600290500.htm ).
9-11 must be made a day to remember (1) the launching of Gandhi’s ultimately successful for peaceful opposition to racist violence; (2) to remember the US (and most likely Israeli) destruction of 3,000 Americans on 9-11; and (3) to remember the 8 million people murdered, so far, by genocidal US and Zionist violence since 9-11 (2.5 million violent deaths and non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation in Iraq; 4.5 million violent deaths and non-violent avoidable deaths from deprivation in Afghanistan; and 0.8 million opiate drug-related deaths – 50,000 in the US and 3,000 in Australia – due to US Alliance restoration of the Taliban-destroyed Afghan opium industry from 6% of world share in 2001 to over 90% today).
Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Decent folk who believe that “all men are created equal” and that one should “love thy neighbour as thyself” are obliged to (a) tell everyone you know and (b) urge sanctions and Boycotts against all those citizens, corporations, countries, people, pundits and politicians involved in the racist Zionist- and neocon-backed US Alliance War on Terror that is in horrible actuality a War for Oil and Hegemony, a War on Women and Children and, more specifically, a cowardly, racist and genocidal War on Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, Asian and Non-European Women and Children.
Dr Gideon Polya currently teaches science students at a major Australian university. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has recently published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007:http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contribution “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007):http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ). He has just published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others:http://www.open2.net/thingsweforgot/
bengalfamine_programme.html ). When words fail one can say it in pictures – for images of Gideon Polya’s huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see:http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and
Imperialism and Imperial Barbarism
Imperialism, its character, means and ends has changed over time and place. Historically, western imperialism, has taken the form of tributary, mercantile, industrial, financial and in the contemporary period, a unique ‘militarist-barbaric’ form of empire building. Within each ‘period’, elements of past and future forms of imperial domination and exploitation ‘co-exist’ with the dominant mode. For example , in the ancient Greek and Roman empires, commercial and trade privileges complemented the extraction of tributary payments. Mercantile imperialism, was preceded and accompanied initially by the plunder of wealth and the extraction of tribute, sometimes referred to as “primitive accumulation”, where political and military power decimated the local population and forcibly removed and transferred wealth to the imperial capitals. As imperial commercial ascendancy was consolidated, manufacturing capital increasingly emerged as a co-participant; backed by imperial state policies manufacturing products destroyed local national manufacturers gaining control over local markets. Modern industrial driven imperialism, combined production and commerce, both complemented and supported by financial capital and its auxiliaries, insurance, transport and other sources of “invisible earnings”.
Under pressure from nationalist and socialist anti-imperialist movements and regimes, colonial structured empires gave way to new nationalist regimes. Some of which restructured their economies, diversifying their productive systems and trading partners. In some cases they imposed protective barriers to promote industrialization. Industrial-driven imperialism, at first opposed these nationalist regimes and collaborated with local satraps to depose industrial oriented nationalist leaders. Their goal was to retain or restore the “colonial division of labor” – primary production exchanged for finished goods. However, by the last third of the 20th century, industrial driven empire building, began a process of adaptation, “jumping over tariff walls”, investing in elementary forms of ‘production’ and in labor intensive consumer products. Imperial manufacturers contracted assembly plants organized around light consumer goods (textiles, shoes, electronics).
Basic changes in the political, social and economic structures of both the imperial and former colonial countries, however, led to divergent imperial paths to empire-building and as a consequence contrasting development performances in both regions.
Anglo-American financial capital gained ascendancy over industrial, investing heavily in highly speculative IT, bio-tech, real estate and financial instruments. Germany and Japanese empire builders relied on upgrading export-industries to secure overseas markets. As a result they increased market shares, especially among the emerging industrializing countries of Southern Europe, Asia and Latin America. Some former colonial and semi-colonial countries also moved toward higher forms of industrial production, developing high tech industries, producing capital and intermediate as well as consumer goods and challenging western imperial hegemony in their proximity.
By the early 1990’s a basic shift in the nature of imperial power took place. This led to a profound divergence between past and present imperialist policies and among established and emerging expansionist regimes.
Past and Present Economic Imperialism
Modern industrial-driven empire building (MIE) is built around securing raw materials, exploiting cheap labor and increasing market shares. This is accomplished by collaborating with pliant rulers, offering them economic aid and political recognition on terms surpassing those of their imperial competitors. This is the path followed by
China. MIE eschews any attempt to gain territorial possessions, either in the form of military bases or in occupying “advisory” positions in the core institutions of the coercive apparatus. Instead, MIEs’ seek to maximize control via investments leading to direct ownership or ‘association’ with state and/or private officials in strategic economic sectors. MIEs’ utilize economic incentives in the way of economic grants and low interest concessionary loans. They offer to build large scale long term infrastructure projects-railroads, airfields, ports and highways. These projects have a double purpose of facilitating the extraction of wealth and opening markets for exports. MIEs also improve transport networks for local producers to gain political allies. In other words MIEs like China and India largely depend on market power to expand and fight off competitors. Their strategy is to create “economic dependencies” for long term economic benefits.
In contrast imperial barbarism grows out of an earlier phase of economic imperialism which combined the initial use of violence to secure economic privileges followed by economic control over lucrative resources.
Historically, economic imperialism (EI) resorted to military intervention to overthrow anti-imperialist regimes and secure collaborator political clients. Subsequently, EI frequently established military bases and training and advisory missions to repress resistance movements and to secure a local military officialdom responsive to the imperial power. The purpose was to secure economic resources and a docile labor force, in order to maximize economic returns.
In other words, in this ‘traditional’ path to economic empire building the military was subordinated to maximizing economic exploitation. Imperial power sought to preserve the post colonial state apparatus and professional cadre but to harness them to the new imperial economic order. EI sought to preserve the elite to maintain law and order as the basic foundation for restructuring the economy. The goal was to secure policies to suit the economic needs of the private corporations and banks of the imperial system. The prime tactic of the imperial institutions was to designate western educated professionals to design policies which maximized private earning. These policies included the privatization of all strategic economic sectors; the demolition of all protective measures (“opening markets”) favoring local producers; the implementation of regressive taxes on local consumers, workers and enterprises while lowering or eliminating taxes and controls over imperial firms; the elimination of protective labor legislation and outlawing of independent class organizations.
In its heyday western economic imperialism led to the massive transfer of profits, interest, royalties and ill begotten wealth of the native elite from the post-colonial countries to the imperial centers. As befits post-colonial imperialism the cost of administrating these imperial dependencies was borne by the local workers, farmers and employees.
While contemporary and historic economic imperialism have many similarities, there are a few crucial differences. For example China, the leading example of a contemporary economic imperialism, has not established its “economic beach heads” via military intervention or coups, hence it does not possess ‘military bases’ nor a powerful militarist caste competing with its entrepreneurial class in shaping foreign policy. In contrast traditional Western economic imperialism contained the seeds for the rise of a powerful militarist caste capable, under certain circumstance, of affirming their supremacy in shaping the policies and priorities of empire building.
This is exactly what has transpired over the past twenty years, especially with regard to US empire building.
The Rise and Consolidation of Imperial Barbarism
The dual processes of military intervention and economic exploitation which characterized traditional Western imperialism gradually shifted toward a dominant highly militarized variant of imperialism. Economic interests, both in terms of economic costs and benefits and global market shares were sacrificed in the pursuit of military domination.
The demise of the USSR and the virtual reduction of Russia to the status of a broken state, weakened states allied to it. They were “opened” to Western economic penetration and became vulnerable to Western military attack.
President Bush (senior) perceived the demise of the USSR as a ‘historic opportunity’ to unilaterally impose a unipolar world. According to this new doctrine the US would reign supreme globally and regionally. Projections of US military power would now operate unhindered by any nuclear deterrence. However, Bush (senior) was deeply embedded in the US petroleum industry. Thus he sought to strike a balance between military supremacy and economic expansion. Hence the first Iraq war 1990-91 resulted in the military destruction of Saddam Hussein’s military forces, but without the occupation of the entire country nor the destruction of civil society, economic infrastructure and oil refineries. Bush (senior) represented an uneasy balance between two sets of powerful interests: on the one hand, petroleum corporations eager to access the state owned oil fields and on the other the increasingly powerful militarist zionist power configuration within and outside of his regime. The result was an imperial policy aimed at weakening Saddam as a threat to US clients in the Gulf but without ousting him from power. The fact that he remained in office and continued his support for the Palestinian struggle against the Jewish state’s colonial occupation profoundly irritated Israel and its zionist agents in the US.
With the election of William Clinton, the ‘balance’ between economic and military imperialism shifted dramatically in favor of the latter. Under Clinton, zealous zionist were appointed to many of the strategic foreign policy posts in the Administration. This ensured the sustained bombing of Iraq, wrecking its infrastructure. This barbaric turn was complemented by an economic boycott to destroy the country’s economy and not merely “weaken” Saddam. Equally important, the Clinton regime fully embraced and promoted the ascendancy of finance capital by appointing notorious Wall Streeters (Rubin, Summers, Greenspan et al.) to key positions, weakening the relative power of oil, gas and industrial manufacturers as the driving forces of foreign policy. Clinton set in motion the political ‘agents’ of a highly militarized imperialism, committed to destroying a country in order to dominate it …
The ascent of Bush (junior) extended and deepened the role of the militarist-zionist personnel in government. The self-induced explosions which collapsed the World Trade Towers in New York served as a pretext to precipitate the launch of imperial barbarism and spelled the eclipse of economic imperialism.
While US empire building converted to militarism, China accelerated its turn toward economic imperialism. Their foreign policy was directed toward securing raw materials via trade, direct investments and joint ventures. It gained influence via heavy investments in infrastructure, a kind of developmental imperialism, stimulating growth for itself and the “host” country. In this new historic context of global competition between an emerging market driven empire and an atavistic militarist imperial state, the former gained enormous economic profits at virtually no military or administrative cost while the latter emptied its treasury to secure ephemeral military conquests.
The conversion from economic to militarist imperialism was largely the result of the pervasive and ‘deep’ influence of policymakers of zionist persuasion. Zionist policymakers combined modern technical skills with primitive tribal loyalties. Their singular pursuit of Israel’s dominance in the Middle East led them to orchestrate a series of wars, clandestine operations and economic boycotts crippling the US economy and weakening the economic bases of empire building.
Militarist driven empire building in the present post-colonial global context led inevitably to destructive invasions of relatively stable and functioning nation-states, with strong national loyalties. Destructive wars turned the colonial occupation into prolonged conflicts with resistance movements linked to the general population. Henceforth, the logic and practice of militarist imperialism led directly to widespread and long-term barbarism-the adoption of the Israeli model of colonial terrorism targeting an entire population. This was not a coincidence. Israel’s zionist zealots in Washington “drank deeply” from the cesspool of Israeli totalitarian practices, including mass terror, housing demolitions, land seizures, overseas special force assassination teams, systematic mass arrests and torture. These and other barbaric practices, condemned by human rights organizations the world over, (including those in Israel), became routine practices of US barbaric imperialism.
The Means and Goals of Imperial Barbarism
The organizing principle of imperial barbarism is the idea of total war. Total in the sense that (1) all weapons of mass destruction are applied; (2) the whole society is targeted; (3) the entire civil and military apparatus of the state is dismantled and replaced by colonial officials, paid mercenaries and unscrupulous and corrupt satraps. The entire modern professional class is targeted as expressions of the modern national-state and replaced by retrograde religious-ethnic clans and gangs, susceptible to bribes and booty-shares. All existing modern civil society organizations, are pulverized and replaced by crony-plunderers linked to the colonial regime. The entire economy is disarticulated as elementary infrastructure including water, electricity, gas, roads and sewage systems are bombed along with factories, offices, cultural sites, farms and markets.
The Israeli argument of “dual use” targets serves the militarist policymakers as a justification for destroying the bases of a modern civilization. Massive unemployment, population displacement and the return to primitive exchanges characteristic of pre-modern societies define the “social structure”. Educational and health conditions deteriorate and in some cases become non-existent. Curable diseases plague the population and infant deformities result from depleted uranium, the pre-eminent weapon of choice of imperial barbarism.
In summary the ascendancy of barbarous imperialism leads to the eclipse of economic exploitation. The empire depletes its treasury to conquer, destroy and occupy. Even the residual economy is exploited by ‘others’: traders and manufacturers from non-belligerent adjoining states. In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan that includes Iran, Turkey, China and India.
The evanescent goal of barbarous imperialism is total military control, based on the prevention of any economic and social rebirth which might lead to a revival of secular anti-imperialism rooted in a modern republic. The goal of securing a colony ruled by cronies, satraps and ethno-religious warlords – willing givers of military bases and permission to intervene – is central to the entire concept of military driven empire building. The erasure of the historical memory of a modern independent secular nation-state and the accompanying national heritage becomes of singular importance to the barbarous empire. This task is assigned to the academic prostitutes and related publicists who commute between Tel Aviv, the Pentagon, Ivy league universities and Middle East propaganda mills in Washington.
Results and Perspectives
Clearly imperial barbarism (as a social system) is the most retrograde and destructive enemy of modern civilized life. Unlike economic imperialism it does not exploit labor and resources, it destroys the means of production, kills workers, farmers and undermines modern life.
Economic imperialism is clearly more beneficial to the private corporations; but it also potentially lays the bases for its transformation. Its investments lead to the creation of a working and middle class capable of assuming control over the commanding heights of the economy via nationalist and/or socialist struggle. In contrast the discontent of the ravaged population and the pillage of economies under imperial barbarism, has led to the emergence of pre-modern ethno-religious mass movements, with retrograde practices, (mass terror, sectarian violence etc.). Theirs is an ideology fit for a theocratic state.
Economic imperialism with its ‘colonial division of labor’, extracting raw materials and exporting finished goods, inevitably will lead to new nationalist and perhaps later socialist movements. As EI undermines local manufacturers and displaces, via cheap industrial exports, thousands of factory workers, movements will emerge. China may seek to avoid this via ‘plant transplants’. In contrast barbaric imperialism is not sustainable because it leads to prolonged wars which drain the imperial treasury and injury and death of thousands of American soldiers every year. Unending and unwinable colonial wars are unacceptable to the domestic population.
The ‘goals’ of military conquest and satrap rule are illusory. A stable, ‘rooted’ political class capable of ruling by overt or tacit consent is incompatible with colonial overseers. The ‘foreign’ military goals imposed on imperial policymakers via the influential presence of zionists in key offices have struck a mighty blow against the profit seeking opportunities of American multi-nationals via sanctions policies. Pulled downward and outward by high military spending and powerful agents of a foreign power, the resort to barbarism has a powerful effect in prejudicing the US economy.
Countries looking for foreign investment are far more likely to pursue joint ventures with economic driven capital exporters rather than risk bringing in the US with all its military, clandestine special forces and other violent baggage.
Today the overall picture is grim for the future of militarist imperialism. In Latin America, Africa and especially Asia, China has displaced the US as the principal trading partner in Brazil, South Africa and Southeast Asia. In contrast the US wallows in unwinable ideological wars in marginal countries like Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan. The US organizes a coup in tiny Honduras, while China signs on to billion dollar joint ventures in oil and iron projects in Brazil and Venezuela and an Argentine grain production. The US specializes in propping up broken states like Mexico and Columbia, while China invests heavily in extractive industries in Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and Iran. The symbiotic relationship with Israel leads the US down the blind ally of totalitarian barbarism and endless colonial wars. In contrast China deepens its links with the dynamic economies of South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Brazil and the oil riches of Russia and the raw materials of Africa.
James Petras latest book is War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America (Atlanta:Clarity Pres 2010)
September 20, 2010, Information Clearing House
The state-secrets defense:
A privilege too far gone
In a 6-to-5 vote last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit against a company accused of helping the CIA carry out the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects, transporting them to other countries for interrogation and, the lawsuit alleged, torture.
The five men who sued Jeppesen DataPlan, a Boeing subsidiary that reportedly provided flight planning and logistical support, could not use even public records to make their case that the company played a key role in the rendition program. The reason? The federal government intervened and invoked the “state secrets” doctrine to assert that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would endanger national security.
Judge Raymond C. Fisher, writing for the majority, passed the buck to the other branches of government. In the interests of justice, he said, the executive branch could always make reparations to the five men — or Congress could open an investigation, pass a private bill or introduce remedial legislation. But the judiciary’s hands were tied.
Commentary on the ruling has focused on the inability of torture victims to seek redress and the importance of protecting national security. But it has missed the larger problem: What started in 1953 as an executive privilege has become a form of private immunity for a vast range of companies working for the government.
The government has more contractors than ever, and they are playing a key role in the national security establishment. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of December 2009, the Defense Department had more contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan (218,000) than uniformed personnel (195,000). That doesn’t count those working for other agencies, such as the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development or, as alleged in Jeppesen’s case, the CIA.
Since the 1953 Supreme Court ruling establishing the privilege, it has been assumed that state secrets would arise in regard to executive branch activities only when the government chose to assert it. Now, however, corporations are asserting the privilege in their own defense and then lobbying the government to intervene on their behalf.
Companies may need sensitive materials, which the government holds and is reluctant to make public, to defend themselves. Corporations may threaten to air damaging information if the government refuses to support their state-secrets claim. Or, where a company provides critical services or supplies, the government may conclude it cannot afford to let the lawsuit proceed. So it intervenes.
Over the past year, I reviewed hundreds of cases in which a private company asserted or the government invoked the privilege and either declined to disclose the information requested or sought dismissal of the lawsuit. Many of these cases are unpublished or only recently unsealed. Others resulted in voluntary dismissal. Some remain unresolved. But all show how the mere assertion of state secrets is a powerful tool in litigation.
The privilege has been claimed in a staggering variety of cases — wrongful death, personal injury, negligence, breach of contract, patent disputes, trade secrets, fraud and employment termination — against high-technology companies, private security firms, corporations developing infrastructure, and weapons or aircraft manufacturers.
Consider the “friendly fire” death of Lt. Nathan White, a Navy pilot killed by a Patriot missile while patrolling over Iraq in 2003. Initially, the government did not intervene in a lawsuit against Raytheon, the Patriot’s maker. To defend itself, Raytheon requested documents from the Army: reports of the internal investigation of White’s death, communications between the government and Raytheon about the strike, information about U.S. missile defense operations, and the Patriot system’s rules of engagement. In September 2008, Army Secretary Peter Geren filed an affidavit asserting that disclosure would threaten national security. The court agreed and concluded that Raytheon couldn’t defend itself without the evidence. It dismissed the case.
Lucent Technologies avoided a patent dispute over an underwater fiber-optic coupling device when the secretary of the Navy invoked state secrets. KBR, formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton, asserted the privilege as an affirmative defense in a lawsuit filed by soldiers alleging they were injured by open-air burning of dangerous chemicals at bases and camps in Iraq and Afghanistan. DynCorp did so as well in a personal-injury lawsuit stemming from its work for the State Department fumigating coca crops in Colombia. The privilege has even been claimed as a potential defense in a lawsuit stemming from a car crash in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
CACI International, sued by an Iraqi prisoner alleging that he was tortured during interrogation at Abu Ghraib prison, also asserted state secrets.
Unlike soldiers, contractors generally are not held accountable under military law. Bilateral agreements often exempt them from prosecution overseas. The state-secrets privilege then prevents them from being held responsible in civilian courts.
Accountability matters. We need laws and procedures to govern not just private military companies but all companies embedded in our national security infrastructure.
The Jeppesen ruling got at least one thing right: If the courts will not act, then the executive branch — and Congress — must.
Laura K. Donohue is an associate professor of law at Georgetown Law Center and author of “The Cost of Counterterrorism: Power, Politics and Liberty.”
October 8, 2010, Washington Post
An Air Force B-52 Stratofortress over South Vietnam in 1965; Gen. Curtis LeMay in 1963; and Allen Dulles in the 1950s.
By GARY J. BASS
Published: September 3, 2010
In 1947, Hanson W. Baldwin, the hawkish military correspondent of this newspaper, warned that the demands of preparing America for a possible war would “wrench and distort and twist the body politic and the body economic . . . prior to war.” He wondered whether America could confront the Soviet Union “without becoming a ‘garrison state’ and destroying the very qualities and virtues and principles we originally set about to save.”
America’s Path to Permanent War
By Andrew J. Bacevich
286 pp. Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $25
It is that same dread of a martial America that drives Andrew J. Bacevich today. Bacevich forcefully denounces the militarization that he says has already become a routine, unremarked-upon part of our daily lives — and will only get worse as America fights on in Afghanistan and beyond. He rips into what he calls a postwar American dogma “so deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness as to have all but disappeared from view.” “Washington Rules” is a tough-minded, bracing and intelligent polemic against some 60 years of American militarism.
This outrage at a warlike America has special bite coming from Bacevich. No critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could have brighter conservative credentials. He is a blunt-talking Midwesterner, a West Point graduate who served for 23 years in the United States Army, a Vietnam veteran who retired as a colonel, and a sometime contributor to National Review. “By temperament and upbringing, I had always taken comfort in orthodoxy,” he writes. But George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Bacevich says, “pushed me fully into opposition. Claims that once seemed elementary — above all, claims relating to the essentially benign purposes of American power — now appeared preposterous.”
From Harry S. Truman’s presidency to today, Bacevich argues, Americans have trumpeted the credo that they alone must “lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world.” That crusading mission is implemented by what Bacevich caustically calls “the sacred trinity”: “U.S. military power, the Pentagon’s global footprint and an American penchant for intervention.” This threatening posture might have made some sense in 1945, he says, but it is catastrophic today. It relegates America to “a condition of permanent national security crisis.”
Bacevich has two main targets in his sights. The first are the commissars of the national security establishment, who perpetuate these “Washington rules” of global dominance. By Washington, he means not just the federal government, but also a host of satraps who gain power, cash or prestige from this perpetual state of emergency: defense contractors, corporations, big banks, interest groups, think tanks, universities, television networks and The New York Times. He complains that an unthinking Washington consensus on global belligerence is just as strong among mainstream Democrats as among mainstream Republicans. Those who step outside this monolithic view, like Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, are quickly dismissed as crackpots, Bacevich says. This leaves no serious checks or balances against the overweening national security state.
Bacevich’s second target is the sleepwalking American public. He says that they notice foreign policy only in the depths of a disaster that, like Vietnam or Iraq, is too colossal to ignore. As he puts it, “The citizens of the United States have essentially forfeited any capacity to ask first-order questions about the fundamentals of national security policy.”
Bacevich is singularly withering on American public willingness to ignore those who do their fighting for them. He warns of “the evisceration of civic culture that results when a small praetorian guard shoulders the burden of waging perpetual war, while the great majority of citizens purport to revere its members, even as they ignore or profit from their service.” Here he has a particular right to be heard: on May 13, 2007, his son Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., an Army first lieutenant, was killed on combat patrol in Iraq. Bacevich does not discuss his tragic loss here, but wrote devastatingly about it at the time in The Washington Post: “Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.’s life is priceless. Don’t believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life: I’ve been handed the check.”
Bacevich is less interested in foreign policy here (he offers only cursory remarks about the objectives and capabilities of countries like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran) than in the way he thinks militarism has corrupted America. In his acid account of the inexorable growth of the national security state, he emphasizes not presidents, who come and go, but the architects of the system that envelops them: Allen W. Dulles, who built up the C.I.A., and Curtis E. LeMay, who did the same for the Strategic Air Command. Both of them, Bacevich says, would get memorials on the Mall in Washington if we were honest about how the capital really works.
The mandarins thrived under John F. Kennedy, whose administration “was fixating on Fidel Castro with the same feverish intensity as the Bush administration exactly 40 years later was to fixate on Saddam Hussein — and with as little strategic logic.” The Washington consensualists were thrown badly off balance by defeat in Vietnam but, Bacevich says, soon regained their stride under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — setting the stage for George W. Bush. Barack Obama campaigned on change and getting out of Iraq, but when it comes to the war in Afghanistan or military budgets, he is, Bacevich insists, just another cat’s-paw for the Washington establishment: “Obama would not challenge the tradition that Curtis LeMay and Allen Dulles had done so much to erect.”
Bacevich sometimes overdoes the high dudgeon. He writes, “The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended ‘global war on terror’ without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords.” Which slightly mad German warlords exactly? Bacevich, an erudite historian, could mean some princelings or perhaps Kaiser Wilhelm II, but the standard reading will be Hitler.
And he underplays some of the ways in which Americans have resisted militarism. The all-volunteer force, for all its deep inequities, is a testament to American horror at conscription. He never mentions Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great New York senator who fought government secrecy and quixotically tried to abolish the C.I.A. after the end of the cold war. Although Bacevich admires Dwight D. Eisenhower for his farewell address warning against the forces of the “military-industrial complex,” he slams Eisenhower for enabling those same forces as president. Yet the political scientist Aaron L. Friedberg and other scholars credit Eisenhower for resisting demands for huge boosts in defense spending.
Bacevich, in his own populist way, sees himself as updating a tradition — from George Washington and John Quincy Adams to J. William Fulbright and Martin Luther King Jr. — that calls on America to exemplify freedom but not actively to spread it. It isn’t every American’s tradition (and it offers pretty cold comfort to Poles, Rwandans and Congolese), but it’s one that’s necessary to keep the country from going off the rails. As foreign policy debates in the run-up to the November elections degenerate into Muslim-bashing bombast, the country is lucky to have a fierce, smart peacemonger like Bacevich.
Gary J. Bass, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton, is the author of “Freedom’s Battle” and “Stay the Hand of Vengeance.”
A version of this review appeared in print on September 5, 2010, on page BR21 of the Sunday Book Review.
The Use of 9/11 as a Pretext to Wage War
Tue 24 Aug 2010
‘Al-Qaeda is a U.S.-sponsored Intelligence Asset used to Justify War in the Middle East: Interview with Michel Chossudovsky
July 20, 2006, Global Research
‘Al-Qaeda Is a U.S.-sponsored Intelligence Asset’
Michel Chossudovsky, author of the international bestseller America’s War on Terrorism, personally graced the jam-packed local launch of the Philippine edition of his latest book held at the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last June 24. During the launch, he gave a lecture about the imminent danger of a U.S.-made nuclear catastrophe amid the Bush administration’s preparations for war with Iran.
BY JOEL GARDUCE
Contributed to Bulatlat
Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s War on Terrorism, made locally available by IBON Books. An economics professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada, he personally graced the jam-packed local launch of his latest book held at the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last June 24. During the launch, he gave a lecture about the imminent danger of a U.S.-made nuclear catastrophe amid the Bush administration’s preparations for war with Iran.
Joel Garduce of Center for Anti-Imperialist Studies (CAIS) caught up with the director of the Centre for Research in Globalization (CRG) during his short weekend stay in the Philippines and conducted the following interview.
JPG: How would you characterize your book’s contribution in giving a better understanding of the events surrounding 9/11?
MC: Well, there have been many books on 9/11. In fact, I would say that we have a lot of coverage of 9/11 from many angles. Many of these studies are carefully researched. They are, however, invariably ignored by the mainstream media.
In my own research, i have not centered on what happened on that particular day from the point of view of the WTC and Pentagon buildings. That aspect has been the object of several investigations.
What I have focused on is the role which the 9/11 events have played in justifying the invasion of Afghanistan almost a few weeks later after 9/11, and of course the invasion of Iraq, not to mention the police State legislation adopted in a number of Western countries.
I’ve focussed on 9/11 from a broad geopolitical perspective, because essentially 9/11 is still the core event which justifies the so-called “war on terrorism”. Without 9/11, there is no war pretext. An that is why 9/11 is a very important landmark. It is used extensively by the Bush administration to attempt to demonstrate that America is under attack, that the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are acts of self-defense. And consequently, the US must carry out a humanitarian mandate which consists in waging a global war against the terrorists, as well as against the so-called state sponsors of terrorism, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
And so I think that has been my focus, I’ve looked more at the geopolitics of 9/11, the role of intelligence agencies. And I’ve also centered on the fact that these terrorist cells, namely al-Qaeda, are invariably linked to the CIA. They have been consistently supported by U.S. intelligence. What we are dealing with is a process, which consists in fabricating an enemy. The creation of Al-Qaeda is an intelligence operation used as a pretext to justify a war of conquest.
So it begs the question: if al-Qaeda were, according to the Bush administration, to have played a role in 9/11, then we would have to investigate the relationship between al-Qaeda and the U.S. intelligence apparatus.
The evidence confirms that al-Qaeda did not play a role in 9/11. But in fact, that in itself is a red herring, because al-Qaeda is a U.S.-sponsored intelligence asset.
JPG: Is it accurate to say that your research points to 9/11 looking more like an inside job?
MC: Well, I haven’t made that statement. I never made a statement that it’s “an inside job”.
What I’ve done in my writings is to show that the official narrative or explanation regarding 9/11 can be refuted, namely that the official narrative is a lie.
What the 9/11 Commission Report has submitted is an extensive narrative of what happened on that day and what happened on the planes. And the evidence suggests that the 9/11 report is a lie. It’s fabricated.
But I can’t say unequivocally that this was an inside job. What I can say with certainty, backed by evidence, is that the U.S. administration is involved in a cover-up pertaining to the investigation of who’s behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And what they have presented in the 911 Report, as well as in numerous national security statements is to my mind totally fabricated.
JPG: Your research goes against the thesis of some thinkers like Noam Chomsky that 9/11 is principally a blowback operation. How would you look at these views?
MC: Those views are totally incorrect. The blowback thesis assumes that the relationship between al-Qaeda and the U.S. government (including its intelligence apparatus) ceased in the wake of the Cold War. Because that’s what they say and acknowledge.
They say “yes we created al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war. We trained the mujahideen, we helped them in fighting the Soviet Union. And in the wake of the Cold War, al-Qaeda has gone against us.” And that’s what’s called the blowback. Blowback is when an intelligence asset goes against its sponsors.
That viewpoint s incorrect because in the course of the 1990s there’s ample evidence of links between al-Qaeda and the U.S. administration, during the Clinton administration as well as the Bush administration, leading up in fact to 2001. There’s evidence of active collaboration between al-Qaeda paramilitary groups in the Balkans and senior U.S. military advisers.
I think that the blowback thesis, whether it emanates from supporters of the Bush adminstration or from the Left is mistaken and misleading. Why? Because it really provides legitimacy to the war on terrorism. It essentially says “yes, the war on terrorism is a legitimate objective of U.S. foreign policy.” I would say that people who support the blowback are either mistaken and unaware of the facts, or alternatively they are tacitly involved in media disinformation.
9/11 and U.S. client states
JPG: You’ve cited the role of countries like Pakistan through its Inter-Services Intelligence agency or ISI. How would you reckon the role of other countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and even Israel in the perpetration of 9/11?
MC: Well, we’re talking about intelligence agencies. Pakistan has played a very key role historically in supporting al-Qaeda right from the onslaqught of the Soviet Afghan war under the helm of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military commander who was president of Pakistan in the early ‘80s. And it was under the auspices of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that the training camps, the madrassahs were established.
In turn, Saudi Arabia played a role because they provided funding through Islamic charities. So there is a connection between Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda. And according to several reports, Saudi intelligence also played a role.
Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan have certainly played a role but I think that Pakistan’s role was far more central in the institutional support provided to al-Qaeda, always on behalf, of Pakistan’s ISI’s counterpart, the CIA.
My research has centered much more on the role of Pakistan’s ISI. Because Pakistan’s ISI also appeared to be involved in the conspiracy in the wake of 9/11, to wage the war on Afghanistan using 9/11 as the pretext.
JPG: There was a recent furor over the article by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” that saw print in the London Review of Books last March. It’s ruffled some U.S. circles about how the Israeli government exercises much influence over the U.S. government, specifically the Bush administration where many personalities identified with the Bush ruling clique are considered neoconservatives. How would you account the influence of the right-wing circles in Israel over the Bush administration and the conduct of the U.S. war on terrorism?
MC: I think that this relationship is far more complex than that. I don’t believe that Israel overshadows U.S. foreign policy. I think that there’s in fact a coincidence between Tel Aviv and Washington.
And this is something that is not recent. It goes way back in fact to the creation of Israel.
But on the other hand, to say that Israel overshadows U.S. foreign policy is incorrect. Because I think that Israel is an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. And it is being used in this particular context in the pursuit of U.S. hegemony. Now, Israel has an agenda. So I would identify (the U.S. and Israel) as involved in a longstanding military alliance. The U.S. has extensive military aid to Israel for a long time.
But I don’t share the viewpoint that somehow Israel is now hijacking U.S. foreign policy and manipulating it. That position is simply incorrect.
However, we also have to understand another dimension of this question. The “Jewish Lobby” in the U.S. may in fact play a role (through) their U.S.-based organizations. These are not Israeli-based organizations. And they certainly play a role in shaping U.S. foreign policy and in sustaining a pro-Israeli position. That is probably true.
But that is an entirely different mechanism to that of a foreign country actually hijacking America’s foreign policy. To the extent that American foreign policy would be different had it not been for Israel, I don’t share that statement. Because U.S. foreign policy in fact is quite consistent in its stance from the Truman Doctrine –which was formulated by George Kennan in the mid- to late ‘40s and early ‘50s– to the present neoconservative agenda.
The other aspect, and it’s very popular both among leftist as well as libertarian right-wing analysts is to say somehow the neoconservatives are really different from their predecessors. And they are putting forth the Democrats as a possible alternative to the neoconservatives when in fact, if you really look at what’s happening in the last ten to fifteen years, you see a continuum.
I mean, you had the First Gulf war, you had the war on Yugoslavia, you had the invasion of Afghanistan, then you had Gulf War II. And if you go back further in history, the wars in Afghanistan during the Cold War era to the present, there’s been a very consistent thread and it has been pursued both by the Republicans and the Democrats.
On the 9/11 truth movement
JPG: You have emerged as a leading resource speaker of what has been called the international 9/11 truth movement. Unfortunately, Filipinos are not yet familiar with that; there isn’t much of an active 9/11 truth movement locally. Could you familiarize us with this movement?
MC: I’m not an active member of the 9/11 truth movement. I have participated in some of their activities and I support their endeavors.
I have, however, some reservations regarding the group because it has very contradictory elements within it. And there are various internal disputes also within the group.
Moreover, I do not believe that the analysis of 9/11 should be strictly limited to looking at what happened to the WTC and the Pentagon buildings. A much broader focus is required. It’s the use of what General Tommy Franks calls “mass casualty-producing events” –implying civilian deaths– with a view to justifying war.
Moreover, when addressing the issue of mass casualty producing events, we should not limit our understanding solely to 9/11. We should be looking at 9/11, but we should also examine the 7/7 London bombings, the Madrid as well as the 2002 Bali bombings, and so on.
We should also address the various suicide attacks which have taken place in the Iraqi war theater. And we know, as in the case of the Basra terrorists (British Special Forces disguised in traditional Arab clothing arrested by the Iraqi police) that many of those suicide attacks were instigated by the occupation forces.
So I think it’s also important at least from my perspective to broaden this understanding of 9/11.
And the 9/11 truth movement has done lots of good work, focussing on Building 7 and the World Trade Center, and what happened to the planes going into the Pentagon, whether it was a plane or a missile. And all those things I think are very important.
While I’ve been following that literature very carefully, I have not been involved in research into that particular aspect of 9/11. I have, however, undertaken one piece of analysis which is in line with that literature.
It’s the issue of what happened on the planes. And I have a chapter in my book which focuses on what happened on the planes as outlined in the 9/11 Commission Report, because it struck me that there was a very important relationship which had not been well-analyzed. The 9/11 Commission’s narrative is based on cell phone conversations. The telecom industry is unequivocal. Those cellphone conversations could not have taken place from cellphones at altitudes above 8,000 feet.
And so I wanted to review the narrative in the 9/11 Commission Report, and demonstrate concretely that it is simply fabricated. It is impossible to make a telephone call from high altitude onboard a plane. And most of their descriptions rest on that. Not all of it, but most of it rests on telephone conversations between alleged passengers on the one hand and family members on the other. And the telecom industry is absolutely unequivocal. They say that you could not (in 2001) make a telephone conversation at 31,000 feet. You might be able to do it at 8,000 feet but the planes were flying at high altitude during a good part of the time when they were in the air.
The U.S. and fascism
JPG: How do you view claims that the U.S. government especially under the Bush administration has become a full-fledged fascist empire a la Nazi Germany?
MC: There’s certainly evidence to suggest that the Bush administration is moving towards a police state. There’s repeal of the rule of law because people can be arrested arbitrarily.
There’s a military agenda to conquer foreign lands, and the pretext to wage war is fabricated.
So, yes, there are certain features reminiscent of Nazi Germany. But on the other hand one has to be very careful in making those comparisons.
Because one of the features of Nazi Germany was that Nazism was also a means for creating employment in the military-industrial complex, so that they were building up their military and they had expanded defense expenditures, infrastructure, and so on, which created a lot of jobs in the course of the 1930s. And what characterizes the present regime in America is yes, movement towards martial law and the police state, militarization of civilian institutions, and also big contracts for the military and lots of military spending. However, the type of weapons systems which currently prevails is such that military spending actually creates very few jobs.
And so we’re today in a neoliberal context. Nazi Germany was not characterized by neoliberal reforms. And that was one of the reasons why there was more support for the Nazi programme in the middle to late ‘30s. Because there was a promise of jobs which ultimately was reached in the late ‘30s when the German military machine was in full swing.
Rifts in the U.S. establishment
JPG: There had been revelations in the U.S. media that point to the Pentagon under Rumsfeld getting more control over the covert operations than the CIA. and the U.S. State Department. How do you regard these revelations? Do they indicate anything of value in terms of the changes being undergone by the U.S. state?
MC: There’s always sort of a rivalry between competing agencies of the U.S. government. I think that the Pentagon has been vying for some time to implement its own intelligence operations. In this particular case, they have implemented disinformation campaigns which consist in planting news stories in the media. So yes, they are involved in intelligence.
But on the other hand, I don’t view this necessarily as a crucial issue. It’s a rivalry between bodies of the state apparatus, between the military and intelligence agencies. There can be very significant discrepancies, but they also work together..
Look at the person now who’s in charge of intelligence. It’s John Negroponte, who was involved in the dirty war in Central America, particularly in promoting the para-military death squads in Honduras and Nicaragua.
I think in effect that these organizations are rivals but they also involved in active collaboration. . They always have joint committees, the Pentagon, the CIA., the NSA., and so on. I really don’t think that any change in direction would occur as a result of these discrepancies. They’re normal within the US military-intelligence community.
JPG: There have been a string of prominent Americans coming out against the Bush administration and its handling of the war in Iraq, of the U.S. war on terror. They include active and retired generals, some previous Cabinet secretaries and even some current members of the U.S. Congress. There seems to be emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling class. What do you think are the prospects of the anti-imperialist movement being able to make use of these rifts within the U.S. ruling class?
MC: I think there are people in the U.S., both Republicans and Democrats, who recognize that the Bush administration, particularly in Iraq, but also in relation to Iran, spells disaster.
And it’s not necessarily that they are against U.S. foreign policy as decided by the Bush administration. They believe that it should be conducted differently, perhaps with a less militarist perspective.
So you have people like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who firmly support the extension of America’s sphere of influence in the Middle East and Central Asia, to gain control over the Eurasian corridor, and the oil and gas reserves of that region. These people would, however, favor a somewhat more negotiated foreign policy, rather than all-out military conquest and war.
So people like that are now more or less presenting themselves as voices of moderation. But it doesn’t mean necessarily that they are in disagreement with the broader objectives of U.S. imperialism, which is really to colonize regions.
I see dissent from within the establishment but I don’t see necessarily articulate dissent against the project of global domination and militarization which the Bush administration has been putting forth.
JPG: So these emerging rifts within the U.S. ruling elite do not really indicate a departure from the imperial project that the U.S. has been conducting?
MC: I think that these differences in the current context could still play a very important role. It’s not to say that things don’t change.
What I’m saying is that these differences of viewpoint do not constitute some kind of big revolution in U.S. politics. It’s simply the fact that within the ruling elite, people think the Bush administration has taken on a course which is untenable and which ultimately will lead to disaster. Moroever, this course is not furthering the U.S. corporate agenda in the most effective way.
So these moderating views do not mean that the U.S. all of a sudden has become a peaceful nation. It simply means that they want to give a slightly more humane face to imperialism. That’s really the whole issue.
There’s a global military agenda, there’s a plan to conquer, there is a plan to dominate and impoverish. And some people in America within the establishment think that there are better ways of doing it. That’s the way I see this critique. Because the people who were undertaking that critique are themselves the architects of this military agenda, including Brzezinski.
And the Democrats don’t really have an alternative viewpoint to that of the Republicans. They probably would be a little bit less radical in pushing certain policies but I don’t think that fundamentally they would do things that differently if they were to form the next adminstration.
You must remember that there are certain institutions which will be there all the time—the CIA, the Pentagon, and so on – irrespective of the team of people who are in power. And ultimately, to what extent do these people call the shots. The people who ultiamtely decide are Lockheed Martin, the defense contractors, and the oil companies.
JPG: But what if it’s possible that the war crimes committed by the Bush administration and those in the U.S. ruling elite are held to account? Don’t you think the people’s movement in the U.S. and the antiwar movement worldwide can benefit from holding to account the Bush administration and even the Democrats who approved of this war on terrorism?
MC: I think that at one level, there’s certainly an opportunity to push forward in terms of the antiwar movement, focussing on the criminal nature of the Bush administration, let’s say with regard to Iraq, with regard to torture, the police state, etc.
But we must not fall into the trap of thinking that if Bush is impeached or if there’s change in direction leading let’s say to a new president who is a Democrat, that there will be fundamental change in America.
You see, the U.S. is also involved in what we call regime change or regime rotation. Regime rotation in America doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s going to be real and meaningful changes in the way in which the country is moving nationally and internationally.
And that’s where the confusion emerges, because there’s a movement in the U.S. that says “anything else but Bush”. And they say yes, we must get rid of Bush.
Now that assumes first of all that Bush is actually making the decisions. The evidence suggests that he’s not making the decisions. He himself is a puppet. He has a limited understanding of U.S. foreign policy and essentially he is acting on behalf of powerful corporate interests. This is a war driven by profit.
Clearly yes, the advisory team is important but I would say we have to look at the role of U.S. intelligence, the military, the links between the military intelligence establishment and the oil companies and the defense contractors, and so on. And of course Wall Street which ultimately is really the basic pinnacle of financial power in America.
If Bush were to be impeached, which at this juncture seems unlikely, or if there’s a change in regime, this does not mean that there’s going to be fundamental change in America.
Impeachment could contribute to demobilizing people who would otherwise be more aware of the fact that you don’t change a New World Order by simply changing a president.
You need much more carefully thought out ways of waging the struggle against the New World Order. You have to target the defense contractors, the oil companies, their insidious role in pushing a military agenda, not to mention the use of 9/11 as a pretext for waging war.
That’s the way I see it. I do not think that once you get rid of Bush you solve the problem. But I should say that an impeachment of Bush would be a very important achievement if it can be used as a stepping stone towards a broader struggle.
It’s ironic to say the least that there was an impeachment move against Clinton for his involvement with Monica Lewinsky but when extensive war crimes are revealed and when the U.S. president blatantly violates all the domestic and international norms of justice, and engages the US in a criminal war with no justification whatsoever, his legitimacy as Head of State remains unscathed. His adminstration continues in a routine fashion.
So yes the impeachment of President Bush is something that I would support. But I don’t believe necessarily that it will resolve matters in the longer run.
JPG: Given the unprecedented belligerence of the U.S. under the aegis of the war on terror, what are the prospects of a schism developing within the imperialist camp similar to what developed during World War II where there were Allied Powers vis-à-vis the Axis Powers?
MC: You mean, between the U.S. and UK on one hand, and France, Germany on the other?
JPG: Or say, Russia and China?
MC: China and Russia are part of that imperialist design. They’re not countries which have an imperial agenda as such. I’m not saying necessarily that they couldn’t in the future. But historically the Soviet Union didn’t really have an imperial agenda. And China has never had an imperial agenda. Throughout its history, it has remained within its borders.
I think what we’re looking at is the relationship which exists within the Western military alliance. That is really the crucial thing. And the fact that you have very significant divisions between the U.S. and Britain, on one hand, and France and Germany on the other. I think that’s very important.
And you have splits in the military-industrial complex. Britain’s military industrial complex is integrated into that of the United States. British Aerospace Systems Corporation (BAE) is actually producing for the U.S. Department of Defense. It has exactly the same privileges as the U.S. defense contractors, under an agreement signed in 1999 under the clintion administration entitled the Transatlantic Bridge.
And then you have the European defense industry (i.e continental Europe) which is based on an alliance between France and Germany. The dominant company of the european military indsutrial complex is EADES, which is a joint venture between Aerospatiale Matra and Deutsche Aerospace.
And so you have a split or division between what I would call the Anglo-American axis, which now includes Australia , Canada as full fledged partners and, perhaps Israel, and maybe a few other countries, who are part of this agenda. And then you have the Franco-German alliance.
But I should also mention that NATO is still an organization which is firmly under U.S. control. And that’s why in the buildup of a possible war with Iran, NATO is firmly behind the US and Israel.
In this context, both President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Angela Merkel are firmly behind the US military agenda in relation to Iran.
And so you don’t have a situation in any way comparable to that prior to the war on Iraq, where France and Germany were opposed to the Anglo-American axis.
Bulatlat [minor editing by Global Research]
Terrorism — Cause and Effect
By Jack A. Smith
May 29, 2010, Anti War
“Terrorists” and “terrorism” have become Washington’s monomania since 9/11, guiding the foreign/military policies of the American superstate and holding its population in thrall.
“The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short-term, medium-term and long-term,” President Barack Obama said April 11, is the possibility that terrorists might obtain a nuclear weapon. The second biggest threat to world history’s mightiest military state, it goes without saying, are terrorists without nuclear weapons but armed with box-cutters, rifles or homemade explosives.
It’s “terrorism” 24/7 in the United States — the product of a conscious effort by the Bush Administration to keep the American people in the constant clutches of existential fear, in large part to justify launching endless aggressive wars. Anything goes if the target is said to be “terrorism,” as long as the Pentagon’s violence takes place in smaller, weaker countries usually populated by non-Europeans.
But does the U.S. government really want to defeat terrorism? This is a serious question. All its major efforts so far have been focused on the effects of terrorism but not on its much more profound causes. In this article we shall discuss the causes, particularly the actions of the U.S. in the Middle East over the decades which contributed significantly to the rise of terror as a weapon.
After almost a decade, the Bush Administration’s “War on Terrorism” — at a cost of trillions of dollars, the erosion of a substantial portion of America’s civil liberties and its worldwide reputation, and the deaths of over a million foreign civilians — has not succeeded in its stated objectives.
And yet, judging by the Obama Administration’s 2011 war budget request, the recently released Quadrennial Defense Report and the Nuclear Posture report, and the widening of the wars, it is clear that President Barack Obama has no intention of deviating significantly from President George W. Bush’s unjust and failed policies.
President Obama’s troop buildup, implied nuclear threats against Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and his order to the CIA to assassinate an American citizen without a trial are but some of the most recent examples.
All that’s really changed in national security strategy from one administration to the other is the name of Bush’s “War on Terrorism.” The Obama Administration renamed it, in an excess of bureaucratese, an “Overseas Contingency Operation,” transforming its title to suggest it was a mere budget item. Not so mere, actually, since the Pentagon’s annual war budget has risen 67% since 9/11.
American national security policy since the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center nearly nine years ago has been aimed primarily at defeating a small number of ill-equipped non-state “terrorist” enemies by fielding a large professional army with advanced technology first to Afghanistan, then Iraq and now back to the Afghan theater with tributaries extending into Pakistan, Yemen and to a lesser extent Somalia and the Philippines.
Fewer than 100 al-Qaeda operatives are in Afghanistan against about 94,000 U.S. troops, so far, plus 40,000 NATO soldiers, and about 100,000 mostly higher paid “contractors” performing military duties. There are up to 15,000 part- and full-time irregulars associated with the Afghan Taliban, perhaps fewer. But — even though they are ultra-conservative religious extremists who were oppressive when in power — they are a national force with no designs on the United States, and are not technically terrorists but defenders of their country from foreign invasion. Many Americans don’t like to hear that, of course.
The Bush-Obama anti-terrorism policy has two aspects, one public, the other concealed. The public aspect is to “keep America safe” from specifically Arab and more broadly Muslim “terrorists.” The concealed aspect is to utilize the 9/11 tragedy to justify the projection of military might to extend U.S. hegemony throughout the oil-rich Middle East, especially the Persian Gulf region, and into geostrategic Central Asia through the occupation of Afghanistan.
We shall here discuss the public aspect, and why it was and continues to be the wrong response to 9/11, beginning with a paragraph from the Sept. 15, 2001, Activist Newsletter:
“Tuesday’s deplorable terror attacks did not occur in a political vacuum, despite the mass media’s effort to depict the events as simply the product of Middle Eastern ‘madmen’ with ‘no regard for human life’ driven by fundamentalist religious beliefs to hate the United States. In reality, Washington’s role in the Middle East, which it has dominated since the end of World War II to control the region’s vast petroleum resources, must be carefully examined to determine the roots of our present situation…. Many Americans ask, ‘Why do they hate us so?’ The honest answer to that question points the way toward a solution to the ‘terrorism’ crisis.”
Never once in all these years has the U.S. government acknowledged that its decades of interference in the region were a major factor in the growth of “terrorism,” the existence of al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, and the 9/11 attacks. Washington is hardly unaware of the connection — and indeed of the primacy of its own historic provocation in the region — but in the era of government deception and corporate domination of the mass media, “inconvenient” truths usually remain concealed from the masses of people.
FIVE MAJOR DECISIONS
Washington implemented five major decisions during the last 65 years that turned public opinion in the Middle East against the United States and largely generated the conditions that led to the creation of al-Qaeda, jihadist warriors, and suicide bombers. We will describe these causes which ultimately led to the effects called terrorism, then, in part 3, conclude with brief “modest” proposals to rectify the situation.
(1) The first of these decisions took place immediately following the end of World War II in 1945, when the U.S. chose to extend its hegemony throughout the Middle East, and thus prevent its essential wartime ally, the Soviet Union, from gaining a foothold. Washington’s goal ever since that time — including the last two decades after the implosion of the socialist camp and the 16 months since Obama took office — has been directed toward establishing dominion over this petroleum-rich region to insure America’s global preeminence.
To accomplish this objective, the U.S. made deals with ultra-conservative monarchies in the region, offering them military protection and secure dynastic longevity in return for loyalty and concessions on oil supplies. Royal houses, such as exist in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and elsewhere, could have been swept away decades ago by their own people had they not been in America’s protective custody. Washington’s prolongation of monarchical rule has been a major impediment to democracy in the region.
When the people prevailed, as in Iran in 1951 after an elected democratic government gained power, nationalized the country’s substantial petroleum reserves, and replaced the monarchy with a republic, the U.S. and Britain launched a campaign for bloody regime change that by 1953 crushed democracy and restored the brutal Shah of Iran to power.
Washington also continually interfered with republics, not just monarchies, supporting, protecting and enriching those which destroyed their political left wing and bent the knee to U.S. hegemony, such as Egypt, while subverting those leaning left, as in Iran in the early 1950s, or who simply insisted upon maintaining independence from American domination, such as Syria. This, too, stifled democracy and social progress.
After 65 years of interference, Washington either controls or has considerable influence over virtually all the governments of the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, today’s imperial target par excellence. Syria remains in the middle. Turkey, which is sometimes not geographically included in the Middle East, is a member of U.S.-dominated NATO and seeks Washington’s support to enter the European Union, but has lately taken two positions totally opposed by the Obama Administration: It has sharply criticized Israel, which was considered Turkey’s ally, over its invasion and imprisonment of Gaza, and this month joined with Brazil in a move calculated to head off harsh sanctions against Iran.
In the process of gaining dominance over most Mideast regimes — the majority of which have remained undemocratic as a consequence — the United States has alienated the masses of people throughout the region.
In response, given that the U.S. has demanded of its Arab protectorates that the political left and progressive secular forces be weakened or crushed in country after country, it has been the Islamic resistance which has filled the vacuum and taken up the national struggle against American domination and undemocratic rule. A relatively small portion of this movement is influenced by extreme fundamentalist ideology, and a still smaller sector have joined the jihad (struggle) initiated by Osama bin-Laden’s al-Qaeda.
(2) The second decision that contributed principally to creating Arab and Muslim antipathy toward the U.S. was Washington’s total support of Israel to the detriment of the people of Palestine, particularly following the June 1967 war, when Israel invaded and occupied large swaths of Palestinian territory, where it remains today in utter violation of several key international laws.
“In Palestine,” according to British writer/filmmaker John Pilger, “the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were it not for U.S. backing. Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims…. It is only a few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and the U.S. had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for a people scarred by imperialism.”
Today, the Arab world agrees to normalize relations with Israel if the Tel Aviv government allows the establishment of two sovereign states, one being Palestinian. Israel refuses, and not only continues to illegally occupy Palestinian lands but to oppress the masses of people — the most gruesome recent example being the vicious attack on Gaza followed by blockading the territory to deprive its inhabitants of the basic necessities of life.
It is well understood that only U.S. military, economic and political support makes it possible for Israel to continuously subjugate the Palestinians. Israel often claims it is surrounded by “existential” threats of one kind or another, the latest being from Iran, but the only real threat it faces is that of losing Washington’s sponsorship, protection and economic support.
(3) The third Washington decision that led to 9/11 — and in this case directly — was to involve the U.S. in the Afghan civil war that erupted in 1978 after the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), backed by the Afghan army and military officers, seized power and began to enact reforms to “bring Afghanistan into the 20th century.” The reforms — including substantial freedoms for women — aroused armed opposition from conservative Islamic war lords and fighting groups.
The U.S. began supporting these groups clandestinely in 1979 with great infusions of money and war materials, prompting the USSR to send troops to defend the leftist government. Both al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban developed out of this struggle, receiving American support in the process.
The Soviets were fought to a standstill and withdrew in 1989, but the left wing government managed to hold on until it was brutally crushed in 1992. The civil war then transformed into a war for control of Afghanistan between several of the strongest rebel groups. It lasted four years, and resulted in victory for the ultra-orthodox Taliban in 1996. Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as one of its bases until the U.S. invasion in October 2001, then fled to western Pakistan. (A 2-part account of “The U.S. in Afghanistan,” including “The Origins of a Bad War,” were published in the November 5, 2009, issue of the Activist Newsletter, available in the blog archive.)
(4) The fourth U.S. decision that contributed substantially to the unpopularity of the American government was to impose cruel sanctions against the Iraqi people in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The war itself, resulting in the mortification of Iraq for occupying Kuwait, was intended to compensate for the Pentagon’s humiliating defeat in Vietnam 15 years earlier. The U.S. launched what has been called one of the “most devastating air assaults in history” against Iraq in mid-January 1991. It was all over in a couple of months. Overwhelming power succeeded: The U.S. lost 147 troops. The Iraqis lost 200,000, troops and civilians in the brief war and its immediate aftermath.
Ultimately up to 1.5 million Iraqis died as a result of a dozen years of draconian U.S./UN economic, trade and materials sanctions that accompanied the war, and which ended only after the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The UN suggests that half these civilian dead were children. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a defender of the Iraqi people, said of the sanctions, “The goal was to cripple Iraq’s infrastructure and make civilian life unsustainable.” (His 1992 book, “The Fire This Time — U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf,” remains a classic account of the real causes and effects of the Gulf War.)
Most Americans were and remain indifferent to the terrible pain visited upon the Iraqi people by the sanctions. Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said of the civilian deaths, “we think the price is worth it.” To the Arab people, Muslims in general, humanitarians, and anti-imperialists throughout the world, it was a cruel and vindictive act of genocidal proportions.
(5) The fifth decision was to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the U.S. by bombing and invading Afghanistan, instead of relying on international police work to capture al-Qaeda, a small, non-state, quasi-military organization dedicated to “propaganda of the deed,” with cells in several countries in addition to its Afghan component.
Bush’s decision to launch a war was precisely what al-Qaeda wanted to further discredit the U.S. in Arab eyes. The Bush Administration’s subsequent decision to invade Iraq — which was completely innocent of involvement in 9/11 and extremely weak militarily because of the sanctions — compounded the original miscalculation of invading Afghanistan. Secular President Saddam Hussein was probably fundamentalist al-Qaeda’s principal ideological enemy in the Arab world, and Washington ordered his execution. Meanwhile, the Iraqi national resistance forced the world’s only military superpower into a humiliating stalemate, another fact about which the U.S. public is blissfully ignorant.
The Iraq war itself, now seven years old, has killed another million Iraqi people and created at least four million refugees. Between the sanctions and the war, the U.S. has killed roughly 2.5 million Iraqis — almost 10% of the population. This does not seem to have penetrated the consciousness, much less the conscience, of the thoroughly propagandized American people. The only winner of Bush’s imperialist misadventure in Iraq was neighboring Shi’ite Iran, which had viewed Hussein’s Ba’athist Sunni regime as its main enemy.
President Obama’s decision to widen the Afghan war and to penetrate Pakistan and Yemen has once again played into al-Qaeda’s hands, and continues to increase anti-U.S. views on the part of the Arab masses. The good will Obama generated throughout the Muslim world by his warm, peaceful, convincing and ultimately deceptive words in Cairo a year ago has dissipated. His actions have strengthened the tiny splinter of the Arab and Muslim population attracted to fringe groups that engage in violence, led by al-Qaeda.
WASHINGTON MUST REVERSE POLICY
If America’s long, unsustainably expensive and essentially stalemated wars are doing little to eliminate the so-called “terrorist” threat, what’s the alternative if Washington actually wants to eliminate terrorism?
The answer is to recognize that the history of America’s misdeeds in the Middle East is the main reason for the existence of al-Qaeda. Instead of more wars, Washington must reverse its policies:
• Call off the wars. Pull the troops out. Withdraw the fleet and air bases from the region.
• Insist upon an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and take measures to enhance Israel’s compliance.
• Stop dominating and manipulating the countries of the Middle East to serve America’s interests. Discontinue support for undemocratic governments and monarchies. Apologize for decades of manipulation and violence.
• Pay a huge compensation to the Iraqi people in particular. Invest heavily in eliminating poverty in the entire region and improving social services for the masses of people.
• Allow the Arab people, and the Iranians as well of course, to work out their political, social and cultural contradictions and preferences without interference. The United States is not the divine instrument chosen to redeem the world, and should stop behaving as though it were.
This will end jihadist terrorism. And it can all be paid for with the money Washington saves by ending its wars and subversion in the region.
There is another problem as well, however, more dangerous and widespread than the small-group terrorism of a handful of individuals with homemade weapons. That problem is state terrorism.
What else other than “state terrorism” can describe Washington’s killer sanctions followed by the “shock and awe” bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq against an essentially defenseless people? What else but state terrorism can we call U.S.-enabled Israel’s horrendously disproportionate attack against the civilian population of Gaza, resulting in 1,400 Palestinian deaths and 14 Israeli deaths, followed by strangling sanctions?
At this stage, only the people of the United States have the power to force their government to stop interfering in the Middle East, thus ending the retaliatory threat of terrorism. And only the people have the power to end Washington’s ongoing state terrorism against small developing countries in order to enhance its geopolitical fortunes.
So far, the U.S. government, whether controlled by one or the other of the two ruling parties, has hoodwinked most Americans into actively or passively supporting its aggressive wars. This is surprisingly easy to do, not least because most of us Americans suffer not at all due to our country’s violent and criminal adventures abroad. It remains the task of those who see through the distortions and propaganda to speak up and take a public stand in opposition. To do less is to be indifferent to, or complicit with, a gross iniquity.
Serving the Empire, Killing for Lies
by Sheldon Richman
June 3, 2010, The future of freedom foundation
We made it through another Memorial Day. Thankfully, most people think of it as just the start of summer. They don’t seem to use it as America’s political leaders have long wanted: as a day of reverence for America’s world domination.
In his radio address this past Saturday President Obama urged all Americans to “serve” the members of the armed forces “as well as they served us.” He called on us to remember the 5,400 Americans “who laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens” in Iraq and Afghanistan. He assured us that “the men and women serving this country around the world have the support they need to achieve their missions and come home safely” (emphasis added). He also praised every war in American history as a hallowed effort to protect the nation.
Once again an American president lies to sanctify war.
Some questions should be obvious: how exactly are the armed forces today serving us or the country? And what are those men and women of the military doing “around the world”? Why didn’t Obama mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis killed by American forces in the latest operations?
Don’t say that American forces are protecting us. Those troops may be serving the government and the “private” component of the military-industrial complex, but that has nothing to do with average Americans, who would be far safer — not to mention richer — if the trillion dollars spent every year on military-related matters were simply left in the taxpayers’ pockets.
It is way past time that the American people started seeing through the nonsense. That isn’t rocket science. Consider recent events:
Fact 1: The U.S. government is using robot Predator planes to shoot Hellfire missiles into Pakistan (and Afghanistan). Innocent men, women, and children are being killed or maimed regularly.
Fact 2: A Pakistani-American tries to blow up a car in Times Square.
How much effort does it take to connect those two dots? Can we really comfort ourselves by thinking that Faisal Shahzad was just a fanatical Muslim — counseled and trained by bad guys “over there” — bent on killing innocent Americans because he hates our way of life?
You have to be a damned fool to keep believing such balderdash.
Presidents and secretaries of State want us to believe that the U.S. government (which they conflate with “the country”) did nothing to provoke the crimes known as “terrorism,” which they then use to excuse all manner of violence and violations of liberty. (Strangely, Predator attacks don’t meet the official definition of “terrorism.”) But the facts refuting that ridiculous claim are readily available. Any curious American — an oxymoron? — can easily find out just how much U.S. regimes have done to create hostility and a desire for revenge in the hearts of Muslims. Start with the CIA operation in Iran in 1953.
The apologists for U.S. policy will say it was all done for peace, democracy, and prosperity. Then why does it always bring war, death, broken bodies, torture, misery, starvation, and disease? The war planners are not stupid. They see the results. They know what they are doing. Then they dupe others — too willing to be duped — into following orders and rationalizing their acts as necessary to national security.
Maybe this deadly con will never cease, but if it does it will be because we finally refused to pay respect to those who lead and fight the wars. We will have stopped believing that dying and killing for the empire is noble. In the movie The Americanization of Emily, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky has his protagonist say, “We shall never end wars … by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It’s the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers, the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows’ weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices…. May be ministers and generals who blunder us into wars, but the least the rest of us can do is to resist honoring the institution.”
Remember that next Memorial Day.
Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation
The American Way of War Quiz
Yes, it would be funny if it weren’t so grim. After all, when it comes to squandering money and resources in strange and distant places (or even here at home), you can count on the practitioners of American-style war to be wildly over the top.
Oh, those madcap Pentagon bureaucrats and the zany horde of generals and admirals who go with them! Give them credit: no one on Earth knows how to throw a war like they do — and they never go home.
In fact, when it comes to linking “profligate” to “war,” with all the lies, manipulations, and cost overruns that give it that proverbial pizzazz, Americans should stand tall. We are absolutely #1!
Hence, the very first TomDispatch American Way of War Quiz. Admittedly, it covers only the last four weeks of war news you wouldn’t believe if it weren’t in the papers, but we could have done this for any month since October 2001.
Now’s your chance to pit your wits (and your ability to suspend disbelief) against the best the Pentagon has to offer — and we’re talking about all seventeen-and-a-half miles of corridors in that five-sided, five-story edifice that has triple the square footage of the Empire State Building. To weigh your skills on the TomDispatch Scales of War™, take the 11-question pop quiz below, checking your answers against ours (with accompanying explanations), and see if you deserve to be a four-star general, a gun-totin’ mercenary, or a mere private.
1. With President Obama’s Afghan surge of 30,000 U.S. troops complete, an administration review of war policy due in December, and fears rising that new war commander General David Petraeus might then ask for more troops, what did the general do last week?
a. He informed the White House that he now had too many troops for reasonable operations in Afghanistan and proposed that a drawdown begin immediately.
b. He assured the White House that he was satisfied with the massive surge in troops (civilian employees, contractors, and CIA personnel) and would proceed as planned.
c. He asked for more troops now.
Correct answer: c. General Petraeus has already reportedly requested an extra mini-surge of 2,000 more troops from NATO, and probably from U.S. reserves as well, including more trainers for the Afghan military. In interviews as August ended, he was still insisting that he had “the structures, people, concepts, and resources required to carry out a comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency campaign.” But that was the summer silly season. This is September, a time for cooler heads and larger demands.
2. With President Obama’s announced July 2011 drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in mind, the Pentagon has already:
a. Begun organizing an orderly early 2011 withdrawal of troops from combat outposts and forward operating bases to larger facilities to facilitate the president’s plan.
b. Launched a new U.S. base-building binge in Afghanistan, including contracts for three $100 million facilities not to be completed, no less completely occupied, until late 2011.
c. Announced plans to shut down Kandahar Air Base’s covered boardwalk, including a TGI Friday’s, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Mamma Mia’s Pizzeria, and cancelled the opening of a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs as part of its preparations for an American drawdown.
Correct answer: b. According to Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, construction is slated to begin on at least three $100 million air base projects — “a $100 million area at Shindand Air Base for Special Operations helicopters and unmanned intelligence and surveillance aircraft”; another $100 million to expand the airfield at Camp Dwyer, a Marine base in Helmand Province, also to support Special Operations forces; and a final $100 million for expanded air facilities at Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. None of these projects are to be completed until well after July 2011. “[R]equests for $1.3 billion in additional fiscal 2011 funds for multiyear construction of military facilities in Afghanistan are pending before Congress.” And fear not, there are no indications that the fast-food joints at Kandahar are going anywhere.
3. The U.S. military has more generals and admirals than:
a. Al-Qaeda members in Yemen.
b. Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan.
c. Al-Qaeda members in Pakistan.
d. Al-Qaeda members in all three countries.
Correct answer: a, b, c, and d. According to CIA Director Leon Panetta, there are 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, possibly less. Best estimates suggest that there are perhaps “several hundred” al-Qaeda members in poverty-stricken, desertifying, strife-torn Yemen. There are also an estimated “several hundred” members and leaders of the original al-Qaeda in the Pakistani borderlands. The high-end total for al-Qaeda members in the three countries, then, would be 800, though the actual figure could be significantly smaller. According to Ginger Thompson and Thom Shanker of the New York Times, the U.S. military has 963 generals and admirals, approximately 100 more than on September 11, 2001. (The average salary for a general, by the way, is $180,000, which means that the cost of these “stars,” not including pensions, health-care plans, and perks, is approximately $170 million a year.) The U.S. military has 40 four-star generals and admirals at the moment, which may represent more star-power than there are al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has suggested that, as a belt-tightening measure, he might cut the top-heavy U.S. military by 50 positions — that is, by half the increase since 9/11.
4. With the U.S. military obliged, by agreement with the Iraqi government, to withdraw all U.S. military personnel from Iraq by the end of 2011, the Pentagon has:
a. Decided that, in the interests of Iraqi sovereignty and to save U.S. taxpayers money, all U.S. troops will depart ahead of schedule, leaving Iraq no later than next February.
b. Instituted austerity measures, halted renovations on remaining American bases, and handed over all base construction efforts to the Iraqi government.
c. Continued to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into military base improvements.
Correct answer: c. Jackie Soohen recently toured Balad Air Base in Central Iraq for Democracy Now! That base, described in the past as an American town, has, she points out, “three large gyms, multiple shopping centers, recreation areas, and a movie theater,” not to speak of multiple bus routes and the usual range of fast-food parlors, PXs, and the like. The base, she reports, is still expanding and “on bases like this one…, the military continues to invest hundred of millions in infrastructure improvements, and it is difficult to imagine them fully abandoning everything they are building here.” They are, in fact, not likely to do so anytime soon. There are still more than 5,800 U.S. Air Force personnel in Iraq. Thanks to previous American policies, that country, which once had a large air force, today has only a rudimentary one. The new Iraqi air force is now eager to purchase its first jet fighters, F-16s from Lockheed Martin, but no agreement has been signed or date set for delivery. The Iraqis will still need further years of pilot training to fly those planes when they do arrive in 2013 or later. In the meantime, the U.S. Air Force is almost guaranteed to be the Iraqi Air Force, and U.S. Air Force personnel will undoubtedly remain at Balad Air Base in significant numbers, “withdrawal” or no.
5. What did the Pentagon recently hand over to Iraq?
a. A check for one trillion dollars to reconstruct a country which the U.S. invasion and occupation plunged into a ruinous civil war that cost millions of Iraqis their homes, their jobs, their economic security, their peace of mind, or their lives.
b. An IOU for two trillion dollars to reconstruct a country which the U.S. invasion and occupation plunged into a ruinous civil war that cost millions of Iraqis their homes, their jobs, their economic security, their peace of mind, or their lives.
c. Some hot air.
Correct answer: c. We’ll bet you didn’t know that, in 2003, the U.S. military occupied not only the land of Iraq, but its air, too. Just recently, according to a Pentagon press-release-cum-news-story, “the U.S. Air Force handed over the Kirkuk sector of airspace, 15,000 feet and above, to the ICAA [Iraq Civil Aviation Authority] at Baghdad International Airport.” In November, the U.S. plans to hand over even more hot air, this time in the south of the country — but not all of it. Iraq will not control all of its air until some time in 2011. Of course, once they have their air back, the Iraqi Air Force will only need planes and trained pilots to make use of it. (See question 4.)
6. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a “combat-capable brigade-sized unit,” has been deployed three times (according to the U.S. Army) “during Operation Iraqi Freedom — serving successfully in tough areas including Fallujah, Tall Afar, Ramadi, and Baghdad.” Its lead elements were recently sent from Fort Hood, Texas, to where?
a. Afghanistan as the final installment of President Obama’s surge of U.S. troops into that country.
b. Camp Justice, the U.S. military base in Oman, as a warning to insurgents in neighboring Yemen.
c. Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy, because the war there didn’t end all that long ago and, besides, Switzerland sits threateningly to the north.
d. Juarez, Mexico, because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently declared Mexico’s drug war an “insurgency,” and insurgencies are now an area of U.S. military expertise.
e. Iraq, the country that the “last U.S. combat troops” left less than a month ago.
Correct answer: e. Of course, the “Brave Rifles,” as the unit is known, are not — we repeat not — combat troops. They’re just, says the Army, “combat capable.” Yes, they’re trained for combat. But take our word for it, they’re NOT combat troops. Yes they’re well armed. But NOT for combat. And yes, they’re an “Armored Cavalry” unit. But it’s NOT about combat, OK? They’re in Iraq strictly in an “advise and assist” capacity. Did we mention that they aren’t a combat unit?
7. With the U.S. military occupation of Iraq due to end in 2011, the American mission there is officially being left to the State Department, representing the civilian side of U.S. foreign policy, which is planning to:
a. Spend about $1.5 billion dollars to set up and run two embassy branch offices and two or more “enduring presence posts” (they used to be called “consulates”), including hiring the necessary armed private contractors.
b. Employ 2,400 people in its (“largest in the world”) embassy, the size of the Vatican (but far better defended) in Baghdad’s Green Zone and at its other posts.
c. More than double its force of private civilian contractors to 6,000-7,000, arm them with cast-off Pentagon heavy weaponry and Apache helicopters, and form them into “quick reaction teams.”
d. Spend another $800 million on a program to train the Iraqi police.
e. Take on more than 1,200 specific tasks previously handled by the U.S. military.
Correct answer: a, b, c, d, and e (and even they don’t cover the subject adequately). Michael Gordon of the New York Times supplied most of the numbers above. Who knows what those 1,200 previously military tasks may be, but, reports the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, those five “enduring presence posts” are to be set up on what are now U.S. military bases, assumedly so that the Pentagon’s costly base-building won’t go completely to waste. It all represents a unique arrangement, since the civilian State Department’s corps of mercenary warriors will then be used to “operate radar to warn of enemy fire, search for roadside bombs, and fly surveillance drones,” among other jobs. Oh, and good news — if you happen to be a private contractor at least — that police-training program will be run by private contractors; and even better, just in case the private contractors don’t act on the up-and-up, there will be people specially assigned to provide oversight and they will be… private contractors, of course. How can the new diplomats from the remodeled five-sided State Department go wrong, advancing as they are encased in the latest mine-resistant vehicles known as MRAPS and ever prepared to give peace a chance?
8. When private military contractor Blackwater (now known as Xe Services) found itself in hot water after some of its guards slaughtered 17 Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007, the company responded by:
a. Admitting error, while begging forgiveness from, and rapidly paying generous compensation to, the families of the dead Iraqi civilians.
b. Vowing to avoid all armed work in the future and to transform the company into a community-services and elderly care operation.
c. Setting up at least 31 shell companies and subsidiaries through which it could still be awarded contracts by the State Department, the CIA, and the U.S. Army without embarrassment to anyone.
Correct answer: c. So James Risen and Mark Mazzetti reported earlier this month in the New York Times. The company, which is “facing a string of legal problems, including the indictment in April of five former Blackwater officials on weapons and obstruction charges, and civil suits stemming from the 2007 shootings in Iraq,” hasn’t suffered in pocket-book terms. Just this year, it received contracts for $120 million to provide the State Department with security in Afghanistan, and another $100 million to protect the CIA in Afghanistan and elsewhere. (The Agency has awarded Blackwater and its shell companies $600 million since 2001, according to Risen and Mazzetti.)
9. Recently, Iran unveiled a new armed drone, billed as a long-range unmanned aerial bomber and dubbed the “Ambassador of Death” by the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Afterwards, the Pentagon:
a. Cut out drone strikes in Pakistan to send Iran a message that conducting regular attacks on a country with which you are not officially at war is impermissible.
b. Announced plans to rethink the fast-and-loose rules of robotic assassination used in its Terminator wars for the better part of a decade so that Iran could not cite U.S. actions as precedent.
c. Stepped up drone strikes in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, sometimes carrying out more than one a day.
Correct answer: c. In discussing Washington’s desire to export drone technology to allies, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has termed Iranian drones a “concern.” The U.S. has, however, not only continued to pave the way for Iran (and every other nation and non-state actor) to conduct drone attacks with utter impunity, but accelerated the process. For his part, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently echoed Gates, calling Iran’s drones a “concern to us and concern to Iran’s neighbors.” Of the new Iranian drone’s hyperbolic unofficial moniker, he said with a laugh, “It’s a curious name for a system.” Perhaps he’s unaware that his own government has dubbed its two marquee armed drones — with a straight face, mind you — Predator and Reaper (as in “Grim…”) and that those aircraft launch “Hellfire” missiles. The official name of the Iranian drone is actually the least inflammatory of the three: “Karrar” or “striker.”
10. Five hundred million dollars is approximately the amount:
a. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged in July to development projects for Pakistan to “build broader support for the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
b. Afghanistan’s troubled Kabul Bank had in cash just weeks ago before its panicked depositors bled it dry.
c. The amount of money the U.S. military will spend on its musical bands this year.
Correct answer: a, b, and c. According to the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus, the U.S. military may now spend $500 million or more annually on its musical bands — the U.S. Army alone has more than 100 of them — the same amount used to sway a critically impoverished country of 166 million people in what’s been portrayed as a multigenerational war of paramount importance. At least Kabul Bank now knows where to go for a loan, assuming that Afghans will accept trombones instead of cash.
Blast-from-the-Past Bonus Question
11. Who said, “I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire”?
a. Bob Dylan, mumbled during a live performance in April 2002.
b. Dick Cheney in 1991 when he was George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense.
c. George Steinbrenner in an interview with the New York Daily News after the Yankees won the 1998 World Series.
Correct answer: b. If only Cheney had listened to himself when he became vice president. “Several years after occupied Iraq had become the quagmire he once warned about,” writes historian John Dower in his striking new book Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq, “Cheney was asked how to reconcile what he argued in 1991 and disregarded later. ‘Well, I stand by what I said in ’91,’ he replied. ‘But look what’s happened since then — we had 9/11.’” Sigh.
And believe it or not, folks, that’s it for the wild and wacky world of American war this month. If you answered at least 10 of the American Way of War Quiz questions correctly, consider yourself a four-star general. If you answered 5 to 9 correctly, you qualify as a gun totin’ mercenary (with all the usual Lord of the Flies perks). If you did worse, you’re a buck private in a U.S. Army woodwind ensemble that’s just been dispatched to Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books), has just been published. You can catch him discussing war American-style and his book in a Timothy MacBain TomCast audio interview by clicking here or, to download it to your iPod, here.
Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com. An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso Books), has just been published. He discusses why withdrawal hasn’t been on the American agenda in Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview, which can be accessed by clicking here or downloaded to your iPod here. Turse is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook. His website is NickTurse.com.
Copyright 2010 Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
Israel Raid on Gaza Flotilla:
US Failure to Condemn Despite
Mon 18 Oct 2010
On May 31, the Israeli military attacked a flotilla of ships in International waters. The vessels were carrying humanitarian supplies to the people in the Gaza Strip, who suffer under a punishing blockade by Israel. The stated aims of the flotilla were to draw international attention to the situation in Gaza and the effect of the blockade; to break the blockade; and to deliver humanitarian assistance and supplies to Gaza.
During the attack, Israeli soldiers killed 9 people, seriously wounded more than 50, and detained 750. They also confiscated or destroyed equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The United Nations Human Rights Council sent an independent fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla. The Mission, with Judge Karl T. Hudson-Philips, Q.C., retired Judge of the International Criminal Court presiding, interviewed 112 witnesses and examined forensic and other evidence, assisted by experts in forensic pathology, military issues, and firearms. Israel refused to cooperate with the independent investigation.
In a 56-page draft report [PDF], released on September 21, the Mission concluded that the Israeli military “demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct,” the report added, “cannot be justified or condoned on security or any others grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”
The Mission made the following findings:
Passengers on the vessels and their luggage were subjected to “security checks similar to those found in airports before boarding, including body searches,” to ensure that they were not carrying weapons. “At no stage was a request made by the Israeli Navy for the cargo to be inspected.”
The Israelis fired live ammunition from an Israeli helicopter onto the top deck of the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, before soldiers boarded the vessel by descending from the aircraft. Although some of the passengers used chairs, sticks, a box of plates and other objects to
resist the soldiers, there was “no evidence to suggest that any of the passengers used firearms or that any firearms were taken on board the ship.”
During the operation to secure control of the top deck, the Israeli forces landed soldiers from three helicopters in a 15-minute period. The use of live ammunition resulted in fatal injuries to four passengers and injuries to at least 19 others, 14 with gunshot wounds.
Israeli soldiers continued shooting at passengers who were already wounded, with live ammunition, soft baton charges and plastic bullets. “There was considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting others to do so.”
Furkan Dogan, a 19-year old with dual Turkish and U.S. citizenship, was one of the people killed by the Israeli forces. He was hit with live fire while filming with a small video camera on the top deck. He received five bullet wounds. “All of the entry wounds were on the back of his body, except for the face wound, which was delivered at point blank range while he was lying on the ground on his back.”
Many people were forced to kneel on the outer deck in harsh conditions for many hours and people were subjected to physical mistreatment and verbal abuse, unnecessarily tight handcuffing, and the denial of access to toilets and food.
Israeli authorities confiscated, withheld, and in some cases destroyed the private property of many hundreds of passengers on board the vessels.
There is a “severe humanitarian situation in Gaza, the destruction of the economy and the prevention of reconstruction.” Israel’s blockade was “inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population” in Gaza, and is therefore illegal. Article 33 of theFourth Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment of civilians under occupation. One of the principal motives behind Israel’s imposition of the blockade was “a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas” in the 2005 election. There is “no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment.” In this conclusion, the Mission explicitly supported the findings of Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, as well as those of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The firing of rockets and other munitions of war into Israeli territory from Gaza “constitutes serious violations of international and international humanitarian law. But action in response which constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza is not lawful in the present or in any circumstances.”
Israel has continuously occupied Gaza despite its unilateral withdrawal of military forces in 2005. Since then, “abject poverty” among refugees has tripled. Israel determines the conditions of life within Gaza. Israel controls the border crossings and the territorial sea adjacent to Gaza, and it has declared a virtual blockade and limits to the fishing zone, thereby regulating economic activity in that zone. Israel maintains complete control of the airspace above Gaza through continuous surveillance, and it makes military incursions and from time to time hits targets within the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Israel regulates the local monetary market of Gaza based on the Israeli currency and controls taxes and customs duties.
The flotilla presented “no imminent threat but the interception was motivated by concerns about the possible propaganda victory that might be claimed by the organizers of the flotilla.” There was no reasonable suspicion that the flotilla posed any military risk, and as a result “no case could be made to intercept the vessels in the exercise of belligerent rights or [UN Charter] Article 51 self-defence.”
Not only was the Israeli interception of the flotilla unlawful, “the use of force by the Israeli forces in seizing control of the Mavi Marmara and other vessels was also prima facie unlawful since there was no legal basis for the Israeli forces to conduct an assault and interception in international waters.”
Much of the force used by the Israeli soldiers onboard the Mavi Marmara and from the helicopters was “unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers.” At least six of the killings, including that of Dogan, can be characterized as “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions,” which amounted to violations of the right to life and to physical integrity under articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
During the period of detention on board the Mavi Marmara, the passengers were subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment, which “did not respect the inherent dignity of persons who have been deprived of their liberty.”
The Israeli military’s treatment of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara and in certain instances on board the Challenger 1 amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, in violation of articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR. The willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health violated article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Other violations included the arbitrary or illegal arrests or detentions, in violation of article 9 of the ICCPR and the parading of detainees at the quayside carrying “the hallmarks of a ‘triumph'” which amounted to a “humiliating spectacle” in violation of article 13 of theThird Geneva Convention.
Serious incidents of physical violence perpetrated by the Israeli military and/or police officers at the Ben Gurion International Airport “clearly constituted grave violations” of the right to security of the person and to human dignity, in violation of article 9 of the ICCPR. In some instances, the treatment amounted to torture.
The confiscation of a large amount of video and photographic footage recorded on electronic and other media by passengers “represents a deliberate attempt by the Israeli authorities to suppress or destroy evidence and other information.”
The ICCPR guarantees the victims judicial remedies and reparations proportionate to the gravity of the violations. Torture victims should be afforded medical and psychological care, and article 9 provides for a specific right to compensation.
“The perpetrators of the more serious crimes being masked cannot be identified without the assistance of the Israeli authorities,” the Mission concluded, and urged the Israeli government to assist in their identification.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the UN Human Rights Council a biased commission because it issued the Goldstone Report [PDF] , a 575-page document under the direction of noted Zionist Richard Goldstone, which found Israel guilty of international law violations in its December 2008 – January 2009 war on Gaza. During that war, 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
Israel conducted its own investigation of the flotilla attack, known as the Turkel Commission. It refused to take testimony from any of the victims on the vessels.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also commissioned an investigation, which undertook no primary witness investigation, largely relying on evidence from Israeli officers.
There is no evidence that the United States played any direct role in the attack on the flotilla. However, U.S.-made and U.S.-financed Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, which Israel often employs, were likely used in the assault. Any use of those weapons would violate the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits any recipient of U.S. arms exports from using U.S. weapons except for security within its own borders or for self-defense.
Israel could not maintain its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories without the support of the United States. Three weeks after Israel’s deadly attack on the flotilla, 329 out of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 87 out of 100 senators wrote letters to President Barack Obama supporting what they called Israel’s right to “self-defense.”
Obama has failed to condemn Israel’s actions on May 31, notwithstanding overwhelming evidence of its illegality. If Iran had attacked a humanitarian flotilla in international waters and killed 9 people, there would be certain retaliation from Washington.
Until our government stands up to the powerful Israel lobby in the United States, the Palestinian people, and our own humanity, will continue to be held hostage.
© JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2010
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Human Rights Network. See www.marjoriecohn.com.
October 14, 2010 by Jurist
US Committed To Israel As ‘Jewish State’
Sat 16 Oct 2010
Though the Palestinian Authority has rejected an Israeli demand for them to declare their public recognition of Israel as a uniquely “Jewish” state, citing concerns for the nation’s Arab minority, the US State Department has been Johnny-on-the-spot with its own unsolicited declaration that they are committed to Israel’s status in that regard.
“We recognize the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the Jewish people,” declared spokesman P.J. Crowley. Crowley added that it was a “core demand of the Israeli government, which we support.”
The Palestinian Authority has insisted that it is not up to them to define their neighbors’ status, and expressed concern that such a recognition could harm the status of Israel’s large non-Jewish population. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today suggested during a meeting with his Finnish counterpart that the PA’s refusal was part of an Arab plot to “delegitimize” Israel and carve out a number of additional Arab states inside Israel. It seems however that the case for such a move would be greater with the recognition, as it would cement the Arab minority’s second-class status.
Which seems to be of concern to European Union officials, who today warned that Israel needed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens no matter what sort of label they attach to the nation. Israel recent approved a demand for new, non-Jewish citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish State,” but members of its government have pushed to extend the demand to all non-Jews.
October 13, 2010, Counter currents
A political culture free of accountability
Sun 17 Oct 2010
Last September 8, I interviewed President Bush’s National Security Adviser, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. I was pressing her on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capabilities. . . .
“We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon,” she told me. . . .
Dr. Rice then said something that was ominous and made headlines around the world.
“The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
Sources: Top Bush Advisers Approved ‘Enhanced Interrogation’
In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.
The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of “combined” interrogation techniques — using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time — on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.
Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.
The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.
At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies. . . .
Then-Attorney General Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said. . . .
According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
The Principals also approved interrogations that combined different methods, pushing the limits of international law and even the Justice Department’s own legal approval in the 2002 memo, sources told ABC News.
Then-National Security Advisor Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns — shared by Powell — that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: “This is your baby. Go do it.”
Obama, Rice huddle on arms treaty, other issues
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to talk about a pending arms treaty with Russia and other issues .
A White House official said Rice and Obama have a “cordial relationship,” and the president looks forward to Friday’s meeting covering “a range of foreign policy topics.”
In other words: Prosecute Bush officials who broke the law and instituted a worldwide torture regime? Please. I’m doing the opposite: I’m going to select some of them to occupy the highest positions in my administration and then meet with others in order to drink from the well of their wisdom on a wide range of foreign policy matters.
I realize this is very childish, shrill and unpragmatic of me. All Serious people know that it’s critical to let Bygones be Bygones and that Serious National Security officials must meet with one another across partisan lines to share their wisdom and insights. Still, the fact that Obama is not only shielding from all accountability, but meeting in the Oval Office with, the person who presided over the Bush White House’s torture-approval-and-choreographing meetings and who was responsible for the single most fear-mongering claim leading to the Iraq War, speaks volumes about the accountability-free nature of Washington culture and this White House.
John Aschroft was probably right that “history will not judge kindly” what these Rice-led officials did. But that’s obviously not true of contemporary amoral Washington or its current President.
October 15, 2010, Salon
The War On Terror
Paul Craig Roberts
Sun 17 Oct 2010
Does anyone remember the “cakewalk war” that would last six weeks, cost $50-$60 billion, and be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues?
Does anyone remember that White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was fired by Dubya because Lindsey estimated that the Iraq war could cost as much as $200 billion?
Lindsey was fired for over-estimating the cost of a war that, according to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, has cost 15 times more than Lindsey estimated. And the US still has 50,000 troops in Iraq.
Does anyone remember that just prior to the US invasion of Iraq, the US government declared victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan?
Does anyone remember that the reason Dubya gave for invading Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, weapons that the US government knew did not exist?
Are Americans aware that the same neoconservatives who made these fantastic mistakes, or told these fabulous lies, are still in control of the government in Washington?
The “war on terror” is now in its tenth year. What is it really all about?
The bottom line answer is that the “war on terror” is about creating real terrorists. The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries and to keep the American people sufficiently fearful that they continue to accept the police state that provides “security from terrorists,” but not from the government that has discarded civil liberties.
The US government creates terrorists by invading Muslim countries, wrecking infrastructure and killing vast numbers of civilians. The US also creates terrorists by installing puppet governments to rule over Muslims and by using the puppet governments to murder and persecute citizens as is occurring on a vast scale in Pakistan today.
Neoconservatives used 9/11 to launch their plan for US world hegemony. Their plan fit with the interests of America’s ruling oligarchies. Wars are good for the profits of the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us in vain a half century ago. American hegemony is good for the oil industry’s control over resources and resource flows. The transformation of the Middle East into a vast American puppet state serves well the Israel Lobby’s Zionist aspirations for Israeli territorial expansion.
Most Americans cannot see what is happening because of their conditioning. Most Americans believe that their government is the best on earth, that it is morally motivated to help others and to do good, that it rushes aid to countries where there is famine and natural catastrophes. Most believe that their presidents tell the truth, except about their sexual affairs.
The persistence of these delusions is extraordinary in the face of daily headlines that report US government bullying of, and interference with, virtually every country on earth. The US policy is to buy off, overthrow, or make war on leaders of other countries who represent their peoples’ interests instead of American interests. A recent victim was the president of Honduras who had the wild idea that the Honduran government should serve the Honduran people.
The American government was able to have the Honduran president discarded, because the Honduran military is trained and supplied by the US military. It is the same case in Pakistan, where the US government has the Pakistani government making war on its own people by invading tribal areas that the Americans consider to be friendly to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, “militants” and “terrorists.”
Earlier this year a deputy US Treasury secretary ordered Pakistan to raise taxes so that the Pakistani government could more effectively make war on its own citizens for the Americans. On October 14 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered Pakistan to again raise taxes or the US would withhold flood aid. Clinton pressured America’s European puppet states to do the same, expressing in the same breath that the US government was worried by British cuts in the military budget. God forbid that the hard-pressed British, still reeling from American financial fraud, don’t allocate enough money to fight America’s wars.
On Washington’s orders, the Pakistani government launched a military offensive against Pakistani citizens in the Swat Valley that killed large numbers of Pakistanis and drove millions of civilians from their homes. Last July the US instructed Pakistan to send its troops against the Pakistani residents of North Waziristan. On July 6, Jason Ditz reported on Antiwar.com that “at America’s behest, Pakistan has launched offensives against [the Pakistani provinces of] Swat Valley, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Orakzai, and Khyber.”
A week later Israel’s US Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) called for escalating the Obama Administration’s policies of US airstrikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas. On September 30, the Pakistani newspaper, The Frontier Post, wrote that the American air strikes “are, plain and simple, a naked aggression against Pakistan.”
The US claims that its forces in Afghanistan have the right to cross into Pakistan in pursuit of “militants.” Recently US helicopter gunships killed three Pakistani soldiers whom they mistook for Taliban. Pakistan closed the main US supply route to Afghanistan until the Americans apologized.
Pakistan warned Washington against future attacks. However, US military officials, under pressure from Obama to show progress in the endless Afghan war, responded to Pakistan’s warning by calling for expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan. On October 5 the Canadian journalist Eric Margolis wrote that “the US edges closer to invading Pakistan.”
In his book, Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward reports that America’s puppet president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, believes that terrorist bombing attacks inside Pakistan for which the Taliban are blamed are in fact CIA operations designed to destabilize Pakistan and allow Washington to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
To keep Pakistan in line, the US government changed its position that the “Times Square Bombing” was the work of a “lone wolf.” Attorney General Eric Holder switched the blame to the “Pakistani Taliban,” and Secretary of State Clinton threatened Pakistan with “very serious consequences” for the unsuccessful Times Square bombing, which likely was a false flag operation aimed at Pakistan.
To further heighten tensions, on September 1 the eight members of a high-ranking Pakistani military delegation en route to a meeting in Tampa, Florida, with US Central Command, were rudely treated and detained as terrorist suspects at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport.
For decades the US government has enabled repeated Israeli military aggression against Lebanon and now appears to be getting into gear for another Israeli assault on the former American protectorate. On October 14 the US government expressed its “outrage” that the Lebanese government had permitted a visit by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is the focus of Washington’s intense demonization efforts. Israel’s representatives in the US Congress threatened to stop US military aid to Lebanon, forgetting that US Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) has had aid to Lebanon blocked since last August to punish Lebanon for a border clash with Israel.
Perhaps the most telling headline of all is the October 14 report, “Somalia’s New American Prime Minister.” An American has been installed as the Prime Minister of Somalia, an American puppet government in Mogadishu backed up by thousands of Ugandan troops paid by Washington.
This barely scratches the surface of Washington’s benevolence toward other countries and respect for their rights, borders, and lives of their citizens.
Meanwhile, to silence the whistleblower website WikiLeaks and to prevent any more revelations of American war crimes, the “freedom and democracy” government in DC has closed down WikiLeaks’ donations by placing the company that collects its money on its “watch list” and by having the Australian puppet government blacklist WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks is now akin to a terrorist organization. The American government’s practice of silencing critics will spread across the Internet.
Remember, they hate us because we have freedom and democracy, First Amendment rights, habeas corpus, respect for human rights, and show justice and mercy to all.
October 16, 2010, Anti War
Time to Admit It:
It Was Wrong to Invade Afghanistan
Jacob G. Hornberger
Sat 16 Oct 2010
As the killing and destruction in Afghanistan have mounted over the past 10 years, and as they have expanded into Pakistan during the Obama administration, interventionists have tried to justify the massive death and destruction by claiming that the reason the U.S. government went to war against the Taliban was because the Taliban had supposedly been complicit in the 9/11 attacks.
Unfortunately for the interventionists, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. government went to war against Afghanistan for one reason and one reason alone: The Afghan government (i.e., the Taliban regime) refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional demand for bin Laden’s extradition.
After receiving President Bush’s extradition demand, the Taliban asked to see the evidence establishing that bin Laden had in fact been involved in the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban also offered to deliver bin Laden to an independent third party for trial rather than to the United States.
The Bush administration refused. Its demand for bin Laden’s extradition was unconditional: Give us bin Laden or else suffer the consequences.
Was the Taliban’s refusal to comply with Bush’s unconditional demand unreasonable?
Well, consider the case of Jose Posada Carriles. He’s the former CIA operative who is widely suspected of planning the bombing of a Cuban airliner over Venezuelan skies. The plane went down 34 years ago this month, killing 73 people on board. Among the dead were 24 members of Cuba’s national youth fencing team.
Venezuela has repeatedly sought the extradition of Posada to stand trial for this heinous crime.
The U.S. government’s response? It has refused to comply with the extradition request. Its reason? It says that it fears that Posada will be tortured if he is returned to Venezuela.
But does that make any sense? The U.S. government supports torture for accused terrorists. That’s what it’s been doing ever since 9/11 — torturing accused terrorists. So, how come the sudden concern the possibility that accused terrorist Posada will be tortured in Venezuela?
The answer might lie in the fact that if Posada was responsible for planting the bomb on that Cuban airliner, it’s entirely possible that he was acting on behalf of the CIA. That is, even though the CIA claims that Posada was no longer an employee at the time of the bombing, that’s what the CIA would say if Posada was acting on behalf of the CIA.
Thus, if Posada were returned to Venezuela to stand trial and face justice, there is always the possibility that he would sing like a canary about his life in the CIA.
If the U.S. government’s refusal to comply with the Venezuelan extradition demand is genuine, then why wouldn’t the same apply to the Taliban’s refusal to comply with Bush’s extradition demand? After all, everyone would agree that bin Laden would definitely have been tortured in CIA custody.
I should point out that the U.S. government has indicted Posada, but not for the terrorist bombing of that Cuban airliner but rather for the relatively minor crime of making false statements on some immigration forms. In my opinion, the possibility that Posada will ever serve time for that offense is nil. In fact, given the repeated delays in the case, one might reasonably ask whether the entire proceeding is nothing more than a sophisticated sham to disguise the intentional harboring of an accused terrorist — i.e., the same thing that the U.S. government accused the Taliban regime of doing with bin Laden.
The irony is that there is actually a formal extradition treaty between Venezuela and the United States, a treaty that the U.S. government has chosen to intentionally violate. There was no extradition treaty with Afghanistan.
Thus, two separate questions arise with respect to Afghanistan: (1) Was it right for the United States to go to war against the Taliban based on its refusal to comply with Bush’s extradition demand? And (2) Was it right to use military means to bring bin Laden to justice?
Both questions must be answered in the negative.
The Taliban’s refusal to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand was no different in principle than the U.S. government’s refusal to comply with Venezuela’s extradition demand. A refusal to comply with an extradition demand provides no just reason to go to war against another nation.
Using military means to bring bin Laden to justice has been a disaster. Not only has the military failed to capture bin Laden, it has become the biggest terrorist-producing machine in history. Every time it has killed or maimed people — people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks — it has added more people to ranks of those who hate the United States and seek vengeance.
Contrast how the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was handled. Some three years after the attack, Ramzi Yousef was captured by the police in Pakistan. He was extradited to the United States, stood trial in federal district court, and given a life sentence.
Wasn’t that a better way to handle things than to invade, bomb, and occupy Pakistan and assassinate Pakistanis?
Another example: Mir Aimal Kasi, the man who shot CIA employees near CIA headquarters in Virginia. He too was a Pakistani. Four years after the attack, he was taken into custody in Pakistan, sent back to the United States, stood trial in federal district court, and given the death penalty.
Again, no invasions, occupations, or assassinations. Just patient police work and judicial processes.
After 10 years of invasion, occupation, torture, killings, incarcerations, renditions, assassinations, death, destruction, anger, hatred, and the constant threat of terrorist retaliation, it’s time to admit that the military invasion of Afghanistan, like that of Iraq, was horribly wrong. Not only did it fail to capture bin Laden, it killed and maimed countless innocent people in the process, placing Americans in constant jeopardy of retaliation.
There is also the possible financial bankruptcy of the U.S. government to consider as well.
It’s time to admit wrong and bring the troops home, immediately.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
October 14, 2010, The Future of Freedom Foundation
CNN says Pakistan protecting Osama bin Laden; France on alert for terrorist attacks
CNN cites an unnamed NATO official who charges that members of Pakistan’s intelligence service are giving shelter to Osama bin Laden in the country’s northwest.
Al Jazeera/File/AP Photo
By Jonathan Adams, Correspondent / October 18, 2010
Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are living comfortably in northwest Pakistan under the protection of members of the nation’s intelligence service, a top NATO official has reportedly told CNN.
CNN says Pakistan protecting Osama bin Laden; France on alert for terrorist attacks
Iran frees Iranian-American businessman Reza Taghavi
British charity workers kidnapped in one of Somalia’s ‘safer parts’
Fort Hood shooting ‘was a horror movie,’ witness testifies at pretrial
China, US calm regional tensions at ASEAN defense conference
The claim comes amid fresh warnings by Saudi intelligence of terror attacks targeting Europe – especially France – by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Mr. bin Laden’s group. A British official said Monday that the United Kingdom faces a “very serious threat” of terrorist attacks, reported Agence France-Presse, while the United States and Japan earlier this month both issued travel alerts for Europe.
The latest report could add pressure on Pakistan to eliminate havens on its territory for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
CNN quoted an anonymous NATO official saying that the top two leaders of Al Qaeda were living close to each other, but not together, in houses in northwest Pakistan, protected by locals and members of Pakistani intelligence. “Nobody in Al Qaeda is living in a cave,” the official told CNN.
The official said the general region where bin Laden is likely to have moved around in recent years ranges from the mountainous Chitral area in the far northwest near the Chinese border, to the Kurram Valley which neighbors Afghanistan’s Tora Bora, one of the Taliban strongholds during the US invasion in 2001….
The area that the official described covers hundreds of square miles of some of the most rugged terrain in Pakistan inhabited by fiercely independent tribes.
Pakistan’s interior minister denied Monday that bin Laden and Zawahiri are on Pakistani soil and said such reports had proven false in the past, according to CNN.
But their group, Al Qaeda, has remained active around the world. Saudi intelligence officials have issued fresh warnings of a possible attack in Europe, warnings that will likely add to weeks of jitters triggered by vague reports of possible attacks planned for Europe.
The latest warnings were made public in a radio interview Sunday with French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux, who said that “several days” earlier, Saudi intelligence informed France that the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was “active or about to become active in Europe,”
according to Al Jazeera.
“This is not about overestimating the threat or underestimating it,” he told France’s RTL Radio. “I am indicating, based on all these elements, that the threat is real.”
Hortefeux said, in the spirit of “informing, not alarming” the public, that the government had received a warning days earlier from Saudi intelligence about a terrorist threat to “the European continent, especially France,” according to Le Figaro. “Our vigilance remains intact,” he said, according to Le Figaro.
Hortefeux said the latest alert from Saudi intelligence followed other alerts, including a Sept. 9 Interpol warning, and a Sept. 16 alert warning of attacks by female suicide bombers, according to Le Monde. Hortefeux said an average of two terror plots against France were broken up per year, and 61 people were now in French prisons for involvement in terrorism.
France’s current threat level is “reinforced red” (rouge renforce), the second-highest level after “scarlet red” (rouge ecarlate), according to Le Monde.
The Eiffel Tower was evacuated twice in recent months over terror fears. France has issued travel warnings to its citizens for the United Kingdom. Britain on Sunday updated travel advice for France and Germany, saying that there was a “high threat of terrorism” in those countries, “including in public places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers,” according to Agence France-Presse. Britain’s threat level is “severe,” its second highest level.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based offshoot has been reaching out to Muslims based in the Europe and the US with an English-language online magazine that encourages random attacks and instructions on bombmaking and do-it-yourself terror ideas such as welding steel blades onto a pickup truck and driving into a crowd, according to Agence France-Presse.
NATO official: Bin Laden living comfortably in Pakistan
By Zachary Roth
- Buzz up!89 votes
Osama bin Laden is living comfortably in northwest Pakistan, protected by local tribespeople and some members of the country’s intelligence service, a NATO official has told CNN. The news undercuts the U.S. government’s depiction of the al-Qaida leader as on the run, one terror expert tells The Upshot.
U.S. intelligence officials have long believed that bin Laden is living in the remote tribal region of northwest Pakistan. But at times, the government has also claimed that the al-Qaida leader has had to move frequently from one safehouse to another, impairing his ability to plot attacks.
The NATO official’s comments undermine that claim, Michael Scheuer, a former special adviser to the chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, told The Upshot. “It exposes the lie that Bush and Obamahave been telling us since 9/11, that he was running from rock to rock and cave to cave,” Scheuer said.
“Nobody in al-Qaida is living in a cave,” said the unnamed official.
Scheuer, who has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. approach to fighting al-Qaida, said it’s unlikely that the comments reflect any valuable new piece of information. “If this were genuine intel, they would not go public with it,” he said. “They would try to kill him.” Instead, he said, the NATO official’s goal is probably to put pressure on Pakistan to move its army into North Waziristan as part of the fight against the Taliban — something NATO has been urging the Pakistani government to do for weeks now.
Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, also downplayed the comments. “There’s always been a sharp focus on how do we close the chapter by capturing or killing bin Laden,” Catulis told The Upshot. “I don’t know that [the NATO official’s comments] are based on anything new or real.”
Earlier this month, Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed optimismthat bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, would eventually be caught. But according to Scheuer, the evidence that bin Laden is living in relative comfort and stability cuts against that expectation. “We’re just facing reality at last,” Scheuer said. “Bin Laden lives among people who: a) regard him as an Islamic hero; and b) whose tribal mores require them to protect a guest with their own lives.”
Scheuer continued: “Despite what our leaders are saying, a guy who’s not moving around is not vulnerable to attack.”
Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, denied to CNN that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are in Pakistan.
(File photo of bin Laden: AP)
Afghanistan: Pentagon contractors entwined with ‘pro-Taliban’ warlords
A Senate investigation finds that Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan are inadvertently helping the Taliban and becoming ensnared in the turf wars of local warlords.
By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer / October 7, 2010
The US military has inadvertently been funneling American taxpayer dollars to Afghan warlords who have been linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery, and other “pro-Taliban, anti-coalition” activities, according to a detailed report released Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It is an investigation that at times seems lifted straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film, with local thugs nicknamed “Mr. Pink” and “Mr. White” in command of private militias that are waging bloody turf battles for a greater share of contracting dollars – and who may be using arms and ammunition purchased with these dollars to aid the Taliban.
The report raises questions that go to the heart of the US mission in Afghanistan. There are concerns that guards paid by the US military but controlled by local strongmen could harm US troops or inadvertently place the troops in the middle of proxy wars.
Moreover, investigators argue that private contractors are undermining the US exit strategy in Afghanistan, since Afghan soldiers and police trainees routinely drop out of training to take more lucrative jobs as guards hired by private firms. This jeopardizes the US military’s mission to train competent Afghan forces so that US troops can eventually leave the country.
The solution, Senate aides argue, is in tightening enforcement of contracting laws already on the book. But though senior military officials say they are well aware of the gravity of the contracting problem in Afghanistan, they add that US officials who oversee contractors are overworked and often unaware of the laws at their disposal – or the often-complex ties between Afghan power brokers and insurgents that make unregulated cash payouts to people who are essentially militia members perilous.
What’s more, taking these warlords off the Pentagon payroll may entail “huge risks,” Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan acknowledged, that could force US troops to make some tough and at times unsavory compromises.
Chronic lack of oversight
While the charges are shocking, they are not necessarily surprising – the lack of oversight surrounding what often amount to classic protection rackets has been clear for some time, military analysts point out. In a February report, Senate investigators discovered that employees of a Blackwater subsidiary were not only riding armored vehicles like stagecoaches and wildly shooting weapons, but also pilfering rifles meant for local trainees.
In the weeks to come, determining how to enforce restrictions on contractors with strikingly similar pattern of lapses will be the order of the day for Pentagon officials, who have long wrestled with corruption and violent behavior among contractors on their payroll.
Senate investigators, for their part, have concluded that “the Department of Defense has failed to address serious deficiencies” in the performance of private security contractors, even when Pentagon audits turned up considerable evidence that wrongdoing was taking place.
In the short term, the lack of oversight costs the lives of US troops, say top US commanders who are keenly aware of this point. US generals have cited “significant evidence that some security contractors even work against our coalition forces – creating the very threat that they are hired to combat,” Senator Levin said. “These contractors threaten the security of our troops and the risk success of our mission.”
Pentagon foots bill for incompetent guards
In other cases, the report also suggests that contractors are simply not doing what they are paid to do, resulting at times in tragic ineptitude. Key installations have gone unprotected by local guards who received inadequate training from contractors. In at least one instance, Afghans hired with funds from the Pentagon’s Commanders Emergency Response Program shot and killed a US Marine.
The investigation found that the guards routinely used opium and had received no training in how to use their weapons.
Says a senior US military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the matter with the media: “The US military knows very well how serious the contracting problem is. We’re certainly aware of incidents where folks are getting US taxpayer dollars that haven’t been spent in the best of ways.”
While Levin advised that the US military take steps to integrate Afghan militia paid through these contracts into formal structures like the Afghan military and police force, he acknowledged that for now US commanders will have to make some tough choices.
“The decision of whether or not to utilize a strongman or warlord has got to be made at the highest levels of the chain of command,” Levin said.
“There will be times when our top level people are going to want to take some risks and utilize people that are not ideal, but which under the circumstances are the best that we can do,” he added. “This is Afghanistan.”