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‘Everybody in Guantanamo has been tortured or abused’ – former detainee

RT | July 6, 2013

“I was subjected to the sounds of a woman screaming, I was led to believe that my wife was being tortured,” Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee has shared with RT.

The former inmate has shed light on some of the torturous detention techniques at Guantanamo.  They include, being cavity searched and given directions on how to commit suicide.

Despite being physically and psychologically tortured by the guards in the US prison, Begg says prisoners find it in themselves to forgive the soldiers.

RT: What was your own stay like at the prison?

Moazzam Begg: Most of my time was spent in solitary confinement which meant being in a a cell that measured 6 foot by 8 foot which was windowless at that time, I did not have access to any meaningful communication with my family, I had no knowledge whether I was ever going to get charged or not, which I was not. At that time no lawyers were allowed. So for two and a half years there was no concept of facing any legal proceedings. But now the situation has changed a lot.

RT: During that time would you claim that you were tortured or abused?

MB: I say that everybody who’s been held in Guantanamo has been tortured or abused in one way. When I was first taken into custody, it was the most torturous process I think that any person can imagine. It meant being stripped naked, it meant your body being searched, cavity searched as they called it. Having your hair shaved off, being punched and kicked and being spat upon.  On one occasion it was in background facility before I went to Guantanamo, I was subjected to the sounds of a woman screaming, I was led to believe that my wife was being tortured.  So everybody in a sense is being tortured and the worst sort of torture is the psychological of course sort in which you are in solitary confinement torture unable to know what you have done for which you’re paying the ultimate price which is your freedom.

RT: One prisoner claims that he and others have been sexually assaulted during searches. Have you ever witnessed anything like that?

MB: Certainly, every prisoner will say that he has had invasive cavity searches.  Across the board 779 men if you were to ask them, did this happen to them, they would say yes it happened to us at various junctures of detention. The particular prisoner, his name is Younous Chekkouri , he is from Morocco, is saying precisely this, but of course it is a violation of his dignity. I believe that the term rape has been used in a broader sense, meaning that objects have been inserted into a person which are extremely painful and degrading too.

RT: We’ve heard an ex-military official say the prison’s a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda. Would you agree?

MB: It is bizarre, President Obama has recently visited Robben Island and he actually was in a cell where Nelson Mandela was. He actually wrote in the visitor’s book that nothing could break the strength of the human spirit, not even shackles or chains. But he forgot to add – unless you happened to be in our shackles and chains and in our cells.  Of course, this is the sort of thing that will make people angry. But if you look at over 600 prisoners that have been released from Guantanamo, almost everybody has returned not to begin a life of terrorism or recidivism, as they call it, but actually stretch out their hands toward former Guantanamo soldiers, guards and interrogators. I had former Guantanamo guards coming to my house and meet the children that they prevented me from seeing when they were born. This is the sort of nature of the Guantanamo prisoners, we are extremely forgiving.

RT: It seems that hunger strikers in Guantanamo are prepared to die. Did you think you’d die there?

MB: I think many times that the administration there suggested to us, I was just once told that I had a thought about committing a suicide and they told me how I could commit suicide if I felt so down. Clearly the prisoners have moved along since that point, but clearly prisoners have died, nine people have died in Guantanamo. If the hunger strikes continue in the way that they are, then force-feeding is not the solution. The solution is to give them justice and that is the reason why they are doing it. They are not doing it because of all the abuses, those are peripheral, they are doing it because they have been held for almost 12 years now without charge or trial in any legal, normative system.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Controversial EU Data Protection Regulation May Be Negotiated In Secret In Breach Of Parliamentary Process

By Glyn Moody | TechDirt |  July 3, 2013

Today, the European Parliament held a three-hour long debate on PRISM, Tempora and what the EU response should be. Many wanted TAFTA/TTIP put on hold; others didn’t. But one theme cropped up again and again: the need for strong data protection laws that would offer at least some legal protection against massive and unregulated transfer of Europeans’ personal data to the US.

As Techdirt readers may recall, the EU’s Data Protection Regulation was already contentious even before Ed Snowden revealed the scale of US and UK spying on EU citizens. The new focus on passing it soon only intensifies the battle going on there between those who want to introduce meaningful constraints on what can be done with EU data, and those who seem happier to listen to lobbyists and allow personal information to flow across the Atlantic largely unchecked. But it looks like the politicians have come up with a way to avoid public debate on the matter, as Monica Horten at Iptegrity.com reports:

Secret trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers are being proposed as a way to get around the impasse of 3000+ amendments on the Data Protection Regulation.

As Horten explains:

trilogues are held in secret, behind closed doors, and the only people allowed in are the rapporteur [the lead MEP representing the European Parliament] and his shadows, the Commissioner, the Presidency, and selected advisers from each institution. The trilogue discussions are not made public.

As well as being reprehensible — if anything needed to be conducted in public, this did — it may be against the EU’s own rules:

trilogues cannot start before the responsible committee has given a mandate. That’s what’s a little bit odd here. The mandate can only be given when the committee votes in October.

But the Brussels rumour mill is suggesting that there could be a move to begin trilogues on the Data Protection Regulation before October, without waiting for the committee mandate.

That might solve the problem of avoiding high-profile arguments over what should be in the Regulation, but it would also place anything that comes out of these secret negotiations on a questionable footing:

it would be a breach of Parliamentary process, and especially egregious given that this law deals with fundamental rights.

In any event, the rapporteur does not have to agree to trilogues. It is an option.

In other words, nobody really knows what will happen here. Call it the Snowden Effect: anything relating even indirectly to his case seems to become more complex and unpredictable….Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Montana becomes First State to Require Search Warrants for Cellphone Location Tracking

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | July 5, 2013

California had its chance, but now Montana has become the first state in the U.S. to require that police obtain a search warrant before using a person’s cellphone records to track their whereabouts.

The new law mandates that law enforcement have probable cause before asking a judge for a warrant that permits the examination of metadata collected by telecommunications companies.

Police can ignore the law if the cellphone is reported stolen or if they are responding to an emergency call from the user.

Lawmakers in California adopted a similar law last year, but Democratic Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it, saying it did not “strike the right balance” between the needs of citizens and law enforcement.

Other states have also considered the legislation. In Maine, a location information privacy bill now awaits approval from the governor. Texas legislators rejected the idea, in spite of recently passing a bill that made its state the first in the nation to require a warrant for email surveillance. Massachusetts lawmakers plan to conduct a hearing on a measure that would require search warrants for location records as well as content of cellphone communications.

Federal legislation—the Geolocational Privacy & Surveillance Act (pdf)—was recently introduced in Congress, but neither the House nor the Senate has taken it seriously so far.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE EGYPTIAN COUP AND THE PEOPLE OF THE GAZA STRIP

By Damian Lataan | July 06, 2013

As much as the Egyptian street generally sympathise with the plight of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, it seems the new Egyptian regime are falling over themselves to make themselves look good in the eyes of the US in order to ensure that the promised $1.5 billion of aid comes there way despite the coup. Unfortunately, one element of their approach to appeasing the US is by demonstrating that they are mindful of Israel’s concerns with regard to security about the Gaza Strip. And one way of showing they mean business is to close down the Gaza Strip’s supply line tunnels between the Strip and Egypt.

Yesterday the Egyptian army began bulldozing the tunnels. The immediate effect in the Gaza was panic buying and huge price hikes that most Palestinians can ill afford to pay. The cost of living was high enough as it was but now, if the supplies remain cut off for some time, life will steadily become even more unbearable.

Just to add to the turmoil, Fatah, the organisation that governs the West Bank under Abbas, is now calling on its supporters in the Gaza to rise up against Hamas. Hamas, one might recall, were rejected by the West after squarely and fairly winning the January 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The blame for all this turmoil – not just in Egypt but throughout the entire Middle East – can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of the US and Israel who has contrived to foment as much friction as they possibly can between secularists and Islamists in the Arab world, and between Sunni and Shia in the world of Islam. On the odd occasion that ‘democracy’ does give the people the opportunity to make their choices, it is the West that rejects those choices and then encourages turmoil that attempts to replace the people’s choices.

In the end it’s just ordinary people who are already struggling to survive that suffer most. The West must leave these people alone to make their own choices and, once the choices have been made, should not be interfered with simply because the West thinks the people made choices the West disagrees with.

Gaza, at the very least, must be allowed to freely trade with whoever they please and not be punished en masse simply because they didn’t vote for the people the West wanted them to vote for.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

FreedumbAndDemocrazy

By Sharmine Narwani | Al-Akhbar | 2013-07-06

Freedom and democracy. How I have come to loathe this phrase. Two-lofty-words-and-a-conjunction bandied around by handmaidens of Empire: verbal grenades that can gut entire nations. When I hear “freedom and democracy” I instinctively look for cover – just as “Allahu Akbar” yelled loudly enough can now make Arabs and Muslims hit the ground fast.

“Freedom and democracy” is the battle cry for every single western regime-change operation I can remember. Operations that leave innocent civilians dead, cities destroyed – anarchy, corruption and criminality in their wake.

In the Middle East, these are dangerous words that have filtered into our vocabulary. People here, intoxicated with their faux revolutions, now spout this silly foreign phrase with the same shrill, mad-eyed, self-righteous conviction as do Americans before they bomb us into ‘freedom.’

But Arabs and Muslims should dig deep into their recent memory:

The first words uttered by you as you rose up against your US-backed dictators were “honor and dignity” – not “freedom and democracy.”  How did that fact get lost in the mayhem to follow?

And why on earth would this distinction make any difference?

For one, ‘freedom and democracy’ has always suggested western-style standards for governance and social liberties alien to the Mideast. We’re just not there yet – not on those terms anyway – and we’re not likely to be. Many regional states are just entering the nascent phase of what will undoubtedly be a rocky political evolutionary process – with each nation creating wholly indigenous models of governance, as unique as their individual cultures and histories. What if some towns would like their political process determined by an old-fashioned cockfight? What if a strongman is the only way to prevent the disintegration of a nation-state or the outbreak of ethnic and sectarian carnage? What if people genuinely don’t give a toss about gay and lesbian rights, preferring – imagine that – to find employment and feed their kids first? Women’s suffrage? Gender-integrated football stadiums? Childcare in the workplace? Worker’s rights? Important stuff, but… Feed. Child. First.

And then there’s that other unfortunate association: freedom and democracy brings with it a cornucopia of weapons, military bases, bombs hailing from skies heaving with US-made drones, financial assistance tied to all shades of silliness.

Freedom and democracy is extremely discerning. It seems to altogether bypass friendly dictatorships, only landing with uncanny accuracy on the heads of those opposed to Empire – civilians included.

And it is a foreign-imposed concept, presupposing, for instance, that elections are all-important. Except, even Empire doesn’t believe that. Why else dismiss Palestinian elections with a Hamas victor, or Iranian elections when the candidate doesn’t suit, or Russian parliamentary ones that ‘smack’ of fraud?

Yet Empire’s silence is deafening when a friendly monarch passes the mantle to his son, when a client state doesn’t care about popular legitimacy, when a military ally with big budgets for US-made weapons rejects elections outright.

Honor and dignity is none of those things. It doesn’t mean elections, it doesn’t mean individual rights. It is unselfish and broad – it understands what is right, what is important, what is a priority. It will wait a bit longer for jobs, stability, electricity, but it demands one immediate correction: the state must recognize and act upon popular will.

What’s the difference you still say?

Freedom-and-democracy embraces US-Israeli hegemony and GCC petrodollars. Honor-and-dignity does not.

Freedom-and-democracy thinks there are “processes” to remedy the colonization of Palestinian land. Honor-and-dignity knows there is only one: decolonization.

Freedom-and-democracy seeks to vilify, marginalize and criminalize groups, sects and nations in the Middle East. Honor-and-dignity seeks collaboration and harmonious relations, even among those marked by differences.

Freedom-and-democracy is governed by militarization – it seeks military bases, weaponizes its allies, draws red lines, makes threats, retaliates disproportionally, punishes with ease, targets the vulnerable. Honor-and-dignity believes in soft power, engagement and mediation with brothers.

Freedom-and-democracy has always supported dictatorship and brutality. Honor-and-dignity wants that to stop.

Freedom-and-democracy gives you a truckload of money in exchange for implementing a political, social and economic blueprint with the assistance of foreign advisors and NGOs. Honor-and-dignity is determined to learn from its own mistakes.

Freedom-and-democracy knows what’s best for you. Honor-and-dignity wants to decide for itself.

Freedom-and-democracy fears your independence – thinks you are “not ready” for it. Honor-and-dignity can’t stand still from wanting to taste it, lick it, embrace it, implement it.

Freedom-and-democracy violates your border, guns cocked. Honor-and-dignity knows it must shoot you dead or you will never learn.

Freedom-and-democracy thinks it is free and democratic. Honor-and-dignity notices an interesting trend: the more freedom-and-democracy talks about “freedom and democracy,” the more it legislates against freedoms and undermines democracy back home.

Real ‘freedom’ in the Middle East means honor and dignity. Real ‘democracy’ in the Middle East starts with honor and dignity. Arabs nailed it the first time around.

Honor-and-dignity doesn’t mean elections and governments that operate within the exact same geopolitical and economic parameters of yesterday. Honor-and-dignity means good governance in a just society under the rule of law based on consensus – homegrown, indigenous solutions that are unique to each country.

The new governments of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen don’t stand a chance – they operate within the old parameters that acknowledge western hegemony, GCC dominance in regional affairs, and the economics of disparity. They play with Israel and pretend Palestine does not exist. They vacillate between paralysis and aggression against the only Resistance this region has ever had. They thrive on yesterday’s divide-and-rule and have warped ideas about brotherhood. And they rig systems today to ensure their continued dominance tomorrow.

You cannot have honor and dignity with a dependent economy – it will hamper your independence. You cannot have honor and dignity with foreign military bases in your country – it will cripple your independence. You cannot have honor and dignity with a colonial state in your midst subverting all efforts at regional reconciliation, killing Arabs with impunity, wagging its tongue at your impotence – it will destroy your independence.

Please leave us be, FreedumbAndDemocrazy. If you don’t, Honor and Dignity will be forced to teach you the meaning of Consequence in a way it would rather not. Leave the Mideast to chart its own course, discover its own strengths and make its own mistakes. Do it now.

And take your conditional aid and military bases with you too.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentary writer and political analyst covering the Middle East. You can follow Sharmine on twitter @snarwani.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Postal Service photographing 160 billion letters annually

RT | July 05, 2013

As Washington officials continue to grapple with the fallout from the NSA scandal, it has been revealed that the US Postal Service photographs the outside of every piece of mail it processes each year – around 160 billion pieces annually.

At the request of law enforcement agencies, postal workers take pictures of the letters and packages before they are delivered, the New York Times reported.

The information is then stored for an indefinite period of time in the event a law enforcement official requests it. Each year, tens of thousands of pieces of mail are subjected to further scrutiny.

Reading the contents of a letter requires a court-ordered warrant, but in the case of ‘mail cover’ requests, law enforcement agencies submit a letter to the Postal Service, which “rarely denies a request.”

Although the ‘mail covers’ program has been around for nearly a century, its updated successor, the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking (MICT) program, was created in the aftermath of the anthrax attacks in late 2001 that killed five people, including two postal workers.

MICT requests are separated into two categories: those related to possible criminal activity and those that are meant to protect national security. Requests based on suspected criminal activity average 15,000 to 20,000 per year, unnamed law enforcement officials told the Times.

The number of requests for mail covers related to the fight against terrorism has not been made public.

Although law enforcement officials must have warrants to open private correspondence, former President George W. Bush signed off on a document in 2007 that gave the federal government the authority to open mail without warrants in “emergencies or in foreign intelligence cases.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigations revealed the existence of MICT last month in the course of an investigation over ricin-laced letters mailed to President Barack Obama and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

News of the US Postal Service’s surveillance program comes as Washington is facing heated criticism over a formerly covert surveillance program that gave the National Security Agency (NSA), in cooperation with nine of the world’s largest internet companies, sweeping powers to collect data on telephone calls and internet habits of billions of people both at home and abroad.

The information was made public after former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, blew the whistle on the activities.

Officials in the Obama administration, meanwhile, are attempting to justify the NSA’s surveillance programs, saying the electronic monitoring amounts to the same thing as examining the outside of a letter. At the very least, the program shows that traditional mail is held up to the same kind of scrutiny that the NSA has given to phone calls, e-mail and internet services.

“It’s a treasure trove of information,” James J. Wedick, a former FBI agent told The New York Times. “Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.”

But, he added: “It can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.”

Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and an author, called the program an invasion of privacy.

“Basically they are doing the same thing as the other programs, collecting the information on the outside of your mail, the metadata, if you will, of names, addresses, return addresses and postmark locations, which gives the government a pretty good map of your contacts, even if they aren’t reading the contents,” he told the US newspaper.

The surveillance requests on mail covers are granted for about 30 days, and can be extended for up to 120 days.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nevada cops sued over forced occupation of private homes

RT | July 5, 2013

It’s been a few hundred years since the Third Amendment was written to keep King George from quartering British troops in American homes, but a lawsuit just filed in Nevada suggests it’s as relevant as ever.

The framers of the Constitution ratified the Third Amendment to ensure citizens would never again have to accommodate soldiers, but a few centuries later it’s become more-or-less an antiquated law that’s rarely referenced in federal court. That changed recently when a family from Henderson, Nevada accused the local police department of constitutional violations after officers of the law allegedly took residence in two neighborhood homes.

According to a legal filing first obtained by Courthouse News Service, a handful of Henderson Police Department officers and the city itself are being sued for an array of charges — including Third Amendment violations — over an incident that mirrors the making of the American Revolution.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say police officers demanded they be allowed to occupy two homes owned by their clients on the city’s Eveningside Avenue in 2011 in order to conduct an investigation involving a neighbor’s residence. When the owners refused to comply with the request, they were reportedly arrested for obstruction and brought to jail.

Police were investigating an incident at 363 Eveningside Avenue that July when Officer Christopher Worley called up the occupant of a neighboring property, Anthony Mitchell, and said he’d need to use his house in order to gain a ‘tactical advantage’ over the neighbor’s residence. Mitchell reportedly made it clear that he did not want to get involved in the probe and told Worley he would not be able to offer assistance. According to the lawsuit, Officer David Cawthorn, Sgt. Michael Waller and Worley all then “conspired among themselves to force Anthony Mitchell out of his residence and to occupy his home for their own use.”

“It was determined to move to 367 Eveningside and attempt to contact Mitchell. If Mitchell answered the door he would be asked to leave. If he refused to leave he would be arrested for Obstructing a Police Officer. If Mitchell refused to answer the door, force entry would be made and Mitchell would be arrested,” the report determined.

Moments later, the officers “arrayed themselves in front of plaintiff Anthony Mitchell’s house and prepared to execute their plan,” after which they “loudly commanded” they be let inside. Seconds later, Mitchell’s door was knocked down with a metal battering ram and the police entered his home.

“As plaintiff Anthony Mitchell stood in shock, the officers aimed their weapons at Anthony Mitchell and shouted obscenities at him and ordered him to lie down on the floor,” the suit alleges.

As the police moved into the home, Mitchell was reportedly called an “asshole” by the cops, ordered to crawl on the floor and then shot several times with non-lethal ‘pepperball rounds’ from close range. He was then arrested for obstructing an officer while the cops combed through his house without permission, but not before they also opened fire at the plaintiff’s dog, prompting it to howl “in fear and pain.”

At the same time, officers approached Anthony’s parents down the block at 362 Eveningside and asked father Michael Mitchell if he’d accompany them back to a local ‘command center’ to assist with negotiating the surrender of the neighbor suspected of domestic violence. When he got there, though, he became concerned that the cops had tricked him into leaving so they could try to gain access to yet another home. Michael Mitchell then tried to head back home, but when he left the command center he was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of a cop car.

Attorney for the family say there was no reasonable grounds to detain Michael Mitchell, nor probable cause to suspect him of committing any crime. That didn’t keep officers from holding both him and his son Anthony for nine hours, however, before they were ultimately released after posting bond.

All criminal counts against the Mitchells were later dismissed with prejudice, but the family has now lobbed charges of their own. Their attorney is asking for a trial by jury to hear the case and ideally award his clients punitive damages for violations of the Third, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, assault and battery, conspiracy, defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, negligence and emotional distress.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Plan B in Egypt: Bring Back the Old Regime

Mahdi Darius NAZEMROAYA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 06.07.2013

The road that has been taken in Egypt is a dangerous one. A military coup has taken place in Egypt while millions of Egyptians have cheered it on with little thought about what is replacing the Muslim Brotherhood and the ramifications it will have for their society. Many people in cheering crowds have treated the Egyptian military’s coup like it was some sort of democratic act. Little do many of them remember who the generals of the Egyptian military work for. Those who are ideologically opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood have also cheered the military takeover without realizing that the military takeover ultimately serves imperialist behaviour. The cheering crowds have not considered the negative precedent that has been set.

Egypt was never cleansed of corrupt figures by the Muslim Brotherhood, which instead joined them. Key figures in Egypt, like Al-Azhar’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb (who was appointed by Mubarak), criticized the Muslim Brotherhood when Mubark was in power, then denounced Mubarak and supported the Muslim Brotherhood when it gained power, and then denounced the Muslim Brotherhood when the military removed it from power. The disgraced Muslim Brotherhood has actually been replaced by a far worse assembly. These figures, whatever they call themselves, have only served power and never democracy. The military’s replacements for the Muslim Brotherhood – be it the new interim president or the leaders of the military junta—were either working with or serving the Muslim Brotherhood and, even before them, Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

The Undemocratic Egyptian Full Circle

Unlike the protests, the military takeover in Egypt is a blow to democracy. Despite the incompetence and hypocrisy of the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership, it was democratically elected into power. While the rights of all citizens to demonstrate and protest should be protected and structured mechanisms should securely be put into place in all state systems for removing any unpopular government, democratically-elected governments should not be toppled by military coups. Unless a democratically-elected government is killing its own people arbitrarily and acting outside the law, there is no legitimate excuse for removing it from power by means of military force. There is nothing wrong with the act of protesting, but there is something wrong when a military coup is initiated by a corrupt military force that works in the services of Washington and Tel Aviv.

Things have come full circle in Cairo. The military oversight over the government in Cairo is exactly the position that Egypt’s corrupt military leaders wanted to have since the Egyptian elections in 2012 that brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party into power. Since then there has been a power struggle between the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Expecting to win the 2012 elections, at first the Egyptian military fielded one of its generals and a former Mubarak cabinet minister (and the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak), Ahmed Shafik, for the position of Egyptian president. If not a Mubarak loyalist per se, Shafik was a supporter of the old regime’s political establishment that gave him and the military privileged powers. When Ahmed Shafik lost there was a delay in recognizing Morsi as the president-elect, because the military was considering rejecting the election results and instead announcing a military coup.

The High Council of the Armed Forces, which led Egypt’s military, realized that a military coup after the 2012 elections would not fare too well with the Egyptian people and could lead to an all-out rebellion against the Egyptian military’s leadership. It was unlikely that many of the lower ranking soldiers and commissioned officers would have continued to follow the orders of the Egyptian military’s corrupt upper echelons if such a coup took place. Thus, plans for a coup were aborted. Egyptian military leaders instead decided to try subordinating Egypt’s civilian government by dissolving the Egyptian Parliament and imposing a constitution that they themselves wrote to guarantee military control. Their military constitution subordinated the president’s office and Egypt’s civilian government to military management. Morsi would wait and then reinstate the Egyptian Parliament in July 2012 and then nullify the military’s constitution that limited the powers of the presidency and civilian government after he worked with the US and Qatar to pacify Hamas. Next, Morsi would order Marshall Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian military, and General Anan, the second most power general in the Egyptian military, into resigning- neither one was a friend of democracy or justice.

Was Morsi’s Administration Really a Muslim Brotherhood Government?

Before it was ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood faced serious structural constraints in Egypt and it made many wrong decisions. Since its electoral victory there was an ongoing power struggle in Egypt and its Freedom and Justice Party clumsily attempted to consolidate its political control over Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to consolidate power meant that it has had to live with and work with a vast array of state institutions and bodies filled with its opponents, corrupt figures, and old regime loyalists. The Freedom and Justice Party tried to slowly purge the Egyptian state of Mubarak loyalists and old regime figures, but Morsi was forced to also work with them simultaneously. This made the foundations of his government even weaker.

The situation for the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 was actually similar to the one Hamas faced in 2006 after its electoral victories in the Palestinian elections. Just as Hamas was forced by the US and its allies to accept Fatah ministers in key positions in the Palestinian government that it formed, the Muslim Brotherhood was forced to do the same unless it wanted the state to collapse and to be internationally isolated. The main difference between the two situations is that the Muslim Brotherhood seemed all too eager to comply with the US and work with segments of the old regime that would not challenge it. Perhaps this happened because the Muslim Brotherhood feared a military takeover. Regardless of what the reasons were, the Muslim Brotherhood knowingly shared the table of governance with counter-revolutionaries and criminals.

In part, Morsi’s cabinet would offer a means of continuation to the old regime. Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, Morsi’s top diplomat, was a cabinet minister under Marshal Tantawi and served in key positions as Mubarak’s ambassador to the United States and Saudi Arabia. Morsi’s cabinet would only have a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party whereas the ministerial portfolios for the key positions of the Interior Ministry, Defence Ministry, and the Suez Canal Authority would be given to Mubarak appointees from Egypt’s military and police apparatus. Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, Mubarak’s head of Military Intelligence who has worked closely with the US and Israel, would be promoted as the head of the Egyptian military and as Egypt’s new defence minister by Morsi. It would ironically, but not surprisingly, be Al-Sisi that would order Morsi’s arrest and ouster after extensive consultations with his American counterpart, Charles Hagel, on July 3, 2013.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration: An Alliance of Convenience?

As a result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s collaboration with the US and Israel, large components of the protests in Egypt against Morsi were resoundingly anti-American and anti-Israeli. This has to do with the role that the Obama Administration has played in Egypt and the regional alliance it has formed with the Muslim Brotherhood. In part, it also has to do with the fact that Morsi’s opponents – even the ones that are collaborating with the US and Israel themselves – have capitalized on anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments by portraying Morsi as a US and Israeli puppet. In reality, both the United States and Muslim Brotherhood have tried to manipulate one another for their own gains. The Muslim Brotherhood has tried to use the Obama Administration to ascend to power whereas the Obama Administration has used the Muslim Brotherhood in America’s war against Syria and to slowly nudge the Hamas government in Gaza away from the orbit of Iran and its allies in the Resistance Bloc. Both wittingly and unwittingly, the Muslim Brotherhood in broader terms has, as an organization, helped the US, Israel, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms try to regionally align the chessboard in a sectarian project that seeks to get Sunnis and Shias to fight one another.

Because of the Freedom and Justice Party’s power struggle against the Egyptian military and the remnants of the old regime, the Muslim Brotherhood turned to the United States for support and broke all its promises. Some can describe this as making a deal with the “Devil.” At the level of foreign policy, the Muslim Brotherhood did not do the things it said it would. It did not end the Israeli siege on the people of Gaza, it did not cut ties with Israel, and it did not restore ties with the Iranians. Its cooperation with the US allowed Washington to play the different sides inside Egypt against one another and to hedge the Obama Administration’s bets.

The Muslim Brotherhood miscalculated in its political calculus. Morsi himself proved not only to be untrustworthy, but also foolish. Washington has always favoured the Egyptian military over the Muslim Brotherhood. Like most Arab militaries, the Egyptian military has been used as an internal police force that has oppressed and suppressed its own people. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military gives far greater guarantees about the protection of US interests in Egypt, Israel’s security, and US sway over the strategically and commercially important Suez Canal. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood had its own agenda and it seemed unlikely that it would continue to play a subordinate role to the United States and Washington was aware of this.

Revolution or Counter-Revolution?

Indeed a dangerous precedent has been set. The events in Egypt can be used in line with the same type of standard that allowed the Turkish military to subordinate democracy in Turkey for decades whenever it did not like a civilian government. The Egyptian military has taken the opportunity to suspend the constitution. It can now oversee the entire political process in Egypt, essentially with de facto veto powers. The military coup not only runs counter to the principles of democracy and is an undemocratic act, but it also marks a return to power by the old regime. Egypt’s old regime, it should be pointed out, has fundamentally always been a military regime controlled by a circle of generals and admirals that operate in collaboration with a few civilian figures in key sectors.

Things have really gone full circle in Egypt. The judiciary in Egypt is being aligned with the military or old regime again. Mubarak’s attorney-general, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who was removed from power in November 2012 has been reinstated. The Egyptian Parliament has been dissolved again by the leaders of the High Council of the Armed Forces. President Morsi and many members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been rounded up and arrested by the military and police as enemies of the peace.

Adli (Adly) Al-Mansour, the Mubarak appointed judge that President Morsi was legally forced to appoint as the head of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, has now been appointed interim president by the High Council of the Armed Forces. Al-Mansour is merely a civilian figure head for a military junta. It is also worth noting that the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, like much of the Mubarak appointees in the Egyptian judiciary, has collaborated with the Egyptian military against the Muslim Brotherhood and tried to dissolve the Egyptian Parliament.

Mohammed Al-Baradei (El-Baradei / ElBaradei), a former Egyptian diplomat and the former director-general of the politically manipulated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been offered the post of interim prime minister of Egypt by the military. He had returned to Egypt during the start of the so-called Arab Spring to run for office with the support of the International Crisis Group, which is an organization that is linked to US foreign policy interests and tied to the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Al-Baradei himself has been delighted every time that the Egyptian military has announced a coup; he supported a military takeover in 2011 and, to his benefit, he has supported it in 2013. Where he could not secure a position for himself through the ballot box, he has been offered a government position undemocratically through the military in 2013.

Many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters are emphasizing that an unfair media war was waged against them. The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, Al Jazeera’s Egyptian branch which has worked as a mouth piece for the Muslim Brotherhood, has been taken off the air by the Egyptian military. This, along with the ouster of Morsi, is a sign that Qatar’s regional interests are being rolled back too. It seems Saudi Arabia, which quickly congratulated Adli Al-Mansour, is delighted, which explains why the Saudi-supported Nour Party in Egypt betrayed the Muslim Brotherhood. Other media linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or supportive of it have also been censored and attacked. Much of the privately owned media in Egypt was already anti-Muslim Brotherhood. Like Gran Mufti Ahmed Al-Tayeb, many of these media outlets were supportive of Mubarak’s dictatorship when he was in power, but only changed their tune when he was out of power. The point, however, should not be lost that media censorship against pro-Muslim Brotherhood media outlets does not equate to democratic practice whatsoever.

The figures that have supported the military coup, in the name of democracy, are themselves no friends of democracy either. Many of these opportunists were Mubarak lackeys. For example, the so-called Egyptian opposition leader Amr Moussa was highly favoured by Hosni Mubarak and served as his foreign minister for many years. Not once did Moussa ever bother or dare to question Mubarak or his dictatorship, even when Moussa became the secretary-general of the morally bankrupt and useless Arab League.

The Egyptian Coma Will Backfire on the US Empire

Despite the media reports and commentaries, the Muslim Brotherhood was never fully in charge of Egypt or its government. It always had to share power with segments of the old regime or “Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s men.” Key players in different branches of government and state bodies from the old regime stayed in their places. Even President Morsi’s cabinet had members of the old regime. The discussions on Sharia law were predominately manipulated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s opponents primarily for outside consumption by predominantly non-Muslim countries and to rally Egypt’s Christians and socialist currents against Morsi. As for the economic problems that Egypt faced, they were the mixed result of the legacy of the old regime, the greed of Egypt’s elites and military leaders, the global economic crisis, and the predatory capitalism that the United States and European Union have impaired Egypt with. Those that blamed Morsi for Egypt’s economic problems and unemployment did so wrongly or opportunistically. His administration’s incompetence did not help the situation, but they did not create it either. Morsi was manning a sinking ship that had been economically ravaged in 2011 by foreign states and local and foreign lenders, speculators, investors, and corporations.

There was an undeniable constant effort to sabotage the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, but this does not excuse the incompetence and corruption of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their attempts at gaining international respectability by going to events such as the Clinton Global Initiative hosted by the Clinton Foundation have only helped their decline. Their hesitation at restoring ties with Iran and their antagonism towards Syria, Hezbollah, and their Palestinian allies only managed to reduce their list of friends and supporters. All too willingly the Muslim Brotherhood seemed to let itself be used by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to pacify Hamas in an attempt to de-link the Palestinians in Gaza from the Resistance Bloc. It continued the siege against Gaza and continued to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle daily supplies by the Palestinians. Perhaps it was afraid or had very little say in the matter, but it allowed Egypt’s military, security, and intelligence apparatuses to continue collaborating with Israel. Under the Muslim Brotherhood’s watch Palestinians were disappearing in Egypt and reappearing in Israeli prisons. Morsi’s government also abandoned the amnesty it had given to the Jamahiriya supporters from Libya that took refuge in Egypt.

The United States and Israel have always wanted Egypt to look inward in a pathetic state of paralysis. Washington has always tried to keep Egypt as a dependent state that would fall apart politically and economy without US assistance. It has allowed the situation in Egypt to degenerate as a means of neutralizing the Egyptians by keeping them divided and exhausted. The US, however, will be haunted by the coup against Morsi. Washington will dearly feel the repercussions of what has happened in Egypt. Morsi’s fall sends a negative message to all of America’s allies. Everyone in the Arab World, corrupt and just alike, is more aware than ever that an alliance with Washington or Tel Aviv will not protect them. Instead they are noticing that those that are aligned with the Iranians and the Russians are the ones that are standing.

An empire that cannot guarantee the security of its satraps is one that will eventually find many of its minions turning their backs on it or betraying it. Just as America’s regime change project in Syria is failing, its time in the Middle East is drawing to an end. Those who gambled on Washington’s success, like the Saudi royals, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, will find themselves on the losing side of the Middle East’s regional equation.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US missile defense test fails: Pentagon

The News | July 6, 2013

WASHINGTON: America’s missile defense system failed on Friday in a test over the Pacific, with an interceptor failing to hit an incoming ballistic missile, the Pentagon said.

The miss represented yet another setback for the costly ground-based interceptors, which have not had a successful test result since 2008.

The test’s objective was to have an interceptor, launched from Vandenberg air base in California, knock out a long-range ballistic missile fired from a US military test site at Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands.

But “an intercept was not achieved,” US Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner said in a brief statement.

“Program officials will conduct an extensive review to determine the cause or causes of any anomalies which may have prevented a successful intercept,” it said.

The anti-missile weapon has run into repeated technical problems, with tests delayed after two failures in 2010.

The United States has 30 of the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, at a cost of about $34 billion.

They are supposed to counter the potential threat posed by North Korea, which has tried to develop long-range ballistic missiles.

The Pentagon wants to deploy an additional 14 ground-based interceptors to bases in Alaska, at a cost of about $1 billion, also in response to what Washington deems a growing threat from North Korea.

Some lawmakers also are pushing to open a new missile defense site on the country’s East Coast, in case Iran or other adversaries obtain long-range missiles.

Critics of the missile defense program are sure to seize on the test result as further proof that the system faces insurmountable technical hurdles.

July 6, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment