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Venezuela Says U.S. Lacks “Moral Authority” to Judge Antiterrorism Efforts

By Franklin Rosales – Venezuelanalysis.com – August 19th 2011

Caracas – This Friday the Venezuelan government formally “rejected” a U.S. State Department antiterrorism report issued a day earlier, describing the document as “plagued with false affirmations, political preconceptions, and veiled threats.”

In a press release issued today, Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. government seeks “to impose, by way of intimidation, its international policy of disregard and domination” and that the ongoing “refuge and protection” provided by the United Stated to confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles negated all “moral authority” in the U.S.’s so-called War on Terrorism.

The U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism 2010, issued on 18 August 2011, states that the U.S. State Department is “concerned about Hezballah’s fundraising activities in Venezuela,” and declares that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is continuing “to strengthen Venezuela’s relationship with state sponsor of terrorism Iran”. The report also claims that 2010 was another year in which Venezuela “was not cooperating fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts.”

“Throughout the year,” the U.S. report asserts, “President Chavez rejected allegations that he or his government supported terrorism and instead accused the United States of sponsoring terrorism.”

In response to yesterday’s report, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said it rejected, “in the most vehement manner, the accusations of the U.S. State Department” and that by issuing its report the U.S. government had “ratified its policy of permanent aggression against independent and sovereign governments such as that of Venezuela.”

According to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry response, “the U.S. State Department tends to classify as ‘terrorists’ or ‘complacent with terrorism’ those governments and political organizations that do not bow down in the face of its imperial intentions.”

The Venezuelan government also affirmed that the United States “does not have the moral authority” to judge each country’s antiterrorism efforts, having given “refuge and protection to Luis Posada Carriles, an international criminal charged for terrorism.”

Luis Posada Carriles is wanted in both Venezuela and Cuba for his involvement in the 1976 downing of a Cubana de Aviacion airplane, killing all 73 people on board.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry also pointed out that “civilian massacres” committed and “undercover operations” carried out by U.S. forces abroad were “illegal operations” that only added to international skepticism towards U.S. antiterrorism efforts.

In recent years, right-wing U.S. Congressman Connie Mack and others have attempted to place Venezuela on the State Department’s list of “state sponsor of terrorism.” Unable to provide concrete evidence linking the Venezuelan government to U.S.-classified “terrorist” organizations such as Colombia’s Armed Revolutionary Forces (FARC) or Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Mack in recent months has sought to portray joint Venezuela-Iran economic development projects as Venezuelan support for Iran’s “desire for nuclear weapons.”

In response to a June 2011 hearing held by the U.S. Congress Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in which Mack called Venezuela a “hub” for international terrorism, the Venezuelan National Assembly responded by defining “true terrorism” as “that which has been carried out by the U.S. government through its military invasions,” referring specifically to the U.S. invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, among others.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Israel kills 15 in Gaza then tries to shift blame to Hamas

By Jalal Abukhater – The Electronic Intifada – 08/20/2011

Quoting from Haaretz:

“In response to the ongoing rocket fire, an IDF spokesperson stated that the military will not tolerate any attempt at harming Israeli civilians or soldiers, and will continue to “act with determination and strength against any source of terror.” The spokesperson also claimed that Hamas must be “held responsible” for the ongoing attacks.”

Israel is quickly trying to shift the blame for the war crimes it is committing in Gaza to Hamas. Suddenly those firing rockets (after 10 were killed for no reason last night, now 15) are the bad guys and Israel is the good guy doing self defense in this equation.

In times like this, what alternative would you give to the resistance groups other than fire rockets? Their families are killed, their children are either dying or becoming handicapped due to continuous raids. The 1.6 million population of Gaza is terrorized night and day, there isn’t any place in that open air prison safe from the random Israeli shelling, not even UNRWA schools as we have seen in 2009. Israel aims to collectively punish all those who live in Gaza for the crime of living in Gaza.

Let us keep in mind that for the past two years, al-Qassam and the majority of Gaza factions have respected the ceasefire treaty in order to maintain security in the besieged Gaza Strip. In fact, Hamas faced internal issues after it started suppressing armed groups who planned to launch rockets into Israeli cities. It was almost always Israel which would strike first or assassinate political figures which would prompt them to launch rockets in retaliation.

The blood thirsty leadership of Israel bombs Gaza for no reason other than their own self satisfaction. Another reason is that no one would interrupt them in their war crimes process, the US and EU leadership hurries to condemn Eilat attack while barely giving attention, if any, to those civilians slaughtered in Gaza.

And of course, let us not forget that Israel started bombing Gaza on Thursday for no reason. There is no evidence of any connection between Gaza militants and Eilat attack. The only proof the IDF claimed was that Eilat attackers used AK47, which is a weapon that only comes from Gaza (In fact the AK47 or Kalashnikov is the world’s most common firearm). This was literally said on the tongue of the IDF spokesperson Lt. Colonel Avital Leibovich interviewed by the The Real News Network’s Lia Tarachansky as This site has brought it to my attention.

Tarachansky: On what are you basing your conclusion that this group [the Popular Resistance Committees] is responsible for the terror attacks?

IDF Spokesperson: We did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack. We based this on intelligence information as well as some facts that [we] actually presented an hour ago to some wires and journalists. Some of the findings that were from the bodies of the terrorists, and they are using for example Kalashnikov bullets and Kalashnikov rifles are very common in Gaza

Tarachansky: Many terrorist groups use Kalashnikovs —

IDF Spokesperson: No, not many terror groups. I’m not saying — I’m referring to the terrorists that came from Gaza.

Tarachansky: Prime Minister Netanyahu said today that the group that was responsible for the terror attack was the one that was eliminated [in Gaza] and you’re saying that’s not the case?

IDF Spokesperson: I don’t know what he said [when speaking on Israeli national television] — I’m not Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’m saying that the group came from Gaza and I’m giving you proof why it came from Gaza — how we know it came from Gaza. This is all I’m saying.

Despite the continuing terror Gaza suffers, Israeli media is doing an even more horrible job. I spent yesterday going through almost all Israeli English news websites, non of those websites mentioned Gaza civilian deaths along with news on rockets coming into Israel. In the matter of fact, I kept reading news reports on Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, and Ynet to realize there is nothing about Palestinian civilian deaths, they only mentioned rockets, Israelis injured, and Gazan militants who were killed. Covering up the real news from the public is dangerous!

This tweet by +972 magazine’s Noam Sheizaf couldn’t describe it better:

By reporting only rockets fired 2 Israel in its top stories & hiding news over dead in Gaza, Israeli media is making public want more blood

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 2 Comments

Palestinian stabbed in Ashkelon

Ma’an – 20/08/2011

RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority police said Saturday that unknown assailants in southern Israel stabbed and injured a Palestinian worker based in the coastal city of Ashdod.

Nassim Al-Barbarawi, 26, told police he was attacked by more than 20 Israeli men who said they were avenging Thursday’s attack near Eilat which left eight Israelis dead.

He managed to flee his attackers when a car stopped to rescue him and took him to hospital in Ashdod, he said.

The victim was transferred by ambulance to hospital in Hebron.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Palestinian stabbed in Ashkelon

The US Government Won’t be Charged With Perjury Even When It’s Caught in a Lie

By SALLY EBERHARDT | CounterPunch | August 19, 2011

A chilling court decision unsealed at the end of April by a federal judge in California’s Central District reveals that the Obama administration is not only prepared to take advantage of the lies of the Bush administration, but is willing to up the ante. In a case that involved extensive surveillance of Muslim community groups and leaders, the Obama administration has now argued that the government not only can lie about its surveillance activities to American citizens but can, in turn, lie to federal judges when “national security” is involved. And, despite his strongly worded April 27 decision censuring the government for lying, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney ultimately ruled that the government can both withhold the requested surveillance documents and escape censure for lying.

Carney’s ruling, which has gone under the radar of most mainstream and independent media (with a lone 420-word editorial in the Los Angeles Times being the only mainstream coverage), chastises the U.S. government. But, that’s as far as Carney would go. The government will not be charged with contempt of court or perjury nor will it face any other kind of official sanction. In effect, the government can lie and conduct whatever kinds of surveillance it wants without accountability or repercussions for overreach.

The origins of the current case, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California et al. v. the Federal Bureau of Investigation, et al., stretch back to 2006 and involve six Muslim organizations – the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, the Council on American Islamic Relations-California (CAIR), the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, the Islamic Center of Hawthorne, the West Coast Islamic Center, the Human Assistance and Development International, Inc.- and five Muslim community leaders. These men and groups were among the first Muslim Americans to meet and share information with the FBI after 9/11, and include individuals like Mohammed Abdul Aleem, who served as a government witness for the U.S. Department of Justice in a 2004 terrorism case in Idaho.

However, by May 2006, the plaintiffs began to feel increasingly that they themselves had become the targets of extensive government surveillance and so filed a joint request for their FBI files under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for any records detailing their monitoring or surveillance. After almost a full year had elapsed, on April 27, 2007, the government told nine of the plaintiffs that they had “no records responsive” to their request, and, in June 2007, the FBI sent a single redacted page to CAIR and three redacted pages to Hussam Ayloush, CAIR’s Executive Director, and a plaintiff. Unconvinced by this report, the plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against the government, challenging the adequacy of the FBI’s search.

In light of the lawsuit, the FBI conducted new searches and produced some 120 pages of documents that they heavily redacted or withheld entirely because they were claimed to be “outside the scope” of the FOIA request. This – it would later turn out – was the government’s first instance of lying to the court. They had, of course, already lied to the plaintiffs in their previous correspondence with them which, as Judge Carney cited in his decision, was a curious tactic to take – as, under FOIA, they could have simply identified the “statutory and factual basis” for not releasing certain documents and, so, would have been well within current legal bounds for not issuing requested documents.

Faced with cross-motions by the government and the plaintiffs in the case, in April 2009 the Court ordered an in camera review of the FBI’s searches (with only the government present) in order to determine the “propriety” of the FBI’s “outside the scope” determinations. Shortly after this order was given, the government – which had now shifted from the Bush administration to the Obama administration – revealed to the court that it actually had identified other “responsive” documents but had never disclosed them to the court or to the plaintiffs. It was at this juncture, under Obama’s watch, that the government asserted that it actually had the right to lie to the court because of national security.

Realizing that the government had, as Judge Carney’s decision later worded it, “provided false and misleading information to the Court,” Carney ordered two in camera hearings, again with only the government present, after which he issued a sealed order in June 2009. But the government immediately appealed this order and sought an emergency motion to stay the decision. In its ruling, the appellate court supported government secrecy. Judge Carney’s decision – amended as per the appellate court’s order to eliminate all statements which the government designated too sensitive – finally saw the light of day two years later, at the end of this April.

Citing the case of United States v. Richard M. Nixon, to explain why “the very integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all the facts,” Carney rebuked the government’s attempts to claim that its representations to the Court were not “technically false,” writing that the government “cannot negotiate the truth with the Court” nor “under any circumstance affirmatively mislead the Court.”

He went on to write that “the Government argues that there are times when the interests of national security require the Government to mislead the Court. The Court strongly disagrees. The Government’s duty of honesty to the Court can never be excused, no matter what the circumstance.”

But despite these fine sentiments, Carney (who is a George W. Bush appointee) was ultimately unwilling to impose any kind of penalty or even order that the requested FOIA documents be released, leaving the U.S. government with nothing to stop it from lying in court in the future. Under the basic rules of court, the actions of the FBI’s lawyer, Marcia K. Sowles, appear to be clearly unethical; yet Judge Carney did not refer Ms. Sowles to a state bar for, at the very minimum, a disciplinary investigation. By failing to hold the government in any way accountable for lying, Judge Carney has succeeded only in ultimately bolstering the government’s confidence in acting with impunity.

The government itself hinted at the new level of unfettered reach they now want in one section of their appellate brief that was not under seal, writing that the courts need to “give special deference to the Executive Branch when it invokes national security concerns.”

That our government, four decades after the Pentagon Papers, is able to lie in a federal court, get caught and have no price to pay speaks volumes about the state of justice in the United States right now. While there are many things that shock the conscience about how this case played itself out, what might be most shocking is how it reveals the U.S. government’s current understanding of the rule of law. As President Nixon once did, the current administration appears to see itself above the law. And despite issuing a strong rebuke in his decision, Judge Carney has given a green light both for the government’s lying and for its invasive surveillance.

~

Sally Eberhardt works with Educators for Civil Liberties, researching civil rights issues post 9/11. She is founding member of Theaters Against War and has worked for human rights organizations in Britain and the U.S.A. She can be reached at sallyeb@earthlink.net.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on The US Government Won’t be Charged With Perjury Even When It’s Caught in a Lie

Gaza health ministry condemns attack on doctor

Ma’an – 20/08/2011

GAZA CITY — The health ministry in the Gaza Strip on Saturday condemned Israel’s killing of a Palestinian doctor overnight.

Dr Munther Qriqe, 32, a member of Shifa hospital’s intensive care unit, was killed along with two others from the same family when an Israeli drone fired a missile at his car, medics said.

Qriqe was on his way home with his brother Mutaz and his young nephew Islam, the health ministry said, charging that the attack reflected Israel’s “brutal escalation against medical staff.”

“The Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza has increased dramatically,” the ministry said in a statement early Saturday.

“Israel has crossed a red line,” said ministry spokesman Dr Ashraf Alqudra.

The health ministry called for more protection for medical staff.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Zionists and the Palestine Narrative

By Mohammed Bsiso | Palestine Chronicle | August 19, 2011

History is a very powerful political tool that if wielded correctly can produce far-reaching results. Unfortunately, Zionists and their supporters in the West have long consolidated their control on the historical narrative of ancient and modern Palestine; effectively manipulating and channeling information through institutions of scholarship and the mass media. No era in history has been construed to demonize Palestinians and Arabs more than the story of the Children of Israel’s mortal enemy; the ancient Philistines. According to traditional Muslim, Christian, and Jewish beliefs, these ruthless and barbaric peoples inhabiting Palestine were the enemies of God and his divine plan for the holy land.

Decades before and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the invasion of Palestine, Zionist Jews and Christians constantly reference the biblical Philistines and their supposed ancestral ties to the Palestinians of today. This propaganda tool has served well in reaching out to the Christian masses and justifying the actions of occupiers which normally would be deemed unjustifiable. These same so-called ties have infiltrated Palestinian psyches and have even served as a false source of pride. It is common to hear a Palestinian proclaim that they are the descendents of the ruthless and barbaric peoples that once occupied Palestine and cast fear into the hearts of the Hebrews at the time. This misguided and ill-informed sense of honor is rooted in the successful brainwash of a people occupied and humiliated for decades; ultimately accepting a distorted and altered historical narrative at their own reputational expense. In a sense, the Palestinians of today have been passed down the torch of infamy once carried by the Philistines of yesterday; at least in the eyes of the Western world.

So if this historical narrative is untrue and completely unfounded then the question remains; who are the Philistines and where did they come from? And are they really the defeated and accursed forefathers of the Arab Palestinians of today? Upon considerable research and inquiry into the history of this subject (much of which has been done by Western and Israeli scholars) and the most recent archaeological evidence excavated from historical sites, it becomes clear that these peoples were not in any way related to the Canaanites who are the historical ancestors of the Arabs in the Levant. In fact, the Philistines were not even native to the area. These invading “sea peoples” as they were called originated in the Aegean region (modern day Greece) and were ethnically and in some aspects culturally Mycenaean. As they invaded and eventually settled into Arab lands they adopted much of Canaanite culture and customs after having driven out many of them from their homes.

To simplify this ancient scenario, we can summarize it in the following terms. Powerful sea faring European forces expanded their empire into Canaanite (ancient Arab) territory, occupying and expelling its original inhabitants and causing regional instability. Sound familiar to anyone? The history of the Philistine invasion and occupation of Arab lands might as well be the same narrative of the modern history of Palestine under British colonialism with the mere shuffling of names and players. Would any rational Palestinian today proclaim proudly that they are the descendants of the British? I strongly doubt it and the same should be said about the Philistines.

It is important that Palestinians and all dignified supporters of justice around the world take back the historical narrative of this blessed land and its natural inhabitants. This can only happen if we remove ourselves from the vicious mental occupation of Zionism. … True history will uphold the side of justice and has no need of alterations and disfigurement in order to justify a claim or grievance. More importantly, we must understand that politics and history are interconnected which means a failure in one field is a failure in both. Again, we must free ourselves from the Zionist narrative and take back our history!

– Mohammed Bsiso has a Masters Degree in History from The University of Texas at Dallas. He is a freelance writer originally from the Gaza Strip. Visit his blog: www.islamicnewsandhistory.blogspot.com.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on Zionists and the Palestine Narrative

Palestinian youth in Gaza skeptical about PA’s UN bid

By Mohammed Rabah Suliman – The Electronic Intifada, Gaza Strip – 19 August 2011

Along with several other bloggers and activists in the Gaza Strip, I was recently invited to take part in a short video about young Palestinians’ reaction to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid to have the United Nations admit a Palestinian “state” as a full member of the international body this September.

As each participant was being assigned a role in the video, an argument erupted among the four of us over who should speak in favor of the Palestinian Authority’s move. We discovered, to the producer’s amazement, we were all flatly against it.

This might have just been a coincidence. Only a few days earlier, however, I woke up to my new wild ringtone. As I answered my phone, I was asked by a journalist from Germany’s Deutsche Welle television to give an interview on the same issue. As I arrived at the arranged meeting place, another blogger was already giving her answers to the interviewer. She was unequivocally critical of the PA’s “disastrous history” and its “unending series of flops.” She argued that UN recognition of a Palestinian state would be just one more chapter in that sad history.

Of course it is hard to generalize from two incidents but they do offer some insight that a large segment of Palestinians believe they have been entirely and overtly marginalized by the PA’s unconcealed monopoly of Palestinian political decision-making.

Still, this does not mean that the PA’s move does not have any support in Gaza — there are Palestinians who support the PA and they are numerous.

Critics of the PA’s UN bid would say that none of these supporters is truly able to appreciate that their unrealized dreams of living in a long-awaited free and independent Palestinian state are not being advanced by the PA’s little-debated UN move. Some Palestinians may be convinced by the rhetoric of PA officials and believe that potential UN admission is a highly symbolic move and a step forward on the road toward independence. But some younger observers in Gaza are much more skeptical.

Fed up with ignored UN votes

Fidaa Abu Assi, a 22-year-old blogger and English literature graduate in Gaza, believes there is nothing symbolic in going to the UN and securing recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. She is “fed up” with the unimplemented UN resolutions and symbolic moves taken by the PA on her behalf.

“Some Palestinians would rejoice at the thought of finally having a recognized Palestinian state,” she argues in a blog post. “In essence, however, the whole initiative seems pointless, or rather, insidiously dangerous.” Bewildered, she asks, “How could they [the UN] recognize a state that doesn’t even exist? And, wait, hadn’t the PLO already proclaimed a Palestinian state in 1988 on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181?” (“‘No’ to UN Recognition, ‘Yes’ to US Veto,” 22 July 2011).

Abu Assi’s view reflects the sentiments of a generation that does not seek more UN resolutions and international declarations. Not even a declaration of a state. A state itself is rather what we desire. A state that we can touch, see and live in. We long for the reunification of the more than 11 million Palestinians living in the world. We want to see facts on the ground and tangible results. We crave for the land which has been relentlessly ripped apart in flagrant violation of dozens of resolutions already passed — and then promptly ignored — by the very same UN to which the PA now turns.

“We would forget, wouldn’t we?”

In an open letter to a refugee living in the Palestinian diaspora, Sameeha Elwan, a 23-year-old blogger and English teaching assistant at the Islamic University of Gaza, pours out her scorn on the PA, and any declaration of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders that excludes the right of Palestinian refugees to return (“To My Dear Stateless Palestinian,” 6 August 2011).

“My mother would no longer be a refugee,” Elwan writes. “She would have to give up every dream of going back to Aqer [a large Palestinian village nine kilometers to the south east of Ramla in present-day Israel]. My grandmother would stop telling us of her tales of the lost village near Gaza from which they fled in 1948. She would forget this history. It is no longer hers. She would have to stop telling the story every now and then. She’d eventually die; we would eventually forget, wouldn’t we?”

Some bloggers have displayed a deep understanding of the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and of its implications for the future of the Palestinians not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also those living inside Israel.

One state: the only real solution

Rana Baker, a 19-year-old blogger and student of business administration also at the Islamic University of Gaza, argues that to be able to comprehend the risk of the UN declaration of a Palestinian state, this issue should be placed in its rightful context: the debate over a two-state solution. “In fact, the Palestinian street is divided into two: those who are for one state and those for the UN September recognition of two states,” Baker writes, adding “I’m for one state” (“I Turn On the Fan and Sit to Write,” 8 August 2011).

Baker too warns that the PA “statehood” bid may be most threatening to Palestinians in the diaspora. “What about more than 5 million Palestinian refugees who dream to return to their lands?” she asks, “The Palestinian Authority does not have the right to take decisions on their behalf. If they were given the right to vote, they would have voted against this bid. This is definite.”

Behind these criticisms lie doubts that many Palestinians have about the upcoming move to declare a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines. Some tend to question the functionality of a state in the besieged Gaza Strip and the heavily colonized West Bank, a state totally dependent on foreign aid.

Others reasonably cast doubt on the credibility of the UN to secure the viability of this state, if recognized, and safeguard it against Israel’s expansionist policy. Some call it a blatant concession that terminates the right of return of Palestinian refugees all over the world. And some view it as yet one more act of treason by the PA — a move that would involve turning our backs on the 1.5 million Palestinians living in dire conditions and facing constant discrimination inside the apartheid State of Israel.

As varied as the reasons might be to oppose the PA bid, they all stem from a firm belief that universal rights, real liberation and return, not “statehood” at any price, must be at the heart of our demands and struggle. Any solution must fully restore the rights of all segments of the Palestinian people — those living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, those inside Israel, and the refugees waiting to return.

And its also clear that increasingly, many young Palestinians believe that these rights can only be achieved in a one-state solution that puts an end to Israeli apartheid and guarantees equality and justice for all.

Mohammed Rabah Suliman is a 21 year old Palestinian student and blogger from Gaza. Mohammed is an English literature graduate and will undertake graduate studies at the London School of Economics this September. He blogs at Gaza Diaries of Peace and War, and can be followed on Twitter @imPalestine.

August 20, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment