Aletho News


Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever: Hope or Hype?

Fars News Agency – December 31, 2015

TEHRAN – The United States and its NATO partners have once again given themselves the opportunity to prick Afghanistan wherever possible in 2016.

Army General John Campbell says he wants to keep US troops (9,800) in Afghanistan for as long as possible – and is considering asking for even more boots on the ground, which means America’s longest official war could become even more protracted.

To this end, the Pentagon is planning a military role long into Afghanistan’s future despite indications that its long-term intervention and occupation has worsened conflict and violence, with the Taliban showing signs of increased strength and ISIL capturing territory. Meanwhile, Afghan civilians continue to pay the greatest price. In the first half of 2015 alone, United Nations agencies documented 4,921 civilian casualties.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was premised on the fantasy that the War Party could quickly win the so-called “War on Terror” and remake the Middle East to its benefit, a goal spelled out by the Project for a New American Century. Instead, America’s longest war has crushed the elected government and largely destroyed the national economy, leaving a failed state, refugees, and extremists who thrive on chaos in its wake.

The decision by the Pentagon to stay the course now means there will be plenty more casualties this year, and not just because of the seemingly permanent US military presence there. The Empire of Chaos plans to create a string of bases as staging areas for a permanent “War on Terror.” And there is no end in sight to the US at war, declared and undeclared, both because the War Party has found the perfect enemy (terror), and because no one at the United Nations is willing to stand up to it.

This is while the botched “War on Terror” has only brought immense, atrocious, sustained loss of life and chaos to the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the region. From their standpoint, all foreign occupying troops must leave Afghanistan, despite the inherent security risks. They say the war and occupation only advances the aims of those who profit from the circumstances – US military contractors and a global banking/financial elite.

Under the circumstances, it is past time for the world community to robustly push for an Afghan peace process since security and stability are crucial for the development of the war-torn country as well as for the advancement of regional peace and security. In addition, the competing big powers must acknowledge the crucial need of cooperation in the “real” war on terrorism and extremism. What’s more, Afghanistan and its neighbours are on the same page in promoting the peace talks and encouraging all parties in this regard. The pressing question is whether the United States and its NATO partners are also on the same page?

Unsurprisingly, President Obama has lost no time to personally back Dempsey’s new mission to Kabul. Obama is thrilled that his “Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever” and “Pivoting to Asia” is not in jeopardy. He has in fact put a spoke in the wheel of the nascent peace talks that Afghanistan’s neighbours have been fostering for some time. Both Dempsey and Obama are walking away laughing, leaving the world community in no doubt that amid multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the War Party’s “surge, bribe and stay” gambit will remain a non-negotiable issue.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Court Acquits Turkish Suspects Involved in Sarin Gas Supply to Syria

Fars News Agency – January 1, 2015

A Turkish court in Adana acquitted five Turkish suspects accused of procuring chemicals used in production of sarin gas, Zaman reported.

In May 2013, media reported that Turkish special service officers arrested members of Syrian opposition group who were in possession of two kilograms of sarin, Sputnik reported.

Moscow conducted a thorough investigation of the incident and expressed hope that Turkey would provide information regarding the detention of the militants. However, two months later, all detainees were released pending trial.

Later on when the court established that the materials they were trying to obtain could in fact be used to produce sarin, a warrant for the arrest was issued.

The case sparked political controversy when the deputy of the Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Eren Erdem said in an interview with RT that Turkey knew about ISIL-bound shipments of deadly sarin gas passing through its territory.

Eren Erdem was accused of treason by Ankara’s top prosecutor and criminal investigation was opened against him.

But after addressing the parliament and saying that the Turkish president had started a smear campaign against him, Erdem went even further by accusing the Turkish authorities of complicity, stating that the government pressured the prosecutor of the case into toning down the accusations and ending the trial rapidly.

The prosecutor of the case involving the five Turkish suspects recently denied Erdem’s accusations in a statement, saying the Turkish suspects were released because they were not found to be in possession of the materials used for sarin production, while rejecting the idea that the justice minister pressured him into bringing the case to a close immediately.

Two CHP deputies said that the Turkish government was out to get Eren Erdem and had launched a lynching campaign against the deputy.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Şeker stated that Turkish authorities must answer questions in connection with the incident.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Is WP’s Cohen Dumbest Columnist?

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 19, 2007

Granted it would be quite a competition, but is Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen the dumbest columnist ever?

For instance, in his June 19, 2007 op-ed, Cohen joined the neoconservative media riot over the 30-month jail sentence facing former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

From reading the column, it does appear that Cohen has the skills at least to master and recite the litany of talking points that the neocons have compiled to make their case about the injustice of Libby going into the slammer for committing perjury and obstruction of justice.

Cohen accuses special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of violating longstanding Justice Department guidelines on when to bring a case; he denounces the trial – over Libby’s lying about his role in unmasking covert CIA officer Valerie Plame – as “a mountain out of a molehill”; he asserts that there was no “underlying crime”; he even pokes fun at Americans who thought the invasion of Iraq might have been a bad idea.

“They thought – if ‘thought’ can be used in this context – that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show . . . who knows? Something,” Cohen wrote.

Yet, beyond a talent for reprising the conventional wisdom from Washington dinner parties, it is hard to tell what justifies Cohen’s long career as a political columnist. On nearly every major development over the past couple of decades, Cohen has missed the point or gotten it dead wrong.

For example, during the Florida recount battle in 2000, Cohen cared less about whom the voters wanted in the White House than the Washington insiders’ certainty that George W. Bush would be a uniter, not a divider.

“The nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse,” Cohen wrote. “That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush.”

Cohen also joined the Washington herd in the disastrous stampede for invading Iraq. After Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, Cohen mocked anyone who still dared doubt that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.

“The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations – some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail – had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them,” Cohen wrote. “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could conclude otherwise.”

Misplaced Enthusiasm

It took Cohen another three years before he recognized that his enthusiasm for the war had been misplaced.

On April 4, 2006, as the U.S. death toll reached into the thousands and the Iraqi death toll soared into the tens of thousands, Cohen wrote, “those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It’s not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration.”

In normal work settings, incompetence – especially when it is chronic and has devastating consequences – justifies dismissal or at least demotion, maybe a desk in Storage Room B where Cohen could sit with his red stapler, but without access to a word processor.

Yet, in the strange world of Washington punditry, success is measured not in being right but in keeping one’s opinion within the parameters of the capital’s respectable opinions, even if those judgments are atrociously wrong.

As for the Plame case, Cohen seems to be living in the propaganda dreamscape of the still-influential neocons, not in the real world where the disclosure of Plame’s identity caused actual damage, destroying her undercover career as a CIA officer and putting in jeopardy the lives of foreigners who worked with her investigating weapons proliferation.

Plus, the motive behind the leaking of Plame’s identity was not “gossip,” as Cohen asserts, but a White House-orchestrated campaign to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth about his 2002 fact-finding mission to Africa. Wilson’s findings helped the U.S. intelligence community debunk false claims about Iraq attempting to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa.

Despite warnings from the CIA, however, President George W. Bush cited Iraq’s supposed uranium shopping during his 2003 State of the Union Address, making it a key part of the case to invade Iraq.

When Wilson went public with his story in July 2003, the Bush administration sought to discredit him by suggesting that his Africa trip was just a junket arranged by his CIA wife. One White House official told a reporter from the Washington Post that the administration had informed at least six reporters about Plame.

The official said the disclosure was “purely and simply out of revenge.” That was a revelation that special prosecutor Fitzgerald corroborated in his investigation.

Libby’s Role

Also, contrary to Cohen’s column, Libby, as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was a central figure in this anti-Wilson smear campaign. Libby briefed two reporters – Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper – about Plame’s identity and brought press secretary Ari Fleischer into the leak operation.

Though it turned out that other senior administration officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and his friend, White House political adviser Karl Rove, were the successful ones in getting a journalist, Robert Novak, to publish Plame’s identity, it wasn’t for the lack of Libby trying to get Plame’s identity into the press.

Nor is it accurate to say that there was no underlying crime. It is illegal to willfully disclose the identity of a covert CIA officer – and the administration officials involved were well aware that her identity was classified. Leaking classified material also can be – and often is – treated as a crime. …

Rather than a wild-eyed prosecutor on a rampage, Fitzgerald actually appears to have been a very cautious prosecutor who chose not to pursue what would have been a deserving but politically disruptive case against Bush, Cheney and other government conspirators implicated in both leaking classified material and participating in a cover-up.

But all this is missed by Cohen. In his June 19, 2007 column, he does reiterate his current position that the Iraq War was a mistake. He also acknowledges that lying under oath is a bad thing to do. But – blinded by the pervasive neocon talking points – he refuses to see the larger scandal.

“I have come to hate the war and I cannot approve of lying under oath – not by Scooter, not by Bill Clinton, not by anybody,” Cohen wrote. “But the underlying crime is absent, the sentence is excessive and the investigation should not have been conducted in the first place. This is a mess. Should Libby be pardoned? Maybe. Should his sentence be commuted? Definitely.” [As it turned out, President Bush did commute Libby’s sentence so he avoided jail time.]

Cohen took a similarly tolerant view of lies told by Reagan administration officials in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and its successful cover-up by President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s when special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was pressing for long-withheld answers.

When Bush sabotaged Walsh’s probe by issuing six Iran-Contra pardons on Christmas Eve 1992, prominent U.S. journalists, including Cohen, praised Bush’s actions and brushed aside Walsh’s complaint that the move was the final act in a long-running cover-up that protected a secret history of criminal behavior and Bush’s personal role.

Cohen spoke for many of his colleagues when he defended Bush’s fatal blow against the Iran-Contra investigation. Cohen especially liked Bush’s pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted for obstruction of justice but was popular around Washington.

In a Dec. 30, 1992 column, Cohen said his view was colored by how impressed he was when he would see Weinberger in the Georgetown Safeway store, pushing his own shopping cart.

“Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy, candid and no nonsense – which is the way much of official Washington saw him,” Cohen wrote. “Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me.”

There was a time when The Washington Post aggressively pursued cover-ups of government wrongdoing, such as Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even during the Clinton administration, a favorite pearl of Washington wisdom was: “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

But that was then and this is now. Today, the Post editorial page and its prized columnists, like Cohen, eagerly join in cover-ups and happily bash anyone who won’t go with the Washington flow.

So, the question remains, is Cohen just a clueless incompetent when he berates Fitzgerald for the “train wreck” of the Libby conviction or is this columnist really a clever guy who is very skilled at knowing how to stay on the gravy train of modern Washington journalism?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Supreme Court OKs Challenge to Electoral Results in 3 States

teleSUR | December 30, 2015

The electoral chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court accepted Wednesday a request to challenge and analyze the results of the Dec. 6 parliamentary elections in the states of Amazonas, Yaracuy, and Aragua, as well as one of the seats reserved for indigenous peoples.

The decision by electoral chamber, which was published on the website of the Supreme Court, also accepted a request for an emergency precautionary measure in one state. In six of the seven challenges brought forward, the court rejected the request for a precautionary measure, effectively an injunction.

​However in the case of the election results for the state of Amazonas, the court ordered the “temporary and immediate suspension” of proclamations by the National Electoral Council, Venezuela’s electoral body.

The precautionary measure affects all results in the state of Amazonas, including those elected by party list and by electoral district, as well as the seat reserved for indigenous peoples for the “southern region” of the country, for a total of four seats.

The challenge in the state of Amazonas was brought forward by Nicia Marina Maldonado, a candidate in the state for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The case will be followed up by Justice Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre.

The results in the state of Amazonas saw two members of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable and one member of the socialist party elected to the National Assembly. The candidate for indigenous peoples in the “southern region” is also affiliated with the opposition.

In all seven challenges, a justice will review the voting process and the tabulation of votes to determine if the result was legitimate. The electoral chamber of the Supreme Court has called on the National Electoral Council to provide the necessary documentation.

Though the court decision did not specify the reasons for upholding the challenge, some Venezuelan leaders have made allegations about vote buying in certain districts.

Wednesday’s decision does not immediately annul the results in the aforementioned states, however the court could ultimately annul the results of it deems the process illegitimate and could call for fresh elections in those states.

In the case of the results for the state of Amazonas, the precautionary measure will temporarily prevent the four candidates from being sworn in on January 5, 2016 when the new National Assembly takes office.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Aggressive panhandling

Xymphora | January 1, 2016

Ex-convict accused of planning ISIS attack in Rochester”  It is funny how revealing these stories are if you read them carefully.

The FBI picked a mentally disturbed ‘self-professed Muslim convert’, described as ‘an aggressive panhandler‘, an ex-con who talked crazy violence, had their operative drive him to pick up terrorism supplies, in this case, knives, a machete, ski masks and plastic cable ties (and the operative paid for them as their patsy had no money), and then drive him by a target location – a place which he didn’t like as they apparently wouldn’t let him panhandle! – and got him to discuss it as a possible target, had another operative get him to pledge some kind of ‘allegiance’ to Baghdadi, and then, to emphasize the situation, after the plot was supposedly foiled by brave FBI work, had the fireworks show in Rochester canceled (note that only the fireworks was canceled, as I guess Muslims have a particular thing about fireworks).

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia | , | Leave a comment

Israeli Rabbi: Christians Not Welcome in Jerusalem

IMEMC News – January 1, 2016

gopsteindopAn Israeli Rabbi said, Wednesday, that Christians are not welcome in Jerusalem, and that he does not mind burning mosques and churches.

Bentzi Gopstein told Israeli TV Channel 2 that Israeli Jews practically prevent Christians from entering Jerusalem.

He also called for making obstacles towards the expansion of Christianity and Islam in annexed Jerusalem.

According to Days of Palestine, the extremist rabbi also said that he does not mind burning mosques and churches in Jerusalem, stating that Israeli authorities must arrest Christian monks and nuns.

Gopstein is the head of an notorious extremist Israeli Jewish group called Lehava, which is responsible for insulting and harassing monks and nuns in Jerusalem.

Several Israeli groups are active in the occupied holy city, with regard to extreme Judaisation activities, including the seizing of Islamic and Christian properties.

Israeli TV has previously proved that the Israeli government stands behind these groups, although it sometimes condemns their acts in token concern.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicago’s ‘independent’ cop watchdog not so independent in Laquan McDonald case

RT | January 1, 2016

A New Year’s Eve release of hundreds of internal emails by the City of Chicago reveals the Independent Police Review Authority not living up to its name as “independent.” In one email, the mayor’s office said the IPRA was giving a “statement we approved.”

After weeks of requests from multiple media outlets, thousands of pages of emails pertaining to the Laquan McDonald case have been released. The records dump took place on Thursday – New Year’s Eve – the start of a long holiday weekend when most people are more focused on celebrating. On October 20, 2014, 17-year-old McDonald was walking away from police while carrying a small knife when he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who this week pled not guilty to murder charges following the release of a dashcam video last month.

The IPRA is billed as a civilian agency within the city government. It is responsible for assessing police shootings, but many emails reveal that the agency coordinated its handling of the case with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staff.

On December 5, 2014, former IPRA chief Scott Ando emailed Janey Rountree, Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, to provide a “list of cases pending review by either the [State Attorney’s Office] or the [US Attorney’s Office]” involving Chicago police misconduct. Ando also indicated which officers were being charged at the time.

“In this case it was a status update on cases that were being reviewed by prosecutors for possible criminal investigation. The mayor’s office obviously does not direct investigations, nor are any employees involved in those investigations,” Adam Collins, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

In another email to Rountree, Collins expressed frustration with the IPRA for not taking his advice when responding to a question from the media regarding McDonald.

That May 26 email reads in part, “Against my recommendation, IPRA has already provided this response that was a little antagonistic. I’ve asked that they follow up with this as well to soften and reinforce their message,” while going on to provide a paragraph that played up IPRA’s investigatory powers and its independence.

In an earlier email dated April 10 to Stephen Patton Collins, a top legal adviser to Mayor Emanuel, Collins had expressed more satisfaction with the IPRA. In that one he reported that Jeremy Gorner of the Chicago Tribune had “just asked IPRA about the McDonald settlement,” alluding to the $5 million civil payout to the McDonald family.

“IPRA is giving him the statement we approved,” Collins wrote, going on to paste the two sentence statement.

On November 18, a week before the release of the dashcam footage showing McDonald’s killing, Collins emailed several representatives of police and law departments telling them, “we need one voice on this topic,” and then provided a “city statement” to provide talking points.

“Here’s a first crack. I don’t think we should stray far from where we have been all along on this,” the email reads, before providing a draft of an official explanation as to why the video has yet to be released.

The dump of internal emails has only fueled more criticism of Chicago’s government on social media and in the streets of Chicago, where protests calling for Emanuel’s resignation have not let up.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Emanuel’s home for the third evening in a row on Thursday, promising to show up for at least another 13 days to symbolize the 16 gunshots McDonald took from police.

Elsewhere on New Year’s Eve, protesters temporarily took over parts of City Hall and a Hyatt hotel lobby.

These demonstrations were anticipated in some of the released emails. In one dated November 20, a campaign donor of Emanuel, Graham Grady, writes to Stephen Patton, one of Emanuel’s top advisers, offering to finance what could be described as controlled opposition.

“Steve, I love Chicago and I’m concerned that the city may erupt when and if the video gets out,” Grady writes. “What if the Mayor and some community leaders such as Fr. Pfleger lead a peaceful demonstration with 100+ African-American youth wearing red mortar boards to symbolize education as the solution while also invoking the image of Laquan McDonald in a positive manner?”

“You can get red mortar board caps for $10 bucks a piece. I’ll pay for 100 of them. Please let me know if I may be of assistance in helping in any way,” the email ends.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Losing Ground: 2015 Proved a ‘Lost Year’ for Turkey

Sputnik – 01.01.2016

In an interview with CNBC, Unicredit Bank AG’s Chief Economist for Central and Eastern Europe Lubomir Mitov said that Ankara could derive enormous benefit from the situation in Europe and capitalize on low oil prices, but instead it had lost all its economic advantages, quarreled with all its neighbors, and spoiled ties with Russia.

According to Mitov, 2015 was a “lost year” for Turkey, which missed many opportunities because of the deterioration of the geopolitical situation.

He said that in particular, Turkey could have “benefited tremendously” from the current situation in Europe, where the Central Bank has  increased asset purchases to try to keep the economy afloat. Still, those gains were never achieved due to internal political strife and geopolitics, Mitov recalled.

“Turkey is underperforming [and] has been underperforming for the full year…it’s even underperforming after the elections,” he said.

He also pointed out that “Turkey is probably 3 to 4 percent weaker than it should have been after the elections, but for these geopolitical problems.”

Even though the previous government tried to develop friendly relations with its neighboring states, Turkey now has “almost no neighbors left, according to Mitov, who recalled that Ankara earlier sparked rows with Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

The situation is further exacerbated by Turkey’s increased tensions in relations with Russia after Ankara’s downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber. In response, “Moscow clamped down on agricultural imports, set stringent visa limits, and restricted tourism to Turkey,” according to Mitov.

He was echoed by Peter Toogood, an investment director at City Financial Investment Company Limited, who was quoted by CNBS as saying that a lack of structural reforms has stopped Turkey from capitalizing on “the full benefits of economic boons like low oil prices.”

“The lira continues to decline, it has had no meaningful impact … the oil price has come down, [and] it should be the absolute example of a beneficiary, and it hasn’t been,” Toogood said.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Washington Shelves New Sanctions Against Iran

Sputnik – 01.01.2016

The US government prepared sanctions against Iran because of its ballistic missile defence program, but has now postponed their implementation, the US press reported on Wednesday.

The Obama administration is still intent on punishing Iran for developing the missiles, which it allegedly tested earlier this month. However, sanctions in connection with the ballistic missile program have been delayed, according to US officials.

​​On Wednesday the US Treasury announced a list of companies and individuals in Iran, the UAE and Hong Kong that are to be targeted by sanctions because they are alleged to have assisted Iran in the development of the missiles. The sanctions would freeze the US-held assets of those entities, and forbid US companies from trading with sanctioned firms.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called the sanctions an example of the US’ “hostile policies and illegal meddling,” and instructed Iran’s Defence Ministry to step up the development of the missiles.

​Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari on Thursday stressed that Iran’s missile program is for purely defensive purposes, and is only capable of firing conventional rockets, not nuclear warheads.

​“As the US officials have mentioned before, [the Iranian] missile program is not related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” said Jaber Ansari.

“There is nothing to prevent Iran from pursuing its legitimate right to reinforce its defensive strength and national security.”

In July the Iranian government and the P5+1 group of countries reached a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, in which Iran agreed to restrictions on its capability to enrich uranium in return for the eventual lifting of economic sanctions.

Last week Iran shipped nine tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia as part of the deal, and in return received 137 tons of natural uranium for use in nuclear energy reactors.

December 9, 2015:

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Video, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment