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Israel’s Arrow Ballistic Missile Shield Fails First Live Interception Test

Al-Manar | December 16, 2014

Israel’s upgraded Arrow ballistic missile shield failed its first live interception test on Tuesday, Reuters said, citing security sources.

Operators of the Arrow 3 battery at Palmahim Air Base on the Mediterranean coast reportedly canceled the launch of its interceptor missile after it failed to lock on to a target missile fired over the Mediterranean.

“There was a countdown to the launch, and then nothing happened,” according to one source.

The Defense Ministry said that a target missile was launched and carried out its trajectory successfully.

Arrow 3 interceptors are designed to fly above the Earth’s atmosphere to destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Iran Nuclear Talks à la Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH | CounterPunch | December 16, 2014

Soon after the Iran nuclear talks were recently extended for another seven months (beyond the November 22, 2014 deadline), President Rouhani spoke with the Iranian people in a televised address in which he sought to portray the inconclusive negotiations as a diplomatic victory for Iran, as an indication that his team of negotiators “stood their ground” in the face of excessive demands by the US and its allies.

In reality, however, the extension meant the failure of the Iranian negotiators to achieve anything of substance (in terms of sanctions relief) in exchange for the significant unilateral concessions they had made a year earlier. To put it differently, it meant that the US and its allies refused to honor what they had promised Iran in return for its suspension and/or downgrading of its nuclear technology.

A year earlier, that is, in the first round of negotiations on 24 November 2013, Iran had agreed to the following significant concessions: limit its enrichment of uranium from the level of 20 percent to below 5 percent purity, render unusable its existing stockpile of 20 percent fuel for further enrichment, not activate its heavy-water reactor in Arak, not use its more advanced IR-M2 centrifuges for enrichment, and consent to extensive IAEA inspections of its nuclear industry/facilities.

This obviously means that Iranian negotiators had agreed to more than freezing Iran’s nuclear technology; more importantly, they had reversed and rolled back significant scientific achievements and technological breakthroughs of recent years.

In return, the US and its allies had agreed that following the “confidence building” implementation of these commitments by Iran, economic sanctions against that country would be lifted.

A year later, and despite the fact that IAEA has consistently confirmed Iran’s compliance with these commitments, major sanctions continue unabated. At a press conference on November 22, 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry boasted that undiminished sanctions have forced Iran to either reverse or freeze much of its nuclear program. “Today,” Kerry stated, “Iran has no 20 percent enriched uranium. Zero. None. They have diluted and converted every ounce that they have… Today, IAEA inspectors have daily access to Iran’s enrichment activities and a far deeper understanding of Iran’s program.”

Instead of honoring what they had promised during the initial negotiations of year ago, the US and its allies now argue that Iran needs to make more concessions, and that therefore more time is needed for further negotiations—hence the seven-month extension of negotiations, to July 1, 2015.

And what are the new demands that are made of Iran? The new requirements, which the Iranian negotiators have now additionally agreed to, include the following:

* Expanded snap Inspections of Iran’s Centrifuge Production Facilities: under the seven-month extended negotiations, the IAEA will double its unannounced, snap inspections of Iran’s centrifuge production facilities.

* Conversion of more 20% Uranium Oxide to Reactor Fuel: Iran will convert 35 additional kg of its remaining 75 kg of 20% enriched uranium powder from oxide form into reactor fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, thereby helping prevent the reversibility of a key concession Iran has made.

* Further Limitations on Research and Development (R&D) of Advanced Centrifuges and Enrichment Technology. The most important of these new limits are:

* Iran cannot pursue semi-industrial-scale operation of the IR-2M, a necessary prerequisite toward mass production of the model.

* Iran cannot feed IR-5 model centrifuges with uranium gas.

* Iran cannot pursue gas testing of the IR-6 centrifuge on a cascade level.

* Iran cannot install the IR-8 centrifuge at the Natanz Pilot Plant, preventing it from being tested with uranium gas.

* Iran is prohibited from using other/new forms of enrichment, including laser enrichment [source].

And what would Iran gain in return for these significant additional/new concessions? Not much. Under the extended interim agreement, as in the two previous interim agreements, dating back to November 2013, Iran will be permitted to repatriate only $700 million per month of its nearly $100 billion assets that are frozen overseas under the sanctions regime.

This explains why many critics have pointed out that Iranian negotiators have, once again, made significant one-sided concessions without much reciprocity in the way of sanctions relief. It also explains why President Rouhani’s (and his negotiating team’s) portrayal of the extension of negotiation as a diplomatic victory for Iran is far from warranted—it is, indeed, tantamount to self-deception, or more precisely, deception of the Iranian people.

Off-the-record briefings in Washington indicate that the US is projecting a long period of 15 to 20 years of protracted negotiations before restrictions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program are fully lifted. In light of the fact that the US and its allies have already achieved their goal of downgrading and freezing Iran’s nuclear program, while retaining crippling sanctions on that country, their policy of prolonging negotiations—as a tactic to avoid honoring what they have promised Iran—is understandable. As Keith Jones, a keen observer of the Iran nuclear talks, points out:

“Washington is determined to continue to subject Iran to crippling economic sanctions, with relief doled out incrementally and over a period of years. Moreover, during a lengthy initial period, the Western powers want only piecemeal suspension of the sanctions, not their repeal, so that they can be quickly reinstituted should they determine that Tehran has failed to fulfill its commitments” [source].

This means that President Rouhani’s (and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s) wishful thinking that a combination of generous concessions and a diplomatic charm offensive would suffice to have the US lift the economic sanctions against Iran has, effectively, placed his negotiators on a slippery slope, with no end to ever newer demands and additional conditions required of them by the US and its allies.

The perils of prolonged negotiations—increasingly resembling the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations—go beyond downgrading and/or freezing Iran’s nuclear technology. Equally devastating are the crippling effects of the continued sanctions on the Iranian economy/society.

Detrimental effects of sanctions on the Iranian economy have been further exacerbated by the Rouhani administration’s misguided policy of having tied the fate of Iran’s economy to the outcome of nuclear negotiations—effectively, making the future of the economy hostage to the unreliable and unpredictable consequences of the nuclear talks. This policy stems from the administration’s neoliberal economic outlook that seeks solutions to economic stagnation, poverty and under-development in unreserved integration into world capitalist system. The policy tends to hurt Iran in two major ways.

First, by tying the chances of economic recovery in Iran to the removal of the sanctions, that is, to the “successful” conclusion of the nuclear talks, the policy has undermined Iran’s bargaining position in the negotiations. Indeed, it can reasonably be argued that President Rouhani condemned Iran to a losing nuclear negotiation long before he was elected. He did so during his presidential campaign by pinning his chances for election on economic recovery through a nuclear deal. This was a huge mistake, as it automatically weakened Iran’s bargaining position and, by the same token, strengthened that of the United States and its allies. By exaggerating the culpability of his predecessor in the escalation of economic sanctions against Iran, he committed two blunders: (a) downplaying the culpability of the US and its allies, and (b) placing the onus of reaching a nuclear deal largely on Iran.

Second, the policy of linking the chances of an economic recovery to the outcome of nuclear negotiations and/or the lifting of sanctions has created an ominous atmosphere of business/market uncertainty among the Iranian investors and entrepreneurs. Uncertainty is perhaps the worst enemy of a market economy, which explains why long-term, productive investment is drying up in Iran, or why economic stagnation has deteriorated since President Rouhani took office in early 2013.

Iran could minimize the baleful effects of sanctions by trying to delink its economic policies from nuclear negotiations and the threat of further sanctions. This would be possible if the Rouhani administration’s economic outlook somehow tilted away from outward-looking to inward-looking strategies of economic development; that is, the development of a “resistance economy,” as Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei has put it. This requires an economic strategy that would view the sanctions as an opportunity to mobilize national resources and chart an industialization course toward import-substitution and economic self-reliance—something akin to a war economy, since Iran has effectively been subjected to a brutal economic war by the United States and its allies.

Such a path of development would be similar to the eight years (1980-88) of war with Iraq, when at the instigation and support of regional and global powers Saddam Hussein launched a surprise military attack against Iran. Not only did the Western powers and their allies in the region support the Iraqi dictator militarily but they also subjected Iran to severe economic sanctions. With its back against the wall, so to speak, Iran embarked on a revolutionary path of a war economy that successfully provided both for the war mobilization to defend its territorial integrity and for respectable living conditions of its population.

By taking control of the commanding heights of the national economy, and effectively utilizing the revolutionary energy and dedication of their people, Iranian policy makers further succeeded in bringing about significant economic developments. These included: extensive electrification of the countryside, expansion of transportation networks, construction of tens of thousands of schools and medical clinics all across the country, provision of foodstuffs and other basic needs for the indigent at affordable prices, and more.

Alas, despite its record of success, this option seems to be altogether alien to President Rouhani and his team of economic advisors who, following the neoliberal/neoclassical school of economic thought, maintain that the solution to Iran’s economic problems lies in an unrestrained integration into world capitalism, in a wholesale (and often fraudulent) privatization of the economy, and in an IMF-style of economic austerity.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989).

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel seeks assurances of US veto ahead of Palestinian push for UN resolution

Al-Akhbar | December 16, 2014

kerry-netanyahu-300x198US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and a delegation from the Arab League in London Tuesday, hoping to avert a diplomatic crisis over a United Nation bid to force Israel to withdraw from West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Kerry will seek to persuade the Palestinians not to move ahead with a draft UN resolution seeking to set a two-year timetable for an end to the Israeli occupation of territories being considered for a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Kerry has spent the past two days jetting across Europe meeting his counterparts as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gauge support for the Palestinian effort at the UN Security Council.

Netanyahu said late on Monday that growing European backing for a two-state solution could harm Israel.

“I said that the attempts of the Palestinians and of several European countries to force conditions on Israel will only lead to a deterioration in the regional situation and will endanger Israel,” he said in a statement.

“Therefore, we will strongly oppose this,” he added.

There is growing European impatience with the current status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as several European parliaments in recent weeks have called on their governments to symbolically recognize a state of Palestine.

Netanyahu sought assurances from Kerry that Washington would block efforts by Palestinians and Europeans on Palestinian statehood.

“Our expectation is that the United States will stand by its position for the past 47 years that a solution to the conflict will be achieved through negotiations, and I do not see a reason for this policy to change,” Netanyahu told reporters after a meeting in Rome that lasted some three hours.

The two men “had a long and thorough discussion about Israel’s security and developments at the United Nations,” a State Department official said.

Before the meeting, Israel put the US on notice that it expected Washington to exercise its UN Security Council veto against any resolutions setting a time frame.

Netanyahu declined to comment on whether he was given an assurance by Kerry that the US would exercise its veto.

A source with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Israeli leader had indeed asked for such an assurance.

Meanwhile, a senior State Department official said Washington had made clear in discussions that it would oppose certain moves.

“We’ve made clear throughout these discussions with all of our interlocutors that there are certain things we could never support. (I’m) not going to outline those publicly,” the official said.

The US administration opposes moves, like a UN resolution, that it says would bind negotiators’ hands – particularly any attempt to set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank.

But a US veto risks running contrary to Washington’s avowed aim of a Palestinian state and would anger key Arab allies – many of whom are much-needed partners in the US-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

Arab countries, however, have long been silent on the Palestinian cause or merely used it as a rhetorical talking point.

US officials have indicated that Washington did not find the Palestinian draft acceptable, but said that with matters still fluid, it was premature to take a position now on any particular Security Council resolution.

“Whether we have the nine votes at the Security Council or we don’t, the decision has been taken to present the Palestinian-Arab resolution in the Security Council on Wednesday,” said Wassel Abu Yousef, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, one of the highest Palestinian decision-making body, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said that “on Wednesday, most likely a draft will be put in blue.” This means the draft resolution could be put to a vote as soon as 24 hours later, though it does not guarantee it will be put to a vote.

Jordanian UN Ambassador Dina Kawar said she had not received any requests regarding action on the Palestinian draft.

When asked if she was expecting any developments at the Security Council this week, Kawar told reporters: “No, no, because Mr. Kerry is having meetings in Europe with a number of ministers, so we’re waiting to see what happens.”

From Rome, Kerry traveled to Paris to meet with counterparts from Britain, Germany and France to discuss their efforts to draft a separate UN resolution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

US officials said there was no consensus among the European powers on the best way to proceed.

Diplomatic sources say Paris is hoping to persuade the divided Palestinians to back their compromise resolution, rather than risk a US veto of the more muscular Arab version presented by Jordan last month.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told AFP they were looking for “a resolution which everyone can get behind.”

“Even if the Palestinians have a text in their hand, the Americans have already said that they will veto it,” Fabius said.

UN Middle East peace process envoy Robert Serry briefed the Security Council on Monday and said any resolution outlining the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian final status agreement would be important, but “not a substitute for a genuine peace process that will need to be negotiated between both parties.”

In November 1988, Palestinian leaders led by Yasser Arafat declared the existence of a state of Palestine inside the 1967 borders and the state’s belief “in the settlement of international and regional disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the charter and resolutions of the United Nations.”

Heralded as a “historic compromise,” the move implied that Palestinians would agree to accept only 22 percent of historic Palestine, in exchange for peace with Israel. It is now believed that only 17 percent of historic Palestine is under Palestinian control following the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

It is worth noting that numerous pro-Palestine activists support a one-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians would be treated equally, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable. They also believe that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Why Hamas should not heed calls to amend charter

By Ibrahim Al-Madhoun | Al Resalah | December 15, 2014

The Hamas Charter is considered by the movement’s supporters as a key and stand-alone historical document pertaining to Hamas’s political and social ideology. In the event that this document is altered or amended, it would cause a state of undue and untimely confusion and tension within the ranks of the Hamas supporters. It would also be seen as a concession to international and Israeli pressures, even if the changes made to the charter were not substantial or even if the new charter was more extreme in crucial issues such as the recognition of Israel or dealing with international proposals. As long as such amendments form part of international demand or foreign advice, then any response to these demands will be seen as a concession and a weakness in the eyes of both Hamas’s supporters and the movement’s political opposition. It will also send a message to international forces that soft pressure on the movement actually works.

In addition to this, no amendment to the charter would sufficiently please the international community beyond altering the core of the Hamas’s political thought. No changes to the charter would satisfy Western forces unless they explicitly recognise the two-state solution and clearly accept the legitimacy of the continued existence of the Israeli state on Palestinian territories, while shunning the Palestinian national struggle in all its forms. From a strategic regional and international perspective, unless making concessions to these specific points there is no point in changing the charter, as such change may ultimately crack the intellectual infrastructure of Hamas and cause severe repercussions affecting its survival.

Palestinians still remember Fatah’s ill-fated political acquiescence, particularly the amendment of the organisation’s charter under the supervision of Yasser Arafat in 1996 to appease Bill Clinton. Although Fatah changed the PLO Charter under US pressure, it did not reap the fruits of this change and it ultimately did not serve the Palestinian cause. Instead, it caused disappointment and decline; a fate which may well befall Hamas if it makes the same mistake.

Although it may be true that some of Hamas’s positions need to be clarified, the best way to do this would not be to change the existing charter but to issue a new document explaining the movement’s strategic vision over a specified period of time. However, this document must be clear and understandable, devoid of any extra words and without any dense literary jargon. It must be focused on the clear political matters at hand and keep pace with social and political developments in the Palestinian arena, allowing for changes over the next five to ten years.

All political entities have their literatures and philosophies that serve to carry and propagate their core values and that cannot be altered; they must remain as a foundation stone and intellectual inheritance for all new recruits. Such entities can later be developed through practice, conflict, and building relationships, but their core values always remain the same. No one truly believes that changes to Hamas’s charter would bring respect, acceptance and understanding from the international community. This community only understands the language of power and force through the ability to raise some voices and silence others. And Hamas must not allow itself to be covertly silenced in such a way.

Translated by MEMO, 15 December, 2014

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Accountability and Fair Trials: CIA Torture

By Preeti Kaur | teleSUR | December 15, 2014

Just days after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington DC, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney argued on national TV that it was necessary for the U.S. to work on the “dark side” to spend time in the “shadows in the intelligence world.” The recently released U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on post 9/11 CIA torture has begun to shed light on the acts of horror and depravity that took place in the shadows of the war on terror.

Tip of the iceberg

The worst details of the CIA’s torture program still have not seen the light of day, said Walter Ruiz, defense counsel for Mustafa al-Hawsawi in ongoing military commission proceedings taking place at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Senator Feinstein (Intelligence Committee Chairwoman) affirmed that the released report was just a brief sample.

War Crimes

Nonetheless, the information that has been disclosed reveals forms of torture far worse than previously thought. Walter Ruiz described them as “war crimes”. Torture included, water boarding, water dousing, rectal feeding and rectal hydration (which may equate to sodomy) to foster “correct behaviour”.

Torture also included threats of rape, threats of raping or killing family members, stress positions, flinging detainees against flexible walls, and prolonged pre-trial administrative detention in secret prisons located in Afghanistan, Thailand, Morocco, Poland and Lithuania. Secret detention sites are given code names in the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report. For example, the Salt Pit in Afghanistan is referred to as “COBALT” and the secret prison in Lithuania is referred to as “VIOLET”.

Who did the CIA torture?

One individual subject to CIA torture is Abu Zubaydah, a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia and educated in India. Abu Zubaydah was subject to some of the worst forms of CIA techniques on a repeated basis, included at a secret detention site in Poland.

After completing his undergraduate education in India, Abu Zubaydah considered undertaking a master’s degree in the U.S. He wrote poetry and was keen to talk about current events and compare the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity. Abu Zubaydah eventually travelled to Afghanistan to fight against communist insurgents who remained after the withdrawal of the Soviet army (a withdrawal supported by the U.S.). In 1992, while fighting on the front lines, he was injured in a motor attack that left him with two pieces of shrapnel that remain embedded in his head to his day. He was declared unfit to fight. He lost the ability to speak for more than one year. His memory is compromised to this day. He cannot remember his parent’s names, and he cannot remember his former partner’s name.

The Bush administration widely alleged that Abu Zubaydah was the head of a military camp that trained terrorists (militias the U.S. had previously supported and funded in its war against the Soviets). However, the camp in question, Khalden, was closed in 2000 because the emir of Khalden (not Abu Zubaydah) refused to allow the camp to fall under the organisational control of al-Qaida.

The U.S. no longer alleges Abu Zubaydah was ever a member of al Qaeda or that he supported al Qaeda’s ideology. The U.S. no longer alleges that Abu Zubaydah was an associate of Osama bin Laden or that he was his senior lieutenant. The U.S. no longer alleges that Abu Zubaydah had any role in any terrorist attack planned or perpetrated by al Qaeda, including the attacks of 11 September 2001.

As has been well-documented, torture does not produce reliable evidence. Torture victims will say anything to stop torture. While torture does not produce reliable evidence, it may increase the risk of turning innocent individuals to U.S. opponents upon release. It is believed that, in relation to a number of current Guantanamo Bay detainees, the U.S. fears it has turned a number of innocent individuals to terrorists through its use of torture practices against them.

Illegal wars, occupations, interventions, detaining individuals without charge for inordinate amounts of time without granting them access to the outside world, torture and ill-treatment of “suspected terrorists” all fuel the rage that incites terrorism. In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate stated that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism. As a result, U.S. and allied governments continue on their same self-destructive path refusing to learn lessons, and attempting to shield themselves from accountability for past abuses, which may amount to war crimes.


In July 2014, Abu Zubaydah won a case against Poland at the European Court of Human Rights for the torture he suffered there. Yet, none of the architects of the CIA torture and secret rendition and detention programme have faced accountability. This must be addressed.

Survivors of torture practices have legitimate rights to justice, and those allegedly responsible must be subject to independent investigations. Where investigations reveal sufficient evidence, criminal charges must be brought. Suspected torturers must be prosecuted and punished. This is about justice, and about preventing future torture. The U.S. must hold itself to the same standards it advocates for others. A failure to engage in transparent accountability and justice processes, suggests a failure to want to learn and avoid the use of such immoral torture practices going forward.

Evidence extracted under torture

While shielding themselves from accountability, the U.S. is likely to be using unreliable evidence extracted under torture against those facing criminal charges at the military commission proceedings taking place at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For example, Mustafa al-Hawsawi has been accused of financing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and providing media support to al Qaeda. His counsel, Walter Ruiz has consistently stated that that Mr al-Hawsawi’s role was overplayed. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report provides independent evidence of that.

Mr al-Hawsawi was captured in Pakistan by local security forces in 2003, and handed over to U.S. authorities sometime later. However, his detention was kept secret until September 2006, when his detention at Guantanamo Bay was officially recognized by then U.S. President Bush.

Until now, Mr al-Hawsawi’s location between 2003 and 2006 has been a closely guarded secret, though the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report suggests that he was detained and tortured for some time in the Salt Pit, Afghanistan, and a secret detention site in Lithuania, where he experienced torture including water dousing techniques, “indistinguishable” from waterboarding.

Mr al-Hawsawi required emergency medical care on at least one occasion between 2003 and 2006. He continues to suffer from the torture he experienced but has not received the rehabilitative care he requires (and has a right to under international human rights law). This has made his attendance in military commission proceedings difficult.

Continued Secrecy and Unfair Trials

Prior to the release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, Senator Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on her committee. The CIA confirmed in July 2014 that it had. Senator Feinstein fought numerous obstacles the CIA engaged in to prevent the disclosure of its torture practices.

While the disclosure of the summary report is positive, the full report should be disclosed. It should – at the very least – be disclosed to defense counsel representing those facing criminal charges at the military commission in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr al-Hawsawi is still prohibited from relaying any of the details of his torture to the public. His thoughts and experiences have been deemed “classified” under a very restrictive protective order. The protective order was recently challenged at the military commission in Guantanamo Bay, for failing to comply with rights enshrined under the UN Convention against Torture. As a result, the protective order was amended. However, in practice, it continues to operate in the same way, precluding Mr al-Hawsawi from shedding further light on CIA torture practices. Defense lawyers are required to sign the restrictive protective order which also effectively precludes them from disclosing any information they may receive from their clients to third parties. Walter Ruiz asserts that the military commission proceedings currently taking place are a “degradation of due process.”

Mr al-Hawsawi faces capital charges which means – if convicted – he will be executed. This is an obscene result for a “trial process” which has been far from transparent. The military commission process has seen defense lawyers discovering (in April 2014) that the FBI secretly interviewed a defense-team security expert, and others on several of the five defense teams (one for each co-defendant) were also questioned. Defense teams suspect that at least one person might have even been an informant for the FBI.

Previously, defense counsel have learned of listening devices disguised as smoke detectors in attorney-client meeting rooms; CIA monitoring of the court room; the disappearance of large volumes of both defense and prosecution files from specially-designed military commission servers; and the accumulation of piles of rat feces and mold in defense attorney office space at Guantanamo Bay.

Walter Ruiz, counsel for Mr al-Hawsawi, said “Military commissions are designed for the explicit purpose of killing while fostering the illusion of justice.”

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Imperialism and the Politics of Torture

The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.

CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force

The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).

The Senate Report fails to locate the current acts of CIA terror and torture in a broader historical context – one which would reveal the systematic use of torture and violence as a ‘normal’ instrument of policy. Contrary to White House and Senate claims that torture was a “policy error” committed by “incompetent” (or deranged) operatives, the historical record demonstrates that the long term extensive and intensive use by the CIA of torture, assassinations, kidnappings are planned and deliberate policies made by highly qualified, and experienced policymakers acting according to a global strategy approved by both Executive and Congressional leaders.

The Report treats torture as a “localized” set of events, divorced from the politics of empire building. In point of fact, torture is and always has been an integral part of imperial wars, colonial military occupations and counter-insurgency warfare.

Imperial wars and occupations provoke widespread opposition and nearly unanimous hostility. ‘Policing’ the occupied country cannot rely on community-wide support, least of all providing voluntary ‘intelligence’ to the imperial officials. The imperial armed forces operate out of fortresses surrounded by a sea of hostile faces. Bribes and persuasion of local collaborators provides limited information, especially regarding the operations of underground resistance movements and clandestine activists. Family, neighborhood, religious, ethnic and class ties provide protective support networks. To break this web of voluntary support network, the colonial powers resort to torture of suspects, family members and others. Torture becomes “routinized” as part and parcel of policies sustaining the imperial occupation. Extended occupation and intensive destruction of habitation and employment, cannot be compensated by imperial “aid” – much of which is stolen by the local collaborators. The latter, in turn, are ostracized by the local population, and, therefore, useless as a source of information. The “carrot” for a few collaborators is matched by torture and the threat of torture for the many in opposition.

Torture is not publicized domestically even as it is ‘understood’ by ‘knowing’ Congressional committees. But among the colonized, occupied people, through word and experience, CIA and military torture and violence against suspects, seized in neighborhood round-ups, is a weapon to intimidate a hostile population. The torture of a family member spreads fear (and loathing) among relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. Torture is an integral element in spreading mass intimidation – an attempt to minimize co-operation between an active minority of resistance fighters and a majority of passive sympathizers.

The Senate Report claims that torture was “useless” in providing intelligence. It argues that victims were not privy to information that was useful to imperial policymakers.

The current head of the CIA, John Brennan, rejects the Senate claim, while blithely admitting “some errors” (underwater submergence lasted a minute too long, the electric currents to the genitals were pitched to high?), he argues that “torture worked”. Brennan argues that his torturer colleagues did obtain “intelligence” that led to arrests of militants, activists and “terrorists”.

If torture “works” as Brennan claims, then presumably the Senate and the President would approve of its use. The brutalization of human life, of family members and neighbors is not seen as, in principle, evil and morally and politically repugnant.

According to the explicit rules of conduct of Brennan and the implicit beliefs of the Senate, only “useless” torture is subject to censure – if an address is obtained or a torture victim names a colleague a ‘terrorist’ to avoid further pain, then by the criteria of the Senate Report torture is justified.

According to the operational code of the CIA, international law and the Geneva Conventions have to be modified: torture should not be universally condemned and its practitioners prosecuted. According to the Senate only torture that “doesn’t work” is reprehensible and the best judge of that is the head of the torturers, the CIA director.

Echoing Brennan, President Obama, leaped to the defense of the CIA, conceding that only some ‘errors’ were committed. Even that mealy mouth admission was forcibly extracted after the President spent several years blocking the investigation and months obstructing its publication and then insisting on heavily editing out some of the most egregious and perverse passages implicating NATO allies

The Senate Report fails to discuss the complicity and common torture techniques shared between Israel’s Mossad and the CIA and Pentagon. In defense of torture, the CIA and White House lawyers frequently cited Israel’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 which provided the “justification” for torture. According to Israel’s Jewish judges, torturers could operate with impunity against non-Jews (Arabs) if they claimed it was out of “necessity to prevent loss of or harm to human life”. The CIA and Harvard law professor and über-Zionist zealot, Alan Dershowitz echoed the Israeli Mossad “ticking time bomb” justification for torture, according to which “interrogators can employ torture to extract information if it prevents a bombing”. Dershowitz cited the efficiency of Israel’s torturing a suspect’s children.

The CIA officials frequently cited the Israeli ‘ticking bomb’ justification for torture in 2007, at Congressional hearings in 2005, and earlier in 2001 and 2002. The CIA knows that the US Congress, under the control of the Zionist power configuration, would be favorably disposed to any official behavior, no matter how perverse and contrary to international law, if it carried an Israeli mark of approval or ‘logo’.

The US CIA and Israeli’s Mossad share, exchange and copy each other’s’ torture methods. The US torturers studied and applied Israel’s routine use of sexual torture and humiliation of Muslim prisoners. Racist colonial Israeli tracts about techniques on destroying the ‘Arab Mind’ were used by US intelligence. Israeli officials borrowed US techniques of forced feeding hunger strikers. Mossad’s technique of ‘Palestinian hanging’ was adopted by the US. Above all, the US copied and amplified Israel’s extra-judicial ‘targeted’ killings – the center piece of Obama’s counter-terrorism policy. These killings included scores of innocent bystanders for every ‘successful target’.

The Senate Report fails to identify the intellectual authors, the leading officials who presided over and who ultimately bear political responsibility for torture.

Top leaders, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson, Diane Feinstein, resort to the Nazi war criminals plea “we didn’t know”, “we were misled” and “the CIA didn’t tell us”.

No judge at the Nuremberg Trials believed them. Nor will any international court of law believe US political leaders’ pleas of ignorance of the CIA’s decade-long practice of torture – especially after former Vice President Cheney lauded the practice on US television and boasted he would implement the same policies again. (One has to wonder about the ‘source’ of Cheney’s transplanted heart…)

During the administration of President Bush, Jr., CIA leaders submitted detailed reports on intelligence, including the sources and the methods of obtaining the information, on a routine basis – with videos and ‘live feeds’ for the politicians to view. Nothing was ‘held back’ then and now, as current CIA head John Brennan testifies. From 2001 onward torture was the method of choice, as testimony from top military officials revealed during the Abu Ghraib investigation.

National Security Agency (NSA) meetings, attended by the President, received detailed reports extracted from CIA “interrogations”. There is every reason to believe that every NSA attendee ‘knew’ how the ‘intelligence’ was obtained. And if they failed to ask it was because torture was a ‘normal, routine operating procedure’.

When the Senate decided to investigate the “methods of the CIA”, half a decade ago, it was not because of the stench of burning genitals. It was because the CIA exceeded the boundaries of Senate prerogatives –it had engaged in pervasive and hostile spying against US Senators, including the über-Senator Feinstein herself; CIA crimes were compromising client regimes around the world; and most of all because their orgy of torture and dehumanization had failed to defeat the armed resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria.

The Senate Report is an exercise in institutional power – a means for the Senate to regain political turf, to rein in CIA encroachment. The Report goes no further than to chastise “inappropriate” techniques: it does not proceed from crimes of state to prosecute officials responsible for crimes against international and domestic laws.

We know, and they know, and as every legal authority in the world would know, that without the punishment of political leaders, torture will continue to be an integral part of US imperial policy: Impunity leads to recidivism.

Richard Cheney, Vice-President under President George W. Bush, notorious war criminal on many counts, and prime advocate of torture, publicly declared on December 10, 2014 that President Bush specifically authorized torture. He bragged that they were informed in detail and kept up to date.

In the political world of torture practiced by Islamic extremists and US imperialists, how does the decapitation of non-combatant prisoners, match up with the CIA’s refrigeration of naked political suspects? As for “transparency”, the virtue claimed by the Senate Report publicists in publishing the CIA’s crimes, as “refurbishing the US image”, the Islamists went one step further in “transparency”: they produced a video that went global, revealing their torture by beheading captives.

The Senate Report on CIA torture will not result in any resignations, let alone prosecutions or trials, because over the past two decades, war crimes, police crimes, spy crimes, and financial swindles have not been prosecuted. Nor have any of the guilty officials spent a day in court. They are protected by the majority of political leaders who are unconditional defenders of the CIA, its power, techniques and especially its torture of captives. The vast majority of Congress and the US President repeatedly approve over $100 billion annual budgets for the CIA and its domestic counterpart, Department Homeland Security. They approved the annual budget voted on December 10, 2014, even as the “revelations” rolled in. Moreover, as the tempest over CIA torture proceeds, Obama continues to order the assassination by drone of US citizens “without ever crossing the door of a judge”.

Despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the Senate Report is unlikely to trigger any reforms or resignations. This is not because of the actions of some mysterious “deep state” or because a ballooning national security apparatus has taken power. The real problem is that the elected officials, Presidents and Congress people, Democrats and Republicans, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, are deeply embedded in the security apparatus and they share the common quest for world supremacy. If Empire requires wars, drones, invasions, occupations and torture, so be it!

Torture will truly disappear and the politicians will be put on trial for these crimes, only when the empire is transformed back to a republic: where impunity ends justice begins.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

UN rights watchdog accuses Kiev forces of torture, inhumane treatment of civilians

RT | December 16, 2014

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev's Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev’s Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Kiev-controlled volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian Security Service are involved in an increasing number of human rights violations including torture and forced disappearances of those suspected of “separatism,” according to a UN OHCHR report.

The report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says that Kiev’s actions in eastern Ukraine to “restore order” have led to “arbitrary detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances of people suspected of ‘separatism and terrorism’. Most of such human rights violations appear to have been perpetrated by certain voluntary battalions or by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).”

The eighth OHCHR report on the human rights situation in Ukraine released on Monday added that the procedural rights of people have not always been observed, with reports of ill-treatment and reprisals upon release.

The report, which covers from November 1-30, says the Office of the Military Prosecutor has not taken any actions to investigate the “considerable” number of allegations of human rights violations, “including looting, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by members of certain voluntary battalions such as Aidar, Azov, Slobozhanshchina and Shakhtarsk.”

For instance, OHCHR says that raids carried out by armed masked men in uniforms without insignia on 85 homes in the district of Krasnyi Lyman have led to a large number of forced disappearances. Those interviewed by UN staff reported being beaten and intimidated to “confess to participation in the armed groups.”

Recruits are sworn in for Azov Battalion in Kiev's Sophia Square. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

Recruits are sworn in for Azov Battalion in Kiev’s Sophia Square. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko)

In another instance, the UN report cites an interview of a man who claims to have been arbitrarily detained by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and kept incommunicado for two months in the SBU building in Kharkov.

Furthermore, the report notes that authorities are also lagging behind investigating more than 300 cases of shelling civilian areas.

“The indiscriminate shelling of built-up areas continued with over 100 incidents reported in November alone,”the report highlights.

In regards to a number of mass graves found in the conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, the report says that “no clear evidence of mass summary executions either by the armed groups or by the Ukrainian armed forces have been revealed to the public so far.”

The UN mission also blames anti-Kiev forces for human rights abuses, namely “killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence, forced labour, ransom demands and extortion of money by the armed groups.”

The UN says that 4,707 people have died and another 10,322 have been wounded in the Ukraine conflict over the past nine months.

READ MORE: Russia calls for intl probe into Ukraine burials with signs of execution

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Mexico Gov’t Claims on Disappeared Students Exposed

teleSUR |  December 16, 2014

Explosive allegations were published in Proceso, one of Mexico’s leading news weeklies, this past Sunday, revealing strong evidence pointing to direct participation by federal authorities in the presumed killings of dozens of education students from the drug war-torn state of Guerrero.

The investigation also revealed that Mexican federal, state and municipal authorities were tracking the exact movements of the students on the same night of the massacre in question this past September 26 and that according to the government’s own documents, and in at least five clear instances, key testimony obtained by officials to sustain their version of the events was actually induced via illegal interrogation techniques that amounted to torture, which included electric shocks to testicles and extreme beatings.

The investigation’s revelations are not only a stark contrast with what has been officially maintained by the Peña Nieto administration, but also contradict most of what most mainstream news has reported from Mexico and beyond.

The Official Version

The official version of what happened on September 26, the night of the disappearance , largely emanates from a press conference that has by now become widely known and has even served as a reference point for a nation-wide movement that has been ongoing since soon after the presumed massacre occurred. That is because the Attorney General leading the press conference, Jesus Murillo Karam, mentioned that he was “tired” at the end of the hour-long conference. The #YaMeCanse Twitter hashtag arose almost as soon as the conference itself ended, and has actually served as the battle-cry for a nation-wide movement that has attracted international support and attention, including a day of protests which featured over 200 actions across the globe and cross-border protests, as previously reported by teleSUR English.

During the press conference, and reiterated through a variety of official accounts since that time, authorities have claimed that Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife ordered local municipal police to attack several buses of the “normalistas” (students training to become teachers) on several occasions. The attacks wound up killing at least three people and disappearing 43 students. The Guerreros Unidos (Warriors United) drug gang was then given the 43 kidnapped students which went on to brutally assassinate, dismember, torture and burn the victims to death, again, according to official accounts, but disputed by the parents.

The ex-Mayor and his wife have since been detained in connection to the presumed massacre. Acting on a tip from the couple’s landlord in Itzapalapa, the “imperial couple,” as local media dubbed them, were considered by federal officials to be the main culprits behind the crime. The official allegation was that the couple acted in cahoots with a gang that had long suspected, close ties to the Mayor and his wife.

State Version Undermined

The investigation, which was penned by acclaimed Mexican investigative journalist Anabel Hernandez and the University of California at Berkeley-based journalist Steve Fisher, blows the lid off of official accounting in a number of ways, in alleging that: federal, state and local officials closely tracked, monitored and were quite aware of the whereabouts of both the killed, disappeared and presumably murdered education students; key testimonies obtained by officials were garnered through illegal torture techniques; federal police and soldiers from the military were present at the scene of the killings; the government has deliberately withheld this information in an attempt to maintain their own official accounting of the events in question.

The allegations also come during a time in which the government’s version of the events was already being questioned by other sources. A research team headed by a group of scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, argued that the government claims that the Guerreros Unidos gang incinerated to death all 43 students lacked any “scientific explanation.”

In an extended interview via a three-way telephone call with the authors of the investigation with teleSUR English, Anabel Hernandez and Steve Fisher discussed and detailed their findings.

Journalists Discuss Disturbing Findings ​

The ever-passionate and expressive Hernandez is no stranger to explosive investigations and allegations, so much so that her home was raided by official authorities late last year. The award-winning and internationally acclaimed journalist has also been subjected to harrowing threatening acts, such as having found animal body parts at the doorstep of her home. In her latest investigation, however, Hernandez made the case that her co-authored findings starkly revealed that governmental responsibility for the presumed massacre is much higher than what has been previously admitted.

“The point is that we know that the federal police were there, we know that they knew when the students [were] abducted and we know that many of the testimonies that the PGR [Mexico’s Attorney General’s office] were obtained and acquired through torture techniques. But in Mexico, evidence obtained through torture is illegal,” Hernandez told teleSUR.

In contrast to the official version, which maintains that the federal government was unaware of the massacre, Hernandez and Fisher allege that federal police and military soldiers directly participated in the presumed massacre itself and were one of three levels of government closely monitoring the students whereabouts throughout the night of the presumed massacre.

According to Hernandez and Fisher’s accounting of the unedited Guerrero state report they obtained, which was drawn up for the Interior Ministry (SEGOB) and obtained by the magazine about a month and a half ago, students were monitored as soon as they left their school grounds at 5:59pm. Both federal and state police were monitoring the students while they traveled from the Chilpancingo-based Control, Computational and Communications Center (C4).

The article goes into further detail, noting that at 8pm, the federal and state police arrived to the highway where the students were fielding donations; at 9:21pm, a federal police chief – Luis Antonio Dorantes – was advised of the student’s arrival; and at 9:40pm the C4 center reported the first gunshots.

The report was also based on 12 videos recorded by surviving students on their cell phones, whereby one now publicly released video has audio clearly noting a surviving student yelling in distress: “The police are now coming, the federales are staying and they are going to want to screw us over!”

In sum, various levels of government were much more aware of the students and more present at key points throughout the evening in question, than what has been previously admitted.

Hernandez made it clear to teleSUR, however, that their investigation didn’t reveal whether or not the United Warriors gang were involved with the massacre. Fisher elaborated on this point: “We cannot say whether or not Guerreros Unidos was ultimately involved with this, or not, but we can say that the evidence we have acquired was that they were tortured [before their testimonies were given]. It is thus suspect that they could actually get proper testimonies considering the fact that they were tortured brutally, including electric shocks to testicles and extreme beatings.”

Hernandez added that other telltale signs of torture were uncovered in their investigation, including bruised ribs, blackened eyes and black-and-blue marks on the neck. Such findings were especially damning, Hernandez pointed out, considering that, “the attorney general’s version was based solely on testimony by presumed drug traffickers.”

Fisher spoke to this point, telling teleSUR that, “I would say that in any case where there is torture involved, it brings into question the entire investigation. It would be interesting to know why the PGR would base this very important investigation on, according to their own documents, information obtained through people that were brutally beaten and tortured.”

Hernandez and Fisher wrote that the Peña Nieto administration has withheld the information they reported on.

Soon after the disappearance of the education students, the Guerrero Attorney General’s office requested that the Mexican Federal Police, their investigation notes, hand over extensive documentation related to the potential participation of federal police agents, including the exact registries of when agents clocked in and out while on the job the night of the attack. However, the investigation added that since the Peña Nieto administration took over the investigation this past October 4, the requested documentation was never handed over to the Guerrero office.

“It is clear that the PGR has been manipulating the case, that the federal government has been manipulating the case, and that now, the official version of the case has been shown to not be trustworthy,” Hernandez passionately asserted during the extensive interview, adding that in subsequent conversations with government officials, none of their allegations were officially denied to either of the reporters.

Investigation Points to a Number of Implications

Considering the many contradictions between the investigation and official accounts , many questions can be asked. Since Mexican officials have long claimed that Warriors United was the group which took custody of the students from local police authorities who had initially detained them, have there been any false arrests among the 74-some people that have been rounded up since September 26?

The accused leader of Warriors United, Sidronio Casarrubias, is among the many detained, which include an array of local law enforcement officials. Casarrubias has since revealed to officials the kind of relationship he had with Abarca while he was mayor, but it is not clear whether or not he was among the five people tortured in Herandez and Fisher’s account.

“Warriors United has sewn a web of complicity with several mayors and above all with security officials,” Murillo previously told the press. “In Iguala, the complicity was between the authorities, the local police and the Warriors United,” Murillo added.

If there is one official acknowledgment which Hernandez and Fisher do not dispute, it is the systematic relationship that exists between drug cartels and the Mexican state. It is that very relationship which has served as a spark plug to a nation that has undertaken a significant amount of resistance since September 26.

Nation-wide Movement Continues to Wage Protest

The revelations by Herandez and Fisher come at a time that the nation’s ire was already raised to a feverish boiling point. In one of the largest countries and economies of Latin America. Mexico has witnessed near daily and nation-wide actions of resistance.

Since the disappearance of the “normalistas” on September 26, the country has been brimming with mass marches, candle-light vigils, university-campus and labor-union-led strikes, occupations of official and university buildings, riot police-led arrests of demonstrators, property destruction of official buildings, sit-ins, panels ruminating over the ills of narco-state violence and international bridge closings.

Most recently, at least 22 people were injured this past Sunday during protests in Chilpancingo, Guerrero which featured police opening fire on demonstrators. TeleSUR English reported that three parents of the forcibly disappeared, a journalist, a student from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and a member of an education union were among those injured.

The violent law enforcement response to the protests, specifically that of Sunday’s occurrences, prompted the National Human rights Commission to demand that authorities conduct themselves within the law.

The disappearance clearly served as the catalyst for the movement’s inception, much of the country has long been weary of the systematic problem of disappearances and the eerie official impunity which has often surrounded them. Nothing less than some 22,000 disappearances, over the course of the last three years alone, account for official estimates. Other analysts estimate the actual total as being higher than that.

Mass Graves Point to Narco-State Crimes

The disappearances of the normalistas are emblematic of a long-running problem in Mexico: thousands upon thousands of cases of disappearances, many of whose investigations were found ‘inconclusive’ and long ago closed, exist throughout the country. Some estimates range as high as 24,000 disappearances having occurred since 2011 alone, the overwhelming amount of which were “unsolved” and/or “closed” cases.

In another case of official law enforcement involvement in a crime, 22 alleged kidnappers were summarily executed by Mexican soldiers in Tlatlaya in June 2014. A federal judge recently charged three soldiers with murder and four others with abuse of authority and other charges in relation to the massacre.

At least a dozen mass grave sites have been discovered since the time of the Ayatzinapa disappearances. Meanwhile, movement activists and organizers alike have alleged that many more mass grave sites exist than what has been officially acknowledged.

Regardless of the actual total of mass grave sites, their undisputed existence still point to a problem more familiar to locals and residents of the area: Guerrero is not only a drug war-torn state, but a complex nexus of corruption and corroboration between local, regional and state authorities and their allies in street gangs and powerful drug cartels. Even federal officials have since admitted that the disappeared students pointed to a larger, narco-state reality.

While the troubles of living under a narco-state is one which local residents of Guerrero have long been familiar, in the wake of what seemingly is a never-ending case of the disappearances of the Guerrero students, it has now become a reality with which the whole nation of Mexico, and well beyond, are becoming familiar with as well.

But now, in light of the explosive allegations revealed by Hernandez and Fisher, it will become yet a more complex reality with which the nation will have to come to grips and to which the government may have to provide yet more answers during tiring press conferences.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

128 Journalists Killed so Far This Year

teleSUR | December 15, 2014

At least 128 journalist have been killed so far in 2014, according to the findings of the Swiss-based Press Emblem Campaign in its annual report released Monday.

While the deaths occured in some 32 countries, the Palestine-Israel conflict has been the most dangerous for the coverage this year “with 16 journalists killed by Israel during the Operation Protective Edge.”

The 2014 total is one more than last year’s record, yet the number is perceptibly growing since the organization started to track the figures in 2006. Since then, over 1,000 journalists and reporters have been killed.

This situation for journalists worsens as armed conflicts continue without reaching a political solution, emphasized PEC director Blaise Lempen. In these scenarios, journalists are increasingly being taken as hostages.

The most dangerous countries over the past five year-period have been Syria, Pakistan, Mexico, Iraq and Somalia.

Latin America is the third most violent region with 27 journalist killed after Middle East (46) and Asia (31), and includes three countries in the top 10 most dangerous places for journalists (Mexico ranks 6th, Honduras 7th and Brazil 10th). Paraguay, Peru and Colombia are also noted in the report.

The authors explain that have been taking into account both “journalists intentionally targeted in the exercise of their profession as well as those killed accidentally and otherwise unintentionally,” arguing that the cause of the death was difficult to determine.

However, half of the journalists killed in 2014 are estimated to have been targeted intentionally by governments, various armed groups or criminal gangs.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Journalist Faces Sentencing Today for Daring to Investigate Government Insiders

By Andrew Meyer | PINAC | December 16, 2014

Barrett Brown faces eight and a half years in prison today for the crime of being a journalist. For any U.S. media outlet that claims to practice journalism, this story should be front page news.

Officially, Brown is charged with three crimes: (1) transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, (2) obstructing the execution of a search warrant, and (3) being an accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer.

Unofficially, Brown is being prosecuted for founding Project PM, a WikiLeaks-like website which dares to investigate “the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry’s interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/’cybersecurity’ industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.”

On March 6, 2012, FBI agent Robert Smith raided Brown’s apartment and Brown’s mother’s house, supposedly looking for information on the hack of intelligence firm HBGary. Agent Smith took away Brown’s computers, which contained Brown’s research into contractors who spy or conduct information warfare on behalf of government and corporate clients.

Following the raid, Barrett Brown faced 100 years in prison for sharing a link on the leaked Stratfor emails, emails which revealed that Stratfor (called the “shadow CIA” by some) had allegedly partnered with a former Goldman Sachs director and other informants in order to profit from insider trading, among other dirty laundry. After prosecutors dropped the 11 charges related to Brown’s sharing a link, the only “crimes” the government had left to charge Brown with resulted from the raid on Brown’s apartment, where Brown allegedly hid his own laptops (aka obstructing the execution of a search warrant) and tried to protect Jeremy Hammond , now in prison for hacking Stratfor, from getting caught (being an accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer). As the FBI held on to his computers, Brown posted a pissed-off YouTube video lashing out at Agent Smith (transmitting a threat in interstate commerce).

While the government would argue that Brown is not being politically prosecuted, the government has taken many actions that say otherwise. Beyond seeking 100 years of jail time for Brown, the government has prosecuted Brown’s mother for obstruction (resulting in six months probation and a $1,000 fine), tried to seize Brown’s legal defense fund, obtained a gag order preventing Brown from speaking about his own case, tried to identify contributors to the website where Brown and others researched links between intelligence companies and governments, and argued that Brown seeks to overthrow the U.S. government.

For anyone horrified that the government would equate researching intelligence companies with trying to overthrow the government, today’s sentencing of Barrett Brown is a major event. Barrett Brown has already spent two years in prison for daring to be a real journalist.

The question now is, how much longer will the First Amendment be locked in a jail cell?

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments

Illegal Financial Dealings Rob $1 Trillion from Poorer Nations

teleSUR | December 16, 2014

Global illicit financial flows (IFF), including crime, corruption and tax evasion, hit a historic high of US$991.2 billion dollars in 2012 alone – most of which was funneled out of developing and middle income economies, according to a new report released on Monday.

The new study by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a United States-based watchdog that exposes financial corruption, reported that this number is a drastic increase from 2003, when illicit financial flows (IFF) totaled US$297.4 billion.

That means IFF increased an average of 9.4 percent (adjusted for inflation) a year – growing twice as fast as global GDP, said GFI President Raymond Baker.

Illicit funds from shady business, corruption and tax evasion have also been growing at an alarming rate in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), at 24.2 and 13.2 percent respectively – more than double the global growth rate.

The report shows that developing countries lose more money through IFF than they gain from aid and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined.

“As this report demonstrates, illicit financial flows are the most damaging economic problem plaguing the world’s developing and emerging economies,” said Baker

In the time period between 2003 and 2012, the last year that data was available, developing countries lost about US$6.6 trillion dollars due to illicit transactions – what could have been invested in local business, healthcare, education or infrastructure, said one of the report’s authors Joseph Spanjers.

“It is simply impossible to achieve sustainable global development unless world leaders agree to address this issue head-on,” he added.

Sub-Saharan Africa saw some of the biggest losses as IFF comprised 5.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

China, Russia, Mexico, India and Malaysia saw the largest outflow of illicit funds in 2012.

The GFI study showed that trade misinvoicing – the overpricing of imports and the underpricing of exports – was the most common method to move money around illegally, accounting for 77 percent of illicit transactions.

“Suppose you live in Cameroon,” says Baker, “and want to get money out. As an importer, you ask your supplier abroad to increase the price by 20 percent and invoice you for 120 percent. When you pay that extra 20 percent is put into an account for you.”

To tackle the problem, GFI called for the United Nations to include specific targets to halve all trade-related illicit flows by 2030, as the international body prepares to discuss new Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millenium Development Goals next year.

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , | Leave a comment