Aletho News


Mandatory Reporting of User Content Chills Speech and Violates Privacy Rights

By Kelsey Harclerode and Erica Fisher | EFF | August 5, 2015

EFF joined a broad coalition of 31 organizations in sending a letter to Senate leadership opposing an unconstitutionally vague law that would require Internet companies to report to the government when they obtain “actual knowledge” of any “facts and circumstances” related to “terrorist activity.” Section 603 of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (S. 1705), which does not define “terrorist activity,” raises significant First and Fourth Amendment concerns, including the chilling of protected speech and the warrantless search and seizure of private electronic content.

First Amendment Concerns

The most obvious flaws in Section 603 are its vagueness and overbreadth: it will chill wholly legal speech and conduct. The key reason is that there is no clear agreement in U.S. society about what counts as “terrorism” (and triggers mandatory reporting). The single, tiny island of clarity in the term “terrorist activity” is one non-exclusive reference to 18 U.S.C. § 842(p), which makes it unlawful for a person to distribute information relating to explosives if the person has knowledge that the recipient intends to use the information to commit a violent crime. Otherwise, Section 603 is a Rohrschach blot.

Because Section 603 leaves both companies and users uncertain as to what exactly triggers the mandatory reporting requirement, this vague obligation to report will encourage service providers to broadly implement the law and will, in turn, encourage users to self-censor to avoid being reported to the federal government as possible “terrorists.” Without further clarification, the law will likely put innocent political activists, journalists, engaged citizens, professors and students participating in wholly lawful debate and research under a cloud of suspicion. For many, the risk of being put on a mysterious government watch list will more often than not outweigh the benefit of speaking.

With limited context for, say, a tweet or private direct message, service providers will err on the side of over-reporting and submit First Amendment-protected speech through content-flagging or automated monitoring systems. Section 603 includes a “protection of privacy” subsection, which clarifies that nothing in the provision “may be construed to require [a] service provider…to monitor any user…or the content of any communication.” Yet this “protection” does little to counteract the pressure on intermediaries to monitor their users’ behavior and content. While intermediaries often rely on content-flagging systems that enable users to report apparent unlawful or abusive activity of other users, this mechanism is prone to fraudulent notices. An automated monitoring system based on keywords would allow intermediaries to avoid having to themselves make decisions about their users’ content. But because it’s not obvious what constitutes “terrorist activity,” a user could be reported any time she uses a buzzword related to terrorist groups, the Middle East, U.S. foreign policy, or a particular political ideology.

Fourth Amendment Concerns

Section 603 not only chills lawful speech, it also tries to evade constitutional barriers that protect against unreasonable searches and seizures of private communications by the government.

EFF has consistently argued that a warrant based on probable cause is required for compelled government access to content stored by “cloud” service providers. In United States v. Warshak, the Sixth Circuit held that the government cannot access email content without a warrant because users have a Fourth Amendment-protected reasonable expectation of privacy in the email content that they store with these intermediaries.

While Section 603 does not permit the government to demand the production of content, it does require Internet companies to report content—including private content—reflecting “terrorist activity.” There is no question that this kind of mandatory reporting statute is subject to Fourth Amendment scrutiny, not unlike the ordinance found unconstitutional in Los Angeles v. Patel.

The applicability of the Fourth Amendment is particularly important given the amount of private content the government will acquire under this provision. As noted above, this mandatory provision will encourage companies to over-report both public and private content to the government. This will enable the government to evade normal due process requirements—including meeting legal standards such as probable cause and submitting to judicial review—while collecting much private content protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Future Action

Section 603’s constitutional implications have not gone unnoticed in Congress. On July 27, the Senate was set to pass the bill by unanimous consent until Sen. Wyden objected to this expedited procedure. The Senate will now have to engage in the normal process of debate and amendment, or remove this provision from the bill to prompt Sen. Wyden to withdraw his objection and enable the bill to pass by unanimous consent. The government should not be permitted to evade constitutional limits by turning private companies into watchdogs with no leashes. We urge Senate leadership to withdraw Section 603 from the intelligence authorization bill.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Missouri Cop Arrested for Conspiring to Arrest Man Who Was Running for Mayor

By Cassandra Fairbanks | PINAC | August 5, 2051

A former Pine Lawn police lieutenant was arrested on Tuesday by the FBI for conspiring to falsely arrest their former mayor’s competition in the 2013 mayoral race.

Steven Blakeney, 34, is facing up to 20 years in prison for his role in a scheme to sabotage the opponent of the mayor of the small Missouri town in St. Louis County.

During the corruption trial of former Mayor Sylvestor Caldwell in April, a local food market manager testified that he had helped frame Nakisha Ford, Caldwell’s competitor, under the direction of Blakeney.

The manager of the store, Akram Samed, testified that the former lieutenant instructed him to call 911 and report that they caught Ford removing competing campaign posters.  He testified that he participated in the conspiracy as he was afraid of repercussions from the mayor if he refused.

The indictment states that Blakeney and other officers arrived, “placed her under arrest and transported her to the Pine Lawn police station, where television news outlets were waiting.”

Former Pine Lawn Mayor Adrian Wright, 80, also sued the city claiming that he was targeted for arrest after voicing criticism of Caldwell and forced to do a perp walk in front of all the cameras, before the charges were dropped.  He alleges that it was all orchestrated as a smear campaign against him.

Caldwell pleaded guilty and resigned as mayor of the town as part of his plea deal. He also was sentenced to almost three years in prison.

In December, Blakeney was fired after allegations that he called an officer friend to come pick up two drunk girls he had met at the bar and give them rides home.  The women wrote sworn statements asserting that they woke up in Blakeney’s home with no memory of how they got there, CBS reported.

The former officer maintains that the allegations were lies and that he was actually fired for cooperating with the FBI investigation. He subsequently attempted to sue the department for 5 million dollars, claiming he was wrongfully terminated.

Blakeney is charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records. Pine Lawn, which has a population of 3,216, issued 17,155 traffic citations in 2013, according to Radley Balko’s 2014 investigative piece in the Washington Post, “How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty.” 

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | | Leave a comment

Drugs or No Drugs, K-9s Will Alert to Your Car Nearly Every Time


By John Vibes | The Free Thought Project | August 5, 2015

Bloomington, IL — Police are now speaking out about a decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that drug dogs signal for drugs nearly every time they are sent to sniff a vehicle or home. This decision shows that police dog searches are not legitimate and that they are just used as a pretense for officers to violate the rights of innocent people.

The case stemmed from a 2010 traffic stop in which 20 kilograms of cocaine were found in a vehicle after a search from a police dog named “Lex.”

The suspect ended up taking the case to court, and while his sentence was upheld, some very interesting points were uncovered during the investigation.

It was revealed that Lex, the drug dog in question, signaled for drugs 93% of the time, even when there were no drugs present. These findings show that dog sniffs are not accurate and are simply used as a tool to justify a full police search. The findings also indicated that Lex was incorrect roughly 40% of the time.

“Lex’s overall accuracy rate … is not much better than a coin flip,” the ruling stated.

Now the police are speaking out against the ruling, saying that Lex was at the bottom of his class and not a good representation of how most police dogs operate.

“Lex is lucky the Canine Training Institute doesn’t calculate class rank. If it did, Lex would have been at the bottom of his class,” a recent police statement said.

Police representative Michael Bieser said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that “The opinion is unfair and very one-sided. He’s is a very, very good dog.”

In many cases, police dogs are trained with positive reinforcement if they are able to find contraband, a situation that will obviously lead to false positives. However, police deny that this tactic is used in training, despite the fact that it is known to be commonplace.

“We didn’t do it because we agree rewards confuse dogs, but they will use the practice against us in court,” Bieser said.

Last year, we reported on the high-profile case of Timothy Young. Young was pulled over for failure to use his turn signal when a police K-9 was said to have alerted to his vehicle. After police found no evidence of drugs in his car or on his person, he was then handcuffed and driven to a hospital an hour away. During this forced visit to the hospital, Young was x-rayed and sodomized in search of non-existent substances.

Still think if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear? Ask Mr. Young that question…..

John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | | Leave a comment

Where’s the outrage? White South Carolina teen gunned down by cop gets no attention


© J. Knight / YouTube
RT | August 5, 2015

After an independent autopsy showed that Zachary Hammond was shot by police from behind, the family of the unarmed South Carolina teen is wondering at the lack of national outrage in this case. Hammond was white.

According to the police in Seneca, South Carolina, an officer shot Hammond “in self-defense” when the teen allegedly tried to run him over with a car during a drug arrest. An officer approached Hammond’s car in the parking lot of a Hardee’s restaurant on July 26, after an undercover officer arranged a marijuana buy with the teen’s date, 23-year-old Tori Morton. The initial police report mentions finding a bag of marijuana on Morton – who was charged with simple possession – but makes no note of the lethal shooting.

The official autopsy confirmed Hammond was shot twice, but did not say from what angle. Hammond’s family arranged for an independent autopsy, which showed the 19-year-old had been shot from above and behind, suggesting that the official police story was inaccurate.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, attorney for Hammond’s family Eric Bland said that Hammond had been shot in the left rear shoulder, and through the back of his chest, indicating the officer fired from the side of a stopped car, through the open window. Bland says Hammond was on a first date with Morton, who was eating ice cream at the time, and that the police should have never used deadly force.

Seneca is a city of 8,200 in the northwestern corner of South Carolina, near the university town of Clemson, and about 30 miles west of Greenville.

Hammond’s death came a week after Samuel Dubose was killed in Cincinnati, Ohio under very similar circumstances. University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing said Dubose was trying to run him over with his car, and that he fired in self-defense. Once Tensing’s body camera footage was released, showing otherwise, the officer was indicted for murder. Tensing is white; Dubose was black.

Dubose’s killing has attracted national attention, but Hammond’s was barely noticed. According to the Los Angeles Times, while Dubose’s name was mentioned in over 43,000 tweets between July 26 and August 4, Hammond’s appeared in 289 tweets in the same time period.

Bland, the attorney for Hammond’s family, finds the discrepancy “very disturbing.”

“An unarmed white teenager whose life is wrongfully taken at the hands of overzealous police is the same and equal to an unarmed black teenager whose life is wrongfully taken at the hands of overzealous police,” he told the LA Times.

Police in Seneca are standing by their officer, though. Speaking to the Greenville News last week, Chief John Covington said the officer “actually had his hand on or very close to the car, possibly pushed off from the car,” and the teen “was not shot from behind.”

“The attorney wasn’t there either,” Covington said. “He’s got to put his spin on things. His clients are the parents and they’re grieving. I understand that. My heart goes out to them.”

Seneca police’s refusal to publish the official autopsy results or name the officer involved in the fatal shooting has raised eyebrows. The Charleston Post and Courier filed an open records request for the officer’s name, and the copy of the official incident report, neither of which have been released by the police.

“It’s outrageous,” Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, told the Post and Courier. “The policeman is a public official. They can’t redact his name. That’s a clear violation of the law.”

“We feel that releasing his name may possibly subject the officer and family to harassment, intimidation or abuse,” Chief Covington said in a statement, explaining that the department considers the officer a “victim of attempted murder” by Hammond.

Rogers says this argument lacks merit and that the public has a right to know. “Other people might have had encounters with this policeman but they can’t come forward if the public doesn’t know who it is,” he said.

Hammond’s death is currently being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). There had been 30 fatal police shootings in the state this year, as of August 3, compared to 42 in all of 2014, according to the LA Times.

“The whole issue of race is getting distorted and what’s getting lost is the real issue which is excessive force,” Bland told the Washington Post. “All people need to be outraged out this. All people need to be asking the hard questions.”

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | 1 Comment

In Victory for Free Speech and Animals, Judge Strikes Down Idaho ‘Ag-Gag’ Law

Banning the filming of factory farm operations is an unconstitutional violation of both free speech and equal protection clauses, says federal judge

A demonstration against Ag-Gag legislation in Idaho outside the state house in 2014. (Credit: Flickr / cc / Mercy for Animals)
By Jon Queally | Common Dreams | August 4, 2015

In a victory for animal rights advocates—and the animals on factory farms they seek to protect—a federal judge on Monday ruled Idaho’s controversial “ag-gag” law unconstitutional in a decision that said criminalizing the undercover documentation of livestock abuse violates both free speech and the equal protection clause.

“The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech by undercover investigators and whistleblowers concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment,” U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill stated in his 28-page ruling.

Under the law, people filming agricultural operations without permission in Idaho face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. By comparison, a jail sentence for an animal cruelty conviction is capped at six months and a maximum fine of $5,000.

However, as Winmill’s ruling continued, the legal arguments in favor of banning undercover investigations—long a tactic of animal rights groups with no other way to prove or expose such abuse—did not stand up to scrutiny. “Audio and visual evidence is a uniquely persuasive means of conveying a message,” he wrote, “and it can vindicate an undercover investigator or whistleblower who is otherwise disbelieved or ignored. Prohibiting undercover investigators or whistleblowers from recording an agricultural facility’s operations inevitably suppresses a key type of speech because it limits the information that might later be published or broadcast.”

In the end, the judge concluded, “the facts show the state’s purpose in enacting the statute was to protect industrial animal agriculture by silencing its critics.”

Though other states have passed similar laws in recent years, the decision by Winmill marks the first time a federal court has struck down such legislation. And though the Idaho ruling could be appealed to a higher federal court, it is also likely to spur additional challenges in those other states.

Instigated by an undercover operation by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, Idaho’s law was signed into law in 2014 by the state’s Republican Gov. Butch Otter, but was challenged in court by a coalition of welfare advocates, led by attorneys with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

ALDF called Winmill’s ruling a “landmark victory” for all those represented by the suit, which in addition to the tens of thousands nameless animals, included a broad-based public interest coalition of national nonprofits, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho, journalists  Will Potter and Blair Koch, Farm Sanctuary, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS). In a joint statement, the coalition said:

Undercover video and photography has exposed numerous shocking practices that are “industry standards.” These pervasive, systematic procedures include routine mutilation, including debeaking birds with electrically heated blades and castrating male animals by slicing open their scrotum and ripping their testicles out without pain relief or anesthesia and intensive confinement—where animals are literally unable to turn around for months on end. Exposes have also detailed the sickening farming conditions resulting in contaminated meat products—posing serious health risks to the public—and life threatening conditions for farm workers.

These investigations, and the subsequent media coverage, have led to food safety recalls, citations for environmental and labor violations, evidence of health code violations, plant closures, criminal convictions, and civil litigation. The Idaho statute unconstitutionally and unwisely prohibits efforts to bring violations of state and federal laws relating to food safety, environmental protection, and animal handling to the attention of the public and law enforcement.

Ag-Gag laws are notoriously unsupported by the public. Nationwide thirty-two similar Ag-Gag measures have failed. Currently, seven states have Ag-Gag laws on the books. This Idaho decision is just the first step in defeating similar Ag-Gag laws across the country.

Mercy for Animals also hailed the ruling, saying it is now looking forward to continuing its work and producing more undercover videos in Idaho.

“Idaho’s lawmakers should be ashamed of wasting precious time and valuable resources enacting unconstitutional laws that threaten animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights and the environment,” said Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy for Animals, in response to the ruling. “We hope they will now focus their efforts on improving animal welfare and rewarding the brave whistleblowers who uncover criminal activity in Idaho’s agricultural operation.”

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn calls for UK nuclear disarmament on Hiroshima 70th anniversary


Hiroshima aftermath © U.S. Navy Public Affairs Resources Website / Wikipedia
RT | August 6, 2015

Labour Party leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has called for Britain’s complete nuclear disarmament at an event commemorating 70 years since the US dropped an atom bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Speaking on Thursday at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) commemoration event in London, the anti-austerity candidate said that if he became prime minister he would not renew Trident, Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Unveiling his Plan for Nuclear Disarmament, Corbyn said he would move away from a nuclear weapons based arsenal.

In the document, Corbyn lays out a strategy to protect the jobs of people currently working on Trident by investing in infrastructure projects and “socially productive” initiatives.

“We are making the case for a defense diversification agency because we have a moral duty, and strategic defense and international commitments, to make Britain and the world a safer place,” the document reads.

“As a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Britain should therefore give a lead in discharging its obligations by not seeking a replacement for Trident, as we are committed to accelerate concrete progress towards nuclear disarmament.

“Senior military figures have described our existing nuclear weapons as ‘militarily useless’ and our possession of them encourages other countries to seek a similar arsenal while undermining the efforts being made to advance the cause of international nuclear disarmament,” it adds.

The Green Party’s Lady Jones also attended the memorial event.

She said: “It is amazing that we haven’t learned more from the nuclear bombing of Japan, that nuclear weapons are indiscriminate, their impact incalculable and their cost insupportable.

“Britain should accept that such weapons are impossible to use with any guarantee of safety and we should scrap plans for renewing the Trident nuclear defense system, freeing up £100b billion to spend on our national wellbeing.”

Currently the UK has committed to the maintenance of four submarines, each equipped with Trident II D-5 nuclear missiles. Parliament will vote on their renewal in 2016.

Corbyn’s call for nuclear disarmament comes after he said Tony Blair could stand trial for war crimes if he is deemed to have broken international law during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the prominent anti-war campaigner said Blair should stand trial “if he has committed a war crime, yes. Everybody who has committed a war crime should.”

He added the former Labour prime minister, who orchestrated the invasion with then-US President George W. Bush, should “confess” to any plans he made with the former president. The publication of the Chilcot Inquiry report would force Blair’s hand, he said.

Corbyn, who staunchly opposed the invasion and is a leading member of the Stop the War coalition, said: “It was an illegal war. I am confident about that. Indeed Kofi Annan [UN secretary general at the time of the war] confirmed it was an illegal war and therefore [Tony Blair] has to explain that. Is he going to be tried for it? I don’t know. Could he be tried for it? Possibly.”

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

Leader of Israeli extremist organization calls for Jewish State torching churches

Ma’an – August 6, 2015

JERUSALEM – The leader of a Jewish extremist group in Israel allegedly called for arson attacks on churches in front of Israeli students, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

Benzi Gopstein, leader of anti-Arab group Lehava, allegedly called for the burning of churches at a panel held this week for Jewish yeshiva students, using ancient Halachic, or Jewish law, to condemn what he called Christian “idol worship.”

When a journalist at the panel informed Gopstein that he was on camera and could be arrested for his comments, Gopstein said he is prepared to spend 50 years in jail for his remarks, according to a video of the panel released by the Haredi website Kikar Shabbat.

After the release of the video, Gopstein said he “stressed several times” that he was “not calling to take operative steps,” instead he said that it is “the responsibility of the government, not of individuals” to abolish the Christian practice of idol worship.

The Israeli government has taken steps to crack down on Jewish extremism over the past week, after suspected Jewish extremists torched two West Bank homes, burning an 18-month-old infant alive and critically injuring the baby’s mother, father and brother.

Three right-wing extremists were arrested on Tuesday in connection to the arson under an administrative detention order after Israel’s security cabinet approved the use of the measure on Jewish Israelis. The arrests marked the first time a Jewish Israeli has ever been held under the policy of administrative detention.

There has been a long line of attacks on Christian and Muslim holy places in both Israel and the occupied West Bank in which the perpetrators were believed to be Jewish extremists.

Despite announcements by the Israeli government in May 2014 to crack down on violent attacks carried out by Israelis against Palestinians, prosecution rates on Jewish extremist remain remarkably low.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

4 killed, dozens injured as Israeli ordnance explodes in Gaza

Ma’an – August 6, 2015

GAZA CITY – At least four Palestinians were killed on Thursday and over 30 injured when an unexploded ordnance from last summer’s Israeli military offensive went off while clearing rubble from a destroyed house in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Palestinian medical sources at the Abu Yousif al-Najjar hospital in Rafah said four bodies and multiple wounded Palestinians arrived at the emergency room.

The victims, who were all from the same family, were identified as Bakr Hasan Abu Naqira, Abdul-Rahman Abu Naqira, Ahmad Hasan Abu Naqira, and Hassan Ahmad Abu Naqira.

Medics said it is likely that the death toll will increase.

Over 7,000 unexploded ordnance were left throughout the Gaza Strip following last summer’s war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, according to officials of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories (OCHA).

Even before the most recent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans.

A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, were casualties to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aftermath of the US Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – Voice Over – Russian Ambassador 1945


August 6, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Sad Nuclear Anniversary

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 6, 2015

On 1 September 1939 – the date of the beginning of the Second World War – the President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote to «the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and His Britannic Majesty» saying that «The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centres of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenceless men, women, and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity».

He was rightly appalled about the aerial slaughter of civilians and desired each country to which he addressed his appeal «to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents».

We are now marking the seventieth anniversary of the explosion of the atomic bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki three days later, killing a total of over 100,000 «defenceless men, women, and children,» prompting the nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer to quote from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu religious and philosophical text, that «Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds».

Development of the atomic bomb began in 1939 but went into high gear as the Manhattan Project three years later. What is intriguing is that President Roosevelt approved the programme on 9 October 1941, a full two months before the Japanese attacked America at Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 people — including civilians. The subsequent declaration of war by the US resulted in concentration on means of war-winning by any means, and resulted in development of the ultimate weapon.

Even before the atomic explosions it was apparent that the major nations involved in the Second World War had no qualms about inflicting devastation. The British considered that their «aim is, therefore, twofold: namely, to produce (i) destruction, and (ii) the fear of death» and to that end mercilessly bombed German cities. The rationale was that it was the Germans who started it and who in 1940-41 subjected London to a non-stop 60 days and nights of aerial bombardment that killed 30,000 people.

In a macabre game of explosive ping-pong the countries at war sought more and deadlier ways to wreak havoc on their opponents, and it would have been difficult to have found a citizen of any of these countries who would have failed to agree with the actions of their government. It was thus that Project Manhattan received its massive impetus, and in an amazing display of technical prowess and organisational proficiency its scientists designed and produced the Atom Bomb.

It was astonishing that President Roosevelt had not told his Vice-President, Harry Truman, one single thing about the bomb project which some well-informed people believed was a potentially catastrophic venture. The first bomb was tested on 16 July 1945 at Alamogordo in New Mexico and caused concern among the scientists who had been involved in its development, 70 of whom sent a letter to President Roosevelt pointing out that use of the atomic bomb would likely presage «an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale» and that «a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale».

Hiroshima-truman_2292872bTheir letter wasn’t allowed to reach the President. He never knew of its existence, but in any event was convinced that the A-bomb was essential and had written to Oppenheimer, who had grave doubts about the military’s attitude to nuclear developments, that «whatever the enemy may be planning, American science will be equal to the challenge». The Bomb was going to be used, no matter the consequences, although the president who gave the order to drop the bombs in August 1945 was Harry Truman, who learned of the project’s existence on 13 April 1945, the day after Roosevelt died.

As recorded by Eric Schlosser in his edifying book Command and Control, there had been air attacks on Japan of staggering intensity in the months before the atom bombs were employed. On the night of 9 March 1945, for example, «American planes struck Tokyo with 2,000 tons of bombs containing napalm and jellied gasoline… Within hours the firestorm consumed one quarter of the city. It killed about 100,000 civilians… «Worse was yet to come because Truman icily warned that the Japanese «may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth».

There were not many large concentrations of Japanese that had not been subjected to firebombing, and choosing the ultimate victims was not easy. Kyoto was removed from the list of four targets because the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, pointed out that it was a major cultural centre of great importance to Japanese art and history — and Nagasaki was chosen instead. By such decisions are the fates of human beings decided. Countless thousands of Kyoto citizens were spared, but 39,000 in Nagasaki were condemned to death.

First came Hiroshima, where on 6 August «a firestorm engulfed the city» and 66,000 people were killed. Next on the target list was Kokura, and in yet another horrible twist of fate the city was covered in smoke and haze and the plane was diverted to Nagasaki where the second bomb, hideously named Fat Man, was dropped on 9 August.

The war against Japan then ended, but it should be remembered that between the destruction of the two cities there was a Charter was being approved, on 8 August in the German city of Nuremburg, signed by the victorious allies, that included guidelines for the forthcoming trial of German war criminals by the International Military Tribunal. In an alarming example of double standards, the judges were informed that «The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility… (b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include… wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages». It did not include the words of President Roosevelt, that it was sickening to «undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities,» but made it clear that such attacks were against the laws of war.

The Nuremburg Charter guided the conviction of German war criminals, and it is hideous coincidence that it was signed at the very time when «Death, the destroyer of worlds» was thundering down on Japan in what Truman called «a rain of ruin from the air».

Which goes to show that justice is reserved for those who win wars.

Really, Sad Nuclear Anniversary.

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

OSCE Shamed for Not Reporting Kiev’s Atrocities in Donbass

Sputnik – 06.08.2015

Hundreds of people gathered outside the OSCE office in Donetsk, demanding unbiased monitoring of the humanitarian situation in the region.

1021833304“Your silence is killing children”, read one of the many posters held by the protesters.

Several OSCE representatives came out to meet the protesters but refrained from making any comments.

“If only the OSCE had monitored the situation more objectively, we would have had peace here a long time ago… The OSCE monitors are telling us nothing, saying only that they will make protocols, nothing else,” Donetsk News Agency quoted one of the protesters as saying.

Another protester, from the nearby town of Gorlovka, shamed the monitors for keeping mum while the Ukrainian military was reducing his town to rubble.

The demonstrators then left, leaving behind a collection of dolls, teddy bears and other children’s toys, which they had smeared with red paint to symbolize the blood of children in the Donbass region who had been killed by Ukrainian troops.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Does Bernie Sanders Want the Saudis to Exercise MORE Influence?

By Sam Husseini | August 6, 2015

My colleague Norman Solomon has a piece published today: “Bernie Sanders should stop ducking foreign policy” in which he writes:

“After a question about ‘the military establishment’ and ‘perpetual war’ from a man who identified himself as a veteran for peace at a recent town hall gathering in Iowa City, Sanders’ reply was tepid Democratic boilerplate. He blamed Republican hawks for getting the U.S. into Iraq. He called for progress against waste and cost overruns at the Pentagon. And he said that in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the U.S. government should act jointly with regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (‘Those countries are going to have to get their hands dirty, it cannot just be the United States alone.’)

“When pressed for details on military intervention, Sanders has indicated that his differences with the Barack Obama administration are quite minor. Like many Democrats, he supports U.S. air strikes in the Middle East, while asserting that only countries in the region should deploy ground forces there. Sanders shares the widespread view among members of Congress who don’t want boots on the ground but do want U.S. air power to keep dropping bombs and firing missiles.

“Sanders has also urged confronting Russian leader Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. (‘You totally isolate him politically, you totally isolate him economically,’ Sanders said on Fox News last year.) Closer to home, the Vermont senator has championed the $1.4 trillion half-century program for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 beleaguered fighter jets. The Air Force is planning to base F-35s at the commercial airport in Burlington, his state’s largest city.”

I had actually asked Sanders about the F-35 when he was at the Press Club in March of this year and he ducked the question. It was part of what the moderator asked as a two parter and Sanders replied to the other part of the question and simply ignored the question about his backing the F-35. I’ve listed all the questions I submitted below.

However, the aspect of foreign policy as articulated by Sanders that has grabbed me the most is his stance on ISIS — where he points to the Saudis being the solution. He’s said this repeatedly. In February with Wolf Blitzer on CNN: “this war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”

And in May, after the Saudi’s started bombing Yemen, also when interviewed by Wolf Blitzer, Sanders correctly noted as a result of the Iraq invasion “we’ve destabilized the region, we’ve given rise to Al-Qaeda, ISIS.” But then says: “What we need now, and this is not easy stuff, I think the President is trying, you need to bring together an international coalition, Wolf, led by the Muslim countries themselves! Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world they’re going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS.”

What? Why should the U.S. be backing Saudi Arabia? You’d think that perhaps an alleged progressive like Sanders would say that we have to break our decades-long backing of the Saudis. But no, he wants to double down on it. They’re not “pulling their weight” — they’re not exercising enough influence in the region. The Saudis have pushed Wahabism and have been deforming Islam, which actually give rise to ISIS and Al Qaeda. It’s a little like Bernie Sanders saying that the Koch Brothers need to get more involved in U.S. politics, they need to “get their hands dirty.”

But if your point is to build up the next stage of the U.S. government’s horrific role in the Mideast, it kind of makes sense. The U.S. government helped ensure the Saudis would dominate the Arabian Peninsula. In return the Saudis invested funds from their oil wealth largely in the West instead of the region. They buy U.S. weapons to further solidify the “relationship” and to ensure their military dominance. The Saudis and other Gulf monarchies deformed the Arab uprisings, which turned oppressive but minimally populist regimes that were potential rivals into failed states.

Perhaps most horrifically, Sanders continued this line of argument in May — after the Saudis started bombing Yemen in March. As far as I can tell, he continues making the argument.

But why? Is there a domestic constituency called “Americans for Further Expanding Saudi Power”? Well, yes and no. It would obviously play well in the general public to say: “We’ve got to stop backing dictatorships like the Saudis.” There’s no affront to any sense of U.S. nationalism there. There would seem to be no affront to the domestic constituencies obsessed with Israeli domination of the region. But the Israeli-Saudi alliance means that there is. It feels to me that Sanders is knowingly or not — I don’t know who his foreign policy advisers are — telegraphing to the Israel fanatic crowd that he’s on board in terms of Israel’s geo-strategic interests in the region. And to the U.S. establishment generally. It’s noteworthy that he’s made the case on Wolf Blitzer’s program, since Blitzer has long been a leading pro-Israel luminary.

The U.S.-Saudi alliance has been one of the plagues that has devastated the Mideast. There’s nothing “progressive” about doubling down on it.

The following are the questions I submitted to the Sanders event at the National Press Club in March. Other than the question about the F-35, which Sanders didn’t respond to, none were asked:

* You’re fond of saying “Wars drain investment at home” — MLK referred to
this in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, the notion that wars drain the public treasury as a “facile” connection — and then listed several other reasons based on other moral grounds for opposing war. You rarely list other reasons for opposing war. Why is that?

* Why do you support the F-35 program?

* On Friday, CIA director John Brennan proposed a restructuring of the CIA to allegedly better confront current threats. Some former CIA analysts however charge that this restructuring will further politicize intelligence, so that “intelligence” will more likely come to “conclusions” that are politically convenient. Is this a growing threat?

* There’s apparently a gag order on acknowledging the Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal, even as many in the US and Israel have charged Iraq and now Iran with having a nuclear weapons program. Do you acknowledge Israel has a nuclear weapons program? Will you change decades-long US policy that refuses to acknowledge this?

* Last summer, the Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent backing Israel’s “defending itself” from Gaza in the conflict that left about 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza dead. Do you regret not objecting to that resolution?

* Noted historian Alfred McCoy recently wrote: “Under Obama, drones have grown from a tactical Band-Aid in Afghanistan into a strategic weapon for the exercise of global power. From 2009 to 2015, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force deployed a drone armada of over 200 Predators and Reapers, launching 413 strikes in Pakistan alone, killing as many as 3,800 people. ” Are you for or against the drone assassination program?

* You recently said: “I find it remarkable that Saudi Arabia, which borders Iraq and is controlled by a multi-billion dollar family, is demanding that U.S. combat troops have ‘boots on the ground’ against ISIS. Where are the Saudi troops?…With the third largest military budget in the world and an army far larger than ISIS, the Saudi government must accept its full responsibility for stability in their own region of the world.” Are you really wanting the Saudi regime, which has been accused of fomenting violence through the Wahhabi sect, to play a greater role in the region? Will you break with the decades-old alliance with the authoritarian Saudi regime?

* What issues do you agree with some, like Ron Paul, who are associated with the right wing? (Trade? Civil liberties? Cutting military budget? Cutting corporate welfare? Ending bank bailouts?)

Osama “Sam” Husseini is the communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He’s also set up — which helps break out of the two party bind. He’s on twitter: @samhusseini

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment