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Syria deal seems to have just postponed US-led war

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | September 17, 2013

The avoidance of an imminent US military onslaught on Syria is of course to be welcomed.

But the deal struck by American Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the weekend looks rather like a postponement of US aggression than a step towards a peaceful resolution.

Already Western politicians and media are conflating the latest UN chemical weapons inspection report with the weekend admission by the Syrian government that it possesses such armaments.

The UN report only confirms that the toxic nerve agent sarin was used in an attack on 21 August near the capital, Damascus. But this finding is being spun to insinuate that the armed forces of President Bashar al-Assad are to blame and in that way justifying Western threats of retaliatory military action.

It is troubling that within hours of Kerry and Lavrov shaking hands in Geneva on a seeming breakthrough agreement they were both saying very different things about its consequences.

On his way back to Washington, Kerry met the French and British foreign ministers in Paris on Monday morning where they reiterated – with usual high-handed truculence – that the option of military force against Syria was still on the table if the Syrian government did not fully comply with the complete decommissioning of its chemical weapons.

For his part, Lavrov in response to the Paris statement appeared to be irked by the repetition of the militarist option by “our partners… this shows a lack of understanding of what John Kerry and I agreed on.” The Russian foreign minister added that any use of military threat might wreck the chance of a peaceful resolution.

Elsewhere, US President Barack Obama also stated that military force against Syria remained an option in spite of the Geneva pact to disarm Syria’s chemical arsenal through diplomacy. That position of wielding military threat was also backed by French President Francois Hollande.

The Americans, British and French want to finalize a resolution at the United Nations Security Council this week which will be “strong and binding,” meaning the authorization of military force if Syria does not deliver on handing over of its stockpile of chemical weapons.

Russia and China – the other two UN Security Council members – will no doubt veto any such resolution.

However, in that case, the US, supported by Britain and France, says that it will invoke a unilateral decision to go it alone in the use of military force outside of the UN. During his press conference with Lavrov in Geneva, Kerry responded to a question about what his country would do if it did not obtain a UN mandate, by saying “the [American] president always has the right to defend US interests.” In other words, the US president can do whatever he wants, including waging war on another country.

This unilateral move would leave the US open to charges of aggression. But knowing Washington’s arrogant capacity for self-justification, sophistry and long history of aggression, such a charge is by no means a deterrent to eventual US belligerence.

It is significant that the first destination for Kerry after Geneva was to fly to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter welcomed Kerry with open arms and was visibly pleased with the prospect of “stripping Syria of all its chemical weapons.” Some commentators have averred that the weekend Geneva deal was a slap in the face to Netanyahu from the Obama White House in that it steered away from Israeli war plans against Syria.

Such an analysis seems misplaced as it presumes, against all the evidence, that Washington does not have an inherent war plan for regime change in Syria. It is also misplaced given Netanyahu’s obvious glee on receiving Kerry. And why wouldn’t the Israeli warmonger be pleased?

The so-called Geneva “deal” may have halted US war plans on Syria for now, but the upshot is that Western aggression towards that country is even more emboldened and, bizarrely, has also now gained a veneer of legitimacy.

Syria was compelled to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and thereby surrender its arsenal of chemical weapons. While such weapons are an abomination and in an ideal world should be removed completely everywhere, the result of the Lavrov-Kerry arrangement is that Syria is obliged to unilaterally disarm. Israel has an equally dangerous stockpile of chemical weapons, as well as biological and nuclear arsenals.

Unlike the Syrian government, the Israeli regime has actually used its chemical weapons in the form of White Phosphorus against Palestinian citizens in Gaza. Yet, while Syria is being disarmed of its weapons that have acted as a deterrent against Israel’s weapons of mass destruction, the Israeli regime is free to increase its balance of terror.

Provocatively, the Western powers are still insisting that they have the right to launch a military attack on Syria if the latter does not conform to the chemical disarmament process. But this process is all one-sided. The West is swinging the threat of military force even though it is an unlawful act of aggression. The US and its allies should be indicted for this aggression against Syria, which they have been engaging in for several months and not just since the 21 August chemical weapon atrocity near Damascus.

The UN chemical weapons inspectors, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, has confirmed that the deadly nerve agent sarin was used in the attack on 21 August. The UN team does not conclude who actually used the toxic gas despite Western insinuations. But there is plenty of evidence from alternative sources pointing to the Western-backed mercenaries fighting for regime change who committed this atrocity and others involving chemical weapons, such as at Khan al-Assal near Aleppo on 19 March this year.

As well as the US and its allies remaining armed and dangerous so too are the militants that are terrorizing Syria on behalf of Washington. According to recent reports, Washington is stepping up its weapons supplies to al-Qaeda-linked mercenaries – the same mercenaries who are beheading army captives and civilians, as well as poisoning women and children to fabricate crimes attributed to the Syrian army.

US-led all-out war on Syria may have been averted by the Lavrov-Kerry deal in Geneva at the weekend, but the price for that respite seems to be the West and its allies having gained even more leverage for their criminal agenda of regime change.

What Syria, Russia, Iran, China and other independent nations need to do is to widen the terms of any deal over Syria. This must include the complete cessation of weapons being funneled into Syria by the US and its allies; the immediate halt to threats of war by the US; and if we are going to have disarmament of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East then that process must include the Israeli regime as absolutely mandatory.


Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For many years, he worked as an editor and writer in the mainstream news media, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. He is now based in East Africa where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring.He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Comments Off on Syria deal seems to have just postponed US-led war

Brazil to bypass US-centric internet amid spy revelations

Press TV – September 17, 2013

Brazil has announced plans to bypass the US-centric internet amid revelations that Washington conducts spy operations on web communications.

amin20130917172800197Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the country’s measures to boost the Brazil’s independence and security on the World Wide Web, including storing data locally and bypassing internet traffic that goes through the United States.

Rousseff said plans are in the works to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and all the South American nations in order to create a network free of US eavesdropping. This is while most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the US.

The president also announced that she will push for new international rules of privacy and security in hardware and software during the UN General Assembly meeting later this month.

The country’s postal service also plans to create an encrypted e-mail service that would serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo, two companies being monitored by the NSA.

Experts said the move may herald the first step toward a global network free from US monopoly and its illegal surveillance of global communications.

The development comes following the publication of documents leaked by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in July, exposing US spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.

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

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

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Brazil to bypass US-centric internet amid spy revelations

Brazilian president postpones visit to Washington over US spying

RT | September 17, 2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has postponed a state visit to Washington in response to the US spying on her communications with top aides. Rousseff is demanding a full public apology from President Obama.

Barack Obama spoke with Rousseff on Monday in an attempt to persuade her into following through with the trip, the Brazilian president’s office said, according to AP.

Brazil’s TV Globo reported that the call between the two presidents lasted for about 20 minutes. Obama and Rousseff discussed revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the Brazilian leader’s phone calls and emails. The two presidents then “jointly” agreed to cancel the meeting, Globo reported, citing the presidential office.

The Brazilian government said in a statement that “the conditions are not suitable to undertake this visit on the agreed date.” It expressed hope that the conflict will be resolved “properly” and the trip will happen “as soon as possible.”

The state visit was initially scheduled for October 23. The Obama administration has confirmed that the visit was canceled.

“The president has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged US intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Earlier this month, TV Globo revealed in a report that the NSA monitored the content of phone calls, emails, and mobile phone messages belonging to President Rousseff and undefined “key advisers” of the Brazilian government. The NSA also spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and nine members of his office.

The revelations were based on evidence provided by former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which was passed to British journalist Glenn Greenwald.

A document dated June 2012 showed that the Mexican President’s emails were read through one month before he was elected. In his communications, the then-presidential candidate indicated who he would like to appoint to several government posts.

The Brazilian government denounced the NSA surveillance as “impermissible and unacceptable,” and a violation of Brazilian sovereignty.

In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles for O Globo, in which he claimed that some of the documents leaked by Snowden indicated that Brazil was the NSA’s largest target in Latin America.

Greenwald wrote that the NSA was collecting its data through an undefined association between US and Brazilian telecommunications companies, but he could not verify that Brazilian companies had been involved.

Following the revelations, the Brazilian government ordered an investigation into telecommunications companies to determine whether they illegally shared data with the NSA.

Defense ministers of Brazil and Argentina signed a broader military cooperation agreement on September 13. The two governments will work together to improve cyber defense capabilities following revelations of Washington’s spying on Latin American countries.

Brazil will be providing cyber warfare training to Argentine officers from 2014.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Brazilian president postpones visit to Washington over US spying

NY Times Doesn’t Think That NSA Sharing Raw Communications With Israel Is Newsworthy

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | September 16, 2013

Last week, we were among those who wrote about the latest revelations via the Guardian about how the NSA was sharing raw communications it had collected with Israeli intelligence. This is a big story for any number of reasons, but apparently the NY Times doesn’t think so. When Public Editor Margaret Sullivan asked why, the managing editor basically said the story wasn’t newsworthy:

He told me that The Times had chosen not to follow the story because its level of significance did not demand it.

“I didn’t think it was a significant or surprising story,” he said. “I think the more energy we put into chasing the small ones, the less time we have to break our own. Not to mention cover the turmoil in Syria.”

So, I asked him, by e-mail, was this essentially a question of reporting resources? After all, The Times could have published an article written by a wire service, like Reuters or The Associated Press.

“I’d say resources and news judgment,” he responded.

The resources issue is one I can understand totally. Here at Techdirt, we probably cover about one quarter to one third the number of stories we’d like to (which is also why I have about a thousand open tabs of stories I’m “hoping” to get to one of these days). But to claim that it’s not “significant” or “surprising” or somehow newsworthy is pretty crazy. This is a major part of the story — where the NSA keeps insisting that it is exceptionally careful with the data it collects, yet here it is handing off a ton of communications, including those of Americans, off to a foreign intelligence agency with basically no oversight. If the NY Times doesn’t think that’s newsworthy, the NY Times needs to recalibrate its newsworthy scale.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Comments Off on NY Times Doesn’t Think That NSA Sharing Raw Communications With Israel Is Newsworthy

Theatre Program Launched in Venezuelan Schools to Create “Culture of Peace”

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | September 17, 2013


President Maduro at the Teresa Carreno Theatre in Caracas launching the Children’s and Youth Theatre Movement (Prensa Presidencial)

Merida – Yesterday the school program titled the “Cesar Rengifo” Children’s and Youth Theatre Movement was kicked off, as students returned to class for the new school year.

The program is being run initially in 135 Bolivarian schools in Caracas, and will gradually be expanded around the rest of the country.

Classes include body language, literature, oral narration, musical appreciation, acting, lighting, and theatre music.

“The idea is to awaken sensitivity, responsibility, and critical and creative thought in children, through theatre,” said the program’s coordinator, Pedro Lander.

Lander explained that actors, directors, theatrical designers, voice teachers, and playwrights have been called on to teach in the schools. He said that Cesar Rengifo’s plays will be used, as well as other local and international ones.

Cesar Rengifo, a playwright, poet, painter, and journalist, was born in Caracas on 14 May 1915, and died on 2 November 1980. He founded the theatre group Mascaras (Masks), was director of Cultural Extension of the University of the Andes, and he won a range of national prizes for his plays. His plays and paintings focused on life in Venezuela, petroleum, and the oppression of marginalised people and the working class.

Children will watch plays in the Teresa Carreño Theatre as part of their initiation into the subject.

“Today a movement is being started which will make history and will contribute to…achieving a peaceful country. A country of peace is a country which takes on the culture of life, the values of life, the love of life, and respect, as its fundamental values,” President Nicolas Maduro said at the official launch of the program yesterday in Caracas.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Theatre Program Launched in Venezuelan Schools to Create “Culture of Peace”

Venezuelan School Year Begins with Free Books and Laptops

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | September 16, 2013

Mérida – Around eight million pre and primary school children began the new Venezuelan school year today, with the government announcing the distribution of free textbooks and laptops to educational centres.

This year the government will distribute 35 million textbooks to state primary and high schools from its Bicentenary Collection, which covers the national curriculum. This marks an increase from last year when 30.75 million books were distributed under the system, and 12 million in 2011.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro lauded the government’s preparations for the school year, stating on Saturday that policies were designed to provide “quality” education to all.

“To begin classes on Monday and take children to school, we’re going to begin handing out 35 million textbooks so that classes start with the best quality,” he said at an official event.

The government is also planning to distribute 5 million copies of the National Constitution to schools this term in order to raise awareness of the constitution’s contents and promote the values defended in its articles.

“This [Bolivarian] revolution can only be made if we fill it with love every day, if the passion of loves moves us; the purest love for our children, our parents…for our grandchildren, love for [late Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez,” Maduro declared.

In the Venezuelan constitution, passed in a national referendum in 1999, education is described as “a human right and fundamental social duty; democratic, free, and obligatory” (Article 102). In practice education in Venezuela is free including at university level, while private educational institutions also exist.

The government will also distribute 650,000 free “Canaima” laptops to children from 1st to 6th grade this school term. A further 1.4 million will be handed out in 2014, bringing the total distributed since 2008 to 4 million.

Assembled in Venezuela, the Canaima laptops are manufactured as part of a cooperation agreement with Portugal.

Further, under the government social program “A Drop of Love for My School”, repairs were made to 1000 educational centres over the summer holidays.

The authorities of opposition controlled municipalities in the central state of Miranda also reported to have realised repairs to some schools in their areas in preparation for the new term.

Along with the distribution of materials and renovations to infrastructure, the Maduro government is launching a new children’s theatre scheme this school year. School pupils will experience a range of classes such as acting, lighting, oral narration, and music under the program, which is named after 20th century Venezuelan dramatist Cesar Rengifo.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

The Mysterious Death of a UN Hero

By Lisa Pease | Consortium News | September 16, 2013

Fifty-two years ago, just after midnight on Sept. 18, 1961, the plane carrying UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 others went down in a plane crash over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). All 16 died, but the facts of the crash were provocatively mysterious.

There have been three investigations into the crash: an initial civil aviation Board of Inquiry, a Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and a UN Commission in 1962. Not one of them could definitively answer why the plane crashed or whether a deliberate act had been responsible.

United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold.

While a few authors have looked into and written about the strange facts of the crash in the years since the last official inquiry in 1962, none did a more thorough reinvestigation than Dr. Susan Williams, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, whose book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? was released in 2011, 50 years after the crash.

Her presentation of the evidence was so powerful it launched a new UN commission to determine whether the UN should reopen its initial investigation. “It is a fact,” the current Commission wrote in its report, “that none of these inquiries was conducted to the standard to which a modern inquiry into a fatal event would be conducted….”

The Commission was formed by Lord Lea of Crondall, who assembled a group of volunteer jurists, solicitors and others from the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and elsewhere to tabulate and review the evidence the Commission collected from past investigations, Williams’s book, and independent witnesses, such as myself.

I was one of the 28 witnesses (and one of only three Americans) who provided testimony to the Commission, based on information gathered in the course of my research into the assassinations of the Sixties.

“It is legitimate to ask whether an inquiry such as this, a full half-century after the events with which it is concerned, can achieve anything except possibly to feed speculation and conspiracy theories surrounding the crash,” the most recent Commission wrote in its report.

“Our answer, and the reason why we have been willing to give our time and effort to the task, is first that knowledge is always better than ignorance, and secondly that the passage of time, far from obscuring facts, can sometimes bring them to light.”

The Congo Crisis

The report summarized the historical situation Hammarskjöld was faced with in 1961. In June of 1960, under pressure from forces in the Congo as well as from the United Nations, Belgium had relinquished its claim to the Congo, a move which brought Patrice Lumumba to power.

Lumumba faced a near civil war in his country immediately. The military mutinied, the Belgians stepped back in to protect Belgian settlers, and local leader Moise Tshombe declared Katanga, a mineral-rich province, an independent state.

As the Commission’s report noted, “Katanga contained the majority of the Congo’s known mineral resources. These included the world’s richest uranium and four fifths of the West’s cobalt supply. Katanga’s minerals were mined principally by a Belgian company, the Union Minière du Haut Katanga, which immediately recognised and began paying royalties to the secessionist government in Elisabethville. One result of this was that Moise Tshombe’s regime was well funded. Another was that, so long as Katanga remained independent of the Congo, there was no risk that the assets of Union Minière would be expropriated.”

The U.S. government feared that Katanga’s rich uranium reserves would fall under Soviet control if the nationalist movement that brought Lumumba to power succeeded in unifying the country. Indeed, rebuffed by Western interests, Lumumba did reach out to the Soviets for help, a move that caused CIA Director Allen Dulles to initiate CIA plans for Lumumba’s assassination. Lumumba was ultimately captured and killed by forces of Joseph Mobutu, whom Andrew Tully called “the CIA’s man” in the Congo just days before President Kennedy’s inauguration.

On the southern border of Katanga lay Northern Rhodesia, where Hammarskjöld’s plane would eventually go down, Sir Roy Welensky, a British politician, ruled as prime minister. Welensky, too, pushed for an independent Katanga. Along with the resources, there was also the fear that an integrated Congo and Katanga could lead to the end of apartheid in Rhodesia which might spread to its larger and more prosperous neighbor South Africa.

The British situation was divided, with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Landsdowne, backing the UN’s efforts at preserving a unified Congo, while the British High Commissioner to the Rhodesian Foundation, Lord Alport, was upset with the UN’s meddling, saying African issues were “better left to Europeans with experience in that part of the world.”

Similarly, U.S. policy appeared split in 1961. Allen Dulles and possibly President Dwight D. Eisenhower had worked to kill Lumumba just before President John F. Kennedy took office. But President Kennedy had been a supporter of Lumumba and fully backed the UN’s efforts in the Congo.

As the report notes, “There is evidence … of a cleft in policy between the US Administration and the US Central Intelligence Agency. While the policy of the Administration was to support the UN, the CIA may have been providing materiel to Katanga.”

So British, Belgian and American interests that weren’t always representative of their official heads of state had designs on Katanga, its politics and its resources. What stood in their way? The UN, under the firm leadership of Dag Hammarskjöld.

The UN forces had been unsuccessful in unifying the Congo, so Hammarskjöld and his team flew to Leopoldville on Sept. 13, 1961. Hammarskjöld planned to meet Tshombe to discuss aid, contingent on a ceasefire, and the two decided to meet on Sept. 18 in Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).

On Sept. 17, the last day of Hammarskjöld’s life, Neil Ritchie, an MI6 officer, went to pick up Tshombe and the British consul in Katanga, Denzil Dunnett. He found them in the company of a high-level Union Minière employee.

That night, Hammarskjöld embarked on the Albertina, a DC6 plane, and flew from Leopoldville to Ndola, where he was to arrive shortly after midnight. Lord Landsdowne, the British leader opposing a unified Congo, flew separately, although the report goes out of its way to say there was nothing sinister in them flying in separate planes and that this was “diplomatically and politically appropriate.”

A large group of diplomats, Africans, journalists and at least three mercenaries waited for Hammarskjöld’s plane at the Ndola airport. The Commission found the presence of mercenaries there strange as a police inspector was on duty specifically “to ensure nobody was at the airport who had no good reason to be there.”

The Crash

Hammarskjöld’s plane deliberately circumvented Katanga, fearing interception. The pilot radioed Ndola 25 minutes before midnight with an estimate that the plane was about 45 minutes from landing. At 12:10 a.m., the pilot notified the Ndola airport “Your lights in sight” and requested confirmation of the air pressure reading (QNH). “Roger QNH 1021mb, report reaching 6000 feet,” the airport replied. “Roger 1021,” the Albertina responded. That was the last communication received from Hammarskjöld’s plane. It crashed within minutes.

The Commission found the airport gave the plane correct information, that there was no indication the plane’s altimeter had been tampered with, that the landing gear had been lowered into the proper position and locked, and that the wing flaps had been correctly set. In other words, pilot error — the verdict of the initial Rhodesian inquiry into Dag Hammarskjöld’s death in 1962 — did not seem to be the likely cause.

At the crash site, several of the crash victims had bullets in their bodies. In addition, the Commission found “evidence from more than one source…that holes resembling bullet-holes were observed in the burnt-out fuselage.”

The Commission’s two aviation experts concluded the most likely cause of the crash seemed to be a “controlled flight into terrain,” meaning, no in-air explosion. This suggests someone deliberately or mistakenly drove the plane right into the ground. However, the report notes, this does not rule out some form of sabotage that could have distracted or injured the pilots, preventing a successful landing.

And the Commission noted contradictory evidence from a few eyewitnesses who claimed they saw the plane explode in mid-air. Another eyewitness, a member of the flight crew, found alive but badly burned, told a police inspector that the plane “blew up” and that “There was a lot of small explosions all around.”

The Commission interviewed African eyewitnesses who had feared coming forward years ago. One of them described seeing the plane on fire before it hit the ground. Another described seeing a “ball of fire coming on top of the plane.” Still another described a “flame … on top of the plane … like a ball of fire.”

Several witnesses saw a second plane near the one that crashed. One witness saw a second, smaller plane following a larger one, and told the Commission, “I saw that the fire came from the small plane…” And another witness also recalled seeing two planes in the sky with the larger one on fire. A third witness noted that he saw a flash of flame from one plane strike another. Several witnesses reported two smaller planes following a larger one just before the larger one caught fire.

A Swedish flight instructor described in 1994 how he had heard dialog via a short-wave radio the night of the crash. He recalled hearing the following from an airport control tower at the time of the crash: “He’s approaching the airport. He’s turning. He’s leveling. Another plane is approaching from behind — what is that?”

In one of the more bizarre elements of the case, Hammarskjöld’s body was not burnt, yet the other victims of the crash were severely burnt. The Commission concluded the most likely explanation, though not the sole one, was that Hammarskjöld’s body had been thrown from the plane before it caught fire.

And even more strangely, the commission found the evidence “strongly suggests” that someone moved Hammarskjöld’s body after the crash and stuck a playing card in his collar before the photographs of his body were taken. (The card “or something like it” was plainly visible “in the photographs taken of the body on a stretcher at the site.”)

Given the proximity of the plane to the airport, the Commission had a hard time explaining the nine-hour delay between the time of the crash and the Rhodesian authorities’ acknowledgement of its discovery of the wreckage.

While the Commission found a “substantial amount of evidence” that Hammarskjöld’s body had been “found and tampered with well before the afternoon of 18 September and possibly very shortly after the crash,” they also stated the evidence was “no more consistent with hostile persons assuring themselves that he was dead than with bystanders, or possibly looters, examining his body.” But the Commission also noted that “The failure to summon or send help, however, remains an issue.”

The Commission tried very hard to find the autopsy X-rays, as there were reports that a bullet hole had been found in Hammarskjöld’s head. But the X-rays appear lost forever.

Was Hammarskjöld deliberately assassinated?

Former President Harry S. Truman was convinced Hammarskjöld had been murdered. A Sept. 20, 1961 New York Times article quoted Truman as having told reporters, “Dag Hammarskjöld was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘When they killed him.’”

Years later, when the CIA was revealed to have been engaged in assassination plots, reporter Daniel Schorr speculated that the CIA may have been involved in Hammarskjöld’s death.

The report references the report of David Doyle, the chief of the CIA’s  Elizabethville base in Katanga who wrote in a memoir how three armed Fouga planes were being delivered to Katanga “in direct violation” of U.S. policy. Doyle doubted this was an official CIA operation, since he had not been notified of the delivery.

Bronson Tweedy, the head of the CIA’s Africa division, questioned Doyle about the possibility of a CIA operation to interfere with Hammarskjöld’s plane. The report notes that this could indicate a lack of CIA involvement in Hammarskjöld’s death, “unless, conceivably, Tweedy was simply trying to find out how much Doyle knew.”

It is the essence of CIA operations that they are highly compartmentalized and often kept secret between people even within the Agency itself. Meaning, Allen Dulles or someone high up the chain could easily have ordered a single operator to take out Hammarskjöld’s plane without using any official CIA channels. Indeed, that is what one would expect were so sensitive an operation as the assassination of a UN head contemplated.

After Lumumba’s death, in early 1961, the UN passed resolution 161, which urged the immediate removal of Belgian forces and “other foreign military and paramilitary personnel and political advisors not under the United Nations Command, and mercenaries” from the Congo.

Confession from a CIA operative

When I heard such a commission was forming, I reached out to Lord Lea of Crondall to offer some evidence of my own. John Armstrong, a fellow researcher into the JFK assassination, had forwarded me a series of Church Committee files and correspondence to and from a CIA operative named Roland “Bud” Culligan.

Culligan claimed the CIA had set him up on a phony bank fraud charge, and his way out of jail appears to have been to offer the Church Committee information on CIA assassinations (which he called “executive actions” or “E.A.’s”). Culligan was asked to list some “E.A.’s” that he had been involved in. Culligan mentioned, among high-profile others, Dag Hammarskjöld.

“Damn it, I did not want the job,” Culligan wrote to his legal adviser at Yale Law School. Culligan described the plane and the route, he named his CIA handler and his contact on the ground in Libya, and he described how he shot Hammarskjöld’s plane, which subsequently crashed.

As I testified, and as the Commission quoted in its report: “You will see from the correspondence that Culligan’s material was referred to an Attorney General, a Senator, and ultimately, the Senate investigation of the CIA’s activities at home and abroad that became known as the Church Committee after its leader, Senator Frank Church. Clearly, others in high places had reasons to believe Culligan’s assertions were worthy of further investigation.”

Culligan’s claims fit neatly with a broadcast allegedly heard by Navy Cmdr. Charles Southall, another Commission witness. The morning before the crash, Charles Southall, a naval pilot and intelligence officer, was stationed at the NSA’s facility in Cyprus.

At about 9 p.m. that night, Southall reported he was called at home by the communications watch officer and told to get down to the listening post because “something interesting” was going to happen that night. Southall described hearing a recording shortly after midnight in which a cool pilot’s voice said, “I see a transport plane coming low. All the lights are on. I’m going to make a run on it. Yes, it’s the Transair DC6. It’s the plane.”

Southall heard what sounded like cannon fire, then: “I’ve hit it. There are flames. It’s going down. It’s crashing.” Given that Cyprus was in the same time zone as Ndola, the Commission concluded it was possible that Southall had indeed heard a recording from Ndola. Southall was certain that what he heard indicated a deliberate act.


Several witnesses described seeing bullet holes in the plane before it burnt. The report described one witness’s account that the fuselage was “’riddled with bullet-holes’ which appeared to have been made by a machine-gun.”

This account was disputed by AP journalist Errol Friedmann, however, who claimed no bullet holes were present. However, bullets were definitely found embedded in the bodies of several of the plane crash victims, which tends to give the former claim more credence.

The same journalist Friedmann also noted to a fellow journalist that the day after the crash, in a hotel, he had heard a couple of Belgian pilots who had perhaps had too much to drink discussing the crash. One of the pilots claimed he had been in contact with Hammarskjöld’s plane and had “buzzed” it, forcing the pilot of the Albertina to take evasive action. When the pilot buzzed the plane a second time, he forced it towards the ground.

A third-party account allegedly from a Belgian pilot named Beukels was investigated with some skepticism by the Commission. Beukels allegedly gave an account to a French Diplomat named Claude de Kemoularia, who evidently first relayed Beukels’s account to UN diplomat George Ivan Smith in 1980 (not long after Culligan’s 1975 account, I would note).

Smith’s source, however, appeared to be a transcript, about which the Commission noted “the literary quality of the narrative suggests an editorial hand, probably that of one or both of the two intermediaries.” Allegedly, Beukels fired what he meant to be warning shots which then hit the tail of the plane.

While Beukels’s alleged narrative matched several known facts, the Commission wisely noted, “there was little in Beukels’s narrative, as reported, that could not have been ascertained from press coverage and the three inquiries, elaborated by his experience as a pilot.” The Commission wrote of other elements which invited skepticism of this account, but did concede it’s possible this account was self-serving, designed to excuse a deliberate shooting down by Beukels.

The Commission’s recommendation

While the Commission had no desire to place blame for the crash, the report states: “There is persuasive evidence that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola, which was by then widely known to be its destination,” adding “we … consider that the possibility that the plane was in fact forced into its descent by some form of hostile action is supported by sufficient evidence to merit further inquiry.”

The key evidence that the Commission thinks could prove or disprove a deliberate act would be the Ndola airport’s radio traffic that night. The Commission reported “it is highly likely that the entirety of the local and regional Ndola radio traffic on the night of 17-18 September 1961 was tracked and recorded by the NSA, and possibly also by the CIA.”

The Commission filed a Freedom of Information request for any such evidence with the National Archives but did not appear hopeful that such records would be released unless pressure was brought to bear.

In its discussion of Culligan, the Commission felt there were no leads there that could be pursued. But if any of Culligan’s many conversations with his legal adviser was captured on tape, and if tapes of the radio traffic cited above could be obtained, a voice match could be sought.

Based on its year-long investigation, the Commission stated that the UN “would be justified” in reopening its initial 1962 inquiry in light of the new evidence “about an event of global significance with deserves the attention both of history and of justice.”

[Regarding President Eisenhower’s possible role in ordering the assassination of Lumumba, Robert Johnson, a National Security Council staff member, told the Church Committee he heard Eisenhower give an order that Lumumba be killed. He remembered being shocked to hear this. Under questioning, however, Johnson allowed that may have been a mistaken impression, that perhaps Eisenhower was referring to Lumumba’s political, not physical, removal.]

Lisa Pease is a writer who has examined issues ranging from the Kennedy assassination to voting irregularities in recent U.S. elections.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Mysterious Death of a UN Hero

Lavrov: Russia convinced Syria chemical attack a “provocation”

A-Akhbar | September 17, 2013

Russia remains convinced that the August 21 poison gas attack in Syria was a provocation by rebel forces and says a report by UN inspectors does not answer all of its questions about the attack, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference alongside French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius a day after UN inspectors confirmed the use of the nerve agent sarin, Lavrov took a different view to France and other Western states which say they believe that Syrian government forces were behind the attack.

“We have the most serious basis to believe that this was a provocation,” Lavrov said.

The foreign ministers said that they had the same aim of ending the bloodshed, but disagreed on the methods to get there.

Fabius said there was a “difference in the approach on the methods.”

(Reuters, AFP)

September 17, 2013 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment