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Ben Cardin’s Gambit

A True Blue liberal except for Iran and Palestine

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 6, 2015

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is not very well known to the public, overshadowed as he is by his own party’s more newsworthy and photogenic congressional leadership and the gaggle of Republicans that is currently lining up in a bid to take the White House. Cardin is, by most accounts, a conventional liberal. He was active in the civil rights movement and embraced every progressive cause in his pre-senatorial days while his voting record both as a congressman and a senator has been reliably left-of-center.

Ben Cardin is the scion of a Baltimore family heavily involved in Maryland state politics. He, his father and uncle all served in the State Assembly and his father was later a judge. All three are lawyers and all were closely connected to Maryland’s politically powerful Jewish community, concentrated in Montgomery and Baltimore counties, which has been traditionally aligned with the Democratic Party.

As an elected official, Cardin regards himself as personally responsible for delivering benefits to his Jewish constituents. He sponsors the Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program and also has been active in steering Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to what he calls “high risk” Jewish organizations in Baltimore. Due to the assiduous efforts of Congressmen like Cardin fully 97% of all DHS grants go to Jewish groups.

Support for Israel is inevitably a sine qua non in Cardin’s circle and candidates for higher office in Maryland are routinely screened for the views on the Middle East. Donna Edwards, an African-American congresswoman who is currently running to fill the seat that will be vacated by incumbent Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2016, has, for example, fallen afoul of the Jewish community thought police on the Israel issue. Though repeatedly asserting her love and support for Israel she is being castigated because “she has regularly ducked resolutions and letters backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s dominant Israel lobby, which takes a harder line in support of the country’s self-defense.” She also voted “present” rather than “yes” when the House of Representatives passed its malicious 2009 resolution endorsing Israel’s right to use overwhelming firepower to defend itself against bottle rockets from Gaza. More recently she boycotted the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because she believed it to be an affront to the President of the United States. Even though Edwards has never in any sense voted against Israel in any substantive way she is clearly regarded as not subservient enough by those who matter.

Cardin, who received donations of $218,000 from the Israel Lobby for his 2012 Senate race alone, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, a position he acquired when disgraced New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was forced to step down. He has been in the news lately for taking on a seemingly uncharacteristic task in the Senate, having co-sponsored with Republican Bob Corker a bill that will require the Senate to vote on any agreement that President Obama makes with Iran. The bill, which passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee by a unanimous 19-0 vote, has been described as a watered down version of a more rigorous bill crafted by the Republican majority, enabling a number of Democrats to add their support.

Recognizing that it might be a less bad option, a reluctant President Barack Obama, perhaps unwisely, has even pledged not to veto the revised bill. The stated intention of Corker-Cardin is to permit the congress to have some voice regarding what is undeniably a major foreign policy issue. Supporters want the country’s legislature to be able to indicate their lack of support for a bad bill, if that should turn out to be the case.

Though the bill is being described as a compromise it does not really change very much. While the president can on his own authority suspend sanctions on Iran, the passage of the bill would delay his ability to do so until after Congress has between 30 and 82 days (depending on details) to review the deal and vote for or against it. And while the president can indefinitely suspend their implementation, only Congress can actually cancel the sanctions because they are mandated through legislative authority.

Thus Congress can hold up a final agreement but the bill does not actually require congressional approval for an agreement to be implemented. And though Congress could theoretically block any lifting of its own legislative sanctions on Iran, it would require a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and House to override the expected Obama veto. Nevertheless, Obama’s agreement to allow a vote does concede that Congress has a potential oversight role in foreign policy, something that the president would have chosen to avoid.

The assumption that Cardin, a loyal Democrat, was interested in producing a compromise to help the president attain a negotiated agreement to eliminate Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program is intriguing but not completely convincing given the Senator’s demonstrated inclination to see U.S. foreign policy from the point of view of Israel. And interestingly enough, AIPAC also supports the Corker-Cardin bill as-is and has resisted attempts by Republicans to make it stronger.

Why would that be the case as AIPAC consistently calls for forceful action against Iran? It might be because, appearances aside, Cardin is not acting in good faith and is actually likely to be working hand-in-hand with AIPAC to accomplish two things. First, he almost certainly wants to reestablish complete congressional bipartisanship on any and all issues relating to Israel, countering the troubling Republican Party’s alignment of its own foreign policy interests with those of Benjamin Netanyahu. As an AIPAC official has expressed it, “Our fundamental view is that this bill is the first step of a number of different steps on the Iran deal. The first and foremost priority is to make sure the bill gets passed to make sure congress is guaranteed a chance to pass judgment on the deal.”

This means that both AIPAC and Cardin want the modified Corker bill to pass but they want that to happen in expectation that the Obama White House agreement with Iran will eventually fail in a bipartisan fashion with more than two-thirds of congressmen in opposition. By some estimates, AIPAC believes that it already has the votes in hand in the Senate at least to do just that and expects that a number of Democratic Senators to include Charles Schumer of New York, who regards himself as “Israel’s guardian” in the upper chamber, will join Republicans in voting against the president.

The AIPAC comment that the bill is a “first step” is critical to understanding what is going on while Senator Ben Cardin’s regard for Israel and its presumed interests should be taken as a given. In March Cardin spoke at AIPAC’s annual gathering where he promised to introduce legislation to block European attempts to boycott or sanction Israeli exports produced in the occupied territories. Cardin’s mixed-up view of a progressive world order combined with deference to what he regards as Israeli interests were notably on display one week after his agreement with Corker when he delivered on his promise.

On April 21 st Cardin and his House colleague Peter Roskam attached at the last minute AIPAC drafted amendments to an omnibus trade bill that committed the United States government to use its leverage in trade agreements to block European Union efforts to boycott or sanction products being produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. The issue is of some consequence as the EU is Israel’s largest export market. The Cardin-AIPAC amendment includes language making it a primary U.S. objective to protect both products from Israel and from what is referred to by the euphemism “Israeli-controlled territories,” a curious position for a U.S. Senator to be taking as United States policy has long been opposed to the settlements and has frequently declared them to be illegal.

Cardin hypocritically justified his amendment by stating “I think it’s critically important that the provisions that are included… for good governance and respect for international human rights need to be a principle trade objective.” Concerning Cardin’s stated respect for international human rights, it should be noted that he enthusiastically supported boycotting apartheid South Africa even though he is opposed to the Palestinians using the same legal and non-violent expedient to obtain their freedom from a brutal Israeli occupation. To that end Cardin characteristically is willing to put U.S. interests on a back burner so he can use American trade policy to protect Israel while perversely cloaking his turpitude in faux sentiments about doing the right thing.

Finally, it is the ultimate irony that the sanctimonious junior Senator from Maryland serves as the ranking member of the U.S.-Helsinki Commission on Human Rights. He recently traveled with his wife by way of military Gulfstream to Copenhagen for official meetings arranged by that organization, stopping for a couple of days in Paris where he stayed in a five star hotel and met with Jewish leaders. The issue of Palestine apparently did not come up.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

On a Fast Track to National Ruin

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • May 8, 2015

In the first quarter of 2015, in the sixth year of the historic Obama recovery, the U.S. economy grew by two-tenths of 1 percent.

And that probably sugarcoats it.

For trade deficits subtract from the growth of GDP, and the U.S. trade deficit that just came in was a monster.

As the AP’s Martin Crutsinger writes, “The U.S. trade deficit in March swelled to the highest level in more than six years, propelled by a flood of imports that may have sapped the U.S. economy of any growth in the first quarter.”

The March deficit was $51.2 billion, largest of any month since 2008. In goods alone, the trade deficit hit $64 billion.

As Crutsinger writes, a surge in imports to $239 billion in March, “reflected greater shipments of foreign-made industrial machinery, autos, mobile phones, clothing and furniture.”

What does this flood of imports of things we once made here mean for a city like, say, Baltimore? Writes columnist Allan Brownfeld:

“Baltimore was once a city where tens of thousands of blue collar employees earned a good living in industries building cars, airplanes and making steel. … In 1970, about a third of the labor force in Baltimore was employed in manufacturing. By 2000, only 7 percent of city residents had manufacturing jobs.”

Put down blue-collar Baltimore alongside Motor City, Detroit, as another fatality of free-trade fanaticism.

For as imports substitute for U.S. production and kill U.S. jobs, trade deficits reduce a nation’s GDP. And since Bill Clinton took office, the U.S. trade deficits have totaled $11.2 trillion.

An astronomical figure.

It translates not only into millions of manufacturing jobs lost and tens of thousands of factories closed, but also millions of manufacturing jobs that were never created, and tens of thousands of factories that did not open here, but did open in Mexico, China and other Asian countries.

In importing all those trillions in foreign-made goods, we exported the future of America’s young. Our political and corporate elites sold out working- and middle-class America — to enrich the monied class.

And they sure succeeded.

Yet, remarkably, Republicans who wail over Obama’s budget deficits ignore the more ruinous trade deficits that leech away the industrial base upon which America’s self-reliance and military might have always depended.

Last month, the U.S. trade deficit with the People’s Republic of China reached $31.2 billion, the largest in history between two nations.

Over 25 years, China has amassed $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense. And where are the Republicans?

Talking tough about building new fleets of planes and ships and carriers to defend Asia from the rising threat of China, which those same Republicans did more than anyone else to create.

Now this GOP Congress is preparing to vote for “fast track” and surrender its right to amend any Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Obama brings home.

But consider that TPP. While the propaganda is all about a deal to cover 40 percent of world trade, what are we really talking about?

First, TPP will cover 37 percent of world trade. But 80 percent of that is trade between the U.S. and nations with which we already have trade deals. As for the last 20 percent, our new partners will be New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Japan.

Query: Who benefits more if we get access to Vietnam’s market, which is 1 percent of ours, while Hanoi gets access to a U.S. market that is 100 times the size of theirs?

The core of the TPP is the deal with Japan.

But do decades of Japanese trade surpluses at our expense, achieved through the manipulation of Japan’s currency and hidden restrictions on U.S. imports, justify a Congressional surrender to Barack Obama of all rights to amend any Japan deal he produces?

Columnist Robert Samuelson writes that a TPP failure “could produce a historic watershed. … rejection could mean the end of an era. … So, when opponents criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they need to answer a simple question: Compared to what?”

Valid points, and a fair question.

And yes, an era is ending, a post-Cold War era where the United States threw open her markets to nations all over the world, as they sheltered their own. The end of an era where America volunteered to defend nations and fight wars having nothing to do with her own vital interests or national security.

The bankruptcy of a U.S. trade and foreign policy, which has led to the transparent decline of the United States and the astonishing rise of China, is apparent now virtually everywhere.

And America is not immune to the rising tide of nationalism.

Though, like the alcoholic who does not realize his condition until he is lying face down in the gutter, it may be a while before we get out of the empire business and start looking out again, as our fathers did, for the American republic first.

But that day is coming.

Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

US Government: Court cannot review wrongful executive secrecy

Reprieve | May 8, 2015

The Obama Administration today told a US appeal court that it had no right to challenge the wholesale suppression of video evidence of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay.

Lawyers for the Administration insisted that every single frame of video evidence – no matter how disturbing or unlawful- must remain an unchallengeable secret, beyond the review of judges or the public right of access.

The Administration further defended its absolute right to classify any information wrongfully — such as, hypothetically, censoring the Gettysburg address.

The federal hearing in Dhiab v Obama relates to a challenge by Guantánamo’s hunger strikers, whereby prisoners’ lawyers presented classified footage of a prisoner being violently removed from his cell and force-fed by the military authorities. On June 20, 2014, 16 media organizations sought the public release of the videos on First Amendment grounds. On October 3, Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the footage to be released, with appropriate redactions on national security grounds.

In defiance of this order, the Obama Administration failed to redact the tapes – a prerequisite to any release – and instead chose to appeal Judge Kessler’s decision.

In oral arguments today, the Administration defended its decision not to commence redactions, insisting that the judiciary must defer entirely to the executive on secrecy, and that not a single frame of the videos should ever be released to the public.

In response to the hypothetical question of whether a judge could challenge the manifestly wrongful classification of the text of the Gettysburg Address, the Administration replied that the judge could not — the court must simply trust the reasoning of the executive.

Reprieve argued that the Obama Administration was attempting to strip courts of the right to review their own records for a First Amendment public right of access, thereby eroding the separation of powers underpinning the US constitutional system.

Reprieve attorney Alka Pradhan said: “The Obama Administration made an audacious power grab today, insisting that no judge can ever review the executive’s addiction to hiding wrongdoing through secrecy. It is disturbing that such a tyrannical argument can be made by a former constitutional law professor. Today, it is the abuse of Guantanamo prisoners that is being wrongfully suppressed. Tomorrow, who knows?”

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments

Hillary Clinton’s Dirty Money

By ROBERT FANTINA | CounterPunch | May 8, 2015

As she bulldozes her way to the Democratic presidential nomination, former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving no gold nugget unturned as she finances her campaign. Having amassed a wide variety of very wealthy friends throughout the global community, she is in an excellent position to call in favors and promise new ones in return for their financial assistance, as she purchases a four-year lease on the most exclusive real estate in the world.

One recent donation, not directly to her campaign, that has raised some eyebrows, although not in Democratic circles, where Mrs. Clinton, who has done little right can do nothing wrong, is money the Clinton Foundation accepted from a company owned by the government of Morocco. One might ask what the problem with such a donation might be. Cannot a foreign government donate funds to a charitable organization based in the United States?

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as simple as that. This is not the American Red Cross we are talking about, but an organization operated by one of the most politically active and connected families in U.S. history. As late as 2011, when Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department accused the government of Morocco of ‘arbitrary arrests and corruption in all branches of government’. Now, we could discuss the concept of the kettle calling the pot black in terms of government corruption, but we’ll leave that for a later essay. Let’s look at some detail from the State Department report:

“The most significant, continuing human rights problems were the lack of citizens’ right to change the constitutional provisions establishing the country’s monarchical form of government, arbitrary arrests, and corruption in all branches of government.

“Other human rights problems reported during the year included police use of excessive force to quell peaceful protests, resulting in dozens of injuries and at least four deaths; torture and other abuses by the security forces; incommunicado detention; poor prison and detention conditions; political prisoners and detainees; infringement of freedom of the press; lack of freedom of assembly; lack of independence of the judiciary; discrimination against women and girls; trafficking in persons; and child labor, particularly in the informal sector.”

Following the announcement of the $1 million donation from the government-owned Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), Mrs. Clinton announced that the money would be used to sponsor a conference for the Clinton Foundation in Marrakech. She called Morocco “a vital hub for economic and cultural exchange”, eliminating any mention of political prisoners, police violence or human trafficking. Might that sum of money have been sufficient to blind the former Secretary of State to facts she was aware of when she had that job?
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The donation was made, and the conference announced, prior to Mrs. Clinton’s long-expected declaration of candidacy for president. But still one wonders what possible benefit there could be for the OCP in making this donation? Is this anything more than a sincere desire to help those who might benefit from the Clinton Foundation largesse?

Well, yes, there may be another beneficiary. The OCP is involved in the extraction of mineral resources from the Western Sahara, disputed territory often referred to as the ‘last colony in Africa’, that Morocco controls. It is illegal under international law for an occupying or controlling power to extract for profit the natural resources of the country in dispute. The OCP is owned by the Moroccan government. The U.S. has a long history of allowing occupying powers to exploit, in violation of international law, the natural resources of their victims: note Israel’s extraction of resources from the Dead Sea. The money that the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) funnels to U.S. politicians is sufficient to cause the U.S. to look the other way; there is no equivalent lobby group representing Morocco, so perhaps this donation will suffice.

Money talks in U.S. governance. The same State Department report that detailed Moroccan abuses also commented on Israel. The influence of AIPAC is clear in these so-called ‘findings’:

* “The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions for all citizens.” This, despite the almost constant arrests without charge and detention of countless Palestinian men, women and children, both in Palestine and those living in Israel.

* “Criminal suspects are apprehended with warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by an authorized official. Authorities generally informed such persons promptly of charges against them.” See above.

* “Defendants enjoy the right to presumption of innocence and the right to consult with an attorney, or if indigent, to have one provided at public expense.” This, of course, does not apply to Palestinians.

* “Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence. The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected those prohibitions in practice.” Israel Defense Forces (IDF; read: Terrorists) break into Palestinian homes at any time of the day or night, search the homes, steal valuables and generally terrorize the residents. Palestinian homes are arbitrarily bulldozed to make room for illegal and internationally-condemned settlements.

The list goes on, but this should suffice to indicate the degree to which money runs roughshod over human rights in U.S. governance. One thinks that the executives of the OCP can now sleep peacefully, confident that there will be no U.S. interference in their rape of the Western Sahara.

What other foreign governments may see benefit to themselves in a future Hillary Clinton presidency? Since the U.S. is always ready to invade a nation that displeases it, often by some perceived threat to U.S. economic dominance, one would think that most nations will be running to Mrs. Clinton with checkbook in hand, wanting to please the fairy queen and appease the economic gods so worshiped by the U.S. Additionally, such homage would enable them to ignore human rights and exploit the poor for the benefit of the rich, without the U.S. complaining about such abuses. And who will the presumptive Democratic nominee turn away? Anyone? After all, with an alleged target of $2 billion dollars for her campaign, there really are no human rights abuses that can’t be overlooked. Perhaps Syria will make a substantial donation, and thus end U.S. aggression against it.

But are there not built-in protections against this sort of thing, government ‘watchdogs’, if you will, to assure that no such collusion exists? In an article published in The New York Times on May 3, Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman Ann M. Ravel said that “…her organization is powerless to safeguard against misconduct in 2016 presidential campaign fundraising and spending”, mainly due to partisan gridlock. So no, there is nothing to stop Mrs. Clinton, and any and all other candidates, from taking donations from whomever and wherever those donations are offered. And it is unlikely that any of those proffering untold amounts of money have the best interest of the common U.S. citizen at heart. No, they will be foreign governments who wish to begin or continue the exploitation of oppressed people without interference from the U.S., or domestic corporations seeking to continue the vast profits their shareholders earn from war, or from manufacturing products with limited safety or environmental restrictions.

As each presidential election approaches, pundits from the right and left proclaim that this is the most important in the history of the U.S., and that the very survival of the country depends on the outcome. Yet following each election, the nation does not implode in a ball of flames, but continues on, mainly with business as usual. That business is war, disregard for human rights at home and abroad and the worship of the almighty dollar. Mrs. Clinton will usher in no change; her every action speaks volumes to that fact.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish settlers in Hebron harass FIFA tour delegation

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Ma’an – May 8, 2015

HEBRON – Settlers harassed the head of the Palestinian National Union for Football and the South African head of an anti-racism group during a tour in Hebron’s Old City this week.

Palestinian football chief, Jibril al-Rajoub, was heading a FIFA delegation tour in the city on Tuesday when the incident took place. The group included Tokyo Sexwale, an anti-apartheid activist imprisoned for 13 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, and co-chair of Global Watch: Say No To Racism-Discrimination In Sport.

The delegation was briefed on the difficult living conditions in the Old City by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and were shown videos documenting army and settler violence against Palestinians in the city.

Israeli forces then prevented the delegation from entering several areas of the Old City, with settlers verbally insulting the group as they tried to continue the tour.

Sexwale said that life for Palestinians in the city is intolerable, saying he was proud of the Palestinians for their determination to remain on their land.

The South African official had to enter Ramallah via the King Hussein Bridge to avoid entry from Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has called for a vote at the FIFA annual congress on May 29 calling for Israel’s expulsion for blocking Palestinian football through its sanctions on the Palestinian territories.

In its draft resolution for the FIFA congress, the PFA protests Israel’s treatment of Arabs and acts such as setting up clubs in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli forces raided the PFA headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah in November.

Palestinian football chiefs have also condemned Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players and on importing equipment into the occupied territories

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , | 2 Comments

Nations ready to move beyond Iran bans despite US Congress move: German envoy

Press TV – May 8, 2015

The German ambassador to Washington warns that his country and other nations are ready to move beyond sanctions imposed on Iran over its peaceful nuclear program, regardless of any decision that the US Congress may be willing to make.

Peter Wittig made the comments on Thursday in reaction to the US Senate’s recent approval of a bill that potentially makes removal of sanctions conditional on congressional consent.

The US Senate passed legislation on Thursday, which would make it possible for Congress to review and potentially reject a nuclear deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

The legislation will allow for a 30-day review of any final agreement with Iran. During the review period, President Barack Obama would be able to waive those Iran sanctions, which were imposed by the executive branch. However, the president would have to leave in place sanctions that Congress had previously drafted.

Addressing the Columbus Metropolitan Club in central Ohio, the German ambassador said, “The alternatives to a negotiated deal are not very attractive.”

Wittig said while Congress would probably be willing to impose new sanctions on Iran, other countries would not follow, adding that such state of affairs would cause “this universal sanctions regime” against Iran to “crumble.”

He also dismissed as not viable Washington’s talks of a military option against Iran saying it will not lead to a lasting solution.

The German ambassador stated that his government pleads to give diplomacy a chance, adding that any agreement that may be signed between Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia – will be reviewed and judged on its merits.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and EU imposed sanctions on Iran’s economic sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from cooperating with the Islamic Republic in those sectors.

The sanctions were imposed over allegations about possible diversion in Iran’s nuclear program toward military objectives. Iran categorically rejected the allegation.

Iran and the P5+1 reached a mutual understanding on April 2 in the Swiss city of Lausanne as a prelude to a comprehensive deal before a self-designated deadline at the end of June. A key point of Lausanne statement was a promise to lift a series of sanctions on Iranian economy.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s Attack on Yemen

By RANNIE AMIRI | CounterPunch | May 8, 2015

The Saudi regime is notoriously adept at funding wars, but exceptionally poor at fighting them.

On March 25, a massive aerial bombing campaign began against Zaidi Houthi rebels who had recently assumed control of Yemen’s capital and forced its U.S. and Saudi-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, to flee first to the southern port city of Aden and then to Riyadh.

This is the second Saudi attack on Yemen—the Arab world’s poorest country bordering one of its richest—in less than six years. “Operation Scorched Earth” was launched by the Yemeni government against the Houthis in August 2009. In November of that year, Saudi troops amassed on the border and began shelling Saada governorate in northwest Yemen where the rebels were based.

The Saudi offensive created tens of thousands of internally displaced civilians, teeming refugee camps and rampant malnutrition. The Houthis, in the face of overwhelming firepower and far worse off in 2009 than today, nevertheless kept Saudi troops at bay and inflicted higher than expected causalities on their forces. Six years later and with nearly all Arab countries aligned against them, they are doing so again.

To put Yemen’s current predicament in context some background history is helpful.

The Zaidi Shia form at least a quarter of Yemen’s population and are concentrated in the north of the country. This area was once ruled by Hashimite Zaidis (those descended from the line of the Prophet Muhammad) for more than 1,000 years until they were overthrown in 1962 by an alliance of nationalist military officers who then founded the Yemen Arab Republic. Zaidi Muslims are nominally categorized as Shia Muslims although they are actually closer to the Sunni schools of jurisprudence.

The rebels were first led by Zaidi cleric Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi—from whom the Houthis derive their name—and his Shabab al-Momineen group who fought the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Their dispute dates to June 2004 when Saleh, the Saudi-backed strongman, charged the Houthis with sedition and claimed their true aim was to revive Zaidi Shia Imamate rule deposed four decades earlier. For their part, the Houthis sought to reverse the systemic political and socioeconomic marginalization their community faced as well as stem the rise of Salafi/Wahabi ideology and the al-Qaeda presence it fostered, both of which had gained an increasing foothold in the country.

Hussein al-Houthi was killed by the army in September 2004 and his brother, Abdul Malik assumed leadership. He now leads the Houthi movement under the group Ansarullah. Worried that the Houthis could transform into a Hezbollah-like organization, the Saudis attacked in 2009. Then, as now, this was done with U.S.-supplied advanced weaponry including surface-to-air missiles, Apache attack helicopters and Phantom jet fighters. Despite their sophisticated arms, Saudi Arabia lost an unusually high number of soldiers in the campaign.

The Houthis persevered; their resilience and desire for equitable representation in government led Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Gulf Cooperation Countries (with the exception of Oman) to attack in March of this year when “Operation Decisive Storm” began. Predictably, its pretext was the tired canard of curbing Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula. Direct, material support for the Houthis by Iran has never been clearly demonstrated however.

The real motive for the assault and the process it intended to disrupt was revealed by former U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar in an April interview with the Wall Street Journal. Benomar remarks, “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”

The Saudi offensive led by the young defense minister and newly-appointed deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, has again exacted a tremendous humanitarian toll: 1,200 killed and more than a quarter of a million people displaced. In 2009, the Saudis were accused of using white phosphorus (as the Israelis had been in their wars on Gaza). Today, they are charged with using cluster bombs (as the Israelis had been in their wars on Lebanon). Human Rights Watch said in a statement, “Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in air strikes against the Houthi forces.”

Even after all tools of war were placed at their disposal by the West, the House of Saud still pleaded with Pakistan to send (Sunni-only) troops to fight for them. The regime has blockaded the port at Aden and has even resorted to bombing Sanaa’s airport to prevent the delivery of needed relief supplies.

All of these measures have failed to halt the Houthi advance.

Only a political solution will end Yemen’s bloodshed. The GCC though prefers to frame the conflict as an existential one pitting Arabs against Iranians, Sunnis versus Shias. This serves to stoke the sectarian flames already engulfing the region and makes a practical resolution near impossible.

The war has been a disaster for the Yemeni people from the start, both politically and on the most basic humanitarian level. Al-Qaeda now has the potential to flourish as Yemenis are pitted against one another based on sect; the possibility of a just compromise and representative government without Saudi Arabia’s hand-picked man at the helm well forestalled.

Will the Saudi regime find themselves in a military quagmire? The Houthis show no sign of withering under relentless bombing. Or is a decisive ground invasion in the works? There are early signs this may yet occur. But as in Iraq and Syria, the monarchy appears content with the status quo, ensuring chaos, instability and sectarianism prevail.

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

More Neocon-Zionist Theater in Texas

More Neocon-Zionist Theater in Texas

By Brandon Martinez | Non-Aligned Media | May 8, 2015

What a surprise – another extremely dubious, synthetic scandal that played out the familiar neocon script of ‘violent Muslims are attacking free speech’ has hit the American south.

Since the Ottawa shooting back in October of 2014, the Neocon-Zionist false flaggers who control most Western governments have executed a series of highly choreographed public relations stunts designed to re-enforce the contrived ‘war on terror’ narrative as well as submerge the public in fear, thereby ripening the masses for government power-grabs in the form of ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation.

According to media reports, on May 3 two assailants purportedly opened fire outside an anti-Muslim ‘cartoon contest’ event organized by Pamela Gellar, a radical Jewish activist who has made a career out of vilifying Muslims and inciting for more Zionist wars in the Middle East. Gellar’s event, held in Garland, Texas, challenged people to submit derogatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed in a similar vein to Charlie Hebdo’s rancid provocations. Gellar offered a $10,000 prize for the “best depiction of Muhammad.”

We are told that two American Muslims, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, showed up at the event with automatic assault rifles and managed to shoot and injure a police officer before being gunned down in front of the Curtis Cullwell Center. It is difficult to confirm if any of this actually happened.

Media are insinuating that the two men had tenuous links to ISIS, but these ‘links’ amount to nothing more than pro-ISIS Twitter accounts praising them.

What is for certain is that one of the alleged shooters, 30-year-old Elton Simpson, was on the FBI’s radar since 2007 and had even been convicted in 2011 for lying to Federal authorities about trying to join the al-Shabaab group in Somalia. Court records show that Simpson was in contact with an FBI informant named Daba Deng who was paid more than $100,000 by the notoriously corrupt agency to befriend Simpson. Strangely, Simpson was only given three months probation and released.

What are the odds that the FBI didn’t continue to keep tabs on Simpson after his arrest and conviction in 2011? What are the chances that Simpson and his alleged co-conspirator were able to purchase a stash of handguns and rifles that they supposedly used in the failed Garland attack without the Feds noticing? What is the likelihood that the FBI, in conjunction with the Zionist neocon clique led by Pamela Gellar, didn’t fabricate this whole scenario out of thin air as per the neocon ‘big lie’ technique?

The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI in fact warned Garland police hours before the shooting that Simpson was a threat. The International Business Times tells us: “FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday that his agency issued a bulletin to the Garland police department that included a photo of Simpson just hours before the affront.” Reuters also confirmed that the FBI’s warning mentioned that Simpson was interested in the anti-Muslim event hosted by Gellar.

The FBI covered for itself by saying that although they warned Garland police about Simpson, he supposedly “gave no indication that he planned an attack.” WFAA8 News added that “Garland police spokesman Officer Joe Harn said at a 10 a.m. news conference Monday that security had been ramped up for the controversial event, and a plan had been in place involving the FBI for months.” What “plan involving the FBI” was he referring to? After the alleged shoot-out with Simpson and Soofi, police are said to have bizarrely detonated the suspects’ car as a ‘precaution,’ even though they found no explosives in it.

Much like all of the other patsies in the Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen shootings that conveniently all transpired over a six month time-frame, one of the two individuals allegedly involved in the Garland shooting was well-known to authorities and had previously been in contact with an FBI informant posing as an Islamic radical. It’s the same modus operandi every time – pay an informant to induce, incite or otherwise cajole an impressionable, inept and perhaps desperate young Muslim into planning a violent act, and then clear the way for that individual to follow through on it. Then play dumb about the ‘threat’ this person posed, denying any knowledge of ill intent despite having enormous resources, making it all but impossible not to have known. And make sure the dupe/patsy is killed so they can’t talk and so nothing can come to light in a proper trial.

Even if this failed attack unfolded just as the media says it did, the FBI is ultimately at fault for ‘dropping the ball’ yet again (irrespective of their dubious ‘warning’ that amounts to a convenient alibi), even though they had more than enough reason to suspect Simpson and his companion were plotting something. They also undoubtedly knew that Gellar’s ‘Draw the Prophet’ charade was the perfect bait for any would-be radical trying to make a name for himself, yet allowed the provocation to proceed under the pretext of ‘upholding the first amendment.’ As the Garland police spokesman confessed, this had all been pre-planned months beforehand. Only the very naïve or hopelessly deluded will put any faith in the FBI’s lame-duck denials that they deliberately allow attacks of these sorts to take place, or organize them directly by way of informants, such as the one linked to Simpson.

The Zionist-influenced mass media has predictably seized on this latest terror stage-play to push the fear campaign of ‘homegrown terror’ harder than ever before, plunging the already credulous masses deeper into an artificially-induced slumber of willful ignorance about the fabricated nature of ‘terrorism’ in the West.

Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

White House psychologist implicated in CIA torture now helping FBI

RT | May 8, 2015

Before the dust has had a chance to settle on the report detailing the American Psychologists Association’s complicity in the CIA torture program, the psychologist found to have violated the ethics code now appears to be helping the FBI do the same thing.

In late April, a 60-page report entitled ‘All the President’s Psychologists’ pointed to Susan Brandon as the White House architect behind the policies regulating the legality of an interrogator’s actions – something that goes against the APA’s own rulebook, which prohibits psychologists from making such judgments.

The document alleges the APA’s close coordination with the White House, the CIA and the Department of Defense on the formulation of a legal policy that would exempt the interrogators from prosecution, following a scandal involving allegation of torture at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. “Susan Brandon … played a central role in the development of the 2005 [Psychological Ethics and National Security] policy,” the report alleges – the second inquiry investigating the medical role in the practice.

“What we see is associations. And the associations with the apparent supervisor of [James] Mitchell and [Bruce] Jessen at each step of the process over a period of three years,” the report said then, in reference to the two masterminds of the CIA torture program, whom Brandon was allegedly in contact with in 2003, as evident from a string of emails.

Brandon’s complete role in the program is at this point unknown, but one particular email she was included on focuses on the pair “doing special things to special people in special places.”

“The issue here is not about what she thinks about torture; the issue is about what she did in the past to knowingly or unknowingly create a legal heat shield for the president using the ethics of the APA. That’s the issue. This is not a question of torture. It’s a question of alleged corruption,” says the report’s co-author and program director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Nathaniel Raymond, according to the Huffington Post.

Now Brandon is advising the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group – essentially the Obama’s administration continuation of the CIA program regarded as having crossed the line. She is tasked with research into determining whether a crime has been committed in the course of an interrogation.

The FBI has not officially commented on the claims yet. Journalists might not get a reply from Brandon anytime soon, as she’s still an HIG adviser and is not expected to break protocol – the association has a policy of operating in secrecy, according to fellow member Mark Fallon.

The initial reason for the government’s acceptance of the CIA torture program hinged, in part, on the presence of psychologists and their expertise acting as a check, as is evident from a 2005 Justice Department document.

The reason the APA had to be called in was apparently due to the CIA’s own psychologists’ refusal to sign off on the memo, claiming that the proposed assessments simply strayed outside of medical professionals’ competence.

As a result, Brandon’s Psychological Ethics and National Security policy became the document that could be “seen as opening the door for psychologists to fulfil a function that [CIA Office of Medical Services] health professionals were resisting,” according to the report.

Brandon’s own language went in a separate direction from the CIA doctors’, effectively paving the way for a psychologist’s role in judging the harm and effectiveness of an interrogation.

The APA has denied the report’s findings. Its own review of the complicity in the Bush-era program is ongoing.

Brandon’s role as one of the HIG’s top specialists is now under scrutiny, but she has defenders as well. Fallon, for one, has since said that Brandon “is a research scientist who was helping craft language, from what I can read in those emails, that might in fact be totally appropriate.”

“[Was] it a witting collaboration, or is it an unwitting person within the government who’s a research scientist looking to ensure that we’re at least learning lessons? I just could not conceive that she would ever do anything that would support degrading and inhumane treatment,” he added.

Read more: Study accuses psychologists group of complicity in CIA torture program

May 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment