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Abu Ghraib torture victims sued by ‘torturers’

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Press TV – August 15, 2013

American defense contractor CACI International has sued four former detainees in Abu Ghraib prison to compensate the legal expenses it paid over their dismissed lawsuit regarding the company’s role in torturing the plaintiffs in the notorious jail in Iraq.

The four Iraqi nationals had earlier filed a lawsuit in a District Court in Alexandria against the company accusing it of torturing, humiliating and dehumanizing them when they served time in the prison.

But in July, the judge dismissed the case, saying the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit because the incidents happened overseas.

The Arlington-based company has now demanded the plaintiffs pay over $15,000 for travel allowances, deposition transcripts and witness fees, Common Dreams reported.

The lawyers for former Abu Ghraib prisoners in a federal court filing rejected the request.

Our clients “have very limited financial means, even by non-US standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in this case,” according to the filing.

“At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult – and only recently arguable – grounds.”

“Given the wealth disparities between this multi-billion dollar entity and four torture victims, given what they went through, it’s surprising and appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their rights to sue in US courts,” said Baher Azny, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights and the attorney for the plaintiffs.

“Our case is based on reports and investigations by high-level US military investigators, recognizing CACI’s role in conspiracy to torture detainees,” Azny added

“Once we get past legal obstacles and present the case to a jury, we are hopeful justice will come to these Iraqi victims.”

The lawyers who are planning to appeal the case to the US Court of Appeals in fall argue that US law should apply to CACI International as it is an American-based company that operated in a US military prison.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Four journalists killed covering Egypt clashes

RT | August 15, 2013

Four journalists have been killed in violent clashes which swept Egypt on Wednesday, with a number of the press core suffering serious injuries in the clashes. At least 238 civilians died in total as security forces brutally broke up pro-Morsi rallies.

Egypt has been swept by horrific street violence, showers of gunfire, blazing fires and tear gas as relentless clashes have shaken cities in government attempts to break up the demonstrations.

Among the 238 protesters killed were children, including the 17-year old daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood official. Police stations were torched or stormed by pro-Morsi groups amid the ruthless government suppression.

The violence also took the lives of Sky News cameraman Mick Deane and Dubai-based XPRESS journalist Habeeba Abdelaziz. Both had been covering the pro-Morsi protests in Egypt’s capital which security forces began to ‘disperse’ earlier in the day.

Deane, 61, was shot as he was documenting the turmoil in Cairo. Despite receiving medical treatment for his injuries he died shortly afterwards, according to a statement from Sky.

“He was an astonishingly good cameraman, took some brilliant pictures,” said John Ryley, head of Sky News.
Habeeba Abdelaziz was a 26 year old Egyptian reporter from Dubai, who worked for XPRESS – a ‘sister’ publication to the country’s Gulf News.

“It’s hard to believe she’s gone. She was passionate about her work and had a promising career ahead,” XPRESS Deputy Editor Mazhar Farooqui told Gulf News, commenting that the entire team was in a state of shock.

Abdelaziz had been covering protests near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, which has been the site of one of the largest protests for over a month, and a subsequently heavy-handed crackdown by governmental security forces. They reclaimed the area late on Wednesday.

The third journalist killed was Egyptian Ahmed Abdel Gawad of Al Akhbar newspaper. He died while covering the clashes at Rabaah al-Adawiya. The Egyptian Press Syndicate, a journalist union, confirmed Gawad’s death, but did not provide any details.

The fourth reporter to have been confirmed killed is photojournalist Mosab El-Shami Rassd of the news website (RNN), an alternative pro-Islamist media network, Ahram online reports. The agency wrote that he “was killed by the hand of betrayal while covering the Rabaa massacre at the hands of those who executed the coup,” wrote the network on its Facebook page.

Reuters photojournalist Asmaa Waguih also suffered serious injuries after being shot in the leg during protests. Shortly afterwards, she was moved to the international medical center to receive treatment. The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a statement on the issue, saying that the group condemned the killing of Sky News cameraman Mick Deane, prior to hearing of the second death.

“We call on Egyptian authorities to issue clear orders to security forces to respect the right of journalists to work freely and safely while covering events in Cairo and the rest of the country,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.

“The killing of Mick Deane underscores the urgent need for such action and for all sides to show restraint and allow the media to do their job. The authorities must investigate all attacks on journalists and hold those responsible to account,” he said.

Other journalist were also treated for wounds. An AP photographer was hit in the back of the neck by two birdshot pellets, while Al Jazeera claims its cameraman Mohammed al-Zaki was shot in the arm. In addition, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says that Tarek Abbas — a reporter for local Al-Watan newspaper sustained gunshot wounds to his leg and eye; and photographer Ahmad Najjar was wounded in the arm.

Approximately a dozen other journalists were arrested or threatened as they tried to document the mayhem: Reuters’ Tom Finn tweeted his own arrest. Daily Beast reporter Mike Giglio also said on Twitter he was arrested alongside two photographers named Mahmoud Abou Zeid and Louis Jammes, stating they had been beaten too.

A state of emergency was declared on Wednesday after Egyptian security forces violently broke up the sit-in camps of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo. Health Ministry officials say that over 2000 were injured in the nationwide violence, alongside the 278 who were killed including policemen.

“The dead are both from police and civilians,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Hamdi Abdel Karim.

However, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad claimed that as many as 2,000 people had been killed and 10,000 injured in the police operation.

Security forces succeeded in gaining control of the protest camps by the end of the day after turning the capital into what journalists called “a war zone”. A state of emergency has been declared and curfew imposed in major cities including Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. The curfew is set to last for the next month – or until further notice.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Four journalists killed covering Egypt clashes

Syria accepts essential terms of chemical weapons probe – UN

RT | August 15, 2013

The Syrian government has accepted the ‘essential modalities’ under which the UN was ready to investigate whether chemical weapons had been used in the country, the body has announced, signalling that experts will shortly be traveling to Syria.

“The departure of the team is now imminent,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “As agreed with the Government of Syria, the team will remain in the country to conduct its activities, including on-site visits, for a period of up to 14 days, extendable upon mutual consent.”

The Secretary-General has expressed his appreciation to the Syrian government for accepting “the modalities essential for cooperation to ensure the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the Mission.”

The statement also reminded that the use of chemical weapons “by any side under any circumstances” would constitute an “outrageous crime.”

Two weeks ago the United Nations said that an agreement had been reached with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government as to the three locations that UN inspectors would be investigating, led by Swedish scientist, Ake Sellstrom.

One site to be visited by the UN team is Khan al-Assal in Aleppo, where the country’s government says rebels used chemical weapons in March. The two additional locations have yet to be confirmed.

Both Syria’s government and rebel forces have long been accusing each other of using chemical weapons, and both have denied it.

Russia welcomed the move, saying on its Twitter feed that “Damascus is ready to bring clarity into the situation”, and expressing hope that the move will “provide a springboard for a political solution of the ongoing crisis”.

Last month Russia submitted “a full set of documents” to the UN and its analysis of samples taken west of Aleppo. Russia’s findings indicated that it was rebels behind the Khan al-Assal incident, in which more than 30 people died.

The United States cast doubt on the Russian findings saying its own intelligence services believed Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons. However, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN commission’s inquiry into rights violations in Syria, said the evidence provided by the US did not meet standards as his commission was “very worried about the chain of custody of the substances.”

Back in March Damascus requested UN investigators to visit Khan al-Assal. The UN formed a mission then, but was reluctant to send it, demanding “unconditional and unfettered” access across the country, according to Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry rejected the UN’s effort to broaden the probe claiming that it was “at odds with the Syrian request” and that its “possible hidden intentions” could violate Syrian sovereignty.

In total, the UN received some 13 reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and the UN inspectors will be investigating the “allegations” of chemical weapons use, rather than determining who was responsible for the attacks.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Syria accepts essential terms of chemical weapons probe – UN

Fallouts of Iran Sanctions

By Ali Fathollah-Nejad | World Policy Blog | July 31, 2013

Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rohani has promised to ease the tensions surrounding the international relations of his country. In line with the will of the majority of Iranians, the issue of economic sanctions – weighing heavily on the latter’s day-to-day life – will be a key to that end.

In general, the purpose of sanctions is to force a political opponent to do what she would not do otherwise. In the case of the sanctions imposed on Iran – during the course of what is commonly but simplistically referred to as the “nuclear crisis” – the stated goal has been to force a reversal of Tehran’s nuclear calculus toward slowing down or even halting its nuclear program. This goal has clearly not been met. Instead this period has witnessed ever more crippling sanctions – a form of “structural violence” exerted upon an entire country and its people.

Economic sanctions are one of the most preferred instruments of Western foreign policy. The immediate Western reaction to the Syrian crisis is the most recent evidence of this. In the Iranian case, sanctions have been an integral part of the transatlantic strategy pursued against Tehran, code-named “coercive diplomacy” in Diplomatic Studies. There, sanctions are usually presented as a quasi-peaceful means and as such inherently part of a purely diplomatic approach geared towards avoiding a military confrontation. However, as the Iraqi case demonstrates, sanctions are the last step before military action. In other words, “smart sanctions” are likely to be succeeded by “smart bombs.”

Apart from this worst-case scenario, sanctions have not proven to facilitate the resolution of conflicts; on the contrary, they rather tend to harden the opposing fronts. Frequently, opposing sides view sanctions through fundamentally different prisms. In this case, while the West conceives of sanctions in a cost–benefit framework – the heavier the costs imposed on the targeted country by way of sanctions, the more willing the sanctioned state will be to offer concessions. Iran on its part sees them as a means of illegitimate pressure against which she ought to resist. This explains why in the last couple of years the escalation of sanctions was accompanied by that of the nuclear program. For example, in 2006 – before the Iran sanctions were elevated to an undoubtedly crippling dimension by the United States and the European Union – Iran had a thousand centrifuges; the number today is much more than tenfold. This reality of the nuclear dynamics in the wake of sanctions remains largely ignored in Western capitals.

Moreover, it should be stressed that policymakers in the West have so far devoted much more time and energy to identifying which new set of sanctions to impose rather than to committedly and creatively finding a diplomatic solution of the decade-old stalemate.

The popular rhetoric of sanctions incorrectly characterizes the nature of the socio-economic effects imposed on the target country. Contrary to what is commonly claimed, sanctions actually weaken the lower and middle classes, particularly affecting the most vulnerable in society – workers, women and the youth. As a result, the power gap between the state and society widens. All this, as a matter of fact, actually dampens the prospect of popular uprising. A person struggling for economic survival barely has the luxury of engaging as a citoyen in the struggle for democracy. This explains the firm renunciation of sanctions by Iran’s civil society – voices that the West has largely chosen to ignore.

In political-economic terms, sanctions have largely paralyzed Iran’s civilian economy while state and semi-state economic entities – especially those associated with the Revolutionary Guards – have been able to benefit inter alia by monopolizing imports of various goods via “black channels.” State resources have buoyed those companies that have access to them, leaving others to drown in the tide of rising costs. Sanctions have also prompted enormous growth in the volume of bilateral trade between Iran and China (still about $ 40 billion according to the Iran–China Chamber of Commerce and Industries which is closely related to the regime) – to the detriment of producers and jobs in Iran. The reality of sanctions is that they have cemented the politico-economic power configuration in Iran.

Sanctions produce far-reaching effects at the geopolitical and geo-economic levels. Corresponding with the implicit geopolitical rationale for sanctions – that if you cannot control or influence a country, you will resort to weakening it – these restrictions have indeed stunted Iran’s  development trajectory. This inflicted damage has not, however, produced the ultimate goal of reversing Iran’s nuclear and regional policies and has in fact damaged Western interests by boosting the clout of countries like China, Russia, and other regional states.

In the wake of the U.S.-pressured withdrawal of the Europeans from the Iranian market, Iran was virtually handed over to China on a silver plate – something Beijing is indeed quite appreciative of. China’s economic presence in Iran can be witnessed all across the board: from the construction of the Tehran Metro to the exploration of Persian Gulf oil and gas fields.

Iran’s technocrats – a prime victim of the sanctions – observe this development with great concern. Among other things, they have seen that a healthy competition between different foreign competitors is sorely missing, and that the lack of high-tech (formerly delivered by the West) has reduced the quality of domestic production. All of this has a negative impact (mid- and long-term) on Iran’s economic and technological development. If the situation remains unchanged, such damage can hardly be compensated. As another case in point, the sale of Iranian oil to large customers such as China or India has turned into barter – a de facto “junk for oil” program has emerged. In addition, during the past couple of years China has been given preferential rates by Iran for its oil imports.

Finally, some of Iran’s neighboring countries also benefit from the sanctions. Most significantly, due to the energy sanctions against Iran, Russia can safeguard its quasi-monopoly on Europe’s energy supply – a strategic interest held by Moscow which is unlikely to be reversed easily. To a much lesser degree but still noteworthy, Turkey – which has turned into the sole land trade corridor reaching Iran from the West – has seen its profits in its dealings with Iran risen sharply. Not surprisingly, its business press has been cheering the Iran sanctions as providing Ankara with a competitive trade advantage. Also off the radar, Qatar which in the Persian Gulf is sharing the world’s largest gas field with Iran, has been able to exploit South Pars much more rapidly than Iran given the latter’s lack of access to advanced technologies. This has resulted in a tremendous gap of revenues between the two countries of many several billion dollars.

Ultimately, the policy of sanctions is counter-productive on multiple levels, most sensitively on diplomatic and socio-economic grounds. The sanctions – whether called “crippling” or “targeted” – disproportionately affect the civilian population. “Smart sanctions” are very much an oxymoron as “smart bombs” which allegedly function in surgical precision. And like their military counterparts, “targeted sanctions” inflict extensive “collateral damage.”

Despite the political need to seriously reconsider sanctions as a tool for a judicious and solution-oriented foreign policy, there are many political and institutional barriers to overcome before the extremely dense web of Iran sanctions can be dissolved – which remains not only a huge political challenge but also a moral one. The first step in this direction will be the sober realization among policymakers that while sanctions do have effects, these are not the ones officially proclaimed or desired – neither in socio-economic terms nor in the sphere of Realpolitik when it comes to altering Tehran’s nuclear calculation. Leaving the sanctions against Iran in place advances the specter of an Iraqization of Iran – with all its adverse effects internally (destruction of society) as well as externally (war and destabilization of an already too fragile regional balance).

To pave the way for a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the West, Rohani has already proved his wisdom by his choice of foreign minister. Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s former ambassador to the UN, has already been labeled as “Tehran’s leading connoisseur of the U.S. political elite”. All this undoubtedly presents the most suited prerequisite towards the aim of alleviating the multi-level liability that sanctions constitute. But at the end, it is the responsibility of those who have imposed the sanctions to initiate the process of their removal. The ball is now in the West’s court. It would truly be the “height of irresponsibility” if one missed this opportunity offered by the Iranian people who have already paid dearly for an utterly miscalculated transatlantic “coercive diplomacy.”

*****

Ali Fathollah-Nejad is an Iranian-German political scientist educated at universities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. His website is at fathollah-nejad.com. 

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Comments Off on Fallouts of Iran Sanctions

A Guide to the Deceptions, Misinformation, and Word Games Officials Use to Mislead the Public About NSA Surveillance

By Trevor Timm | EFF | August 14, 2013

It’s been two months since President Barack Obama first said that he welcomes a debate about NSA surveillance, which he once again reiterated last week at his press conference. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to have a real debate about a subject when the administration constantly and intentionally misleads Americans about the NSA’s capabilities and supposed legal powers.

Infamously, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper was forced to apologize for lying to Congress about whether the government was collecting information on millions of Americans, but that was merely the tip of the administration’s iceberg of mendacity and misdirection. At this point, it seems nothing the government says about the NSA can be taken at face value.

NSA’s Bizarro Dictionary

The latest example comes from the New York Times last week, which reported that the NSA is “searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country.” Despite the fact that millions of people’s communications are collected in bulk, the NSA says that this isn’t  “bulk collection.” From the NYT story:

The senior intelligence official argued, however, that it would be inaccurate to portray the N.S.A. as engaging in “bulk collection” of the contents of communications. “ ‘Bulk collection’ is when we collect and retain for some period of time that lets us do retrospective analysis,” the official said. “In this case, we do not do that, so we do not consider this ‘bulk collection.’ ”

In other words, because the NSA does some sort of initial content searches of the bulk communications that they collect, perhaps using very fast computers, then only keep some unknown subset of that greater bulk for a later date, no “bulk collection” occurs. This is ridiculous. No matter how you slice it, the NSA is mass collecting and searching millions of American communications without a warrant.

Keep in mind that officials have previously said communications aren’t even “collected” when they are intercepted and stored in a database for long periods of time, much less “bulk collected.”  Orwell would be impressed.

We’ve long documented the NSA’s unbelievable definitions of ordinary words like “collect,” “surveillance,” and “communications,” publishing a whole page of them last year. The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer has added to the NSA’s bizarro dictionary, with words like “incidental,” “minimize” and even “no.”

The fact is, no one should have to read and parse a sentence a half-dozen times, plus have access to a secret government dictionary, in order to decipher its meaning. Yet, that’s apparently how the administration wants this debate to proceed.

Question Misdirection

When government officials can’t directly answer a question with a secret definition, officials will often answer a different question than they were asked. For example, if asked, “can you read Americans’ email without a warrant,” officials will answer: “we cannot target Americans’ email without a warrant.” As we explained last week, the NSA’s warped definition of word “target” is full of so many holes that it allows the NSA to reach into untold number of Americans’ emails, some which can be purely domestic.

“Under this Program” Dodge

Another tried and true technique in the NSA obfuscation playbook is to deny it does one invasive thing or another “under this program.” When it’s later revealed the NSA actually does do the spying it said it didn’t, officials can claim it was just part of another program not referred to in the initial answer.

This was the Bush administration’s strategy for the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”: The term “TSP” ended up being a meaningless label, created by administration officials after the much larger warrantless surveillance program was exposed by the New York Times in 2005. They used it to give the misleading impression that the NSA’s spying program was narrow and aimed only at intercepting the communications of terrorists. In fact, the larger program affected all Americans.

Now we’re likely seeing it as part of the telephone records collection debate when administration officials repeat over and over that they aren’t collecting location data “under this program.” Sen. Ron Wyden has strongly suggested this might not be the whole story.

From Downright False to Impossible to Understand

Some statements by government officials don’t seem to have any explanation.

The night before the New York Times story on “vast” warrantless searches of Americans’ communications came out, Obama told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, “We don’t have a domestic spying program.” Mr. President, what do you call collecting the phone records of all Americans and searching any email sent by an American that happens to cross the border? That sounds a lot like a domestic spying program.

Similarly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein,  chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee,  recently said this: “[T]he government cannot listen to an American’s telephone calls or read their emails without a court warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause.” Leaked documents and, honestly, the FISA Amendments Act itself show Feinstein’s statement simply isn’t true—if Americans are talking to a “target” their telephone calls are listened to and their emails can be read without a warrant (and that doesn’t even include the searching of Americans’ communications that are “about a target”). All of those searches are done without a court order, much less a warrant based on probable cause.

Previously, President Obama has called the inherently secret FISA court “transparent,” to the befuddlement of just about everyone. A court that has issued tens of thousands of secret orders, while creating a secret body of privacy and Fourth Amendment law, is not “transparent” by any measure.

Just last week, the president claimed he would appoint an “independent” board of “outside” observers to review the surveillance programs, only to put DNI Clapper—the same man who lied to Congress and the public about the scope of the program—in charge of picking the members. The White House has since backtracked, but the DNI still will report the group’s findings to the President.

These are not all of the misleading statements, merely just a few that stick out at the moment. If the president is serious about transparency, he can start by declassifying the dictionary his administration is using to debate, and start speaking straight to the American public. A one-sided presentation of the facts, without straightforward answers to the public’s questions, isn’t really a debate at all.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Guide to the Deceptions, Misinformation, and Word Games Officials Use to Mislead the Public About NSA Surveillance

“Plan B” From Outer Space: The Hype Over Iran Continues

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | August 10, 2013

The following is the 79th update to my comprehensive, ongoing compendium of constant predictions and prognostications regarding the supposed inevitability and imminence of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapon, hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past three decades.

As predicted, tautologies based upon the speculative allegation that Iran is “pursuing a parallel track to a nuclear capability through the production of plutonium” are rapidly proliferating, just in case a deal is struck between Iran and the United States that alleviates concerns over Iran’s enrichment of uranium.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, masteralarmist Amos Yadlin, former head of Israeli Military Intelligence and current director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, repeats the tired talking points that we’ve heard again and again by now.

In an article entitled, “Iran’s Plan B for the Bomb” – a headline swiped almost verbatim from the Telegraph‘s February 26 report called “Iran’s ‘Plan B’ for a Nuclear Bomb” about the same exact thing – Yadlin and a colleague writes that, according to the IAEA, “Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium to produce several nuclear bombs if it chooses to further enrich the fuel,” adding that “Western experts like Graham T. Allison Jr. and Olli Heinonen estimate that if Iran decided to develop a bomb today, it could do so within three to five months.”

In fact, a recent article by Graham Allison in The Atlantic demonstrates exactly the type of disinformation, conventional wisdom and faulty assumptions that passes for expert analysis in the Western debate over the Iranian nuclear program.

Yadlin also cites a recent ISIS study, which “estimates that at the current pace of installation, Iran could reduce its breakout time to just one month by the end of this year. The report also estimates that at that pace, by mid-2014 Iran could reduce the breakout time to less than two weeks.”

Using the recent overwrought reporting on Iran’s nascent Arak reactor, Yadlin explains, “Some American and European officials claim that Iran could produce weapons-grade plutonium next summer” which he says means “Iran is making progress on this alternative track.” Yadlin goes on:

A functioning nuclear reactor in Arak could eventually allow Iran to produce sufficient quantities of plutonium for nuclear bombs. Although Iran would need to build a reprocessing facility to separate the plutonium from the uranium in order to produce a bomb, that should not be the West’s primary concern. Western negotiators should instead demand that Iran shut down the Arak reactor.

Hilariously, Yadlin then proceeds to try and justify the cause for concern, writing without irony, “Of the three countries that have publicly crossed the nuclear threshold since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force in 1970, two — India and North Korea — did so via the plutonium track.”

Catch the operative word there? Publicly.

Everyone knows that Israel crossed that very same threshold decades before India, Pakistan or North Korea. Yadlin is also clever enough to note 1970 as the beginning of his timeline, since Israel already had a fully-functional, undeclared nuclear weapons program by the late 1960s – a program still unacknowledged and unmonitored.

Yadlin concludes by demanding the United States continue its useless policy of “sanctions and a credible military threat” and warns that the “moderate messages” emanating from the Iranian leadership since the June election of Hasan Rouhani “should not be allowed to camouflage Iran’s continuing progress toward a bomb.”

For Israeli officials past and present, when it comes to Iran the lies never stop.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Morality be damned in Canada’s support for Israel

By Yves Engler · August 14, 2013

The extremism of Canada’s support for Israel just keeps growing.

The latest example is the Conservative government in Ottawa helping convince theEuropean Union to list Hizballah’s military wing as a “terrorist” organization. After that decision was taken, Foreign Minister John Baird declared, “We are thrilled that the European Union unanimously has agreed to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization. We’ve been pushing for this.”

The National Post detailed Canada’s behind-the-scenes effort to get the EU to list Hizballah as a “terrorist” organization. Despite opposition from the Lebanese government, a foreign ministry official told the paper that this was “a clear priority that was set out by the minister.”

Canadian diplomats held bilateral talks with various European countries and also pushed for Hizballah to be listed at numerous multilateral meetings. At both a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime meeting and a UN conference on radicalization in Europe, Canadian officials pressed key EU officials to define Hizballah as a “terrorist” group (“Canada pushed EU to add Hezbollah to list of banned terrorist organizations, official says,” 24 July 2013).

Canadian law enforcement and security officials were also part of the lobbying effort. Reportedly, they’ve been feeding their European counterparts information about the supposed threat Hizballah poses to both Canada and Europe.

The Conservatives push to get the EU to list Hizballah was given a boost when six Israelis were killed in Bulgaria in July last year. Within hours of the bus bombing, Israel claimed Hizballah was responsible, yet more than a year later it’s still unclear exactly who committed this crime.

With a Canadian passport holder allegedly implicated in the bombing, Ottawa jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the investigation. Presumably, Canadian investigators shared information with their Bulgarian counterparts designed to steer them towards the conclusion that Hizballah was responsible.

In response to the EU listing its military wing as a terrorist group the Hizballah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said: “Why don’t you classify the state of Israel as a terror state? Why don’t you classify Israel’s military wing … as a terror organization if you recognize Israel is occupying Arab lands and refuses to implement international decisions for decades now? The entire world bares witness to the massacres perpetrated by Israel” (“Nasrallah to EU: Why not brand IDF as terror group?,” Ynet, 24 July).

Nasrallah raises an important point that Canadian foreign affairs professionals must be familiar with. It’s a simple fact that Israeli forces have killed far more civilians than the military wing of Hizballah.

The Israeli military and its allies in Lebanon have killed thousands of civilians. In fact, Hizballah was created in large part to fight the Israeli occupation of that country. Israel has conducted scores of targeted assassinations in many countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Certainly, Canadian foreign affairs officials must remember Gerald Bull. This Canadian engineer and designer of the Iraqi “supergun” was, according to CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre, shot dead by Israel’s secret service Mossad outside his residence inBelgium in 1990 (“Murdered by the Mossad?”, CBC The Fifth Estate, 12 February 1991).

And what about members of the current Israeli government who support illegal settlers and the killing of dozens of Palestinian civilians?

But apparently none of this “terrorism” bothers Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. The Conservatives are either ignorant or relish their hypocrisy.

Though they are allowed to support the Israeli military, Canadians can go to jail for sending money to a group operating a school or medical clinic in Lebanon “directly or indirectly” associated with Hizballah, which comprises an important part of the Lebanese governmental and social service structure.

Dozens of Canadian companies sell to the Israeli army and many groups with charitable status promote the Israeli military. The Canadian Jewish News is full of advertisements for such groups: “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base,” reads one ad. Another advertiser, the Libi Fund, runs educational projects for the Israeli military.

Established in 1971 the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada also provides financial and moral support to the Israeli military. A June 2009 Canadian Jewish Newsad promoting the group invited readers to “show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”

Prominent Toronto couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, who own or control more than two thirds of Chapters/Indigo/Coles bookstores, created the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. Reisman and Schwartz provide up to $3 million per year for post-military scholarships to individuals without family in Israel who join the Israeli army. After completing their military service these non-Israeli “lone soldiers” gain access to this scholarship money.

For the Israeli high command (Heseg’s board has included a number of generals and a former head of Mossad) “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to reassure Israelis weary of Israel’s behavior. Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Heseg has spurred a campaign to boycott Chapters/Indigo/Coles, which controls 70 percent of Canada’s retail book trade.

The Harper government is plowing full steam ahead with its support for Israel. Double standards and morality be damned.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Morality be damned in Canada’s support for Israel

Brazil says may go to UN over NSA espionage

Press TV – August 15, 2013

Brazil says it may go to the UN over a controversial US spying program on Brazilian citizens, rejecting Washington’s claims that the operation was purely aimed at fighting terrorism.

Addressing a congressional panel on Wednesday, Brazilian Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo said Brasilia was not satisfied with the explanations presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry during his Tuesday visit.

“Consequently, we will bring the case to international organizations, probably the United Nations,” he added.

Kerry’s visit was aimed at easing diplomatic tensions with the Latin American country.

Washington has defended the espionage program as a lawful measure aimed at countering terrorist attacks across the world.

However, Bernardo stressed that the operation also “involved industrial, trade and diplomatic espionage.”

Based on documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, Washington has tapped Brazilians’ telephone conversations and emails.

They also indicate that Washington maintains an intelligence base in Brasilia, part of a network of 16 such stations operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA) around the world to intercept foreign satellite transmissions.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Comments Off on Brazil says may go to UN over NSA espionage

Israeli government to recruit students as undercover agents on social media

RT | August 15, 2013

Israel is set to recruit students to work undercover in “covert units” at universities. The students will post messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on the Israeli government’s behalf – without identifying themselves as government agents.

The students participating in the project will be part of the public diplomacy arm of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s office. Leaders of the “covert units” will receive full scholarships in return for their online public diplomacy (hasbara).

The Prime Minister’s Office is looking to invest up to 3 million shekels ($840,000) to recruit, organize and fund the activities of hundreds of university students, Haaretz reported.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told the newspaper that the main subjects that the campus-based units will deal with are diplomatic- and security-related issues, efforts to combat boycotts of Israel, anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel. The students will focus on Israel’s democratic values, freedom of religion, pluralism and “other subjects that give expression to the Israeli government’s public diplomacy policy.”

A member of the Israeli Knesset, Dov Lipman, and the Prime Minister’s Office’s director for interactive media, Danny Seaman, revealed the new initiative during a meeting of the Knesset’s Diaspora Affairs Committee last month.

The Prime Minister’s Office is planning to have Israel’s student union recruit up to 550 students with knowledge of foreign languages from Israel’s seven universities. The student union is to publicize the project among tens of thousands of students, and is to provide computers and work space for a project headquarters at all university campuses.

“With social media, you can’t wait,” an unnamed official involved in the effort told the Jerusalem Post.

“We will get authoritative information out and make sure it goes viral,” the official said. “We won’t leave negative stories out there online without a response, and we will spread positive messages. What we are doing is revolutionary. We are putting public diplomacy in the hands of the public.”

The covert units will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion. While groups will take directions from staff at the Prime Minister’s Office, the government says that officially they will be politically independent.

“The idea requires that the state’s role not be highlighted and therefore it is necessary to insist on major involvement by the students themselves without any political link [or] affiliation,” Seaman said.

Leaders of covert units will receive full scholarships from the Prime Minister’s Office, which will fund a total of 2.78 million shekels ($780,000) in scholarships for the program in the upcoming academic year, Haaretz reported.

“The national public diplomacy unit in the PMO places an emphasis on social network activity,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “As part of this, a new pro-Israel public diplomacy infrastructure of students on Israeli campuses is being established that will assist in advancing and disseminating content on the social networks, particularly to international audiences.”

According to details provided to Israeli media, a government liaison officer for Israel advocacy will oversee the dissemination of “rapid responses” from Israeli officials to respond to news events, and coordinate with other government bodies that deal with public diplomacy, including the Israeli Defense Force.

The IDF has recently asserted a stronger, at times controversial presence on social media with mixed results. The new program may well seek to address perceived deficiencies in the way that Israel communicates with the world online.

Last year, during Israel’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense, an incursion launched into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks, the Palestinian group was widely seen as having won the war of words on online media.

Haaretz reported that in the fallout of the military operation, the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack with 170,000 mentions easily surpassed Israel’s own #IsraelUnderFire, with a comparably meager 25,000 mentions.

“The perception dominating the online discourse was that the IDF had embarked on an unjustified attack,” said Tomer Simon, an Israeli researcher who studied social networking activity during the conflict.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian concessions lead to nowhere but humiliation

By Dr. Daud Abdullah | MEMO | August 14, 2013

Palestinians of all political persuasions welcomed the release of 26 prisoners last night. They are the first of 104 pre-Oslo life prisoners due to be released over the next nine months as long as Israel is satisfied with the progress of its negotiations with the PLO/PA. Incredibly, these 104 prisoners now slated to be freed should have been released 20 years ago according to the terms of the Oslo Accords, so it is not such a big concession for Israel to be releasing them now.

Despite the overwhelming euphoria that marked the occasion, that joy remains incomplete because there are still an estimated 4,800 other Palestinians behind bars in Israel. An additional 1,267 Palestinians are held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. However, Palestinian prisoners are not just statistics. Israel regards criminal prisoners and political detainees alike; they are all criminals in its eyes. With a stronger Palestinian leadership capable of exercising real leverage at the negotiating table, there would be cause to be hopeful about this release. Sadly, this is not the case; the PA’s negotiators are dependent on their misplaced trust in American “impartiality” and Israeli “goodwill”. Decades of concessions have got the Palestinians nowhere.

While the Israelis continue to hold thousands of Palestinians in detention because they are “terrorists” with “blood on their hands”, not a single Israeli is held in a Palestinian jail despite the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by Israelis; presumably Israeli hands are regarded as clean.

The issue of the Palestinian prisoners is one that evokes an unquestioned national consensus. It affects every strata of society. Whether they were imprisoned before Oslo or after, they have all suffered. Fuad Al-Khouffash, the head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights based in Nablus, says that there are about 500 prisoners serving life sentences.

Over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained and imprisoned since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967. This represents almost 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

When asked to explain this abnormally high incidence of incarceration, Palestinians insist that they were only defending their land and freedom. Earlier this month, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed the importance of land in the equation when she told Israeli Radio that she prefers a prisoner release deal rather than the possibility of resuming peace talks based on the June 1967 borders. Freeing a few prisoners, it appears, is much easier than withdrawing from the occupied and colonised territories.

To the same degree, land is also the overarching issue for the Palestinians. While they all value the release of their loved ones from Israeli prisons, it must not be at any price. If it means giving up their land they would much rather remain behind bars. Nazareth-born Karim Younis, who has been on a life-sentence since 1983, is regarded by many prisoners as their dean. He wrote in a letter from Hadrim Prison this week: “We never thought in our wildest dreams or nightmares that the issue of the pre-Oslo prisoners would be turned into a blackmail card in the hands of the Israelis and a sword on the necks of the Palestinian negotiators. We reject that categorically and we prefer to remain in the graves of the living rather than be used as an instrument in the hands of our enemy to blackmail our leaders.”

Contrary to the recommendation of the internal intelligence agency Shabak, Israel’s ministerial council responsible for identifying those to be released refused to free 40 prisoners described as posing no threat to Israel’s security. They were substituted by others identified by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Israelis conceded this point allegedly to strengthen Abbas’s domestic position.

Every one of the prisoners has a history and a record of struggle. They are not mere numbers. Yet the new releases ignore these truths and condition their freedom on two grounds; that they do not pose a threat to the Israeli establishment and the degree to which their release will strengthen the hand of Mahmoud Abbas among his people. With Israeli settlement activity in accelerated mode the PA has little to justify its decision to return to the negotiating table. Apart from Abbas’s Fatah movement all of the other Palestinian political groups oppose the resumption of talks while Israel’s conquest and colonial-settlement of land continues.

After the well-deserved celebrations for the freed prisoners are over, Palestinians will realise that there is a still a heavy price to be paid. It is not just the resumption of negotiations with the Israelis but rather the continued occupation and settlement expansion on their land as well as the Judaisation of Jerusalem. Indeed, the mere fact that the negotiators are meeting in occupied Jerusalem is in itself recognition of Israel’s claim to the city.

With American mediation, the most the Palestinians can reasonably hope for is to emerge with a promise of financial support on condition that they continue to protect Israel’s colony-settlements in the West Bank. After all the sacrifices the prisoners have made over the years the best tribute the Palestinian Authority can make in their honour and for the sake of their national status is to withdraw from the negotiations. Abbas knows that they are leading to nowhere but humiliation.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Palestinian concessions lead to nowhere but humiliation

Greg Felton: Mideast Peace Talks Doomed to Failure

Interview by Kourosh Ziabari | Fars News Agency | August 14, 2013

Canadian columnist and political author Greg Felton believes that the new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will ultimately fail and lead to nowhere as the Israeli regime is continuing to insist on its illegitimate demands and also is not ready to engage in talks on equal footing.

Greg Felton is a journalist from Canada who has won several awards for investigative reporting. For seven years, he wrote a political column for the Arabic-English bi-weekly Canadian Arab News. In his recent book “The Host and the Parasite—How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America,” Felton gives an analysis on how agents of Israel came to control the US Middle East policy. He has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an interview with FNA, Greg Felton elaborated on his viewpoints regarding the future of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the dominance of the Israeli lobby over the Western mainstream media and the prospects of the latest round of peace talks between the representatives of the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority. What follows is the text of the interview.

Q: Greg; in one of your articles, you wrote about the under-representation of the pain of the Palestinian nation in the mainstream media as a result of the extensive dominance of the Israeli lobby over these media outlets. How has the Israeli lobby gained such an influence that prevents the press in the West from giving a fair and balanced coverage to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and presenting the Palestinian point of view, too?

A: This profoundly important question is the core of my book “The Host and the Parasite—How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America”, so a comprehensive, short answer is difficult. Essentially, the Lobby came to dominate the media because of three factors. First pro-Israeli Jews own the vast majority of print and electronic media, and similarly minded reporters and editors populate these media, so filtering out pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab, or Pro-Islamic news is virtually automatic.

Second, Zionist Jews are well represented in governments and the corporate plutocracy, and Israel has many trade relations with governments and corporations. Any reporter who wants access to influential people cannot risk giving respect to Palestine. Notice how repetitively inane most reporting is; it is safer to recycle official propaganda than to do real reporting.

Third, and most importantly, the cult of the Holocaust covers Israel in a cloak of faux legitimacy. There is, to all intents and purposes, no distinction in the media between Jews, Holocaust and Israel, so any accurate reporting on Palestine amounts to de facto criticism of Israel, and this invites the absurd slanders of “Holocaust denial” and “anti-Semitism.” The effect of all this intellectual terrorism and filtering is the active censorship of the Palestinian point of view.

Q: What’s your viewpoint regarding the UN General Assembly’s unanimous vote in 2012 to recognize the Palestine’s non-member observer status? How does the decision by the world countries in granting Palestine an interim membership to the UN contribute to the championing of the cause of the Palestinian nation and the alleviation of the pains of the subjugated people?

A: The vote was expected, but since the US, Canada and other pro-Israel mouthpieces actively sabotage the UN when it does useful work, the vote will have only marginal benefits for Palestine. Interestingly, the vote to admit Palestine was perfectly legal and consistent with UN procedures. In contrast, Israel’s membership was obtained illegally. In May 1947 it became the only state to be admitted conditionally According to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273, Israel’s membership was contingent upon making reparations to Arabs displaced in 1947-1948 and allowing them to return to their homes. Israel has never lived up to its terms of admission.

Q: The new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has started and is slated to last for 9 months. However, past experience shows that these talks lead to nowhere as the Israeli side is adamantly persisting on its illogical and expansionist demands, such as the continuation of illegal settlement constructions, the Judaization of the East Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and the siege of the Gaza Strip. So, why has the Palestinian authority been deceived into holding new talks with Israel once again?

A: The Palestinian Authority is not deceived. It knows the corrupt reality that allows it to exist. The PA holds “power” by virtue of Israel’s sufferance and Mahmoud Abbas is essentially in the pay of Israel. He and his cronies go through this moronic peace charade to give the illusion they are important and are the representatives of the Palestinians. In fact, all it does is giving diplomatic cover to Israel’s persistent expropriation of Palestine. The fact is, the only legitimate representatives of the Palestinians belong to the duly, and honestly elected Hamas government of Ismail Haniyeh. Therefore, all these “peace” talks are illegitimate, like Israel itself, and designed solely to accomplish nothing short of Palestine’s acquiescence in its own destruction. It is a sad fact of history that oppressed peoples are betrayed by their leaders.

Q: The United States is maintaining its political and economic sponsorship of Israel, and seems to be unwilling to drop its unconditional support. As far as this support continues, Israel will obdurately defy international law, kill the Palestinian civilians, imprison political activists who oppose the occupation and confiscate the rights of the people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. What’s the reason the United States supports Israel so blindly that it doesn’t really pay attention to Israel’s lawlessness and violations?

A: The US does not support Israel blindly for the simple reason that “the US” as a republic no longer exists. As I explain in “The Host and the Parasite”, the 1980 presidential election that put Ronald Reagan in the White House amounted to a quiet coup d’état. Among other things, it opened Congress and the Pentagon to unfettered Israeli occupation and domination. Over the next 20 years the US would surrender its independence as it accelerated its mutation into Isramerica. It makes no sense to debate if the US supports Israel when Israel owns the government.

Q: How do you think of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement and the success it has made in achieving such goals as preventing Israel from infringing upon the rights of the Palestinian people, impeding the construction of illegal settlements and convincing the Tel Aviv leaders to abide by their obligations under the international law with regard to the Palestinian refugees and the besieged people of the Gaza Strip?

A: The BDS movement has had considerable success because it has attacked Israel where it is most vulnerable—it’s image. Like any unjust society, Israel needs to project the illusion of being civilized, and therefore campaigns that explode this illusion are most effective. Just recently, the EU banned all trade in goods manufactured in Occupied Palestine, a significant blow. The BDS movement is hobbled by servile governments that (of course!) denounce it as “anti-Semitic” and conclude free-trade agreements with Israel, but the popular movement is one hope for the future, just as the Jewish War Veterans of World War One led the successful worldwide boycott against Nazi Germany.

Q: What do you think about the Israeli lobby’s growing influence in such countries as Canada? Here in Iran, many politicians and a great number of people firmly believe it was Israel that stimulated the Canadian government to cease its bilateral relations with Iran and close its embassy in Tehran. It’s clearly understandable that the Israeli lobby is trying to sabotage Iran’s relations with the outside world. Do you agree?

A: Israel has always had a disproportionate influence in Canada. In fact, Canadians like Lester Pearson and Justice Ivan Rand have been at the centre of major decisions that benefited Israel at the expense of Palestine. The difference with Stephen Harper is that he is a thoroughgoing fascist and a devoted Zionist. He is not Canada’s prime minister; he is Israel’s satrap in Ottawa, and nothing emanating from this government should be considered “Canadian.”

Q: An important question regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the way the Western mass media stigmatize and vilify the critics of the actions and policies of the Israeli regime as anti-Semites. Anti-Semitism is an excuse that is blindly used to silence the voices critical of Israel’s misconduct and illegal behavior. However, the global public opinion needs to draw a line between opposition to the apartheid policies of Israel as an illegitimate political entity, and anti-Semitism, as it’s defined by the historians. What do you think?

A: To begin, “anti-Semitism” does not exist—never has. It is an artificial term invented in 1873 by Wilhelm Marr, an anti-Jewish German journalist who needed to redefine Jews as an ethnic, not a religious, group to justify official discrimination; hence, he coined the term Semitismus, based on the linguistic term “Semitic.” By this linguistic corruption, Marr was able to attack not only Jews but the larger concept of Jewishness. The fact that historians and others use this term shows how thoroughly Jewish fascists have co-opted the racialist mentality of German fascists, and how completely we have accepted it. I see little need to be precious about condemning Israel, given that Jews are not the least bit circumspect about smearing Arabs and Iranians because of their religion. The best treatment of the nature of Jews, Jewishness and Zionism is Gilad Atzmon’s outstanding book “The Wandering Who.”

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment