Aletho News


State Department’s Watergate? Office of high-profile whistleblower’s lawyer burglarized

RT | July 8, 2013

The Dallas law office representing a State Department whistleblower was broken into and robbed during the first weekend of July. Three computers were stolen and the firm’s file cabinets had been searched, but valuables were left untouched.

“It’s a crazy, strange and suspicious situation,” attorney Cary Schulman of the Schulman & Mathias law office told Foreign Policy Magazine’s The Cable.

The burglars left behind silver bars, video equipment and other valuables, causing Schulman to believe that they were looking to find information on the case of former State Department inspector general investigator Aurelia Fedenisn, who leaked government documents last month. Fedenisn provided CBS News with documents that accuse the State Department of covering up criminal investigations involving its diplomats and employees, including offenses such as illicit drug use, sexual solicitation of minors and prostitutes, and sexual harassment.

The documents state that US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman “was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.”

Schulman believes that the perpetrators of the burglary may have been politically motivated supporters of the Obama administration, but the suspects have not yet been identified.

“It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information,” Schulman told The Cable.

Last month, lawyers representing Fedenisn told The Cable that the State Department tried to silence her by threatening her and her family. Law enforcement officers allegedly camped in front of her house, harassed her children, and tried to make Fedenisn incriminate herself.

Schulman believes that officials are trying to force Fedenisn to sign papers admitting that she stole the documents – a crime that the former investigator denies.

The law office does not believe the State Department authorized a break-in, but suspects that supporters of the administration may be to blame.

“It wasn’t professional enough,” he said. “It is possible that an Obama or Hillary supporter feels that I am unfairly going after them. And the timing of this is right after several weeks of very public media attention so it seems to me most likely that the information sought is related to that case. I don’t know for sure and I want the police to do their work.”

Local Fox affiliate KDFW aired a surveillance video of the two suspected burglars, who can be seen walking out of the office carrying computers.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki claims the agency had no involvement in the break-in.

“Any allegation that the Department of State authorized someone to break into Mr. Schulman’s law firm is false and baseless,” she said.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on State Department’s Watergate? Office of high-profile whistleblower’s lawyer burglarized

Ten homes invaded, three arrested in night invasion of Talfit

International Solidarity Movement | July 8, 2013

Talfit, Occupied Palestine – In the early hours of Wednesday 3rd of July, the Israeli army conducted a large scale incursion into the northern West Bank village of Talfit, invading and trashing ten houses and arresting three men. The families of these prisoners have not heard from them in the five days since they have been in Israeli custody and their current whereabouts and legal status are unknown.

Abdallah's father with a picture of his imprisoned son (Photo by ISM)

Abdallah’s father with a picture of his imprisoned son (Photo by ISM)

In a sustained invasion from around 1am to 5am, around one hundred soldiers entered the village of Talfit in a number of jeeps, heavily armed and with police dogs. At least ten families, many with young children, were forced by the military to wait in the street for many hours whilst soldiers ransacked their homes.

Twenty-six year old Abdallah Mohammed Najeeb, who works as a nurse in a Nablus hospital, was one of the three men arrested during this night invasion. He was sleeping in his home at 1am when thirty soldiers came to the door, breaking it down with an air pump and flooding into the house with dogs. According to Abdallah’s father, the soldiers ordered all ten family members, including three children under the age of four, to stand on the road for several hours; during this time, some soldiers questioned the family, whilst others were inside overturning furniture and pulling the house apart. After some time, Abdallah was forced into the jeep, wearing just his sleeping clothes and no shoes. He was driven away – along with two other men who were arrested from homes nearby – and no one has heard from them since. No justification or explanation of their arrests was given.

The father of another family had his identity card and driving license confiscated by a military commander, who stated as he took them: “you have no ID”. These will cost at least 800 shekels to replace and in the meantime he will not be able to continue his work as a driver because now he does not have the required documents to legally do so. “The soldiers shouted at them and let the dogs come very near the children – they were so afraid” said the mother of the family about her two children aged three and five, who had been ordered outside for several hours.

Several doors of homes had sound grenades thrown at them and some were physically broken in. Of the many houses that were violently searched, destroying property and furniture, some thefts by the Israeli military were also reported; money, mobile phones and even a family photo album in one case. Computers in several houses were dismantled but not removed.

Israeli military night invasions are a regular occurrence in the villages and cities of the West Bank, even those, such as Talfit, that are in Area A, thus supposedly under full Palestinian civil and security control and the Israeli authorities have no jurisdiction. The village of Talfit currently has around twenty people being held in Israeli jails, some for many years. Some are arrested with no justification whilst others are political prisoners who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to resist occupation. Under the Israeli system, Palestinians are tried in military courts, or can be held indefinitely without charge under “administrative detention”.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Do You Know When President Obama is Lying?


By JEFF COHEN | CounterPunch | July 8, 2013

I was a young person when I first heard the quip: “How do you know when the President is lying? His lips are moving.” At the time, President Nixon was expanding the war in Vietnam to other countries and deploying the White House “plumbers” to commit crimes against antiwar leakers.

Forty years have passed. Sadly, these days, often when I see President Obama moving his lips, I assume he’s lying.

Like Nixon, our current president is prolonging an endless, borderless and counter-productive war (“on terror”) and waging a parallel war against “national security” leakers that makes the plumbers’ burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office look almost quaint.

The World War I vintage Espionage Act, originally used to imprison socialists for making antiwar speeches, has been used by the administration against whistleblowers with a vengeance unprecedented in history: eight leakers have been charged with Espionage under Obama, compared to three under all previous presidents. The Obama administration has prosecuted not a single CIA torturer, but has imprisoned a CIA officer who talked about torture with a journalist. National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was unable to get abuses fixed internally, now has a criminal record for communicating with a reporter years ago about sweeping domestic surveillance.

So there I was watching Obama’s lips move about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at a June 27 press conference. Saying he wouldn’t be “scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama added that he would not “start wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited.”

I didn’t believe a word of it.

Given Obama’s war on whistleblowers and journalists who utilize them, and given the Army’s abusive treatment of military whistleblower Bradley Manning (apparently aimed at getting him to implicate WikiLeaks), it’s inconceivable that Obama was truly blasé about Snowden. To deter future whistleblowers, Snowden would have to be caught and made an example of – and probably mistreated (like Manning, in hopes of getting him to turn against WikiLeaks and even journalist Glenn Greenwald).

As his lips were moving, Obama knew well that he would go to extreme lengths to prevent this articulate young man from securing asylum in some Latin American country, where he could continue to inform the world’s media about the Surveillance State that has blossomed alongside the Warfare State under the Bush and Obama administrations.

That Obama wasn’t truthful became clear when the U.S. campaign of “wheeling and dealing” led to possible asylum countries retreating in fear one after another (Vice President Biden was deployed to pressure Ecuador’s president by phone). And even clearer with last week’s outrageous, international law-breaking that effectively forced down the presidential plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

And if Obama eventually does scramble jets to force down a plane with Snowden on board, the commander-in-chief will be applauded for taking bold and decisive action by mainstream TV talking heads, “national security” experts and the opposition he seems most intent on pleasing: conservatives. Criticism from civil libertarian and peace voices (or unions and environmentalists, for that matter) has rarely daunted Obama.

The bipartisan consensus in support of our bloated Military/Surveillance State – which so undermines our society as a whole – is reflected in Congress and both the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as mainstream media.

When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly “progressive” MSNBC often seems closer to the “official network of the Obama White House” than anything resembling an independent channel.  With a few exceptions (especially Chris Hayes), MSNBC has usually reacted to expanded militarism and surveillance by downplaying the abuses or defending them.

Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.

But with Obama in power, a number of MSNBC talking heads have reacted to the Snowden disclosures like Fox News hosts did when they were in hysterical damage control mode for Bush – complete with ridiculously fact-free claims and national chauvinism that we’ve long come to expect from the “fair & balanced” channel.

As Snowden arrived in Russia from Hong Kong, MSNBC host Ed Schultz blustered on about Snowden as a “punk” and “coward.” Railing about the “security of the country” in tones Hannity would approve of, Schultz questioned Snowden’s patriotism and credibility, asking: “If the United States of America is doing something so egregiously wrong in its surveillance program, how come he’s the only one speaking up?

In O’Reilly-like blissful ignorance, Schultz seemed unaware of the three NSA whistleblowers who’d loudly spoken up way earlier than Snowden – and gathered for an illuminating USA Today interview a week before his tirade.

I watched one MSNBC host function as an auxiliary prosecutor in Obama’s Justice Department, going after Snowden – while trying to link WikiLeaks and journalist Glenn Greenwald to criminal flight.

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has been condemning Snowden by contrasting him with civil disobedients who “love their country” and submit to arrest – while Snowden just wants to “save his own skin.” She proclaimed: “This is different. This is dangerous to our nation.” Should we similarly dismiss Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the top secret Pentagon Papers to a dozen newspapers in 1971 by going on the lam from the FBI. Or Watergate’s “Deep Throat,” who saved his own skin by hiding his identity for 30 years after leaking secrets that helped crash the Nixon presidency?

In a bizarre monologue attacking Snowden (who’s risked plenty, in my view), Harris-Perry hailed those who engage in civil disobedience for being willing “to risk your own freedom, your own body in order to bring attention to something that needs to be known. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, attacked, smeared. Nelson Mandela went to prison for 27 years.” (My emphasis.)

Nelson Mandela? He wasn’t a civil disobedient who gave himself up. He was a fugitive, fleeing the apartheid police. He was on the lam domestically, like Snowden is now internationally. And some reports indicate that South African authorities were able to nab Mandela thanks to the U.S. CIA (one of the agencies now working to apprehend Snowden).

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has also disappointed. After doing a typically thorough presentation on the force-down of President’s Morales’ plane, she ended her report by expressing displeasure only that Washington had apparently gotten allies to go out on the limb “for nothing.” Her objection to the harassment seemed to be: it hadn’t succeeded. I didn’t hear opposition to the action had Snowden actually been on board and apprehended.

The Snowden/NSA story proves once again that – especially on so-called “national security” issues – we need strong, independent media not enmeshed with the corporate/political power structure and not allied with one of the two corporate parties.

We can’t count on MSNBC to heed the lesson taught by legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, after years reporting from Washington: “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”

Jeff Cohen was an MSNBC pundit and senior producer in 2002-3 until being terminated for political reasons, along with Phil Donahue, on the eve of the Iraq invasion. He is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He cofounded the online action group, which has petitioned for Snowden.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on How Do You Know When President Obama is Lying?

Israel to establish new settlement park in Jerusalem

Palestine Information center – 08/07/2013

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee has approved the establishment of a new settlement park at the expense of Walaja village’s land in southern Jerusalem, Hebrew media sources said.

The boundary of the park will run along the Apartheid Wall, which separates the villagers of Walaja from their farmland, according to Haaretz newspaper.

“The Refaim Valley Park” will cover more than 5,700 dunums, or 1,425 acres, ‏ at the southern exit of Jerusalem and will be part of the large urban park to surround Jerusalem on three sides. The Green Line runs through the base of the Refaim Valley, through which the park runs, the newspaper explained.

Haaretz stated that 1,200 dunums of land of the park are terraced farmlands belonging to the villagers of Walaja. Villagers say the main threat to the ancient culture of terrace agriculture comes from the Apartheid Wall under construction.

An Israeli official said, “changing the character of the area from Palestinian farmland into an Israeli recreational site fits in with the plan to create contiguity between the holy city and the settlements surrounding.”

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel to establish new settlement park in Jerusalem

“Syrian Opposition Won’t Attend Geneva II unless It Becomes Militarily Strong”

Al-Manar | July 8, 2013

The new head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition said he expected advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to reach militant mercenaries soon, strengthening their currently weak military position.

Ahmad Jarba, who has close links to Saudi Arabia, told Reuters in his first interview since being elected president of the coalition on Saturday that the opposition would not go to a proposed peace conference in Geneva sponsored by the United States and Russia unless its military position improves.

“Geneva in these circumstances is not possible. If we are going to go to Geneva we have to be strong on the ground, unlike the situation now, which is weak,” Jarba said on Sunday after returning from the northern Syrian province of Idlib, where he met commanders of insurgents’ brigades.

Asked if shoulder-fired weapons that could blunt President Bashar al-Assad’s massive advantage in armor and air power would reach the militant groups after Saudi Arabia took a lead role in supporting the opposition in recent weeks, Jarba said: “We are pushing in this direction.”

“I think the situation is better than before. I think these weapons will arrive in Syria soon,” he stated.

“We are working on getting advanced and medium-range weapons to the Free Syrian army and the liberated areas,” he added referring to the regions occupied by the armed opposition groups of foreign mercenaries fighting the Syrian government and people.

Jarba offered Assad’s forces a truce for the duration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Tuesday, to stop fighting in the city of Homs, where armed gangs face a ferocious ground and air onslaught by the Syrian army. There has been no indication that the government is ready to accept such a truce, probable to fears of more military support the opposition might receive from foreign actors.

Homs, 140 km (90 miles) north of Damascus, is situated at a strategic crossing linking the capital with army bases in coastal. The city also links Damascus and the coast with neighboring Lebanon.

“We are staring at a real humanitarian disaster in Homs. Assad, whose military machine was on the verge of defeat, has been propped up by Iran and its Hezbollah proxy,” Jarba said, denying all the massacres committed by his militant groups against the people of Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Hama, Latakia and Deir Ezzor.

“I will not rest until I procure the advanced weapons needed to hit back at Assad and his allies. … I give myself one month to achieve what I am intent on doing,” Jarba said in an implicit hint at his intend to arm the opposition groups during month of Ramadan and exploit any possible truce period.

Jarba was speaking in Istanbul after a meeting of the so-called Syrian National Coalition, which has little physical presence in Syria and little influence over al-Nusra Front militant brigades that play a major role in the fight against President Assad’s forces.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Comments Off on “Syrian Opposition Won’t Attend Geneva II unless It Becomes Militarily Strong”

Brazil expresses deep concerns over US spying activities

Press TV – July 7, 2013

Brazil has expressed serious concerns over a report which says the United States has been spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported on Sunday that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in the South American country.

The Globo report said that information released by US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals that the number of telephone and email messages logged by the NSA in the 10-year period was near to the 2.3 billion captured in the US.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota expressed “deep concern at the report that electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens are being the object of espionage by organs of American intelligence.”

“The Brazilian government has asked for clarifications” through the US Embassy in Brasilia and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, he said.

Patriota also said Brazil will ask the United Nations for measures “to impede abuses and protect the privacy” of Internet users, laying down rules for governments “to guarantee cybernetic security that protects the rights of citizens and preserves the sovereignty of all countries.”

The US Embassy in Brazil refused to comment over the issue.

But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the United States issued a statement saying, “The US government will respond through diplomatic channels to our partners and allies in the Americas … While we are not going to comment publicly on specific alleged intelligence activities, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted on Sunday that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”

Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

On June 9, Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video recorded interview published by The Guardian.

In the interview, he denounced what he described as systematic surveillance of innocent US citizens, saying his “sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.

Snowden has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23 when he travelled from Hong Kong to avoid US extradition.

He has already sought asylum in more than two dozen countries. Washington has asked these countries not to provide asylum to Snowden.

Three Latin American countries — Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela — have offered to grant asylum to Snowden.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Brazil expresses deep concerns over US spying activities

‘German government sells the privacy of German citizens to the US’

RT | July 08, 2013

The recent NSA spying scandal showed the German government behaves towards US like a puppet regime, involving all major political parties just before the September elections, German journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter told RT.

RT: Let’s just discuss it now with the journalist  Manuel Ochsenreiter who is joining us from Berlin. Mr. Ochsenreiter, to what extent do you think Germany may have cooperated with the NSA?

Manuel Ochsenreiter: Well, I think it’s a matter of fact that we know that the German authorities, the German mainstream politicians, the German government they all cooperate in a very intense way with US intelligence. I feel a little bit weird to use the term “cooperation” for this because when we look exactly at what is going on that they were spying on German citizens we have to say that the German government behaves towards the US government in this question more or less like a US puppet regime. No claim of sovereignty. No claim of independence. Of course, no claim of privacy, for the right to privacy of their own citizens. So, the German citizens are not at all protected by their own government. The German government sells the privacy of German citizens to the US government. And this is the really, really serious case, it’s a big scandal.

RT: Snowden claims top politicians were insulated in case of a scandal – yet now they seem to be outraged. What you are saying is that they might be doing this because of the public outrage. What’s got them more angry then, if that’s the case that they did not know, or that they did not know about the scale of the operations that they would too be spied on?

MO: To be honest I believe that they are angry that it became public, that now all the facts are open and the citizens can see what’s going on because I wouldn’t believe any word right now of a government politician. By the way, I’m also not fond of opposition politicians in the German parliament. We have to know that the government before the Merkel government was built by the GPD opposition. And they cooperated as well with the Americans as today’s government is doing. And when we listen very well to the words of mainstream politicians in Germany we hear right now a lot of justifications of this. Yes, let us say cooperation as they call it. They say it’s for our security, they say that this is a partnership, that this is a friendship but, of course, it’s not. It’s pure spying. And we have to watch a little bit back in the past we had in the 1990s the ECHELON project. It was also a USA spy project especially on Germany. And this spying project was especially for economic espionage. The German companies, the German economy was monitored by the US secret service. So, what we see here is that Germany is behaving more or less like, well, let me say like a state fully under control of the US without any independence. And the scandal’s not that US are doing that.  The real scandal’s  that the German politicians are not doing something  against it…

‘German politicians  should expel the US American military bases’

RT: Snowden did say that this went beyond agreements between the countries in terms of what they can share, what they can… in terms of sharing information. So, how is this affecting the politicians knowing that. They have been spied on far more than the agreement they had. So, yes, so, we say “yes” they did know about this. But to the extent that they have been spied on, I mean, this is going beyond spying on just their own citizens. It goes it is spying within politicians as well. How are they reacting to that? Is it going to create tension between the US and its allies now? Are they not seeing this? Are we just reading too much into something which is been happening anyway?

MO: We are knowing a very interesting time Germany because we have in September the elections. And I think the spying scandal is really really disturbing the election campaigns of all the mainstream parties because they all are involved in the scandal. So, what they are doing now is that they all try to give the impression that on the one side they knew about so-called cooperation but that they are completely surprised about how far it went. And to be honest I wouldn’t believe any word because we had already the experience in the past about how far the US governments go and how they treat their so-called allies or their so-called partners. So, if the German politicians… Let me finish with one sentence. If they are really so upset and so surprised as they act now then we have to see the consequences. And there are many consequences we could do with. For example, that the US ambassador is summoned to the Chancellor and is so criticized that there is diplomatic protest, that, for example, we make it to initiate that we have until today US barracks and US army troops on Germans soil. And we know that those military bases are also used for the NSA projects. So we invite the Americans to our country or our politicians invite them in our country to establish their military and intelligence bases there. So, if the German politicians want to do something it’s very easy to them just expel the US American military bases. Don’t make Germany any more do the military aircraft carried out in Europe of the US Americans. It would be easy but they will not do it, because they believe in this partnership which is not a partnership.

RT: So, how does the spying on the EU leaders sit, with the intelligence community cooperating. I mean, is that a sign that the US doesn’t trust its allies? Or it’s just keeping a close eye on its allies?

MO: I think this shows a lot about the attitude that the American government has towards the allies because we are never talking about the partnership we are talking about hegemonic politics. They want to be able to control a partnership or something else. Partnership is when two countries make an agreement with each other. But what we see here is that the US have gained control of those countries. I’m not sure that it will really bring mistrust in the EU bureaucracy because these people are used to that and I’m not sure if they are really upset about this because they know about this. But the interesting question is how long will the population be so tolerant to bear those problems. This is the interesting question.

RT: Just one more from you. In terms of destroying itself, I mean, we now have been focusing a lot on Snowden instead of what he’s actually been leaking. Do you think we are just kind of missing why politicians in the EU are trying to cover all of this up, by focusing on him rather then what actually Snowden keeps on releasing?

MO: Why? I don’t know. Perhaps, it might be interesting what Snowden has on his four laptops he took with him and I’m pretty much sure the information we got until now is not really 100% percent of what he has with him. I think you know he is in Moscow. Now, I think, the Russians are very interested in the content and the Germans again (I’m from Germany) my politicians, my government, they should be really interested in the content of the full-scale, of these espionage practices if they really want to know this. But I don’t see that right now. But I think in the near future we will get may be a lot of surprises how intense the spying is really.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli F-16 warplane crashes into sea

Press TV – July 8, 2013

An Israeli F-16 warplane has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea following an engine malfunction, the military says.

“An F-16 combat aircraft crashed earlier today in the sea after the engine malfunctioned,” an Israeli military spokesman said on Sunday.

The US-made F-16, which is Israel’s latest and most advanced warplane, crashed approximately 50 kilometers west of the Gaza Strip during a training flight.

The Israeli official said that the plane’s two crew members, the pilot and the navigator, parachuted into the sea and were rescued.

The official added that the Israeli military subsequently grounded “all its F-15 and F-16 combat aircraft until circumstances of the incident are reviewed.”

In October 2012, the Israeli military grounded its entire fleet of aircraft for a day in the wake of a number of near-miss incidents during training flights.

In 2010, an Israeli F-16I crashed, killing the two pilots.

The Israeli regime has purchased 102 F-16I warplanes from the United States to renovate its fleet.

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on Israeli F-16 warplane crashes into sea