Aletho News


What Did Samantha Power Say About Iraq Invasion?

By Peter Hart | FAIR | June 10, 2013

Samantha Power on Democracy Now!

Samantha Power on Democracy Now!

Obama National Security Council adviser Samantha Power has been named the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. That news prompted a piece in the New York Times (6/9/13) headlined “A Golden Age for Intervention?” by Neil MacFarquhar.  The article raises some of the usual issues surrounding Power’s work– most prominently the notion that the United States should use military intervention in the name of humanitarianism.

MacFarquhar writes that Power

wants the system to work. As flawed as the Security Council is, she has often said, its endorsement amplifies international approval for controversial action. She criticized the American invasion of Iraq because it lacked the council’s stamp, among other reasons.

But what did Samantha Power actually say about the Iraq War before it happened?

Power was prominent in elite foreign policy discussions at the time;  her 2002 book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide won a Pulitzer the following year.

MacFarquhar makes it sound like Power had multiple reasons she opposed the war. But it’s difficult to find such evidence.

On March 10, 2003, she appeared on MSNBC‘s Hardball to debate pro-war writer Jonathan Chait–whom she agreed with on a few points.

Indeed, it was somewhat difficult to say what Power’s position was overall:

An American intervention likely will improve the live of the Iraqis. Their lives could not get worse, I think it’s quite safe to say.

The issue, though, is whether the United States can be, in a sense, the unilateral guardian of human rights and whether the intervention itself won’t have destabilizing consequences, both in terms of our security, the very security in whose name we’re really launching this intervention, and in the name of international principles like human rights, international justice, international stability.

Power seemed especially concerned about how the ramifications of the war on U.S. standing in the world:

It legitimates the go-it-alone approach and it sort of reinforces the impression of us as an outlaw nation, which is ironic because, of course, Saddam’s regime is far more an outlaw nation than ours.

So Power certainly did not support the way the United States was launching the war. But that’s not really the same as opposing the war; it’s wishing for  more effective management of the war.

And host Chris Matthews closed the segment trying to get Power to take a position:

MATTHEWS: Is this a just war, Samantha?

POWER: It will have a just result locally and probably a very unjust result…

MATTHEWS: Is it a just war?

POWER: I don’t think we can be the guardians of justice…

MATTHEWS: No, I–so it’s not a just war?

POWER: We haven’t fought it yet, Chris. I mean, you know, you can’t say whether…

MATTHEWS: Well, you have to decide about a war before you start it, not afterwards. Is this a just war…

POWER: No, you can’t weigh in on proportionality, on discrimination, on whether we actually follow through and actually look out for the rights of the Iraqis…


POWER: … after the war. We don’t know that now.

MATTHEWS: But in its outset, is it a just war?

POWER: It’s not being fought for human rights reasons. I don’t know who–why–I mean, it would be great if human rights were a necessary condition.

At that time, bonafide critics of the Iraq War were much clearer than that, and it’s hard to find much else that would suggest that Power had a particularly clear anti-war case she made publicly–though she did, like many others, come around to articulating a more forceful critique of the Bush administration by the time that administration was almost over.

Weeks after the war started, a Los Angeles Times article (4/10/03) on Power included this assessment of Iraq:

 “That’s what’s so great about the fall of Saddam Hussein. Now we can actually put our money and power where our might has been so far. We can demonstrate what we have claimed all along, that this war is about them,” she said, referring to the Iraqi people.

“The hard work is just beginning, in Iraq and also in restoring U.S. credibility as a global actor. I hope the book provides the spirit in which that can be done.”

Some of Power’s most pointed critics–like writer and lawyer Chase Madar–have argued that Power does not forcefully critique U.S. policies that have encouraged and enabled massive crimes against humanity, preferring instead to talk about instances where the United States could have taken steps to intervene militarily in a given crisis and didn’t.

But in the case of Iraq, at a time when the themes of her celebrated book were very much a part of the debate over whether or not to go to war, it was hard to determine where Power stood.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hezbollah and the New Levant

By Ibrahim al-Amin | Al-Akhbar | June 10, 2013

A great number of Hezbollah’s opponents have transformed into sworn enemies bent on the group’s destruction. This could signal a confrontation, whose theater will be my small country or my bigger one.

Many victims could fall. And since the situation is extremely dangerous, I find myself, once again, compelled to attempt an explanation of Hezbollah’s current reality.

Those who want to act rationally will hopefully understand and listen to what I say, even if they decide to go ahead with the final confrontation.

Today, Hezbollah is a major regional power. It has been so for the past decade. With the liberation of 2000 and Israel’s defeat in Gaza, then the US defeat in Iraq, followed by the failure of the plan to control Lebanon after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, then the July 2006 war, Hezbollah went through – or was forced into – several trials and theaters. It expanded its expertise, increased its influence, and doubled its capacity.

Knowingly and unknowingly, Hezbollah became synonymous with the rejection of all things US and Europe, whether Arab or not.

In addition, Hezbollah has institutions comparable to those of states, not local organizations. It has a structure allowing it to function in all aspects of life. Notwithstanding its ability to succeed here or there, Hezbollah is now a security and military force, which represents a fulcrum in the axis against the West and its acolytes in the region.

With the expansion of its multifarious capacities, Hezbollah is now a source of power for all those who stand by it. This is what the Palestinians realized in their conflict with the Israeli occupation. It is what the Iraqi resistance against the US occupation found out. And now, it is what the Syrian army is experiencing against the armed groups.

In each experience, Hezbollah, which learned and absorbed a great deal of the Israeli enemy’s experience, knows how to recast a threat into an opportunity and a crisis into an opening for a new reality.

What is most important in those experiences is Hezbollah’s ability to produce the appropriate political discourse for each stage. Therefore it can introduce mechanisms allowing it to continue mobilizing a new generation for its forces. After a quarter of a century of military experience, its fighters are still in their early twenties.

Does anyone who wants a feud imagine what it means in real life, being able to maintain the ability to renew one’s human military capacity? And what if this went hand in hand with an enormous burgeoning at the level of military systems, security capabilities, and logistical capacity?

Today, Hezbollah is abhorred by a not-so-small number of Arabs and Muslims. Yet it does not worry about its popular legitimacy. It never linked its struggles or position with obtaining prior approval from those who everyone knows are not fit to hire a government employee, let alone make a strategic choice.

This issue helped the party avoid the kind of collapse that faces political forces based on such calculations. They wither as soon as the cover of this or that state is lifted.

However, when Hezbollah decided, openly and blatantly, to penetrate the heart of the battle against the armed groups in Syria, it did so with awareness of its new role. It is not an objective reaction or a tit-for-tat service provided to the Syrian regime after a quarter century of support.

The new role of Hezbollah is to lead a Levantine – if not Arab – current, aiming to redraw the political, economic, and social map of a country of 75 million Arabs. Hezbollah can be a lever, but cannot produce a complete transformation and never claimed so.

Common sense says that this mission seeks to regain the individual and collective rights of Arabs to resist the occupation of the US, Israel, or their agents in the Levant. The mission aims to revive the real national identity of all Arabs.

In the first phase, it requires the elimination of all narrow viewpoints, whether we call it “an independent national decision” or “my country first.” This means all of the people of the Levant, from Palestine and Jordan, to Lebanon and Syria, to Iraq, Turkey, and the Arabian Gulf.

As a consequence, I advise anyone who wants to get rid of Hezbollah to start acting as if the issue is no longer related to military and security groups, a neighborhood or two, or a border strip monitored by an international police force or the like.

I am speaking of a current with a mix of leftists and Syrian and Arab nationalists. It has a tremendous base of poor who aspire for full independence that protects their cultural and social diversity, before the political and the administrative. It is this diversity that will eliminate the thought of takfiris led by the Saudis and their relatives.

This is Hezbollah’s new address. Get to know it well – God forbid – before you begin fighting it.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Hezbollah and the New Levant

US security officials said NSA leaker, journalist should be ‘disappeared’ – report

RT | June 10, 2013

A US editor has alleged he overheard security officials saying that the NSA leaker and the Guardian columnist who broke his story should be “disappeared.” Leaker Edward Snowden said that American spies often prefer silencing targets over due process.

“In Dulles UAL lounge listening to 4 US intel officials saying loudly leaker & reporter on #NSA stuff should be disappeared recorded a bit,” the Atlantic’s Washington-based editor-at-large Steve Clemons tweeted on Sunday.

According to Clemons, four men sitting next to him at the airport “were loud. Almost bragging” while discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Clemens said he was unsure of the men’s identities or which agency they worked for, and told the Huffington Post that one of them was wearing “a white knit national counter-terrorism center shirt.” Clemons also recorded part of their conversation and snapped some photos, hoping that “people in that bz will know them.”

“But bad quality,” he noted about the quality of the photos. “Was a shock to me and wasn’t prepared,” he wrote on Twitter.

The source behind the revelation of the top-secret NSA surveillance program, dubbed one of the most significant intelligence leaks in US history, was uncovered late last week. Snowdon, a former CIA technical contractor and NSA consultant, had asked the Guardian to reveal his identity. He has fled to Hong Kong in a bid to escape retaliation by the US.

“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards,” Snowden told the Guardian.

When asked for his reaction to the alleged comments that reporter Glenn Greenwald and the 29-year-old leaker himself should be “disappeared,” Snowden told the newspaper: “Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that.’ Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.”

Snowdon earlier explained that he had sacrificed his life and $200,000-a-year career out of his desire to protect “basic liberties” in order to “send a message to government that people will not be intimidated.”

The whistleblower leaked top-secret documents that revealed the existence of the US National Security Agency’s extensive Internet spying program PRISM, which records digital communications and allows for real-time online surveillance of US citizens. PRISM apparently gives US intelligence agencies direct access to files stored on the servers of major Internet companies – including Google and Facebook – in order to identify and target potential terror suspects.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on US security officials said NSA leaker, journalist should be ‘disappeared’ – report

US Gulf allies crack down on Internet freedoms

RT | June 10, 2013

Gulf Arab allies of the US have come under fire for introducing a series of draconian measures that limit Internet freedoms. The measures restrict content on social media sites, making “offending” posts punishable by extensive jail sentences.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain have tightened controls on Internet freedoms recently, targeting social media and phone applications alike in their communications crackdown.

Across the Gulf, dozens of journalists and social media users have been arrested since the beginning of the year for being in violation of the uncompromising national laws.

Punishments include deportation and lengthy prison sentences for crimes such as making derogatory comments about the government “in bad faith,” and offending religion and family values. In Saudi Arabia last month, top cleric Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh warned citizens against using Twitter, stating that those who use social media sites “have lost this world and the afterlife.”

Saudi Arabia

After threatening to ban messaging applications like Skype and WhatsApp, Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator has chosen a new target: The web-based communication app Viber. The instant messaging application has been blocked since June 5.

“The Viber application has been suspended… and the [regulator] affirms it will take appropriate action against any other applications or services if they fail to comply with regulatory requirements and rules in force in the kingdom,” the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said in a statement.

Viber allows its users to text, call and send photos and video messages worldwide using a 3G or Wifi connection, and boasts over 200 million subscribers worldwide.

In March, the CITC warned mobile providers in the Kingdom that if they could not find ways to monitor encrypted messaging and VOIP applications, then they would be blocked, according to local media. The commission then issued a statement saying that “it would take suitable measures against these apps and services,” in its push for greater control over the Internet.

The Saudi government has also begun arresting Twitter users for posts to their accounts. Local media reports that the government is looking into ending anonymity for Twitter users in the country by making users register their identification documents.


Despite its status as a regional media hub, the emirate state is considering a new cybercrime law that would widen government control over news websites and online commentaries.

If passed, the law would enable the government to punish websites or social media users for violating “the social principles or values,” or for publishing “news, photos, audio or visual recordings related to the sanctity of the private and familial life of persons, even if they were true, or infringes on others by libel or slander via the Internet or other information technology means,” Qatar News agency reported.

United Arab Emirates

At the end of 2012, the UAE passed a sweeping new cybercrime law: Anyone found guilty of criticizing the country’s rulers or institutions online may be jailed or deported. The law attracted widespread opposition, with legal consultants warning it is broad enough to penalize anyone caught posting allegedly offensive comments against the state.

This law has been used to jail citizens for Twitter posts over the past few months. In May, the UAE appeals court sentenced Abdullah Al-Hadidi to 10 months in jail for tweeting details of the trial of his father.

He was arrested on March 22 on charges of disseminating information on Twitter “in bad faith.” The court ruled that he wrote false details of a public hearing that, along with his father, involved 93 other people accused of plotting to seize power in the Gulf Arab state.


The government has arrested dozens of activists and at least six journalists in 2013 in the constitutional emirate, often described as the most liberal country in the region.

In March, Twitter user Hamed Al-Khaledi was sentenced to two years in prison for allegedly insulting the ruler of the Gulf nation. Others have been accused of “threatening state security” or “offending religion.”

In April, a Kuwaiti court sentenced former parliamentarian and opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak to five years in prison for remarks deemed critical of the ruler of the state, which he made last year at a public rally.

Kuwait has been a member of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) since 1996, which protects the right to freedom of expression, including peaceful criticism of public officials.


The Bahraini government has been trying to suppress an ongoing uprising by introducing stricter penalties. In April, the government passed a law making it illegal to insult the Gulf state’s King Hamad bin Issa al Khalifa, or its national symbols.

Recently, Bahraini blogger and activist Ali Abduleman was granted asylum in the UK after two years in hiding. Adbuleman claims he was persecuted by the government “for exercising the right to express his opinions” on his website. The Bahraini government claims he was tried for “inciting and encouraging continuous violent attacks against police officers” and conspired to spread “false and inflammatory rumors.”

In May, 62-year-old Bahraini protester Abdulla Sayegh was sentenced to three months in prison for hanging a national flag from his truck during a 2011 rally. The same month, six Twitter users were jailed for allegedly offensive comments about the country’s ruler deemed to be ‘abusing freedom of expression.’ According to prosecutors, they posted comments that undermined “the values and traditions of Bahrain’s society towards the king.”

One of the best-known human rights abuse cases in Bahrain is that of activist Nabeel Rajab, who was sentenced to three years in jail in August 2012 on charges of ‘participating in an illegal assembly’ and ‘calling for a march without prior notification.’ He openly criticized the country’s regime on RT for Julian Assange’s show The World Tomorrow.

The country has witnessed mass protests led by the kingdom’s majority Shiites against the minority Sunni-led government for two years. The Shiite demonstrators call for a transfer to a democratic system, and complain of discrimination in jobs and government. Their loyalty is in turn questioned by the ruling Al Khalifa monarchy, which has been in power for decades.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US Gulf allies crack down on Internet freedoms