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Bahrain Strips Leading Shia Majority Cleric Figure of Citizenship

Sputnik — 20.06.2016

_90037993_mediaitem90037992Sunni-ruled Bahrain has deprived leading Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassim of his citizenship, media reported Monday.

According to the BBC, Bahrain stripped Qassim, who is the spiritual leader of Al-Wefaq, Bahrain’s biggest opposition group, and holds the senior religious title of Ayatollah, of his citizenship.

On June 14, Bahrain’s Court of Cassation ruled to close all offices of Al-Wefaq in a response to an appeal lodged by the country’s Ministry of Justice.

Al-Wefaq has organized mass protest rallies against the current constitutional monarchy in Bahrain. Al-Wefaq’s leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to four years in prison for inciting hatred and disobedience as well as insulting public institutions in 2015. Earlier in June, the court decided to increase the sentence to nine years.

Since 2011, the Sunni regime in Bahrain became locked in a struggle with an opposition movement led primarily by Shiites, who form a majority in the country. The protesters were calling for political freedom, equality and a parliamentary system that operates independently of Bahrain’s Sunni royal family.

Related:

UK ‘Unconditional Ally’ of Bahrain Despite ‘Inhumane Human Rights Record’

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Qarawah water apartheid

IWPS | June 21, 2016

Deir Istiya, occupied Palestine – When Aziz ‘Aasee, the mayor of Qarawah Bani Hassan village drives through the streets, we’re stopped every few meters by one of his constituents, all of whom are asking the same question: When will we have water again? For some, the question is a joke; they are used to going without water for days, weeks, or even months each summer. Others are more aggressive, and the question comes off as a threat. People are looking for someone to blame for their thirst. The mayor, who is responsible for paying the town’s water bills, seems like an easy target.

In reality, there is little Aziz can do to ensure that his town has enough water. The village shares a water access network with two other municipalities, Sarta and Biddya. The three villages, with a combined population of approximately 30,000 people, depend on one 8 inch pipe, designed to deliver 145 cubic meters of water per hour. During the winter months when water tables are higher, the water flows at full capacity, ensuring coverage to the entire network. However for the past two months, the amount has been restricted to between 50 and 70 cubic meters per hour. With such a small amount in the pipes, the pressure is too low for the water to reach many of the houses at the end of the system. Qarawah, which sits at the highest elevation out of the three villages, suffers the most from the low water pressure: no house in the village has received water in over a week. The most remote properties have gone dry for over a month.

Qarawah's only potable water source

Qarawah’s only potable water source

Mekorot, the Israeli national water company which ostensibly owns the water infrastructure in question, and controls 87% of the aquifer located inside the West Bank, lies at the root of the problem. Since 1982, when the Israeli military sold their control of the West Bank’s water resources to Mekorot for a mere Shekel, the company has become the main enforcer of water apartheid between the Palestinians, and Israelis living in illegal settlements. While settlements enjoy a 24/7 supply of water year round, Mekorot caps its supply to Palestinians at the levels stipulated in the Oslo agreements over 20 years ago. Since then, the population of the West Bank has grown exponentially, and almost no improvements to Palestinian water infrastructure have been made. The Israeli military administration in the West Bank only makes matters worse. They routinely deny permits for new wells and pipes that would benefit villages like Qarawah by providing alternative sources of water or improving water pressure. In addition, the Israeli military has demolished 50 water and sanitation structures owned by Palestinians in 2016 alone. The result is that Palestinians have essentially no control over any of the water within their borders, or the infrastructure to deliver it.

Negotiations with Mekorot are almost impossible for small municipalities like Qarawah. Officials in the district capital of Salfit have spent the past two months trying to persuade the Israelis to increase the water supply without result. Even on the national level, appointees from the Palestinian Authority have refused to negotiate with Mekorot and the Israeli military administration. Aziz, for his part, chiefly contacts Mekorot through one of their Palestinian employees, and the communication is confusing at best. The representative will promise to show up on a certain day, and then never arrives. Or he’ll leave an update to say the water supply will be increased for one night to 100 cubic meters per hour, enough to ensure that at least some homes in Qarawah will receive water, yet the taps remain empty. Meanwhile, the illegal settlement of Kiryat Netafim, easily visible on a neighbouring hillside, boasts green lawns. It’s clear from a glance that the settlements are receiving more than adequate service from the same company.

A few times over the past weeks, the municipalities of Qarawah, Satra and Biddya have called for popular protests, gathering at the meter access point for their shared pipe. Small groups of children and young men beat empty water bottles with sticks and shouted “Bidna may, bidna may” – “we want water” – at passing cars. Regardless, many in the three towns are afraid of a backlash from the protests. Shortly after the protests, armed Israeli soldiers arrived at the meter, demanding that the organizers cancel, or face repercussions. While it’s unclear what sort of consequences might be imposed, some worry that the water might be cut off completely as an act of collective punishment.

"Bidna may" - we want water protest

“Bidna may” – we want water protest

With no solution in sight, the villagers of Qarawah are finding ways to mitigate the effects of living under water apartheid. Villagers are using bottled water for drinking and showers, and hauling water up from local springs, located 4-6 kilometres outside the village limits, to use in toilets and irrigation. The springs also provide a small amount of potable water. However, this is not nearly enough to meet the village’s needs. Some houses in the village also have private wells; but with the summer stretching ahead, these limited resources are sure to be depleted far too soon. So until Mekorot is disbanded, or agrees to give equal service to Palestinians, the people of Qarawah will continue to suffer.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook and the Israeli Government Cozy Up

IMEMC – June 20, 2016

Facebook, in present-day Israel, has hired Jordana Cutler as its head of Policy and Communications. Cutler is a longtime senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and chief of staff to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer.

According to the Alternative Information Center in Beit Sahour, Israeli Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan congratulated Cutler on her appointment, last week, at the Hezliya conference, an Israeli security and national policy meeting.

“There has been an advance in dialogue between the State of Israel and Facebook,” he acknowledged. He added, “Facebook realizes that it has a responsibility to monitor its platform and remove content. I hope it will be regulated for good.”

Cutler’s appointment indicates a burgeoning partnership between the Israeli government and Facebook. Considering Israel’s propensity to arrest Palestinians for Facebook posts and its endeavors to silence the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, such collaboration is cause for concern.

Since the popular uprising started in October 2015, Israel has arrested at least 150 Palestinians over Facebook posts it labeled as “incitement.”

The Israeli government allocated $26 million for 2016 to launch cyber warfare to “dismantle the infrastructure” of the BDS movement. The BDS National Committee surmises that Israel is be behind cyber attacks meant to shut down its website.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Call for a National Debate on U.S. “Regime Change” Policy

By Center for Citizen Initiatives

On June 16, the New York Times reported :

“More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been “overwhelmed” by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process.”

We are a group of concerned U.S. citizens currently visiting Russia with the goal of increasing understanding and reducing international tension and conflict. We are appalled by this call for direct U.S. aggression against Syria, and believe it points to the urgent need for open public debate on U.S. foreign policy.

We note the following:

(1) The memo is inaccurate. There is no ‘cease-fire’ in Syria. The ‘cessation of hostilities’ which was agreed to has never included the major terrorist groups fighting to overthrow the government in Syria. This includes Nusra (Al Qaeda), ISIS and their fighting allies.

(2) A U.S. attack on Syria would be an act of aggression in clear violation of the UN Charter. (Ref 1)

(3) The supplying of weapons, funding and other support to armed groups fighting the Syrian government is also a violation of international law. (Ref 2)

(4) A U.S. attack on Syria would lead to more bloodshed and risk potential military confrontation with Russia. With arsenals of nuclear weapons on both sides, the outcome could be catastrophic.

(5) It is not the right of the USA or any other foreign country to determine who should lead the Syrian government. That decision should be made by the Syrian people. A worthy goal could be internationally supervised elections with all Syrians participating to decide their national government.

(6) The memo reportedly says, “It is time that the United States, guided by our strategic interests and moral convictions, lead a global effort to put an end to this conflict once and for all.” Similar statements and promises have been made regarding Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. In all three cases, terrorism and sectarianism have multiplied, the conflicts still rage, and huge amounts of money and lives have been wasted.

In light of the above, and the danger of escalating global conflict:

  • We urge State Department officials to seek non-military solutions in conformity with the U.N. Charter and international law.
  • We urge the U.S. Administration to stop funding and supplying weapons to armed ‘rebels’ in violation of international law and end the policy of forced “regime change”.
  • We call for an urgent nation-wide public debate on the U.S. policy of “regime change”.

The Center for Citizens Initiative (CCI) delegation currently visiting Russia includes:

Ann Wright, retired United States Army Colonel and U.S. State Department official. Ann received the U.S. State Department Award for Heroism in 1997 after helping evacuate several thousand persons during the Sierra Leone Civil War. She was one of three U.S. State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Elizabeth Murray, retired Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

Raymond McGovern, retired CIA analyst (1963 to 1990) who worked in the Washington, DC White House and prepared daily briefs for seven Presidents. In the 1980s Ray chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and the U.S. Presidents’ Daily Briefs. Ray is the founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Kathy Kelly, peace activist, pacifist and author. She is a founding members of Voices in the Wilderness and is currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kathy has traveled to Iraq 26 times, notably remaining in combat zones during the early days of the US-Iraq wars. Her recent work took her to Afghanistan and Gaza.

David Hartsough, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce and the “World Beyond War.” David is a life-long peace activist, peace maker, and author “Waging Peace: Global Adventurers of a Lifelong Activist.”

William H Warrick III, retired Family Physician and 25-year member of Veterans For Peace. Former US Army Security Agency Intelligence Analyst (1968 – 1971).

Sharon Tennison, President and Founder of the Center for Citizen Initiatives. Sharon has 33 years of experience working in USSR/Russia (1983 to present).

Robert Alberts, MBA, Accountant. Bob volunteers with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Peter Bergel, Oregon PeaceWorks Board member and PeaceWorker news magazine editor.

Karen Chester, optometrist by vocation and a peace activist volunteer for two decades. Karen’s greatest concern has been and is the plight of Central American peoples, supporting those who come to the U.S. fleeing violence and poverty.

Alix Foster, Native Peoples Law Attorney in La Conner, WA. Alix volunteers for a number of positive causes, particularly with respect to Native America issues.

Jan Hartsough is an educator and community organizer. Jan worked for American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) for many years and currently works at the grassroots level to help African women gain access to safer water.

Paul Hartsough, Ph.D., clinical psychologist. Paul focuses on conflict resolution and how we can survive as one global family in the nuclear age.

Martha Hennessy, retired occupational therapist. Martha volunteers at the New York Catholic Worker.

Bob Spies, website developer, technical support for CCI, and activist for a number of non-violent causes. Bob previously was a participant in Beyond War.

Rick Sterling , retired aerospace engineer, Vice-Chair Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center, co-founder Syria Solidarity Movement, Board President Task Force on the Americas.

Hakim Young is a Singaporean medical doctor who lives in Afghanistan part of the year. He is active with Afghan Peace volunteers and is deeply concerned about US-Russia relations.

References:

(1) UN Charter Preamble: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other matter inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”. The first purpose of the United Nations is “To maintain international peace and security, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.”

(2) On June 27, 1986 the International Court at the Hague issued its legal ruling in the case of Nicaragua vs. United States. The ruling was as follows:

Decision of the International Court at the Hague

Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the “contra” forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State.

By “training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying” the military rebel groups waging war against the Damascus government, the US and “friends” are committing the same crime that the USA was responsible for committing against Nicaragua in the 1980’s.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

‘Hillary Clinton: The neoconservative candidate who will make war against Syria’

Haiphong_HillaryAIPAC

RT | June 19, 2016

We topple governments in the Middle East that we don’t like and we encourage movements that will help us in this – regardless of how dangerous these allies are, Karen Kwiatkowsky, retired US Air Force officer, told RT.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, led by Kurdish groups, have entered the town of Manbij after they surrounded ISIS militants there. But at the same time dozens of US State Department officials have urged Barack Obama in a memo to launch air strikes against Bashar al-Assad’s forces, something that would contradict current White House foreign policy.

RT: The memo essentially contradicts Kerry’s earlier attempts to broker peace in Syria. How do you account for this rift at the State Department?

Karen Kwiatkowsky: I think that this administration is running out of time. And it is true that Barack Obama has kind of been a barrier to some of the more aggressive policies that have been emanating from both State Department and the Pentagon. But at the same time, this administration and the life spans of these political appointees, these ambassadors, many of whom signed on to this very aggressive warmongering letter, their life span is limited, they have basically 6 months to go. Very likely they will not retain their appointments in a new administration. Certainly, if Hillary Clinton is elected, I imagine many of these war mongering State Department officials are appointees or friends of Hillary Clinton, people who agree with her approach. So, I do see this as somewhat aimed at engaging politically in the domestic events here in the US. We have an election coming. Clinton is very besieged by many things. But she is the neoconservative candidate. She is the candidate who will make this war, if this war on Assad is to be stepped up. She is the one that will do that and these are her people. And they don’t have a lot of time left.

RT: Do you think that the differences that we’ve seen in the State Department are just there or this is something that is indicative of differences throughout the administration? 

KK: This release to the New York Times is a political event. This is aimed at making policy when there is very little time left to make that policy. If you read the letter, it doesn’t offer really any new strategy. And Obama has been accused of having no real strategy. This is not a new strategy; this is not a replacement strategy. This is bomb and ‘show the flag’. And it is being put forth not by the Air Force, not by the Pentagon – who you might presume might know something about fighting. Certainly, we cannot take ground from the air and this is precisely what they are advocating is airstrikes, which have long been proven to be ineffective. That is why I see it as a political thing and not an actual strategy. There is very little strategy there. What they are putting forth won’t work, is known not to work by even the advocates of violence in the Pentagon know that it won’t work. So, it is not a very good solution. Therefore, I have to conclude that it is aimed at politically communicating something. And I find it remarkable and hilarious that this letter was released and put up through the channel for dissent. These 51 warmongering diplomats are dissenters. That is just absolutely spectacular.

RT: Just a few days ago, John Kerry said the US is losing patience with Assad.  Does that kind of rhetoric not undermine the peace he’s supposedly trying to broker?

KK: It is typical of John Kerry’s entire approach from the time he has been the Secretary of State. He is trying to walk two different paths and you can’t do that: threatening and negotiating. But the threats are empty. And it is well-known in the region since we have been intervening and interfering and bombing for so long now. The people in the Middle East both are allies and our enemies if you want to consider Assad and Iran as our enemies. All of them know us very well now. They know how we operate; they know to call our bluffs. Our bluffs aren’t bluffs anymore, they are just empty conversation. Kerry hasn’t changed; his policies and approaches have been the same. He is just ineffective. And he is ineffective because our own fundamental policy is not what he says. And it is not what the president says. It is what we actually do. And what we actually do has been reported for years: we topple governments in the Middle East that we don’t like and we encourage movements that will help us in this – regardless of how dangerous or how empty or how incompatible with liberty and our own value system these allies are. And this is why we find ourselves supporting ISIS and fighting with people who are doing terribly destructive things and we can’t say anything bad about them because they are our allies. We’ve got ourselves into this situation; I don’t think it is fair to blame Kerry as an individual. He is representing a system that has no credibility. And certainly you can’t believe a word that is said by an American politician when it comes to what we will and what we won’t do in the Middle East.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Orlando: The New 9/11?

By Ron Paul – June 20, 2016

Last week America was rocked by the cold-blooded murder of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Unlike the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Orlando shooter appears to be a lone gunman who, while claiming allegiance to ISIS, was not actually working with a terrorist group. About the only thing Orlando has in common with 9/11 is the way power-hungry politicians and federal officials wasted no time using it to justify expanding government and restricting liberty.

Immediately following the shooting, we began to hear renewed calls for increased government surveillance of Muslims, including spying on Muslim religious services. Although the Orlando shooter was born in the US, some are using the shooting to renew the debate over Muslim immigration. While the government certainly should prevent terrorists from entering the country, singling out individuals for government surveillance and other violations of their rights because of religious faith violates the First Amendment and establishes a dangerous precedent that will be used against other groups. In addition, scapegoating all Muslims because of the act of one deranged individual strengthens groups like ISIS by making it appear that the US government is at war with Islam.

The Orlando shooting is being used to justify mass surveillance and warrantless wiretapping. For the past three years, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill limiting mass surveillance. But, last week, the same amendment was voted down. The only difference between this year’s debate and previous debates was that this year defenders of the surveillance state were able to claim that the Orlando shooting justifies shredding the Fourth Amendment.

The fact that the Orlando shooter had twice been investigated by the FBI shows that increased surveillance and wiretapping would not have prevented the shooting. Mass surveillance also creates a “needle in a haystack” problem that can make it difficult, or impossible, for law enforcement to identify real threats. Unfortunately, evidence that giving up liberty does not increase security has never deterred those who spread fear to gain support for increased government power.

The Orlando shooter successfully passed several background checks and was a licensed security guard. But, just like those who used Orlando to defend unconstitutional surveillance, authoritarian supporters of gun control are not allowing facts to stand in the way of using the Orlando shooting to advance their agenda. Second Amendment opponents are using Orlando to give the federal government new powers to violate individuals’ rights without due process. One pro-gun control senator actually said that “due process is what’s killing us.”

Ironically, if not surprisingly, one of those calling for new gun control laws is Hillary Clinton. When she was sectary of state, Clinton supported interventions in the Middle East that resulted in ISIS obtaining firearms paid for by US taxpayers!

Mass surveillance, gun control, and other restrictions on our liberty will not prevent future Orlandos. In fact, by preventing law-abiding Americans from defending themselves, gun control laws make us less safe from criminals. Similarly, mass surveillance and warrantless wiretapping erode our rights while making it more difficult for law enforcement to identify real threats.

If Congress really cared about our security and liberty, it would repeal all federal gun laws, end all unconstitutional surveillance, and end the hyper-interventionist foreign policy that causes many around the world to resent the US.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia | , , | 1 Comment

After Orlando, Democrats and Republicans Clamor for Expanded Police State

clinton trump

By Eric Draitser | Stop Imperialism | June 16, 2016

The horrific massacre in Orlando has once again thrust the specter of domestic terrorism into the limelight, and into the media space. Pundits and politicians alike have taken the incident as yet another opportunity to thump their chests about the need for even more counter-terrorism legislation, a further increase in surveillance state activity and, of course, more war abroad.

And while such opportunists posture as defenders of the American people, none care to face the inescapable reality that since 9-11, and the introduction of numerous pieces of draconian legislation ostensibly aimed at combatting terrorism, the agencies charged with surveillance and law enforcement have not managed to prevent attacks. Obviously, this raises the question of what exactly legislation such as the PATRIOT Act is really intended for if not to ‘keep Americans safe.’

But even more critical than retrospective criticism of the erosion of civil liberties after nearly a decade and a half of propaganda and fearmongering, is the need to oppose the further expansion of such legislation and domestic spying programs.  Indeed, while what were once considered rights are now seen as passé, the US is staring down the barrel of a presidential election where the leading candidates are calling for even more surveillance, expanded government databases, and more billions of dollars to be poured into the NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, and the rest of the alphabet soup that comprises Police State USA.

Clinton, Trump, and Death as Political Currency

In the immediate aftermath of the heinous slaughter in Orlando, the neoconservative-neoliberal chimera known as Hillary Clinton predictably called for an expansion of surveillance and the police state. Less than 48 hours after the attack, in a speech in Cleveland, Clinton proclaimed:

We already know we need more resources for this fight. The professionals who keep us safe would be the first to say we need better intelligence to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out. That’s why I’ve proposed an ‘intelligence surge’ to bolster our capabilities across the board, with appropriate safeguards here at home.

As with all things Hillary, one must carefully deconstruct the statement to unravel the distortions and empty rhetoric, and distill her actual proposal. The first part of her statement is instantly suspect as the US has already grossly inflated its intelligence budget. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the 2017 intelligence budget will reach nearly $70 billion, with $50 billion being spent on the National Intelligence Program (NIP).  One would have to seriously question the logic in Clinton’s statement, namely the implied consensus about the need for more resources. How much more exactly will prevent incidents like the one in Orlando? Perhaps another $50 billion would do the trick?

The second fallacy embedded in the torrent of misinformation that is a Hillary Clinton speech excerpt is the specious argument that “better intelligence” would “discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out.” This vacuous statement must be dismissed out of hand after one considers the fact that the alleged Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, was investigated, followed, and interviewed by the FBI multiple times (he was also introduced to FBI informants whose responsibility was likely to keep tabs on him).

So, according to Clinton the US should spend tens of billions more dollars to fund the agencies and programs that already have the ability to single out a potential terrorist, do all the leg work to establish contact with him, invest human resources into his case, and yet still be unable to stop his alleged actions. To put it in terms Hillary’s Wall Street patrons would understand: sounds like a bad investment strategy.

The third unmistakably wrongheaded statement (I only selected three sentences, so she’s 3 for 3) is the absolutely odious suggestion of an “intelligence surge” to improve the capabilities of the intelligence community. In fact, what Clinton is actually suggesting is a massive increase in contracts awarded to private intelligence firms and military contractors, though veiling it as a boost to the intelligence community. This fact is made clear by the renowned investigative journalist Tim Shorrock in his 2008 book Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing where he notes that:

In 2006… the cost of America’s spying and surveillance activities outsourced to contractors reached $42 billion, or about 70 percent of the estimated $60 billion the government spends every year on foreign and domestic intelligence. Unfortunately, we cannot know the true extent of outsourcing, for two reasons. First, in 2007, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) refused to release an internal report on contracting out of fear that its disclosure would harm U.S. national security interests. Second, most intelligence contracts are classified, allowing companies like CACI to hide their activities behind a veil of secrecy.

Think about that figure for a second: 70 percent of the intelligence budget goes to outsourcing. In other words, government expenditure on surveillance and intelligence is an indirect subsidy to private corporations. This should come as no surprise considering similar indirect subsidies to energy companies, private mercenaries, and even big retail corporations.

Of course, Clinton knows all this perfectly well. So when she calls for an intelligence surge what she’s actually doing is making clear to her military-industrial-surveillance complex cronies that she will make sure to feed the goose that continues to lay the golden eggs. Just like her speeches to Goldman Sachs served to reassure Wall Street that she was their lady, so too does Clinton use the tragic events in Orlando to give a wink and a nod to Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, and the rest.

As with all things Clinton, her words drip with cynicism like her hands drip with the blood of Libyans, Syrians, Iraqis, Serbians, and countless others.

It should be mentioned too that aside from just funding, Clinton undoubtedly represents a further rightward shift in terms of “anti-terror” legislation – the kinds of bills that she’d promote and sign into law as president would be, to put it bluntly, no different than the Bush era bills that she supported such as the PATRIOT Act.  As Conor Friedersdorf noted in The Atlantic in 2015:

[Clinton] served in the United States Senate from 2001 to 2009. She cast votes that enabled the very NSA spying that many now regard as a betrayal. And she knew all about what the NSA wasn’t telling the public. To say now that the NSA should’ve been more transparent raises this question: Why wasn’t Clinton among the Democrats working for more transparency?

Friedersdorf is being much too kind with his concluding rhetorical question. Clinton is perhaps one of the most hawkish surveillance state proponents in the US. Her total disregard for even the basic tenets of the US Constitution, let alone domestic or international law, make her not only unfit for office, but a dangerous criminal.

And then of course there’s the trainwreck made flesh, Donald Trump, who with his typically bombastic and utterly vacuous public statements has once again managed to make the criminal Hillary into the “sensible one.” In a speech on Monday June 13, Trump reverted to his usual racist demagogy that is light on actual policy prescriptions and heavy on xenophobia, racism, and outright lies. But in the midst of the Trump madness, there are indeed kernels of policy that should be worrying.

During the speech Trump called, once again, for a ban on Muslim immigration to the US, warning of “major consequences” for the Muslim community in the country. But Trump went further saying, “We have a dysfunctional immigration system, which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly.” Again, Trump provides no specific policy prescription, but the implication from his statement is an increase in surveillance of citizens domestically, as well as presumably the codification of a deeply racist immigration system which would discriminate based on religion and/or ethnicity.

Trump continued, saying “With these people, folks, it’s coming. We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president.” Here again Trump aligns with Clinton. While supposedly the two are opposed to one another, the fact is that both accept the false assumption that our problems would be solved if only we could just stop “holding back” the intelligence community. Clinton calls for a surge while Trump calls for taking off the training wheels. Sort of like an argument about which is better Pepsi or orange juice.

The Police State Is Not the Answer

While the Demopublican-Republicrat Party continues its political posturing, the assumptions that both have internalized are what need to be excised from the body politic. It is patently absurd to call for more surveillance in a country where, thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know the following:

  • The PRISM program allows “The National Security Agency and the FBI [to tap] directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, emails, documents, and connection logs.” According to cybersecurity experts PRISM uses obviously illegal tactics to “circumvent formal legal processes… to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos.”
  • The BLARNEY system is utilized extensively. According to former AT&T technician Mark Klein and former Senior Advisor for Internet Technology at the FCC Scott Marcus, “Using a device called a ‘splitter’ a complete copy of the internet traffic that AT&T receives… is diverted onto a separate fiber-optic cable which is connected to a room which is controlled by the NSA.” Therefore, unlike PRISM, which the government and its apologists attempt to justify as being used to target key individuals, BLARNEY has no such capacity. Rather, it is designed solely to collect data, all internet data, to be used and likely stored.
  • The NSA has constructed enormous data storage facilities such as the Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. As one top security official told Wired, “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

Naturally, there is not nearly enough space here to detail all of the myriad surveillance programs. But, taking them together with what we know of government funding to private intelligence firms, how could anyone rightly argue that surveillance should be increased? If anything, the enormous expenditure has proven utterly useless.

Indeed, the legal framework developed in the post-9/11 era including draconian legislation such as the PATRIOT Act, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and many others, laid the foundation for the systemic and systematic stripping away of civil liberties and human rights. The technical infrastructure has been steadily evolving since 9/11 as technology continues to improve, providing the intelligence agencies with ever more tools for surveillance and intelligence gathering. The continued, unrestrained neoliberal policy of privatization has created a complex network of companies, contractors, and subcontractors, usually working independently of each other, all in the service of the security state. Finally, the political landscape in the United States has so thoroughly devolved that elected officials are more concerned about stopping the whistleblowers and leakers, than about addressing America’s continued descent into a fascist police state.

Such is the state of the union in 2016. And while the aspiring Mass Murderer-in-Chief Clinton continues to attack the political snake-charmer Trump, and The Donald does what The Donald does, the bodies of 50 innocent people are being laid to rest. Must the values and freedoms that the US allegedly once stood for also be buried?

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The FBI, Not “ISIS,” Radicalized the Orlando Shooter

By Tony Cartalucci | Land Destroyer | June 20, 2016

As predicted, the FBI is revealed to have approached Orlando shooting suspect Omar Mateen in 2013 with informants posing as terrorists in an attempt to “lure” him into participating in a terrorist attack.

Image: As scary as any cartoon villain – and ironically – quite literally a manufactured villain. Marcus Robertson is not only a former US Marine, but also a long-time CIA and FBI asset. He runs an extremist website on American soil with absolute impunity and is likely one component of the FBI’s counterterror entrapment pipeline.

USA Today’s TC Palm reports in an article titled, “Exclusive: PGA Village residents want answers from security firm,” that (emphasis added):

The FBI launched an investigation into Mateen after Sheriff’s Office officials reported the incident to the agency. As part of its investigation, the FBI examined Mateen’s travel history, phone records, acquaintances and even planted a confidential informant in the courthouse to “lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite,” Mascara said. The FBI concluded Mateen was not a threat after that, Mascara said.

This is in line with the FBI’s practice of approaching and entrapping potential terror suspects by posing as terrorists themselves and aiding and abetting them in the planning and preparations for high-profile attacks. These undercover operations include everything from “casing out” potential targets, to the obtaining and training with actual, live explosives, to the purchasing of small arsenals of firearms including the sort of semi-automatic rifles and pistols used by Mateen during the Orlando shooting.

In addition to the FBI’s undercover operation, it is now also revealed that Mateen frequented the website of another FBI/CIA informant, Marcus Dwayne Roberson, a former US Marine, turned bank robber, turned US government informant.

While US politicians, law enforcement officials, and media networks attempt to claim Robertson’s extremist website, the Timbuktu Seminary, was his own independent project, the extent of his association with the US government makes this difficult, if not impossible to believe. Instead, it appears to be the perfect mechanism to feed the FBI’s entrapment pipeline, attracting and identifying possible suspects for the FBI to then approach and “investigate.”

The National Review’s article, “The Orlando Jihadist and the Blind Sheikh’s Bodyguard,” would report (emphasis added):

According to Fox News, Omar Mateen, the jihadist who carried out the mass-murder attack at a gay nightclub in Florida this weekend, was a student of Marcus Robertson, an Orlando-based radical Muslim who once served as a bodyguard to Omar Abdel Rahman — the notorious “Blind Sheikh” whom I prosecuted for terrorism crimes in the early to mid 1990s.

The National Review also reported that (emphasis added):

In Robertson’s case, it is reported that he agreed to work for the government, gathering intelligence both overseas and in the United States. According to Fox, however, he was expelled from the covert informant program in early 2007 after attacking his CIA handler in Africa.

But Robertson’s stint with the CIA was not the only time he would work for the US government after his service in the US Marine Corps. The National Review leaves out the fact that before his dismissal from the CIA, he was an informant for the FBI between 2004 and 2007.

The Daily Beast in its article, “Was Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Inspired by This Bank-Robbing Ex-Marine?,” would report (emphasis added):

“Plaintiff worked as a covert operator for the FBI Terrorist Task Force from 2004 until 2007, performing operations in the United Sates and internationally with and against suspected and known terrorist organizations,” Robertson says in court papers.

Robertson remained in touch with American law enforcement and intelligence officials when he moved back to the United States, according to court papers filed by his attorney, “served as a confidential source in domestic terrorism investigations from Atlanta to Los Angeles.”

Is the American public expected to believe that a US government asset who received special training in the military and served as an informant and operative for both the FBI and the CIA would somehow, suddenly be allowed to drop off the US government’s radar and be allowed to run an extremist website in the United States?

Image: How far do undercover FBI investigations go? How about building a van-bomb for a suspect after taking him to a public park to detonate real explosives? The FBI’s own affidavit reveals that is precisely what FBI informants did while investigating Portland, Oregon terror suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud. Did the FBI’s attempts to lure the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, into committing a terror attack contribute in his radicalization? The FBI must answer to this.  

Indeed, no American should believe this. Robertson was step one in Omar Mateen – the Orlando shooter’s – radicalization. The FBI’s attempt to pose as terrorists to lure Mateen into going along with a terrorist attack was step two. Though the FBI has so far failed to disclose the details of that investigation, comments made by FBI Director James Comey himself indicate that FBI informants may have worked on Mateen for up to 10 months.

Between exposure to Robertson’s extremist propaganda, honed after years of working as an informant and operative identifying and exposing terror suspects, and the FBI’s own informants over the course of months, if not years, it is clear that the US government and its “counterterrorism” measures radicalized Mateen – not “ISIS.”

The Guardian in its article, “CIA has not found any link between Orlando killer and Isis, says agency chief,” further highlights this blatant truth by reporting (emphasis added):

The Central Intelligence Agency chief has not been “able to uncover any link” between Orlando killer Omar Mateen and the Islamic State, despite Mateen’s stated allegiance to the jihadist group during Sunday’s LGBT nightclub massacre.

If Omar Mateen was a “homegrown terrorist,” the FBI served as the gardeners.

The American public must now demand the details of the FBI’s undercover work regarding Omar Mateen, as well as the truth behind any enduring ties between Robertson and the US government. If Robertson has no connections with the US government, an explanation as to why he is allowed to operate an extremist website on American soil must be provided.

For political and ideological opportunists attempting to seize upon the Orlando tragedy to uphold an example of “Islamic extremism,” it is especially ironic that the facts indicate that the act of terrorism was entirely divorced from “Islam,” and instead the result of America’s ongoing view of terrorism as a convenient and versatile geopolitical tool, rather than a threat to genuinely combat.

That quite literally every aspect that contributed to Omar Mateen’s radicalization is directly connected to the US government itself, illustrates just who the real threat is that American’s should fear – the threat within the halls of its own government – not “terrorists” dwelling beyond them.

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment