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57 Congress Reps Taken to Israel

Who Do They Really Represent?

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | December 14, 2015

In August, 2015, 57 brand new members of the U.S. House of Representatives bowed their heads and promised to obey their Israeli overlords. They allowed themselves to be taken to Israel, plied with good food and propaganda. They then returned home to do Israel’s bidding in the Congressional seats that Israel helped them win. Sixty were invited, but only three decided not to go, for unknown reasons.

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But isn’t there a more innocent explanation? Perhaps they just wanted to learn more about the issue and would equally have accepted an invitation to visit Palestine and see it from a Palestinian point of view. Nothing wrong with giving equal opportunity to both sides.

The Free Palestine Movement tested this theory and found it wanting. We sent a personalized invitation to exactly the same members of Congress to come to Palestine at our expense. Not a single one accepted. Although we sent a followup to those who did not respond the first time, the vast majority never responded at all. A few said that they could not make time in their schedule, not even when we suggested that they could wait as long as their next term. Only one, Brad Ashford of Nebraska, said that he was working with some of his constituents to visit Palestine. (We have been able to find no evidence of such an initiative.)

Israel, through its US Lobby, has of course been doing this for more than half a century. There are hardly any members of Congress that have not accepted an invitation at least one time during their career, often more. Can you name any other country with such a devoted following in the U.S. Congress?

The reason, of course, is that the Israel Lobby has a reputation of making or breaking congressional careers, and that members of Congress are x-rayed to assure that they possess no detectable spine before they take office. There is more pushback from some Israeli newspapers than from the US Congress.

And why not? There has never been any price to pay for obeying Israel. In fact, candidates compete to do favors for Israel and to get donations managed by Israel’s Lobby, with little or no consideration of how much they are robbing their constituents.

But this time it’s different. We may not be able to persuade members of Congress to look at both sides of the Israel question, nor to ask why US taxpayer money is supporting an Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians, nor why our roads are not paved nor our bridges repaired nor our children educated. But we can show the depravity of our elected officials. We can demonstrate their hypocrisy and their bias and dishonest treatment of US foreign policy, which results in war, death and destruction for all but the tiny number of super-wealthy profiteers whose hands are covered in blood.

That’s why the Free Palestine Movement is running the ad below on the sides of buses in San Francisco. It is why we are making the same ad available at cost as a 3″ x 9″ sticker to anyone who wants to use it. It’s why we’re ready to share the cost of a display ad on buses or anywhere else with any group that wants to run the ad anywhere in the US, for as long as our funds last.

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It is only a start, but we can at least begin to hold our elected officials accountable. We can make them begin to pay a price for selling out both the American and the Palestinian people to Israel.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 6 Comments

ISM calls for internationals to volunteer in Palestine

International Solidarity Movement | December 14, 2015

Occupied Palestine – Today, Palestinians are facing an enormous amount of pressure in their lives due to the growing violence of Israeli forces. Israeli politicians have fueled the motivation to kill Palestinians by making open statements encouraging Israeli citizens to become executioners.

Since the beginning of October, Israeli occupation forces have started to exceed their abuse of power by carrying out a series of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, in a manner that is completely unjustified and, in most cases, constituting crimes of war.

In addition, Israeli forces are applying measures of collective punishment towards the families of Palestinians who are killed in this unlawful manner. In many cases, the army does not return their bodies to their families, preventing them from carrying out their funerals. Furthermore, Israel has been demolishing the houses of these families, leaving many people homeless.

When you come to Palestine, there are many things you can do.

In Al-Khalil (Hebron), we need volunteers to continue walking children to school and monitor the three checkpoints were the children cross two times a day, on their way to school and back home. Our presence there is crucial because we witness and document what we see and can show the world what is happening on the ground. We do our best to prevent Palestinians from being harassed, and more importantly, to show them we are there in solidarity with them.

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One of our volunteers walks a group of children to school in al-Khalil

In Jerusalem, you will document human rights violations and report them in the media. You will be present in checkpoints such as Qalandya, the Shufat Refugee Camp, and nearby villages. You will monitor violence from settlers and police in the old city during the day, and the monthly settler march were settlers roam in the streets of the old city at night. During these marches, Palestinians are forced to close their shops and face the danger of being attacked.

In the area of Jerusalem, you will also monitor schools and hospitals. In addition, there are many child arrests that need to be covered in the media, where you will visit the families and write their stories. In Jerusalem there are also many home demolitions and evacuations that you will need to document and report in the media.

In Tulkarem, which has recently seen regular violent attacks from the Israeli army towards university students inside the campus while they are studying and attending exams, we need volunteers on the ground to continue documenting these crimes of war and create awareness on the situation. Furthermore, in Tulkarem, the army is threatening to permanently close gate 623 that gives access to farmers to their land, in other words, to their sustenance for living. This gate needs international human rights defenders to monitor on a daily basis from 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning.

In Nablus, several houses have been demolished since October. We need to continue being present and reporting on these human rights violations when they arise. You will visit the families who suffer from being left homeless, and write their stories.

In the city of Ramallah we receive calls from prisoners’ families to attend military court hearings, in the Ofer military prison. We believe that being present in these hearings can put pressure on the Israeli authorities and decrease their abuse of power when giving sentences to Palestinian political prisoners.

Moreover, all throughout the West Bank, in cities and villages, the popular committees organize regular demonstrations were the ISM is called to participate.

As ISM is a Palestinian led movement all our actions are initiated on invitations from or initiative of Palestinians following their lead and wishes.

When you come to Palestine, try to bring your computer with you and a camera, as you will need it for the media work. To plan your trip to the West Bank, please read our traveling information.

We ask our volunteers to commit for a minimum of two weeks after completing our two day training, but keep in mind that we always prefer to have volunteers stay for longer periods of time.

When you decide to come to Palestine to join us, or if you have any further questions, please write us to palreports@gmail.com.

In solidarity,
ISM Team

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , | 1 Comment

The Illusion of Western News

By Finian Cunningham – Sputnik – 14.12.2015

Multi-million-dollar advertising money has long been suspected as an unspoken filter for Western news media coverage. If the news conflicts with advertising interests then it is simply dropped.

Western complicity in Yemen’s conflict is a case study. Add to that the celebrity sheen of Hollywood stars Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman. What we then have is an illustration of how ugly realities of killing and war crimes are cosmetically air brushed from public awareness.

Let’s take three major Western media outlets — BBC, CNN, France 24. All are notable for their dearth of news coverage on the bloody conflict in Yemen. On any given day over the past nine months, these channels have rarely given any reports on the daily violence in the Arabian Peninsula country.

Yemen is heading into peace talks in Geneva this week, so there might follow some desultory reports on the said channels. But over the past nine months when the country was being pummeled in an appalling onslaught by foreign powers, the same channels gave negligible reportage.

It also turns out — not coincidentally — that major advertisers on these same news channels include Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad. The latter two advertisers feature screen celebrities Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman, posing as satisfied customers of these Gulf state-owned companies.

Other prominent advertisers on BBC, CNN and France 24 are Turkish Airlines and Business Friendly Bahrain.

This advertising complex has, undoubtedly, a direct bearing on why the three mentioned Western news channels do not give any meaningful coverage of the disturbing events in Yemen.

Notwithstanding there is much that deserves telling about Yemen — if your purpose was journalism and public information.

The poorest country in the Arab region is being bombed by a coalition of states that include the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia, as well as a handful of other Persian Gulf oil-rich kingdoms. The latter include Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Thousands of Yemeni civilians — women and children — have been killed in air strikes by warplanes from this foreign military coalition, which claims to have intervened in Yemen to reinstall a regime headed up by a discredited president who was forced into exile in March this year by a popular uprising. The uprising was led by the Yemeni national army allied with guerrilla known as the Houthis.

Out of Yemen’s 24 million population, nearly half are in dire humanitarian conditions from lack of food, water and medicine, according to the United Nations. The suffering is aggravated by a sea and air blockade of Yemen by the Western-Arab military coalition.

Due to Western involvement in a humanitarian disaster unfolding in Yemen, one might think that Western media would be at least giving some coverage. Well, not if you watch BBC, CNN or France 24.

Moreover, there are reliable reports that ground forces fighting against the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni national army are comprised of Western mercenaries — in addition to troops from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

According to Lebanon’s Al Manar news outlet, foreign mercenaries killed so far in Yemen include French, British and Australian, as well as Colombian and others from Latin America. They have been enlisted by the notorious US-based private security firm, Blackwater, also known as Academi.

The mercenaries are first sent to the United Arab Emirates for training before dispatch to Yemen, reported the New York Times.

What’s more — and this is explosive from a journalistic point of view — the mercenaries being sent to Yemen also comprise Islamist brigades aligned with the self-styled Islamic State (IS) terror network out of Syria. This has been confirmed by senior Yemeni army sources and several Arab region news outlets, such as Yemen’s Masirah TV and Lebanon’s Al Akhbar newspaper.

In Syria, the IS terror group and other jihadist brigades are suspected of being deployed covertly by a US-led coalition for the purpose of regime change against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The US-led coalition includes Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. Illicit oil smuggling is one stream of income to fund the terror brigades, as Russian intelligence has uncovered.

Washington and its allies claim to be bombing Syria to “degrade and defeat” IS, in the words of President Barack Obama. But, according to the Syrian and Russian militaries, the Western-led coalition is not serious in its stated aims. Indeed, on the contrary, evidence points to the US-led bombing of Syria as being inordinately ineffectual compared with the parallel Russian aerial campaign against the terror groups.

The conclusion is that the West’s “ineffectiveness” in defeating IS is a deliberate policy because IS is actually a covert regime-change asset in Syria.

That conclusion is consistent with how IS and other jihadist mercenaries are being relocated out of Syria to take up military assignment in Yemen in a configuration that sees Washington and London provide air power, along with warplanes from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states; and the same Arab states providing on-the-ground US-trained mercenaries in addition to their own regular armies.

The IS terror brigades are thus integrated with the Western-Arab coalition fighting in Yemen.

According to Brigadier General Ali Mayhoub, of the Syrian Arab Army, hundreds of jihadist mercenaries have been secretly flown out of Syria to Yemen on board civilian airliners belonging to Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways.

The IS-affiliated mercenaries were flown into Yemen’s southern port city of Aden at the end of October, about three weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian fighter jets to begin their blistering anti-terror operations in Syria.

It seems more than a coincidence that major commercial companies belonging to Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are lucrative sources of advertising revenue for the three Western news channels, BBC, CNN and France 24. Actresses Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman leverage the advertising budget stakes by multiple millions of dollars.

The companies belong to countries — all or partially state-owned — that are involved in sponsoring military campaigns in Yemen and Syria. The more overt military intervention in Yemen has seen a catalogue of war crimes, including the bombing of civilian centres with cluster bombs, such as hospitals and schools.

Amnesty International last week documented “war crimes” carried out by the aerial bombing coalition attacking Yemen, comprising the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.

Yet, scarcely any of these gross violations committed in Yemen by the Western-Arab coalition and their connections to terrorist groups in Syria are covered by the three major Western news channels, BBC, CNN and France 24.

Patently, the censorship is correlated with specific sources of commercial advertising income, which is over-riding the Western public interest in knowing what is really going on in Yemen and how their governments are involved in violations of international law, including state-sponsored terrorism.

Ironically, the same Western channels never stop blowing trumpets to their “consumers” of how courageous and ethical they are in “bringing you the stories”. Evidently, as far as Yemen is concerned, the “journalistic commitment” is determined not by truth and much more by advertising money flowing from states complicit in war crimes.

Western news media’s self-declarations of “independence” and “integrity” are like the celebrity adverts that sponsor them. Cosmetic and illusory.

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Extend draft registration to women — or end it?

By Edward Hasbrouck | The Practical Nomad | December 11, 2015

Congress will soon have to choose whether to amend the Military Selective Service Act to extend draft registration to women, to end all draft registration, or to allow registration to end by court order.

When the Supreme Court upheld the current males-only draft registration in 1981, it based its decision on the ineligibility of women, at that time, for combat assignments, and on the “deference” of the courts to Congress and the President in such military matters. The factual predicate to that decision has now changed, with the announcement last week that women in the military will be eligible for all combat jobs.

On Tuesday of this week, by scheduling coincidence, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument (which had been scheduled for that date months earlier) in one of several lawsuits challenging the Constitutionality of males-only draft registration that were filed two years ago when the military first began opening combat assignments to women.

From watching the oral argument, it seems likely that the Court of Appeals will send this case back to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for consideration of whether males-only draft registration is still Constitutional.

The complaint was dismissed by the a U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles who found that (1) the controversy was not yet “ripe” for decision and (2) the plaintiff’s lacked standing to complain.

On “ripeness”, it seems clear from the oral argument that the 9th Circuit judges think that if the case wasn’t ripe when it was dismissed in 2013, it is now in light of the latest changes to military policy. There would be no point to upholding the dismissal of the original complaint, when an identical new complaint could immediately be refiled, and would be ripe for decision.

On standing, the issue is that none of the plaintiffs in this case are men who can claim that they are being harmed because they didn’t register. There are a named plaintiff, who says he registered, and an organizational plaintiff. But the plaintiffs argued that they have as much basis to claim standing as the plaintiffs in the case the Supreme Court decided in 1981, who were similarly situated. In addition, plaintiffs’ counsel argued very persuasively that the continuing obligation to provide notice of address changes is a continuing harm that gives registrants continuing standing to challenge that registration requirement.

If I’ve read the tea leaves correctly, this means that in a matter of weeks or months — probably before but possibly not until after the November elections — the 9th Circuit will overturn the dismissal of the complaint, and remand this case to the U.S. District Court. The next step after that would be a status conference in Los Angeles to schedule further proceedings (discovery, briefing, etc.) on the merits of the reinstated complaint.

Some other lawsuit might make it to a decision sooner. But once a court looks at one of these cases on the merits, the outcome seems a foregone conclusion, as the Pentagon’s own analysis released last week suggests. It’s highly likely that a court ruling in this or another case will, sooner rather than later, force Congress to choose whether to extend draft registration to women, or to let a court decision ending registration stand.

Under current law, courts can’t order women to register. So if a Federal court finds that males-only registration is illegally discriminatory, registration will have to end unless Congress amends the law to extend the registration requirement to women.

Last Sunday, the New York Times dismissed this issue, editorializing that Congress could “easily” change the law to require young women, as well as young men, to register.

But it’s not so simple as all that. It won’t be enough just to change the law. Draft registration is not self-implementing. Extending registration to women will also require getting women to comply with the law, and enforcing the law if women don’t comply voluntarily.

Thirty-five years of failure by the government to get young men to comply with the draft registration law, and the complete abandonment of any attempt to enforce that law more than 25 years ago, suggest that getting young women to register for a draft is likely to be much more difficult than the Times’ editorial board has realized.

As some of my readers know, although it’s not my most frequent topic in this blog, I spent most of the 1980s, starting just about the time I left the University of Chicago, as an organizer with the National Resistance Committee and an editor of its newspaper, Resistance News.

When draft registration was reinstated in 1980 after a five-year hiatus, our most optimistic prediction was that half a million men in the first age cohorts required to register might not sign up. A month after the initial mass registration period, the first independent analysis of registration data revealed that more than a million of these young men had not heeded the call to register. [“Million Snub Draft”, Boston Globe, August 27, 1980, page 1; the original banner headline in the Globe was apparently added in page makeup and is missing from the wire service versions and the fragment of the article in the Globe’s digital archive.]

Desperate to scare up enough registrations to “maintain the credibility of the system”, as one internal Justice Department memo put it, the government eventually decided to try to intimidate the mass of nonregistrants through “well-publicized prosecutions” of a few of those they considered the “most vocal” resisters. As one of twenty nonregistrants who were singled out for indictment in 1982-1986, I was convicted and spent four and a half months in a Federal Prison Camp in 1983-1984.

(I was prosecuted by Robert Mueller, then a junior Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston and later the Director of the FBI. My case was Mueller’s first high-profile trial, and my head was a significant early stepping stone in his political climb. Mueller’s boss, then U.S. Attorney and later Governor William F. Weld, also attended my trial — annoying my mother by sitting next to her — to observe Mueller’s performance in court.)

But despite convictions and prison sentences, these show trials backfired and were quickly abandoned. They called attention to the resistance to draft registration, made clear that there was safety in numbers, and showed that the government could prove the “willfulness” of only those nonregistrants who made public statements (which were essential to the cases against us in court) acknowledging that we knew we were supposed to register.

Nobody has been prosecuted for refusing to register since 1986. But the government has never been able to find a face-saving way to end registration and shut down the Selective Service System without admitting that its scare tactics failed, or dealing with the implications of young people’s insistence on making their own choices about which wars they are willing to fight.

Today, many young people register only because of laws that link draft registration to drivers licensing in some states, and to eligibility for student aid. The resistance by many states to implementing the Federal “REAL-ID Act” (which I discussed in this presentation at the Cato Institute earlier this year), and the repeated failures, including once again this year, of proposals to link drivers’ licenses to draft registration in the most populous state, California, suggest some of the limitations of this carrot-and-stick approach.

(Today, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, nonregistration is most concentrated among those poor young men of color who see little hope of going to college even with the limited available government aid, and especially among undocumented young men who are categorically ineligible for the government programs linked to draft registration, but who are still required to register.)

Many of the people who registered under these financial pressures would resist if actually drafted, and many of these nominal registrations have been effectively invalidated by unreported address changes, even though they are counted in Selective Service “compliance” statistics.

President Obama, who was in the first age group required to register, has said that he registered for the draft. But he hasn’t commented on whether he informed the Selective Service System every time he changed addresses until his 26th birthday, as is required by the law and as is essential for registration records to be of any use in the event of a draft. Few people did so in the 1980s, or do so now. The only audit of Selective Service address records, in 1982, found that 20-40% of the addresses on file with the SSS for registrants in the age groups that would be drafted first were already outdated, and up to 75% for those registrants in their last year of potential eligibility to be drafted.

Many, perhaps most, induction notices sent to current registrants would wind up in the dead-letter office. Without being able to prove that anyone knew they were supposed to tell the Selective Service System when they moved, it’s impossible to enforce the change-of-address notification requirement.

Is there any reason to think that young women would be more willing to sign up to be drafted than young men have been? I doubt it. When President Carter announced his proposal to reinstate draft registration in his State of the Union address in 1980, some of the strongest initial grassroots opposition came from women. Many women remained active in the resistance even after the bill approved by Congress was narrowed to require only men to register, though the press tended to focus on male resisters.

Women have been among those health care workers most concerned about Selective Service preparations for for a draft of doctors, nurses, and many other medical professionals, which would include women but would be based on professional licensing lists rather than on self-registration of potential draftees.

Women share many of men’s reasons not to register, and have other reasons of their own. There are both feminist and sexist arguments against subjecting women to the draft and draft registration.

Are the government’s arguments for why young women (or men) should register for the draft, and promise to fight for or against whomever they are told, any more persuasive today than ever? I don’t think so.

Draft registration was reinstated in 1980 in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to prepare for U.S. intervention in support of the fighters who were then called the “mujahideen” and who would later christen themselves the Taliban and Al Qaeda. That the U.S. government put me in prison for refusing to agree to fight on the side of the Taliban doesn’t say much for its judgment of which wars to intervene in, or on which side. Today, people of all ages and genders question why the U.S. is supporting the fundamentalist (and supremely sexist) monarchy in Saudi Arabia, or the dictatorship in Yemen, among others.

Congress should have no illusions. Extending draft registration to women will provoke at least as much resistance as did draft registration for men in 1980. It will force the government, once again, to choose whether to turn the country into a police state to round up all those who fail to register on demand, or to try (probably unsuccessfully) to terrorize them into compliance through show trials and incarceration of a few of the people seen as “leaders” of the resistance.

Regardless of whether Congress or the President think that young women “should” be ready to be drafted, the only realistic choice for Congress is not to extend draft registration to women, but to end it for all.

That’s not likely to be part of the terms of debate, however, unless opponents of draft resistance — including young women who won’t register voluntarily, and older people who support them — make it an issue.

In 1981, the decision of whether to continue — and whether to enforce — the draft registration program that had been reinstated during the Carter administration was a “wedge issue” that divided hawks from libertarians within the Reagan administration and its supporters.

One of my friends and colleagues in the National Resistance Committee, Alex Reyes, has written about how awareness of plans for demonstrations in support of draft registration resistance precipitated this internal debate, and of how close it came to ending draft registration.

Today, whether to extend draft registration to women or end it entirely is likely to be a similar wedge issue dividing Democrats, Republicans, and military personnel. Will sexist warmongers support subjecting young women to the draft, or depriving the military of its “Plan B” for manpower by ending draft registration entirely? Will supporters of President Obama, or of a future President Hillary Clinton, see subjecting women to the draft as a step towards gender equity, or a step towards more of the gendered violence of war? And if they see it as both, how will they vote?

But there’s more at stake than the opportunity for partisan politicians to embarrass their opponents, and it will be up to draft registration resisters and supporters to make that point.

Draft registration of men has been a fiasco for the government since its resumption in 1980. The likelihood and imminence of a court ruling that males-only draft registration is now unconstitutional provides the perfect opportunity for Congress to end draft registration entirely.

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘The race to save Peter Kassig’

By Dr Richard Marsden | The Business of Emotions | December 24, 2014

peter-kassig-headshot2On Thursday, December 18, 2014, The Guardian published The race to save Peter Kassig by Ali Younes, Shiv Malik, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili. To refresh memories here is the preface to the story:

The American aid worker was killed by his Isis captors on 16 November. Here, for the first time, is the story of an extraordinary effort to secure his release, which involved a radical New York lawyer, the US government, and the world’s most revered jihadi scholar.

Listen to The Guardian team tell of the daring and extraordinary effort to secure Kassig’s release.

The radical New York lawyer in question is Stanley Cohen, ‘one of America’s most controversial lawyers’. In January he begins an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a charge from the US Internal Revenue Service. The Guardian article tells a gripping tale of how Cohen put together a team of Islamic scholars and al-Qaeda fellow-travellers to negotiate the release of Peter Kassig from Islamic State’s captivity—only to be thwarted at the last minute by an ill-timed intervention by Jordan’s secret service.

Clearly it’s an important story deserving of a wide readership. How curious then that The Guardian first broke the story just before Christmas, when readers are busy with other things, and that since then corporate news media in the United States have ignored it. On Twitter it’s another matter. Cohen is lauded as a hero for selflessly attempting a rescue mission while the authorities did nothing and his prison cell beckoned. There is talk of a film deal. The Pardon Stanley Cohen movement has more of a spring in its step.

All well and good, then.

And yet, to my ears, ‘The race to rescue Peter Kassig’ does not ring true. Lest it be sanctified by Hollywood without the bother of critical evaluation, I want to register some questions and comments so that we might better understand the fate of Peter Kassig. I fear that Guardian readers, the article’s authors, and even Stanley Cohen, have been taken advantage of by altogether more diabolical forces.

1. Let’s start at the beginning: Where is the evidence that Peter Kassig was ever held captive by ‘Islamic State’ or that they decapitated him? This is so widely assumed that the question is seldom asked. It should be. Questioning assumptions should be a starting point for investigative journalists. If he is to be ‘rescued’ we ought to ask, From whom and where?

Surely the 15 minute video ‘Although the disbelievers dislike it’ is all the evidence we need, even if few have seen it? I do not think so. I’ve studied it carefully and can find evidence only of the Tarantino-like film making skills of whoever created this little masterpiece of deception. (See ISIS Lessons in Terror Marketing: How to Change the World by Deception). No one is decapitated in that video; not anyone of those Syrian servicemen; not Peter Kassig. It’s all camera angles, special effects and clever editing.

What about Kassig’s severed head at the feet of ‘Jihadi John’ in the final segment of that video? It certainly looks like a severed head and it resembles Kassig’s and this is proof of what exactly? The props department of most major theatre and opera companies can produce a severed head on demand, even of a specific individual. Here the Royal Shakespeare Company shows how it is done. Props departments have their counterparts in film; they’re called digital artists. Look carefully: ‘Kassig’s head’ is a digitally inserted prop. It’s not proof of Kassig’s death. It’s proof that someone is attempting to deceive us.

Questions such as these are not asked because ‘we are passive consumers of the pornography of violence’ (Will Self, The Guardian, 2014-12-23). Effectively, public opinion defers to the testimony of ‘Jihadi John’. So when he says ‘This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country’ it surely must be true. From this shaky assumption Ali Younes, Shiv Malik, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili set forth on their investigation.

2. Strictly speaking, the byline of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ should be ‘Stanley Cohen as told to Younes et al’ for the entire account is based on what Cohen told them he recalled, felt and did. The article reads like an extract from a novel, in which Cohen is the protagonist and Younes et al attempt to breath some life into the character by seeing the world through his eyes. For example, Cohen ‘had other things on his mind’; ‘as he returned from court’; ‘To Cohen, it seemed like fate’; ‘Cohen saw something of himself.’ And so on. The entire article is written like this.

Investigative journalism surely calls for more critical distance from those it investigates. This is especially important since three of the central players in this drama are anonymous and we have no way of checking their account: the FBI official (‘Mike’), the federal prosecutor and an ex-Guantanamo, ‘Kuwaiti member of al-Qaida’ (‘Food’). Essentially, Cohen speaks for them and the coauthors document what he says. The article’s rhetorical style leaves readers no room to make up their own minds about what happened.

3. Even fictional narratives must be plausible; this article stretches plausibility to its limit.

(a) Readers are asked to believe that the United States, with its vast intelligence and diplomatic resources, has no one capable of negotiating with Islamic State for the release of one of its citizens—apart from this maverick Jewish soon-to-be imprisoned lawyer. If so, what’s the point of those ‘diplomats’ in that vast US ‘embassy’ in Baghdad?

(b) How plausible is it that Cohen was given a free hand to negotiate with Islamic State? Let’s look at what he so nearly did with it. According to the article, he concluded that the only way to achieve Kassig’s release was to bring about rapprochement between Turki al-Binali and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi; or, put another way, to bring about reconciliation between ISIS and al-Qaeda. No kidding. And this would be a good thing? The life of this one American would be worth this exorbitant price would it? Apparently so. The US intelligence and diplomat community, it would seem, was indifferent to this prospect, which, but for the bungling interference of Jordan’s secret service in arresting al-Maqdisi, would have come about.

(c) How likely is it that Jordan’s secret service would act contrary to the wishes of their American counterparts, especially on a mission of such vital importance?

(d) Why would anyone reasonably expect ‘Islamic State’ to be so magnanimous as to free Kassig just so it could have the pleasure of dedicating his release ‘to Muslim political prisoners around the world, including those in Guantánamo’, as Cohen suggested? What is there in ‘Jihadi John’s’ demeanour that suggests this? Yet this prospect, apparently, was enough for Islamic State to agree that Kassig would not be harmed ‘while Cohen was still engaged on the ground.’

(e) The ‘tentative proposal for Kassig’s unilateral release’ was put together by Cohen with the help of three anonymous characters—the FBI official (‘Mike’), the federal prosecutor and an ex-Guantanamo, ‘Kuwaiti member of al-Qaida’ (‘Food’). Why would they want to conceal their involvement in this noble but tragic rescue mission, when others with more to lose are named?

(f) Turki al-Binali is an elusive character. Just 30-years old, but ‘Isis’s chief scholar’ ‘who has his own English language Facebook page’ and ‘the only person who could stay Jihadi John’s knife with a single edict.’ (‘Jihadi John’, then, is in charge.) Just as ‘Jihadi John’ is a man whose face we have not seen and whose voice is not authenticated, Turki al-Binali is encountered more in the virtual realm than in the flesh. No one actually sees him during these negotiations nor is there any mention of where he is physically located. It’s all done via WhatsApp.

(g) Why would the venerable Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, newly released from 5 years in a Jordanian prison, want to jeopardize his freedom by messaging with al-Binali, Islamic State’s ‘scholar-in-arms’, over such a harebrained scheme and then have his private conversations published in a national newspaper for the whole world to gawp at? Incredibly, he takes the word of Cohen, who he has just met, and his anonymous FBI handler (‘Mike’).

(h) In fact, it’s not clear why al-Maqdisi, ‘who may be the world’s most revered living jihadi scholar’, would agree to meet with Cohen in the first place, let alone immediately invite this stranger into his home. ‘The flat was tidy: on the floor were children’s toys and, on the walls, framed religious quotations.’ This is as close as we come to an explanation:

When Cohen told Mike about his travel plans, the FBI official was surprised. “He said ‘Maqdisi is going to meet with you?’” Cohen recalled. “I said ‘Yeah, he’s waiting for me.’ He said ‘Go’.”

As easy as that then. Could the following help explain this instant cordiality? In an article published in the Arab Daily News, October 28, 2014, one of the authors of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’, Ali Younes, writes of an interview he conducted with the said Abu Mohamad al-Maqdisi. (There they are together in two photographs, friendly as anything). Younes reveals that he had spoken with al-Maqdisi ‘on several occasions in the past few weeks’. This is the very period that Cohen claims to have been communicating with al-Maqdisi. It surely wasn’t the case that one of the authors of ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ was a party to these negotiations? We would have been told. Wouldn’t we?

(i) According to ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ al-Maqdisi and al-Binali tried to reach an agreement on the release of Kassig, not by meeting face-to-face, speaking on the phone or even by writing letters, but via WhatsApp (‘one of Isis’s favoured modes of communication’).

By now it was evening, and for the next two hours or so, Maqdisi and Binali messaged each other on WhatsApp. Their exchange was “very warm,” Cohen says. Maqdisi jokingly called Binali “my ungrateful son” and Binali messaged back and said, “Abu Muhammad [Maqdisi] is my father. All these other sheikhs [in Isis] are my uncles.” Binali was eager to show off: he prefaced some of his messages by saying there was a drone overhead or there had just been an air strike, to impress Maqdisi. He also sent his former teacher a picture of himself wearing an ammunition vest and holding a Qur’an.

Quite touching. These are Cohen’s recollections, mind, not al-Maqdisi’s or al-Binali’s.

Maqdisi told Cohen that he’d had an additional WhatsApp discussion with Binali. They made progress towards a personal rapprochement and had even started to resolve their religious differences. Tomorrow, Maqdisi said, he planned on specifically broaching the subject of Kassig with him.

I cannot even imagine the bookish al-Maqdisi using WhatsApp. Is this really how Jihadi scholars do business these days? They are so trusting. Neither could know for sure who he was messaging with. Having ‘made progress towards a personal rapprochement’ they were to ‘resolve their religious differences’—by WhatsApp. This is how the reconciliation between Islamic State and al-Qaeda was to be achieved? This is how the fate of this young man was to be decided? This is the very best the United States could do to rescue him?

Incidentally, where was al-Binali during these exchanges? This isn’t mentioned in the article. Did Cohen or anyone on his team see him or know where he was? Other than by his appearances on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, how would the skeptical know that the elusive al-Binali actually exists?

For these and other reasons I am not at all persuaded by ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’. I do, however, have a more plausible explanation of the events depicted in the article. As I have argued at length elsewhere, the suite of Islamic State beheading videos (of Foley, Sotloff, Henning and Haines, along with ‘Although the disbelievers dislike it’) are works of military deception (MILDEC) aimed primarily at Western public opinion. No one dies in those videos. Their immediate objective was to facilitate Anglo-American military reengagement in Iraq (unthinkable only a few months ago) by goading an emotional reaction among Brits and Americans. Mission accomplished. Their broader objective is to disguise the real forces behind Islamic State and their motives. Things are not as they seem. I do not know for sure who is behind these particular Islamic State beheading videos, other than that it is not ‘Islamic State’, but if a faction within US/UK intelligence did not create them they surely know who did.

To return to the fate of Peter Kassig and the ‘race’ to save him.

Whenever an American hostage meets an untimely demise the US feels obliged to tell us of the heroic efforts they made to save him or her, only to be foiled by circumstances beyond their control. It happens every time. For simulated hostages there are simulated rescue attempts. The day after the release of the Foley beheading video, for example, ‘senior Obama administration officials’ told of an unsuccessful secret operation to rescue Foley and several other Americans held captive in Syria. The Syrian government said it never happened. ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ tells of the diplomatic equivalent of these heroically unsuccessful military rescue missions. Even if some or all of the participants were sincere, it was a simulated rescue that was designed to fail. Jordanian and American intelligence are like heart and lung on these matters. They work in unison. If Maqdisi was arrested just as the deal was about to be sealed it’s because the US wanted it.

No actual diplomats would fall for this pantomime, but an amateur one facing prison might. No seasoned journalists would fall for it either; they would raise questions such as the above. So what happened to these Guardianistas ? The accompanying audio (by Phoebe Greenward) tells us that the ‘race’ began with ‘a series of emails obtained by the Guardian.‘ ‘Obtained’ suggests some active investigation. A more accurate word I suggest is ‘fed’ (given to Shiv Malik). By whom? And why to a British rather than an American newspaper? Mustafa Khalili’s first response when he read them—’disbelief’—was correct. But these journalists were so intoxicated by the romance of what they read that their investigation lapsed into fleshing out a narrative on the bare bones of those emails, the whole lot marinated in sentiment. The name for this is ‘creative nonfiction’, not investigative journalism.

The correct answer to ‘What happened to Peter Kassig?’ is ‘We don’t know’. This is a more honest position than seeing beheadings where there are none and taking ‘Jihadi John’s’ word as gospel. To answer the question, researching how ‘The race to save Peter Kassig’ came to be would be a good start.


Dr. Richard Marsden
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Athabasca University
Alberta, Canada T9S 3A3

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Germany to deliver nuclear-capable submarine to Israel

MEMO | December 14, 2015

Tel Aviv is expected to receive a German submarine capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the fifth German submarine to be delivered to Israel this year, Radio Israel reported.

Worth $400 million, the German submarine is the most advanced and expensive of its kind.

Radio Israel added that the Haifa-bound submarine will leave the German port of Kiel in the coming few days. The Israeli Navy is expected to receive its sixth submarine by 2019.

In September, Israel received its fourth German submarine, worth €600 million ($657.28 million). The plan has been for Israel to receive six German made Dolphin-class submarines, each 68 metres long, with 10 torpedo tubes.

According to Israeli media, the Dolphin-class submarines can carry long-range nuclear warheads and launch missiles, they are capable of remaining underwater for two weeks and evading monitoring devices.

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

US failed to prevent Turkey from downing Russian jet despite air safety deal – Moscow

RT | December 14, 2015

As the leader of the international coalition against Islamic State, the US failed to ensure the implementation by its Turkish allies of the Syria air safety agreement, which was signed between Moscow and Washington, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

“Despite the fact, that the defense ministries of the two countries (the US and Russia) signed a memorandum on ensuring the safety of military aviation flights in Syrian airspace, Washington – which took the responsibility for the actions of the entire coalition it leads – hasn’t ensured compliance with the relevant provisions of the document by its ally Turkey,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Russia and the US signed an agreement regulating the operations of the two countries’ air forces over Syria on October 20.

The memorandum established 24/7 communication channels between Russian and American military commanders, in order to prevent incidents and provide for the smooth operation of the two nations’ aircraft, and for mutual aid in critical situations.

As part of the deal, the American side pledged to convey the details of the deal to their anti-Islamic State coalition partners, to follow the rules it sets.

The Foreign Ministry said it was surprised by the “ridiculous” claim of Russia’s international isolation, which Washington is voicing ahead of John Kerry’s visit to Moscow on December 15.

“Given the fact that the US Secretary of State is coming to our country for the second time in the past seven months – and just as in May, the visit is organized upon the urgent request of the American side – such propagandist approaches are ridiculous,” it stressed.

The ministry stressed that Russia is ready for constructive cooperation with Washington, but “it’s only possible on the principles of equality and mutual respect.”

“In determining the areas for joint work with the US, we – as previously – are guided by our own interests, including the objective of strengthening home and international security,” it added.

Read more: Turkey, US failed to notify UN Security Council of ISIS oil smuggling – Russian UN envoy Churkin

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Turkey, US failed to notify UN Security Council of ISIS oil smuggling – Russian UN envoy Churkin

RT | December 14, 2015

Ankara and Washington contravened the UN resolution on financing terrorism by failing to inform the Security Council about Islamic State illegally trafficking stolen oil, Russia’s UN envoy has said.

“We’ve got serious complaints about the implementation of [UN] resolution (#2199, banning financing of the terrorist organization),” Vitaly Churkin told RIA Novosti news agency.

“Under Resolution 2199, adopted on our initiative in February, countries are obliged to provide information (about financing terrorists) to the Security Council – if they have such information. That means the Americans had to provide such information, and of course Turkey, which should have reported any illegal [oil] trade going on there. They didn’t do it,” Churkin said.

“We’ve just been to the Pentagon and two several star generals were telling us about (US-led) coalition actions. I asked them a very simple question: you’ve been flying there for a year, we’ve been there for two months and already provided many photos showing that oil is smuggled through the Turkish border. Didn’t you know about it? They must have known, and if they did, they should have reported it to the Security Council,” the Russian UN envoy told RIA Novosti in an interview.

Vitaly Churkin has revealed that a new UN resolution on illegal oil trade is currently being prepared. “Together with the Americans, we’re drafting a new resolution tightening regulations on that kind of reporting. Possibly we could oblige the Secretary General to deliver regular reports on the issue, or it would be some sort of counter-terrorist agencies. We hope to adopt this resolution on December 17,” Churkin said.

Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry presented evidence of oil being transported by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to Turkey. Washington said according to their intelligence, the quantity of oil being delivered to Turkey is insignificant, yet acknowledged that certain parts of the Turkish-Syrian border remain unsecured.

Vitaly Churkin also believes the US-led coalition airstrikes on the Syrian Army more than a week ago may not have been an accident and could be repeated. Last week, the Syrian Army confirmed the strike on government troop positions by a Western coalition aircraft in the Deir ez-Zor area killed four and wounded 12 servicemen.

“Naturally, there is the suspicion that it was not accidental, that despite all assurances given to the Syrian government that these strikes would not target the Syrian government’s forces, the strikes could target government troops from time to time,” Churkin told RIA Novosti.

READ MORE: ‘Turkey acts like ISIS ally, should not be EU member’– Czech president

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarin materials brought via Turkey & mixed in Syrian ISIS camps – Turkish MP to RT

RT | December 14, 2015

Islamic State terrorists in Syria received all necessary materials to produce deadly sarin gas via Turkey, Turkish MP Eren Erdem has told RT, insisting there are grounds to believe a cover up has taken place.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member, Erdem, brought up the issue for public discussion in parliament last week, citing evidence from an abruptly-closed criminal case. He accused Ankara of failing to investigate Turkish supply routes used to provide terrorists with toxic sarin gas ingredients.

“There is data in this indictment. Chemical weapon materials are being brought to Turkey and being put together in Syria in camps of ISIS which was known as Iraqi Al Qaeda during that time,” Erdem told RT.

Sarin gas is a military-grade chemical that was used in a notorious attack on Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2013. The attacks were pinned on the Syrian leadership, who in turn agreed to get rid of all chemical weapons stockpiles under a UN-brokered deal amid an imminent threat of US intervention.

Addressing parliamentarians on Thursday, Erdem showed a copy of the criminal case number 2013/120 that was opened by the General Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Adana in southern Turkey.

The investigation revealed that a number of Turkish citizens took part in negotiations with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) representatives on the supply of sarin gas. Pointing to evidence cited in the criminal case, he said that wiretapped phone conversations proved that an Al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin.

“These are all detected. There are phone recordings of this shipment like ‘don’t worry about the border, we’ll take care of it’ and we also see the bureaucracy is being used,” continued Erdem.

Based on the gathered evidence Adana authorities conducted raids and arrested 13 suspects in the case. But a week later, inexplicably, the case was closed and all the suspects immediately crossed the Turkish-Syrian border, Erdem said.

“About the shipment, Republic prosecutor of Adana, Mehmet Arıkan, made an operation and the related people were detained. But as far as I understand he was not an influential person in bureaucracy. A week after, another public prosecutor was assigned, took over the indictment and all the detainees were released. And they left Turkey crossing the Syrian border,” he said.

“The phone recordings in the indictment showed all the details from how the shipment was going to be made to how it was prepared, from the content of the labs to the source of the materials. Which trucks were going to be used, all dates etc. From A to Z, everything was discussed and recorded. Despite all of this evidence, the suspects were released,” he said.

“And the shipment happened,” Erdem added. “Because no one stopped them. That’s why maybe the sarin gas used in Syria is a result of this.”

Speaking to RT, Erdem said that according to some evidence Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation was also involved, with some unconfirmed reports pointing in the direction of a government cover up, with Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdag’s involvement.

Certain evidence suggests Bozdag wanted to know beforehand from the sarin gas producer when and if the Islamists will use the chemical weapon.

“When I read the indictment, I saw clearly that these people have relationships with The Machinery and Chemical Industry Institution of Turkey and they don’t have any worries about crossing the border. For example in Hayyam Kasap’s phone records, you hear him saying sarin gas many times, saying that the ateliers are ready for production, materials are waiting in trucks which were supposedly carrying club soda,” he told RT.

The parliamentarian said that now he feels like there is a witch hunt against him, after he confronted the justice minister. Bozdag, according to Erdem denied only the part that he wanted to get notified about the operations beforehand.

Furthermore, Erdem argues that the West purposely blamed the regime of Bashar Assad for the August 2013 attacks and used it as part of the pretext to make US military intervention in Syria possible. The MP said that evidence in Adana’s case, according to his judgment, proves that IS was responsible.

“For example the chemical attack in Ghouta. Remember. It was claimed that the regime forces were behind it. This attack was conducted just days before the sarin operation in Turkey. It’s a high probability that this attack was carried out with those basic materials shipped through Turkey. It is said the regime forces are responsible but the indictment says it’s ISIS. UN inspectors went to the site but they couldn’t find any evidence. But in this indictment, we’ve found the evidence. We know who used the sarin gas, and our government knows it too,” he said.

At the same time, Erdem also accused the West and Europe in particular for providing “basic materials” to create such a powerful chemical weapon.

“All basic materials are purchased from Europe. Western institutions should question themselves about these relations. Western sources know very well who carried out the sarin gas attack in Syria. They know these people, they know who these people are working with, they know that these people are working for Al-Qaeda. I think is Westerns are hypocrites about the situation,” he concluded.

Read more:

Reports of massive chemical attack near Damascus as UN observers arrive in Syria

‘Abandoned’ barrels containing deadly sarin seized in rebel-held Syria

Homemade sarin was used in attack near Damascus – Lavrov

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment