Aletho News


A New Year Just Like the Old Year

Jennifer Rubin Wants More War

By Philip Giraldi • The Unz Review • January 16, 2014

Israel’s friends frequently claim that critics hold Tel Aviv to a higher standard than they do other countries that have similar or worse records on human rights. Actually the truth is quite the reverse, with Israel frequently able to escape censure for actions that would normally result in the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council and condemnation by other international bodies. I am of course referring to the continued brutal Israeli occupation of much of what remains of Palestine and the ongoing colonization of land that is being appropriated illegally, activity that is only allowed to continue because of Washington’s willingness to protect Israel no matter what cost to other American interests.

Some of the gyrations that Israel’s supporters engage in would be describable as comic if the consequences of their obfuscation were not so serious. And there is no one better at throwing mud than Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s designated “Right Turn” blogger who is one of those folks who believe that being in love with Israel is a core conservative value. Rubin can hardly write about any current issue without somehow turning the discussion to poor little Israel, or, alternatively, to evil Iran.

On January 5th, Rubin produced what for her might be considered a ruminative piece entitled “What mattered in 2013.” She found “two developments… more significant” than anything else that happened in the past year, namely gay marriage and the continued perfidy of those danged Muslims. Leaving the gay marriage issue aside, Jennifer sees “Iran and its junior partner Syria in ascendancy” while Bashar Al-Assad of Syria “murdered more than 130,000” of his own people and crossed red lines with “near impunity,” a “monstrous event [that] Elliott Abrams tells us, has ramifications far beyond Syria.”

Abrams, a convicted felon and notorious liar but true blue for Israel, believes that inaction in Syria “has been noted in Jerusalem” and will send a signal and encourage Moscow and Beijing to challenge Washington.

Hezbollah meanwhile has “expanded its missile cache” and obtained “a strategic victory” together with Iran and will win in Syria while the US president “thinks up reasons not to act.”

Iran is behind all the instability, benefiting from “advanced centrifuges” and “international acquiescence” it is “on the cusp of obtaining a nuclear arms capability” even as it “pursues terrorism.” Rubin notes that “Sanctions have not dislodged the regime nor caused it to rethink its nuclear arms ambitions” but then goes on to recommend that “Congress can pass sanctions over White House objections and thereby force Iran to capitulate” because “If Congress finds a nuclear-armed Iran horrifying and wants to avoid a Middle East war it will need to pass a final sanctions bill, the last chance to peacefully disarm that mullahs.”

In another blog item posted on the following day, Jennifer is at it again, describing “Middle East bedlam.” She excoriates Secretary of State John Kerry for his eminently sensible suggestion “that Iran might join Syrian peace talks in Geneva” which she describes as “rewarding bad behavior” before stating that Washington has “no will to check Iranian hegemonic ambitions in the region.”

Three hours later, Rubin was at it again explaining how “Iran sanctions opponents [are] desperate,” noting that as of that time 49 senators had signed on to the new Iran bill, which would put an end to talks intended to resolve outstanding issues relating to the Iranian nuclear program. Interestingly, she observes that four “traditionally pro-Israel democrats” had yet to sign, suggesting that she appreciates very well that all the rationalizations about how Iran is a threat to the US are bogus and that it is all about Israel, just as it always is for her.

Rubin observes that the “anti-sanctions crowd remains a gaggle made up of far-left activists, State Department sycophants and reluctant Democratic chairmen dragooned into opposing the measure by the White House.” The lefties, apparently, have been suborned into opposing the measure by a “hit squad and consistently anti-Israel gang” in the progressive media while the “small cadre of ex-State Department and intelligence community hacks” fill out the roster of those who hate American National Security, apparently a subset of American Exceptionalism. Thank God true American heroes like Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Cardin and Menendez are “showing fortitude on sanctions” and doing what it takes to “dismantle [Iran’s] illegal nuclear weapons program.”

Three days later Rubin again describes how “Obama Iran gambit is unraveling.” She describes the negotiations in Geneva as “a giant stall by Iran to allow it to progress with its nuclear weapons program while getting sanctions relief.” How does she know that? She quotes no less an authority than Mark Dubowitz, a Canadian who claims to be an expert on the Middle East because he lived there but it turns out that he only resided in Israel. He is currently president of the neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies and heads a staff of 32 dedicated to finding more punishing ways to sanction Iran. Dubowitz claims that “Iran is building an industrial-size nuclear infrastructure that will give it multiple overt and covert pathways to a bomb.” Rubin adds that “either president Obama was snookered or he is snookering us” before quoting Josh Block, a former AIPAC communications director currently heading The Israel Project, who claims that “the ‘interim deal’ is actually just another stalling tactic by Iran… [but] Congress is not fooled. The American people are not fooled. Iran is playing us for the fool.” Block, for what it’s worth, is an Israel Firster who believes that anyone who uses the expression Israel Firster is a “borderline anti-Semite.”

Rubin concludes by warning that “… Congress needs to step forward and exercise leadership. If not, Iran will have gotten the bomb, relief from sanctions, encouragement for its hegemonic ambitions and a nuclear blackmail card. In fact, it’s most of the way there.”

First of all, it is perhaps not surprising that everywhere one turns with Jennifer Rubin Israel comes up, but she lacks the integrity required to appreciate that most of the criticisms she levels against the feckless Arabs and Iranians would apply equally or even more to Israel’s behavior. I sometimes think that it would be a wake-up call for her and her associates if one were able to arrange for all 100 Senators to vote anonymously, without fear of being exposed, on whether or not they really think that Iran threatens the United States. I would bet that an overwhelming number would indicate “no.” But, unfortunately, congress does not vote secretly. A veto proof majority of Senators now appear to be willing to vote for new Iran sanctions, the result of “a massive phone campaign by Concerned Women for America (CWA), a 500,000-member Christian and Zionist conservative group” and by the Emergency Committee for Israel. The White House is correctly warning that voting for new sanctions equates to voting for war.

So the question becomes “Why is the United States inching away from a possible agreement with Iran, a country that has been unfairly designated enemy number one since 1978?” I would suggest that Jennifer Rubin and the hacks (her term) that she assembles to say what she wants to hear have been a major element in pressuring congress and the rest of the media to line up squarely behind Israel, no matter what the issue and no matter what the genuine US interests might be. Rubin proudly reports that former Senator Scott Brown recently e-mailed her “One of the things I miss most [since leaving the Senate] is not being able to fight for Israel.” One has to wonder why any American Senator should be saying anything like that, but the irony apparently eludes Rubin.

And Jennifer is not above repeating over and over again her basic themes: that Iran wants to destroy Israel, that it has a nuclear weapons program, and that its intentions are both aggressive and hegemonic. Unfortunately all of her power points are either flat out false or not demonstrated by available evidence. According to the US intelligence community, Iran abandoned plans for a nuclear weapon in 2003 and does not currently have a program to develop one. Even Israeli intelligence agrees that is so. And Iran has never actually threatened to attack Israel. In fact, it hasn’t attacked anyone since the seventeenth century.

When Rubin launches her diatribes, she assumes that the reader agrees that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that it is a somehow a threat to the rest of the Middle East as well as to Europe and the United States. She piles surmise upon innuendo while making no real effort to explain how Iran with its miniscule military budget and surrounded by enemies is actually a threat, possibly because it is an impossible case to make. And as for poor beleaguered Israel, with its more than 200 secret nukes and delivery systems, she certainly must know that Iran could be destroyed in a matter of hours if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should choose to give the order. Given the fact that the breathtakingly belligerent Netanyahu is far nuttier than anyone running around loose in Iran, he is the real threat to peace that comes out of the Middle East, but it is a tale that Jennifer Rubin is unlikely to tell.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on A New Year Just Like the Old Year

NSA Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

The Jurist | January 15, 2014

JURIST Contributing Editor Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law discusses two recent decisions on the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) metadata collection program …

Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires Verizon to produce on an “ongoing daily basis … all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

The government has admitted it collects metadata for all of our telephone communications, but says the data collected does not include the content of the calls.

In response to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the program, two federal judges issued dueling opinions about whether it violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Judge Richard J. Leon, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, held that the metadata program probably constitutes an unconstitutional search and seizure. Judge William H. Pauley III, of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, determined that it does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Leon’s Opinion

Leon wrote, “Because the Government can use daily metadata collection to engage in ‘repetitive surreptitious surveillance of a citizen’s private goings on,’ the ‘program implicates the Fourth Amendment each time a government official monitors it.’” The issue is “whether plaintiffs have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government indiscriminately collects their telephony metadata along with the metadata of hundreds of millions of other citizens without any particularized suspicion of wrongdoing, retains all of that metadata for five years, and then queries, analyzes, and investigates that data without prior judicial approval of the investigative targets. If they do—and a Fourth Amendment search has thus occurred—then the next step of the analysis will be to determine whether such a search is ‘reasonable.’” The first determination is whether a Fourth Amendment “search” has occurred. If so, the second question is whether that search was “reasonable.”

The judicial analyses of both Leon and Pauley turn on their differing interpretations of the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Smith v. Maryland. In Smith, a robbery victim reported she had received threatening and obscene phone calls from someone who claimed to be the robber. Without obtaining a warrant, the police installed a pen register, which revealed a telephone in the defendant’s home had been used to call the victim. The Supreme Court held that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the numbers dialed from his telephone because he voluntarily transmits them to his phone company.

Leon distinguished Smith from the NSA program, saying that whether a pen register constitutes a “search” is “a far cry from the issue in [the NSA] case.” Leon wrote, “When do present-day circumstances—the evolution of the Government’s surveillance capabilities, citizens’ phone habits, and the relationship between the NSA and telecom companies—become so thoroughly unlike those considered by the Supreme Court thirty-four years ago that a precedent like Smith simply does not apply? The answer, unfortunately for the Government, is now.”

Then Leon cited the 2012 Supreme Court case of United States v. Jones, in which five justices found that law enforcement’s use of a GPS device to track the movements of a vehicle for nearly a month violated a reasonable expectation of privacy. “Significantly,” Leon wrote, “the justices did so without questioning the validity of the Court’s 1983 decision in United States v. Knotts, that the use of a tracking beeper does not constitute a search because ‘[a] person travelling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.’” Leon contrasted the short-range, short-term tracking device used in Knotts with the constant month-long surveillance achieved with the GPS device attached to Jones’s car.

Unlike the “highly-limited data collection” in Smith, Leon noted, “[t]he NSA telephony metadata program, on the other hand, involves the creation and maintenance of a historical database containing five years’ worth of data. And I might add, there is the very real prospect that the program will go on for as long as America is combating terrorism, which realistically could be forever!” He called the NSA program “effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation [between telecom companies and] the Government.”

“[T]he almost-Orwellian technology that enables the Government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979,” Leon exclaimed, calling it “the stuff of science fiction.” He cited Justice Scalia’s opinion in Kyllo v. United States, which held the use of a thermal imaging device, that measures heat waste emanating from a house, constitutes a “search.” Justice Scalia was concerned about increasing invasions of privacy occasioned by developing technology.

Leon wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.”

Quoting Justice Sotomayor’s concurrence in Jones, Leon noted the breadth of information our cell phone records reveal, including “familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.”

Having determined that people have a subjective expectation of privacy in their historical record of telephony metadata, Leon turned to whether that subjective expectation is one that society considers “reasonable.” A “search” must ordinarily be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing in order to be “reasonable.” One exception is when there are “special needs,” beyond the need for ordinary law enforcement (such as the need to protect children from drugs).

“To my knowledge, however, no court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion,” Leon wrote. “In effect,” he continued, “the Government urges me to be the first non-FISC judge to sanction such a dragnet.”

Leon stated that fifteen different FISC judges have issued 35 orders authorizing the metadata collection program. But, Leon wrote, FISC Judge Reggie Walton determined the NSA has engaged in “systematic noncompliance” and repeatedly made misrepresentations and inaccurate statements about the program to the FISC judges. And Presiding FISC Judge John Bates noted “a substantial misrepresentation [by the government] regarding the scope of a major collection program.”

Significantly, Leon noted that “the Government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature.”

Pauley’s Opinion

Pauley’s analysis of the Fourth Amendment issue was brief. He explained that prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks, the NSA intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. But the overseas signal intelligence capabilities the NSA used could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier; thus, the NSA mistakenly concluded that al-Mihdhar was not in the United States. Pauley wrote: “Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.”

“If plumbed,” Pauley noted, the telephony metadata program “can reveal a rich profile of every individual as well as a comprehensive record of people’s association with one another.” He noted, “the Government acknowledged that since May 2006, it has collected [telephony metadata] for substantially every telephone call in the United States, including calls between the United States and a foreign country and calls entirely within the United States.”

But, unlike Leon, Pauley found Smith v. Maryland controls the NSA case. He quoted Smith: “Telephone users … typically know that they must convey numerical information to the telephone company; that the telephone company has facilities for recording this information; and that the telephone company does in fact record this information for a variety of legitimate business purposes.” Thus, Pauley wrote, when a person voluntarily gives information to a third party, “he forfeits his right to privacy in the information.”

While Leon’s distinction between Smith and the NSA program turned on the breadth of information collected by the NSA, Pauley opined, “The collection of breathtaking amounts of information unprotected by the Fourth Amendment does not transform that sweep into a Fourth Amendment search.” And whereas Leon’s detailed analysis demonstrated how Jones leads to the result that the NSA program probably violates the Fourth Amendment, Pauley failed to meaningfully distinguish Jones from the NSA case, merely noting that the Jones court did not overrule Smith.

Leon’s decision is the better-reasoned opinion.

Looking Ahead

This issue is headed to the Court of Appeals. From there, it will likely go the Supreme Court. The high court checked and balanced President George W. Bush when he overstepped his legal authority by establishing military commissions that violated due process, and attempted to deny constitutional habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees. It remains to be seen whether the court will likewise refuse to cower before President Barack Obama’s claim of unfettered executive authority to conduct dragnet surveillance. If the court allows the NSA to continue its metadata collection, we will reside in what can only be characterized as a police state.

Marjorie Cohn is a Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, past president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her next book, Drones and Targeted Killing, will be published in 2014 by University of California Press.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on NSA Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Britain says every state should join the ICC apart from Palestine

By David Morrison | Friends of Lebanon | January 16, 2014

It is British policy to extend the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to every corner of the earth, except the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, that is, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

And it is not as if the Occupying Power isn’t committing acts that Britain regards as illegal in these territories, in particular, settlement building.  British policy on this issue as stated on the FCO website is as follows:

“Our position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is clear: they are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and make a two-state solution harder to achieve.” [1]

Settlement building is a war crime

Though the British Government never says so explicitly, settlement building is a war crime under the Rome Statute which defines the offences that can be prosecuted by the ICC.  It is a war crime because it involves the Occupying Power transferring some of its own civilian population to the territory it occupies.  And under Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” [2] is a war crime.

Since there is no doubt that Israel has transferred well over 500,000 Israeli civilians into territory it occupies, and that the process is still going on, there is a prima facie case that Israelis responsible for the settlement building programme, including the present Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, are guilty of war crimes.  It may be that Americans and others who fund settlement building are guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes.

Yet the British Government is opposed to Palestine becoming a party to the Rome Statute so that it is possible that Israelis responsible for settlement building will be brought to account for what the British Government itself regards as illegal actions.

Challenging impunity around the world

In July last year, the British Foreign Office launched an ICC strategy paper [3], which expressed Britain’s enthusiastic support for international systems of justice in general and the ICC in particular.

A key element of British policy set out in the paper is the extension of the jurisdiction of the ICC by encouraging states that are not party to the Rome Statute of the ICC to join, with the objective of the ICC eventually acquiring universal jurisdiction. The paper explains that the British Government intends to:

  • “Work with other States Parties to encourage more states to ratify and accede to the Rome Statute and to fully implement its provisions in domestic law. …
  • “Urge States not party to the Rome Statute to consider ratifying or acceding to the Treaty …”

The paper explains:

  • “Widening the reach of the Court beyond the current 122 States Parties will increase accountability and help challenge impunity.”

Inappropriate to challenge Israeli impunity

This enthusiasm for extending ICC jurisdiction was sadly missing when Foreign Minister William Hague spoke in the House of Commons a few months later on 28 November 2012.  Then, he offered UK support for a UN General Assembly resolution granting Palestine statehood, providing Palestinian leaders promised, amongst other things, that if Palestine acquired statehood it would not become a party to the Rome Statute.

Here’s what he told the House of Commons:

“Our country is a strong supporter, across all parties, of international justice and the International Criminal Court. We would ultimately like to see a Palestinian state represented throughout all the organs of the United Nations. However, we judge that if the Palestinians were to build on this resolution by pursuing ICC jurisdiction over the occupied territories at this stage, it could make a return to negotiations impossible.” [4]

Yes, believe it or believe it not, it is British policy to extend the jurisdiction of the ICC to every corner of the earth, except the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.  There it is apparently inappropriate for Britain to challenge impunity.

Two days later, when in retaliation for the UN granting statehood to Palestine, Israel announced plans for yet more building in settlements, William Hague reacted as follows:

“I am extremely concerned by reports that the Israeli Cabinet plans to approve the building of 3000 new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties.” [5]

Dare I suggest that, if settlements are illegal under international law, then, if at all possible, those responsible should be tried in an international court and, if found guilty, punished appropriately?  Dare I suggest that, to this end, Palestine should be encouraged to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC?

Palestinian Authority tried to grant the ICC jurisdiction

In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority tried to grant the ICC jurisdiction over the occupied territories so that it would be possible for Israelis to be prosecuted by it for actions against Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

The ICC can prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute of the Court [2]. It acquires jurisdiction in respect of these crimes by states granting it jurisdiction under Article 12 of the Statute.  A state can grant jurisdiction to the Court

(a)  by becoming a Party to the Statute (Article 12(1)) or

(b)  by making an ad hoc declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction (Article 12(3)).

The ICC can try individuals for genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed in the territories of states (or by its nationals anywhere) that have granted the Court jurisdiction.

On 21 January 2009, the Palestinian Authority made an ad hoc declaration to the Court under Article 12(3) in the following terms:

“In conformity with Article 12, paragraph 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Government of Palestine hereby recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court for the purposes of identifying, prosecuting and judging the authors and accomplices of acts committed in the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002” [6].

It took the ICC Prosecutor over three years (until April 2012) to decide that the Court couldn’t accept the jurisdiction offered.  This decision hung on whether or not Palestine was a “state” within the meaning of Article 12(3), which says that a “State may, by declaration lodged with the Registrar, accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to the crime in question”.

Strangely, the Prosecutor concluded that it wasn’t up to him to decide whether or not Palestine was a “state”, within the meaning of Article 12(3), saying that “competence for determining the term “state” within the meaning of article 12 rests, in the first instance, with the United Nations Secretary General who, in case of doubt, will defer to the guidance of General Assembly” [7].

However, now that the UN General Assembly passed resolution A/RES/67/19 [8] accepting Palestine as a state, there is little doubt that Palestine can simply become a Party to the Statute under Article 12(1).  Given that Palestine has been accepted as a state by the UN, it is almost certain that the answer would be YES.

During a public discussion held at the Academie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris on 20 March 2013, Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that it was clear that ICC membership for the State of Palestine was Palestine’s for the asking (see John Whitbeck, Palestine and the ICC, Al Jazeera, 16 April 2013 [9]).

Whitbeck also reported Fatou Bensouda’s view on the issue of retroactivity, that is, whether individuals could be prosecuted for past crimes committed before Palestine becomes a party to the Rome Statute.  She said that she did not think that retroactivity could extend back to the birth of the court in 2002 and if any retroactivity was permitted, it would not be earlier than 29 November 2012, when the UN General Assembly recognised Palestine as a state.

Palestine to join other UN bodies?

A year has passed since Palestine was granted statehood by the UN General Assembly.  It was generally expected that, having achieved that, the Palestinian Authority would press ahead to join other bodies associated with the UN, of which there are about 20, including the ICC.

There is little doubt that, had it done so, it would have been admitted to all of them. Remember that in October 2011, a year before it achieved statehood and in the teeth of fierce opposition from the US and Israel, it was admitted to full membership of UNESCO by 107 votes to 14 with 52 abstentions.

But, it hasn’t done so, because there has been fierce pressure on it not to do so, especially from the US.  And, it has now promised theUS that it will not apply for membership of any of these bodies until April 2014 during the 9 month period of “negotiations” with Israel, brokered by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

It is absolutely outrageous that the US, with the support of Britain and others, has pressurised Palestinians into forgoing a possible legal means of redress against the illegal actions by the power that has held them under military occupation for almost 50 years.

Comoros asks ICC to prosecute Israelis re Mavi Marmara

On a brighter note, there is a possibility that Israelis may be arraigned before the ICC for the Israeli military assault on the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010.  This took place in international waters, when it was part of a humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza, and resulted in the deaths of 9 civilian passengers.

This is possible because the Mavi Marmara was registered in the Comoros Islands and the Union of the Comoros is a state party to the Rome Statute.  Under Article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction in respect of crimes committed, not only in the territory of a state party, but also on ships or aircraft registered in a state party.  On 14 May 2013, the Union of the Comoros requested that the ICC mount an investigation into the Mavi Marmara assault.

This request has been made under Article 14 of the Rome Statute which states:

“A State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes.” [2]

On 14 May 2013, lawyers representing the Union of the Comoros presented a document to the ICC prosecutor, under Article 14, requesting her “to initiate an investigation into the crimes committed within the Court’s jurisdiction, arising from [the Mavi Marmara] raid’’[10].  The document sought to make a case that Israeli military personnel committed war crimes (for example, ‘wilful killing’ under Article 8(2)(a)(i) of the Rome Statute) and crimes against humanity under Article 7.

The prosecutor has to conduct a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the ICC’s criteria for opening an investigation are met.  That examination is ongoing at the time of writing.












David Morrison is a Political Officer of Sadaka: The Ireland Palestine Alliance and co-author of A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran (April 2013).  Morrison can be reached at

(December 2013)

Editorial note: For a glimpse at a similar situation with Lebanon, see “Justice campaigners say US urged Lebanon not to join International Criminal Court,” by Andrew Wander, The Daily Star, 12 March 2009.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Britain says every state should join the ICC apart from Palestine

“The Americans Lied to Us”

The German government and its intelligence services no longer believe the United States will stop spying on German citizens. Resentment is running deep.

By Hans Leyendecker and Georg Mascolo | Süddeutsche Zeitung | January 13, 2014
Translated by Ron Argentati, edited by Gillian Palmer | Watching America

The planned “no spy” agreement with Germany seems doomed. While negotiations are still officially underway, Germany has little hope that a bilateral agreement acceptable to the United States is likely. The Americans will not even make a commitment to refrain from snooping on German government and political officials in the future.

There is a great deal of disappointment in German intelligence circles where the Bundesnachrichtendienst [the German intelligence agency] is charged with carrying on the negotiations. One BND expert told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, “We’re not getting anything in return.”

BND President Gerhard Schindler is said to have told his staff that he would prefer to do without a no-spy agreement under such circumstances. Resentment among German negotiators is considerable. One high-level negotiator feels the Americans lied to them.

The U.S., for example, refuses to tell Germany the time frame in which Angela Merkel’s telephone was being monitored and whether America eavesdropped on other high-level German government officials’ telephone conversations as well.

Prior to eavesdropping on the German chancellor, the U.S. had guaranteed in writing that American intelligence would avoid doing anything counter to German interests. Requests by German constitutional lawyers for access to a suspected U.S. listening station on the top floor of their embassy on Berlin’s Pariser Platz were rejected by U.S. officials.

The German government had previously informed the U.S. government it would consider such a listening station to be a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The German attorney general’s office will determine whether a formal investigation should be conducted.

The U.S. refusal to sign an enforceable agreement came as a surprise to Berlin. As late as this summer, National Security Agency Chief General Keith Alexander told his German counterparts, among them BND President Schindler, that the U.S. was preparing a far-reaching no-spy agreement. But he always provided the caveat that such an agreement would have to be approved by the White House, saying his office had no authority to do so independently.

The Americans’ apparent engagement led the German government to expect a quick and positive conclusion. The word in August was that oral agreements with the Americans were already in place stipulating “no mutual espionage, no industrial spying and no infringements of national laws.” These supposed agreements have now vanished into thin air.

A spokesperson for the German government refused to comment on the Süddeutsche Zeitung report because negotiations were still underway. The chancellor’s office stated it had hopes of a conclusion sometime within the next three months.

Germany – Süddeutsche Zeitung – Original Article (German)

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

MIT study of Ghouta chemical attack challenges US intelligence

RT | January 16, 2014

A new MIT report is challenging the US claim that Assad forces used chemical weapons in an attack last August, highlighting that the range of the improvised rocket was way too short to have been launched from government controlled areas.

In the report titled “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence,” Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector, and Theodore Postol, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), examined the delivery rocket’s design and calculated possible trajectories based on the payload of the cargo.

The authors concluded that sarin gas “could not possibly have been fired at East Ghouta from the ‘heart’, or from the Eastern edge, of the Syrian government controlled area shown in the intelligence map published by the White House on August 30, 2013.”

Based on mathematical calculations, Lloyd and Postol estimate the rocket with such aerodynamics could not travel more than 2 kilometers. To illustrate their conclusion, the authors included the original White House map that depicted areas under Assad control and those held by the opposition. Based on the firing range and troop locations on August 21, the authors conclude that all possible launching points within the 2 km radius were in rebel-held areas.

“This mistaken intelligence could have led to an unjustified US military action based on false intelligence. A proper vetting of the fact that the munition was of such short range would have led to a completely different assessment of the situation from the gathered data,” the report states.

The authors emphasize that the UN independent assessment of the range of the chemical munition is in “exact agreement” with their findings.

The report goes on to challenge the US Secretary of State’s key assessments of the chemical attack that he presented to the American people on August 30th and to the Foreign Relations Committee on September 3rd in an effort to muster a military attack on Syria.

“My view when I started this process was that it couldn’t be anything but the Syrian government behind the attack. But now I’m not sure of anything. The administration narrative was not even close to reality. Our intelligence cannot possibly be correct,” Postol told McClatchy news.

“The Syrian rebels most definitely have the ability to make these weapons,” he said. “I think they might have more ability than the Syrian government.”

It also remains a mystery why the particular type of rocket that was used in the attack was not declared by the Syrian government as part of its chemical weapons arsenal when it agreed to destroy its chemical weapons and their delivery methods. OPCW inspectors charged with implementing the agreement also did not discover such a rocket in possession of government forces.

Syria agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapons through a deal brokered by Russia and the US after a sarin gas attack on August 21. Western nations blamed the deadly attack on President Bashar Assad’s forces, while Damascus accused the rebels for the incident. The UN fact-finding mission had no mandate to find out who carried out the attack.

Under the UN-backed plan, all of the country’s declared 1,290 tons of toxic agents should be destroyed by June 30. Initially, the first batch of the most dangerous materials was to be moved out of Syria on December 31.

However, the deadline was missed because of the ongoing war in Syria and technical issues. It was only on January 7 that “priority chemical materials” left the Syrian port of Latakia on a Danish ship for international waters.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on MIT study of Ghouta chemical attack challenges US intelligence

Ariel Sharon: His Sabra and Shatila Legacy – An Eye Witness Account

By Felicity Arbuthnot and Dr. Ang Swee Chai | Palestine Chronicle | January 15, 2014

As Israel buried Ariel Sharon amid eulogies from world figures, Tony Blair, a Butcher of Baghdad, paid a tribute to the Butcher of Beirut which included the line that Sharon: “didn’t think of peace as a dreamer, but did dream of peace.” Also that: “ … he sought peace with the same iron determination” as he had fought (read slaughtered, across the Middle East.) Re-writing history does not come more blatant, but Blair was ever good at fantasy, think “weapons of mass destruction” and “forty five minutes.”

Surgeon, Dr Swee Chai Ang went to help the wounded of Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion and witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre of unarmed men woman and children, Palestinian and Lebanese, between the 15th-18th September,1982.

In her book “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, she describes the reality:

“As I walked through the camp alleys looking at the shattered homes (many of these houses had just been rebuilt following earlier bombardments by Israel) I wanted to cry aloud, but was too exhausted emotionally even to do that. How could little children come back to live in the room where their relatives were tortured and then killed? If the Palestinian Red Crescent Society could not function legally, who was going to look after the widows and orphans?

“Suddenly, someone threw his arms around me. It was Mahmoud, a little child who had broken his wrist while trying to help his father rebuild their broken home. He had survived and his wrist had mended, but now his father was dead. Mahmoud cried, but he was glad I was alive because, from his hiding place during the massacre, he had seen the soldiers taking us away. He thought they had killed me.

“Soon I was surrounded by a whole lot of children. Kids without homes, without parents, without futures. But they were the children of Sabra and the children of Shatila. One of them spotted my pocket camera, and wanted a picture taken. Then they all stood together, wanting their pictures taken. “They wanted me to show their picture to the people of the world. Even if they were killed and the camps were demolished, the world would know that they were the children of Sabra and Shatila, and were not afraid. As I focused my camera, they all held up their hands and made victory signs, right in front of their destroyed homes, where many had been killed. Dear little friends, you taught me what courage and struggle are about.”

Dr Swee Chai Ang founded Medical Aid for Palestine as a result of her experiences in Beirut and Sabra and Shatila. On the eve of Ariel Sharon’s burial, she wrote the following. It is published with her permission:

The passing of Ariel Sharon brought back the memories of the horrors of the Sabra Shatilla massacre of September,’82. I arrived in August that year as a volunteer surgeon to help the war victims of Lebanon. The people in Lebanon were wounded, made homeless and lost precious friends and families as the result of ten weeks of ruthless bombardment. That was the “Operation Peace for Galilee”, launched by Sharon who was then the Defence Minister of Israel in June 1982.

No one knew how many were killed as the result of that offensive – the London newspapers estimated a thirty thousand with many times more made homeless. When a ceasefire was agreed with the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Sharon broke that ceasefire and drove tanks under air-cover launching a land invasion into Lebanon’s capitol Beirut. Part of the tanks sealed Sabra Shatilla and prevented the helpless civilian victims from escaping, while sending in Israel’s allies into the camps to carry out the most brutal massacre of defenceless women, children and old people under Israel’s watch. The blame was quickly and deliberately shifted to the Lebanese as perpetrators of the massacres, so that today no one can mention that massacre without blaming the Lebanese Phalange, yet forgetting the Israeli organisers of that event.

I worked in Gaza Hospital in Sabra Shatilla during the massacre trying to save the lives of a few dozen people, but outside the hospital hundreds were killed. My patients and I knew that Sharon and his officers were in control, and without them the massacre would not be possible. The residents of Sabra Shatilla could at least have escaped. Now more than 30 years later, we know that the killers were brought in by Israeli armoured cars and tanks, obeyed Israeli commands, their paths lit by Israeli military flares, and some of them also wore Israeli uniforms. The mutilated bodies of the victims were thrown into mass graves by Israeli bulldozers.

This Sharon continued on to be Israeli Prime Minister, and built the Wall which imprisoned the Palestinians in the West Bank. Sharon’s Wall cut through their lands, separating people from their homes, children from their schools, farmers from their orchards,  patients from hospitals, husbands from wives, and children from parents. He marched into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem 2000 with fully armed Israeli soldiers and tried to have the West believe that his intention was for peace.

He was responsible for other massacres such as in Jenin, Qibya and Khan Yunis just to name a few. The older generation in Khan Yunis in Gaza remembers that he killed all the grown men in the massacre of 1956 and left only the women and children to bury the dead.

I thought these facts should be publicised. Those who eulogise Sharon in his role of building Israel should also remember that he built his nation over the dead bodies of the Palestinian people, and the continued dispossession of those who are still alive.

– Dr Ang Swee Chai is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, Published by International Librarie, Beirut12 January 2014.

– Felicity Arbuthnot. is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on Ariel Sharon: His Sabra and Shatila Legacy – An Eye Witness Account