Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes

Survival | February 4, 2013
Benny Wenda, a Papuan tribal leader, says what Jared Diamond is writing about his people is 'misleading'. Benny Wenda, a Papuan tribal leader, says what Jared Diamond is writing about his people is ‘misleading’. © freewestpapua.org / Survival

Leaders across West Papua have demanded controversial author Jared Diamond apologizes for describing them in his new book as warlike, and strengthening the idea that indigenous people are ‘backwards’.

The West Papuan leaders attack Diamond’s central arguments that ’most small-scale societies (…) become trapped in cycles of violence and warfare’ and that ‘New Guineans appreciated the benefits of the state-guaranteed peace that they had been unable to achieve for themselves without state government.’

Mr Diamond makes no mention of the brutality and oppression suffered by the people of West Papua at the hands of the Indonesian occupation since 1963, which has led to the killing of at least 100,000 Papuan tribal people at the hands of the Indonesian military.

Benny Wenda, a Papuan tribal leader, said to Survival, ‘What he (Jared Diamond) has written about my people is misleading (…) he is not writing about what the Indonesian military are doing (…) I saw my people being murdered by Indonesian soldiers and my own Auntie was raped in front of my eyes. Indonesia told the world that this was ’tribal war’ – they tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them – this book is doing the same. He should apologize.’

Markus Haluk, a senior member of the Papuan Customary Council, added, ‘The total of Dani victims from the Indonesian atrocities over the 50 year period is far greater than those from tribal war of the Dani people over hundreds of thousands of years.’

Jared Diamond's book has come under attack for portraying tribal people as warlike and 'living in the past'. Jared Diamond’s book has come under attack for portraying tribal people as warlike and ‘living in the past’. © Survival

Matius Murib, Director of the Baptist Voice of Papua, condemned Diamond’s assertion that tribal peoples live in a ‘world until yesterday’. He said, ‘This book spreads prejudices about Papuan people (…) that indigenous Papuans still display a way of life from hundreds of years ago. This is not true and strengthens the idea that indigenous people are ’backwards’, ‘live in the past’ or are ‘stone age.’

Reverend Socratez Yoman, Head of the West Papuan Baptist Church, has also demanded an apology from Mr Diamond to the Papuan people.

Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence, described the relationship of indigenous West Papuans and the Indonesian state as political apartheid. In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, ‘This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes – just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.’

Survival International and TAPOL received the messages of outrage following condemnation of the book by Survival last week. The book has since been the subject of heated debate during Mr Diamond’s visit to the UK.

Read a longer version of these statements (pdf)

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Implicated in Corruption Investigation

By Arthur Phillips | CEPR Americas Blog | February 7, 2013

A front-page article in the print edition of today’s Washington Post details how New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez twice approached federal health-care officials about Dr. Solomon Melgen’s outstanding $8.9 million debt to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which the doctor claims was the result of being over billed. Melgen, personally and through his ophthalmology company, has made major contributions to Menendez’s political campaigns.

This is the latest news to follow reports that on Wednesday, January 30, the FBI raided Melgen’s offices, soon after which the senator’s office described the doctor as “a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years.” Two days later, following John Kerry’s resignation from his seat as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become Secretary of State, Menendez took over the position, one of the most powerful and prestigious in Congress.

Menendez, who is Cuban American, has taken a hard line against easing travel restrictions to Cuba and has been described as “fiercely pro-embargo.” The New Jersey Democrat has also worked closely with lawmakers across the aisle on policy towards Iran, including his co-authorship of sanctions legislation with Republican Senator Mark Kirk last year.

Early reports of the FBI’s search focused on allegations that in 2010 Senator Menendez accepted free flights to the Dominican Republic from Dr. Solomon Melgen and had sex with prostitutes during these trips, a claim he has vehemently denied. It was also noted that Menendez is not married, and that prostitution is legal in the Caribbean nation. The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating the senator, who in January of this year wrote a $58,000 personal check to reimburse Melgen for two trips.

But the FBI’s raid appeared to be linked to two parallel investigations of Melgen, one regarding Medicare fraud, the other political corruption. Both investigations may involve the doctor’s relationship with Senator Menendez.

The Associated Press noted that Dr. Melgen, a registered Democrat, has made political contributions to the tune of $193,350 since 1998, $14,200 of which has gone to Menendez. More significantly, the New York Times also reported that Melgen’s medical practice gave $700,000 to a super-PAC that spent more than $528,000 in support of Menendez’s re-election campaign in 2012.

This support has recently been scrutinized in light of a July 2012 Senate hearing, in which Menendez reportedly questioned two officials about why the Obama administration had not been more aggressive in promoting U.S. business interests abroad. During this questioning, the senator specifically highlighted a contract between the Dominican government and a company that would provide x-ray equipment for the country’s ports, namely for the purpose of detecting narcotics trafficking. The contract has been held up due to its enormous cost, which is estimated to be as much as $1 billion over 20 years. In the Senate hearings, Menendez did not refer to the company, ICSSI, by name. He also did not mention that Melgen has an ownership interest in the company.

Furthermore, the New York Times reports that Pedro Pablo Permuy, a long-time former aide to Menendez, was slated to be a top executive at ICSSI. Permuy was a senior legislative aide to the senator from 1993 to 1995 and his national security advisor from 2001 to 2003. Permuy denied being either a board member or an employee of the firm. But Dr. Melgen’s cousin, a lawyer based in Santo Domingo who on Monday publicly defended the doctor and senator and called for the contract’s enforcement, said that Mr. Permuy “will run the operations.” According to a spokesperson for Menendez, the senator knew nothing of his long-time former aide’s involvement with the company.

Over the weekend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose former aides founded the super-PAC that contributed heavily to Menendez’s most recent re-election campaign, expressed his “utmost confidence” in the New Jersey senator and said he has no problem with his colleague’s continued chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. And Menendez’s aides have said he regularly advocates for U.S. business abroad, and that doing so is appropriate for members of that committee.

In March 2010, New York Democratic Representative Charles Rangel stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after being admonished by the House Ethics Committee and losing the support of his party. Given the news from today’s Washington Post and the ongoing Senate Ethics Committee and FBI investigations, it remains to be seen whether leaders of either party will call for Menendez to step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Senate Foreign Relations Chair Implicated in Corruption Investigation

International Finance Corporation invests $2.9 billion in the Middle East and North Africa

MEMO | February 7, 2013

ifcInternational Finance Corporation invests $2.9 billion in the Middle East and North AfricaFigures released by the International Finance Corporation show that its investments for the fiscal year 2012 in the Middle East and North Africa have reached a record $2.9 billion. Fifty-seven projects have been supported across 12 countries as part of the Corporation’s efforts to restore investors’ confidence in the region, with a focus on the long-term possibilities after the end of the political crises. It is the IFC’s highest annual commitment in the region to date, representing a 21 per cent increase over 2011.

Twenty-five advisory projects were launched with a total value of $17.6 million to improve opportunities for obtaining access to finance and strengthen corporate governance and practices of small and medium enterprises. Almost $600 million has been pumped into infrastructure projects in the MENA region. One IFC initiative is the Arab Financing Facility for Infrastructure (AFFI), established in partnership with the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank to encourage infrastructure investment.

In order to address what it calls the “the mismatch between the needs of the labour markets and the education outcomes in the Arab World”, the IFC pointed to the launch of the e4e (Education for Employment) initiative for Arab youth in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank. The e4e team has also sought and received funding for the project from Britain’s Department for International Development among other donors.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on International Finance Corporation invests $2.9 billion in the Middle East and North Africa

Nuclear accident could cost France $580bn, study shows

Press TV – February 7, 2013

A study shows that a possible nuclear accident in France would cost the country about 430 billion euros ($580 billion), which is equivalent to 20 percent of its economic output.

The study, conducted by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), showed that a possible disaster in one of the nuclear reactors in France and a release of radioactivity into the environment would displace an estimated 100,000 people, destroy crops and cause massive power cuts, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Jacques Repussard, the head of the IRSN, said, “A major accident would have terrible consequences, but we would have to deal with them because the country wouldn’t be annihilated, so we have to talk about it, however difficult it is.”

A nuclear crisis would also take its toll on exports of French delicacies and the tourism industry, costing the country about 160 billion euros ($126 billion), the study indicated.

Patrick Momal, the IRSN economist responsible for the study, said, “Tourism is an important activity for France and direct costs would not only hit the affected region, but the whole country.”

Momal, who is also a former World Bank economist, unveiled two disaster scenarios prompting a core meltdown at a typical 900-megawatt nuclear reactor in France, which include a “major” accident similar to that of Japan’s Fukushima reactor.

In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami hit the northeastern coast of Japan.

The quake triggered a nuclear disaster by knocking out power to cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, resulting in meltdowns and radioactivity release.

France is the world’s most nuclear-dependent country and operates 58 reactors, which supply about 75 percent of its electricity demand.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Comments Off on Nuclear accident could cost France $580bn, study shows

How Colin Powell Showed That Torture Works

The Film Hollywood Should Make is About al-Libi’s Torture Helping Lead to Iraq War Disaster

By SAM HUSSEINI | CounterPunch | February 6, 2013

English: Colin Powell on a visit to Google on ...

Ten years ago, Colin Powell made the case for invading Iraq before the United Nations Security Council. Many aspects of his case were clearly dubious at the time, but one notorious aspect desperately needs to be truly understood: Some of Powell’s argument for an Iraq link to al-Qaeda came from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who was tortured into giving such “evidence” — that is, he told the torturers what they wanted to hear so that the torture would stop.

This is particularly noteworthy as the movie Zero Dark Thirty has many liberals screaming “torture doesn’t work” — which, in a sense is totally true and at the same time exactly misses the point. Torture does work. It just doesn’t work in so far as its stated purpose (catching criminals, stopping evil plots) is concerned.

Former long-time CIA analyst Ray McGovern, has written that the al-Libi case was central to Powell keeping the alleged al-Qaeda link to Iraq in his UN speech:

Al-Libi’s stories misinformed Colin Powell’s U.N. speech, which sought to establish a “sinister nexus” between Iraq and al-Qaeda to justify invading Iraq.

Al-Libi recanted his claims in January 2004. That prompted the CIA, a month later, to recall all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the 9/11 Commission. …

The al-Libi case might help you understand why, even though information from torture is notoriously unreliable, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the sycophants running U.S. intelligence ordered it anyway.

In short, if it is untruthful information you are after, torture can work just fine!

Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s own former chief of staff, similarly  wrote:

“What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 — well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion — its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.

“So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney’s office that their detainee ‘was compliant’ (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qaeda-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, ‘revealed’ such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

“There in fact were no such contacts.” [Wilkerson elaborated on this on Democracy Now Wednesday morning, should be posted here. He notes he and Powell agreed to drop the accusation of an al-Qaeda link to Iraq until they were given the “evidence” from al-Libi’s interrogation.]

I asked Powell about this in 2009 and he seemed remarkably defensive and uninterested in finding out if the words he uttered on the world stage were based on misinformation from torture:

Sam Husseini: General, can you talk about the al-Libi case and the link between torture and the production of tortured evidence for war?

Colin Powell: I don’t have any details on the al-Libi case.

SH: Can you tell us when you learned that some of the evidence that you used in front of the UN was based on torture? When did you learn that?

CPI don’t know that. I don’t know what information you’re referring to. So I can’t answer.

SH: Your chief of staff, Wilkerson, has written about this.

CP: So what? [inaudible]

SH: So you’d think you’d know about it.

CP: The information I presented to the UN was vetted by the CIA. Every word came from the CIA and they stood behind all that information. I don’t know that any of them believe that torture was involved. I don’t know that in fact. A lot of speculation, particularly by people who never attended any of these meetings, but I’m not aware of it.

But my questioning was based on statements by Wilkerson, who was in the room. Presumably Powell is waiting for the CIA to call him and tell him directly that torture was used to extract some of the information he used.

This problem of torture yielding useful but false information was not unforeseeable. Professor As’ad AbuKhalil appeared on a news release I assembled the day after Powell’s notorious UN speech: “The Arab media is reporting that the Zakawi story was provided by Jordanian intelligence, which has a record of torture and inaccuracy.”

But the al-Libi story gets even worse. First off, al-Libi had initially cooperated with FBI officials when he was first questioned by them, giving them true and useful information without being tortured. Secondly, he was tortured by chief Egyptian spymaster Omar Suleiman, widely seen and the CIA’s man in Cairo, who attempted to take over from Mubarak when the longtime dictator finally stepped down because of the uprising in 2011 (Suleiman himself died in a Cleveland hospital in 2012).

After al-Libi recanted to the CIA, he was eventually shipped off to Libya where he died in a prison cell. The newspaper of one of Qaddafi’s son’s claimed it was a suicide. As Juan Cole wrote at the time: “The best refutation of Dick Cheney’s insistence that torture was necessary and useful in dealing with threats from al-Qaeda just died in a Libyan prison.”

Before his death, Human Rights Watch “briefly met with al-Libi on April 27 during a research mission to Libya. He refused to be interviewed, and would say nothing more than: ‘Where were you when I was being tortured in American jails.’”

After al-Libi’s death Human Right Watch stated: “The death of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi means that the world will never hear his account of the brutal torture he experienced. So now it is up to Libya and the United States to reveal the full story of what they know, including its impact on his mental health.” Right after Al Capone investigates his own dealings.

Note that al-Libi died in Libyan custody when relations were quite chummy between Qaddafi and the U.S. It’s hard not to think this was part of a quid pro quo — the Qaddafi regime offs al-Libi to help the U.S. cover up the torture-war link and in exchange Qaddafi got (rather short-lived  acceptance from part of the U.S. establishment.

If Hollywood — or any media for that matter — had any interest in communicating the realities of the modern Mideast and U.S. policy there, the story of al-Libi should be front and center.

Sam Husseini is communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, and founder of WashingtonStakeout.com.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

An ‘Informal Arrangement’ to Not Report the News

By Peter Hart | FAIR | February 6, 2013

Today the Washington Post  (2/6/13) reported some news that it’s known for years, but had decided not tell us until now: The CIA has a drone base in Saudi Arabia.

Their rationale for withholding this information was simple: The government didn’t want them to. And from what the Post is telling us today, they weren’t the only ones.

After explaining that Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by an attack  “carried out in part by CIA drones flown from a secret base in Saudi Arabia,” the paper explains:

The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an Al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

So why did the Post finally report this news today?

The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.

So there was an “informal arrangement among several news organizations” not to report important news because the government felt that it could make things difficult for them.

It would appear that “another news organization” is the New York Times, which reported today:

The first strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration, in December 2009, was by all accounts a disaster. American cruise missiles carrying cluster munitions killed dozens of civilians, including many women and children. Another strike, six months later, killed a popular deputy governor, inciting angry demonstrations and an attack that shut down a critical oil pipeline.

Not long afterward, the CIA began quietly building a drone base in Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes in Yemen. American officials said that the first time the CIA used the Saudi base was to kill Mr. Awlaki in September 2011.

The fact that the Post was keeping something secret was known in 2011, as FAIR noted (FAIR Blog, 7/27/11), quoting the paper:

The agency is building a desert airstrip so that it can begin flying armed drones over Yemen. The facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September, is designed to shield the CIA’s aircraft, and their sophisticated surveillance equipment, from observers at busier regional military hubs such as Djibouti, where the JSOC drones are based.

The Washington Post is withholding the specific location of the CIA facility at the administration’s request.

As FAIR also pointed out then, this was reminiscent of another decision by the Post to withhold news. In 2005, the paper delivered an explosive story about “black sites” where CIA was interrogating suspects–places where, in many cases, the agency could reasonably expect the prisoners to be tortured. The Post’s valuable expose was undercut by its decision not to name the countries involved. As the paper explained:

The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.

This week, a new report from the Open Society Institute documented that more than 50 countries were involved in the CIA “extraordinary rendition” program. It’s certainly possible that some countries might have stopped helping the U.S. government torture people if it had been made known that they were doing so.

Likewise, it’s possible that Saudi Arabia will stop allowing the CIA to use its territory to conduct a secret drone war against a third country now that the secret is out. But the possibility that news might affect the world is not a reason to stop doing journalism. Indeed, it’s the best reason to do journalism.

 UPDATE: The Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on her blog (2/6/13), and what’s most notable is the opinion of the paper’s managing editor Dean Baquet, since it basically confirms the point we were making above:

The government’s rationale for asking that the location be withheld was this: Revealing it might jeopardize the existence of the base and harm counterterrorism efforts.  “The Saudis might shut it down because the citizenry would be very upset,” he said.

Mr. Baquet added, “We have to balance that concern with reporting the news.” 

So the Times believes that it should refrain from reporting news that people in Saudi Arabia might object to–especially if it wound up complicating our government’s plans to launch military attacks from their country.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on An ‘Informal Arrangement’ to Not Report the News

Israeli lies on Iranian nuclear program exposed

By Yusuf Fernandez | Press TV | February 5, 2013

In recent days, reports about an alleged Israeli-US bombing attack that would have allegedly destroyed a large portion of the Fordo nuclear enrichment plant in Qom were circulating in Western media. However, its falsehood was soon revealed by several sources.

The story first appeared on February 25th when an Iranian defector going by the pseudonym Reza Kahlili published an evidence-free article in the US site wnd.com, in which he claimed that the Fordo plant had been the target of a sabotage operation. The article claimed that a blast deep within Fordo had “destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground”.

However, the first doubts came due to the personality of the author himself, as Kahlili, a defector, is widely considered as a liar because of his previous claims. He wrote some months ago that Iran actually had nuclear weapons.

Kahlili’s sole source was Hamid Reza Zakeri, another Iranian defector, who is also notorious for his lies against Iran. A US official has been quoted by some US media as saying that Zakeri was “a fabricator or monumental proportions”.

This is not the first time that defectors are used in order to launch false accusations against a country. In the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003, New York Times reporter Judith Miller (and some others) published several stories about Saddam Hussein´s non-existent weapons of mass destruction programs and these reports were used by the Bush administration as a pretext to launch the war. Later, all these allegations turned out to be false and the newspaper was forced to admit that Miller had based her reports on Iraqi defectors. In that sense, the case for the war on Iraq was built on a set of fabricated documents and deliberately manipulated intelligence that US media outlets uncritically reproduced.

Israel spreads the story

Shortly after the Fordo story appeared, Israeli sites and officials tried to make it pass as true. The website of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot repeated the claim and it was later echoed by the Times of London, which added that the story had been confirmed by Israeli intelligence officials. “We are still in the preliminary stages of understanding what happened and how significant it is,” one Israeli official told the London Times. “Israel believes the Iranians have not evacuated the (Fordo´s) surrounding area. It is unclear whether that is because no harmful substances have been released, or because Tehran is trying to avoid sparking panic among residents.”

For his part, Israeli acting Defense Minister, Avi Dichter, reacted to the story by saying that indeed any explosion in Iran was “good news”.

Of course, Israeli officials always knew that the story was false but it is clear that they wanted to feed the notion that they -with US help- were conducting a successful secret war against Iran in order to reinforce their own extremist stance. However, as these stories are revealed as lies, the effect is counterproductive to them because they expose themselves, once again, as liars before the international community, especially on the Iran nuclear issue.

However, two senior Iranian officials dismissed reports of the explosion. Deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency Seyyed Shamseddin Barbroudi said there had been no explosion at the Fordo facility, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). The chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said they were “baseless lies” meant to impact talks on Iran´s nuclear program, reported IRNA.

The Iranians´ statements were then confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which claimed that there were no signs of any explosion whatever in Fordo. The IAEA has live cameras at the site and its inspectors regularly visit it, and, therefore, they would have known if it had been “in ruins with hundreds trapped within”. “We understand that Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordo. This is consistent with our observations,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.

The White House also rejected the report as unreliable. “We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible,” spokesman Jay Carney said in a briefing with reporters. “We do not believe those are credible reports.”

The false diagram

The Fordo false explosion was not the only Israeli fabrication on the Iranian nuclear issue. On November 27th 2012, the Associated Press agency published a report claiming that it had discovered the existence of alleged evidence of “Iranian work on a nuclear bomb”. “Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima”, the agency said.

This evidence, according to AP, was a “graph” which the agency said was “leaked” to it by “officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program” to “bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon”. Moreover, “an intelligence summary was provided with the drawing” claiming that “Iran is working not on isolated experiments, but rather on a single program aimed at mastering all aspects of nuclear arms development.”

Why did AP hide which country had delivered the diagram? It said that officials of that country wanted anonumity, so the agency gave it anonymity. However, everybody was certain it was Israel.

The author of the AP report, George Jahn is also notorious because every time there is a possibility of a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Iran´s nuclear program, he reports an “exclusive” anti-Iranian revelation, always provided to him by “an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program,” or “an official of a country that has been severely critical of Iran´s nuclear program.”

Nevertheless, experts soon discovered that the diagram was fake and amateurish. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, it simply showed that “the bulk of the nuclear fission yield is produced in a short 0.1 microsecond pulse”, which is a common knowledge for any physics student. Later, it was equally discovered that it is widely available all over the Internet and in university textbooks. Even worse, the diagram contained huge errors, which were unlikely to have been made by research scientists who work in a state-run national program.

Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told IPS he suspects the graph leaked to AP was “adapted from the open literature”. He said he believed its authors “were told they ought to look into the literature and found that paper, copied (the graph) and made their own plot from it.”

After the hoax became exposed, Western diplomats privately accused Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, of being behind the leaks, which would be part of an effort to implicate a murdered Iranian in an alleged weapons program. The diplomats also said Mossad is becoming increasingly active in Austria, the home of the IAEA and the place where George Jahn works, in order to drive support for a war on Iran.

Therefore, what AP presented as a kind of highly specialized and very complex document was only a very common graph, which can be easily found on the internet. The agency helped create and spread a dangerous hoax and its credibility was severely damaged by this serious incident that demonstrated that it let itself be manipulated by officials “of an anonymous state” in order to incriminate Iran. The agency did not tell the public who gave it the false and misleading information with the evident goal of misleading the public into believing that Iran had a weapons programme.

Recently and after having scored a heavy defeat in the latest parliamentary elections, where he and his his right-wing partner Avigdor Lieberman lost 25% of their seats in the Knesset, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to hide his current political weakness by shifting the public´s attention to Iran. In his “victory speech”, he insisted that his first challenge would be “preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons”.

Of course, this rhetoric does not deceive anyone, as even the US and the IAEA reports recognize that Iran continues to use civilian enriched uranium only for civilian purposes. US officials have recently said that the assessment included in the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, which claims that there is no evidence whatever of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, remains the consensus view of the US´s 16 intelligence agencies.

The international community is actually fed up with Israel’s false allegations and fabrications against Iran. Netanyahu and his Zionist supporters in the US probably know that the American and Western public cannot be manipulated into supporting an attack on Iran, as all the polls show.

Another for-Israel war in the Middle East would not benefit anyone but the far right in Israel, the pro-Israeli lobby in the US and its neocon agents. It would not only devastate the Middle East and kill hundreds of thousands, if not more, but it would also produce a decades-long conflict between the Muslim world and the West that would also destroy the West´s economy. Due to all this, the international community and the peoples of the world must confront these Zionist plots threatening the existence and hopes of humanity.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Khamenei rejects talks with US under pressure

Press TV – February 7, 2013

The leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has rejected any talks with the United States under pressure and threats.

“I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary and speak frankly, honestly, and firmly. An offer of talks makes sense only when the side [that makes the offer] shows its goodwill,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with the officials and commanders of Iran’s Navy on Thursday.

“You (the Americans) point the gun at Iran and say either negotiations or we pull the trigger! You should know that pressure and negotiations don’t go together, and the [Iranian] nation will not be intimidated by such things.”

Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the remarks by American officials that ‘the ball is now in Iran’s court,’ and noted, “The ball is in your court, because you should answer the question of whether speaking of negotiations at the same time as continuing pressure and threats makes any sense at all.”

The Leader pointed out, however, that, “We, of course, understand their (the Americans’) need for negotiations, because the Middle East policy of the Americans has failed, and in order to compensate for this failure, they need to play a trump card.”

Taking Iran to the negotiating table is the trump card that the US needs, Ayatollah Khamenei noted, adding that the US seeks to tell the world it has good will. “However, no one sees any goodwill.”

Speaking at the 49th annual Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 2, US Vice President Joe Biden said Washington was ready to hold direct talks with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.

The United States, the Israeli regime and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

The Talented Mr. Takeyh: Why Doesn’t the Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Like Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett?

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | February 7, 2013

If there’s one thing mainstream “Iran experts” hate, it’s well-credentialed, experienced analysts who dare challenge Beltway orthodoxies, buck conventional wisdom and demythologize the banal, bromidic and Manichean foreign policy narrative of the United States government and its obedient media. Such perspectives are shunned by “serious” scholars who play by the rules they and their former bosses themselves wrote; those propounding such subversive ideas are likewise excoriated and banished, labeled apostates and attacked personally for failing to fall in line.

Enter Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, two former National Security Council officials, who have long questioned the wisdom and efficacy of the past thirty years of U.S. policy towards Iran. Their new expertly researched and meticulously-sourced book, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, details and debunks numerous propagandized myths and delusional misunderstandings that many Americans have been led to believe about the country that is consistently referred to by our politicians and pundits as “the world’s most dangerous state.” The Leveretts argue that, by at least taking into account the Iranian side of things and reviewing the misguided, myopic and unsustainable American policies toward Iran, the groundwork may be laid for a constructive and beneficial change of course for both nations; by engaging openly and acknowledging past grievances – rather than ignoring, justifying or ridiculing them – a new future is possible, one without threats or war, without sabotage and cyberattacks, without demonization and demagoguery.

The problem is, without such things, the revolving door of Beltway think-tankery and government appointments might not spin so lucratively for our “Iran expert” industry. As a result, the Leveretts and their ideas are pilloried by political and policy elites who confuse heterodoxy for apologia.

In a supremely smug and self-satisfied pseudo-review of Going to Tehran, just published in Survival, the journal of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Washington’s “go-to” Iran analyst Ray Takeyh launches what is surely a paradigmatic opening salvo on the Leveretts’ work. Needless to say, he didn’t like the book; his review is the intellectual equivalent of a drive-by shooting. While lambasting the Leveretts, Takeyh fails to actually address any of their contentions or claims, preferring to make grandiose statements condemning their analyses of Iranian politics and foreign policy and their policy recommendations without bothering to back up these statements with evidence or explanation.

Takeyh is a mainstay of the Washington establishment – a Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow before and after a stint in the Obama State Department and a founding member of the neoconservative-created Iran Strategy Task Force who has become a tireless advocate for the collective punishment of the Iranian population in a futile attempt to inspire homegrown regime change (if not, at times, all-out war against a third Middle Eastern nation in just over a decade). Unsurprisingly, he dismisses out of hand the notion that “the principal cause of disorder in the Middle East today is a hegemonic America seeking to impose its imperial template on the region.”

This is exactly the worldview that has produced the disastrous U.S. foreign policy of the last few decades, policies advocated time and time again by the same people – not only people like Takeyh, but including literally Takeyh himself – never learning from their mistakes or conceiving there might be a different way to engage the world (say, by not bullying, threatening, demanding, dictating, punishing, bombing, invading, destroying, dismantling, overthrowing, occupying, and propping up dictators). Takeyh’s contemptuous rejection of history means that those who disagree with him – like the Leveretts, even though their experience in government and direct contact with on-the-ground reality in today’s Iran dwarfs Takeyh’s – must inevitably be minions of the ayatollahs.

Takeyh’s dismissal of the Leveretts’ work is especially ironic, given that his own analytic nonsense is legion. He routinely makes statements that aren’t based in fact and that dispute even the most hysterical estimates of the United States government. He has no problem co-writing tomes of warmongering lunacy with psychotics like Matthew Kroenig, convicted criminals and racist demagogues like Elliott Abrams, and garbled inanity with his wife’s insane colleague at the Saban Center and perennial war champion Kenneth Pollack. Everything he writes is easily destroyed with a basic perusal of facts.

Never bothering to cite any evidence, Takeyh has long assumed Iran – oh sorry, I mean, “the mullahs” (how spooky!) – are building a nuclear bomb and only the fierce determination of the United States, its benevolent buddy Israel and vital Arab dictator friends can stop it, if not by beating the Islamic Republic into submission through economic and covert warfare, then perhaps by military might. In April 2003, he wrote, “Tehran often claims that instability in the region forces it to pursue nuclear weapons, when in fact it is Iran’s possession of such weapons that would increase instability.” Actually, Iranian officials have never claimed anything remotely like that, instead declaring their commitment never to build nuclear weapons consistently for over 20 years. In 2011, Takeyh assured Washington Post readers, “Exact estimates vary, but in the next few years Iran will be in [a] position to detonate a nuclear device.”

In October 2011, when the US government tried to pretend that a bumbling, bipolar Iranian used-car salesman in Texas had been tasked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a DC restaurant (it is literally impossible to read that without chuckling), Takeyh took to the airwaves to comment on the alleged plot. Speaking on NPR, Takeyh wholly endorsed the U.S. government’s version of events, never for a second doubting their authenticity. Though he claimed it was “unusual,” Takeyh made sure to add, “I don’t know what the evidence about this it, but I’m not in position to doubt it.”

There you have it, folks, Takeyh’s entire method of scholarship in a nutshell.

Takeyh’s disdain for empirical reality allows him to take multiple, often contradictory positions on many issues—whatever it takes to align himself with “centrist” foreign policy hawks in the Democratic Party’s national security establishment. In 2006, after the occupation of Iraq had turned irrevocably catastrophic and Democrats were looking for ways to distance themselves from Bush’s Middle East follies, Takeyh argued “for the United States to become more directly engaged in negotiations with Iranians and also make an offer of some corresponding concessions.” While assuming an Iranian desire for latent nuclear weapons capability, he held, “I don’t think they’ve made up their mind yet to cross the threshold and actually weaponize [nuclear power].” He added, “For those who suggest that it is absolutely conclusively determined that Iran wants to have nuclear weapons, I think it behooves them to provide some kind of evidence for that claim.” Just months later, though, Takeyh told the Senate that Iranian leaders were determined to achieve hegemony in the Persian Gulf and that, from their vantage, “it is only through the attainment of the bomb that Iran can negate the nefarious American plots to undermine its stature and power.”

As the possibility of Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election drew closer, Takeyh’s views grew more hawkish. His transformation into an Iran hawk accelerated with his brief stint in the State Department during the Obama administration’s first year. In 2010, he co-wrote a journal essay and accompanying op-ed that sought to characterize war with Iran as a natural outcome, a normalized and inevitable progression of history. Over the next couple of years, he fully realized his penchant for conflating Iran’s monitored and safeguarded nuclear energy program with a nefarious, clandestine weapons program.

This conflation is present in Takeyh’s attempted takedown of Going to Tehran, where he references Iran’s “nuclear infractions,” but provides no evidence for them other than collective Beltway wisdom, displaying a complete ignorance of what IAEA reports actually say and where such accusations actually come from (unverified American and Israeli allegations). His determination to blame only Iranian “intransigence” for the current nuclear dispute epitomizes the intellectual dishonesty for which most Washington think-tanks are unfortunately revered.

Takeyh’s analytic malfeasance extends to Iran’s domestic politics as well. His conversion from unimpressive establishment scholar to full-blown neocon fellow traveler is underscored by his remarkable insistence that Iran’s clerics are to blame for the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (sic). Takeyh also refuses to understand the reality of the Green Movement in Iran, elevating them to surreal heights of organization, unity and potential.

In his review of Going to Tehran, Takeyh notes what he calls “transparent electoral fraud in the presidential election” of 2009, but again fails to advance any actual documentation to support this contention. Since 2010, he has been warning us all of Ahmadinejad’s impending consolidation of power over the Iranian government. This didn’t happen. Good call, Ray, how astute.

The self-serving vacuity of Takeyh’s review is especially glaring in his treatment of the Leveretts’ critique of U.S. policy toward Iran. As the Leveretts themselves have already noted, Takeyh is adamant that the U.S. has often and openly reached out diplomatically to Tehran but can’t seem to square this with reality – including statements made by his former boss, Dennis Ross, who sees the perception of failed diplomacy as necessary to sell the American public on a new illegal war against another enemy that poses absolutely no threat to the United States.

Takeyh complements his rewriting of diplomatic history with a selective – indeed exploitative – focus on human rights issues in Iran. Along with the vast majority of the Leveretts’ detractors (and anyone else who rejects a reality-based approach to the three-decades-long U.S.-Iranian impasse), Takeyh seems unaware that basing American foreign policy on human rights is not only disingenuous, but also contrary to how the U.S. actually operates all over the world.

Going to Tehran is a policy prescription addressed primarily to the government of the United States, not to human rights organizations. Iran has as abhorrent a human rights record as many other countries – far worse than many, better than others. But the United States government has never cared one iota about human rights when it comes to strategic partnership with its closest and most trusted political allies (let alone its own actions).

Whether looking at our torture regime, our indefinite detention, our illegal drone program, our invasions, our assassinations, our surveillance state, our contempt for due process, our racist justice system and bloated prisons, and – perhaps, most relevant – our continued support and encouragement of ongoing Israeli war crimes, ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation of Palestine alongside weapons sales and willful blindness to the atrocities of true dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the concept that American diplomacy or interests rest upon virtuousness and humane practices is not only hypocritical; it’s downright laughable. As Glenn Greenwald recently wrote about Iran, Syria and Libya, “That the US and its Nato allies – eager benefactors of the world’s worst tyrants – are opposed to those regimes out of concern for democracy and human rights is a pretense, a conceit, so glaring and obvious that it really defies belief that people are willing to advocate it in public with a straight face.”

If our government cared about human rights it wouldn’t be subjecting the Iranian people (who wholeheartedly oppose American sanctions and constant bullying) to collective punishment, just like it did the people of Iraq – the half million Iraqi children sacrificed to similar sanctions know full well the American consideration for human rights. Takeyh reflects this duplicity in his review, noting the appalling history of “show trials, mass repression and persistent international transgressions” in Iran and condemning the Leveretts for not making this the focus of their book. Yet if Takeyh actually cared about fundamental human rights and the importance of international law, he would not only call for Congress to sanction Israel and Saudi Arabia, he would be outraged by the closeness of these governments to his own here in the United States. But he doesn’t. Only Iran is the target of his anger and concern.

Because for the U.S. government, human rights abuses are used merely as a bludgeon against its adversaries while the myriad transgressions of its strategic partners are routinely ignored (if not, in the case of Israel, even funded and justified), Takeyh’s argument is disingenuous at minimum. As always, he and his fellow mavens of the established foreign policy community are silent about America’s role as the guarantor of Middle Eastern tyranny, as long as its puppet dictators do our bidding, namely with regard to acquiescing to Israeli regional hegemony and following the U.S. lead on isolating and threatening Iran.

In the most recent Human Rights Watch report, we learn that a large Middle Eastern country, ruled by an unelected religious fundamentalist misogynistic elite, has “arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters during 2012, and sentenced activists from across the country to prison for expressing critical political and religious views.” Not only this, but “thousands of people are in arbitrary detention, and human rights activists were put on trial on politicized charges. The Ministry of Interior forbids public protests. Since 2011, security forces have killed at least 14 protesters in the Eastern province who were seeking political reforms.”

It finds that the “government has gone to considerable lengths to punish, intimidate, and harass those who express opinions that deviate from the official line,” while “lawyers are not generally allowed to assist suspects during interrogation, and face obstacles to examining witnesses or presenting evidence at trial.” Furthermore, “Authorities have used specialized criminal courts, set up to try terrorism cases, to prosecute a growing number of peaceful dissidents on politicized charges.”

What country is this? Saudi Arabia, the leading U.S. trading partner in the Middle East, which receiving billions upon billions of high-tech weaponry from our noble nation year after year. The United States uses a secret Saudi base as a launchpad for lethal drone strikes in neighboring Yemen and is even working closely with the Kingdom on its nascent nuclear program. One wonders if this recent case (one of the worst things I have ever heard about) will cause the U.S. to reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Don’t hold your breath. But just imagine if that had happened in Iran.

Our best friend in the world, Israel, meanwhile is a militarized colonial state in routine contravention of existing international and humanitarian law. Ample evidence reveals the illegality of Israel’s Apartheid Annexation Wall, Israel’s use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial and the rampant Israeli arrest of Palestinian children and toddlers, who suffer abusemental, physical and sexual – and who are tortured during and traumatized by their imprisonment. Palestinian communities are constantly victimized by housing demolitions and eviction, a particularly vindictive form of collective punishment favored by the Israeli government.

None of this seems to bother our government one bit and any attempt to hold Israel accountable for its crimes is met with derision in the circles in which Mr. Takeyh travels, all expenses paid, of course.

The issue isn’t about whitewashing or justifying abuse and repression; it’s about U.S. government policy, which clearly has no problem overlooking such horrors depending on who commits them. If the U.S. were consistent in its concern for human rights (rather than selectively using them only to condemn its enemies), Takeyh might have a point. But it isn’t, so he doesn’t.

The Leveretts explicitly address this issue in Going to Tehran. They write, “Washington has never demonstrated that it cares about human rights in the Middle East for their own sake. It cares about them when and where caring appears to serve other policy goals.” In their explicitly stated effort “to outline a potentially far more efficacious diplomatic approach” (p.388), the Leveretts point out that “the only way human rights conditions in the Islamic Republic, as defined by Western liberals, are likely to improve is in a context of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, whereby the United States had credibly given up regime change as a policy goal.” (p.326)

While conventional Washington wisdom (and actual acts of Congress and executive orders by the President) hold that the U.S. government should be critical of Iran’s human rights record as a matter of policy, doing so is pure propaganda. The United States is in no position to affect the violations of the Iranian government because it has no diplomatic presence, credibility or connection to the Islamic Republic. As George W. Bush admitted in December 2004, in a rare moment of candor and honesty, “We’re relying upon others, because we’ve sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran…We don’t have much leverage with the Iranians right now.”

Takeyh, by employing ad hominem attacks on the Leveretts in an effort to label them apologists for theocratic authoritarianism and thereby discredit their views, is trying to poison the well, so to speak, with anti-war progressives who might find a new approach to Iran novel and welcome. He calls Going to Tehran “tedious,” “stale,” and “trite.” That’s coming from a guy who works at the Council on Foreign Relations and writes about implementing even more “crippling” sanctions on Iranians in order to compel their government’s capitulation to American and Israeli diktat. How original, fresh, and innovative!

Regardless of whether one finds their arguments compelling or their history sufficiently comprehensive, the Leveretts deliver a blow to the establishment narrative of “what to do about Iran.” It is no surprise that Ray Takeyh is offended by the Leveretts – they directly address the danger he and others like him in the official foreign policy community pose to those who oppose another war.

They write that the claims put forward by Takeyh “that Iran’s leadership is too ideologically constrained, fractious, or politically dependent on anti-Americanism to pursue a strategic opening to the United States are not just at odds with the historical record. Such claims push the United States ever further in its support of coercive regime change and, ultimately, down the disastrous path toward war.” (p.108)

The main thesis of Going to Tehran, as evident in the book’s title, holds that, as American power declines worldwide, recognition of faulty and detrimental foreign policy is required for the U.S. to better adapt to an ever-changing and more independent Middle East; a region in which Iranian influence is ascendant whether we like it or not. They see the precedent set by Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China as the best way forward with regard to Iran.

Such a suggestion, while increasingly relevant, is not actually new. A noted foreign policy expert proffered an identical view in 2006, explaining, “First of all, this is not a unique historical moment for the United States. We’ve been in this position before. If you look back in the late 1960s, early ’70s, we were in a position in East Asia where our power was declining because of the Vietnam War, and the Chinese power was increasing because of China’s own capability and declining American power. And then there was certainly antagonism between the two countries.

Lamenting the “conceptual divergence” of Iranian and American negotiating positions, the analyst continued,

“I think you have to accept certain basic realities. Iran is an important power with influence in the region, and the purpose of the negotiation would be how to establish a framework for regulation of its influence. Therefore, in a perverse sense, negotiations [are] a form of containment. We’re negotiating as a means of containing Iran’s influence, surely as we negotiated with the Chinese in the early 1970s as means of coming to some arrangements to rationalize U.S.-Sino American relations as a means of regulating Chinese power.”

He further insisted that the United States must take a bold step to enter into “comprehensive negotiations on all of Iranian concerns and all of our concerns. Our concerns are human rights, terrorism; they have their own grievances and so forth. And these negotiations will take place ultimately without precondition,” just as negotiations with China in 1970 were not preconditioned.

Again making the explicit analogy to Nixon’s overture to Beijing, he stated, “The purpose of these negotiations would be to foster an arrangement where Tehran’s relationship with Washington is more meaningful to it than various gradation of uranium or potentially its ties with Hezbollah.” This way, he concluded, an “end point” would be reached “by creating a new framework and a new basis for U.S.- Iran relations,” which would, in order to be at all successful would have to recognize Iran’s position in its own neighborhood. “[I]n all these discussions and negotiations,” he affirmed, “we have to appreciate that in a sense we are legitimizing Iran ‘s at least Persian Gulf if not larger regional aspirations.”

That analyst was Ray Takeyh. He was addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 109th Congress. Sitting on the Committee at the time of his statement were John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. Its ranking member was Joe Biden. Also on the committee? The junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

Just six months later, Takeyh wrote in Foreign Affairs that no U.S. policy regarding Iran in the past thirty years has worked. Noting the impossibility of regime change, military action, isolation and obstinacy, Takeyh wrote the U.S. government must abandon these “incoherent policies” and “must rethink its strategy from the ground up.”

He continued,

“The Islamic Republic is not going away anytime soon, and its growing regional influence cannot be limited. Washington must eschew superficially appealing military options, the prospect of conditional talks, and its policy of containing Iran in favor of a new policy of détente. In particular, it should offer pragmatists in Tehran a chance to resume diplomatic and economic relations.”

He added, “The sooner Washington recognizes these truths and finally normalizes relations with its most enduring Middle Eastern foe, the better.”

This is literally what Going to Tehran is about. Literally.

By attacking the Leveretts’ new book, Takeyh is attacking the very ideas he himself has espoused so confidently, both in a leading policy journal and to a senate Committee that included the current administration’s President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense themselves.

But he doesn’t want you to know that.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Talented Mr. Takeyh: Why Doesn’t the Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Like Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett?