Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

The Torture-Go-Round

The CIA’s Rendition Flights to Secret Prisons

By LILA RAJIVA | CounterPunch | December 5, 2005

Dana Priest’s recent Washington Post article, “Anatomy of a CIA ‘rendition’ gone wrong”(1) only confirms what those who have watched the torture scandal closely already know. Abu Ghraib was no anomaly but the most visible tip of a widespread but clandestine policy. Priest reveals details about a case in which the CIA used German, Macedonian, Albanian and Afghan authorities and European air space and terminals to “render” a German citizen snatched up abroad for interrogation and torture, without any material cause.

Here’s the case that’s now causing a furor in Europe:

Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen resident in Ulm, Germany, went on a trip to Macedonia, was arrested by local authorities on New Year’s Eve, 2003 and held for over 3 weeks in a motel. Then, he was handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped by masked men, drugged, diapered and flown to Afghanistan, on the basis of a “hunch” by a counter-terrorist chief in the CIA. The hunch was no more than the fact that Masri’s name resembled that of an associate of one of the 9-11 hijackers.

Masri was imprisoned for five months by Afghans and possibly Americans and claims he was tortured. A bus driver confirms that Masri was snatched up by border guards on the date he alleges; forensic analysis of his hair shows malnutrition during the time he claims he was imprisoned; flight logs confirm that a CIA front company flew a plane out of Macedonia on the day he says he was abducted.

Back in the US, Masri’s passport and story held up and in May 2004, around the time when the Abu Ghraib scandal first burst into public view in America, the White House sent U.S. ambassador in Germany, Daniel R. Coats, on a special mission to German Interior Minister Schily, an ardent Bush supporter, to inform him of the error and tell him to keep the details secret should Masri go public.

Later in May, Masri claims he was visited in prison by a man he says was German, who told him that he was going to be released without documents that might confirm his story because the Americans would never admit to a mistake. He was released, flown out to Albania – Macedonia wouldn’t admit him – and dumped onto a narrow country road at dusk. From there he was escorted to the international airport at Tirana by armed men and rejoined his family in Lebanon where they’d gone.

Masri’s attorneys say they intend to file a lawsuit in U.S. courts this week. Neither the CIA nor the German ministry which was told about the case, is talking.

Masri’s story is given support by other news pouring in from all over Europe in the last week:

December 1: The British Guardian reports that over 300 CIA flights have landed at European airports and that CIA planes visited Germany and Britain over 200 times, if chartered flights are included. According to the NY Times, there were 94 flights in Germany, 76 in Britain, 33 in Ireland, 16 in Portugal, 15 in Spain and Czechoslovakia each and two chartered flights that made stopovers in France. French officials say they had no knowledge of the clandestine flights. If so, the flights certainly violated French sovereignty.(2)

December 2: Le Figaro in France adds that the first flight was made on March 31, 2002 by a Lear jet that stopped in Brest en route from Iceland to Turkey, via Rome. The crew was reportedly alone. The second flight, which stopped over near Paris on July 20, 2005, from Norway, was a Gulfstream III jet that landed six times at Guantanamo.(3)

December 3: Berliner Zeitung in Germany reports that CIA aircraft used European airports minimally 15 times this past year and says that America’s Ramstein Air Base (Germany) was a hub for the flights between 2002 and 2004. (4)

December 4: The Council of Europe, the foremost human rights watchdog in Europe, headed by Swiss senator Dick Marty and using satellite imagery, makes its first closed door report in Paris on “black sites” in eastern Europe and the flights in Europe. Marty also cites the illegal abduction in February 2003 of accused terrorist and Egyptian cleric Abu Omar from Milan to Germany and then Egypt, where he was reportedly tortured. (5)

Human Rights Watch identifies the Kogalniceanu military airfield in Romania and Poland’s Szczytno-Szymany airport as probable sites based on flight logs of the CIA aircraft between 2001 to 2004. Other airports possibly used were Palma de Majorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands, Larnaca in Cyprus, and Shannon in Ireland. The CIA flight logs were analyzed by Mark Galasco, a senior military analyst with the organization who was formerly a civilian intelligence office with the Defense Intelligence Agency. Not someone who can be easily dismissed as anti-American. (6)

Meanwhile, Poland and Romania as well as another ten nations deny having CIA facilities in their territory while Austria and Denmark are investigating US violations of their air space. There are over six investigations into flights in various countries.

To all this the White House has tried outright denial. Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, told Fox News Sunday on December 4,

“… we comply with U.S. law. We respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal. And we do not move people around the world so that they can be tortured.”

But when asked on CNN’s “Late Edition” specifically if the U.S. operates secret prisons in Europe, Hadley side-stepped a clear-cut denial, preferring to fudge, “there is a lot of cooperation at a variety of levels on the war on terror.”

Hadley is lying on all three counts he cites –

1. As the flight logs and investigative reports document, the US is moving people around the world to be tortured.

2. Since all 25 member states have signed the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Convention Against Torture, secret torture cells would indeed be a violation of the laws of foreign countries. If officials in this country did not know about these flights, as seems to be the case, then the US did indeed violate their national sovereignty.

3. The United Nations Convention Against Torture was also ratified by the U.S in 1994, and it requires “substantial grounds for believing” that a detainee will be tortured abroad.
Since Syria, Jordan, Egypt and many of the other countries where suspects have been rendered have turned up all too frequently as violators in human rights monitoring and have been cited by the State Department itself, the US cannot plausibly argue as it has, that it does not have “substantial grounds for believing” rendered suspects would be tortured there. Its own officials are on record saying just the opposite. Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA’s former counterterrorism director, told Newsday about an al-Qaeda suspect taken to Egypt, “They promptly tore his fingernails out and he started to tell things.” (February 6, 2003). Former CIA agent Bob Baer told The New Statesman, “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt,”

Since CIA officials knew the fate in store of those rendered, the US is in utter
violation of international laws on torture which are binding on it.

It’s not necessary anymore to hedge discussion of the program with words like “alleged,” for Masri is only the latest in a long line of renditions without cause/due process of any kind: Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian citizen, seized by a CIA team in Pakistan in October 2001, sent to Egypt, burned, electrocuted and beaten till he bled in his sleep from his nose, mouth, and ears, was dumped in Guantanamo and then released without being charged; Mohamedou Oulad Slahi, a Mauritanian and former Canada resident, taken by the CIA to Jordan for interrogation for 8 months, was sent to Guantanamo and released; Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian imprisoned by Indonesia authorities in January 2002, flown to Egypt for interrogation, was returned to the CIA four months later, held for 13 months in Afghanistan, then sent to Guantanamo and later released; Maher Arar a naturalized Canadian citizen, kidnapped in New York in September 2002, was taken to Syria, held in a coffin and tortured with metal whips. He proved to have no ties to terrorism and was released.

Masri is telling the truth. There is just too much testimony from detainees that makes substantially the same charges, too many CIA admissions and leaks, too many eye-witness reports, the meticulously analyzed flight logs and even supporting medical evidence.

The Masri case is without any doubt an illegal operation involving authorities in at least five countries – Macedonia, Afghanistan, Germany, Albania, and the U.S.

Let me spell that out. In pursuit of the global war on terror, the U.S. government, apparently conspiring with foreign intelligence, has snatched a citizen of one country off the streets of another for no credible reason whatsoever, violating the sovereignty of several foreign countries in the process. It has then sent him to still another foreign country for torture for several months. And, having found itself mistaken, it has confiscated/withheld the documents necessary for the victim to substantiate a legal claim against the US government. There was no formal charge, there was no notification of the family, there were no witnesses called, there was no lawyer provided, there was no explanation or restitution offered.

Again, note. The CIA held these prisoners in contravention of the laws even of the torturing countries. Even Egypt, Syria or Jordan have legal systems – however harsh – that would have necessitated charges and a legal defense. But as ex-FBI agent Dan Coleman has stated, “We’re taking people, and keeping them in our own custody [my emphasis] in third countries. That’s an enormous problem….There was a process there [in Egypt],” Coleman says. “But what’s our process? We have no method over there other than our laws”and we’ve decided to ignore them. What are we now, the Huns? If you don’t talk to us, we’ll kill you?” (7)

What is also clamoring to be asked is if the black sites allegedly in Eastern Europe – and according to the Post article, also in Thailand – are really all that there are to the story?

Given the extraordinary sensitivity of the whole program, what are the chances that CIA leaks tell the whole story? What about Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and many other countries partnered with the US in the global war on terror who have dismal human rights records.

Uzbekistan has recently been in the news about just that. Craig Murray, the former British ambassador there, told 60 Minutes that Uzbek citizens, captured in Afghanistan, were flown back to Tashkent on an American plane operating on a regular basis. Uzbeki torture techniques include drowning, suffocation, rape, and immersion in boiling liquid. Murray calls these techniques “medieval” but there is not one that has not been used by the US, not only in the war on terror” but within US prisons. When Murray complained that British intelligence was using information elicited by torture, he was recalled and quit the foreign service.(8)

Indonesia is another strong candidate to have black sites, since the Asian tsunami last year provided the perfect justification and cover for US spy satellites and military to enter the area. Just this past November 23, the Bush administration announced it will lift a six-year arms embargo and resume full relations with the Indonesian military providing aid to “support US and Indonesian security objectives, including counterterrorism, [my emphasis] maritime security and disaster relief.” (9)

And what about Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean? The US has vehemently denied a black site there, but what credibility do such denials have? Could the focus on Eastern Europe turn out to be an elaborate feint or a secondary story, as so much else in the uncovering of this story?

Masri claims he was not tortured but beaten. How many unknown victims permanently “disappeared”?

Finally, let’s not forget that the Masri case was known at the highest level and concealed with the knowledge of then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. And for good reason. At a time when the administration was frantically dismissing Abu Ghraib as a case of a “few rotten apples,” Masri’s case shows it for what it really was – a reckless policy put in place by the administration in violation of US and international laws.

~

Lila Rajiva is a free-lance journalist and author of “The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American media” (Monthly Review Press). She can be reached at: lrajiva@hotmail.com

Notes:

1. Dana Priest, “Anatomy of a CIA rendition gone wrong,” Washington Post, December 4, 2005. Also, Dana Priest, “CIA Hold Terror Suspects in Secret Sites,” Washington Post, November 2, 2005.

2. “Twist to terror suspects row as logs show 80 CIA planes visited UK,” Guardian, UK, December 1, 2005 and “Reports of Secret U.S. Prisons in Europe Draw Ire and Otherwise Red Faces,” Ian Fisher, NY Times, December 1, 2005.

3. “Paper: CIA flights made stopovers in France,” AP, December 2, 2005.

4. “CIA’s secret detainee flights concern Germany,” AP November 26, 2005.

5. “Many Hints of CIA prison flights,” AP, November 22, 2005.

6. “EU to probe reports of secret CIA prisons,” AP, November 3, 2005

7. “Outsourcing Torture,” Jane Meyer, New Yorker, February 7/14, 2005.

8. “CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?” CBS Sixty Minutes, March 6, 2005.

9. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/23/152214.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Bahrainis want ‘elected government’

Press TV – February 26, 2011
Sheikh Ali Salman of Bahrain’s leading opposition party al-Wefaq

The head of Bahrain’s al-Wefaq party says the opposition only welcomes dialogues that will lead to the establishment of an elected government.

Sheikh Ali Salman told Press TV on Saturday that Bahrainis from all walks of life are calling for a democratic government.

“It’s part of the Arabic revolution. The Arab revolution is looking for a democracy, it’s simple like that. You can’t find it [here],” Salman said.

“There are no clashes between the Sunnis and the Shias,” he continued, “It’s really a clash between the dictatorship… and the people whose demands are a democratic government.”

“What is the meaning of a dialogue if there is no chance for this dialogue to reach a solution?” he added.

“We need from the government not just to say, I am ready for dialogue, but that I am ready to have a dialogue that is leading to an elected government,” Salman stated.

On Saturday, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa dismissed the ministers of cabinet affairs, housing, health and electricity amid mass pro-democracy protests in the capital Manama.

The most recent wave of protests is calling for the resignation of the king as well as constitutional reforms. The Bahraini people are demanding free elections and the release of political prisoners as well.

The protesters, who have camped at Manama’s Pearl Square for the 12th straight day, say they will keep rallying until their demands are met.

Bahrain is a key US ally in the Middle East and home to Washington’s Fifth Fleet.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Bahrainis want ‘elected government’

9/11 revisited: 21 problems in official narrative

By Paul Balles | Gulf Daily News | February 26, 2011

In March 2004, publication of David Ray Griffin’s book The New Pearl Harbor, challenging the official story of 9/11, sparked widely different reactions.

Then in 2008, Griffin published The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, an update of his original study in which he said: “The expose of what happened on 9/11 has shown virtually every dimension of the official account of 9/11 to be false beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Forget about conspiracy theories. How can we allow falsifications lapse into history without demanding the truth?

It’s past time to demand honest answers to the questions generated by the official story.

Based on his continuing studies, Griffin compiled 21 reasons to question the official story about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here I have summarized his 21 points that challenge the official stories:

1. The official story has Osama Bin Laden behind the attacks. However, the FBI “has no hard evidence connecting him to 9/11”

2. Alleged hijackers who regularly drank heavily, went to strip clubs, and paid for sex could hardly be devout Muslims

3. Claims that passengers on airlines made mobile phone calls to relatives have been contradicted by the FBI

4. The FBI also contradicted Ted Olson’s claim that his wife phoned him twice from American Airlines flight 77.

5. Reported evidence for Muslim hijackers shows clear signs of having been fabricated.

6. The story that incriminating evidence was found in alleged hijacker Mohammed Atta’s luggage was a revision of the original story.

7. Planes showing signs of in-flight emergencies are normally intercepted within about 10 minutes. The military’s failure implies something prevented this standard procedure.

8. Then Vice-President Dick Cheney, while in the bunker under the White House, apparently confirmed a stand-down order prior to the strike on the Pentagon.

9. The 9/11 Commission removed a report from video records of its hearings about when he entered the shelter conference room.

10. The commission’s time-line for Cheney contradicts what he told “Meet the Press”.

11. Hani Hanjour, who could not safely fly even a single-engine plane, could not possibly have executed the trajectory reportedly taken by American Flight 77 hitting Wedge 1 of the Pentagon.

12. Wedge 1 would have been the least likely part of the Pentagon to be targeted by foreign terrorists.

13. Claims by Pentagon officials that they did not have the premises evacuated because they had no way of knowing an aircraft was approaching it were false.

14. Why would the Secret Service allow President Bush to remain in a Florida classroom for 30 minutes after news of attack?

15. On the first anniversary of 9/11, the White House started lying about Bush immediately leaving the classroom.

16. The official explanation of the destruction of the Twin Towers and WTC 7 (a nearby building that also collapsed) contradicts all prior history: steel-frame high-rise buildings have never collapsed except when brought down by controlled demolition.

17. Firemen, emergency medical workers, police officers, city officials, WTC employees and TV and print journalists reported explosions going off in the towers and WTC 7.

18. The destruction of the towers can only be explained in terms of powerful explosives. The fires could not have come within 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit needed to melt steel.

19. Then New York mayor Rudy Guliani allegedly falsified stories about knowing the WTC buildings were going to collapse. His fire chiefs didn’t expect them to come down.

20. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has repeatedly postponed its report into the collapse of WTC 7.

21. The official story about 9/11 is rejected by growing numbers of professors, physicists, architects, engineers, pilots, former military officers and former intelligence officials.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | 13 Comments

IAEA reaffirms peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program

Press TV – February 26, 2011

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear energy program.

In an IAEA report issued on Friday, the agency reaffirmed that Iran’s nuclear program has never been diverted to nuclear weapons production, the Press TV correspondent in Vienna reported.

But the report still says Tehran must halt its uranium enrichment activities, as demanded by four United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, stated that the demand is politically motivated, saying, “When all nuclear activities are accounted for and there is no diversion to military purposes… then what is the justification for referring to an old obsolete request of suspension.”

The report also claimed that Iran has not been abiding by some of its obligations, an allegation Iran strongly rejects.

Soltanieh told Press TV that all nuclear activities in Iran are under the full-scope safeguards of the IAEA and that Tehran has been cooperating with the agency far beyond its legal obligations.

“The report is on the implementation of safeguards in Iran and therefore those parts referring to other things, like the Security Council or the Additional Protocol, are beyond the mandate of such a report,” the Iranian envoy said.

The report also maintains that Iran’s nuclear facilities have not been affected by the Stuxnet computer virus since the country’s production of low-enriched uranium is higher than it was last fall.

In July 2010, media reports claimed that Stuxnet had targeted industrial computers around the globe, with Iran being the main target of the attack. They said the Bushehr nuclear power plant was at the center of the cyber attack.

The document, prepared by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, is a prelude to the upcoming IAEA Board of Governors meeting, which opens on March 7.

On June 9, 2010, the UN ratified a US-engineered resolution imposing new sanctions on Iran over the allegations that Tehran is concealing a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Tehran has vehemently rejected the allegations of diversion, saying it needs nuclear energy to meet its growing domestic demand for electricity and to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor, which produces medical isotopes for cancer treatment.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and thus has the right to enrich uranium to produce fuel.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

Fresh airstrike targets Gaza home

Ma’an – 26/02/2011

GAZA CITY — Israeli F16 fighter jets launched the sixth air strike of the day on Gaza on Saturday afternoon, witnesses said.

The most recent strike hit Ahmad Abu Shareb’s home, east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Abu Shareb told Ma’an the Israeli army told him to evacuate his home prior to the shelling. No injuries were reported.

Earlier Saturday afternoon, warplanes struck three targets in the southern Gaza Strip leaving at least two Palestinians injured.

The first hit an open space between Rafah and Khan Younis, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said two people were injured, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

Two more airstrikes came minutes after the first targeting two security sites belonging to the Hamas-run government in Rafah, which is near the Egyptian border.

A family of four, including an 18-month-old girl, were lightly wounded, after their vehicle was hit by shrapnel as they were driving by one of the targets, Abu Salmiya told AFP.

A third air strike hit an Islamic Jihad facility west of Khan Younis, witnesses said.

The raids came after pre-dawn strikes against two other training camps of the hardline Islamic Jihad group.

Several missiles hit an Islamic Jihad military base in Khan Younis. Islamic Jihad has refused to observe a calm in attacks against Israel agreed by Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other groups.

The military said that during the weekend its planes shelled “several terror activity sites in the Gaza Strip as a response to the baragging of rocket fire at the Israeli home front.”

In a statement, the army said the pre-dawn raids “targeted a number of sites in the central Gaza Strip,” and the afternoon strikes “targeted a terror tunnel and two terror activity sites in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The air raids came after tensions rose along the Israel-Gaza border this week following clashes and a rocket attack on the Israeli city of Beersheba that hit a house but caused no casualties. … Full article

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Comments Off on Fresh airstrike targets Gaza home

Libya: Is Washington Pushing for Civil War to Justify a US-NATO Military Intervention?

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya | Global Research | February 25, 2011

One should be opposed to dictatorship, but one should not forget the issue of foreign domination.

Is Tripoli being set up for a civil war to justify U.S. and NATO military intervention in oil-rich Libya?

Is “manufactured destruction” or “creative destruction” at work?

If Qaddafi is not ousted, are the talks about sanctions a prelude to an Iraq-like intervention?

Something is Rotten in the so-called “Jamahiriya” of Libya

There is no question that Colonel Muammar Al-Gaddafi (Al-Qaddafi) is a dictator. He has been the dictator and so-called “qaid” of Libya for about 42 years. (“UK Hague: some information that Qaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters, February 21, 2011) Yet, it appears that tensions are being ratcheted up and the flames of revolt are being fanned inside Libya. This includes earlier statements by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague that Colonel Qaddafi had fled Libya to Venezuela. This statement served to electrify the revolt against Qaddafi and his regime in Libya.

Although all three have dictatorship in common, Qaddafi’s Libya is quite different from Ben Ali’s Tunisia or Mubarak’s Egypt. The Libyan leadership is not outright subservient to the United States and the European Union. Unlike the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, the relationship that exists between Qaddafi and both the U.S. and E.U. is a modus vivendi. Simply put, Qaddafi is an independent Arab dictator and not a “managed dictator” like Ben Ali and Mubarak.

In Tunisia and Egypt the status quo prevails, the military machine and neo-liberalism remain intact; this works for the interests of the United States and the European Union. In Libya, however, upsetting the established order is a U.S. and E.U. objective.

The U.S. and the E.U. now seek to capitalize on the revolt against Qaddafi and his dictatorship with the hopes of building a far stronger position in Libya than ever before. Weapons are also being brought into Libya from its southern borders to promote revolt. The destabilization of Libya would also have significant implications for North Africa, West Africa, and global energy reserves.

Colonel Qaddafi in Brief Summary

Qaddafi’s rise to power started as a Libyan captain amongst a group of military officers who carried out a coup d’état. The 1969 coup was against the young Libyan monarchy of King Idris Al-Sanusi. Under the monarchy Libya was widely seen as being acquiescent to U.S. and Western European interests.

Although he has no official state or government position, Qaddafi has nurtured and deeply rooted a political culture of cronyism, corruption, and privilege in Libya since the 1969 coup. Added to this is the backdrop of the “cult of personality” that he has also enforced in Libya.

Qaddafi has done everything to portray himself as a hero to the masses, specifically the Arabs and Africans. His military adventures in Chad were also tied to leaving his mark in history and creating a client state by carving up Chad. Qaddafi’s so-called “Green Book” has been forcefully portrayed and venerated as being a great feat in political thought and philosophy. Numerous intellectuals have been forced or bribed to praise it.

Over the years, Colonel Qaddafi has tried to cultivate a romantic figure of himself as a simple man of the people. This includes pretending to live in a tent. He has done everything to make himself stand out. His reprimanding of other Arab dictators, such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, at Arab League meetings have made headlines and have been welcomed by many Arabs. While on state visits he has deliberately surrounded himself with an entourage of female body guards with the intent of getting heads to turn. Moreover, he has also presented himself as a so-called imam or leader of the Muslims and a man of God, lecturing about Islam in and outside of Libya.

Libya is run by a government under Qaddafi’s edicts. Fear and cronyism have been the keys to keeping so-called “order” in Libya amongst officials and citizens alike. Libyans and foreigners alike have been killed and have gone missing for over four decades. The case of Lebanon’s Musa Al-Sadr, the founder of the Amal Movement, is one of the most famous of these cases and has always been a hindrance to Lebanese-Libyan relations. Qaddafi has had a very negative effect in creating and conditioning an entire hierarchy of corrupt officials in Tripoli. Each one looks out for their own interests at the expense of the Libyan people.

Fractions and Tensions inside the Hierarchy of Qaddafi’s Regime

Because of the nature of Qaddafi’s regime in Tripoli, there are a lot of internal tensions in Libya and within the regime structure itself. One of these sets of tensions is between Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and his father’s circle of older ministers. Libyan ministers are generally divided amongst those that gather around Saif Al-Islam and those that are part of the “old guard.”

There are even tensions between Qaddafi and his sons. In 1999, Mutassim Al-Qaddafi tried to ouster his father while Colonel Qaddafi was outside of Libya. Mutassim Qaddafi holds a Libyan cabinet portfolio as a national security advisor. He is also famously known amongst Libyans for being a playboy who has spent much of his time in Europe and abroad. There is also Khames Gaddafi who runs his own militia of thugs, which are called the Khames militia. He has always been thought of as possible contender for succession too against his other brothers.

There have always been fears in Libya about the issue of succession after Colonel Qaddafi is gone. Over the years, Qaddafi has thoroughly purged Libya of any form of organized opposition to him or prevented anyone else, outside his family, from amassing enough power to challenge his authority.

The Issue of Loyalty and Defection in Libya

Undoubtedly, little loyalty is felt for Qaddafi and his family. It has been fear that has kept Libyans in line. At the level of the Libyan government and the Libyan military it has been both fear and self-interest that has kept officials, good and corrupt alike, in line. That mantle of fear has now been dispelled. Statements and declarations of denunciation against Gaddafi’s regime are being heard from officials, towns, and military barracks across Libya.

Aref Sharif, the head of the Libyan Air Force, has renounced Qaddafi. Interior Minister Abdul Fatah Al-Yunis (Al-Younis), who is from Benghazi (Bengasi) and oversees a branch of the special operations work in Libya, has resigned. Yunis is reported to be Qaddafi’s “number two” or second in charge, but this is incorrect. Abdullah Sanusi, the head of Libyan Internal Intelligence and Qaddafi’s relative through marriage, is the closest thing to a “number two” within the structure of power in Tripoli.

Reports have been made about two Libyan pilots defecting to Malta and Libyan naval vessels refusing to attack Benghazi. Defections are snowballing amongst the military and government. Yet, there must be pause to analyze the situation.

The Libyan Opposition

At this point, however, it must be asked who is the “opposition” in Libya. The opposition is not a monolithic body. The common denominator is the opposition to the rule of Qaddafi and his family. It has to be said that “actions of opposition or resistance against an oppressor” and an “opposition movement” are also two different things. For the most part, the common people and corrupt Libyan officials, who harbour deep-seated hate towards Qaddafi and his family, are now in the same camp, but there are differences.

There is an authentic form of opposition, which is not organized, and a systematic form of opposition, which is either external or led by figures from within the Libyan regime itself. The authentic people’s internal opposition in Libya is not organized and the people’s “actions of opposition” have been spontaneous. Yet, opposition and revolt has been encouraged and prompted from outside Libya through social media networks, international news stations, and events in the rest of the Arab World.

The leadership of the internal opposition that is emerging in Libya is coming from within the regime itself. Corrupt officials that have rebelled against Gaddafi are not the champions of the people. These opposition figures are not opposed to tyranny; they are merely opposed to the rule of Colonel Qaddafi and his family. Aref Sharif and Al-Yunis are themselves Libyan regime figures.

It has to also be considered that some Libyan officials that have turned against Qaddafi are doing it to save themselves, while others in the future will work to retain or strengthen their positions. Abdel Moneim Al-Honi, the Libyan envoy to the Arab League in Cairo, can be looked at as an example. Al-Honi denounced Qaddafi, but it should be noted that he was one of the members of the group of Libyan officers who executed the coup in 1969 with Qaddafi and that later in 1975 he himself tried to take power in a failed coup. After the failed coup, he would flee Libya and only return in 1990 after Qaddafi pardoned him.

Al-Honi is not the only Libyan diplomat to resign. The Libyan ambassador to India has also done the same. There is an intention on the part of these officials to be members of the power structure in a Libya after the ouster of Qaddafi:

Libyan Ambassador to India Ali al-Essawi told the BBC that he was quitting, opposing his government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators.

Mr. Al-Essawi was reported to be a Minister in Tripoli and could be an important figure in an alternative government, in case Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi steps down.

The second Libyan diplomat to put in his papers was Tripoli’s Permanent Representative to the Arab League Abdel Moneim al-Honi, who said in Cairo that he had quit his job to “join the revolution” in his country.

“I have submitted my resignation in protest against the acts of repression and violence against demonstrators, and I am joining the ranks of the revolution,” said Mr. Al-Honi. The Second Secretary Hussein Sadiq al Musrati, announced his resignation from China, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, and called on the Army to intervene in the uprising. (“3 Libyan Diplomats resign,” The Hindu, February 22, 2011)

Again, these revolting officials, like Al-Yunis and Sharif, are from within the regime. They are not mere diplomats, but former ministers. There is also the possibility that these types of “opposition figures” could have or could make arrangements with external powers.

External Forces at Play in Libya

The governments of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Italy all knew very well that Qaddafi was a despot, but this did not stop any of them from making lucrative deals with Tripoli. When the media covers the violence in Libya, they should also ask, where are the weapons being used coming from? The arms sales that the U.S. and the E.U. have made to Libya should be scrutinized. Is this a part of their democracy promotion programs?

Since rapprochement between the U.S. and Libya, the military forces of both countries have moved closer. (James Wolf, “U.S. eyes arms sales to Libya,” Reuters, March 6, 2009) Libya and the U.S. have had military transactions and since rapprochement Tripoli has been very interested in buying U.S. military hardware. In 2009, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Lieutenant-Colonel Hibner, affirmed this relationship best: “[The U.S.] will consider Libyan requests for defen[s]e equipment that enables [Libya] to build capabilities in areas that serve our mutual interest [or synchronized U.S. and Libyan interests].” The qualifier here is U.S. interests, meaning that the Pentagon will only arm Libya on the basis of U.S. interests.

In what seems to have happened overnight, a whole new arsenal of U.S. military hardware has appeared in Libya. American-made F-16 jets, Apache helicopters, and ground vehicles are being used inside Libya by Qaddafi. This is a shocking revelation, if corroborated. There are no public records about some of this U.S. military hardware in the the arsenal of the Libyan military. In regards to the F-16s, Libyan jets are traditionally French-made Mirages and Russian-made MiGs.

Silvio Berlusconi and the Italian government have also been strong supporters of Qaddafi’s regime. There is information coming out of Libya that Italian pilots are also being used by the Libyan Air Force. Mercenaries from Chad, Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria are also being used. This has been verified through video evidence coming out of Libya. The Libyan regime is also considering contracting American or European security firms (mercenaries).

The Politics of Al Jazeera

The Libyan government has shut down the internet and phone lines and an information war is underway. Although one of the most professional news networks in the world, it has to be cautioned that Al Jazeera is not a neutral actor. It is subordinate to the Emir of Qatar and the Qatari government, which is also an autocracy. By picking and choosing what to report, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Libya is biased. This is evident when one studies Al Jazeera’s coverage of Bahrain, which has been restrained due to political ties between the leaders of Bahrain and Qatar.

Reports by Al Jazeera about Libyan jets firing on protesters in Tripoli and the major cities are unverified and questionable. Hereto, the reports that Libyan jets have been attacking people in the streets have not been verified. No visual evidence of the jet attacks has been shown, while visual confirmation about other events have been coming out of Libya.

Al Jazeera is not alone in its biased reporting from Libya. The Saudi media is also relishing the events in Libya. Asharq Al-Awsat is a Saudi-owned paper that is strictly aligned to U.S. interests in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. Its editor-in-chief is now running editorials glorifying the Arab League for their decision to suspend Libya, because of the use of force by Tripoli against Libyans protesters – why were such steps not taken for Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, or Yemen? Inside and outside the Arab World, the mainstream media is now creating the conditions for some sort of intervention in Libya.

The Role of Foreign Interests in Libya

Qaddafi and his sons have run Libya like a private estate. They have squandered its wealth and natural resources. One of Gaddafi’s son’s is known to have paid the American singer Beyoncé Knowles a million or more U.S. dollars for a private music concert. (Marine Hyde, “Beyoncé and the $2m gig for Colonel Gaddafi’s son,” The Guardian (U.K.), January 8, 2010) Foreign corporations also play a role in this story.

The positions and actions of foreign corporations, the U.S., and the European Union in regards to Libya should not be ignored.

Questioning the role of foreign governments and corporations in Libya is very important. The Italian and U.S. governments should be questioned about the role that pilots of Italian nationality and newly bought U.S. weaponry are playing in Libya.

It is very clear that democracy is only used as a convenient pretext against dictators and governments that do not bow down and serve U.S. and E.U. interests. All one needs to do is to just look at the way Mutassim Qaddafi was welcomed with open arms in Washington on April 21, 2009 by Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration. Upon their meeting, Secretary Clinton publicly said:

I am very pleased to welcome Minister Gaddafi to the State Department. We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Libya. We have many opportunities to deepen and broaden our cooperation and I am very much looking forward to building on this relationship. So Mr.Minister welcome so much here.

What the U.S. and the E.U. want to do now is maximize their gain in Libya. Civil war seems to be what Brussels and Washington have in mind.

The Balkanization of Libya and the Push to Civil War

Qaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam has made statements on Libyan television about deviant Taliban-like faith-based organizations taking over Libya or attempting to take it over. Nothing is further from the truth. He has also warned of doom and civil war. This is part of the Qaddafi family’s efforts to retain power over Libya, but a path towards civil war is unfolding in Libya.

Amongst the ranking members of the military, Mahdi Al-Arab, the deputy chief of Libya’s military staff, was said to have renounced Qaddafi. Al-Arab, however, has modified his position by saying that he does not want to see Libya spiral into a civil war that will allow foreign intervention and tutelage. This is why Al-Arab prevented the people of his city, Zawarah, from joining the revolt and going to nearby Tripoli.

The drive towards civil war in Libya is fuelled by two factors. One is the nature of Qaddafi’s regime. The other is an external desire to divide and weaken Libya.

Qaddafi has always worked to keep Libyans divided. For years there have been fears that Qaddafi’s sons would start a civil war amongst themselves or that some other high ranking officials could try to jockey for power once Qaddafi was gone. Civil war on the basis of ethnicity, regionalism, or tribalism is not a big threat. Tribes and regions could be co-opted or allied with, but the people that would spark a civil war are regime figures. The threats of civil war arise from the rivalries amongst regime officials themselves. Yet, it must be understood that these rivalries are deliberately being encouraged to divide Libya.

The flames of revolt are being fanned inside Libya. Chaos in the Arab World has been viewed as beneficial in many strategic circles in Washington, Tel Aviv, London, and NATO Headquarters. If Libya falls into a state of civil war or becomes balkanized this will benefit the U.S. and the E.U. in the long-term and will have serious geo-political implications.

All the neighbouring states in North Africa would be destabilized by the events in Libya. West Africa and Central Africa would also be destabilized. The tribal boundaries running in Libya and Chad extend into countries like Niger, Algeria, and Sudan. The chaos in Libya would also have a significant effect on Europe and global energy. Already the events in Libya are being used to validate the drive to control the Arctic Circle and its energy resources.

What Will Be Qaddafi’s End?

It is very likely that Qaddafi will not have as fortunate an exit from power as Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. Finding refuge for Qaddafi will not be easy. In general, Qaddafi is considered a liability by other governments. Saudi Arabia, which can be portrayed as a refuge for Arab dictators, will most likely not give Qaddafi refuge. Libya and Saudi Arabia have bad relations. He is also wanted for investigation in Lebanon. Generally, Qaddafi’s relationship with the leaders of the Arab petro-sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf is tense and negative. He will not be granted refuge anywhere in the Persian Gulf.

In general, Arab governments will also be afraid to host him. In his efforts to present himself as a champion of the people, he has insulted many of his fellow Arab dictators. There is something to be said, however, when Qaddafi’s statements at Arab League meetings or about Palestine and Iraq are far more popular or candid than the rest of the Arab dictators.

It is highly improbable that any Latin American, European, or ex-Soviet countries will give him refuge. A country in sub-Sahara(n) Africa is the mostly likely place Qaddafi could seek refuge.

His options are limited and he is determined to hold on to power. Civil War seems to be looming in the horizon. It is highly unlikely that he will leave Libya peacefully and the U.S. and its allies have no doubt examined this scenario. On February 23-24, 2010, he met with the leaders of the three biggest tribes in Libya (Werfala, Tarhouna, and Wershfana), to secure their support. His own tribe, Qaddafa is supporting him and it seems that the Madarha and Awlad Slieman tribes are also supporting him.

The Threats of NATO Intervention and U.S. and E.U. Control over Libya

Libya has been in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon for years. According to Wesley Clark, the retired general who was the supreme military commander of NATO, Libya was on a Pentagon list of nations to be invaded after Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The list included Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, and lastly Iran. In Clark’s own words:

So I came back to see him [a high ranking military officer in the Pentagon] a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defence’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” (“92 Street Y Exclusive Live Interview,” interview by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, March 2, 2007)

In one way or another all the nations on the list have been attacked directly or indirectly and all of them, but Syria and Iran, have succumbed to the U.S. and its allies. Again, the only exceptions are Iran and its ally Syria. In Lebanon, the U.S. has made partial gains, but it is now receding with the decline of the Hariri-led March 14 Alliance.

Libya started secret negotiations with Washington in 2001 that materialized into formal rapprochement after the fall of Baghdad to British and American troops in 2003. Yet, the U.S. and its allies have always wanted to expand their influence over the Libyan energy sector and to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth [proceeds of sales]. A civil war provides the best cover for this.

Libyans Must Be Aware of the Pretext of Humanitarian Intervention

The Libyan people should be on their high guards. It is clear that the U.S. and the E.U. are supporting both sides. The U.S. and the E.U. are not the allies of the people of the Arab World. In this regard, the U.S. supports Qaddafi on the ground through military hardware, while it also supports the “opposition.” If the so-called Western governments were serious about democracy, they would have cut their business ties to Libya, specifically in the energy sector, before 2011.

Both Washington and the powers in Brussels could co-opt opposition forces. They have supported Gaddafi, but they do not control him or his regime like they controlled Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. Libya is a very different story. The objectives of Washington and Brussels will be to strengthen their control over Libya either through regime change or civil war.

“Actions of opposition to Gaddafi” are strong, but there is no strong organized “opposition movement.” The two are different. Nor is democracy guaranteed, because of the nature of the coalition opposed to Gaddafi, which includes corrupt regime officials.

There is now talk about a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, similar to Yugoslavia and Iraq. A “no-fly zone” over Libya has been mentioned, as has NATO military intervention. The aims behind such statements are not humanitarian, but are intended to justify foreign interference, which could potentially lead to an invasion. Should this come to fruition, Libya would become an occupied country. Its resources would be plundered and its assets privatized and controlled by foreign corporations as in the case of Iraq [more to the point, as with Iraq, a steadfast source of support for Palestine would be neutralized].

Today, in Libya and the Arab World the ghosts of Omar Mukhtar and Saladin are still very much alive and active. Getting rid of Gaddafi and his sons alone is not the solution. The entire corrupt system of governance in Libya and the culture of political corruption must be dismantled. At the same time, however, foreign interference or domination should also not be allowed to take root in Libya. If the Libyan people are mobilized and steadfast, they can fight such schemes.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Libya: Is Washington Pushing for Civil War to Justify a US-NATO Military Intervention?

America’s forests to be ground up for European biofuel mandates

By John Davis – February 23rd, 2011

An American maker of wood pellets has acquired a deep water port, and that should help the company receive, store and load more than 3 million tons of woody biomass for export each year.

Biomass Magazine reports that Enviva LP will expand its shipping capacity with the deep water port terminal in Chesapeake, Virginia:

The location is one of a few on the Eastern Seaboard suitable for the export of wood pellets and will serve as the shipment point for pellets manufactured at Enviva’s recently announced plant in nearby Ahoskie, N.C. The new plant will produce 330,000 tons of wood pellets annually from more than 600,000 tons of raw supplies, according to Enviva.

The Chesapeake port is Enviva’s second and the company will continue to ship pellets made at its Gulf region plants from its Mobile, Ala., port. The Virginia terminal was formerly owned by Giant Cement Co., which will continue to use a portion of it for cement sales. Expansion of the terminal will require 40 to 60 skilled workers and contractors during the initial phase of construction, and its permanent staff of 12 is expected to double by the third year of operation. Upgrades are expected to be complete in November, coinciding with pellet production at the new Ahoskie facility, according to Enviva.

“The Chesapeake region has for a long time been a key nexus of international trade in the United States,” said Enviva CEO John Keppler. “We are particularly excited to be one of the first green economy manufacturers to rebalance the flow of trade in favor of exports from this port in Virginia.” The company said the terminal purchase is a reflection of its commitment to ensuring the safety, reliability, sustainability and quality of its product. It also allows the company to better satisfy growing overseas demand for wood pellets.

The port will be able to handle ships with more than 44,000 tons of Enviva pellets on board. Most of Enviva’s customers are in Europe, but the company has been expanding its U.S. base.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on America’s forests to be ground up for European biofuel mandates