Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Freedom in Sight for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Prison Radio | September 16, 2019

Freedom is now in sight. New evidence, recently found, and surpressed for decades could be the key to relief for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Joe McGill and Ed Rendell, trial prosecutor and DA, respectively, manipulated evidence and framed Mumia Abu-Jamal for first degree murder in 1982.

Six boxes of undisclosed case files labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” were found in a furniture closet last December by new DA Larry Krasner. Here is the exculpatory “Brady” evidence that was inside:

  • A letter from a witness demanding his money.
  • Memo after memo to and from Joe McGill tracking the open cases of another key witness.
  • Handwritten notes on original files, closely tracking the race of jurors.

Now we know that for 37 years the District Attorney’s office actively lied. They scrubbed clean every single document production, during multiple appeals, for years. It is cliché and almost predictable: evidence “lost” in a storage closet for 37 years by evil absent-minded hoarders.

Make no mistake- this evidence would have directly challenged the only “witnesses” at trial who identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the shooter of officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

The testimony of these two witnesses was compromised, something the jury was kept from knowing. One witness had as many as 35 prior convictions and 4-5 open cases. Now we know the DA was monitoring those cases very closely asking to be advised when they were in court. The other witness to the shooting was driving a cab on a suspended license and was on probation for throwing a Molotov cocktail into a school for pay. The jury never heard this. This information certainly would have challenged prosecutor Joe McGill’s statement to the jury that they had nothing to gain from lying. Remember this is a jury who asked for re-instruction on the charges and were wavering on a finding of 1stDegree Murder. Remember Albert “I am going to help them they fry the nigger” Sabo, was the judge. And Alfonso “I retired with full pay and was indicted” Giordano, a commander, was the highest ranking officer on the scene that night.

On July 3rd, 1982, this was not an open and shut case. The petition to the Superior Court also raises the reinstated appeal issues from the Castille decision handed down by Judge Tucker. These include claims of improper jury selection (Batson Claims), Ineffective assistance of counsel, and errors of law made by the court in previous appeals.

Every time you see Joe McGill in the courtroom or at an FOP event, or you see Ed Rendell at a party or a campaign event, remember this- they were stepping on the scales of justice from the beginning.

Mumia came within 10 days of being executed because of this misconduct. I was there. I got that call from the strip cell. Mumia had nothing but an orange jump suit, a half a sheet of paper and the cartridge of a pen (so he could send another prisoner as a proxy to the law library). Before and after his two death warrants he was held in solitary confinement on death row for decades!

Fast forward to 2017: Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker admonishes the District Attorney to produce all of the requested material from their files. Finally, having no faith in their review, he demands that they deliver all of their files to his chambers. There he found documents revealing the bias of PA Supreme Court Judge Castille that the DA had somehow “missed”  – or willfully suppressed. After all of that, in 2018, newly elected DA Larry Krasner comes across six boxes of original trial material labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” in a storage closet. A week later they find hundreds of more boxes in that “storage cavern.”

Please know that the road ahead may still be rough. But there is hope.

Freedom is more possible than it has ever been before.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Dutch court starts hearing in war crime case against Israel’s Gantz

Press TV – September 17, 2019

A Dutch court has held a hearing on a war crime case against a former Israeli general challenging incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in ongoing general elections.

The Hague District Court weighed on Tuesday whether it should hear a lawsuit brought by a Palestinian man seeking compensation from Benny Gantz for his role in the killing of six of his relatives during the Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014.

On July 20, 2014, Ismail Ziada lost his mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law, and a 12-year-old nephew when their family home was bombed by the Israeli air force.

A visitor was also killed in the Israeli bombardment.

“I was shot at a very close range with a rubber coated metal bullet in the head. I witnessed another boy being shot in the head next to me, dying on the spot,” said Ziada about his encounters with the Israeli army.

Ziada, who now lives in the Netherlands, filed a civil lawsuit in 2018 seeking damages from Gantz, who was the chief of staff of Israel’s military at the time of the bombing, and the then-air force commander Amir Eshel.

Ziada says the attack violated international humanitarian law because it deliberately targeted civilians.

The Tuesday session addressed a motion filed by Gantz and Eshel’s lawyers asking the court to dismiss the case. They argued the ex-commanders were immune because the Dutch court had no jurisdiction over the case.

Ahead of the hearing, Ziada’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said Palestinians from Gaza could not receive fair treatment in Israeli courts.

Dutch courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes, provided the accuser cannot get a fair trial elsewhere.

Israel launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 5 Comments

Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | September 17, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving quickly to alter the political reality in Palestine, and facing little or no resistance.

On September 10, Netanyahu declared his intentions to annex swathes of Palestinian land adjacent to the Jordan River, an area that covers 2,400 square kilometers, or nearly a third of the Occupied West Bank. That region, which extends from Bisan in the north to Jericho in the south, is considered to be Palestine’s food basket, as it accounts for an estimated 60 percent of vegetables that are produced in the West Bank.

While Israel has already colonized nearly 88 percent of the entire Palestinian Ghoor (or Jordan Valley), dividing it between illegal agricultural settlements and military zones, it was always assumed that the militarily occupied region will be included within the border of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s announcement has been linked to Israel’s general elections of September 17. The Israeli leader is desperate, as he is facing “unprecedented alliances” that are all closing in to unseat him from his political throne. But this cannot be all. Not even power-hungry Netanyahu would alter the political and territorial landscape of Israel and Palestine indefinitely in exchange for a few votes.

Indeed, talks of annexation have been afoot for years and have long preceded the September elections or the previous ones in April.

A sense of euphoria has been felt among Israel’s rightwing officials since the advent of Donald Trump to the White House. The excitement was not directly linked to Trump but to his Middle East team, like-minded pro-Israel US officials whose support for Israel is predicated on more than personal interests, but religious and ideological beliefs as well.

White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, selected his team very carefully: Jason Greenblatt as special envoy for Middle East peace, David Friedman as United States Ambassador to Israel, and layers of other second-tier officials whose mission was never aimed at resolving conflict or brokering peace, but supervising a process in which Israel finalizes its colonization of Palestine unhindered.

Kushner’s masterstroke is epitomized in the way he presented his objectives as part of a political process, later named “Deal of the Century”.

In all fairness, Kushner’s team hardly labored or even pretended to be, peacemakers, especially as they oversaw the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories. Indeed, none of these officials tried to hide their true motives. Just examine statements made by the just-resigned Greenblatt where he refused to name illegal Jewish settlements as such, but as “neighborhoods and cities”; and Friedman’s outright support for the annexation of parts of the Occupied West Bank, and much more.

The US political discourse seemed in complete alignment with that of Israel’s right-wing parties. When right-wing extremist politicians, the likes of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, began floating the idea of annexing most or all of the Occupied West Bank, they no longer sounded like marginal and opportunistic voices vying for attention. They were at the center of Israeli politics, knowing full well that Washington no longer had a problem with Israel’s unilateral action.

It could be argued, then, that Netanyahu was merely catching up, as the center of gravity within his right-wing coalition was slipping away to younger, more daring politicians. In fact, Israel, as a whole, was changing. With the Labor Party becoming almost entirely irrelevant, the Center’s political ideology moved further to the right, simply because supporting an independent Palestinian state in Israel has become a form of political suicide.

Therefore, Netanyahu’s call for the annexation of Palestinian land east of the Jordan River must not be understood in isolation and only within the limited context of the Israeli elections. Israel is now set to annex large parts of the West Bank that it deems strategic. This is most likely to include all illegal settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley as well.

In fact, Netanyahu said on September 11 that he was ready to annex the Jordan Valley region even before the election date, but was blocked by the Attorney General’s office. Netanyahu would not have taken such a decision if it represented a political risk or if it faced pushback from Washington. It is, then, sadly, a matter of time.

Suspiciously absent in all of this are the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab League, the European Union and, of course, the United Nations and its many outlets and courts. Aside from a few shy statements – like that of the spokesperson of the UN, Stéphane Dujarric, decrying that “unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process” – Israeli leaders are facing little or no hindrance whatsoever as they finalize their complete colonization of all Palestinian land.

Unable to stage any kind of meaningful resistance against Israel, the Palestinian leadership is so pathetically insisting on utilizing old terminologies. The official Palestinian response to Netanyahu’s annexation pledge, as communicated by Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, came only to underscore the PA’s political bankruptcy.

“Netanyahu is the chief destroyer of the peace process,” Shtayyeh said, warning that annexing parts of the West Bank would have negative consequences.

For his part, the PA leader Mahmoud Abbas resorted, once more, to empty threats. Abbas said in a statement, “All agreements and their resulting obligations would end if the Israeli side annexes the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.”

Neither Abbas nor Shtayyeh seem troubled by the fact that a “peace process” does not exist, and that Israel has already violated all agreements.

While the PA is desperately hanging on to any reason to justify its continued existence, Netanyahu, with the full support of Washington, is moving forward in annexing the West Bank, thus making apartheid an official and undisputed reality.

The Palestinian leadership must understand that the nature of the conflict is now changing. Conventional methods and empty statements will not slow down the Israeli push for annexation nor Tel Aviv’s determination to expand its apartheid to all of Palestine. If Palestinians continue to ignore this reality altogether, Israel will continue to single-handedly shape the destiny of Palestine and its people.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’, and his forthcoming book is ‘These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons’. Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a non-resident research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Zaim University in Istanbul. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iran, Pakistan sign new agreement on major gas project: Report

Press TV – September 17, 2019

A major deal for exports of gas from Iran to Pakistan has been revised after several years of uncertainty surrounding the project, shows a report in the Pakistani media.

The Express Tribune said in a Monday report that national gas companies from Iran and Pakistan had inked an agreement to revise the terms of an old deal meant for exports of gas from Iran which had been supposed to be implemented by 2015.

The deal had stalled mainly because Pakistan was unable to construct a pipeline through its territory to transfer the Iranian gas to the port of Karachi. Islamabad was also unwilling to pay compensation for its delay, saying it had been caused by sanctions imposed on Iran.

The report said the Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) of Pakistan and the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) had agreed to allow Pakistan to finish construction of the pipeline in its territory until 2024.

It cited sources as saying that Iran would not sue Pakistan for a fresh delay beyond 2024 unlike the previous contract under which Iran had threatened Islamabad with legal action. There was no comment on the report from the Iranian officials.

It said the two companies would seek to devise solutions for completion of the project which would enable Pakistan to import 750 million cubic feet of gas per day from Iran.

Based on the terms of the previous deal, Pakistan had been supposed to complete its section of the gas pipeline within 22 months after construction activities for the project kicked off in March 2013.

However, Pakistan later backtracked from the commitment and officials said that sanctions imposed on Iran had made it impossible for the country to build the 1,600-kilometer pipeline.

Iran has almost completed its sides of the pipeline which starts from installations of the South Pars gas field located on the Persian Gulf port of Asaluyeh and runs 1,172 kilometers through two provinces to reach the Pakistani border.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | Leave a comment

Trump is in no rush to jump into Saudi defence

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 17, 2019

The geopolitical faultlines of the drone attack on the Saudi Aramco plants on Saturday are surfacing. These are early days but three broad trends have appeared. One, Saudi investigators have begun pointing a finger at Iran, which is certain to exacerbate regional tensions. Two, the all-important US response to the event is unfolding on multiple templates, each interconnected but intrinsic at the same time in relations to US interests. Three, the extreme volatility in the world oil market and its likely impact on the world economy makes this an international issue.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry statement on Monday is notable for its affirmation that the “weapons used in the attack were Iranian weapons. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the source of the attack”; that the primary target of this attack is global energy supplies; that “this attack is in line with the previous attacks against Saudi Aramco pumping stations using Iranian weapons”; that Riyadh “will invite UN and International experts to view the situation on the ground and to participate in the investigations”; and, fifthly, that Saudi Arabia has the “capability and resolve to defend its land and people, and to forcefully respond to these aggressions.”

Riyadh’s lingering dilemma is that it is yet to substantiate Iran’s culpability and is looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The keenness to involve the UN in the investigations suggests that Saudis are reasonably confident of a definitive conclusion that helps isolate Iran completely in the world arena.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry statement is based on the initial finding by the investigators that “all operational evidences and indication as well as the weapons used… are Iranian weapons.” Importantly, the Joint Coalition Forces Command in Riyadh has alleged that “the terrorist attack was not launched from Yemeni territory as the Houthi militias claimed, whereas these militias are mere tools to implement the agenda of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and its terrorist regime.”

It implies that the Saudi authorities have much more materials than they are willing to disclose. There is also a pointed reference to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

On Monday, the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper telephoned the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). The Saudi press release said Esper “affirmed his country’s full support for the Kingdom” and conveyed that Washington is “currently studying all possible options in addressing the attacks.” Esper commended the Saudi role in the US efforts to “confront the Iranian danger which threatens maritime navigation.” But neither Esper or MbS accused Iran.

It is against the above backdrop that President Trump waded into the topic on Monday at a press conference in the White House. (Trump spoke in the presence of the visiting Crown Prince of Bahrain.) The transcript is here. The main takeaways are as follows:

One, the US is inclined toward an estimation that Iran is responsible for Saturday’s attacks. But the Saudi investigation hasn’t yet come up with definitive evidence. The US does not propose to attack Iran.

Two, Saudi Arabia is a key ally, but the US cannot underwrite Saudi defence. While it can offer protection to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh will have to bankroll the effort. Top US officials will be traveling to Riyadh “at some point” for consultations.

Clearly, the Saudis “are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we [US] decide to do something. They’ll be very much involved, and that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

Plainly put, “Saudis want very much for us to protect them, but I say, well, we have to work. That was an attack on Saudi Arabia, and that wasn’t an attack on us. But we would certainly help them… we will work something out with them. But they also know that — you know, I’m not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to.”

Four, Trump has an eye on Tehran, too. A meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York during the UNGA is not to be expected but the scope for diplomacy has not been “exhausted”. The Iranians want to make a deal “but they’d like to do it on certain terms and conditions, and we won’t do that. But at some point, it will work out, in my opinion.”

Depending on the actual finding by Saudi investigators, the US may toughen its stance toward Iran, but that depends on what Riyadh comes up with. “There’s plenty of time. You know, there’s no rush. We’ll all be here a long time. There’s no rush.”

The stunning thing is, Trump claims he is in no tearing hurry. Significantly, while addressing a group of seminary students in Tehran on Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seemed to acknowledge Trump’s remarks the previous day.

In a relatively conciliatory tone, Khamenei said: “If the US retracts its words, repents and returns to the nuclear accord that it has violated, it can then take part in sessions of other signatories to the deal and hold talks with Iran… Otherwise, no talks at any level will be held between Iranian and American authorities, neither in New York nor elsewhere.”

Equally, Trump admitted that he isn’t unduly perturbed about the cascading oil price.

US government satellite image showed that attacks on the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco’s Abaqaiq oil processing facility on September 14, 2019 were extremely surgical.

Separately, in a tweet Monday, Trump noted: “Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World. We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”

The point is, a high oil price isn’t such a bad thing for the US shale industry. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, opened up more natural gas for production in the US, but the technology added costs. Shale oil costs more than conventional oil to extract, ranging from a cost-per-barrel of production from as low as $40 to over $90 a barrel.

Now, Saudi Arabia can produce at under $10 per barrel, while worldwide costs range from $30 to $40 a barrel. The US shale industry becomes a wild card in the Saudi Aramco calculus.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Oil Attacks: Time to Back Off on the Threats

Saudi Arabia Feels Some Pain

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | September 17, 2019

Attacks on two Saudi Arabian oil facilities on Saturday reportedly reduced the production of Aramco, the state oil company, by one half. It was a devastating demonstration of just how vulnerable the Kingdom’s oil economy actually is. Initial reports suggested that the damage had been caused by explosive drones launched by the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who claimed responsibility, but there has been considerable skepticism regarding whether the drones available to the Houthi could actually have carried out the attack.

Inevitably, the United States and the Saudis are blaming Iran, which has often been accused of being the Houthi’s sponsor. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly claimed there was no evidence that the attacks emanated from Yemen and blamed Tehran, tweeting predictably that “amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

As is often the case, Pompeo strung together some lies and half-truths. That Iran was the culprit was and still is unproven and the attack was on Saudi Arabia, which has been subjecting the Houthis to brutal bombardment that has produced famine and introduced cholera to Yemen, not on the “world’s energy supply.” Pompeo’s language is intentionally seeking to broaden the conflict by depicting Iran as a rogue nation seeking to do damage to everyone and preparing the audience for a possible counter-strike.

U.S. and Saudi officials have indeed been investigating whether the attacks involved cruise missiles fired from Iraq or Iran and would love to come to that conclusion, whatever the actual facts might be. The Iranians are believed to have a locally developed cruise missile that goes by the name Hoveyzeh, which is very mobile and can be fired from improvised sites. It is capable of flying at low altitudes to evade radar and has a five-hundred pound conventional warhead that would be more than capable of doing the reported damage to the oil facilities, much more so than would be possible using the missiles and drones that the Houthis are known to possess.

President Trump has also added his two cents, tweeting ominously on Sunday that “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Trump, who called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assure him of American support, also overreacted in his usual fashion, authorizing access to the United States’ Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The move has nothing to do with any real shortage of oil, particularly in the U.S., which imports little from the Middle East, and is clearly rather intended to stabilize oil prices during the two or more weeks it will take the Saudis to repair the damage to their facilities.

The attacks have forced Saudi Arabia to suspend production of 5.7 million barrels of oil a day, which is half of its normal output and over 5 percent of the global supply, so there will be considerable impact on global crude prices. The Saudi stock market felt the pain immediately, declining by 3 percent on Sunday with the expectation that crude prices will increase sharply over the next few days.

The damage to the facilities comes at a particularly bad time for the Saudis, perhaps by design by whoever carried out the attacks. Aramco will soon be floating an initial public offering (IPO) that could be one of the world’s largest. Potential foreign investors in particular will inevitably be concerned about the long-term security of the country’s reserves from future attacks by rebels or neighboring states, to include Iran.

Officials in Iran both and Iraq have denied allegations that the attacks had come from their respective territories, but that would be expected in any case. What is certain is that the success of the attack, from whatever source, has changed the calculus for what is taking place in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been waging a pitiless war in Yemen, but it now finds itself far more vulnerable than it deemed to be possible. Iran for its part, benefits from the Saudi knowledge that it’s oil production can be hit and hit hard, possibly even put out of business, meaning that Riyadh will now be much more careful in how it proceeds.

The United States and possibly even Israel will also be reading the tea leaves. In a recent interview Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the aerospace unit of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said that Iran had been prepared to attack American bases in the Persian Gulf region if the U.S. had attempted to retaliate after Iranian forces recently shot down its intruding spy drone over the Straits of Hormuz. He said: “… if they wanted to attack, we would have attacked U.S. bases with missiles, and we were ready, and we would have targeted the U.S. base in al-Udeid in Qatar or al-Dhafra in the Emirates or their ships in the Gulf of Oman or Arabian Sea, and if they had hit us, we would have hit them back.”

Missile warfare has created a new reality. The presumed use by poorly armed Houthis of relatively cheap and available weapons to defeat multi-billion dollar defenses sends a message not only to the Saudis but also to Washington and Jerusalem, who have similar defensive configurations. The Saudis and Americans will be forced to rethink their options while Israel, for its part, has already clearly recognized that its air defenses would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of missiles that opponents like Hezbollah would be able to send its way. It has called off several planned major attacks on Lebanon for that reason.

The final question has to be what will Washington and Riyadh do if they come to the conclusion, whether true or false, that Iran carried out the attack. President Donald Trump is, as usual, talking tough and threatening with his favorite “locked and loaded” metaphor, but he is basically unstable and this time he might actually be intending to pull the trigger. If he does, the Iranian response would undoubtedly be both serious and sustained. Many people on both sides would die.

The correct response would be for the Saudis, the U.S. and Israel to realize that more adventurism in the Persian Gulf region could easily spin out of control. Iran or its presumed proxies have sent the message that the consequences of continued provocations could be devastating for all involved. Time to back off on the threats and it is past time for the U.S. to stop knee-jerk support of the reckless actions undertaken by both the Kingdom and Israel.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Ignorant Iran ‘experts’ just the beginning of Washington’s foreign policy troubles

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | September 16, 2019

An explosive essay calling out the lack of legitimate expertise about Iran ought to be a wake-up call for the US foreign policy field. Yet the same problem also affects Washington’s analysis of Russia, China and many other places.

Imagine a field of study in which less than a third of the experts had related doctorates, half of them could not read, speak or write the language required, and just as many have never set foot inside the relevant country. Preposterous, you might say – yet scientific observation has shown that this is precisely what the US expertise on Iran looks like, according to an essay by political anthropologist Negar Razavi, recently published in the journal Jadaliyya.

Razavi describes the think-tank culture of DC as “a wider system of knowledge production in Washington – one which has consistently rewarded ungrounded, ideologically driven assessments of the Islamic Republic at the expense of qualified, in-depth, and evidence-based analysis.”

This is her conclusion after two years of “ethnographic fieldwork” in the US capital, attending hundreds of events, following the writings and presentations of think-tank experts, and interviewing over 180 people between 2014 and 2016. In other words, this was a serious academic study.

This culture of “expert impunity” when it comes to Iran has combined with historical and contemporary US grievances against Tehran to produce the current policy of confrontation, in which allegations are treated as unquestioned facts while any nuanced assessments are dismissed as the work of “regime apologists,” according to Razavi.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because the problem is not limited to Iran. Though Razavi focused exclusively on the state of Iran expertise, her assessment applies in equal measure to the self-styled experts on Venezuela, or Russia, or China, or the Balkans…

The examples are legion. Razavi herself mentions (though not by name) “Heshmat Alavi,” a supposed expert on Iran who recently turned out to be a construct – an online persona operated by the Iranian exile group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). This is an outfit that seeks regime change in Tehran, and has been endorsed by former National Security Advisor John Bolton and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Gordon Chang, who predicted the “coming collapse of China” in a 2001 book, has been embraced by CNN and Fox News alike as an expert on Beijing – despite the obvious failure of his prediction to actually materialize. Likewise, Swedish economic Anders Aslund has heralded the demise of Russia since 2000 – and cashed in his “expertise” with the Atlantic Council and the governments of Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and the Baltic states.

Then there was the never-ending parade of “Russia experts” on cable news shows helping cultivate and propagate the hoax of President Donald Trump’s “Russian collusion” over the past three years, only to see the Mueller Report conclusively quash their fabrications. Have there been apologies? Of course not. As Razavi points out, being an “expert” in DC means never having to admit wrongdoing.

Her essay reveals how actual experts and scholars – who warned against things like the 2003 invasion of Iraq or ‘Russiagate’ – have been been sidelined or smeared time and again, while the think-tank factories churned out false expertise on cable channels and social media. Their takes would then find their way into official papers at the State Department and the Pentagon, morphing along the way into facts that “everybody knows” and no one is allowed to question.

The result of this unholy alliance of tanks and think-tanks has been decades of mis-shapen US foreign policy, with arguably disastrous results – from trillions in squandered treasure to millions of deaths around the world.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Israel Spies and Spies and Spies

This time the target was Donald Trump

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 17, 2019

Here we go again! Israel is caught red handed spying against the United States and everyone in Congress is silent, as are nearly all the mainstream media which failed to report the story. And the federal government itself, quick to persecute a Russian woman who tried to join the NRA, concedes that the White House and Justice Department have done absolutely nothing to either rebuke or punish the Israeli perpetrators. One senior intelligence official commented that “I’m not aware of any accountability at all.”

Only President Donald Trump, predictably, had something so say in his usual personalized fashion, which was that the report was “hard to believe,” that “I don’t think the Israelis were spying on us. My relationship with Israel has been great… Anything is possible but I don’t believe it.”

Ironically, the placement of technical surveillance devices by Israel was clearly intended to target cellphone communications to and from the Trump White House. As the president frequently chats with top aides and friends on non-secure phones, the operation sought to pick up conversations involving Trump with the expectation that the security-averse president would say things off the record that might be considered top secret.

The Politico report, which is sourced to top intelligence and security officials, details how “miniature surveillance devices” referred to as “Stingrays” imitate regular cell phone towers to fool phones being used nearby into providing information on their locations and identities. According to the article, the devices are referred to by technicians as “international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.”

Over one year ago, government security agencies discovered the electronic footprints that indicated the presence of the surveillance devices around Washington including near the White House. Forensic analysis involved dismantling the devices to let them “tell you a little about their history, where the parts and pieces come from, how old are they, who had access to them, and that will help get you to what the origins are.” One source observed afterwards that “It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible.”

The Israeli Embassy denied any involvement in the espionage and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adroitly and predictably lied regarding the report, saying “We have a directive, I have a directive: No intelligence work in the United States, no spies. And it’s vigorously implemented, without any exception. It is a complete fabrication, a complete fabrication.”

The Israelis are characteristically extremely aggressive in their intelligence gathering operations, particularly in targeting the United States, even though Trump has done the Netanyahu government many favors. These have included moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawing from the nuclear deal and sanctioning Iran, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and looking the other way as Israel expands its settlements and regularly bombs Syria and Lebanon.

Israel’s high-risk spying is legendary, but the notion that it is particularly good at it is, like everything having to do with the Jewish state, much overrated. Mossad has been caught in flagrante numerous times. In 2010, an undercover Mossad hit team was caught on 30 minutes of surveillance video as it wandered through a luxury Dubai hotel where it had gone to kill a leading Hamas official. And the notion that Mossad and CIA work hand-in-hand is also a fiction. Working level Agency officers dislike their reckless Mossad counterparts. Newsweek magazine’s “Spy Talk” once cited a poll of CIA officers that ranked Israel “dead last” among friendly countries in actual intelligence cooperation with Washington.

The fact is that Israel conducts espionage and influence operations against the United States more aggressively than any other “friendly” country, including tapping White House phones used by Bill Clinton to speak with Monica Lewinski. Israeli “experts” regularly provide alarmist and inaccurate private briefings for American Senators on Capitol Hill. Israel also constantly manufactures pretexts to draw the U.S. into new conflicts in the Middle East, starting with the Lavon Affair in Alexandria Egypt in 1954 and including the false flag attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967. In short, Israel has no reluctance to use its enormous political and media clout in the U.S. to pressure successive administrations to conform to its own foreign and security policy views.

The persistent spying, no matter what Netanyahu claims, is a very good reason why Israel should not receive billions of dollars in military assistance annually. Starting in 1957, Israel’s friends stole enriched uranium from a Pennsylvania refinery to create a nuclear arsenal. More recently we have learned how Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer/billionaire born in Israel, arranged the illegal purchase of 800 krytron triggers to use in the production of nuclear weapons. The operation also involved current Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The existence of a large scale Israeli spying effort at the time of 9/11 has been widely reported, incorporating Israeli companies in New Jersey and Florida as well as hundreds of “art students” nationwide. Five “dancing” Israelis from one of the companies were observed celebrating against the backdrop of the twin towers going down.

While it is often observed that everyone spies on everyone else, espionage is a high-risk business, particularly when spying on friends. Israel, relying on Washington for billions of dollars and also for political cover in international fora like the United Nations, does not spy discreetly, largely because it knows that few in Washington will seek to hold it accountable. There were, for example, no consequences for the Israelis when Israeli Mossad intelligence officers using U.S. passports and pretending to be Americans recruited terrorists to carry out attacks inside Iran. Israelis using U.S. passports in that fashion put every American traveler at risk.

Israel, where government and business work hand in hand, has obtained significant advantage by systematically stealing American technology with both military and civilian applications. The U.S. developed technology is then reverse engineered and used by the Israelis to support their own exports. Sometimes, when the technology is military in nature and winds up in the hands of an adversary, the consequences can be serious. Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that incorporate technology developed by American companies.

The reality of Israeli large-scale spying in the United States is indisputable. One might cite Jonathan Pollard, who stole more highly classified information than any spy in history. And then there were Ben-Ami Kadish, Stuart Nozette and Larry Franklin, other spies for Israel who have been caught and tried, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Israel always features prominently in the annual FBI report called “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage.” The 2005 report states “Israel has an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States. These collection activities are primarily directed at obtaining information on military systems and advanced computing applications that can be used in Israel’s sizable armaments industry.” It adds that Israel recruits spies, uses electronic methods, and carries out computer intrusion to gain the information.

A 1996 Defense Investigative Service report noted that Israel has great success stealing technology by exploiting the numerous co-production projects that it has with the Pentagon. It says “Placing Israeli nationals in key industries … is a technique utilized with great success.” A General Accounting Office (GAO) examination of espionage directed against American defense and security industries described how Israeli citizens residing in the U.S. had stolen sensitive technology to manufacture artillery gun tubes, obtained classified plans for reconnaissance systems, and passed sensitive aerospace designs to unauthorized users.

The GAO has concluded that Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any U.S. ally.” In June 2006, a Pentagon administrative judge ruled against a difficult to even imagine appeal by an Israeli denied a security clearance, saying that “The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States.” FBI counter intelligence officer John Cole has also reported how many cases of Israeli espionage are dropped under orders from the Justice Department., making the Jewish state’s spying consequence free. He provides a “conservative estimate” of 125 viable investigations into Israeli espionage involving both American citizens and Israelis that were stopped due to political pressure.

So, did Israel really spy on Donald Trump? Sure it did. And Netanyahu is, metaphorically speaking, thumbing his nose at the American president and asking with a grin, “What are you going to do about it?”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News, Deception | , , | 4 Comments