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America’s Long History of Bloodletting

By Lawrence Davidson | Consortium News | May 30, 2013

There is an American tradition of frequent war. Indeed, over the course of the country’s history the United States has been at war almost constantly. Some of these have been relatively short conflicts like interventions in various Central American venues. Some have been much larger and longer affairs, like the Civil War, World War II and Vietnam.

The point to be drawn from this is that the people of the United States are (perhaps unconsciously) acclimated to always being in one sort of armed conflict or another. Unfortunately, this history renders a recent public statement by the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeb Johnson, into just a bit of fanciful idealism. He insisted “war must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs.” Certainly not for Americans.

An Army sergeant peers out the door of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on the way to pick up soldiers in a training operation at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 23, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Percy Jones)

With their active assumption that the U.S. represents the world’s best chance for the victory of “good” against “evil,” Americans seem willing to battle on as long as they are convinced they are winning and the casualties are low. That may be why there was no popular protest when Michael Sheehan, Obama’s assistant secretary of defense for “special operations,” told a Senate hearing that the country’s “war on terror” might last “at least 10 or 20 years” longer (it has already been going on 12 years). In the mainstream media, there was not even a noticeable raising of an anchorperson’s eyebrows!

The reason given for Sheehan’s prognosis was that al-Qaida, and its franchise allies, keep recreating themselves as fast as their alleged leaders can be droned into oblivion. Missing from the congressional and media reaction was the obvious question of “how come” such groups keep recreating themselves?

Many middle-echelon State Department analysts familiar with the Middle East know the answer has something to do with the fact that U.S. policies in the region have not significantly changed since the 9/11 attacks. Most of the personnel above the middle echelon are political appointees who keep asserting that what motivates the al-Qaida types is religious fanaticism.

Of course there are religious fanatics at work on both sides of the “war on terror,” but those in the Middle East have grievances to focus on and U.S. policies are seen as one source of those. The fact that the “war on terror” is largely a consequence of American policies cemented into place by powerful special interests calls into question President Barack Obama’s recent assertion that “this is a just war, a war waged proportionally in last resort and in self-defense.”

It also suggests that the struggle is likely to go on and on until its ruinous consequences become so obvious to the voting public that the politicians are forced to break with their special-interest supporters. This is the real criterion for change, for, under the present circumstances, there will always be “terrorists” out there who, to reword (and correct) an assertion by President George W. Bush, “hate our policies.”

And what is there not to hate about draconian sanctions, the arming of dictators, and giving opened-ended support to the most racist state in the region?

Rules of Engagement

In the meantime, President Obama has been trying to create “rules of engagement” for the use of the government’s primary weapon in this endless war: those remote controlled bombs we call drones. These rules will, he says, provide “clear guidelines, oversight and accountability” and satisfy partisan congressional grumblings, if not the more pertinent questions of human rights advocates.

To this end the White House has issued guidelines concerning procedures for counterterrorism operations such as drone attacks. The guidelines tell us “there must be a legal basis for using lethal force” and decisions to use such “force against individual terrorists outside the United States and areas of active hostilities are made at the most senior levels of the U.S. Government.” The document then lays out other specific preconditions for the use of lethal force, among which are:

1. “Near certainty” that the terrorist target is present.

2. “Near certainty” that noncombatants will not be injured or killed.

3. An assessment that “capture is not feasible at the time of the operation.”

4. An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in “the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.”

5. An assessment that “no other reasonable alternatives exist” to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.

Finally, “International legal principles, including respect for sovereignty and the law of armed conflict, impose important constraints on the ability of the United States to act unilaterally – and on the way in which the United States can use force. The United States respects national sovereignty and international law.”

The problem with these guidelines, beyond a number of undefined terms such as “near certainty,” “reasonable” and “feasible,” is that its criteria misrepresent reality or are utterly unreliable. For instance, under international law there is no “legal” basis for this sort of use of “lethal force.”

What the Obama administration (and the Bush regime before it) has done is take up the illegal Israeli “targeted assassination” program, which constitutes the behavior of a rogue state. Even from a domestic legal prospective, Obama’s criteria for targeted assassination will be carried out behind closed doors. There will be no due process. And there will be no accountability for “mistakes.”

Finally, nothing in the guidelines is enacted into legislation and therefore, assuming an effort to actually follow their criteria, they are specific to the Obama presidency and have no authority over his successors. As Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, put it, “a mere promise that the U.S. will work within established guidelines . . . provides little confidence that the U.S. is complying with international law.”

Throughout the country’s history of one war following another, there has been a parallel history of cyclical deterioration and recovery of constitutional rights.

However, with the government’s wholehearted embrace of targeted assassination, as well as modern surveillance technology and the precedent of offshore prisons for “enemy combatants,” one wonders if, from now on, the recovery of rights will ever be fully equal to their loss. Maybe now it really will be all downhill for freedom in the “land of the free.”


Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on America’s Long History of Bloodletting

FBI shot Todashev in crown of head

Press TV – May 30, 2013

sheidayi20130530171945227Photos shown by the father of Ibragim Todashev, a young man who was killed by FBI agents during investigations into the Boston Marathon bombings, reveal he sustained six gunshot wounds, one in the crown of his head.

27-year-old Todashev was killed by the FBI while he was being questioned about his relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombing suspects who was killed by police on April 19.

Law enforcement sources initially said Todashev was armed with a knife and that he “went crazy” brandishing the knife and stabbing an FBI agent. However, unidentified sources said Thursday that Todashev was not armed when the FBI shot him dead.

At a press conference on Thursday in Moscow, Ibragim’s father showed photos of his son’s body which were taken by Ibragim’s friends after the FBI handed the body to them.

“I can show you the photos taken after the killing of my son. I have 16 photographs. I just would like to say that looking at these photos is like being in a movie. I only saw things like that in movies: shooting a person, and then the kill shot. Six shots in the body, one of them in the head,” said Ibragim’s father at the press conference.

On May 22, the day the FBI killed Ibragim, ABC News reported that he was “about to sign a statement” confessing he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were involved in a 2011 murder of three men in Massachusetts.

However, Ibragim’s father said that his son was questioned twice by the FBI about the Boston Marathon bombings but not about the 2011 murder.

Ibragim’s father also said that his son believed the April 15 Boston attack, in which three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded, was a “set-up.”

Moreover, investigative reporter Ralph Lopez revealed to The Digital Journal on Wednesday that the image released by the FBI as evidence that Tamerlan’s brother left a backpack at the scene of the Boston bombings was made with Photoshop.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Comments Off on FBI shot Todashev in crown of head

The Times’s Op Ed Page and the Draft

By Murray Polner · NYTX · May 29, 2013

Karl Eikenberry and David Kennedy’s “Americans and Their Military: Drifting Apart” (May 26) called for reinstatement of a draft, a favorite stance of the Times’ Op Ed page.

Eikenberry, a retired lieutenant general, and Kennedy, a retired Stanford history professor, prefer a draft lottery which, they argue, would result in less willingness to go to war.

The truth is, we had a draft before Korea and Vietnam yet we still went to war and killed millions of people, including some 100,000 American GIs.

They also called for a draft “weighted to select the best-educated and most highly skilled.”

But no draft or draft lottery can ever be fair.

It’s good to recall that virtually no congressional son was drafted during Vietnam and in any future draft very few of the sons and possibly daughters of the very rich will ever be drafted, as I and millions of others were.

Anyone with political or money connections will always be able to avoid active military service.

The same situation would surely prevail if compulsory national service for all our kids is instituted, a system of government control found only among authoritarian nations.

Perhaps someday the Times’ Op Ed editors will instead commission a column defying our resident hawks and war profiteers and instead advocate allowing young people to live in peace in a country which avoids its endless and fruitless wars.

Murray Polner is the author of “No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran”; editor of “When Can I Come Home: Amnesty, Exiles, Anti-War Prisoners and 0thers”; and co-author/editor with Thomas Woods Jr. of “We Who Dared To Say No To War.”

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Mass graves of Palestinians killed in 1948 Nakba discovered in Jaffa

Al-Akhbar | May 30, 2013

Six mass grave sites dating back to the 1936 Palestinian uprising and the 1948 Nakba were discovered around the Jaffa cemetery, the al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported Wednesday, revealing hundreds of bodies of Palestinians killed by Zionist forces.

“During [the foundation’s] repair and maintenance work on the [Kazkhana] cemetery, we discovered nozzles to dig into the ground where we found the mass graves…including hundreds of skeletons and human remains of rebels, martyrs and civilians who perished during the Nakba,” head of the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, Sheikh Mohammed Najem, said in the report.

A picture by the al-Aqsa Foundation shows skeletons buried in a mass grave

The foundation has proved the remains date back to the victims killed in the 1948 war, whether from bombings and shelling of residential neighborhoods or snipers located around the city, the report said.

“The Kazkhana cemetery has exposed the historical facts that Israel has tried to hide and erase for over 65 years relating to the massacres committed by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba,” it read.

“These mass graves have banished all doubts of the certainty of oral histories collected by historians of people who lived through the Nakba of 1948 and parts of the war documenting massacres in Jaffa and its suburbs,” the report added.

Some of the recorded histories document eyewitnesses witnessing piles of bodies scattered around in all of Jaffa’s neighborhoods, which were buried in mass graves due to the violent circumstances at the time.

The report shares an eyewitness account explaining how the residents of Jaffa were forced to move bodies to the cemetery and bury them in mass graves as the town was being heavily bombarded by Zionist forces.

“The foundation will continue to conduct research and scientifically test the remains…to send media messages to the whole world that Israel is built on the skulls of the Palestinian people,” Abed al-Majid Ighbariya, the head of the files on holy sites of the foundation, said.

The Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” refers to the expropriation and mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionists.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Mass graves of Palestinians killed in 1948 Nakba discovered in Jaffa

What would it take?

Xymphora | May 30, 2013

“Officials: Man who knew Boston bombing suspect was unarmed when shot”

Just to give you a taste of the massive and elaborate lying involved, here’s the original reporting:  “FBI agent fatally shoots man with suspected ties to Boston Marathon bomber: authorities” (my emphasis throughout in red):

“An FBI agent fatally shot a Florida man this morning, after questioning him about ties to Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, authorities said.
Feds, two Massachusetts state troopers and investigators from other agencies were questioning Ibragim Todashev, 27, shortly after midnight when he suddenly pulled a knife and stabbed an FBI agent, law enforcement sources told The Post.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the stabbed FBI agent was the same one who shot and killed Todashev. The wounded FBI agent was taken to the hospital and he was expected to survive his wounds, officials said.

Also!: “Source: Friend of bombing suspect attacked agent with sword“:

“FOX 25’s Bob Ward was told by a confidential informant that the man, who was killed while being questioned by FBI agents in Florida, was in the process of confessing to a triple murder that occurred in Waltham when he suddenly attacked an agent with a sword.

During the interview, investigators took notes and everything appeared to be going well. Eventually, Todashev was asked to write down, in his own handwriting and in his own words, what he had been telling authorities about his role in the murders when in the words of one source – all hell broke loose.

Todashev allegedly began writing, but then flipped a table over, knocking the Boston FBI agent into the wall hitting his head.

FOX 25’s Bob Ward was told the agent looked up to see Todashev waving in his direction what was described as a Banzai ceremonial sword.

Fearing for his life, the FBI agent drew his weapon and fatally shot Todashev. The entire incident taking only seconds.”

There is an attempt to make this seem less outrageous by repeating the story that Todashev was just about to sign a confession implicating himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the Waltham killings:

Todashev became violent as he was signing a written statement based on his confession to the triple murder and attacked the agent with a knife, according to the FBI.”

But note:

But sources say during questioning Tuesday night, Todashev implicated himself and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the killings. As investigators pushed at him towards a confession, he snapped, reported Orr.”

There’s a big difference between the usual police haranguing towards a confession (which means no confession), and having a written confession ready for him to sign, just as there is a difference between a knife wound which sends an agent to hospital (where ‘he was expected to survive his wounds’!!!), and no wound and no weapon.  The lies are simply too specific and detailed to be mistakes or slips.

Atlantic Wire on the Murder of Ibragim Todashev”

Seven times?!! (note the headline disparages the story by attributing it up front to one of those dastardly ‘Islamic groups’, and the article disparages the photograph by emphasizing its source):  “Islamic group: Slain man was unarmed, shot by FBI agent 7 times”:

“An Islamic group Wednesday called for a federal civil-rights investigation of last week’s fatal shooting of an Orlando man by an FBI agent investigating his connection to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

And the Tampa director of that group said not only was 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev unarmed when he was shot by the agent May 22, he was hit seven times, including once in the head.

. . .

At a news conference Wednesday evening, Shibly showed what he said were photos of Todashev’s body after the shooting. The photos were taken at an Orlando funeral home after the Orange-Osceola County Medical Examiner’s office released the body to Todashev’s next of kin, he said.

The photographer was Khusen Taramov — a friend of Todashev’s who lives in Kissimmee — and photos show at least a dozen wounds, although some may have been exit wounds, Shibly said.”

The claim that one shot was to the ‘back of the head’ somehow didn’t make it into all of the stories.

I’m reading a lot of the usual nonsense of the supposed mental and psychological problems of conspiracy theorists, but I would like to ask a question of the Official Story believers.  What would it take for you to entertain the notion that there might be a conspiracy here?  Is there any set of facts of official wrongdoing that might cause you to have even the slightest doubt about what you are being told by official sources?  If there is no possible set of facts which would cause you to start to have doubts, you have a serious mental and psychological problem of needing to believe what your ‘betters’ tell you.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Comments Off on What would it take?