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Senate panel approves aid to military governments

Press TV – December 19, 2013

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill facilitating the provision of aid to countries ruled by post-coup military governments.

The bill would require the US government to determine when a democratically-elected government has been removed by force, Foreign Policy reported on Wednesday.

The Senate Committee passed the Egypt Assistance Reform Act by a 16-1 vote on Wednesday and the key supporters of the bill, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), say the congressional legislation would authorize the US administration to maintain ties with strategically important countries like Egypt even after military forces overthrow a democratically-elected government.

“This legislation reaffirms the enduring U.S. commitment to our partnership with the Egyptian government by authorizing continued assistance and endorsing the importance of ongoing cooperation,” said Menendez, the chairman of the Committee.

On July 3, Egypt’s powerful military ousted former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi who was the country’s first democratically-elected head of state.

The administration of US President Barack Obama refused to call the military-led ouster of Morsi a coup because such acknowledgement would trigger an automatic congressional ban on the US aid to the Egyptian military.

Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law prohibits aid to countries run by post-coup military governments.

Nevertheless, if the new bill makes it into law, the US government would not find itself in the same situation in the future because it is tasked with making a coup determination.

The bill, which was drafted in consultation with the White House, was criticized by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who said, “Instead of holding the Egyptians accountable, this bill will make it easier for the US to send tanks and F-16 fighter jets to a country that suffers endemic violence against political opponents and religious minorities.”

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Potential US war on Syria based on a snuff movie

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | September 21, 2013

The American war footing towards Syria plumbs a new diabolical depth.

Not only is it an act of criminal aggression against an innocent country – the supreme crime according to Nuremberg Principles – but that transgression would itself be based on another vile crime – the deliberate killing of children for propaganda purposes.

The notorious videos purporting to show the half-clothed bodies of dozens of lifeless Syrian children are the central component of US claims for launching a war against Syria. Suspiciously, this footage gained wide circulation on the internet and on international television news bulletins within hours of the alleged toxic gas attack on 21 August near Damascus.

Now it appears that those videos are part of an elaborate, diabolical fabrication, the circumstances of which are very different from what they are meant to assign.

Nobody is questioning the fact that the children are dead. But what transpires is that the children seem to have been murdered by some form of intoxication and that their deaths were then recorded by their killers – with the calculated intention of producing a propaganda video.

That propaganda purports to blame the Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons causing massive civilian casualties. That in turn is aimed at provoking outrage among world public opinion, which would underpin US military intervention on the basis of President Obama’s so-called red line on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In other words, the world is being pushed into acquiescing to a US-led criminal war on Syria based on a vile “snuff movie.”

In the world of vice, there can be few acts more criminal and morally depraved than that of making snuff movies. This illegal genre of film is where some unwitting victim is murdered on screen for the perverse gratification of those behind the camera and the eventual underground audience who indulge in such odious entertainment.

Usually, in the making of snuff movies, the persons recording the scene of death are the killers or their accomplices. These movies are, needless to say, highly illegal and confined to a secretive subculture. Those who make snuff movies and watch them are complicit in murder, and the videos are in effect indictable evidence of their crime.

On close examination of the alleged gas attack videos that came out of Syria on 21 August, the blunt assessment is that the footage is nothing less than a snuff movie.

This is the shocking conclusion from an independent study carried out by Syrian Christian leader Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib. Under the auspices of the Geneva-based International Institute of Peace, Justice and Human Rights, the study concludes that the infamous gas-attack videos showing dead children is a fabrication. That is, the children were not killed, as alleged, by Syrian government forces firing chemical weapons on the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

According to the authors: “From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the chemical attacks of east Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly.”

Mother Agnes’ investigation goes on to say chillingly: “Our first concern was the fate of the children we see in the footages. Those angels are always alone in the hands of adult males that seem to be elements of armed gangs. The children that trespassed remain without their families and unidentified all the way until they are wrapped in the white shrouds of the burial. Moreover, our study highlights without any doubt that their little bodies were manipulated and disposed with theatrical arrangements to figure in the screening.”

The authors add: “Thus we want to raise awareness toward the humanitarian case of this criminal use of children in the political propaganda of the east Ghouta chemical weapons attack.”

Mother Agnes and her co-authors have submitted their findings to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. But, tellingly, the report, which was published earlier this week, has received negligible coverage in the Western mainstream media.

It is not determined who actually killed the children and by what method. Some observers have pointed out that the victims appear to have tourniquets on their arms. That would suggest that they received a lethal injection.

It also appears that the children are not from the location of Ghouta. It is believed that many of them were abducted by the foreign-backed militants during raids on pro-government villages in the Latakia area of northwest Syria during the weeks prior to 21 August.

That confers on the crime in Ghouta on 21 August the most hideous proportions. For what is deduced is that dozens of children were abducted for the fate of cold-blooded murder, to be videoed with the purpose of fabricating a crime falsely attributed to others for propaganda effect – propaganda to precipitate a war.

When we look at the choreographed way in which the US government and its Western allies have reacted to the incident and the videos, it is suggestive of collusion at some level. Several reports have tied the involvement of Saudi, Turk and Israeli intelligence with the supply of toxic chemicals to the foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria for the Western agenda of regime change against the government of President Assad. These intelligence agencies are closely aligned with those of the US, Britain and France.

The fundamental importance of the alleged gas-attack videos to the US and Western case for military intervention in Syria raises the question of how much do these governments know about the exact circumstances of the child deaths that ostensibly occurred in Ghouta on 21 August.

Apart from flawed interpretation of the inconclusive UN chemical inspectors’ report released earlier this week, the other component of the US government’s case for a military attack on Syria are the videos purporting to show the aftermath of a chemical weapons incident in Ghouta.

Appealing to Congress for military strikes on Syria earlier this month, US Secretary of State John F Kerry described those images as “sickening,” and added that “the world must act on such horror.”

Affecting an air of privileged briefing, members of Congress were taken into closed-door sessions. There, they watched the videos showing lifeless children lying in gaunt rooms in an unknown location, apparently having died from exposure to sarin or some other toxic gas.

It appears that US lawmakers viewed the same video footage that the rest of the world has also accessed via the internet and on television news bulletins. The viewing of such distressing scenes paved the way for the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to vote for resolution 2021 backing President Obama’s military attack on Syria.

While the momentum for war has abated in the past week because of the Russian-brokered deal to decommission Syrian government chemical weapons, nevertheless the US continues to threaten that military strikes still remain an option on the table.

US-led wars in the past have notoriously relied on false flags and pretexts, such as the sinking of the USS Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and 9/11. But if the US commits to war on Syria, its lawlessness will have reached a new low. In that event, it will be a war of aggression based on a snuff movie.

~

Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For many years, he worked as an editor and writer in the mainstream news media, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. He is now based in East Africa where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring.He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio.

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ecuador snubs US trade ‘blackmail’ over Snowden, offers human rights training

RT | June 28, 2013

Ecuador renounced trade benefits which the US threatened to revoke over the Latin American country’s consideration of harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden. It offered $23 million a year to fund human rights education for Americans instead.

The government of leftist President Rafael Correa came up with an angry response on Thursday after an influential US senator said he would use his leverage over trade issues to cut preferential treatment of Ecuadoran goods at the US market, should Ecuador grant political asylum to Snowden.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

He added that Ecuador is willing to allocate $23 million annually, an equivalent of the sum that it gained from the benefits, to fund human rights training in the US. It will “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said.

US Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, said this week that Ecuador risks losing the benefits it enjoys under two trade programs because of its stance on the NSA whistleblower.

“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” he said.

The US is Ecuador’s prime trade partner, with over 40 percent of exports going to the US market.

Both programs were due to expire by the end of next month and were subject to congressional review. Before the Snowden debacle arose, the US legislature was expected to scrap one of them while renewing another one.

Snowden has applied for political asylum, hoping to find protection from American prosecutors, who charged him with espionage over his leaking of classified documents on US surveillance programs.

He is currently thought to be staying in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. He became stranded in the Russian capital after arriving from Hong Kong, because the US annulled his travel passport as part of its effort to get him to American soil for trial.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Israeli US senator pushes bill requiring military aid to Syria insurgents

Press TV – May 7, 2013

Despite recent findings of a UN probe team that foreign-backed insurgents in Syria have used chemical agents in the country, a top US senator has introduced a bill requiring the Obama administration to supply lethal weapons to the anti-Damascus militant gangs.

Democratic Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menedez, well known for his pro-Israeli views and positions, introduced the legislation to his committee on Monday, which would explicitly allow Washington to provide arms and military training to the militant gangs that include al-Qaeda-linked terrorist elements.

The move came on the heels of unprovoked Israeli aerial and missile attacks against Syria in recent days, in a flagrant violation of international law, and a report by a UN investigation team that pointed to “strong, concrete suspicions” of chemical weapons use by foreign-backed Syrian opposition forces that are engaged in a US-led move to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN commission probing the alleged use of the nerve gas sarin in Syria, announced on Sunday that the country’s opposition forces, and not the Assad regime, were behind the use of chemical weapons.

There are “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” of sarin gas being used “on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she reportedly told a Swiss-Italian television outlet.

Meanwhile, Menendez, a New York Democrat who was recently investigated for ties and accepting campaign funds and bribes from a criminal enterprise in Florida, claimed in a statement that “the Assad regime has crossed a red line that forces us to consider all options.”

He further called for clear measures by Washington to tip the military balance in favor of the anti-Damascus militant gangs in line with the recent aggression by the Zionist regime.

“The greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in and around Syria, and the US must play a role in tipping the scales toward opposition groups and working to build a free Syria,” Menendez further claimed.

Such remarks come while Menendez, along with several other pro-Israeli Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress have been urging the Obama administration to intervene in Syria in support of the insurgents and in a bid to remove President Assad from power.

Furthermore, Menendez is also among those American lawmakers that recently pushed a resolution calling for US backing of the Tel Aviv regime in case it decides to wage a military action against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This is while the Iranian authorities have made clear that in case the Zionist regime dared to attack the country in any way, major Israeli cities will be “razed to the ground” in response and retaliatory measures against US interests would extend far beyond the immediate region.

The US Senate is to consider the draft bill introduced by Menendez next week. In order for the bill to become law, it has to first be approved by the committee, win passage on the floors of the House and the Senate and then signed by President Barack Obama.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Implicated in Corruption Investigation

By Arthur Phillips | CEPR Americas Blog | February 7, 2013

A front-page article in the print edition of today’s Washington Post details how New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez twice approached federal health-care officials about Dr. Solomon Melgen’s outstanding $8.9 million debt to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which the doctor claims was the result of being over billed. Melgen, personally and through his ophthalmology company, has made major contributions to Menendez’s political campaigns.

This is the latest news to follow reports that on Wednesday, January 30, the FBI raided Melgen’s offices, soon after which the senator’s office described the doctor as “a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years.” Two days later, following John Kerry’s resignation from his seat as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become Secretary of State, Menendez took over the position, one of the most powerful and prestigious in Congress.

Menendez, who is Cuban American, has taken a hard line against easing travel restrictions to Cuba and has been described as “fiercely pro-embargo.” The New Jersey Democrat has also worked closely with lawmakers across the aisle on policy towards Iran, including his co-authorship of sanctions legislation with Republican Senator Mark Kirk last year.

Early reports of the FBI’s search focused on allegations that in 2010 Senator Menendez accepted free flights to the Dominican Republic from Dr. Solomon Melgen and had sex with prostitutes during these trips, a claim he has vehemently denied. It was also noted that Menendez is not married, and that prostitution is legal in the Caribbean nation. The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating the senator, who in January of this year wrote a $58,000 personal check to reimburse Melgen for two trips.

But the FBI’s raid appeared to be linked to two parallel investigations of Melgen, one regarding Medicare fraud, the other political corruption. Both investigations may involve the doctor’s relationship with Senator Menendez.

The Associated Press noted that Dr. Melgen, a registered Democrat, has made political contributions to the tune of $193,350 since 1998, $14,200 of which has gone to Menendez. More significantly, the New York Times also reported that Melgen’s medical practice gave $700,000 to a super-PAC that spent more than $528,000 in support of Menendez’s re-election campaign in 2012.

This support has recently been scrutinized in light of a July 2012 Senate hearing, in which Menendez reportedly questioned two officials about why the Obama administration had not been more aggressive in promoting U.S. business interests abroad. During this questioning, the senator specifically highlighted a contract between the Dominican government and a company that would provide x-ray equipment for the country’s ports, namely for the purpose of detecting narcotics trafficking. The contract has been held up due to its enormous cost, which is estimated to be as much as $1 billion over 20 years. In the Senate hearings, Menendez did not refer to the company, ICSSI, by name. He also did not mention that Melgen has an ownership interest in the company.

Furthermore, the New York Times reports that Pedro Pablo Permuy, a long-time former aide to Menendez, was slated to be a top executive at ICSSI. Permuy was a senior legislative aide to the senator from 1993 to 1995 and his national security advisor from 2001 to 2003. Permuy denied being either a board member or an employee of the firm. But Dr. Melgen’s cousin, a lawyer based in Santo Domingo who on Monday publicly defended the doctor and senator and called for the contract’s enforcement, said that Mr. Permuy “will run the operations.” According to a spokesperson for Menendez, the senator knew nothing of his long-time former aide’s involvement with the company.

Over the weekend Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose former aides founded the super-PAC that contributed heavily to Menendez’s most recent re-election campaign, expressed his “utmost confidence” in the New Jersey senator and said he has no problem with his colleague’s continued chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. And Menendez’s aides have said he regularly advocates for U.S. business abroad, and that doing so is appropriate for members of that committee.

In March 2010, New York Democratic Representative Charles Rangel stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after being admonished by the House Ethics Committee and losing the support of his party. Given the news from today’s Washington Post and the ongoing Senate Ethics Committee and FBI investigations, it remains to be seen whether leaders of either party will call for Menendez to step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15,000 American forces stationed in Kuwait: Senate account

Press TV – June 20, 2012

A US Senate report indicates that the United States has now nearly 15,000 troops in three bases across Kuwait- – triple the average number of American forces in the Middle Eastern country before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee released the report on Tuesday, considering how to promote the US interests in the Persian Gulf region after the American forces left Iraq last year.

According to the report, having the military bases throughout the region is a “lily pad” model to allow for a rapid escalation of military forces.

The Kuwaiti bases “offer the United States major staging hubs, training ranges, and logistical support for regional operations,” the report said, adding, the “US forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense.”

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has recently said there are roughly 40,000 American troops in the area to respond to the region’s possible conflicts.

The American forces have also been stationed in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby had said, “The secretary (of defense) has been very clear that while we do this shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific, that the Central Command area of responsibility will still remain a high priority.”

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Comments Off on 15,000 American forces stationed in Kuwait: Senate account

Student Outreach at AIPAC

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee cultivates the next generation of pro-Israel student leaders.

March 18, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments