Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Government Says Secret Court Opinion on Law Underlying PRISM Program Needs to Stay Secret

By Mark Rumold and David Sobel | EFF | June 7, 2013

In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion that found the National Security Agency’s surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional.  Significantly, the surveillance at issue was carried out under the same controversial legal authority that underlies the NSA’s recently-revealed PRISM program.

EFF filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2012, seeking disclosure of the FISC ruling.  Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall revealed the existence of the opinion, which found that collection activities under FISA Section 702  “circumvented the spirit of the law” and violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But, at the time, the Senators were not permitted to discuss the details publicly. Section 702 has taken on new importance this week, as it appears to form the basis for the extensive PRISM surveillance program reported recently in the Guardian and the Washington Post.

The government has seeked to block EFF’s FOIA suit by arguing that only the FISC, itself, can release the opinion.  In an effort to remove that roadblock, EFF filed a motion with the FISC on April 22 seeking the surveillance court’s consent to disclosure, should the document be found to be otherwise subject to release under FOIA.  In its response filed with the FISC today, the government offers a circular argument, asserting that only the Executive Branch can de-classify the opinion, but that it is somehow prohibited by the FISC rules from doing so.

The government’s argument is guaranteed to make heads spin. DOJ earlier argued that it lacks discretion to release the FISC opinion without the FISC’s consent, but DOJ now argues that if the FISC were to agree with EFF, “the consequence would be that the Government could release the opinion or any portion of it in its discretion.”  But FISC material is classified solely because the Executive Branch demands that it be, so release of the opinion has always been a matter of Executive discretion.

Frankly, it’s difficult to understand what DOJ is saying. The Government seems to have a knee-jerk inclination towards secrecy, one that often – as in this case – simply defies logic. The government’s bottom line is this: their rules trump the public’s statutory rights. But it’s not the province of the Executive branch to determine which rights citizens get to assert.

The events of the past week have demonstrated that the public is angry about the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. EFF hoped the public outcry might lead the government to rethink it’s position in this case (and, notably, DOJ has in two other EFF cases). But, for now, the government is digging in its heels and refusing to budge. But a democracy demands more. When the government acts unconstitutionally, the public has a fundamental right to review, understand, and correct that government action. Despite the DOJ’s filing today, EFF intends to keep fighting against the government’s secret surveillance practices.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

UK drone strikes violate international law: legal opinion piece

Press TV – June 8, 2013

Britain’s operating of killer drones in Afghanistan may be violating the international law, a legal firm representing peace campaigners has argued in an opinion piece.

The legal opinion by Public Interest Lawyers argues that the use of killer drones in Afghanistan is a breach of the international law under the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR).

The document says that the ECHR’s article 2 requires the governments to use “no more [force] than absolutely necessary” during conflicts.

“Only when it is absolutely necessary to kill someone rather than arrest/disable them will the use of drones be lawful. And even then, drones may only be used for … self defence under 2(2)(c),” it says.

According to the Public Interest Lawyers, this means that the ECHR obliges Britain to the use of killer drones only in “situations in which there is an immediate threat to life” that “prevents the carrying out of ‘targeted killings’ and narrowly circumscribes their use even on ‘the battlefield'”.

“There is therefore a strong presumption that the UK’s drones programme is in breach of international law,” it adds.

The British Ministry of Defense announced back in April that they are operating killer drones in Afghanistan by remote-pilots from RAF Waddington base in Lincolnshire.

The ministry claims its operations are in accordance with applicable international humanitarian law.

This comes as drone attacks normally come with extreme “collateral damage” to the civilian population even when taking the American and British claims that they are targeting terrorists by terror drones as true.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed the remote-controlled killer drones strikes on various parts of Afghanistan over the past years.

Civilians’ casualties have triggered widespread protests against killer drone attacks in the Asian country with the Afghan government repeatedly calling for an end to the deadly assaults.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The NYT and Chemical Weapons in Syria

By Michael McGehee | NYTX | June 7, 2013

Last month when UN investigator Carla Del Ponte came out publicly to say, “There are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” and, “This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” it was quickly met with suspicion and denial, from the UN and the White House.

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said as much to reporters.

“We are highly skeptical of the suggestion that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons,” Mr. Carney said. “We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position.” (NYT, 05/07/2013)

In the previous month both the US and Israel came out with the claim that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

On Tuesday the UN issued a report on the war-torn country, and The New York Times reported that, “There are reasonable grounds to believe limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used.”

However, the “paper of record” conveniently failed to note that the report immediately goes on to say that “It has not been possible, on the evidence available, to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator.”

But there are two very important developments to this story which have been met with total silence.

The first is the hacking of Britam, a British defense company. Four months ago it was reported by Yahoo! that:

The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown.

One of the leaked documents was an email. The email:

Phil

We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards

David

One of the parties who continues to feed the UN information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria is the United Kingdom. The NYT reported on Wednesday, Britain “repeated an earlier assessment that ‘a growing body of limited but persuasive information’ pointed to the use of the same toxin.”

After the email was leaked, claims of chemical weapons usage were made and then President Obama was hounded to act swiftly. Syria’s President Assad allegedly crossed Washington’s “red line.”

The June 4th UN panel report claims that, “It is possible that anti-Government armed groups may access and use chemical weapons. This includes nerve agents, though there is no compelling evidence that these groups possess such weapons or their requisite delivery systems.”

The Turkish news agency, Zaman, reported on May 28, 2013—that is, a week before the UN report was published—that Syrian rebels were arrested in Turkey and had Sarin gas in their possession.

While Russia Today covered the development, as well as Voice of Russia and Iran’s PressTV, no Western source published the development.

In all the coverage provided on Syria and chemical weapons—in the last year the NYT has provided more than 1,100 news items—we should suppose that a hacked email showing Washington supports a plan to use chemical weapons in Syria and blame it on the regime, and that rebels have been caught with Sarin nerve gas in Turkey, simply is not “all the news fit to print.”

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on The NYT and Chemical Weapons in Syria

Dirty Wars and Self-Indulgence

By Douglas Valentine | Dissident Voice | June 7, 2013

Let me begin with some background not covered in the film.  Dirty War derives from “La Salle Guerre”, the term the French applied to their counter-terror campaign in Algeria, circa 1954-1961. Algeria wanted independence, and France resisted.

Like subject people everywhere, the Algerians were badly outgunned and resorted to guerrilla tactics including “selective terrorism,” a hallmark of the Viet Minh, who fought the French until 1954, when America claimed Vietnam as its rightful property. Viet Minh tactics were derived largely from Mao’s precepts for fighting a People’s War.

Selective terrorism meant the murder of low-ranking officials – collaborators – who worked closely with the people; policemen, mailmen, teachers, etc. The murders were gruesome – a bullet in the belly or a grenade lobbed into a café – designed to achieve maximum publicity and demonstrate to the people the power of the nationalists to strike crippling blows against their oppressors.

Whether the Great White Fathers are French or American or English, they agree that putting down a People’s War means torturing and slaughtering the people – despite the fact that most people are not engaged in terrorism or guerrilla action and have no blood on their hands.

As John Stockwell taught us years ago, Dirty War means destabilizing a targeted nation through covert methods, the type the CIA has practiced around the world for 66 years.  Destabilizing means “hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country.

“What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market; where children can’t go to school; where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside; where government administered programs grind to a complete halt; where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people; where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt.”

Economic warfare – strangling nations like Cuba, Iraq and Iran in Medieval fashion – is a type of Dirty Warfare beloved by the Great White Fathers who control the world’s finances. Though no less deadly than atomic bombs, or firebombing Dresden, it is easier to sell to the bourgeoisie.

You’ll hear no mention of this in Scahill’s film, nor will you hear any references to Phil Agee, or the countless others who have explained Dirty War to each generation of Americans since World War Two.

You will not hear about psychological warfare, the essence of Dirty War.

America’s first was terror guru was Ed Lansdale, the advertising executive who made Levi’s blue jeans a national craze in the 1930’s.   He applied his sales skills to propaganda in the OSS and after WW II, concocted a new generation of psywar tactics as an agent of the Office of Policy Coordination assigned to the Philippines under military cover.  Lansdale’s bottomless black bag of dirty tricks included a “skull squadron” death squad that roamed the countryside, torturing and murdering Communist terrorists.

One of Lansdale’s counter-terror “psywar” tactics was to string a captured Communist guerrilla upside down from a tree, stab him in the neck with a stiletto, and drain his blood. The terrorized Commies fled the area and the terrified villagers, who believed in vampires, begged the government for protection.

Lansdale referred to his sadism as “low humor,” an excuse borrowed liberally by American officialdom during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Lansdale formalized “black propaganda” practices to vilify the Communists: one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities, and then another unit would arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away.

Lansdale brought his black propaganda and passion for atrocity to Saigon in 1954, along with a goon squad of Filipino mercenaries packaged as “Freedom Company.”

Under Lansdale’s guidance, Freedom Company sent Vietnamese commandoes into North Vietnam, under cover as relief workers, to activate stay-behind agent nets and conduct all manner of sabotage and subversion.  Disinformation was a Lansdale specialty, and his agents spread lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God.

In the South, with the help of the American media, Lansdale re-branded the heroic Vietminh as the beastly Viet Cong.

Lansdale’s greatest innovation, still used today, was to conduct all manner of espionage and terror under cover of “civic action.”  As a way of attacking Viet Minh agents in the South, Lansdale launched “Operation Brotherhood,” a Filipino paramedical team patterned on the typical Special Forces A team. With CIA money, Operation Brotherhood built medical dispensaries that the CIA used as cover for terror operations, as depicted in the book and movie The Quiet American.

Levis never went out of fashion, nor did Lansdale’s dirty tricks. Think Saddam Hussein killing babies in their incubators. Such disinformation invariably works on an American public looking for any excuse to rationalize its urge for racist genocide.

Think Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and every Rambo and Bruce Willis films.

Only Americans were fooled by the propaganda, and the Vietnamese quickly caught on.  So the CIA in 1956 launched the Denunciation of Communists campaign, which compelled the Vietnamese people to inform on Commies or get tortured and murdered.  The campaign was managed by CIA agents who could arrest, confiscate land from, and execute Communists and their sympathizers on the CIA’s master list. In determining who was a Communist, the CIA used a three-part classification system: A for dangerous party members, B for less dangerous party members, and C for loyal citizens.

As happened later in the Phoenix program, the threat of an A or B classification was used to extort innocent civilians, while category A and B offenders were put to work building houses and offices for CIA officers and their lackeys. And, of course, the puppet Vietnamese President used his CIA created, funded and trained security forces to eliminate his political rivals.

As Lansdale confessed, “it became a repressive tool to liquidate any opponent.”

“This development was political,” Lansdale observes. “My first inkling came when several families appeared at my house one morning to tell me about the arrest at midnight of their men-folk, all of whom were political figures. The arrests had a strange aspect to them, having come when the city was asleep and being made by heavily armed men who were identified as ‘special police’.”

Lansdale complained, but he was told that a “U.S. policy decision had been made. We Americans were to give what assistance we could to the building of a strong nationalistic party that would support Diem. Since Diem was now the elected president, he needed to have his own party.”

How We Got To Scahill’s Dirty War

By 1962, as the US expanded its Dirty Wars in the Far East and South America, the military replaced its Office of Special Operations with an up-dated Special Assistant for Counter-insurgency and Special Activities (SACSA).  SACSA assigned unconventional warfare forces to the CIA and regular army commanders, who initially resisted.

The development of psychological warfare and special operations is explained in Michael McClintock’s Instruments of Statecraft. For the CIA politics behind it, see Burton Hersh’s The Old Boys.

In 1965 Lansdale went back to Vietnam to run the Revolutionary Development Cadre Program as the CIA’s “second station” with a staff of CIA officers, Green Beanies, and Daniel Ellsberg. Vietnam was a laboratory and the CIA was experimenting with Pacification, aka “the Other War.”

In 1967, the CIA created the Phoenix program to coordinate everyone in its Dirty War.  Phoenix combined existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to neutralize the civilians running the shadow government.  Neutralize means to kill, capture, or make to defect.  Central to Phoenix was that it targeted civilians. “By analogy,” said Ogden Reid, a member of a congressional committee investigating Phoenix in 1971, “if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia.”

Under Phoenix, due process was nonexistent.  South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on CIA blacklists were kidnapped, tortured, detained without trial, or murdered on the word of an informer. Phoenix managers imposed a quota of 1,800 neutralizations per month on the saps running the program in the field, opening it up to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers. One CIA officer described Phoenix as, “A very good blackmail scheme for the central government. `If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.”‘

Because Phoenix assassinations (totaling 25,000+) were often conducted at night while its victims were home sleeping, Phoenix proponents describe the program as a “scalpel” designed to replace the “bludgeon” of My Lai-style search and destroy operations, air strikes, and artillery barrages that indiscriminately wiped out entire villages and did little to “win the hearts and minds” of the people.  But that was just propaganda and Phoenix was, among other things, an instrument of counter-terror – the psywar tactic in which enemy agents were brutally murdered along with their families and neighbors as a means of terrorizing the people into a state of submission. Such horrendous acts were, for propaganda purposes, often made to look as if they had been committed by the enemy.

This practice is at the heart of the film I will be reviewing.

As noted, conventional soldiers hated Phoenix. General Bruce Palmer, commander of the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division in 1968, objected to the “involuntary assignment of U.S. Army officers to the program. I don’t believe that people in uniform,” he said, “who are pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions, should be put in the position of having to break those laws of warfare.”

Palmer’s was such a charming sentiment.  By 2004, Obama advisor Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, in an article for Small Wars Journal, was calling for a “global Phoenix Program.”  Tom Hayden wrote an article for The Nation about Kilcullen in 2008 titled “Reviving Vietnam War Tactics”.

Fact is, Phoenix never went out of fashion.  As McClintock notes, “Counterinsurgency and indeed all aspects of special warfare doctrine had developed a reasonable level of political sophistication by the mid-1970s, acknowledging the necessity of combining military and civil initiatives.”

By 1975 SACSA had expired, the nation had internalized its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, and the CIA, wounded by the Church Committee hearings, went underground. The age of counter-terror began.  Central and South America were the new laboratories.   The CIA forged secret alliances with proxy nations like Israel and Taiwan, whose agents taught Latin American landowners how to organize criminals into death squads which murdered and terrorized labor leaders, Human Rights activists, and all other enemies of the Great White Fathers.

To compensate for the reduction in size of its paramilitary Special Operations Division, the CIA formed its Office of Terrorism. Meanwhile, the military branches beefed up their terror capabilities, all of which glommed together in December 1980 in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).  Steve Emerson chronicles this development in detail in Secret Warriors (1988).

JSOC’s mission, conducted on the Phoenix model with the CIA, is identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide. Paramilitary personnel are often exchanged between JSOC and CIA.

By the early 1980s, CIA and military veterans of the Phoenix program were running counter-insurgency and counter-terror ops worldwide.

General Paul Gorman, who commanded U.S. forces in Central America in the mid-1980′s, defined this advanced form of Dirty War as “a form of warfare repugnant to Americans, a conflict which involves innocents, in which non-combatant casualties may be an explicit object.”  (Toledo Blade 1 Jan 1987)

All of which brings me to my review.

Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a post-modern film by Jeremy Scahill, about himself, starring himself in many poses.

The film owes more to Sergio Leone and Kathryn Bigelow than Constantinos Gavras. Scahill certainly is no Leslie Cockburn: there is no Tony Poe telling how the CIA facilitates heroin shipments; no Richard Secord suing him for unraveling the financial intrigues of the CIA’s secret operators. The CIA is rarely mentioned.

There is no reference to the Guerra Sucia in Argentina.

Scahill is no Franz Fallon documenting the devastating psychological effects of racism on society. There are no cameos by Jean-Paul Sartre advocating violent retribution on Hollywood, no mingling with the Taliban in their caves as they conspire against their Yankee oppressors at the Sundance Film Festival.

We get the first taste of his self-indulgent idiocy when he says it is “hard to tell” when the Dirty War began. He does tell us, however, that he is on the “front lines” of the war on terror.

Scahill (hereafter JS) brags that he wasn’t going to find the front lines in Kabul, although he could have, if he knew where to look. Instead he just looks around furtively on his way to the scene of a war crime. We see a close-up of his face.

The endless close-ups artfully convey the feeling that our hero is utterly alone, on some mythic journey of self-discovery, without a film crew or interpreters. There is no evidence that anyone went to Gardez to make sure everyone was waiting and not toiling in the fields or tending the flocks, or whatever they do. And we’ll never find out what the victims do. The stage isn’t big enough for JS and anyone else.

This is a major theme throughout the story – JS is doing all this alone and the isolation preys on him. He bears this heavy burden alone, with many soulless looks.

Initially, there is no mention that journalist Jerome Starkey reported what happened in Gardez. JS is too busy establishing himself as the courageous super-sleuth. As we drive along the road, he reminds us how much danger he is in.  Two journalists were kidnapped here, he says. This area is “beyond” NATO control. He must get in and out before nightfall or the Taliban will surely kill him like the Capitalist dog he is.

In my drinking days, we referred to this type of behavior as grandiosity. Telling everyone how you defied death, so the guys would talk about your exploits in the bars, and the girls would fall at your feet. For JS, this formula is working – a visit to his Facebook page reveals scores of “Millennial girls” wringing their hands and fretting for his safety as he strides across America’s secret battlefields in search of the truth. His carefully crafted Wiki bio furthers the legend.

Using the material gathered by Starkey (whom he eventually acknowledges), JS shows that in February 2010, American soldiers murdered five people in Gardez, including two pregnant women, and tried to cover it up by digging the bullets out of the targeted man’s body. He interviews the surviving family members. They weep. Violin music plays.  They seem more like props than human beings.

JS ingenuously asks various Afghan and American officials, why the cover-up? The officials suggest that the targeted man was working for the Taliban – and if you play that double-game, you risk your family and friends. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells JS they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He says there will be no investigation.

Cut to Capitol Hill where, by his own account, JS has greatness thrust upon him. “It is imperative,” he tells Chairman John Conyers, “that Congress investigates this shadow war to examine its legality.”

What, one wonders, was Conyers thinking? Forty-two years earlier, after hearing testimony from Bart Osborn and Michael Uhl about the Phoenix program, Conyers and three other U.S. representatives stated their belief that “The people of these United States … have deliberately imposed on the Vietnamese people a system of justice which admittedly denies due process of law …. In so doing, we appear to have violated the 1949 Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian peoples.”

His testimony, JS tells us, “throws him into the public arena,” ever so reluctantly. He revisits his Blackwater testimony and shows pictures of himself with numerous celebrities on TV.

B-takes of Scahill walking among the common folk in Brooklyn, plotting his next move.  Haunted by the horror of Gardez, he files FOIA requests and discovers that William McRaven is head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He’s stunned. He’s been a national security reporter for over a decade, and he’s never heard of JSOC before.  It’s covert. The story has been hidden in the shadows, he says.

This was the turning point of the film for me. For a National Security correspondent, this is an admission akin to a botanist saying he’d never heard of flowers. It’s an admission that fairly sums up the sorry state of reporting in America today. Has JS ever read a book?

JS discovers that Gardez is not an isolated incident, and that JSOC rampages across Afghanistan with “unprecedented authority.” He talks to a former JSOC soldier about its activities in Iraq, where it had hit lists and conducted night raids. This revelation, and the fact that McRaven took responsibility for Gardez, leads JS to conclude that JSOC is responsible for Gardez. It certainly wasn’t Congress, which according to JS, has no control over JSOC. JSOC money comes from rich donors.

JS learns that JSOC is not only in Afghanistan, but that it operates worldwide, and that its hit lists get bigger all the time. And we hear, for the first time, the catchy phrase, “the world is a battlefield.”

At this point JS decides, with the help of The Nation brain trust, to investigate JSOC in Yemen where CIA drones are wiping out people by the score.

B-take of JS sipping tea thoughtfully. He’s going to talk to the most powerful man in South Yemen. We view the scene of a drone strike: 46 killed, including five pregnant women. A woman in a black veil says her entire family, save one daughter, were wiped out. Violin music. But there’s no cover-up here. In fact, Obama personally kept the journalist in prison who reported the strike.

What will Obama do to JS?

Once again, we fear for JS. Luckily he lives to talk to Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe. The greatness thrust upon him forces him onto TV shows everywhere. There he is with Amy Goodman!

More close-ups. We count the pores on his nose, the hairs in his eyebrows. We feel the fear. He gets a strange call. Someone tells him JSOC tortures people without telling the CIA or regular army, which are too busy torturing people to care.

As he studies the hit lists, he comes across radical America Muslim, Anwar al-Awlaki. After talking to Tony Schaffer, he realizes JSOC targets Muslims and that is why, along with the US invasion of Iraq, Awlaki is pissed off. Awlaki is an American but is inciting people to revolution in Yemen, so Yemen allows the CIA to kill him.

Note – the CIA is mentioned maybe twice in the film. Apparently it is so covert it escaped his notice.

We see JS in an exotic location. An airplane lands. JS is back in the USA. He’s been traumatized by what he’s seen. He tells anyone who will listen that the US cannot kill its way to peace, as if peace is the objective. The war on terror, he concludes, is creating enemies, which of course is the objective.

Before the American people can rally to JS’s clarion call, Obama sends some guys to kill Osama bin Laden. This is too much of a coincidence to ignore. Was it done to subvert his investigation? In any event, McRaven and JSOC are now heroes. He meets a knowledgeable person who tells him the Dirty War will go on forever. He tells us about signature strikes that kill people randomly (but not that the CIA conducts them) and that the war on terror is out of control.

Pictures of JS pointing to countries on a map where JSOC operates. He decides to visit Somalia, where JSOC is snatching bodies and taking them to ships in the Arabian Sea, and outsourcing its Dirty War to mercenaries. He visits mercenaries wearing camo fatigues. There are no other journalists here, it is too dangerous. Someone hands JS a flak jacket.  Someone tells him they bury traitors alive. The tension soars. He’s surrounded by armed men. There’s a gunshot. He ducks behind sandbags.

We wonder who arranged for JS to meet these guys? Where did he get an interpreter? What’s the quid pro quo?

JS goes to a hospital morgue and look at a mutilated body. After which he wants to go home. But he learns that Awlaki’s son has been killed and reluctantly he returns to Yemen.

I liked this part of the film. It seemed genuine. We see home videos of Awlaki’s son doing youthful happy things. JS tries to understand why the US would deliberately kill a 16 year old kid? Which is a good question. Perhaps America is ruled by a murderous Cult of Death.

We see pictures of young girls smiling, and we revert back to the contrived scenes and monologue that drag the documentary down into gratuitous self-promotion. JS says he never had any idea where the story would lead, as if all this happened magically, like a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

The film ends and I wonder what he could have produced if he hadn’t melodramatized and spent so much time and film on close-ups. I wonder what he could have done if he’d read a few history books.

Ultimately, the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary. And as art, it is pure self-indulgence.

And in this sense, it is a perfect slice of modern American life.

Douglas Valentine can be reached at dougvalentine77@gmail.com

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria’s Fake Sectarian War

By Shamus Cooke | Worker’s Action | June 7, 2013

The fate of Syria and the broader Middle East balances on a razor’s edge. The western media is giving dire warnings of an impending sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims, a war that could drown the Middle East in a flood of blood.

Such a war would be completely artificial, and is being manufactured for geo-political reasons. When the most influential Sunni figures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar — both U.S. allies — recently called for Jihad against the Syrian government and Hezbollah, their obvious intentions were to boost the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and its closest ally, the United States, by destroying Iran’s key ally in the region.

Will Sunni Muslims in Syria — who are the majority — suddenly begin attacking their Shia countrymen and the Syrian government? Unlikely. A compilation of data from humanitarian workers in and around Syria compiled by NATO suggests that:

…70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime. Another 20 percent were deemed neutral and the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels.”

The pro-Assad 70 percent is mostly Sunni. This data flies in the face of the constant barrage of western media distortion about what’s happening in Syria. Previous polling compiled last year by Qatar had similar results, and was likewise ignored by the western media.

The above article quoted a source familiar with the data:

The Sunnis have no love for Assad, but the great majority of the community is withdrawing from the revolt… what is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They are seen by the Sunnis as far worse than Assad.

Syrian Sunnis are likely disgusted by the behavior of the foreign extremists, which include a laundry list of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, as well as the terrorist bombing of a Sunni Mosque that killed the top Sunni cleric in Syria — along with 41 worshipers and 84 others injured. The Sunni cleric was killed because he was pro-Assad.

The recent calls for Jihad by the Saudi and Qatari Sunni leaders are likely in response to the Syrian government scoring major victories against the rebels. The rebels are now badly losing the war, in large part because they’ve completely lost their base of community support.

There are other key rebel supporters now taking urgent action to bolster the flagging rebel war effort. The leader of al-Qaeda, for example, made a recent plea for Sunnis to support the rebels against the Syrian government, while U.S. politician John McCain journeyed into Syria to meet with rebels — later identified as terrorists — to further commit the U.S. to the rebel side.

Meanwhile, The New York Times confirmed that the CIA had increased its already-massive arms trafficking program into Syria, while the European union agreed to drop the Syrian arms embargo, so that even more arms could be funneled to the rebels.

And to top it off, France now says it has proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the rebels — a UN representative has suggested that just the opposite is the case — while the rebels are desperately trying to incite war between Syria and Israel by attacking the Syrian government on the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Also relevant is that the pro-Jihad religious leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are taking a giant gamble in their recent anti-Hezbollah proclamations, and risk triggering political instability to these already-shaky regimes, which are hugely dependent on the religious leaders for support.

Hezbollah is still revered throughout the Muslim world for its military defeat of Israel in 2006; and most Muslims will likely be uninterested in waging Jihad in Muslim majority Syria. Also, attacking the Syrian government and Hezbollah would mean allying with Israel and the United States, not an ideal situation for most jihadists.

It’s very possible that the Syrian tinderbox could drag the surrounding Middle Eastern countries into a massive regional war, with Russia and the United States easily within the gravitational pull.

The Syrian conflict could end very quickly if President Obama rejected U.S. support for the rebels and demanded his U.S. allies in the region do the same. Obama should acknowledge the situation in Syria as it exists, and respect the wishes of the Syrian people, who do not want their country destroyed.

Instead, the U.S. is considering arming the rebels even more.

U.S. Senator John McCain revealed the unofficial U.S. government policy for Syria when he said that he would tolerate an extremist takeover of Syria if it weakened Iran.

At this point an extremist takeover of Syria will cost tens of thousands of more lives, millions more refugees, while exploding the region into a multi-country orgy of violence.

The media will blame such genocide on Islamic sectarian violence, and ignore the obvious political motives.

Hopefully, the social movement in Turkey will force the Turkish government out of the western-controlled anti-Syrian alliance, while empowering other Middle Eastern countries to do the same.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Syria’s Fake Sectarian War

UN calls for record $5.2 billion aid package for Syria

Al-Akhbar | June 7, 2013

The United Nations on Friday launched a record $5.2-billion aid appeal to fund operations in Syria and neighboring nations, saying the number of people affected by the country’s brutal conflict was set to spiral.

The call for donations comes as the UN expects that 10.25 million Syrians – half the country’s population – will need humanitarian aid by the end of 2013.

The sum of aid being requested overshadows by far the $2.2 billion the UN sought in 2003 to help cope with the crisis sparked by the war in Iraq.

The $5.2 billion represents money needed across this year to pay for operations that have already been undertaken, are ongoing, or are due to be carried out until the end of December.

“The figure for the new appeal is both an expression of the alarm about the situation facing Syrians and an absence of a political solution,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR.

It also marked a more than threefold increase on the $1.5 billion which the UN previously had said that it needed to cover operations this year.

The UN has so far received $1.0 billion of that sum, after launching an appeal last December.

In the latest appeal, the world body said that a total of $3.8 billion was needed to help Syrian refugees who have spilled across the country’s borders to escape fighting in their homeland.

The figure for operations inside Syria meanwhile was $1.4 billion.

According to UN estimates, more than 80,000 people have been killed and some 1.6 million Syrians have fled the country since the civil war began in March 2011 after a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

“The numbers represented in this plan are staggering,” said Amir Abdulla, deputy executive director of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP). “They’re not sustainable over the very long term.”

“They represent a tragedy for Syria and a burden on the region,” he told reporters.

The WFP, which has delivered 500 million meals in Syria so far this year, expects its weekly costs to rise from almost $20 million now to $36 million after September. It says it has a funding shortfall of about $725 million.

The WFP’s Syria Regional Emergency Coordinator Muhannad Hadi said: “We have reached a stage in Syria where some of the people, if they don’t get food from the World Food Programme, they simply do not eat.”

The overwhelming majority of the refugees have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, which are struggling to cope.

In Jordan, for example, one refugee camp is now the equivalent of the nation’s fifth-largest town.

With the revolt against Assad having morphed into a vicious, drawn-out conflict, the total number of refugees is expected to swell to at least 3.45 million by the end of this year, according to the UN appeal.

Within the country, a total of 6.8 million people are forecast to need aid this year, the majority of them people who have been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting.

“These are huge numbers. They are not sustainable over the very long term, which is why we hope that there will be a solution to the situation inside Syria,” said Abdulla.

“We hope that the world will respond, as millions of Syrians displaced in their home country, and refugees in neighboring countries, basically have little else to rely on at this time,” he added.

Syria’s pre-war population was 20.8 million.

“By the end of the year, half of the population of Syria will be in need of aid,” underlined Edwards.

The nature of the Syrian conflict has affected aid efforts, with convoys often having to clear dozens of checkpoints manned by different militias from both sides.

“In other operations, there’s often a front line when you’re dealing with two opposing forces. In this instance you’ve a very complex situation where there are pockets. There is no clear line. You’re dealing with a fragmented opposition who don’t follow a monolithic command and control structure,” said Abdulla.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on UN calls for record $5.2 billion aid package for Syria

Palestinian activist detained in Israeli raid

Ma’an – 08/06/2013

HEBRON – Israeli forces on Friday raided the al-Sumoud (“steadfastness”) center in Hebron and detained Jawad Abu Aisheh, 39, from the Old City, an official said.

The director of the center, Ahmad Amro, said six soldiers and two policemen stormed the center, causing damage. They also assaulted some of the activists there and threatened them.

Forces detained Jawad Abu Aished who lives near the center.

The coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, Badi Dweik, said that “detaining Abu Aisheh is proof that the Israeli authority helps and supports settlers in their attempts to control … the Old City.”

Dweik called on President Mahmoud Abbas and his new Prime Minister Rami Hamdullah to respond to Israel’s “continuous crimes” in the West Bank in general and Hebron in particular.

An Israeli army spokeswoman referred inquiries to the police. A police spokesman did not immediately return calls.


Hebron man arrested for filing complaint about settler attack

International Solidarity Movement | June 8, 2013

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Human rights activist Jawad Abu Eysheh, 39, was arrested Friday 7th June following a complaint he made four months ago about a settler attack.

At 4:20 pm on 7th June, Israeli Police arrived at the house of the Hebron organisation Youth Against Settlements and demanded to see the ID’s of Jawad and three other men present. The police then told Jawad that they wanted to take him away ‘for investigation’, and called the Israeli military to escort Jawad away in handcuffs.

Jawad Abu Eysheh being handcuffed and arrested (Photo by Youth Against Settlements)

Jawad Abu Eysheh being handcuffed and arrested (Photo by Youth Against Settlements)

Jawad was then paraded through the adjacent illegal Tel Rumeida settlement and taken to the nearby checkpoint 56, before being transferred to the police station in the settlement of Givat Ha’avot outside the city centre.

The line of questioning from the police made clear that Jawad was being detained as a result of events that happened back in February, when Jawad and other activists were attacked by American-born extremist Baruch Marzel and other settlers.

Despite being a victim of that violent assault in February, it was Jawad who was subjected to arrest today, not the perpetrators. During his detention, Jawad was also forced to submit a DNA sample against his will, and to sign conditions that he will not speak with Baruch Marzel for the next 30 days. Jawad stated his is happy to comply with this stipulation at least. Jawad was released at around 9pm.As well as today’s arrest, Jawad has faced other harassment recently, including not being allowed to walk on the street where his factory space and uncle’s house are located.

The Israeli army and police in Hebron have a long history of harassing human rights defenders such as Jawad and his colleague Issa Amro, and of following the wishes of extremist settlers when deciding who to harass.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on Palestinian activist detained in Israeli raid

Israel bans guards from entering Aqsa compound

209815_345x230

Ma’an – 08/06/2013

JERUSALEM – Israel on Friday banned 25 Al-Aqsa compound guards from the vicinity of the mosque for varying periods of time.

Samer Qweider was banned from entering Al-Aqsa until the end of Ramadan for allegedly verbally abusing rightists who tried to get into the compound.

Qweider told Ma’an that on May 28 he was banned from entering the compound for six days, and accordingly he returned to his job on Monday. After two days of working regularly he was told by Israeli police he was not allowed to enter the compound until Ramadan ends in mid-August.

Another guard, Fadi Bakeer, said that Israel wanted to “silence” the guards, and added that any guard who tried to stop rightists from entering the holy compound would be banned.

A religious department worker said that guards are pressured, arrested, beaten, banned, and fined. He added that his department has pleaded for King Abdullah II of Jordan for help.

Israeli authorities have allowed the Jordanian leadership a degree of control over the holy Muslim site as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher due to its historical connections to Jerusalem.

Israel seized the West Bank including East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel bans guards from entering Aqsa compound