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Palestinian teen ‘executed’ by Israeli forces in Jenin

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | September 17, 2013

Palestinian medical sources have reported that a Palestinian youth was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers invading his home in the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday. Dozens of residents have been injured during ensuing clashes, and one was kidnapped.

The Maan News Agency has reported that a large Israeli military force invaded that camp, during late night hours, and that the soldiers broke into and violently searched dozens of homes.

The invasion led to clashes with local youths who hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading forces.

Medical sources said that resident Islam Husam Toubasy, 19, was shot by rounds of live ammunition fired at him by the invasion soldiers who broke into his home after detonating its door.

His family told Maan that, immediately after invading their property, the soldiers headed to the rooftop where Islam sleeps in his room, and shot him in the foot before dragging him onto the ground, taking him out of his home while he was heavily bleeding.

His brother, Kamal, stated that after the soldiers shot and injured Islam, and dragged him out of the home, undercover soldiers of the Israeli army shot him again, the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported.

The army then moved him to the Al Khodeira hospital, inside the 1948 territories, where he died due to the massive bleeding he suffered as a result of his injury.

The family said that the soldiers forced them in one room, and that they saw Islam bleeding and unconscious before the soldiers took him away. The soldiers did not allow the family to help their son.

Army then withdrew from the camp, but re-invaded it, and the city of Jenin, in the morning, leading to clashes with dozens of local youths.

Eyewitnesses said that at least twenty armored Israeli military vehicles, and a military ambulance, invaded the area, leading to clashes with dozens of students heading to their school.

The soldiers fired more rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades at the residents leading to several injuries.

One of the wounded, Nael Ghazzawy, 13, was shot by a live round in his leg while standing at the balcony of his home.

Soldiers also kidnapped a resident identified as Mohammad Bassam Al-Fayed, 21, and took him to an unknown destination.

It is worth mentioning that, in 2006, undercover soldiers of the Israeli army, shot and killed Ahmad, the brother of Islam, and demolished his home. Their brother Sa’id, is a political prisoner held by Israel after being sentenced to 32 years imprisonment by a military court.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped at least nine Palestinians.

On Monday, Israeli soldiers kidnapped at least fifteen Palestinians, including a legislator, in different parts of the occupied West Bank.

The invasions are part of daily violations carried out by the army against the Palestinians and their property in different parts of occupied Palestine.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Oslo Accords: 20 years of a political charade

By Ludwig Watzal | Media With Conscience | September 15, 2013

Originally, I didn’t want to write anything at the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Oslo accords, because I consider it a waste of time. But since there are still journalists and politicians who can get something positive out of this charade, I would like to show them that their thinking is illusory. Fact is: Secret negotiations take place between the fourth-largest nuclear power in the world and a brutally colonized and oppressed people, which only has international law on its side. This fact requires no further comment when it comes to a possible outcome.

At the outset, it should be mentioned that the so-called “Geneva Initiative”, initiated by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, who claimed to have submitted the non plus ultra of a “peace plan”, was a political flop. This charade was funded by the Swiss Federal Government and presented to the public in Geneva on 1 December 2003. By the way, in that document, all sensitive political questions remained unanswered. These two ex-politicians and their supporters had the hubris to believe that the Sharon government would spare a thought about their proposals. Sharon simply ignored their “plan”. The entire “peace process” may be regarded as a political show for the Western public, so that the Israeli colonization of the occupied territories could proceed smoothly till the bitter end.

The euphoria that prevailed at the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn, has finally given way to more sober skepticism. For euphoria was already on 13 September 1993, those who bothered to read thoroughly the Accords had no reason for euphoria. These Accords did not mention the establishment of a “Palestinian state”, “sovereignty” or the “right to self-determination” of the Palestinian people. The Oslo Accords were designed so that the “Palestinian Authority” would serve as a “subcontractor” of the Israeli occupying power. Within narrowly defined limits, it “alone” could take within zone A “sovereign” decisions, and it should keep its own inhabitants in check, should they endanger Israel’s security.

The entire “peace process” may be regarded as a political show for the Western public, so that the Israeli colonization of the occupied territories could proceed smoothly till the bitter end.

This “peace process” has since been in a continuous loop, it has degenerated into a farce, which is currently re-listed as a drama. Under intense pressure from the U.S. the Israeli Justice Minister Tzipora “Tzipi” Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claim to “negotiate” in secret a peace settlement of the Middle East conflict. If the Palestinians don’t want to be subject to any Israeli diktat, these “negotiations” will fail, like all previous ones. Under the Ehud Olmert government Livni and Erekat negotiated inconclusively for several years about “peace”. The negotiations failed because Israel wanted the Palestinians to surrender. The demand for total capitulation was circumscribed by Erekat’s infamous reply to Livni: “The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism.” Do Erekat and the “Palestinian authority” might “convert” this time? Nor should it be forgotten that Livni stands in the tradition of revisionist Zionism, in addition, she is a member of a right-wing nationalist government, which alone has the say. Whatever Tzip Livni “concedes” in the negotiations, cannot be taken at face value by the Palestinian side.

With the publication of the “Palestine Papers”, the world was made aware of the policy of rejectionism by the Israeli side. It is not the Palestinians (Arabs) who are not “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, as Abba Eban once famously said, but it is the various Israeli governments, who torpedo every chance for peace. This attitude is impressively documented in the book “Israeli Rejectionism” by Zalman Amit and Daphna Levit. This denial represents the red thread of Israeli politics that runs all the way from David Ben-Gurion up to Benjamin Netanyahu.

The “peace process” that broke out with “Oslo” turned out to be the third “catastrophe” for the Palestinians in their painful history. This “peace process” has brought only disadvantages to ordinary Palestinians, but not for the political class that has financially benefited enormously from it, be it the Abbas administration or the Hamas Palestinians. The former are bankrolled by the West, the latter by some Arab despots. Both political classes live in clover and have made their pile, either in Jordan or Qatar. Their behavior is shameful, if one looks at the misery of their subjects under Israeli occupation. An improvement of their situation can only be achieved if the people rise up against these “representatives” or send them into exile in Jordan or Qatar.

This “peace process” has not only led to the tripling of the number of colonizers (settlers) in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, but the number of Palestinians killed has also tripled in the same period in comparison to the period 1967 to 1993. After Oslo, the occupied territories were covered with a road system, which in part is only open for Jewish Israelis. The destruction of Palestinian homes, intended to promote the Judaization of the occupied territories and Jerusalem, has reached unimaginable proportions. Israel has walled itself in by a fence, which in some parts is replaced by an eight-meter high wall, allegedly to protect its citizens against “Palestinian terrorism”. Adequately for the “peace process”, however, would be to give finally an oppressed and colonized people self-determination and freedom.

The West may still have to deal, journalistically and politically, with the “peace process” for another century until Israel has brought the whole of Palestine under its control. On land and road maps, it has already done so. Since the West doesn’t care any longer about violations to international law and human rights by Israel and since its patron, the United States of America, breaches international law and human rights on a regular basis, the only effective democratic weapon of the Palestinians – international law – has become worthless. In the next century, this Middle Eastern drama could be performed on the international stage under the slogan: “Once upon a time, there was a Palestine”, if there would not be a sign of hope that some people see in the movement for a one democratic state in Israel and Palestine.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The settlers

By Melanie Ward | September 12, 2013

“They consider us as the enemy. These are extreme settlers.” 

Hishem, a Palestinian, sits with us in the shade of an olive tree in front of his home in Wadi al Hussein, Hebron. His children are playing on the hill behind us, and directly behind them stands the vast Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba. There, a man – a settler – is standing on his balcony watching us.

Hishem's children play in the shadow of Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba

Hishem’s children play in the shadow of Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba

It is hard to know where to start when trying to explain the settlers of Hebron. They are at the heart of the problems here. One of my first encounters with them was on my second proper day of work, when I was walking down Shuhada Street and found myself on the wrong end of an egg thrown by a little settler boy of 7 or 8 years old. One of the local shopkeepers, Munir, has now nicknamed me ‘Umm Baydah’ or ‘Mother Egg’, for being the first of my group to be hit by one. He said “now you are a Palestinian”, and told me to start a tally count.

You might think, what kind of parents give their children things to throw at people walking down the street? But eggs are the least of it. Hishem’s extended family has been attacked, had their windows smashed, their homes set on fire and even been shot by their settler neighbours.

The settlers of Hebron are a religiously motivated group of Israeli Jews who occupy four areas, known as settlements, in the centre of H2 (Israel-controlled), Hebron, and two settlements in the Wadi where Hishem lives. They are known for their willingness to use violence, harassment and intimidation against those they perceive to be standing in the way of them achieving their goals, which are primarily to rid the city of Palestinians. The settlers never refer to Palestinians, always to Arabs because they deny that there was ever such a place as Palestine or such a people as the Palestinians. They say that the Palestinians should leave and go to one of “their own” Arab countries.

Graffiti on the outside wall of Cordoba School in H2 says “Gas the Arabs”

All settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. Every country in the world recognises this except Israel. From some of my stories so far, it might seem like there is one set of rules for Israelis and one for Palestinians. That’s because there actually is. In the West Bank the Israeli authorities enforce Israeli civil law on settlers, but military law on Palestinians.

The settlers believe in Eretz Israel – greater Israel – that Israel should permanently encompass the Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. These are the areas currently occupied and/ or controlled by the Israeli army. Some settlers believe that Israel’s borders should stretch even further afield than this into other countries. Their beliefs contradict all international understandings of where Israel’s borders should be.

These are the nuts and bolts of the daily battle being played out in H2. Everything is about who owns what, who can walk or drive where, even who can stand where. Hebron is the only city in the West Bank to have Israeli settlers living in its centre. The city is of religious significance because it is where Abraham and his sons and their wives lived, and are buried. It is the second holiest site for Jews, the fourth holiest site for Muslims, and is also of significance to Christians.

The settlers believe that they are doing God’s work in ridding Hebron of Palestinians, and dream of turning it into a Jewish city. But I don’t know of any God that would approve of their behaviour. Ironically, there tends to be most trouble on Friday nights and Saturdays – the Jewish Sabbath. One of my jobs is to be present whilst hundreds of settlers walk from Kiryat Arba through a Palestinian neighbourhood to pray at the synagogue on a Friday night. Dozens of extra soldiers are bussed in to protect them but some of the settlers carry their own rifles too.  I find it quite bizarre, and certainly one of the least holy sights I have ever seen.

Armed settlers flanked by Israeli Army go to pray at synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath

Armed settlers flanked by the Israeli army go to pray in Hebron on the Jewish Sabbath

On the Sabbath last week, a colleague from another international organisation saw a group of teenage settler girls spitting at a group of Palestinian girls on Shuhada Street. Again, not so holy. I met Nadar, Noocha and their family, who showed me their windows which were smashed by settlers. They live next to the synagogue in Hebron. A Palestinian I meet called Hani tells me he does not believe that the settlers follow the true Jewish faith.

Me with Nadar and Noocha's 4 year old daughter.  Their windows have been smashed by settlers

Me with Meyar, Nadar and Noocha’s 4 year old daughter. Their windows have been smashed by settlers

The settlers seem to be willing to do almost anything to achieve their aims. This short film clip, from Israeli human rights organisation BT’Selem, first shows one of the settlers explaining things for herself, and then some of her actions. At least watch the first 2 minutes if you can – I’m pretty sure you’ll be shocked.

You might have noticed the solider standing by whilst the settler abuses her neighbour and then the solider pushing the Palestinian woman, rather than dealing with the settler children attacking her home. Palestinians often report that soldiers do nothing whilst settlers are on the attack. I have already seen for myself the close relations between many settlers and soldiers, with settlers bringing food and drinks to soldiers throughout the day, and even settler children playing in military watch points whilst soldiers are on duty there.

In March this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said,

“settler violence continues to be perpetrated with impunity… Israel needs to hold perpetrators accountable.  While investigations are not opened into most incidents of settler violence, between 2005 and 2011, only 9 per cent of the investigations opened resulted in an indictment.”

Hani, Reema and their family live just past the caged house in that BT’Selem film clip, by the settlement of Tel Rumeida. They have to walk past the settlement and through the yard of an Israeli army base to get to their house. They can’t take a car to their house. They have been harassed and attacked by their neighbours many times. The settlers have even tried to burn down their home, and have come in the night to smash it up. About a month ago, they tried to burn down the family’s 300 olive trees for the ninth time, scorching the land, and making some of it impossible to harvest this year. Burning and chopping down olive trees is a common tactic of settlers across the West Bank.

Hani and Reema's scorched olive trees, burnt by settlers a few weeks ago for the ninth time

Hani and Reema’s scorched olive trees, burnt by settlers a few weeks ago for the ninth time

“Aren’t you frightened?” I ask Reema and she replies, “At the start we were frightened but now we are used to it.”

One of our duties on the Sabbath is to spend time sitting on the roof of the Abu Shamsiya family’s home in H2. The flat roof of the family’s home backs onto Shuhada Street, and has a small Israeli army watchtower on it which does not appear to be used at present. From the roof you can look out across the city of Hebron, and down onto the family’s terrace below. The terrace has a cage around it to try and stop the family being struck by objects thrown by settlers on the roof. In the past, these objects have included eggs (they seem to be a favourite) and stones, and settlers have even urinated on them.

The Abu Shamsiya family's terrace from their roof, where settlers come and attack them

The Abu Shamsiya family’s terrace from their roof, where settlers come and attack them

So the reason for our presence is to deter settlers from coming onto the roof. The first time I sat there, we prevented three settler groups from coming onto the roof.  A teenage boy in one of them had a rifle slung across his person. On Tuesday, we were unable to prevent one settler coming onto the family’s roof when we were there. He pointed at the view of the Palestinian city, “This is Israel” he said. ”It’s Palestine” I said. “Lo” (no) he said. Another group that my colleague saw gestured at the view of the Palestinian city and said “All of this will be Jewish”.

Virtually every Palestinian home in H2 has a kind of cage across the windows to try to guard against settler attacks.  It is hard to get used to seeing children waving and shouting hello to us from behind these cages.

Children in H2 wave to us from behind the cage placed there to protect them from settlers

Children in H2 wave to us from behind the cage placed there to protect them from settlers

On Monday last week when I was doing the lunchtime school run (accompanying Palestinian children to Cordoba School down Shuhada Street) about 150 settlers, most of them teenagers, arrived apparently on some kind of tour. Remember – they can go anywhere in H2 but the Palestinians are very restricted as to where they can even walk. The settlers were congregating at the bottom of the school steps. When it came time for the kids to go home from school, many of them were scared to go down the stairs because of the settlers. I walked up and down the steps with them, to try to make them feel more secure, and it seemed to give them confidence to be able to get home. Although the truth is that I had no way of knowing whether the settlers would cause trouble. Luckily, the worst they did was to stare at us all, and shout and throw things at the feet of my male colleague who arrived to help me.

Not all Israeli settlers are religious extremists like those in Hebron. Some, who live in settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem for example, are economically motivated. They are attracted by the housing subsidies that the Israeli government provides in many settlements.

Wherever they are located though, there is no doubt that the settlers and settlement expansion, are a major barrier to peace between Israel and Palestine.

Hani and his son have both spent time in prison for retaliating when settlers have attacked them. But Hani tells me that he now believes in non-violent resistance because it gets more positive results. He says it helps him to separate hatred for a policy from hatred for a people, and believes that it can help those in other countries, especially Jews, to see what is happening here.

Non-violent resistance at the Youth Against Settlements project: "They can pull out out trees but we will always plant more"

Non-violent resistance at the Youth Against Settlements project: “They can pull out our trees but we will always plant more”

You might ask, how do the Palestinians put up with this? Why don’t they give up?  How can they carry on living where they do, facing such violence and harassment on a daily basis? I asked a few of the people I met whether they would ever think of leaving,

“At the end of the day, it’s our right to our land,” says Hani.

“We are here, and we will stay here.  This is our land.” says Hishem.

“We will stay here in a tent if we have to, we will not leave,” says another.

Many of them could not afford to go elsewhere, and where would they go anyway? Over 60% of the West Bank is directly under Israeli control. And many of them, like Hishem’s family, have already been refugees once from the time that the State of Israel was created. And why should they leave? As international law confirms, this IS their land.

But there is another reason, one which is about the Palestinians as a people.

The truth is that they must not leave if the dream of having a Palestinian state is ever to be realised. The settlers and the soldiers must not succeed in cleansing Hebron – or anywhere else in the West Bank – of Palestinians.

I hope that my presence here, and that of my EAPPI colleagues, somehow helps to make it a tiny bit easier for them to stay. One man tells me, “When settlers see people like you they are less likely to cause problems, especially on a Friday and Saturday.” And Hani says, “Before, we were alone as Palestinians with the Israelis but because of the internationals – people like you – we have witnesses to the violence of the settlers. This makes things a bit better for us.”

Just knowing that makes being here worthwhile.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 5 Comments

Sinai: Counter-Terrorism or Collective Punishment?

By Ismail Iskandarani | Al-Akhbar | September 16, 2013

On Saturday, September 7, the Egyptian army began a large-scale military campaign in the villages located south of the Sinai town of Sheikh Zoweid. Al-Akhbar toured the devastated area and found consistent reports of the Egyptian army indiscriminately targeting of civilians and their property.

Sinai – On Saturday morning, the Egyptian army took control of the central telecom building in al-Arish and cut off all landlines, mobile phones, and Internet communications in the governorate of North Sinai.

The telecom outage lasted nearly 10 hours, following which the residents of the governorate learned that the army had initiated a large-scale military operation in the border region, but could not obtain any further details. When communications were restored in the evening, a flood of phone calls ensued, complaining about the aftermath of the military operation.

A spokesperson for the Egyptian army took to Facebook to announce the results of the first day of the military campaign, writing that 107 homes were burned down along with a number of vehicles used by the terrorists in their operations. But the residents, while agreeing on some of these details, had a different version of events.

The operation lasted three days. During the communication blackout, tanks and heavy hardware were moved in under cover from Apache combat helicopters, while no media or relief personnel were allowed to enter the area of operations.

Al-Akhbar only learned that the operations had ceased once it arrived in Sheikh Zoweid on Tuesday morning, September 10. Communications had returned, and the residents had not seen or heard the choppers that day. In a quick tour to examine the effects of the military campaign on the villages of al-Zuhair and al-Mokataa, two of several villages affected by the fighting, the extent of the devastation inflicted on civilian homes and vehicles soon became clear.

Al-Akhbar learned from its field guide that Hajj Salem Abu Draa was killed. Salem is a cousin of Sinai journalist Ahmad Abu Draa, who is being detained by the military. He was killed as he left the mosque following the dawn prayer, and his children could not reach his body until later that afternoon. We also learned that Umm Sulman Abu Draa, an elderly woman, was killed after a bullet pierced a wall in her home and settled in her chest.

In al-Mokataa, the Abu Munir mosque was turned to rubble after being hit by missiles, most likely from an Egyptian army Apache. Some locals explained why the mosque would be targeted, saying it was a meeting point for some militant groups. But no one could say for sure whether any militants had actually been holed up in the mosque during the operations.

Dozens of residents gave their testimonies to Al-Akhbar about the indiscriminate collective punishment, the attacks on bystanders and civilians inside homes, and the burning of civilian cars for no apparent reason. One of the residents claimed the army stopped and searched him before sending him away and burning his car.

Not far from the charred remains of the car, a number of adjacent houses met a similar fate. Residents were forcibly evicted and their homes were searched. When the army did not find any contraband inside, they used cooking gas bottles to burn furniture and appliances, and also burned any cars parked in their yards. A taxi driver whose car was burned said he begged the army to arrest him and leave the car to his children to be able to make a living and finish payments on the car, but that the army burned it anyway, as he watched.

Disaster also stuck the extremely impoverished residents of the area’s shanties. People were driven out before their shelters were set on fire although no contraband was found inside. Even the owners of expensive homes were not spared from aerial bombardment, destruction of property, and looting, despite the improbability that their lavish lifestyles were linked to radical Islamists.

According to consistent eyewitness accounts in the two villages, homes were looted of clothes, food, and even women’s jewelry. Olive trees were uprooted and cattle were slain. The army uprooted large areas of olive groves south of al-Arish, supposedly to better expose the area and secure it against infiltration. But these measures have resulted in losses to the tunes of millions of Egyptian pounds, with many families losing their only source of livelihood.

Impact on the Armed Groups

Official army statements claimed that the military operations succeeded in eliminating dens of terrorism and criminal hideouts. However, these claims were shattered on Wednesday morning, when the military intelligence building in Rafah was destroyed in a double suicide attack. On Thursday, a takfiri group called Jund al-Islam claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group’s statement helped clarify the confusion that prevailed over whether Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a Salafi jihadi group, was otherwise responsible for the Rafah bombing, as the latter had issued another statement on Wednesday announcing figures on the army’s casualties during the three-day operation.

Ansar Bait al-Maqdis’ statement was enclosed with a picture of a military Land Cruiser that the group claimed it had destroyed, in addition to a Hummer and three armored vehicles using explosive devices. The statement also confirmed that eight soldiers were killed, including six from Special Forces.

Accusing the Egyptian army of treason and collaboration with Israel is nothing new in the statements of Salafi jihadi groups in Sinai. What is new, however, is that the latest statement described the Egyptian military as “the infidel army.” The statement also boasted that the large-scale military campaign claimed the life of only one of the group’s members, something that a resident of al-Mokataa commented on by saying, “They destroyed our homes, burned our cars, and left us with the members of the [militant] groups sticking out their tongues and telling us they were left unharmed.”

The villages in the operation zone south of Sheikh Zoweid are at least 15 km away from the tunnels northeast of Rafah, which means that the recent bombing and burning of homes has nothing to do with these tunnels and the smuggling whatsoever.

Egyptian security forces confirmed that on Sunday, September 15, army attack helicopters bombed positions supposedly belonging to militant Islamists in villages south of Sheikh Zoweid. The sources added that the army started a new military operation against militant outposts in Sinai.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The NSA Is Also Grabbing Millions Of Credit Card Records

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | September 16, 2013

In addition to everything else it’s collecting, the NSA also has millions of international credit card transactions stashed away in its databases, according to documents viewed by Spiegel.

The information from the American foreign intelligence agency, acquired by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that the spying is conducted by a branch called “Follow the Money” (FTM). The collected information then flows into the NSA’s own financial databank, called “Tracfin,” which in 2011 contained 180 million records. Some 84 percent of the data is from credit card transactions.

On one hand, what the NSA is doing is exactly what the NSA should be doing: tracing the money flow of terrorist organizations.

Their aim was to gain access to transactions by VISA customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to one presentation. The goal was to “collect, parse and ingest transactional data for priority credit card associations, focusing on priority geographic regions.”

This is part of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, which was set up shortly after the 9/11 attacks and gave the US government access to the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) database. This, in and of itself, is not news, having been exposed in 2006. Documents uncovered then showed the program had been in place since 2002, with permission extended to the CIA and the Treasury Dept. as part of Bush’s “Global War on Terror.”

What is new, however, is the fact that the NSA is targeting transactions from major credit card companies, like VISA. This has quite a bit more potential for misuse than SWIFT, which records only banking transactions. VISA responded to this new information with the same quasi-denial we’ve seen from several other companies whose links to the NSA have been exposed.

“We are not aware of any unauthorized access to our network. Visa takes data security seriously and, in response to any attempted intrusion, we would pursue all available remedies to the fullest extent of the law. Further, its Visa’s policy to only provide transaction information in response to a subpoena or other valid legal process.”

Of course, this isn’t “unauthorized” access, not when gathered with a court order or subpoena. But this isn’t as tightly controlled as the spokesperson makes it appear. If pursuing data for “counterterrorism” purposes, the NSA is allowed to skirt the protections of the Right to Financial Privacy Act, thanks to an amendment in the PATRIOT Act. But even with these legal options, it appears the NSA would still rather pursue this in an extralegal fashion in order to circumvent the warrant process.

NSA analysts at an internal conference that year described in detail how they had apparently successfully searched through the US company’s complex transaction network for tapping possibilities.

Whatever’s happening now appears to be the NSA grabbing more data simply because it can. It’s not as if it didn’t already have access copious amounts of financial data, thanks to the government’s fully legal (and fully public) collection of bulk financial records through SWIFT.

Remember: in addition to stealing the data, Treasury also gets it via a now-public agreement. The former CEO of SWIFT Leonard Schrank and former Homeland Security Czar, Juan Zarate actually boasted in July, in response to the earliest Edward Snowden revelations, about how laudable Treasury’s consensual access to the data was.

“The use of the data was legal, limited, targeted, overseen and audited. The program set a gold standard for how to protect the confidential data provided to the government. Treasury legally gained access to large amounts of Swift’s financial-messaging data (which is the banking equivalent of telephone metadata) and eventually explained it to the public at home and abroad.

It could remain a model for how to limit the government’s use of mass amounts of data in a world where access to information is necessary to ensure our security while also protecting privacy and civil liberties.”

Never mind that by the time they wrote this, an EU audit had showed the protections were illusory, in part because the details of actual queries were oral (and therefore the queries weren’t auditable), in part because Treasury was getting bulk data. But there was a legitimate way to get data pertaining to the claimed primary threat at hand, terrorism. And now we know NSA also stole data.

Even when the government has an advantageous agreement to collect bulk data with little oversight, its agencies can’t help but exploit this even further. The collection via “oral queries” is another indicator of these agencies’ (FBI, NSA, CIA) unwillingness to follow even the most minimal of rules. (See also the administration’s 2010 ruling that made the FBI’s warrantless wiretapping legal, which occurred after the agency’s process had slid from issuing tons of National Security Letters to simply calling up the telcos and requesting records.)

The untargeted collection of financial data has raised concerns from those on the “collection” side.

[E]ven intelligence agency employees are somewhat concerned about spying on the world finance system, according to one document from the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ concerning the legal perspectives on “financial data” and the agency’s own cooperations with the NSA in this area. The collection, storage and sharing of politically sensitive data is a deep invasion of privacy, and involved “bulk data” full of “rich personal information,” much of which “is not about our targets,” the document says.

When even the spies are concerned about about how much data their spy programs are netting, that’s a pretty good sign a bulk records collections effort has gone too far. And it has deeper implications than simply a massive amount of privacy violations. As Marcy Wheeler points out, even the then-Fed chairman Alan Greenspan expressed his concerns about the breadth of the SWIFT collections.

If the world’s financiers were to find out how their sensitive internal data was being used, he acknowledged, it could hurt the stability of the global banking systems.

That’s a scary thought, considering the “global banking system” isn’t all that stable to begin with. A lack of targeting will leave the NSA open to more accusations of economic espionage, something clearly not related to its supposed “national security” agenda.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK new forced conscription bill: a look

Press TV – September 16, 2013

The British government has launched a new debate on reintroducing mandatory National Service, or conscription, for the 18 to 26-year-olds, 50 years after the last conscripted British soldier ended his service.

The bill was tabled by Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, who said the service can inspire young people with “self-respect, personal reliance, discipline and behavior.”

The legislation was introduced to the parliament for debate on June 24, which is considered its first reading though no debate took place at that stage.

MPs are expected to hold a second reading debate on the bill on February 28, 2014.

The bill predicts the introduction of a year-long charitable or military service that could involve care for the elderly or the disabled, work for the emergency services or service in the armed forces with a necessary “residential element” that requires participants to live away from their homes.

“Every individual who has attained the age of 18 years, and who has not attained the age of 26 years, shall be liable to serve one year of national service at some point between these years unless exempt,” the bill reads.

“Regulations shall provide that the scheme must extend the scope of the National Citizen Service and include the following elements,” it adds.

The bill, if voted into law, makes it a criminal offense to skip National Service.

The reference in the text of the proposed law to the National Citizen Service (NCS), which was introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron for the 16 and 17-year-olds in 2010, raises suspicion that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has been planning to reintroduce the long-forgotten National Service early after taking office.

NCS is now in full swing in England and offers voluntary short-time tours for individuals to take part in team projects away from home to help their community.

London first introduced conscription during the First World War in 1916, which lasted until 1919.

Another forced service was launched in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, continuing until 1960, with the last conscripted soldiers ending their service in 1963.

The recruitment was named War Service or Military Service during the wars and National Service, as formulated by the National Service Act 1948, between 1948 and 1960.

The second national service period that started in 1939 lasted beyond the World War II (1939-1945) partly because of Britain’s involvement in the Korean War of the 1950’s.

That could be adequate precedence for the British public to fear a decade of military adventurism, including the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya – not to mention the saber-rattling against Syria — has triggered the renewed call for a national service.

Indeed, the public opposition to the bill emerged from the very onset after an e-petition was launched demanding the government to “stop the National Service Bill 2013-2014”. The petition has already collected over 27,000 signatures.

It rejects the mandatory service as “unacceptable”, calling on the government to reject the bill “in its entirety” and “reassure us that non voluntary service and any residential or military style training, or service, will always be a freedom of choice”.

Under the Coalition agreement any e-petition attracting more than 100,000 signatures becomes eligible for a Commons debate.

The public concern over the new initiative has been clearly reflected in the e-petition.

“We do not want our children and grandchildren to fight and die in wars, or in training that they or we have no control over,” the petition says.

There are also concerns that the forced conscription is against the idea of a free society as compulsory recruits will have to spend a year in service with minimum wage at the end of their high school or college, when they could rather start a job or begin university education in anticipation of a difficult future amid Britain’s economic woes.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peres: Syria Is Punished for Refusing Peace with ’Israel’

Al-Manar | September 16, 2013

In significant remarks made by the president of the Zionist entity, Shimon Peres, he stated that what is happening in Syria today is punishment of the Arab state for refusing to compromise with ‘Israel’.

In statements published by the Zionist daily Yediot Ahronoth on Sunday, Peres said that “the 1973 war had brought peace in spite of its brutality.”

“One of the 1973 war outcomes was signing the Peace-Treaty with Egypt, through which  Sadat could bring security and peace to his people, contrary to Assad, who refused to participate in Sadat’s settlement as he participated in his war,” the Zionist president elaborated.

“Today, Syria lives internal war and the Syrian people pay for it over Assad’s refusal to compromise. Today he is punished for his refusal,” he said.

Peres’s remarks came during his participation in the commemoration of Zionist soldiers who had been killed in the 1973 war. The ceremony was also attended by Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other military and security officials.

These statements made it clear that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution but a foreign scheme, analysts and observers say, noting that these statements indicate the beneficiary of the Syrian crisis and its maestro.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The CIA, the Press and Black Propaganda

By Douglas Valentine | September 16, 2013

As soon as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones absolved the CIA of spewing poison gas as a provocation, many on the Liberal Left cautiously threw their weight behind Obama and the thrill of waging a punitive war on Syria.

“Perhaps regime change is a good idea,” Tom Hayden speculated in The Nation.

Left paterfamilias Noam Chomsky, who generally shows an appreciation for the subtleties of covert action, claimed that America is not supplying its Al Qaeda mercenary army with arms – even though Eric Schmidt at The New York Times reported over a year ago that CIA officers in Turkey were “helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arm.”

As if Hayden fomenting war and Chomsky covering for the CIA isn’t irony enough, Drum cleared the CIA in response to allegations of a provocation made by Rush Limbaugh. Which raises the question, what are the facts about the CIA’s penchant for “provoked responses” like the one in the Tonkin Gulf that started the Vietnam War?

Simply stated, black propaganda is one of many criminal but legally deniable things the CIA does. It often involves committing a heinous crime and blaming it on an enemy by planting false evidence, and then getting a foreign newspaper to print the CIA’s scripted version of events, which sympathetic journalists in America broadcast to the gullible public.

In the case of Syria, the CIA is using cooked Israeli “intelligence” as a catalyst – which is why, as Johnstone and Bricmont explain, the “intelligence” is so “dubious.”

Black propaganda has other “intelligence” applications as well, and is often used to recruit informants, and create deserters and defectors.

In his autobiography Soldier, Anthony Herbert told how he reported for duty in 1965 in Saigon at the joint CIA-military Specials Operations Group.  The spooks asked him to join a secret psywar program. “What they wanted me to do was to take charge of execution teams that wiped out entire families and tried to make it look as though the VC themselves had done the killing. The rationale was that other Vietnamese would see that the VC had killed another VC and would be frightened away from becoming VC themselves. Of course, the villagers would then be inclined to some sort of allegiance to our side.”

As counter-terror guru David Galula explained, “Pseudo insurgents are a way to get intelligence and sow suspicion at the same time between the real guerrillas and the population.”

In a similar case in 1964, a famous CIA propaganda officer organized three armed “survey teams” which operated in neighboring hamlets simultaneously.  When Vietcong propaganda teams departed from a hamlet, his cut-throat cadre would move in and speak to one person from each household, so the VC “would have to punish everyone after we left.”

In other words the CIA’s mercenaries (like some the CIA’s mercenaries in Syria) were provocateurs, setting people up for recriminations, for intelligence and publicity purposes.

Here’s another example: in 1964, CIA officer Nelson Brickham worked in the Sino-Soviet Relations Branch, where he managed black propaganda operations designed to cause friction between the USSR and China.  At the heart of these black ops were false flag recruitments, in which CIA case officers posed as Soviet intelligence officers and, using actual Soviet cipher systems and methodology, recruited Chinese diplomats, who believed they were working for the Russians. The CIA case officers used the Chinese dupes to create all manner of mischief.

Brickham in 1967 created the Phoenix program in South Vietnam. The Phoenix program’s operations chief in 1970, Colonel Thomas McGrevey, had a “penetration agent” inside COSVN – the Central Office of South Vietnam. COSVN’s deputy finance director was the penetration agent. The deputy alerted McGrevey when the finance director was going on vacation, enabling McGrevey to mount a black propaganda campaign which framed the finance director for running off with embezzled funds.

A circular about the Phoenix program issued by the revolutionary Security Service in 1970, described how the nationalists viewed the CIA. As stated in the circular, “the most wicked maneuvers” of the CIA “have been to seek out every means by which to terrorize revolutionary families and force the people to disclose the location of our agents and join the People’s Self-Defense Force. They also spread false rumors. Their main purpose is to jeopardize the prestige of the revolutionary families, create dissension between them and the people, and destroy the people’s confidence in the revolution. In addition, they also try to bribe poor and miserable revolutionary families into working for them.”

Forged letters are a CIA specialty. Former CIA officer Philip Agee told how he mounted a successful operation using forged letters against Ecuadoran Antonio Flores Benitez, a key member of the Communist revolutionary movement. “By bugging Flores’ phone, we found out a lot of what he was doing. His wife was a blabbermouth. He made a secret trip to Havana and we decided to do a job on him when he landed back in Ecuador. With another officer, I worked all one weekend to compose a “report” from Flores to the Cubans. It was a masterpiece. The report implied that Flores’ group had already received funds from Cuba and was now asking for more money in order to launch guerrilla operations in Ecuador. My Quito station chief loved it so much he just had to get into the act. So he dropped the report on the floor and walked on it awhile to make it look pocket-worn. Then he folded it and stuffed it into a toothpaste tube-from which he had spent three hours carefully squeezing out all the toothpaste. He was like a kid with a new toy. So then I took the tube out to the minister of the treasury, who gave it to his customs inspector. When Flores came through customs, the inspector pretended to go rummaging through one of his suitcases. What he really did, of course, was slip the toothpaste tube into the bag and then pretend to find it there. When he opened the tube, he of course “discovered” the report. Flores was arrested and there was a tremendous scandal. This was one of a series of sensational events that we had a hand in during the first six months of 1963. By late July of that year, the climate of anti-Communist fear was so great that the military seized a pretext and took over the government, jailed all the Communists it could find and outlawed the Communist Party.”

Likewise the catalyst for the 1973 coup in Chile was a forged document-detailing a leftist plot to start a reign of terror – which was discovered by the enemies of President Salvador Allende Gossens.  The result was a violent military coup, which the CIA officers (who had set it in motion through disinformation in the Chilean press) sat back and watched from their hammocks in the shade.

And on and on it goes.

General Ed Lansdale formalized CIA black propaganda practices in the early 1950s in the Philippines. To vilify the Communists and win support of Americans, one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities on civilians, and then another unit would magically arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away. Cameras were the key.

The CIA also concocted lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God. Lansdale’s henchman, CIA agent-cum-journalist Joseph Alsop, gleefully reported this black propaganda.

The American “press” is the vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X in black propaganda. When it comes to the CIA and the American press, one black hand washes the other. To gain access to CIA officials, reporters suppress or distort stories. They sell their black souls for scoops.  In return, CIA officials leak stories to them. At its most incestuous, reporters and CIA officers are blood relatives. At one point, The New York Times correspondent in Vietnam, James Lemoyne, just happened to be the brother of the CIA’s counter-terror team chief in the Delta, Navy Commander Charles Lemoyne.

In a democratic society the media ought to investigate and report objectively on the government, which is under no obligation to inform the public of its activities and which, when it does, puts a “spin” on the news.  As part of the Faustian Pact, when government activities are conducted in secret, illegally, reporters look away rather than jeopardize profitable relationships. The intended result is that the unwitting public is robbed of its freedom of speech – for how can you speak freely if you don’t know what’s going on?

If Lansdale hadn’t had Alsop to print his black propaganda, there probably would have been no Vietnam War. Likewise, Judith Miller, disgraced facilitator of the war on Iraq and rehabilitated Fox KKK-TV correspondent, brought you the Iraq War through false documents provided by CIA analysts.

We rarely know who the Alsops and Millers are in our midst, until after the fact. The CIA has a strict policy of keeping its atrocities to itself. And it is aided, in its eternal quest to deceive the American public, by the fact that black propaganda validates the beliefs of the Kevin Dumbs among us, as it assures their imagined security and sense of being exceptional.

In fact, black propaganda operations, and the CIA itself, are antithetical to democratic institutions.

A big part of the CIA’s current success is its ability to deliver its message through Left publications, and the Left’s unstated policy of self-censorship in regard to CIA operations. Most insidious, perhaps, are the former CIA officers who claim to be anti-war, and seek a veil of immunity by claiming to have been “analysts.” This is akin to saying “I was a bookkeeper for the Mafia. I never killed anyone.”

Of course it’s the bookkeepers who tell the bosses the names and addresses of the delinquents who haven’t paid their extortion money this week. The Phoenix Directorate in Saigon had analysts performing the same assassination, kidnapping and torture function on an industrial scale.

Despite the popular portrayal of the CIA as patriotic guys and girls risking everything to do a dirty job, the typical CIA officer is a sociopath without the guts to go it alone in the underworld.  They gravitate to the CIA because they are protected there by the all-powerful Cult of Death that rules America.

The most dangerous facet of having former CIA officers slithering around is their uniform message that the CIA is necessary. These are not Phil Agees, revealing the ugly truth and calling for the CIA’s abolition. Like all the CIA’s political and psychological warfare experts, they are at the forefront of the war on terror, using psywar to achieve the goals of the Cult of Death that rules America. The result is a theatre of the absurd, a world of illusion.

Now we are told that the CIA Syrian mercenaries may launch a chemical attack on Israel from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation.”  What you can be sure of is that some provocation will be launched and that the press, including most of the Left, will cover it up.

Doug Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program.  See www.douglasvalentine.com or write to him at dougvalentine77@gmail.com

Source

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada: Hypocrites ‘R Us

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | September 16, 2013

Somewhere in the Lester B. Pearson Building, Canada’s foreign affairs headquarters, must be a meeting room with the inscription “The World Should Do as We Say, Not As We Do” or perhaps “Hypocrites ‘R Us.”

With the Obama administration beating the war drums, Canadian officials are demanding a response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of the chemical weapon sarin.

Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed “if it is not countered, it will constitute a precedent that we think is very dangerous for humanity in the long term” while for his part Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird declared: “If it doesn’t get a response it’s an open invitation for people, for Assad in Syria, or elsewhere to use these types of weapons that they’ve by and large refrained from doing since the First World War.” The Conservatives also signed Canada onto a White House statement claiming: “The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.”

While one may wish this were the case, it’s not. In fact, Canada has repeatedly been complicit with the use of chemical weapons.

During the war in Afghanistan, Canadian troops used white phosphorus, which is a chemical agent that can cause deep tissue burning and death when inhaled or ingested in significant amounts. In an October 2008 letter to the Toronto Star, Corporal Paul Demetrick, a Canadian reservist, claimed Canadian forces used white phosphorus as a weapon against “enemy-occupied” vineyards. General Rick Hillier, former chief of the Canadian defence staff, confirmed the use of this defoliant. Discussing the difficulties of fighting the Taliban in areas with 10-foot tall marijuana plants, the general said: “We tried burning them with white phosphorous — it didn’t work.” After accusations surfaced of western forces (and the Taliban) harming civilians with white phosphorus munitions the Afghan government launched an investigation.

In a much more aggressive use of this chemical, Israeli forces fired white phosphorus shells during its January 2009 Operation Cast Lead that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead. Ottawa cheered on this 22-day onslaught against Gaza and the Conservatives have failed to criticize Israel for refusing to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention.

For decades the massive Suffield Base in Alberta was one of the largest chemical and biological weapons research centres in the world. A 1989 Peace Magazine article explained, “For almost 50 years, scientists from the Department of National Defence have been as busy as beavers expanding their knowledge of, and testing agents for, chemical and biological warfare (CBW) in southern Alberta.”

Initially led by Canadian and British scientists/soldiers, gradually the US military played a bigger role in the chemical weapons research at Suffield. A chemical warfare school began there in 1942 and it came to light that in 1966 US Air Force jets sprayed biological weapons simulants over Suffield to figure out how best to spray potentially fatal diseases on people. Until at least 1989 there were significant quantities of toxins, including sarin, stockpiled at the Alberta base. In 2006 former Canadian soldiers who claim to have been poisoned at Suffield launched a class action lawsuit against the Department of National Defense.

During the war in Vietnam, the US tested agents orange, blue, and purple at CFB Gagetown. A 1968 U.S. Army memorandum titled “defoliation tests in 1966 at base Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada” explained: “The department of the army, Fort Detrick, Maryland, has been charged with finding effective chemical agents that will cause rapid defoliation of woody and Herbaceous vegetation. To further develop these objectives, large areas similar in density to those of interest in South East Asia were needed. In March 1965, the Canadian ministry of defense offered Crops Division large areas of densely forested land for experimental tests of defoliant chemicals. This land, located at Canadian forces base Gagetown, Oromocto, New Brunswick, was suitable in size and density and was free from hazards and adjacent cropland. The test site selected contained a mixture of conifers and deciduous broad leaf species in a dense undisturbed forest cover that would provide similar vegetation densities to those of temperate and tropical areas such as South East Asia.”

Between 1962 and 1971 US forces sprayed some 75,000,000 litres of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. One aim was to deprive the guerrillas of cover by defoliating forests and rural land. Another goal of these defoliation efforts was to drive peasants from the countryside to the US dominated cities, which would deprive the national resistance forces of their food supply and rural support.

In addition to assisting chemical warfare by testing Agent Orange, during the Vietnam war Canadian manufacturers sold the US military “polystyrene, a major component in napalm,” according to the book Snow Job. A chemical agent that can cause deadly burns, Napalm was widely deployed by US forces in their war against Southeast Asia.

This deadly chemical agent was also used during the Korean War, which saw 27,000 Canadian troops go to battle. A New York Times reporter, George Barrett, described the scene in a North Korean village after it was captured by US-led forces in February 1951: “A napalm raid hit the village three or four days ago when the Chinese were holding up the advance, and nowhere in the village have they buried the dead because there is nobody left to do so. This correspondent came across one old women, the only one who seemed to be left alive, dazedly hanging up some clothes in a blackened courtyard filled with the bodies of four members of her family.

“The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they had held when the napalm struck — a man about to get on his bicycle, fifty boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No. 3,811,294 for a $2.98 ‘bewitching bed jacket — coral.’ There must be almost two hundred dead in the tiny hamlet.”

This NYT story captured the attention of Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson. In a letter to the Canadian ambassador in Washington, Hume Wrong, he wondered how it might affect public opinion and complained about it passing US media censors. “[Nothing could more clearly indicate] the dangerous possibilities of United States and United Nations action in Korea on Asian opinion than a military episode of this kind, and the way it was reported. Such military action was possibly ‘inevitable’ but surely we do not have to give publicity to such things all over the world. Wouldn’t you think the censorship which is now in force could stop this kind of reporting?”

No one denies that tens of thousands of liters of napalm were employed by UN forces in Korea. The use of biological weapons is a different story.

After the outbreak of a series of diseases at the start of 1952, China and North Korea accused the US of using biological weapons. Though the claims have neither been conclusively substantiated or disproven — some internal documents are still restricted — in Orienting Canada, John Price details the Canadian external minister’s highly disingenuous and authoritarian response to the accusations, which were echoed by some Canadian peace groups. While publicly highlighting a report that exonerated the US, Pearson concealed a more informed External Affairs analysis suggesting biological weapons could have been used. Additionally, when the Ottawa Citizen revealed that British, Canadian, and US military scientists had recently met in Ottawa to discuss biological warfare, Pearson wrote the paper’s owner to complain. Invoking national security, External Affairs “had it [the story] killed in the Ottawa Journal and over the CP [Canadian Press] wires.”

Price summarizes: “Even without full documentation, it is clear that the Canadian government was deeply involved in developing offensive weapons of mass destruction, including biological warfare, and that Parliament was misled by Lester Pearson at the time the accusations of biological warfare in Korea were first raised. We know also that the US military was stepping up preparations for deployment and use of biological weapons in late 1951 and that Canadian officials were well aware of this and actively supported it. To avoid revealing the nature of the biological warfare program and Canadian collaboration, which would have lent credence to the charges leveled by the Chinese and Korean governments, the Canadian government attempted to discredit the peace movement.”

International efforts to ban chemical weapons and to draw a “red line” over their use are a step forward for humanity. But this effort must include an accounting and opposition to Canada and its allies’ use of these inhumane weapons.

To have any credibility a country preaching against the use of chemical weapons must be able to declare: “Do as I do.”

~

Yves Engler is the author of Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt. His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rockets Launched by Syrian Militants Hit Lebanon’s Bekaa

Al-Manar | September 15, 2013

Three rockets launched by mercenaries deployed across the Lebanese border with Syria hit the Bekaa valley Saturday, the state-run National News Agency reported.

“Three Syrian 107 mm Grad Rockets hit Baalbek District without causing any injuries,” the Army Command said confirming the news in a released communiqué.

“A military expert has inspected the scene and the necessary security measures were adopted in the area,” it added.

The NNA said the rockets hit an area that lies between the villages of Labweh and Jabbureh, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of the city of Baalbek.

“A huge fire erupted as a result in plains near Deir Jabbureh,” it stated, adding that two people were wounded when rockets landed on the Bekaa’s al-Labweh plains.

“Two people, Ali Hasan al-Mawla and a second whose family name is Khazaal, were injured in the attack,” it said, remarking that a rocket fell on an orchard that belongs to the Khazaal family while another landed in the outstrips of al-Labweh.

The third rocket landed on a road in Zboud, according to the same source.

Saturday’s is the latest in a string of cross-border rocket attacks that have recently escalated.

Since the eruption of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Lebanese towns in the North and the Bekaa regions have repeatedly witnessed shelling and gunfire coming from Syria, wounding many people and causing major material damage.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Our hands have not shed this blood”? Give me a break

The IDF insists on not indicting the security officer who killed Bassem Abu Rahme, even though we provided it with enough details to find him

By Yossi Gurvitz | Isolated Incident | September 15, 2013

In April 2009, an Israeli uniformed officer fired a gas canister, using dead reckoning, into the chest of demonstrator Bassem Abu Rahme, during the weekly demonstration in the village of Bil’in, and killed him. The killing was carried out in the presence of senior officers. Firing a canister using dead reckoning is contrary to the orders of the IDF itself, not to mention the moral meaning of shooting an unarmed man; but Abu Rahme was a Palestinian, and it would seem the IDF would do anything possible to avoid meting justice to his killer – even though he can find his identity easily.

Last week, hours before Rosh Ha’shana – classic news-killing move – the government announced that the Judge Advocate General decided to close the case, citing “lack of evidence” for an indictment.

This argument is rubbish, and I’ll be back with it soon. But first we need to give a brief history of the case. Several days after the killing, B’Tselem wrote to the military prosecution, demanding an MPCID investigation of the shooting; at about the same time, Atty. Michael Sfard made the same demand.

But even though an unarmed civilian was shot to death by a security officer – a fact which is not contested – the military prosecution refused to open a criminal investigation, insisting instead on a military debriefing process. On 28th March, 2010 – some 11 months after Abu Rahma was killed – the military prosecution announced that it would not open an MPCID investigation. They used a creative excuse: They claimed the canister may have hit the fence and ricocheted towards Abu Rahma, and hence there was no guilt. And perhaps, they mused, the fact that Abu Rahme was standing on a rock “caused a convergence” between him and the arc of the canister.

These are precisely the sort of questions an MPCID investigation would have answered. And yet, the prosecution refused to open one. There is another critical point here: The prosecution claimed that, despite the debriefing, it does not know who the shooter was. If an IDF debriefing can’t answer this basic question, every Israeli should wonder what this process is good for.

So we happily solved this riddle for the prosecution. On June 3rd, 2010, Attys. Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer demanded the military prosecution open an MPCID investigation, adding to their demand an opinion based on a technology called Forensic Architecture. The death of Abu Rahme was documented by three different video cameras; from the merging and rebuilding of the images [see video; the shooting is just after 3:40], you can plainly see where the soldier who shot him stood, and you can see that the shooting was dead reckoning. We don’t know the identity of the shooter, but we found out where he stood during the shooting. Any self-respecting investigative outfit ought to be able to answer this question rather easily – particularly after a military debriefing.

It should be further noted that according to a testimony gathered by the NGO Breaking the Silence (Hebrew) one of the soldiers involved documented the killing by video, and “some soldiers had this video on their mobile phone. They sent it to one another and laughed about it a bit. The guy who shot him, I don’t remember his name, personally I don’t know him too well but I sort of knew who he was, he was rather happy with the story. He put an X on his grenade launcher.” Somehow, all this evaded the debriefing, and the MPCID investigation as well. Was it incompetence or a case of following the spirit of the commander?

The forensic architecture finding left the prosecution with little choice, and about a month later, on July 11th 2010 – some 15 months after the shooting, but who’s counting – it ordered an MPCID investigation. This carried on and on and on, perhaps expecting us to take the hint and go bark up another tree. This was just a Palestinian, after all, and furthermore one who caused the hasbara system some embarrassment by starring in “Five Broken Cameras.”

So we were left with no choice, and on March 3rd 2013, we appealed, together with B’Tselem, to the High Court of Justice, demanding two remedies: That the prosecution should reach a decision in the case; and that it should indict, at a minimum, for unlawful use of a weapon.

And, as mentioned, last week we got the answer: the military prosecution still insists it is ignorant of the identity of a shooter documented in three cameras, even after we specifically noted his location. Therefore it asks the Court to reject the appeal, close the file without any indictments, and offers us to appeal its decision – a process which can easily drag on for a year or two.

To sum: In April 2009, a person wearing Israeli uniform shot an unarmed demonstrator. Four years later, the IDF’s glorious investigative organs – a debriefing and an MPCID investigation – claim “lack of evidence” for an indictment. Didn’t you get the hint, you bleeding hearts? What, do you seriously think we would indict a soldier for killing a Palestinian, and worse – screw up his superior’s career? As our data sheet showed, the rate of indictment of soldiers and officers for killing Palestinians is very low, and the conviction rate is also rather sparse.

“If one be found slain in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field,” orders the Bible, “and it be not known who hath slain him: Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley: […]  And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley. And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge.” During the misty days of the descent of the Second Temple, the writers of the Talmud repealed this decision, as the killers multiplied and acted openly.

Here is one found slain in the field. The IDF cannot wash its hands, cannot say “our hands have not shed this blood,” cannot say “neither have our eyes seen it,” since it insists on averting its eyes. And what about “lay not innocent blood unto thy people,” the basic demand, universal to all human societies, that a death should be atoned for, what of it?

Don’t worry. He was just a Palestinian.

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

How War on Syria Lost Its Way

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | September 14, 2013

The just announced U.S.-Russia agreement in Geneva on a “joint determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons (CW) program in the soonest and safest manner” sounds the death knell to an attempt by Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to get the U.S. into the war in Syria.

Equally important, it greatly increases the prospect of further U.S.-Russia cooperation to tamp down escalating violence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. That the two sides were able to hammer out in three days a detailed agreement on such highly delicate, complicated issues is little short of a miracle. I cannot remember seeing the likes of it in 50 years in Washington.

Just two short weeks ago, the prospect of a U.S. military strike against Syria looked like a done deal with Official Washington abuzz with excitement about cruise missiles being launched from American warships in the Mediterranean, flying low toward their targets and lighting up the night sky of Damascus like the “shock and awe” pyrotechnics did to Baghdad in 2003.

On Aug. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to seal the deal with an impassioned address that declared some 35 times that “we know” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons with an Aug. 21 attack and needed to be punished.

Along with Kerry’s speech, the White House released a four-page “Government Assessment” declaring with “high confidence” that Assad’s regime was guilty of the attack on a Damascus suburb that killed precisely “1,429” people and “at least 426 children.” Though the white paper included not a single verifiable fact establishing Assad’s guilt – nor did it explain where its casualty figures came from – the assessment was accepted as true by most of the mainstream U.S. news media.

At that moment, Israel and its many backers had every reason to believe they had won the day and that at least the first stage of the retribution would be delivered before President Barack Obama flew off on Sept. 3 to Europe and to the G-20 summit. But then came a series of disappointments for them, beginning with Obama’s abrupt Aug. 31 decision to seek congressional authorization.

Still, the prevailing attitude was that the Israel Lobby would simply get to work whipping members of Congress into line with a variety of arguments (and a mix of threats and inducements) to ensure that a use-of-force resolution was passed and sent to the President’s desk.

The confidence was so high that there was no need to disguise what was afoot. Usually the mainstream media avoids mentioning the extraordinary influence of the Israel Lobby on Congress, but this time the New York Times displayed unusual candor describing who was egging on the march to war.

An 800-Pound Gorilla

In an article posted online Sept. 2, the Times reported, “Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group Aipac was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad. … One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called Aipac ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, ‘we’re in trouble.’”

This warning about “loss of credibility” is a familiar one, artfully promoted in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal in an article by Leon Aron titled “America, Syria and the World.” Aron quotes a long list of Israel loyalists like Brookings Saban Center’s Kenneth M. Pollack, who warn that foreigners may come to view us as wimps if strong action is not taken against Syria.

A contrary point of view was expressed by former U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman, who commented: “There is another possibility, however. And that is that they have come to see us as bullies, prone to resort to force rather than diplomacy when problems arise. The latter possibility puts a whole different face on Obama’s hesitation to go to war with Syria.”

In any case, to the surprise of many Washington insiders, the dreams of U.S. bombs raining down on another Mideast country began to slip away as many members of Congress listened to their constituents speaking out against war, and some even disbelieving the administration’s assessment because no hard, checkable evidence was being revealed to the American people.

Morose at CNN

As the march toward war began meandering off in unexpected directions, I was lucky enough to observe, up-close and personal, the angry reaction of some of Israel’s top American supporters on Monday evening. That was after Russia drew Obama a new map for how to reach the desired destination of removing chemical weapons from Assad’s arsenal without going to war.

After doing an interview on CNN International, I opened the studio door and almost knocked over a small fellow named Paul Wolfowitz, President George W. Bush’s former under-secretary of defense who in 2002-2003 had helped craft the fraudulent case for invading Iraq. And there standing next to him was former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the neocon from Connecticut who was a leading advocate for the Iraq War and pretty much every other potential war in the Middle East.

Finding myself in the same room with two gentlemen responsible for so much misery in the world, I fell back on my recent training in non-violence, as we watched Piers Morgan try earnestly to spin the day’s astounding events. On the tube earlier, Anderson Cooper sought counsel from Ari Fleischer, former spokesman for George W. Bush, and David Gergen, long-time White House PR guru.

Fleischer and Gergen were alternately downright furious over the Russian initiative to give peace a chance and disconsolate at seeing the prospect for U.S. military involvement in Syria disappear when we were oh so close. After some caustic and condescending outbursts, an almost surreally disconsolate mood set in. It looked like these fellas were not going to get their war.

Later remarks by Lieberman and Wolfowitz reflected a distinctly funereal atmosphere. I felt I had come to a wake with somberly dressed folks (no pastel ties this time) grieving for a recently, dearly-departed war.

Among Lieberman’s vapid comments was the hope-against-hope assertion that President Obama, of course, could still commit troops to war without congressional authorization. I thought to myself, wow, here’s a fellow who was a senator for 24 years and almost our vice president, and he does not remember that the Founders gave Congress the sole power to declare war in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

So I dug into my back pocket, pulled out my little copy of the Constitution, and carefully tore out Article 1. Then I lurked in the ornate elevator waiting area for Joe and Paul to come out. After the usual pleasantries (all politicians feel compelled to “remember” you once you say your name as though they should), I said, “Joe, I couldn’t believe what you said about the President not being required to get the approval of Congress before attacking a country like Syria. So, here; I tore out Article 1 of the Constitution for you; I have another copy, so you can keep it. Go home, read it, and see if what you just said is correct.”

It was a bad evening for war and for those pundits who like to joke about “giving war a chance.” For those of us who think war is not such a good idea – and truly should only be considered as an absolutely last resort – it was an uncommon day for rejoicing at the failure of the warmongers to again send young men and women to kill folks who pose no threat to us.

Salt in the Wounds

As sad as the war proponents were – including the cable news channels cheated out of some great video of flashing bombs illuminating the shattered buildings of ancient Damascus – they would face another humiliation in reading Thursday’s New York Times, which published an op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He made sensible points about the value of international law prohibiting one country from attacking another except in self-defense or with approval of the United Nations Security Council.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee and an Israeli favorite, spoke for many Washington insiders by saying, “I was at dinner, and I almost wanted to vomit.” [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rewarding ‘Group Think’ on Syria.”]

Menendez had just cobbled together and forced through his committee a resolution, 10-to-7, to authorize the President to strike Syria with enough force to degrade Assad’s military. Now, at Obama’s request, the resolution was being put on the shelf.

Events were now moving swiftly away from a U.S. missile strike. Obama dispatched Kerry to Geneva to work out an agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But the hope for war still was not fully extinguished.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was still rooting for a chance to revive the military option and – like Lieberman – suggesting that the President didn’t really need congressional approval and shouldn’t be deterred by popular opposition either.

At a breakfast session with reporters on Sept. 11, Levin said, “I just don’t think you can be guided, when it comes to this kind of an issue, by public opinion polls. … It would not be a surprise at all to me, even if there were no congressional authority, that he [Obama] would use his Article 2 authority” as commander in chief. (Not incidentally, Levin has been the recipient of more money from AIPAC-related organizations than any other member of Congress.)

At this point, Israel and its lobby had every reason to be disappointed in another longtime close friend, John Kerry. He had succeeded in driving the war, which was to be fought over Obama’s “red line,” into what football fans might call the “red zone” but Kerry was unable to push the plan for missile strikes over the goal line.

Instead, Kerry clearly is under new orders from President Obama to figure out a way in cooperation with Minister Lavrov to defuse the crisis. Putin, Obama, Lavrov and Kerry have just won some laurels from the people around the world hoping to advance the cause of peace. But they won’t have the luxury of resting on them, while so many others in and around Syria have powerful incentives to reverse the progress made.

One still has to wonder what might revive prospects for U.S. missile strikes. Some in the Middle East are worried about the possibility that radical jihadists among the Syrian rebels might try to derail peace talks by launching a chemical weapons attack against Israeli targets with the hope that the provocation will be blamed on the Assad regime and set off a rush to retaliate.

Whether likely or not, it is a threat that the cooler heads in the Obama administration should anticipate and be ready to head off.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He served as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer prior to working for 27 years as a CIA analyst.  He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

September 16, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment