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Chicago PD detained 7,000 people at off-the-books interrogation site

RT | October 19, 2015

More than 7,000 people have been detained, ‘disappeared’ and not given access to an attorney at a police-run facility in Chicago, Illinois, according to documents obtained by the Guardian. This number is much higher than previously believed.

Only 68 of the 7,125 people held at Homan Square, the Chicago Police Department (CPD)-run facility, were allowed access to attorneys or a public notice of their whereabouts, according to information obtained as a result of a Guardian transparency lawsuit.

People can end up in Homan Square for anything from minor drug crimes to murder, raising a few eyebrows on the legality of such broad-spectrum detentions. The warehouse compound has also drawn scrutiny because of the racial makeup of the detainees: 82 percent are black, the Guardian said.

The newspaper’s earlier reporting on Homan detailed allegations of beatings and sexual abuse that are reminiscent of the treatment of terror suspects at CIA ‘black sites.’

Further solidifying the parallel with the secret prisons, no contemporaneous public record of someone’s presence at Homan is currently known to exist. The lack of booking information released by police makes detainees effectively “disappeared” from the public, including family and even attorneys who are just trying to speak to their clients.

“The reality is, no one knows where that person is at Homan Square,” Craig Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School who studies policing, told the Guardian. “They’re disappeared at that point.”

But CPD maintains that officers at the secretive facility “follow all the rules.” Detainees are advised of their rights to counsel by police personnel at the site, and there is “clearly visible” signage that communicates arrestees’ rights and access to a lawyer, according to a statement from the department sent to Business Insider.

“When looking at data regarding the number of attorney visits it’s important to remember that the vast majority of arrestees, most of those not under arrest for a violent crime, bond out in a matter of hours,” the statement read. “Many may not request an attorney because it would only prolong their detention, as opposed to just bonding out.”

The Guardian first published its investigation into Homan Square in February of this year, leading some government officials to call for a deeper look into the facility and protesters to clamor for its closure. But some think that the problem is a much larger one than the facility itself.

“Everything that was described [in the Guardian story] was something that happens every day,” criminal defense lawyer Richard Dvorak told the Chicago Tribune. “I think it’s pretty systemic throughout CPD.”

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The MH17 Report: Caveat Emptor

By Srdja Trifkovic | Chronicles | October 15, 2015

Reports by various commissions of inquiry – national as well as international – into politically significant tragic events tend to be distorted by politics. The Dutch-led inquiry report into last year’s downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, released on October 13, is no exception.

The British Lusitania Inquiry, chaired by Lord Mersey one hundred years ago, provides an early example of the problem. It concluded, in July 1915, that the loss of the ship and 1,197 of its passengers two months earlier – including 123 Americans – was “caused by torpedoes fired by a submarine of German nationality whereby the ship sank.” In its opinion this was done not merely with the intention of sinking the ship, but also “with the intention of destroying the lives of the people on board.” In other words premeditated murder most foul. German claims that the Lusitania was a legal and legitimate target because it was carrying ordnance for Britain were dismissed out of hand as “propaganda” on both sides of the Atlantic.

When a survivor of the disaster, Professor Joseph Marichal (a former French army officer), testified at the Inquiry that the ship had sunk in a matter of minutes in all probability because a hidden cargo of munitions had triggered a massive second explosion after the torpedo struck, his testimony was duly dismissed. The British authorities went out of their way to undermine Marichal’s credibility, and especially his insistence that as a military man he knew the difference in sound, speed and magnitude between the main boiler’s bursting pipes (as officially claimed) and the detonation of high-power explosives. Marichal was killed on the Western Front in 1916, but the suspicion of foul play did not die with him.

In the United States a case was filed against Cunard Line by 68 American survivors and heirs of the dead. Judge Julius Mayer decided in 1918 – by which time the United States was at war with Germany – that no question could be raised in his court regarding whether Lusitania had been armed or carrying troops or ammunition. He ruled that “the cause of the sinking was the illegal act of the Imperial German Government,” and that any claims for compensation should be therefore addressed to Berlin.

Fast-forward to 1982, when the start of a salvage operation on the wreck of the Lusitania caused consternation in London, prompting a senior Foreign Office official to warn that the ship could still “literally blow up on us.” UK government files declassified only last year reveal that the Ministry of Defence warned the divers in August 1982 of “danger to life and limb” from previously undeclared war munitions and explosives still resting inside the wreck. The Foreign Office voiced concerns that a final British admission that there were high explosives on the Lusitania could still trigger serious political repercussions – in relations with the United States in particular – the passage of almost 70 years notwithstanding. “Successive British governments have always maintained that there was no munitions on board the Lusitania and that the Germans were therefore in the wrong to claim to the contrary as an excuse for sinking the ship,” wrote Noel Marshall, head of the Foreign Office North America department, on July 30, 1982:

“The facts are that there is a large amount of ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly dangerous. The Treasury have decided that they must inform the salvage company of this fact in the interests of the safety of all concerned. Although there have been rumours in the press that the previous denial of the presence of munitions was untrue, this would be the first acknowledgement of the facts by HMG.” Marshall said the disclosure of the true nature of the Lusitania’s cargo was likely to spark a public, academic and journalistic debate. He also reveals that Treasury solicitors had even gone so far as to consider whether the relatives of American victims of the sinking could still sue the British government if it was shown the German claims were well-founded.

“The facts are that there is a large amount of ammunition in the wreck,” Mr. Marshall stated rather blandly – as if the matter was common knowledge among his Whitehall peers – and later that summer it was agreed at the highest level of the British government to stick to the old official fib that there had been no military-grade munitions aboard. A piquant element of the story concerns the well-grounded suspicion that British intelligence agents in the U.S. deliberately allowed their German counterparts to obtain information that the Lusitania was carrying that “large amount of ammunition” to Britain, in order to prompt them to intercept and destroy her.

Cui bono? The Lusitania affair helped turn the public opinion in the United States rapidly and drastically against Germany. In conjunction with Admiral Tirpitz’s renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare, it prepared the ground for a previously isolationist Congress to declare war on the Kaiserreich in April 1917. In the attainment of that outcome, the Lusitania was pure gold for the British propaganda machine and its American interventionist constituency.

The MH17 affair and its mainstream media treatment have replicated many features of the Lusitania affair. Of course America, Britain and their allies are not in a shooting war with Russia (not for now, thank God, but that could change if the War Party lunatics in Washington have their way). They are in an escalating global geopolitical and propaganda contest with her, however. It is in this context that the results of the Dutch-led inquiry into the shooting down of the Malaysian plane need to be scrutinized. Its most important undisputed finding is that the air space above the war zone in eastern Ukraine was left inexplicably open to civilian air traffic by the Kiev authorities. To what end, and with what expectations? Again, cui bono? On October 13 the New York Times described this potentially crucial question as a “stray detail.” That in itself highlights its importance.

Atrocity management pays immediate political dividends, and it rarely matters if the facts that eventually emerge turn out to be different from the official narrative (remember Pearl Harbor!). Caveat emptor.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Arbitrary assault, false arrest in Hebron

CPT | October 12, 2015

19c42ce2-1759-4733-b317-e91044c59970This friend of CPTers in Hebron was with them only a couple minutes prior to his arrest, as he waited for another Palestinian who was detained for over an hour, to be released.

He came to meet CPTers from the other side of the police station as he was not allowed to walk on the section below the synagogue.

After two minutes of which he was out of sight, Israeli Border Police were dragging him to the police station, claiming he attempted to stab them.

The team wholeheartedly refutes this claim.

CPTers heard aggressive shouting from the police station and saw our friend pushed against a wall face first, with his arms pulled behind his back.

CPTers were then screamed at by a police officer, who forced them away from the entrance to the police station.

Upon his release a day later, he showed us his substantial injuries from the beating he sustained at the hands of the Border Police.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Democrats’ Presidential Debates: Underway and Underwhelming

By Ralph Nader | October 16, 2015

Who thought this up – Giving a  private corporation (CNN) control of a presidential debate? In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, CNN controlled which candidates were invited, who asked what questions, and the location, Las Vegas – the glittering, gambling center of America. This is a mirror image of the control Fox News exercised during their Republican candidates’ circus. Corporatism aside, the debate with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee was not a debate. With few exceptions – most notably Hillary Clinton going after Bernie Sanders on gun control, about which she is reborn – the stage was the setting for a series of interview questions to each candidate by Anderson Cooper and his colleagues.

Granted, the quality of the questions was higher than has been the case with other debate spectacles in recent years. Yet CNN’s self-censorship – in part reflected in the content of the questions and the favored positioning given to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – was not obscured.

For example, our country has been plagued by a corporate crime wave from Wall Street to Houston. These crimes are regular occurrences, often with recidivist corporations such as giant oil, drug, auto, banking, munitions producers, and mining companies corrupting our politics. Such chronic violations are reported more often than they are properly prosecuted.

Corporate crimes affect American as workers, consumers, taxpayers, and community residents. Unfortunately, corporate criminal law is woefully weak, prosecutions are minor, and enforcement budgets are scandalously tiny. Moreover, corporate lobbyists ensure that corporate privileges and immunity are preserved and expanded in corporate-occupied Washington, D.C.

Somehow, in presidential debate after presidential debate “corporate crime and punishment” or “law and order for corporations” almost never get mentioned either by questioner or candidate. Bernie Sanders – break this taboo in the next five scheduled Democratic debates.

Another perennial omission is the question of how the candidates plan to give more power to the people, since all of them are saying that Washington isn’t working. I have always thought that this is the crucial question voters should ask every candidate for public office. Imagine asking a candidate: “How are you specifically going to make ‘we the people’ a political reality, and how are you going to give more voice and power to people like me over elected representatives like you?” Watch politicians squirm over this basic inquiry.

The most remarkable part of the Democrats’ “debate” was how Hillary Clinton got away with her assertions and then got rewarded – though not in the subsequent polls, but by the pundits and malleable critics like the Washington Post’s usually cynical Dana Milbank who fell very hard for the Clintonian blarney.

Well-prepared and battle-tested in many political debates, Hillary knows how to impress conventional political reporters, while limiting their follow-up questions. She started with her latest political transformation early on. “I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive commitment…. I’m a progressive.”

And the moon is made of blue cheese. Hillary Clinton, a progressive? She is the arch Wall Street corporatist, who hobnobs with criminal firms like Goldman Sachs for $250,000 a speech, and goes around the country telling closed-door business conventions what they want to hear for $5,000 a minute!

As a senator, she did not challenge the large banks and insurance companies whose avarice, willful deceptions, and thefts set the stage for the economy’s collapse in 2008-2009. In fact she supported Bill Clinton’s deregulation of Wall Street with its resulting painful consequences for single mothers and children who suffered the most from the deep recession.

A progressive would not have waited year after year, while receiving the entreaties of women’s and children’s assistance groups to endorse a modest minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years by her own Democratic Party in Congress. She finally took the plunge and endorsed it in April 2014, during a speech to the United Methodist Women in Boston. If the Democratic lovefest were a real debate, Bernie Sanders, who voiced domestic progressive positions all evening long, would have intervened and sent her packing. What  everlasting hubris do the Clintons exude! (See Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped make Bill and Hillary Rich. Harper Collins, 2015)

As an embedded militarist, during her tenure as Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton never saw a boondoggle, obsolete weapons system, or boomeranging war she didn’t like. She delivered belligerent speeches against China, and scared Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by overruling his opposition through her White House contracts to overthrow the Libyan dictator. This illegal war opened up the savage chaos, bloodshed, and havoc in Libya that continued to spread into huge areas of central Africa.

Hillary’s war didn’t seem to interest anyone on stage except former Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) – an anti-war stalwart – who was promptly marginalized despite making much sense in his brief declarations.

Senator Bernie Sanders missed opportunities to highlight Hillary Clinton’s true corporatist and militarist identity. Most unfortunately, she placed him on the defensive with the socialist/capitalist questioning. Next time, Bernie Sanders should tell the millions of voters watching the “debates” that local socialism is as American as apple pie, going back to the 18th Century, by mentioning post offices, public highways, public drinking water systems, public libraries, public schools, public universities, and public electric companies as examples.

He then could add that global corporations are destroying competitive capitalism with their corporate state or crony capitalism, despised by both conservatives and progressives.

There was one question – “which enemy are you most proud of?” – that Hillary Clinton did not anticipate and had about a minute to ponder. Her answer: “Well in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians.” Iranians? An entire people, her enemy? Is this what her self-touted, foreign affairs experience has taught her?

For more information on what debates could be, visit

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bernie Sanders endorses Obama’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan

By Patrick Martin | WSWS | October 19, 2015

In a television interview Sunday, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders made his most categorical statements yet of his willingness to use military force in support of the foreign policy goals of American imperialism.

Speaking on the ABC program “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the Vermont senator gave his backing to Obama’s decision this week to keep nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2016, and at least 5,000 troops indefinitely. He also refused to define any circumstances in which he would rule out the unilateral use of military force.

Reacting to the Taliban takeover of the key city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, a debacle for the troops of the US puppet regime in Kabul, Obama reversed his previous decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.

In response to a direct question about whether he backed the decision to keep nearly 10,000 troops on the battlefield of a war that has gone on for more than 14 years, Sanders responded: “Well, yeah, I won’t give you the exact number. Clearly, we do not want to see the Taliban gain more power, and I think we need a certain nucleus of American troops present in Afghanistan to try to provide the training and support the Afghan Army needs.”

Stephanopoulos then asked about the candidate’s statements during last Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on the use of US military force, when Sanders pointed to his vote to authorize the Afghanistan war in 2001 as proof that he was willing to use force. What were the circumstances in which “a President Sanders would authorize unilateral action to use force,” the ABC anchorman asked?

Sanders replied, “Well, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.” Then the following exchange took place:

SANDERS: I think sensible foreign policy and military policies suggest that it cannot be the United States of America alone which solves all of the world’s military…

STEPHANOPOULOS: In all circumstances?

SANDERS: Well, of course, you know, I’m not saying, you know, I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. I didn’t say in all circumstances.

In other words, pressed on his rhetorical commitment to form military-diplomatic coalitions to pursue US foreign policy goals, Sanders declined to set limits on what he as president might do unilaterally. The supposed advocate of “democratic socialism” and “political revolution” fell back on a standard talking point of would-be commanders-in-chief for US imperialism.

“I don’t want to get into hypotheticals” simply means, “I want a free hand to use force whenever the military-intelligence apparatus demands it.”

While Sanders was happy to denounce George W. Bush’s decision to go war in Iraq as one of the worst decisions ever made in US foreign policy, he made no reference to the devastation created by Barack Obama’s interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.

Sanders is in no sense an “antiwar” candidate. He uses demagogic condemnations of “millionaires and billionaires” and the growth of social inequality to appeal to working people and young people who are deeply opposed to American militarism, but only to divert their attention from the growing danger of the imperialist war. His support for the policy of the ruling class abroad exposes his pretense of opposing the policy of this same ruling class within the United States.

Even on the infrequent occasions when he has discussed the disastrous consequences of US policy in the Middle East, it is only from the standpoint of American nationalism, not genuine opposition to imperialist war. Once in a while, Sanders bemoans the casualties suffered by American troops or the waste of resources better used at home, but he has never indicated any sympathy for the people of the countries targeted for destruction by US military interventions.

His comments Sunday on Afghanistan were typical. Sanders made no mention of the latest atrocity there by US forces, the deliberate bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, which killed at least 22 people: three doctors, nine other staff of the aid agency, and ten patients.

His silence is only part of a much broader policy, observed by all the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, who despite their incessant mudslinging maintain a united front in covering up for the war crimes carried out by the US military.

In this they are joined by the corporate-controlled media, which has largely ignored the revelations—reported by the Associated Press and then dropped—that US special operations forces were well aware of the hospital’s existence and location, and deliberately targeted it for incineration by an AC-130 helicopter gunship.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Should Britain jump into the toxic mix of military intervention in Syria?


By Andrew Murray | Stop the War Coalition | October 19, 2015

GIVE them credit for persistence and ingenuity. The bomb-Syria bloc in the British establishment isn’t taking “no” for an answer.

In 2013 they were urging war against the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons. The House of Commons defeated David Cameron’s proposal in what was a landmark vote for anti-war sentiment in this country.

Indeed, it stopped Obama’s own plans for attacking Syria in their tracks and represented a decisive democratic rupture in the Anglo-American war front in the Middle East.

Imperial interventionists in both major parties have been smarting ever since. The rise of Islamic State to control much of Syria’s territory – a consequence of the civil war fostered by the western powers, amongst others – seemed to offer another excuse for intervention.

After all, British bombers are already participating in the US-led attack on IS in neighbouring Iraq – the latest military intervention in that country, and one having no better outcomes than all the previous.

It is now pretty obvious that bombing by western powers is not going to roll back Islamic State. That could only be done by the forces of strong and sovereign states in Iraq and Syria, able to mobilise support from all sections of the people.

Western policy has actually been directed towards obstructing that development, through the sponsorship of sectarian strife across the Middle East, and the destruction of one state after another in the region.

Now reason number three has been dredged up – that old stand-by humanitarian” intervention. Labour MP Jo Cox has joined forces with Tory Andrew Mitchell to advocate military action… to save civilian lives.

They wrote in The Observer :

“We need a military component that protects civilians as a necessary prerequisite to any future UN or internationally provided safe havens. The creation of safe havens inside Syria would eventually offer sanctuary from both the actions of Assad and Isis, as we cannot focus on Isis without an equal focus on Assad. They would save lives, reduce radicalisation and help to slow down the refugee exodus.

“The approach of focusing on civilian protection will also make a political solution more likely. Preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted.”

Of course, if humanitarianism was really a consideration, Britain would have stopped funding and arming the Syrian civil war some time ago. It would be welcoming far more refugees from the conflict zone it has fuelled.

But let us take the appeal at face value for a moment. How could it be implemented? Our bipartisan armchair strategists are obviously riled by Russia’s escalating military involvement in Syria. But it is a fact. What form of military intervention could now be undertaken which would not lead to a clash with Russia they do not say. Even the head of MI6 has acknowledged that “no-fly zones” are no longer a possibility, unless the NATO powers are prepared to countenance conflict with Moscow.

The reality of “no fly zones” and “safe havens”, benign as they sound, is regime change. That is the clear aim of the proposal. Assad government forces – or those supporting it – would be the target.

A “no fly zone” would represent no challenge to Islamic State whatsoever. The caliphate lacks an air force.

If anyone still doubts that regime change is the real agenda, let them cast their minds back to the Libyan war. That began with Cameron and then French President Sarkozy pushing the United Nations to endorse just such a “no-fly zone”, ostensibly to protect the people of Benghazi from a massacre that Libyan ruler Gadhafi was then allegedly contemplating.

Enforcing the no-fly zone quickly morphed into bombing Libyan government troops, in coordination with the anti-Gadhafi rebels on the ground. The result was the swift transition of “humanitarian intervention” into regime-change, with results that are all-too clear today. A ruined and divided country, a shattered society and hundreds of thousands of refugees risking life and limb to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

In Syria today, the winners from a war to set up safe-havens – an operation which would also require the deployment of grounds troops into Syria – would most likely be IS. It would be best placed to expand into many of the areas cleared of regime forces.

Such plans fuel the fantasies of neo-conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic who dream of creating a “third force” capable to taking over Syria in opposition both to Assad and to Islamic State.

Obama’s efforts to create a militia to carry out such a plan has ended in fiasco. No more than five fighters have been trained. So they are left with the non-IS rebel groups in Syria. These include the “Free Syrian Army” and the local al-Qaeda affiliate, trading as the Nusra Front.

These groups are drawing support from a range of foreign powers, including the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary Gulf states. The Assad government is actively supported by Russia and Iran.

The clear need is not for Britain to jump further into this toxic mix. It is for a negotiated diplomatic end to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria. Ultimately, only the Syrian people can determine their own future political arrangements.

But the foreign powers could assist by all ending their military interventions, open and clandestine, in Syria – ending the bombing and the arming of one side or another.

They should further promote peace by abandoning all the preconditions laid down for negotiations. Such preconditions only serve to prolong the conflict and to give either government or opposition hope that foreign military and diplomatic support could somehow lead to all-out victory.

David Cameron, however, wants Britain to pile into the war – adding bombing of somebody or other to the existing levels of covert interference.

No doubt he is in part animated by a wish to be seen to be “doing something” that keeps Britain a key player in Middle East politics.

But mostly he just seems to want to reverse the humiliation of autumn 2013, when he became the first British prime Minister to lose a vote in parliament on going to war.

He has so far hesitated to bring a definite proposal forward for fear of a repetition. Many influential Conservative backbenchers can see no rational case for war.

He draws strength, however, from signs of support for bombing in the Labour ranks. The parliamentary arithmetic is still more unfavourable for peace than it was two years ago. But a united and resolute Labour position against bombing would most likely still stay his hand.

That is why the arguments within Labour’s ranks on this issue today are of first-rate importance.


There should be no need for a dispute within the Labour Party over the looming possibility of a Commons vote on bombing Syria.

Just a few weeks ago, the Party conference agreed a resolution on the issue which, despite shortcomings, is clear enough. For the benefit of those members of the Shadow Cabinet who appear not to have read it, here it is:

“Conference believes the Parliamentary Labour Party should oppose any such extension [of bombing] unless the following conditions are met:

Clear and unambiguous authorisation for such a bombing campaign from the United Nations.

A comprehensive European Union-wide plan is in place to provide humanitarian assistance to the increased number of refugees that even more widespread bombing can be expected to lead to.

Such bombing is exclusively directed at military targets directly associated with ‘Islamic State’ noting that if the bombing campaign advocated by the British government in 2013 had not been blocked by the PLP under Ed Miliband’s leadership, ‘Islamic State’ forces might now be in control of far more Syrian territory, including Damascus.

Any military action is subordinated to international diplomatic efforts, including the main regional powers, to bring the Syrian civil war to an end, since only a broadly-based and sovereign Syrian government can ultimately retake territory currently controlled by ‘Islamic State’.

Conference believes that only military action which meets all these objectives, and thus avoids the risk of repeating the disastrous consequences of the 2003 war in Iraq and the 2011 air campaign intervention in Libya, can secure the assent of the British people.”

In the view of Stop the War Coalition, even a military campaign which conformed to all those criteria, which are frankly very unlikely to be met, would still be an unwarranted and pointless intervention which would add to the sum of human suffering in Syria. The present bombing in Iraq proves that.

Nevertheless, the resolution represents a block in Cameron’s road to war. And it is, to repeat, Labour policy, not the whim of anyone, even a leader with such a recent and expansive mandate as Jeremy Corbyn.

But it has come under sustained, if indirect attack from Labour MPs.

The most overt opposition has come from shadow foreign secretary Hillary Benn. In a Guardian article last week he went well beyond the terms of the resolution in three specific respects.

First, he urged Cameron to actively work to secure the United Nations resolution referred to. Second, he hinted, in lawyerly language, that Labour might support bombing of Syria even if no such UN resolution was forthcoming.

And third he deliberately mixed up the issue of bombing Islamic State, a possibility conceded in a highly-contingent fashion in the resolution, with “humanitarian intervention” to establish so-called “safe havens”, which wasn’t.

Benn’s article came with the endorsement that it represents Labour’s official view on the matter, and spin to the effect that it left open the possibility of Labour backing war without UN authorisation.

It is a reminder that diluting Labour’s position on Syria is a win-win for the party’s right-wing. It gets the Party back in the military intervention game, removing the stain, as they see it, of the 2013 vote. And it damages, as a sort of collateral damage, the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who was until his election as Labour leader, the chair of the Stop the War Coalition.

An attempt to hedge the issue was the floating of suggestions that Labour MPs be given a “free vote” on the bombing issue. Under this scenario, bombing would most likely be approved, but the sting of anti-Corbyn rebellion would have been drawn.

There should be no question of allowing this. War is not a matter of conscience, save for absolute pacifists, but of policy. And Labour’s policy was made abundantly clear at the Party conference just a few weeks ago. Jeremy Corbyn has rightly called for policy sovereignty in the Party to be restored to conference.

In effect, a “free vote” would be tantamount to allowing the bombing of Syria. Some Labour MPs would doubtless rebel against a whipped vote in support of Labour policy in any case. Some would be committed Blairite neo-cons, while others would be animated by a desire to do anything, however debased, to damage Jeremy Corbyn.

However, their number would be limited. A “free vote” would increase the pro-war element considerably, since it would give the confused all the alibi they need to line up with the government.

The worst aspect of such vacillation, and of the Benn article in particular, is that it amounts to a come-hither to David Cameron, inviting him to bring a proposal for bombing Syria in the sure anticipation if victory, either because he will secure official Labour backing or because enough Labour MPs will support his resolution in any case.

It is therefore urgent to put all possible pressure on Labour MPs to stick to their own party policy as a minimum. That means explaining the humanitarian and strategic realities of the Syrian situation to those MPs who are uncertain.

It means explaining the alternative route of a real diplomatic settlement to the Syrian conflict and extended assistance to refugees and outlining the dangerous consequences for Syrian civilians and great-power relations alike of any extension of the war.

And for those Labour MPs who are still committed to the neo-conservative interventionist approach it means confronting them with the hideous record of their policies so far this century – millions dead or displaced, state collapse throughout the region, sectarian conflict incited, economies wrecked and global tension heightened. The Scottish National Party has clearly recognised it is time to break with the crimes of the recent past, as its conference last weekend voted to oppose bombing Syria. Can Labour afford not to do likewise?

Above all, it is time for a major upsurge in anti-war campaigning across the country. Our demands should be clear:

All foreign military intervention in Syria should end immediately. The Syrian conflict must be dealt with through political and diplomatic negotiations, with an end to the preconditions which block progress.

While these negotiations should include all regional and global parties that are affected by the conflict, the future of the Syrian government must be decided by the Syrian people alone, free of all external interference.

And Britain must abandon plans for bombing Syria, cease bombing Iraq and end its support for US global domination in favour of respect for every nation’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.

Andrew Murray is Chair of the Stop the War Coalition

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

‘US strike on Afghan hospital no mistake’ – Doctors Without Borders

Sputnik – 19.10.2015

Hitting back at claims from General John Campbell — the commander of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan — who said the hospital had been “mistakenly struck”, Christopher Stokes, the General Director of MSF, said evidence suggested the attack was planned.

“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the coordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict,” Stokes told Associated Press (AP).

“The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital… doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit.”

Clear Explanation Needed

Officials from the charity, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), have said that the bombing attack lasted over an hour, leading to suggestions that it was the legitimate target of the US airstrike.

Stokes also reiterated calls for an independent investigation into the incident to be carried out, saying that the charity wanted “… a clear explanation because all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime.”

The charity has raised concerns over the joint NATO-US-Afghan probe into the attack, saying that officials couldn’t be trusted to carry out a thorough and independent investigation into the incident.

The October 3 attack on the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan killed 22 people — 12 staff and 10 patients — with reports some victims were burning in their beds as a result of the bombing.

The US has taken responsibility for the attack, with President Barack Obama apologizing to MSF officials.

Despite the apology and claims that the hospital was “mistakenly” hit, there have been major question marks over how the site was bombed, with medical officials repeatedly maintaining that they had informed US and Afghan officials that the site was being used as a hospital.

MSF Dismisses Taliban Hideout Suggestions

MSF’s claims have been backed up by media reports suggesting US forces were aware the facility was a hospital and had been monitoring the site for days leading up to the attack.

According to a report by AP, a former intelligence official familiar with the details of the incident said that American analysts were scrutinizing the hospital before it was destroyed amid fears the site was being used a base for Taliban operatives.

US officials weren’t aware of the media reports, while MSF General Director Christopher Stokes denied any suggestions that armed Taliban forces were present on the hospital site.

“The compound was not entered by Taliban soldiers with weapons.

“What we have understood from our staff and guards is that there was very strong, very good control of what was happening in and around the compound and they reported no firing in the hours preceding the destruction of the hospital,” Stokes said.

The pressure is now building on United States officials, with accusations that the US is guilty of war crimes as a result of the incident.

Legal experts have said that if it can be proved that the US knew the site was being used as a hospital, then it could amount to war crimes.

MSF has already raised concerns around the current investigation into the attack, saying that there were fears the joint NATO-US-Afghan probe could have potentially destroyed vital evidence after entering the bombed hospital site last week.

The charity has launched an online petition calling on president Obama to allow the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to carry out an investigation into the attack. However, the US has failed to grant the commission access to the hospital.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , | 4 Comments