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McCabe: A War on (or in) the FBI?

By Coleen Rowley | Consortium News | March 18, 2018

The explanation from Andrew McCabe that he was fired merely due to his staunch support of his former boss and mentor, FBI Director James Comey, and the “Russiagate” investigation, does not pass the smell test.

Similar to the one that mainstream corporate media is spinning, McCabe’s explanation almost totally ignores the fact that it was the relatively independent Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR internal affairs) who recommended firing McCabe for his “lack of candor” on (the totally unrelated issue of) granting improper press access to the Wall Street Journal during ongoing FBI investigations of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s emails.

While the exact specifics of McCabe’s “lack of candor” – which McCabe denies – haven’t been released by the IG, it’s my own personal opinion that such official briefing of the press should not necessarily be a fireable offense as long as it’s justified to correct faulty media reporting and was not covertly done for improper political reasons. But technically, firing for “lack of candor” has long been the FBI’s “bright line” policy, ever since former FBI Director Louis Freeh tried to “clean up” the FBI in the mid-1990s when so many agents, including Special Agents in Charge, were caught lying about sex affairs, improper government credit card charges and drunk driving incidents – some amounting to reckless homicides.

But of course Freeh was rather hypocritical as he was himself involved in several instances of “lack of candor” including appointing his friend, Larry Potts, as Deputy Director. This, despite the fact that Potts had covered up his own role in substituting “rules of engagement” for the FBI’s “deadly force policy” during the Ruby Ridge standoff with (the arguably unconstitutional) “rules” directing the shooting on sight of any armed male.

The cover-up of Potts’ mishandling of Ruby Ridge came to light during the criminal investigations and prosecution of the FBI sniper who had subsequently shot and killed Randy Weaver’s wife while aiming at someone else. When Pott’s role was revealed, Freeh had to censure and demote his Deputy Director; but even then Potts wasn’t actually fired.

So it may well be that “lack of candor” sets too high a standard that no one, not even the angels, let alone FBI agents and their managing officials can live up to. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ lofty statement that the FBI’s integrity is its brand, may be nice, wishful thinking but like other self-promoting speeches going back to J. Edgar Hoover, it has never rung true based on the hundreds of unethical actions I witnessed or was made aware of.

A number of OPR officials themselves were always getting caught in various unethical, deceitful (and sometimes even illegal) actions, including their long systemic practice of employing “double standards” in recommending disciplinary actions, i.e. top ranking officials received light discipline while lower ranking agents got far more severe punishments for similar wrongdoing. In 2001, some of the FBI’s internal affairs supervisors became whistleblowers and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the FBI’s disciplinary “double standards.” Although some remedies were eventually put into place, the IG also had to investigate some retaliatory fall-out.

In any event, McCabe’s calling his firing a “war on the FBI” doesn’t make sense considering it was the FBI’s own internal affairs office that recommended he be fired. (Note that DOJ IG Michael Horowitz was appointed by President Obama in 2012 and the FBI’s OPR is run by a career official originally appointed to that position in 2004 by then FBI Director Robert Mueller.)

Perhaps it would be more apt if McCabe had called it a war inside the FBI (and in Washington as a whole). Could the obvious chaos – some would say “bloodbath” – at all levels of government also be part of the “blowback” from 16 years of waging “perpetual war” (and from attendant war crimes and the internal corruption by which all empires rot)? As author Viet Thanh Nguyen noted about the 2016 election: “That sickness is imperialism… America is an imperial country, and its decay might now be showing. Empires rot from the inside even as emperors blame the barbarians.” Remember how wars have a way of migrating home.

Don’t forget that McCabe’s mentor, James Comey, as Assistant Attorney General had signed off on the Bush-Cheney Administration’s torture tactics. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (said to be “joined at the hip” with Comey) dutifully looked the other way, as then FBI Director, when the CIA’s torture program was instituted, allowing the atrocities to continue. It should also be recalled that Mueller helped the Bush-Cheney Administration to lie us into the Iraq War.

In early January, 2017 CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, NSA Director Michael Rogers and National Director of Intelligence James Clapper briefed President Obama and President-elect Trump on their “Intelligence Community Assessment” by which their agencies’ “hand-picked analysts” accused Russia of meddling in the election and which also included former MI6 spy Chris Steele’s “salacious dossier” accusing Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russians.

By prior plan, the three other intelligence directors left Comey alone in the room with Trump for Comey to confront the President-elect with the damning summary of Steele’s dossier (which Comey admitted was not verified) and, as icing on the cake, also warning Trump that these accusations would probably appear soon in the media.

Forgetful Democrat Party loyalists also should be reminded that John Brennan was termed the drone assassination and “kill list” czar (before being named CIA Director). As CIA Director, Brennan was hellbent on covering up and promoting CIA torture.

James Clapper, also not known for candor in having previously misled Congress about the NSA’s massive spying on Americans, has even been reported to be the source of the leak to CNN about the Obama intelligence directors’ January briefing that focused on the Steele dossier. It sure looks like there is plenty “lack of candor” to go around!  And plenty for these officials to continue covering up. But as Cicero observed hundreds of years ago, “the law falls silent in time of war.” At very least everyone should be wary of partisan media spin since all of these war crimes and other deceitful, illegal actions made possible by the wars are fully bipartisan.

The real problem that most of the mainstream media don’t want to even mention is how unprecedented it was to have both Presidential campaigns under serious criminal investigation in the weeks before the 2016 election! In all fairness, even if these now-fired FBI Directors were trying to do the right thing – which would not be in line with their rather sordid track records – it wouldn’t really be possible to walk that political mine field without a faux pas one way or the other. Seen in that light, it’s possible to even sympathize a little with any FBI Director when the public corruption at the highest levels in Washington DC has become so bad (and fully bipartisan), that it’s hard to know where to start.

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI special agent, division legal counsel and law enforcement ethics instructor who testified in connection with the 9-11 Joint Intelligence Committee’s Inquiry, the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation and Department of Justice Inspector General’s investigation, exposing some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Dictator’ Putin wins ‘fraud-tainted’ vote: Western media sticks to narrative on Russian election

RT | March 18, 2018

From Soviet comparisons to accusations of authoritarianism, mainstream coverage of Russia’s presidential election has barely changed since 2004, though mentions of the UK spy poisoning scandal did add a fresh layer of insinuation.

As Putin was thanking his supporters for a landslide victory from the stage in Red Square, Western outlets rolled out long, pre-written news stories, liberally mixing reporting and opinion.

“The vote was tainted by widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but the complaints will likely do little to undermine Putin,” wrote AP’s lead report. “The Russian leader’s popularity remains high despite his suppression of dissent and reproach from the West over Russia’s increasingly aggressive stance in world affairs and alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”

The Washington Post called Sunday’s vote an “elaborate presidential-election-day spectacle” that sought “to legitimize the election,” which “critics described as a charade,” by boosting the turnout as “a lack of suspense or popular opposition candidates threatened to keep people home.”

Calling the election a “hollow exercise,” the New York Times reached for the most predictable of parallels.

“Gone were the Soviet days when there was just one name on the ballot and the winner habitually harvested 99 percent of the vote. The spirit was similar, however, with pictures of Mr. Putin and his campaign slogan, ‘Strong president, strong Russia,’ blanketing the country,” it wrote.

In its top report. CNN said that Putin “seeks tighter grip on power,” while also reminding its readers that “he is already the country’s longest-serving leader since the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin” (which is not actually true – that would be Leonid Brezhnev). CNN added that Putin is “banking on confrontation with international players this election.”

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia didn’t even bother with such nuances, calling Putin a straight-up “dictator,” though the article was later amended to merely describe the vote as “inevitable.”

For the Guardian, “paradoxically, the first order of business now… is for Putin to set up an escape plan.”

“Kremlin politics have become a bloodsport,” wrote Andrew Roth, the Guardian’s correspondent for Moscow. “With a shrinking economy [also untrue] and elites manoeuvring before a possible succession battle, the knives are out.”

This year, the usual analysis was also sprinkled with allegations that a Moscow agent poisoned Sergei Skripal with the toxin “Novichok, a gruesome calling card” to provoke a British response, according to the Guardian.

“A row with London can do Putin no harm, especially among voters who share his uncompromising nationalist worldview and his smouldering sense of victimhood,” an article in the Guardian said this week.

“The diplomatic crisis this poisoning case has caused may help him get more people into polling booths,” echoed Australia’s ABC.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

US Splurges More Cash on Balkans Arms for Syria

Pentagon shopping spree for Balkans arms to equip Syrian rebels shows no sign of abating, after plans have emerged for US to buy a further 25,000 Kalashnikov-style rifles and 20 million bullets.

By Lawrence Marzouk, Ivan Angelovski, Juliana Ruhfus, Jelena Cosic | Balkan Insight | March 15, 2018

The Pentagon is planning to spend $162.5 million on weapons, ammunition and other equipment in 2019 to arm Syrian forces fighting Islamic State, ISIS, a recently released budget report reveals.

The amount comes on top of the $2.2 billion already designated by the US for arms to Syrian fighters [and other Pentagon-backed groups] from former Eastern Bloc countries – which BIRN revealed in investigation in September last year.

The operation of arming Syrian rebels already on the ground with former Eastern Bloc arms and ammunition, known as the Syria Train and Equip programme, has drawn almost entirely from the Balkans and Central Europe to date, a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2018 and 2019.

The new details of the spending have emerged as Al Jazeera English broadcasts “America’s Guns – Pipeline to Syria”, a joint investigation with Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

The probe found further evidence that arms were flowing from the Balkans to the Pentagon’s military projects in the Middle East.

BIRN tracked more than 20 Pentagon-commissioned flights leaving the island airport of Krk, Croatia, carrying unidentified military equipment to US bases, mostly in the Middle East.

The pattern of these airlifts being accompanied by inbound flights from the Azeri cargo firm Silk Way, first revealed by BIRN last October, has continued.

Serbia’s air aviation directorate told BIRN that a Silk Way flight from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Rijeka on October 5, 2017, which overflew their airspace, was given a permit for the “transportation of arms and dangerous goods”.

The Croatian authorities have refused to confirm or deny whether the flights are carrying weapons to Syria.

Questions have been raised about the ability of the US to keep track of its deliveries to anti-ISIS fighters, with evidence that Pentagon-purchased equipment is finding its way also to Islamist groups.

James Bevan, executive director of Conflict Armament Research, has documented more than 40,000 items found with ISIS in Syria, and found that many had originally been supplied by the Pentagon to its allies.

“The main issue is that if you supply weapons to non-state actors, you have very little control over what happens to those weapons,” Bevan explained, “particularly in a situation like Syria, where we have multiple competing groups.”

“That means, as somebody who is supplying weapons into that conflict, you really have no control over where they are going,” he added.

The Pentagon insists that US weapons deliveries to Syria are “incremental” and intended only for specific operations.

The new batch of weapons is needed, according to the latest Pentagon budget, to create a force capable of ensuring ”a safe and secure environment and capable of countering ISIS 2.0 and AQ [Al Qaeda].”

The equipment will be provided to 65,000 “Vetted Syrian Opposition” fighters – 30,000 of which will be tasked with offensive combat missions while the remaining 35,000 will become part of the new “Internal Security Forces”, whose job it will be to maintain security in “liberated areas”.

Currently, the Pentagon has around 30,000 vetted fighters on its books, mostly from the 50,000-strong Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF.

The US military said in January that half of the new “Internal Security Forces” – branded the “Border Security Force” at the time – would be made up of former members of the SDF.

The SDF is a coalition of different militia, widely considered to be Kurdish-led but, according to the Pentagon, split equally between Kurds and Arabs.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, YPG, is one of its most important elements and played a critical role in the battle for Raqqa, the former “capital” of the Islamic State group.

The Turkish government, however, argues that it is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Ankara considers a terrorist group. It launched an offensive against the YPG in January, placing it on a collision course with its NATO allies.

The Pentagon has sought to assuage Turkey fears by insisting that the weapons’ pipeline to these vetted forces is “mission-specific” and that new recruits would be “comprised of local forces that are demographically representative”.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Jane Mayer, the New Yorker, and the Art of the Big Russia Lie

David Remnick’s New Yorker, where Masha Gessen is always welcome, is Exhibit A in the Jewish media’s relentless lying about and demonizing of Russia, Putin, and Russiagate.

By Philip Giraldi | Russia Insider | March 15, 2018

The latest salvo in the Russiagate saga is a 15,000 word New Yorker article entitled “Christopher Steele the man behind the Trump dossier: how the ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia” by veteran journalist Jane Mayer. The premise of the piece is clear from the tediously long title, namely that the Steele dossier, which implicated Donald Trump and his associates in a number of high crimes and misdemeanors, is basically accurate in exposing an existential threat posed to our nation by Russia. How does it come to that conclusion? By citing sources that it does not identify whose credibility is alleged to be unimpeachable as well as by including testimony from Steele friends and supporters.

In other words, the Mayer piece is an elaboration of the same “trust me” narrative that has driven the hounding of Russia and Trump from day one. Inevitably, the Trump haters both from the left and the right have jumped on the Mayer piece as confirmation of their own presumptions regarding what has allegedly occurred, when, in reality, Trump might just be more right than wrong when he claims that he has been the victim of a conspiracy by the Establishment to discredit and remove him.

Mayer is a progressive and a long-time critic of Donald Trump. She has written a book denouncing “the Koch brothers’ deep influence on American politics” and co-authored another book with Jill Abramson, formerly Executive Editor of the New York TimesAbramson reportedly carries a small plastic replica of Barack Obama in her purse which she can take out “to take comfort” whenever she is confronted by Donald Trump’s America. Mayer’s New Yorker bio-blurb describes her as a journalist who covers national security, together with politics and culture.

The problem with the type of neo-journalism as practiced by Mayer is that it first comes to a conclusion and then selects the necessary “facts” to support that narrative. When the government does that sort of thing to support, one might suggest, a war against Iraq or even hypothetically speaking Iran, it is called cherry picking. After the facts have been cherry picked they are “stovepiped” up to the policy maker, avoiding along the way any analysts who might demur regarding the product’s veracity. In journalistic terms, the equivalent would perhaps be sending the garbage up directly to a friendly editor, avoiding any fact check.

Mayer tries to take the high road by asserting that the Republicans are “trying to take down the intelligence community.” It is an odd assertion coming from her as she has written a book called “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,” a development which was pretty much implemented by the intelligence community working hand-in-hand with Congress and the White House. But she is not the first liberal who has now become a friend of CIA, the FBI and the NSA as a response to the greater threat allegedly posed by Donald Trump.A Steele friend describes the man as a virtual Second Coming of Jesus, for whom “fairness, integrity and truth… trump any ideology.” Former head of MI-6 and Steele boss Sir John Dearlove, who once reported how the intelligence on Iraq had been “sexed-up” and “fixed around the policy” to make the false case for war, describes Steele as “superb.” Other commentary from former American CIA officers is similar in nature. Former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, who himself was involved in lying to support America’s journey into Iraq, similarly sees Steele as honest and credible in his claims, while a former CIA Station Chief in Moscow is called upon to cast aspersions on the “Russian character” that impels them to engage in lies and deception.

My review of the Mayer rebuttal of criticism of Steele revealed a number of instances where she comes to certain conclusions without presenting any real supporting evidence or accepts “proof” that is essentially hearsay because it supports her overall narrative. She asserts that Russia and WikiLeaks were working together on the release of the Democratic National Committee/Hillary Clinton emails without providing any substantiation whatsoever. She surely came to that judgement based on something she was told, but by whom and when?

Another major blooper in the Mayer story relates to how one unnamed “senior Russian official” reported that the Kremlin had blocked the appointment of Mitt Romney, a noted critic of Russia, as secretary of state. How exactly that was implemented is not clear from the Steele reporting and there has been no other independent confirmation of the allegation, but Mayer finds it credible, asserting that “subsequent events could be said to support it.” What events? one might ask, though the national media did not hesitate and instead reported Mayer’s assertion as if it were itself a credible source in a forty-eight hour news cycle frenzy relating to Romney and Trump.

Steele’s work history also raises some questions. He served in Moscow as a first tour officer for MI-6 under diplomatic cover from 1990 to 1993. Russia was in tumult and Mayer describes how “Boris Yeltsin gained ultimate power, and a moment of democratic promise faded as the KGB -now called the FSB-reasserted its influence, oligarchs snapped up state assets, and nationalist political forces began to emerge.” Not to go into too much detail, but Mayer’s description of Russia at that time is dead wrong. Yeltsin was a drunkard and a tool of American and European intervention and manipulation. He was no agent of “democratic promise” and only grew more corrupt as his time in office continued into the completely manipulated election of 1996, when the IMF and U.S. conspired to get him reelected so the looting, a.k.a. “democratization,” could go on. Mayer goes on to depict in negative terms a “shadowy” former “KGB operative” Vladimir Putin who emerged from the chaos.

Mayer also cites a Steele report of April 2016, a “secret investigation [that] involved a survey of Russian interference in the politics of four members of the European Union,” but she neither produces the report itself or the sources used to put it together. The report allegedly concluded that the “Kremlin’s long-term aim …was to boost extremist groups and politicians at the expense of Europe’s liberal democracies. The more immediate goal was to destroy the E.U…” The precis provided by Mayer is a bit of fantasy, it would seem, and is perhaps a reflection of an unhealthy obsession on the part of Steele, if he actually came to that conclusion. As it stands it is hearsay, possibly provided by Steele himself or a friend to Mayer to defend his reputation.Mayer also reports and calls potentially treasonous Steele’s claims that “Kremlin and Trump were politically colluding in the 2016 campaign…’to sow discord and disunity both with the U.S.’ and within the transatlantic alliance.” And also, “[Trump] and his top associates had repeatedly accepted intelligence from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton and other political rivals.” As Robert Mueller apparently has not developed any information to support such wild claims, it would be interesting to know why Jane Mayer considers them to be credible.

Sweeping judgements by Mayer also include “[Steele’s] allegation that the Kremlin favored Trump in 2016 and was offering his campaign dirt on Hillary has been borne out. So has his claim that the Kremlin and WikiLeaks were working together…” As noted above, the WikiLeaks/Kremlin allegations have not been demonstrated, nor have the claims about Kremlin provision of information to discredit Hillary, who was doing a find job at the time discrediting herself.

The account of Donald Trump performing “perverted sexual acts” in a Moscow hotel is likewise a good example of what is wrong with the article. Four sources are cited as providing details of what took place, but it is conceded that none of them was actually a witness to it. It would be necessary to learn who the sources were beyond vague descriptions, what their actual access to the information was and what their motives were for coming forward might be. One was allegedly a “top-level Russian intelligence officer,” but the others were hotel employees and a Trump associate who had arranged for the travel.

Finally, from an ex-intelligence officer point of view I have some questions about Steele’s sources in Russia. Who are they? If they were MI-6 sources he would not be able to touch them once he left the service and would face severe sanctions under the Official Secrets Act should he even try to do so. There are in addition claims in the Mayer story that Steele did not pay his sources because it would encourage them to fabricate, an argument that could also be made about Steele who was being paid to produce dirt on Trump. So what was the quid pro quo? Intelligence agents work for money, particularly when dealing with a private security firm, and Steele’s claim, if he truly made it, that he has sources that gave him closely held, highly sensitive information in exchange for an occasional lunch in Mayfair rings hollow.

Jane Mayer’s account of the Steele dossier seems to accept quite a lot on faith. It would be interesting to know the extent to which Steele himself or his proxies were the source of much of what she has written. Until we know more about the actual Russian sources and also about Mayer’s own contacts interviewed for the article, her “man behind the Trump dossier” will continue to be something of a mystery and the entire Russiagate saga assumption that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. election must be regarded as still to be demonstrated.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Boris Johnson Attempt to Refute My Sources on Porton Down the Most Hilarious Fail

By Craig Murray | March 18, 2018

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a statement to refute my report from well-placed FCO sources that the British government continually re-uses the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” because its own scientists refused government pressure to say the nerve agent was made by Russia, and as getting even agreement to “of a type developed by” was bloody, the government has to stick to precisely that rather odd choice of phrase.

This is the official British Government statement:

“We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”.

Which is perhaps the most hilarious fail in the history of refutation.

The BBC sprung that statement on me during a live interview on Radio 5 last night. They also sprung on me a statement by the Israeli Embassy and were attempting to lead me into accusing Israel of the attack. But even the BBC interviewer, Stephen Nolan, was flummoxed by the rubbish he had been given from the FCO. Here is an extract from that part of the interview:

Stephen Nolan: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have said to us tonight: “We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”. Well, you’ve already covered that Craig and you are zoning in on the fact that they are saying “developed by Russia”, they are unable to say whether it’s made – well they are not saying whether it was actually manufactured in Russia or the source of it or whether it was from Russia, right?”

Craig Murray Yes, exactly. No-one doubts that the Russians had the idea of making these things first, and worked on developing the idea. It has always been doubted up till now that they really succeeded. The Iranians succeeded under OPCW supervision some time ago and the chemical formulae were published to the whole world twenty years ago. So many states could have done it. The “of a type developed by Russia” thing means nothing, undoubtedly.

You can hear the whole interview here beginning about 5 minutes in.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Palestine: The Camps and the Colonies

By Tim Anderson | American Herald Tribune | March 18, 2018

As Apartheid Israel proceeds with its ethnic cleansing of Palestine, financed and armed by the imperial powers, Palestine’s camps and Israel’s colonies (‘settlements’) remain the focus of much day to day colonial violence.

There is no need to waste too much time over the character of Israel. The Adalah group within Israel, for example, has documented more than 65 laws that make Israel a racist state (Adalah 2017). The most recent authoritative report from the UN, by US lawyers Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley (2017), makes it clear that Israel is indeed an ‘apartheid state’ and, therefore, a crime against humanity. They conclude that “the situation in Israel-Palestine constitutes an unmet obligation of the organized international community to resolve a conflict partially generated by its own actions”.

Meantime, people in the camps maintain a strong community spirit, which drives them to resist; while fanaticism and self-interest amongst the often immigrant new colonists encourages them to make regular forays destroying Palestinian crops and trees, and participate in seizures of nearby Palestinian lands.

The camps all date from the years after ‘The Catastrophe’ of 1948, when Jewish colonists got the green light to take over a large part of the ‘British Mandate’ of Palestine. Camp families are mostly those evicted from their lands by that violent event. The ‘colonies’, for their part, represent steady incursions into West Bank lands, after the 1967 war.

Israelis and Jewish populations today are encouraged to believe that, in the colonial manner, military conquest entitles Israel to Arab lands. The Zionist state illegally occupies Lebanese and Syrian, as well as Palestinian lands.

On a recent visit to Palestine’s West Bank I had the opportunity to observe the camps and the colonies. First of all, it is obvious that the Israeli state pretends to own it all. At the border Israeli officials do not even want to acknowledge that outsiders might be entering ‘Palestine’; nor do they want to hear that anyone might want to visit Ramallah, Nablus or Hebron, the major Palestinian cities. The mere mention of these names incurs suspicion. The Palestinian Authority itself – established in 1994 and recognised by at least 40 governments as a fledgling state – so far only functions as a municipality under Israeli control.

Zionist storm troops make regular raids on any part of the Palestinian territory, but particularly the camps, most often to make arrests, mostly of young men. Raids are also signals of Zionist power and are sometimes even used just as training exercises. Ali, a young man in Dehaisheh camp, now part of the southern suburbs of Bethlehem, told me the history of this camp.

Dehaisheh was created in 1950, to house the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by ‘1948 Israel’. They did not resettle, as they imagined they would be going back soon. They kept their house and land title deeds and keys. A UN agency later helped them build mostly 3 x 3 metre concrete box-dwellings. After the 1967 war, when Israeli troops took control of the West Bank, these camps were policed heavily. They were seen as hotbeds of resistance and were denied access to books (which they had to hide, and often bury) as well as to normal freedoms of movement and association.

The camp communities remain distinct to those of the municipality and the village. Ali says that for three generations they have had ‘no privacy and no property’. They had no individual titles to land. In their little box houses, which could only expand upwards, those next door could hear everything, from the bathroom to intimate moments.

Yet these conditions also meant that camp communities developed a strong collective spirit, with little crime and no voting, instead common consensus agreements. That spirit reinforced their resistance to the colonists. The presence of these strong values was confirmed to me by Naji and Amal, experienced Palestinian activists who do not live in the camps.

The camps contain various groups and political parties but, in Deheisheh, they kicked out religious sectarians, such as those of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Israelis were already skillfully fomenting divisions between Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins.

Around 2016 a new Israeli commander (‘Captain Nidal’) began a wave of terror on the southern West Bank camps. He told them that instead of killing youth he would ‘teach them a lesson’ they would not forget. From there began a wave of ‘knee-capping’ (shooting in the knee, to cripple), which has been widely reported (Hamayel 2016; Hass 2016; Ashly 2017). ‘Ali’ told me that over 200 young men in the camps have been crippled in this way.

Dehaisheh youth began a library/reading group, but that came to an abrupt end, Ali says, when 22 year old Raed al Salhi was shot dead (Benoist 2017) and 9 others were imprisoned.

By contrast, there is a strange air of normality in Arab cities like Ramallah, in the middle of a countryside of fences, walls and storm troops. Unlike Jerusalem, which is a heavily policed ‘mixed’ zone, life in Ramallah goes on with little day to day Israeli presence. Yet they come at night. There has been widespread international coverage of the arrest of young Ahed Tamimi, and many of her family members in Ramallah; but such arrests are an everyday occurrence, affecting thousands of families.

Each major Palestinian city these days encompasses a few ‘camps’ and is surrounded by several colonies, mostly on the surrounding hill tops. The entire West Bank is fractured with these colonies and their no-go zones, roads and fences.

People hear a lot about the recent separation wall, which annexes all of what was supposed to be the ‘international city’ of Jerusalem to ‘1948 Israel’. Yet there are also dozens of walls throughout the West Bank, protecting the colonies, their associated army bases, linked lands and feeder roads. These colonies also line the Jordan River and indeed all perimeter areas of the West Bank. There are more kilometres of walls and fences protecting colonies throughout the West Bank than there are in the infamous separation wall.

An impressive sign on the outskirts of Ramallah declares, in Hebrew, Arabic and English: ‘This Road leads To Area ‘A’ Under the Palestinian Authority The Entrance For Israeli Citizens Is Forbidden, Dangerous To Your Lives And Is Against The Israeli Law’ [exact punctuation]. This is all a show of deference, of course.

Israeli troops make regular night-time raids on all Palestinian cities and towns. But special attention is paid to the camps. Troops raided Balata camp, just south of Nablus, the day before I visited Nablus. They killed a young local man in custody, the day I arrived in Jericho. Elsewhere the resistance sniped at Israeli troops, as the Zionist government announced plans to criminalise criticism of the Israeli military.

Ali says heavily armed Israeli troops invade Dehaisheh about two times every week. Nevertheless this camp remains strong and cohesive. When Israeli lawyers offered Ali some money to buy his family land in ‘1948 Israel’, he refused. It is not just the land, he said; it is about culture and identity.

Israel sometimes recognises historic Palestinian land title, but often does not. Land is seized in a variety of ways. It can be bought, compulsorily acquired for infrastructure such as separation walls and roads or simply taken without notice. Amal’s family land on the outskirts of Ramallah was seized without notice, for the perimeter land and fences of a new colony outside Ramallah. Land is also stolen through punitive demolitions. In a peculiarly colonial form of collective punishment, homes and lands are taken from the families of those convicted of resistance activities.

Ali wants international support, but resents western aid agencies which come to Palestine, pretending to help communities with their own ideas of ‘empowerment’. He recalls a young European woman preaching to experienced Palestinian mothers about ‘how to be a good mother’. Some of the women laughed, finding it hard to believe. ‘We are not helpless victims, we are people with a strong culture’, Ali said.

Ethnic cleansing has advanced substantially in recent decades, despite the withdrawal from Gaza and Israel’s 2006 defeat in south Lebanon at the hands of Hezbollah. To that extent some limits have been imposed, by the Resistance, on the expansion of ‘Greater Israel’. Israel would have annexed large parts of southern Lebanon by now, were it not for Hezbollah.

However the West Bank is under serious threat. In the late 1960s the plan of Yigal Allon called for annexation of 40% of the West Bank, and control of the Jordan River (Reinhart 2006: 51). Israel’s Labor Party broadly backed that idea, in contrast to the extreme right which has always wanted it all. Now Israel controls about 60% of the West Bank, choking it with walls and fences. The territory is almost cut in half. One consequence of this expanded ethnic cleansing has been to mark a definitive end to any ‘two state solution’.

Endnotes

Adalah (2017) ‘The Discriminatory Laws Database’, 25 September, online: https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771

Ali (2018) interview with this writer at Dehaisheh camp (Bethlehem), Occupied Palestine, February [‘Ali’ is a pseudonym, to protect him from Israeli reprisals. The Israeli parliament is currently trying to pass a law which would criminalise criticism of the Zionist military. Already such criticism serves as grounds for interrogation and possible imprisonment.]

Amal (2018) interviews with this writer at Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, February

Ashly, Jacyln (2017) ‘How Israel is disabling Palestinian teenagers’, Al Jazeera, 21 September, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/09/israel-disabling-palestinian-teenagers-170911085127509.html

Benoist, Chloé (2017) ‘Raed al-Salhi, another Palestinian life of promise snuffed out by Israel’, Middle East Eye, 8 September, online: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/life-and-death-raed-young-palestinian-big-plans-861499040

Falk, Richard and Virginia Tilley (2017) Palestine – Israel Journal of Politics, Economics, and Culture; East Jerusalem Vol. 22, Issue 2/3, 191-196; also available here: https://counter-hegemonic-studies.net/israeli-apartheid/

Hamayel, Mohammad (2016) ‘Israeli military practice kneecapping against Palestinians’, Press TV, 29 August, online: http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/08/29/482147/Israeli-military-kneecapping-Palestinians

Hass, Amira (2016) ‘Is the IDF Conducting a Kneecapping Campaign in the West Bank?’, Haaretz, 27 August, online: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/is-the-idf-conducting-a-kneecapping-campaign-in-the-west-bank-1.5429695

Naji (2018) interview with this writer at Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine, February

Reinhart, Tania (2006) The Road Map to Nowhere, Verso, London

Dr. Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He researches and writes on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. He has published dozens of articles and chapters in academic journals and books, as well as essays in a range of online journals. His work includes the areas of agriculture and food security, health systems, regional integration and international cooperation.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The US Warns Damascus over the Use of Deadly Substances: Blaming Others for One’s Own Sins

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.03.2018

On March 12, US Permanent Representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced at a Security Council meeting that the US will take action on its own if that organization fails to establish a cease-fire and end the chemical attacks and suffering of civilians as it pushes for a new 30-day truce in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta. She forces the circulation of a new draft resolution, in view of the failure of the previous one. In a nutshell, the US has adopted a “do what I tell you or else” approach. Sounds like an ultimatum! The UK expressed its readiness to join the US. So did France.

Washington blames Russia, Syria, and Iran for ignoring a 30-day cease-fire mandated by the UN last month. Defense Secretary James Mattis declared that the US is concerned over the reports of chlorine-gas use by Syria’s government. CIA director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated for secretary of state, stated that President Donald Trump will not turn a blind eye to chemical attacks.

It should be noted that Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons (CW) before. This fact has been established by UN investigators. In 2017, the use of toxic agents by rebels was acknowledged by the US State Department. But the US is denying any possibility that the rebels might have staged a provocation in Eastern Ghouta, just as the Russian General Staff had warned. Just a few days ago the Syrian army found a CW lab in that area.

Nikki Hailey’s statement prompted a warning from Moscow that it will take measures to protect the lives of its servicemen and strike back if need be. On March 13, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, alleged that the militants were preparing a provocation in Syria that would use chemical agents, intended to justify a massive US strike on Syria’s military sites and troops.

So, the US is adopting a “J’accuse” tone, threatening the use of force with no evidence to support its CW accusations while pointing its finger at Syria’s government, blaming it for firing on the fighters of Al-Nusra, the group excluded from the cease-fire agreements. But it’s Russia, not the US, who enforced five-hour daily breaks in the fighting to enable the evacuation of civilians and the injured from the embattled areas, allowing some deliveries of humanitarian aid.

Now — about the US concern over civilians suffering from chemical attacks. Here we go again: the pot calling the kettle black.

Exactly one year ago, US officials had to confirm that they had used depleted uranium (DU) on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. DU is a bit of a gray area, as no international agreement explicitly bans it. In 2012, the UN General Assembly tried to adopt a resolution restricting its use. The move was supported by 155 states. Twenty-seven states abstained, and only four voted against it. Of course, the US was among those four, not the 155. In 2014, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report on depleted-uranium munitions. The paper concluded that direct contact with DU could “result in exposures of radiological significance.”

The US-led coalition used white phosphorus, a potentially lethal substance, in populated areas during its operations in Iraq and Syria. One of those places was Mosul — the second largest Iraqi city. This fact was confirmed by high-ranking commanders on the field amidst rising criticism. The substance was used during the operation to push the Islamic State (IS) out of the Syrian city of Raqqa — the unofficial IS capital. American cluster bombs have been used in Yemen. The US Defense Department says it won’t give up cluster munitions because they have a legitimate use in military operations. Field commanders are authorized to use them at their discretion. While America is concerned over chemical attacks in Eastern Ghouta, the world is concerned over America’s use of deadly substances in Iraq and Syria that have resulted in civilian casualties.

The US-led coalition wants the rebels to stay in the embattled area — the only springboard from which to strike Damascus. It also wants to demonstrate to the Arab countries its own allegiance to the principle of “responsibility to protect,” while painting those who are backing Syria, such as Russia, as evildoers. It’s part of the current campaign to make Russia look like a rogue state. The clamor over its support of Syria’s offensive in Eastern Ghouta has been timed to coincide with the British accusations of Moscow’s complicity in the “spy poisoning scandal.” These are links in one and the same chain.

March 18, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment