Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

No Jews allowed

International Solidarity Movement | June 5, 2014

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – My plan for the morning was pretty simple, I wanted to enter the souq (market) and buy some bread for breakfast, and then walk home. That was it. As I made my way towards the souq entrance I was stopped by two Israeli border police officers and asked for my religion. This is not an unusual experience in this city, the military are a common sight and as well as the regular checkpoints, they can and often do stop you at any time, demanding your identification, asking your religion, and any other questions they desire to ask.

I am neither ashamed nor proud of my religion. It is part of who I am in the same way my hair colour is a part of me. It is also a question I have been asked before and, as in the past, I told the truth.

“I’m Jewish,” I said.

The two border police officers spoke to each other in Hebrew, a language I have very little understanding of.

“Where are you going?” They asked.

“The souq,” I said. “I just want to go to the market.”

“No, you can’t go in. No Jews allowed.”

I wasn’t completely shocked, this has also been something stated to me before.

“Come on, I’ve been in there a thousand times, is it illegal for me to enter?”

“You can’t go in, you’re Jewish, it’s not allowed, it’s dangerous.”

I wanted to laugh, I may well have done. “It’s not dangerous, I have many friends in there, just let me go.”

This continued on for a few more minutes, the blood heating in my face as I tried to argue my case to no avail. The real irony was instead of walking through the market to go home, I was forced to walk Shuhada street, a perfect example of the apartheid that exists within this military occupation, a street where Palestinians have been barred from walking since the year 2000, where many people lost their homes and livelihoods after they were forced to leave and never return. Only the Israeli military, settlers, and internationals are allowed to walk Shuhada Street, it is often christened “Ghost Town” by the Palestinians, and indeed the sight of so many closed shops and houses, is haunting. It is also a street where I have been assaulted twice by settlers, so the idea that this was a safer alternative for me than the market, is laughable.

I have been fortunate enough to live in Palestine for several months, mainly living in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron). Al-Khalil is a city with many problems, mostly due to the illegal settlement in the heart of the city [all settlements in occupied territory are illegal under international law], and the huge Israeli military presence there to enable the settlers.

The Israeli military commits terrible crimes against the Palestinian people. I have seen them arresting and detaining adults and children for no reason, physically and verbally harassing the people of the city, using their military weapons against adults, youths and children, as well as a hundred and one other injustices that impact the daily lives of Palestinians in al-Khalil.

The settlers in al-Khalil are above the law. They attack Palestinians and steal their land and property on a regular basis. The Israeli military not only does nothing to stop this, but in many cases they condone and encourage it. I have seen settler youth throwing stones at Palestinian homes, while Israeli soldiers watched on. When we asked the soldiers to do something to stop this, they replied they would do nothing, as they are “children”. However Israeli soldiers have no qualms in using violence against Palestinian children. I have come to al-Khalil as a solidarity activist; one of the activities I participate in almost daily is ‘school checkpoint watch’. This is where I would assist in monitoring a specific checkpoint the children of the city are forced to go through on their way to school. I have witnessed Israeli soldiers harassing and searching children as they go through the checkpoint, firing tear gas and stun grenades at them and into their schools, and detaining children, some as young as six-years-old.

After the two border police officers denied me entry into the market in the morning, I tried again several hours later. The result was the same. I was angry, and I was upset, and while I am in Palestine as a solidarity activist, all I wanted to do was to go through the souq and visit one of my friends.

However, I have no intention of writing that I now “understand” what the Palestinians experience due to the military occupation, and the complete control that exists over their freedom of movement. My experience today was frustrating, and also unfair, but it is nothing compared to what the Palestinian people experience on a regular basis.

Due to the colour of my skin, and my nationality, I am incredibly aware of the privilege I have in Palestine, and all over the world. The very fact that I am able to enter Palestine is a huge privilege within itself; so many Palestinians in the diaspora were forced away from their homeland and have never seen it again. The fact that, if I so wish, I can travel to Yaffa, and one of my closest friends, a Palestinian woman whose family is originally from the city, can never see her home.

I have never been denied entry to any area due to my religion by Palestinians, or any other time in my life. It is telling that the first time this happens is by the Israeli military, under the façade of my ‘safety’. Unless Israeli soldiers or settlers enter, which they frequently do, the most dangerous thing that could happen to me in the souq is that I could overdose on tea, forced on me by my friends.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 2 Comments

Pope’s unbalanced neutrality in Holy Land

By Nicola Nasser | Middle East Eye | June 4, 2014

Pope Francis’ “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land last week proved to be an unbalanced impossible mission. The pontiff failed to strike a balance of neutrality between contradictory and irreconcilable binaries like divinity and earth, religion and politics, justice and injustice and military occupation and peace.

Such neutrality is viewed by the laity of Christian believers, let alone Muslim ones, in the Holy Land as religiously, morally and politically unacceptable.

The 77-year old head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics “is stepping into a religious and political minefield,” Naim Ateek, the Anglican priest who founded the Palestinian liberation theology movement and runs the Sabeel Ecumenical Center in Jerusalem and Nazareth, was quoted as saying by Time on last May 24, the first day of the pope’s “pilgrimage.”

Ironically, the symbolic moral and spiritual power of the Holy See was down to earth in Pope Francis’ subservient adaptation to the current realpolitik of the Holy Land in what the Catholic Online on May 26 described as “faith diplomacy.”

The pontiff’s message to the Palestinian people during his three-day “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land boils down to an endorsement of the Israeli and U.S. message to them, i.e.: “The only route to peace” is to negotiate with the Israeli occupying power, refrain from unilateral actions and “violent” resistance and recognize Israel as a fait accompli.

The UK-based Jordanian-Palestinian journalist Lamis Andoni, a Christian herself, wrote on May 27: “We don’t need the Vatican blessing of negotiations … Whoever sees occupation and remains neutral has no justice in his vision.”

The Vatican and the pope himself had insisted that his visit to the birthplace of the three monotheistic “Abrahamic faiths” of Islam, Christianity and Judaism was “purely spiritual,” “strictly religious,” a “pilgrimage for prayer” and “absolutely not political.”

But the Vatican expert John Allen, writing in the Boston Globe a week ahead of the pope’s visit, had expected it to be a “political high-wire act,” and that’s what it truly was, because “religion and politics cannot be separated in the Holy Land,” according to Yolande Knell on BBC online on May 25.

Pope Francis would have performed much better had he adhered “strictly,” “purely” and “absolutely” to making his trip a “pilgrimage for prayer” and one that is committed to Christian unity and to helping indigenous Christians survive the highly volatile and violent regional environment.

Instead he had drowned his spiritual role in a minefield of symbolic political semantics and semiotics.

The pope finished his “pilgrimage,” which was announced as a religious one but turned instead into a political pilgrimage, with a call for peace.

However, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, while welcoming the pontiff inside Islam’s third holiest site of Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 26, said: “Peace in this land will not happen until the end of the [Israeli military] occupation.”

Palestinian-American Daoud Kuttab on May 25 wrote in a controversial column that the pope “exceeded expectations for Palestinians.”

He flew directly from Jordan to Bethlehem in Palestine without passing through any Israeli entry procedures, implicitly and symbolically recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.

He addressed the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the head of the “State of Palestine,” announced that there must be “recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement” and met with Palestinian children whose parents were refugees whom Israelis displaced from their homes in 1948.

And in an undeniable expression of solidarity with the Palestinians, he made an unplanned stop to pray at Israel’s apartheid wall of segregation in Bethlehem, because, as he said, “the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable.”

However, the word “occupation” was missing in more than thirteen of his speeches during his “pilgrimage” as was any reference to the world’s “largest open-air prison” in Gaza Strip or to Dahiyat a-Salam (literally: Neighborhood of Peace) and five other neighbourhoods in eastern Jerusalem, including the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, where some eighty thousand Palestinians have been cut off from the city services, including water, since March 2014 and isolated from Jerusalem by Israel’s segregation wall. His itinerary did not include the Galilee and Nazareth where most Palestinian Christians are located.

Eight papal messages

However, within less than twenty four hours the pontiff was to offset his positive overtures to Palestinians and his call for a “just solution” and a “stable peace based on justice” for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with eight messages to them.

The pontiff’s arrival in the Palestinian Holy Land came three days before Israel’s celebration of its 47th anniversary of its military occupation and annexation of the Christian and Muslim holy sites in the Arab east Jerusalem and ten days after the Palestinian commemoration of the 66th anniversary of their Nakba on the creation of Israel in 1948 on the ruins of more than 500 towns and villages from which the Zionist paratroops ethnically cleansed forcefully more than 800,000 Arab Muslim and Christian native Palestinians.

The pope had nothing to say or do on both occasions to alleviate the ensuing plight of the Palestinians except prayers, because “the concrete measures for peace must come from negotiations … It is the only route to peace,” according to the pope aboard his flight back to Rome.

That was exactly the same futile message the Israeli occupying power and its U.S. strategic ally have been sending to Palestinians for sixty six years, but especially since 1967: Palestinians should be held hostages to exclusively bilateral negotiations with their occupying power. This was the pope’s first message to Palestinians.

For this purpose, the pope invited Palestinian and Israeli presidents, Abbas and Shimon Peres, to pray for peace at “my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer” on June 8. The pope’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told the BBC it was “a papal peace initiative.” This was his second message.

His third message to Palestinians was to “refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement” with Israel, i.e. to refrain from unilateral actions, which is again another Israeli and U.S. precondition which both allies do not deem as deserving Israeli reciprocity.

By laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the atheist founder of Zionism who nonetheless believed in God’s promise of the land to His Jewish “chosen people,” the pope legitimized Herzl’s colonial settlement project in Palestine. This was his fourth message: Israel is a fait accompli recognized by the Vatican and blessed by the papacy and Palestinians have to adapt accordingly. The Washington Post on May 23 went further. “Some are interpreting” the pope’s act “as the pontiff’s tacit recognition of the country’s Jewish character.”

The pope sent his fifth message to Palestinians when he addressed young Palestinian refugees from the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem: “Don’t ever allow the past to determine your life, always look forward.” He was repeating the Israeli and U.S. call on Palestinian refugees to forget their Nakba and look forward from their refugee camps for an unknown future in exile and diaspora.

On the same occasion he sent his sixth message: “Violence cannot be defeated by violence; violence can only be defeated with peace,” the pope advised the young Palestinian refugees. This is again the Israeli and U.S. message to them, which after more than two decades of Palestinian commitment produced neither peace nor justice for them.

The pope prayed at the Holocaust memorial, the western al-Buraq Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israelis call “The Wailing Wall,” the memorial of the Israeli victims of Palestinian resistance, laid a wreath at Herzel’s grave, visited Israeli president at his residence where he “vowed to pray for the institutions of the State of Israel,” which are responsible for the Palestinian Nakba, and received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Notre Dame complex. The pontiff was in fact blessing and granting the Vatican legitimacy to all the Israeli symbolic casus belli claims to the land, which justify the Palestinian Nakba. This was his seventh message.

All those events took place in Jerusalem, which Israel annexed as the “eternal” capital of the Hebrew state and the “Jewish people.” Reuven Berko, writing in Yisrael Hayom, said that the Pope’s meetings with Peres and Netanyahu were “de facto expressions of the Vatican’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.”

The pope’s eighth message to Palestinians was on the future of Jerusalem: “From the negotiations perhaps it will emerge that it will be the capital of one State or another … I do not consider myself competent to say that we should do one thing or another.”

Normalization with Israel

The “greatest importance” of Pope Francis’ visit “may lie in the fact that it reflects the normalization of relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel,” head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, wrote on May 23.

The Second Vatican Council early in the sixties of the last century rejected the collective Jewish guilt for Jesus Christ’s death. Since then the Vatican’s “normalization” of relations with the Jews and Israel has been accumulating.

Rabbi David Rosen, director of inter-religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, was quoted as saying by the USA Today on May 26: There “has been a revolution in the Christian world.”

At Ben-Gurion airport on May 25, Pope Francis reiterated his predecessor Benedict’s call for “the right of existence for the [still borderless] State of Israel to be recognized universally,” but was wise enough not to reiterate his “thanks to God” because “the Jews returned to the lands of their ancestors.”

To emphasise interfaith coexistence he broke the precedent of including a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim sheikh in his official delegation. “It’s highly symbolic,” said Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office.

By laying a wreath of white and yellow flowers, the colours of the Vatican, on the Herzl’s grave, the pope broke another historic precedent. It was an unbalanced act, 110 years after Pope Pius X met Herzl and rejected the idea of a Jewish state.

The pontiff’s “pilgrimage” could not dispel the historical fact that lies deep in the regional Arab memory that papacy is “still linked to the Crusades of the 11th through 13th centuries” when the successive popes’ only link to the Holy Land was a military one, according to the international editor of NPR.org, Greg Myre, on this May 24.

Of course this does not apply to Christianity. The indigenous oriental churches’ link to the land has never been interrupted while the Catholic Church was cut off from the region since the end of the Crusades until it came back with the European colonial domination since the nineteenth century.

No pope ever travelled to Jerusalem until Paul VI spent one day in the city, on January 4, 1964, when the holy sites were under the rule of the Arab Jordanians. John Paul visited thirty six years later and established a new papal tradition that has been followed by Pope Benedict, who visited in 2009, and now Pope Francis.

It doesn’t bode well with the Arabs and the Palestinians in particular that the new papal tradition is building on the background of recognizing Israel, which is an occupying power and still without constitutional demarcated borders, as a fait accompli that the Palestinian people should recognize as well.

~

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. An edited version of this article was first published by the Middle East Eye. nassernicola@ymail.com

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Begins Arrest Campaign Against Popular Resistance Activists

mahmoud_zwahre_340_220

By Chris Carlson | International Middle East Media Center | June 5, 2014

Yesterday, at 4:30 am, Popular Resistance activist Mahmoud Zwahre was again arrested by the Israeli army, at his house in Al Ma’asara, just southwest of Bethlehem.

An attempt to arrest Zwahre was made previously during the weekly Friday protest in the village. This week, on Wednesday, a large group of Israeli soldiers raided Zwahre’s home, just before dawn.

Mahmoud Zwahre, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), is an activist and coordinator for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements in Al Ma’asara. Soldiers surrounded the Zwahre residence and declared it a closed military zone, as they proceeded to tear through the contents of the house, terrorizing the children and abusing Mahmoud in front of his family.

He was arrested, blindfolded, and taken to an unknown destination — essentially, and by all rights, amounting to a kidnapping.

(Al Ma’asara is a small Palestinian village located in Area B of the central occupied West Bank. Though Area B is officially recognized to be under joint Israeli-Palestinian security control, the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem has yet to be granted legitimacy by the international community.)

Munther Amira, director of the board of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements (PSCC) in the Palestinian territories, explained in an interview with the PNN that the Israeli occupation increasingly targets activists of Popular Resistance and their activities:

The activities of Popular Resistance are peaceful and designed to highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people through the Israeli occupation practices of racism and violation of international law. Nevertheless, the PSCC has documented the rough and violent reactions by Israeli soldiers against the protests and marches organized by the Popular Struggle Committees in the various provinces of the country.

The committee denounces the arrest of its coordinator Mahmoud Zwahre, and calls for his release.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sgt. Bergdahl and the Fog of War

By Sheldon Richman | FFF | June 4, 2014

The “fog of war” is a reference to the moral chaos on the battlefield as well as the rampant confusion. Individuals kill others for no other reason than that they are ordered to. Things deemed unambiguously bad in civilian life are authorized and even lauded in war. The killing and maiming of acknowledged innocents — in particular children and the elderly — is excused as “collateral damage.”

No wonder that some individuals thrust into this morass sometimes act differently from how soldiers behave in romantic war movies. The hell of war is internal as well as external.

We might remember this as the story of Sgt. Bowe Robert Bergdahl unfolds.

Bergdahl volunteered for the U.S. military and was apparently a gung-ho soldier. Americans have not been conscripted since 1973, but young Americans are propagandized from childhood with the message that time in the military is service to their country. Few question this narrative; fewer seek rebuttals to it. You have to want to face the facts that governments lie and that the service is to an empire having nothing to do with Americans’ security.

This, however, doesn’t relieve military personnel of responsibility for their own conduct. In 1951 — while Americans were fighting in Korea — Leonard E. Read, one of the founders of the modern libertarian movement, published “Conscience on the Battlefield,” in which a dying American soldier hears his conscience say that he — not the army or government — bears responsibility for his deadly conduct: “Does not the fault inhere in your not recognizing that the consequences of your actions are irrevocably yours…?”

Bergdahl seems to have been plagued by this question. (See Michael Hastings’s revealing 2012 article.)

In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a regime that used war to keep its population too frightened to ask questions and in which the enemy could change without notice. Orwell may have exaggerated, but not by much. The United States sided with one Afghan faction against the Soviets and their Afghan allies in the 1980s, then switched when it replaced the Soviets as invaders in 2001.

On the surface, the war in Afghanistan seems easy to understand. The Taliban government gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which attacked American targets in the 1990s and on September 11, 2001.

But things are not so simple. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the U.S. government sided with the future Taliban and al-Qaeda. President Reagan called the Afghan mujahideen“freedom fighters,” subsidized their war, and hosted them at the White House.

After the Soviet exit and years of  civil war, the Taliban became the brutal theocratic government of Afghanistan, but not an anti-American terrorist organization. Indeed, as late as May 2001, President George W. Bush was helping the Taliban suppress opium production. After 9/11, the Taliban made various offers to surrender or expel bin Laden, but the Bush administration was uninterested. (This lack of interest predated 9/11.) Taliban attacks on American military targets since the U.S. invasion should not be construed as terrorism, but rather as combat between former government officials and the foreign force that overthrew them.

Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, points out that soon after American forces invaded Afghanistan, “there was no enemy to fight”:

By mid-2002 there was no insurgency in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban had ceased to exist as a military movement. Jalaluddin Haqqani [whose “network” held Bergdahl captive] and other top Taliban figures were reaching out to the other side in an attempt to cut a deal and lay down their arms.

But, Gopal writes, “driven by the idée fixe that the world was rigidly divided into terrorist and non-terrorist camps, Washington allied with Afghan warlords and strongmen. Their enemies became ours, and through faulty intelligence, their feuds became repackaged as ‘counterterrorism.’”

When Haqqani, a celebrated freedom fighter during the Soviet war, turned down a deal from the Americans because it included detention, the U.S. military attacked his home province and other areas, killing his brother-in-law and innocent children.

If he wasn’t with the Americans, he was against them, and therefore it was open season.

In this whirlwind of cynicism and relativism, can anyone be blamed for wondering what the point of the war was?

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Secret Trials: UK Holds A Secret Terror Trial, As US Appeals Court Holds Secret Hearing In Terror Case

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | June 5, 2014

To have a functioning judiciary in an open democracy, part of the point is to make sure that court proceedings are open to the public. Yes, there may be certain instances where certain aspects must be kept secret, but the default should be open and public. Unfortunately, in both the US and UK this week, it appears that when it comes to the bogeyman word “terrorism,” courts are willing to go dark. The more serious situation is over in the UK, where it has just come out that a secret terrorism trial is being held — the first one in centuries. Even the names of the two defendants are not known (they’re listed as merely AB and CD). Journalists had even been barred from mentioning the existence of the trial, until a gag order was just overturned. Note that the Guardian’s page linked above had to turn off comments for legal reasons. Journalist Tim Cook has also spoken out eloquently about why this cannot stand.

I cannot say how broken-hearted I am about the prospect of a major criminal trial involving two men charged with serious terrorism offences being held entirely in secret for the first time in modern British legal history. I have spent my entire journalistic life campaigning against courtroom secrecy and this represents a nadir and indication of abject failure.

But the proposal is being contested by the process of law; albeit very limited and garrotted by the lack of a constitutional paradigm for freedom of the media and expression. We have been paying the price for not having a First Amendment for many years. Now we are entering the endgame of something beyond the dissolution of open justice.

Meanwhile, back here in the good, old United States, where we do have a First Amendment, at least we know that Adel Daoud is on trial. But the 7th Circuit Court of appeals kicked everyone out of the courtroom to hold a “secret hearing” with just the DOJ. As we wrote a few months ago, Daoud’s lawyers are asking to actually see the FISA court orders that were used to gather evidence against their client — and the DOJ is flipping out about that. While some of the hearings were held openly, at one point, Judge Richard Posner abruptly kicked everyone but the DOJ out, including Daoud’s lawyers.

As the arguments concluded, Judge Richard Posner announced the public portion of the proceedings had concluded and ordered the stately courtroom cleared so the three-judge panel could hold a “secret hearing.” Daoud’s attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, rose to object, but Posner did not acknowledge him. Deputy U.S. marshals then ordered everyone out – including Durkin, his co-counsel and reporters.

Only those with the proper security clearance — including U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, his first assistant, Gary Shapiro, and about a dozen FBI and U.S. Department of Justice officials – were allowed back in the courtroom before it was locked for the secret session.

Some reporters tried to ask what was going on, but Posner simply told them “No!” and kicked them out. Daoud’s lawyer was similarly perplexed:

“Not only do I not get to be there, but I didn’t even get to object,” Durkin said. “I had to object over the fact that I couldn’t even make an objection.”

As the article notes, this is highly unusual. While in national security cases, certain information may be filed under seal, or certain portions may be held “in camera” without reporters or the public, it’s not at all common to have just one side present. And while you may say that it makes sense in this case, where the three judge panel has to determine whether or not it’s appropriate to share the FISC orders with Daoud’s lawyers, it’s still somewhat troubling to see the ease with which secret court proceedings may occur.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FBI provided Anonymous with targets, new leaks show

RT | June 5, 2014

Leaked documents pertaining to the case against an American computer hacker currently serving a 10-year prison sentence have exposed discrepancies concerning the government’s prosecution and raise further questions about the role of a federal informant.

The documents — evidence currently under seal by order of a United States District Court judge and not made public until now — shines light on several aspects of the case against Jeremy Hammond, a 29-year-old hacktivist from Chicago, Illinois who was arrested in March 2012 with the help of an online acquaintance-turned-government informant. Last May, Hammond entered a plea deal in which he acknowledged his role in a number of cyberattacks waged by the hacktivist group Anonymous and various offshoots; had his case gone to trial, Hammond would have faced a maximum of life behind bars if found guilty by jury.

Articles published in tandem by The Daily Dot and Motherboard on Thursday this week pull back the curtain on the government’s investigation into Hammond and reveal the role that Hector Monsegur, a hacker who agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for leniency with regards to his own criminal matters, played in directing others towards vulnerable targets and orchestrating cyberattacks against the websites of foreign governments, all while under the constant watch of the US government.

Two-and-a-half years before Hammond pleaded guilty, Monsegur did the same upon being nailed with hacking charges himself. In lieu of risking a hefty sentence, however, Monsegur immediately agreed to aid the authorities and serve as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, eventually helping law enforcement nab Hammond and others. Last week, Monsegur was finally sentenced for the crimes he pleaded guilty to back in 2012 and was spared further jail time by the same judge who in November sent Hammond away for a decade.

1

Hector Xavier Monsegur

According to this week’s revelations, Monsegur did more than just inform for the FBI after his arrest. The articles suggest rather that from behind his internet handle “Sabu,” Monsegur solicited vulnerabilities and targets from a wide range of hackers and then handed them off to other online acquaintances, including Hammond, in order to pilfer, plunder and otherwise ravage the websites and networks of foreign entities and at least one major American corporation.

Combined, the articles and the evidence contained therein corroborate very serious allegations concerning the Justice Department’s conduct in the case against Hammond and numerous other hacktivists, while raising numerous questions surrounding the FBI’s knowledge in hundreds of cyberattacks and its documented efforts to coordinate those campaigns using their informant.

Excerpts from previously unpublished chat logs and other evidence used in the Hammond case and obtained by the Dot and Motherboard are cited to provide a new point-of-view concerning two matters in particular: the December 2011 hacking of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor; and a January 2012 campaign led by Anonymous against government websites in Brazil and the US.

Contrary to the government’s claims, the Dot article alleges that Hammond did not mastermind the hack against Stratfor, but was rather told to target the Texas-based intelligence firm after Monsegur was made aware of a vulnerability in its network by a mysterious hacker who used the handle “Hyrriiya.” Weeks’ worth of private chats and group messages logged by Monsegur for the FBI after his arrest confirm that Hyrriiya breached Stratfor first, then sent details to the hacker he knew as “Sabu,” who in turn personally recruited Hammond to take the attack to the next level. For the first time, a clear timeline now exists to show exactly how the hack was hatched first by Hyrriiya, then Monsegur. A claim made ahead of Hammond’s sentencing hearing in which he claimed to have never even heard of Stratfor until he was fed the target by Sabu is authenticated with the logs.

Motherboard’s report focuses on a span of time only weeks after the Stratfor hack earned Anonymous headlines around the globe. Monsegur at that time was maintaining a list of targets in Brazil that would then be dispersed among members of Anonymous and other hackers to be defaced en masse as part of at least two concurrent cyber operations carried out in early 2012: an anti-corruption campaign against the Brazilian government; and another op in response to the shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload.

“Sabu would say he wanted so-and-so, that another hacking team wanted this particular target,” Hammond told Motherboard from prison last month. “Some Brazilian was looking for people to hack them once I gave him the keys.”

Previously, Hammond said that Monsegur directed Anonymous to target websites belonging to no fewer than eight foreign governments while he was fully cooperating with the FBI. Only now, however, has documentation surfaced to verify that claim and others about alleged acts of cyberwar carried out by the the government by proxy.

“It’s completely outrageous that they made Sabu into this informant and then, it appears, requested him to then get other hackers to invade sites and look for vulnerabilities in those sites,” Michael Ratner, an attorney for WikILeaks, told Motherboard. “What that tells you is that this federal government is really — it’s really the major cybercriminal out there.”

The articles were first published Thursday morning and were a joint effort by journalists Dell Cameron of the Dot, Daniel Stuckey of Motherboard and RT’s Andrew Blake.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No Returning to G8: Russia

The BRICS Post | June 4, 2014

Russia said Wednesday that it was open for cooperation with major Western powers, but ruled out a return to the Group of Eight (G8), made up of the seven most industrialized nations, known as G7, and Russia.

“Such a format does not exist for now,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a Russian radio station.

Russia would, however, continue to participate in the Group of 20, which includes the most developed and major developing countries of the world, Peskov said.

Leaders of G7 declared in March that they would boycott the G8 summit in Sochi, where they were scheduled to have met with Russia this week. Instead, they gathered in Brussels for a two-day G7 summit.

The expulsion of Russia from the G8 came three days after Crimea accession to Russia.

Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin will not have a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama even though both leaders are attending the 70th anniversary of D-Day Landings in France’s Normandy on Friday.

“We are not making such preparations … Participants of war memorial events will stay together, in one group,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

He, however, did not rule out possible brief talks between Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko.

The Kremlin earlier confirmed that Putin, on his first visit to a Western country since the start of the Ukraine crisis, would have separate meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Normandy.

The US and EU have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on dozens of Russians over what they called Russia’s “meddling” in Ukraine’s affairs.

The European Union, however, would be troubled by Russia’s attempts to veer away from gas exports to the bloc by moving towards energy-hungry China.

Russia has had some success in diverting attention away from the troubling sanctions with the successful negotiations that led to the inking of a massive $400 billion gas deal with China last month and also the signing of the treaty to form the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, a combined $2.7 trillion economy and vast energy resources.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Black Lobbyists, Black Legislators Leverage Their “Brands” For Banksters, Military Contractors, Corporate Interests

cbc07

By Bruce A. Dixon | Black Agenda Report | June 4, 2014

Ever wondered what the staffers of Congressional Black Caucus members do after their stints on Capitol Hill? The answer, according to a Huffington Post article by Ryan Grim and Zach Carter, is they do the same thing most of their white colleagues do. They go to work for the big corporations which fund the careers of their former bosses. They become lobbyists for giant telecoms, for greedy banksters, for military contractors, for agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Pharma, big gentrifiers and the rest, all of which are finding their black faces and their ties to the Congressional Black Caucus, and the CBC itself especially useful these days.

With Republicans controlling the House and Democrats the Senate these days, Grim and Carter explain, the appearance of bipartisanship is everything. Any measure that passes the House with exclusively Republican support will go nowhere in the Senate, and whatever sails through the Senate on the votes of Democrats alone is guaranteed dead on arrival in the House. But when particularly nasty pro-corporate measures – the HuffPo article cites as examples bills to allow certain kinds of banned derivatives trading, and laws to aid for-profit schools and colleges – when legislative turds like this are passed with lots of Republican votes and a smattering of Democrats, especially black Democrats, the moral authority of the Congressional Black Caucus protects those measures from attacks by white liberals in the House, the Senate and among pundits, reporters and policy advocates as well.

Nobody nailed the sense of it better than Breaking Brown’s Yvette Carnell, a black former Capitol Hill staffer herself, with the title of her piece riffing on the HuffPo revelations, Revealed: How the CBC Leverages Blackness to Work as a Tool for Wall Street.

But the identical phenomenon is at work not just in Congress, but in virtually every state legislature with more than a handful of black Democrats, on the governing boards of big counties and in city councils across the country. In Georgia where I live, a recent constitutional amendment designed to dissolve public schools and replace them with charters had substantial Republican support, but would never have passed without the support of key black Democrats with impeccable “civil rights” credentials, but deeply in the pocket of the charter and school privatization lobby. Whether the issue is the expanding the military budget and surveillance, building nukes in black communities, the potent combination of black lobbyists and black legislators provides vital cover to all kinds of corporate-friendly measures.

Nobody, as we at Black Agenda Report have observed many times before, celebrates the black Freedom Movement louder, longer, more often and more ostentatiously than the black political class, and this is why. It’s not just that this struggle led to the concessions allowing the number of black elected officials to grow from a few hundred nationwide to more than ten thousand in forty years. The fact is, the black political class’s appropriation of and ceaseless celebration of this era and its struggles – properly filtered and sanitized of course – constantly renews their store of moral legitimacy, keeping their sellout values high.

Politicians who consistently stand up for the poor and oppressed in the halls of power do not attract big campaign contributions, because everyone knows how they’ll vote. Without big campaign contributions they cannot rise to legislative leadership, and their ambitious staffers will not rise either. To be a player, you gotta play, and to get the big money you’ve got to command a respectable price when you sell out. Many CBC members and their employees want desperately to be fixers and players, like those on the TV series House of Cards, and they’ve learned exactly how. CBC members, goaded by black lobbyists, have been so eager to cross the aisle and make deals that they have often been leading co-sponsors and supporters of odious measures attracting few other Democrats. Carter and Grim show that when CBC members jumped on board with Republicans, these measures become law, or influence regulators. When CBC members hang back, most other Democrats do the same.

As the Huffington Post article says, the moral legitimacy of the Congressional Black Caucus, and by extension that of the entire black misleadership class is nothing but a hollowed out brand. The article is full of quotes from staffers and lobbyists about this or that CBC member’s “brand.” In plain English, brands are purposeful, deliberate, manipulative lies. Branding is a marketing strategy intended to evoke a given response in a target audience, summoning real or imagined memories, tastes, feelings or desires in order to get a response from the target audience which could not be obtained by appeals to fact or logic. When political players proudly admit among themselves that they are mere “brands”, black politics as a progressive force in these United States is over.

There was a time not so very long ago when black America was where the left lived. Black politics emanated from the streets, not the suites. This kind of politics from the bottom up projected demands to end unjust wars, for better housing, more aid to public education, public transit and the public sector in general, and for voting rights, so that a class of black elected officials might look to the interest of the black masses. Now that a prosperous, empowered and ambitious class of African American officials and lobbyists has been called into existence, it has flipped the script and turned black politics into a top-down affair. Black elected officials, from state and local level to the CBC and its staffers-turned lobbyists has become the hinge swinging the politics of the Democratic party and the nation ever rightward.

We said it a while back – black politics as we have known it is over, because black politicians and the black political class no longer believe justice or peace or full employment are possible. They haven’t been working for us for a long time now.

Bruce A. Dixon can be contacted at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | Leave a comment

NATO troops and bases not welcome in Slovakia and Czech Republic

RT | June 5, 2014

Two Eastern European nations, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, have refused to host foreign troops and military bases. The prime ministers of both countries have consecutively spoken against the proposal voiced by US President Barack Obama.

Following the example of their neighbor the Czech Republic, the prime minister of Slovakia stated that his country is ready to meet its obligations as a NATO member state, but stationing foreign troops on its territory is out of the question.

Slovak PM Robert Fico said he “can’t imagine foreign troops being deployed on our territory in the form of some bases.”

The proposal to host more NATO troops in Eastern Europe was voiced by Obama on his current tour of Europe.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Obama said America is stepping up its partnership with countries in Eastern Europe with a view to bolstering security.

Initially, it was Poland that asked for a greater US military presence in Eastern Europe.

In April, Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak called on the Pentagon to deploy as many as 10,000 American troops in his country.

Three Baltic States welcomed the idea back in April. To begin with, a small contingent of American troops began to arrive in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to take part in military training.

Two countries opposed deployment of any foreign soldiers on their territory.

On Tuesday, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said his country sees no need to allow foreign military presence on its territory.

Last month, Defense Minister Martin Stropinsky sparked a political storm in the Czech Republic by recalling the 1968 invasion as the biggest reason not to host NATO troops in the country in a Reuters interview.

Slovakia’s Fico joined in the debate Wednesday, saying that for his country such a military presence is a sensitive issue because of the Warsaw Pact troops’ invasion into Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“Slovakia has its historical experience with participation of foreign troops. Let us remember the 1968 invasion. Therefore this topic is extraordinarily sensitive to us,” he said.

Fico said that Slovakia is committed to fulfill its obligations towards NATO despite military budget cuts and that allies would be allowed to train on Slovak territory anyway.

Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

The Czech Republic entered NATO in 1999, whereas Slovakia joined the alliance later, in 2004.

Fico’s Smer party, which has an absolute majority in Slovakia’s parliament, has been advocating warmer relations with Russia.

See also:

‘Peed in public, behave like occupiers’: Latvian mayor complains about NATO sailors

June 5, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment