The Suffering Goes On and On

[The lies will continue to enslave us, until we stop letting them pass.  If we accept the lies that we know are wrong then they become the same as the truth.  SEE: Gaza Is Our Guernica The "civilized world" accepts, in paralytic mute silence, the malevolent abuse that Israel heaps upon all the Palestinian people as state policy, acceptable state terrorism.  We would not accept this treatment for any other people--the wholesale destruction of most of their homes, accompanied by a blockade of all building supplies...at the onset of winter!  The Western world deserves the judgment of Hell's worst punishment for endorsing this sick policy.]

The Suffering Goes On and On

By Ron Forthofer

 

6gaza_horizon_smoke.jpg
Novembert 16, 2009

This past September, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict issued its report. Richard Goldstone, a South African Justice and a strong supporter of Israel, headed the effort. During the period under investigation, Israeli forces killed over 1400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were defenseless civilians, while 13 Israelis were killed. Although the report was well covered elsewhere, the U.S. corporate media did not give much attention to its findings.

Excerpts from the press release of the report provide an overview:

“Following its 3-month investigation, the four-person Mission concluded that serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel in the context of its military operations in Gaza from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.

The Mission also found that Palestinian armed groups had committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity.

“The report concluded that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. The Report states that Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, and could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed. …”

This report’s findings are consistent with those of other groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as testimonies from Israeli soldiers who served in Gaza during the massacre.

The Obama administration dismissed the report, expressing “serious concerns about many recommendations in the report” according to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN. In October, the U.S. opposed a UN Human Rights Council resolution that supported taking the report to the Security Council, and just last week the U.S. also voted against a General Assembly Resolution calling for the report to be sent to the Security Council. These Obama administration’s positions, along with its backtracking on Israeli settlements, again make it clear that the U.S. is not an honest broker in peace negotiations involving Israel.

Additionally, last week the U.S. House of Representatives considered a resolution calling for President Obama to continue his opposition to the Goldstone report. Despite Judge Goldstone’s documentation that the resolution was almost entirely based on falsehoods and misrepresentations, 344 members (including the seven Colorado representatives) still voted in favor of it.

Lost in all these maneuvers to sidetrack the Goldstone report is the fact that the Israeli attack was unnecessary. A ceasefire had effectively ended rocket firing into Israel for over four months until Israel broke the ceasfire in early November, 2008. After the ceasefire ended in mid-December, Hamas eventually offered a new ceasefire under the conditions that Israel would lift the siege on Gaza and stop its attacks. Israel’s response was to initiate its long-planned attack.

Also overshadowed in the dispute about the Goldstone report is the siege of Gaza that continues today. Eleven months before the Israeli attack, Karen Koning AbuZayd, commissioner general for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, wrote: “Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and – some would say – encouragement of the international community.” The situation she described has greatly worsened since Israel’s attack. Israel has refused to allow material for rebuilding homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, civil administration buildings, sanitation facilities, etc. into Gaza. There is also a critical shortage of food, clean water and medicine. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Europe, leaders of the so-called civilized world, are active partners in this crime against humanity. Through their silence, the U.S. corporate media also abet this crime.

Please inform your elected representatives of your dismay at their support for a cover-up of war crimes. As supporters of human rights and justice for all, we can also join the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) to apply pressure on Israel akin to the movement against South African apartheid. Locally, please join the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (303-444-6981).

The fire is spreading

The fire is spreading

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

Some six months ago I wrote a critique of the media on these pages for not abiding by professional journalistic ethics in its coverage of the military action in Malakand. Among other things, I emphasised how the daily Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press releases were printed almost word for word without independent source verification (or a mention that no such source existed).

It is perhaps not surprising that the same exercise is being repeated now with Operation Rah-e-Nijat. But it is a damning indictment of those who claim to be committed to freedom of information and other principles of media democracy all the same. Through the course of this year, as the state’s long-standing policy of patronising religious militancy has unravelled in the face of increasing pressure from Washington, the media has answered the call of the powers-that-be to be loyal to the “greater national interest.” It is perhaps considered by and by that protecting the “greater national interest” requires the sacrifice of basic journalistic principles.

For a few days recently some media personalities made hay about restrictions on media coverage of “terrorism” which apparently all parliamentary parties deemed necessary. The expected furore never came to pass, and it has recently been reported that most media outlets have voluntarily agreed to a code of conduct vis-a-vis what can be shown on live TV and what cannot. No democratic government should ever employ draconian measures against the media. On this occasion, however, it appears to make sense that a confrontation was avoided by the media’s own admission that showing mutilated bodies strewn around bomb sites is not beneficial to the public interest. But in general the media’s practice of self-censorship is motivated rarely by public-interest concerns.

The media is a commercial entity and therefore can always be expected to cater, first and foremost, to its profit-making needs. In Pakistan the private TV media revolution was welcomed by ordinary people who have historically been fed a surfeit of state ideology via Pakistan Television (PTV). Only a few short years after a glittering christening, however, the private media has proven that the profit-motive can coexist quite well with the ideological agenda that we all thought had been left behind with the state’s monopoly on information.

In recent times the media has clamoured about the imperative of military action in Waziristan while at the same time recovering the familiar narrative of an Indian-Israeli-American conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear arsenal and eventually dismember it. It is amazing that these two narratives can go together, but that is exactly how the choreographers behind the scenes would have it. In short, the ideational leap that was first made immediately prior to the Swat operation – that the once loyal jihadi protégés of the state are now its most lethal enemies – is being taken to its logical conclusion; that is, through the insistence that those who claim to be undertaking jihad against the Pakistani state are actually agents of RAW, Mossad and the CIA.

The “foreign hand” theory is back in a big way, and the media is proving to be more loyal than the king in propagating it far and wide. Caches of arms captured in high-profile operations read “Made in India.” Newspaper headlines accuse the “foreign hand” of constructing special aircraft to storm our nuclear installations. In a very conspicuous parallel development, the Afghan Taliban have reportedly dissociated themselves with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claiming that real warriors of Islam never target Muslim innocents. This fits the media narrative that has now cast away all pretensions in making a clear distinction between genuine holy warriors and “enemy” agents masquerading as jihadis. The former are essential to the security of “Islam,” and therefore the Pakistani state, whereas the latter are out to malign Islam and wipe Pakistan off the map.

The right-wingers in the media, educational institutions and within the state are of course aided in drumming up nationalist hysteria by the increasingly conspicuous man-management that Washington insists upon. It is a fact that there has been an influx of American “security men” into Islamabad and other cities. It was widely reported that Americans completed deserted their positions on the Pakistani-Afghan border as soon as the South Waziristan operation started. Then there is the recently published story in The New Yorker by Seymour Hersh rehashing the tired theme of Pakistani nukes’ safety.

Notwithstanding the disastrous role that American imperialism has played, and continues to play, in the wider region, it is crucial to understand why anti-Americanism (and its anti-India corollary) is being cultivated by the media at the present time. The goal is not to facilitate democratisation or foster genuine anti-imperialist sensibilities; the media’s harping on about America and India directly aids the security establishment’s attempts to paper over the contradictions that have erupted in recent times to reassert its strategic vision and its control over state affairs.

American forces must leave Afghanistan and American control over policymaking in Pakistan must be resisted. But the same security establishment and right-wing media that got into bed with the Americans in the first place some 30 years ago are part of the problem, and are not the heroic defenders of the people that they claim to be.

As the operation in South Waziristan is concluded, to great media fanfare, the people of Pakistan will be no closer to lasting peace than they were before the “mother of all operations” was started. In fact, very little appears to have changed. Change will only happen if and when we undertake an exercise in collective introspection and accept that the Frankenstein that we have created cannot be understood, and therefore tamed, by engaging in unaccountable military operations in one part of the country after another.

This is not a “war” against the proverbial “foreign hand,” or even, as the liberals would have it, against the “extremists.” After all, those who blow themselves up are products of this society and the ideas that circulate freely within it. The real battle must be waged against the obsolete and poisonous ideas that litter our textbooks and the hyper-nationalist propaganda that is spewed out by those who claim to be providing us with unadulterated facts. Underlying all of this is a gory struggle for power in which all players invoke state sovereignty and willingly expend human lives in the name of this sovereignty.

If we are willing to get to the heart of the matter, there may yet be hope that we can build a self-respecting nation on the basis of a new social contract. Such a nation can resist Empire, and make friends with its neighbours. If we persist with fire-fighting, the fire will only spread further.

The writer teaches colonial history at Quaid-e-Azam University and is affiliated with People’s Rights Movement.

Email: amajid@comsats. net.pk

TTP claims ISI headquarters bombing

TTP claims ISI headquarters bombing

PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on the regional headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the city.

Qari Hussain, a top commander of the TTP, phoned reporters to claim responsibility for the suicide bombing that targeted the ISI regional headquarters off the busy Khyber Road in the Cantonment area.

Qari Hussain, cousin of the TTP head Hakimullah Mahsud and known as the trainer of suicide bombers, threatened further attacks against the security forces and law-enforcement agencies.

He said the suicide bombings and other attacks would be carried out and there would be no letup in this campaign. In the past, Qari Hussain, other TTP commanders and spokesmen have been saying that they would continue fighting and attacking the security forces and the government installations as long Pakistan remained an ally of the US.

The TTP did not claim responsibility for the recent spate of attacks in markets and other public places in Peshawar and Charsadda. Rather, leaflets were issued in the name of the TTP denying its involvement in the bombings at public places and blaming the country’s intelligence agencies for these attacks. The TTP spokesman Azam Tariq even blamed the US private security firm, Blackwater, now renamed Xe, for the bombings in bazaars.

Education Best Defense Against Ideology Based on False Teachings

[Teach the Pashtun boys how to read so that they may read the Quran for themselves.]

Illiteracy behind extremism: Taseer

THE outgoing British High Commissioner in Pakistan Robert Brinkley called on Punjab Governor Salman Taseer at the Governor’s House on Sunday.

Mr and Mrs Taseer hosted a farewell luncheon in honour of Mr Robert Brinkley and his wife Ms Marry. Lauding the services of Mr Robert Brinkley for strengthening relations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, the governor said he had significantly contributed to promoting the bilateral cooperation in the fields of commerce and industry. He expressed hope that the relations would further flourish in future.

The governor hailed the role of the UK for supporting Pakistan at the forum of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan. He also appreciated the huge financial assistance from the UK in the development sector of country for next four years. He said the UK should support Pakistan in the fields of education, science, technology and agriculture to strengthen the economy of the country. He said the main cause of extremism in the country was illiteracy and the government was taking all possible measures for the development of education sector.

Lauding the culture and traditions of the country, Mr Brinkley said Pakistanis were a peaceful loving nation and added that he enjoyed his stay in the country. He said that more than one million Pakistanis living in the UK served as a bridge between the two countries and they made great contributions to the British society as well as economy.

The Faithful Brave Certain Danger to Denounce Wahabbi Terrorists

[Here is the answer to this war and a peaceful resolution for all mankind--confront the pretenders who give faith a bad name.]

Taliban under fire at Raiwind gathering

Participants vow to make Pakistan cradle of peace

Monday, November 16, 2009
RAIWIND: Inayatullah Khan sits on a dusty rug and prepares to pray at Pakistan’s biggest religious gathering of 400,000 Muslims in Raiwind, cursing the Taliban for their unholy crusade against humanity.

Khan travelled all the way from South Waziristan to take part in the four-day event, one of the world’s largest Islamic gatherings, in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore.A resident of Kanigurram, a former Taliban hub that the military says it has captured during its ongoing five-week offensive in the northwest, Khan, 50, accused the Taliban of straying from the path of God and butchering Muslims.

“They call those who refuse to follow their brand of Islam infidels, not knowing they are inviting the wrath of Allah the Almighty by killing Muslims, which I call an unholy crusade,” Khan said.

A Muslim whose faith is important enough to make an arduous three-day journey and sleep in a tent for four days, Khan invited the Taliban “to join us in spreading Islam’s eternal message of love, affection and peace”. The Thursday-Sunday gathering in Raiwind is being held under tight security due to paced up attacks that have swept the country killing more than 2,500 people in two years.

Contingents of police guard the single-carriage road, lined by eucalyptus trees, that links Raiwind with Lahore.“Despite having to sleep under tents in cold and inhospitable weather, there is no let-up in our resolve to make this country a cradle of peace, a country free of suicide attacks and explosions,” Khan said.

Faced with near-daily attacks, concentrated most heavily in the northwest, many mourn the mounting civilian toll from bombings, often targeting market places, but lace their comments with pervasive anti-American fears.

“Our hearts bleed for the hundreds of innocent people who have lost their lives and our security officials who are being killed by the Taliban,” said Mohammad Farooq, a resident of Tank, where some of the tens of thousands displaced by fighting in South Waziristan have sought shelter.

“The Taliban are enemies of Islam and humanity and advance only an American and Indian agenda – to destabilise Pakistan,” said Farhan Hamad Khan, who had come from Dera Ismail Khan, where many other refugees are also living.

When the prayer leader gave the call to prayer, people rushed towards hundreds of temporary washrooms to make their ablutions.As Muhammad Azhar, an Islamabad-based chartered accountant, waited his turn, he remembered how Pakistan’s ‘icon of democracy’ Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack in 2007.

“Her killers still roam around scot-free,” said the bearded Azhar. “No religion, including Islam, allows the killing of humans. We need to hold gatherings like this one and inculcate in our people a true spirit of Islam,” he added. The prayer leader in his Friday sermon addressed the same issue. “A stern punishment awaits all those who refuse to follow commandments of Allah the Almighty,” he said into a pin-drop silence among the avid masses.

Time to Clean-Out Rats Nest in Bara

Adeel wants action in Peshawar outskirts

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) Senior Vice-President and Senator Haji Adeel has stressed the need for conducting a military operation in the tribal areas bordering Peshawar.

Talking to the media here on Sunday, Adeel said unless the military operation was launched in the tribal areas located in the suburbs of Peshawar, the incidents of bomb blasts in the provincial metropolis could not be stopped.

He said security forces and police were rendering sacrifices for the safety and security of dwellers of the city, but for the complete stoppage of such practice, a crack down was a must. Adeel said the suicide bomber, who exploded himself at the Pistakhara Chowk had arrived from the adjacent Bara area of Khyber Agency and his target was some populated area in Peshawar Saddar.

Adeel also paid tribute to the police officials, who embraced martyrdom by blocking the entry of the suicide bomber into the city. He said the police officials were effectively maintaining law and order in the city, but the problem was that they did not have any access to the adjacent tribal areas. He also suggested merger of Fata into the NWFP, as a result of which, administrative measures would be taken effectively and security forces could nab the culprits.

Gen. Beg Claims US Helicopter Flew Hakeemullah to Safety

US shifted TTP leaders to Afghanistan: Beg

LAHORE: General (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg has alleged that the US has shifted Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud and the other Taliban leadership to Afghanistan.

In an interview, Aslam Beg said when the Pakistan Army started the operation in South Waziristan, a helicopter flew from the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and shifted Hakimullah Mehsud and other militants to Afghanistan.

He said Hakimullah Mehsud and other militant commanders were present in Afghanistan. He alleged that the US was backing the militants fighting against the Pakistan Army in South Waziristan Agency.

He said that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India wanted to detach the tribal areas from Pakistan but it did not succeed in its designs. About the current wave of terrorism in the country, especially in Peshawar, he said these incidents could be a reaction to the Waziristan operation but possibilities of the US and other foreign actors’ involvement could not be ruled out.

Responding to a question about the operation Rah-e-Nijat, he said the people were talking about the difficulties in the operation and the possibility that the Army could be trapped in the area but due to an effective strategy, the military succeeded in clearing the area of the militants within a month and the remaining task would be completed soon.

About the US efforts in Afghanistan, he said the US could neither succeed in Afghanistan nor could get a safe exit from the Afghan soil until it corrected its attitude with the Pakistan Army. Aslam Beg said only the Pakistan Army and the Taliban could give a safe exit to the US from Afghanistan. About the military action in Balochistan, he said there was no need for a military operation in the province.

Attempts on Anti-Taliban Nazim Prove Mangal Bagh Is Taliban

Life bid on anti-Taliban Nazim thwarted

Lashkar men kill three Burqa-clad attackers

By Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: Volunteers of the Qaumi Lashkar shot dead three Burqa-clad men near the residence of an anti-Taliban Nazim in Bazidkhel village on Sunday.

Nazim Bazidkhel Union Council Faheemur Rahman, like the slain Nazim of Adezai Union Council Abdul Malik, has raised a voluntary Lashkar comprising several hundred villagers to protect his area from militants.

He has survived a number of bombings and attacks on his life after starting a blood-feud with Mangal Bagh, the chief of the Khyber Agency-based militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI).

“The three Burqa-clad terrorists were on their way to my village Hujra, five kilometres south of Peshawar on the Kohat Road, when someone informed the Qaumi Lashkar volunteers andthe villagers managed to kill them,” Faheemur Rahman told The News. He said apparently he was the target as several attempts had been made in the past to eliminate him.

The Nazim claimed that the attackers were from the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency and were associated with the Lashkar-e-Islam, which had attacked his house and Hujra thrice in recent months.

There were reports that the villagers had caught the attackers the other day and killed them on Sunday morning. However, this piece of information could not be confirmed by the Nazim or other independent sources.

Large contingents of the Badaber police rushed to the village after the incident. “We are investigating the matter,” a police official said. It was learnt that the three attackers appeared to be tribesmen. They had sustained numerous bullet injuries on their bodies.

No group has claimed responsibility for the failed attack on the Nazim nor has anyone owned the three men so far. Several people were killed and dozens others, including women and children, wounded a few months back when Faheemur Rahman’s Hujra was attacked in a car bombing. The Nazim also claimed that two other bomb blasts, one in Barrisco Bazaar and another on the Fakhar-e-Alam Road in Peshawar Cantonment on September 26, were meant to eliminate him.

His rivalry with Mangal Bagh started when his men and other villagers of Bazidkhel killed nine tribesmen coming from the Khyber Agency. At the time, Faheemur Rahman alleged that the armed men were sent to kidnap him. Vowing to avenge the killings, Mangal Bagh had said the men were there only to warn the Nazim. Since that incident, the villagers of Bazidkhel have been spending sleepless nights and uncertain days. Hundreds of armed people of the area patrol the village to counter any attack by Mangal Bagh’s men.

Abdul Malik, the Nazim killed in a suicide attack last Monday, had close coordination with Faheemur Rahman and his Qaumi Lashkar. The two were providing support to each other in the time of need. Many believe that Abdul Malik’s death was a great loss for Faheemur Rahman.

Complaining about lack of support from the police force and the Frontier Constabulary, the villagers of Bazidkhel, Adezai and Badaber mostly depend on their own Lashkars to avoid terrorist attacks from the nearby Darra Adamkhel and the Khyber Agency.

On Sunday, however, a combing operation was launched in Badaber, Matani and surrounding areas to arrest the suspected terrorists. “Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Karim Khan led the cops equipped with modern weapons during the operation. They arrested seven suspected terrorists,” said Masood Khan, spokesman for the capital city police.

International Intelligence Front Posing as Islamic Extremists Remains Greatest Threat to US

Al Qaeda still greatest threat to US: Obama

SHANGHAI: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the greatest threats to the United States continued to be terrorist networks like al Qaeda.

“I continue to believe that the greatest threat to the United States’ security are the terrorist networks like al Qaeda,” he told students at a town hall meeting in Shanghai.

“They have now moved over the border of Afghanistan and are in Pakistan, but they continue to have networks with other extremist organisations in that region and I do believe it is important for us to stabilise Afghanistan.”

Gordon, the Lies are Wearing Thin

[This is pure manure, unless by "al Qaida," Brown means the network of intelligence agencies that recruit and train Muslim extremists, until they qualify as "Islamists"?]

Danger from al Qaeda strong as ever: Brown

LONDONL: UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown today warned the danger posed by al-Qaeda is as strong as ever, trying to rally support for the war in Afghanistan.

The PM claimed the terrorist network remain the “biggest threat” to Britain’s national security.

‘It is essential that UK forces win the battle in Afghanistan against Taliban insurgents.’

‘We are in Afghanistan because we judge that, if the Taliban regained power, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups would once more have an environment in which they could operate.”

Brown said, “Make no mistake, al-Qaeda have an extensive recruitment network across Africa the Middle East, Western Europe – and in UK.”

His speech came amid growing evidence the public is turning against the war in Afghanistan.

Mumbai Attackers Await Identification in J.J.Hospital Morgue

[Why have Indian authorities not published photos of the terrorists, to find identities?]

No takers for bodies of nine slain 26/11 ultras

Mumbai/New Delhi: Almost a year after they were killed during the terrible assault on Mumbai last November, the bodies of the nine terrorists continue to remain in Mumbai’s J.J. Hospital morgue. There are no claimants and the authorities are clueless on what to do with them.

They continue to remain in a room sealed with round-the-clock security and where the temperature is set at four degrees Celsius to prevent any decomposition.

The 10 gunmen killed over 170 people in a series of coordinated attacks that began Nov 26 last year. Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, currently undergoing trial, was the only one captured alive after the strikes that targeted two luxury hotels, the city’s main train station, a hospital and a Jewish centre.

After Kasab’s trial started, the government, through Special Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nikam, planned on moving an application before Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani seeking direction on how to deal with the embalmed bodies of the terrorists. But that move never materialised.

The Muslim Council has flatly refused to allow the burial of the bodies of the slain terrorists in the Marine Lines Bada Qabrastan (cemetery). The council said it also sent a message to all cemeteries in India that none of the bodies should be buried on Indian soil.

The influential Muslim Jama Masjid Trust, which runs the 7.5-acre Bada Qabrastan graveyard, said it would not bury the gunmen because they were not true followers of Islam.

Some outfits had even suggested soon after the attack that the terrorists’ bodies be dumped outside the premises of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi or thrown into the Arabian Sea.

“In view of the strong sentiments, police will have to be careful about how to deal with the issue,” said a state government official.

Since then both the Maharashtra government and police have been caught in a dilemma over what to do with the bodies.

“We had informed the Pakistan government about the bodies. However, there has been no response from them so far,” Nikam told IANS.

A top government official told IANS that with the new government in office, a decision would soon be taken on what to do with the bodies.

So far, apart from the investigators from Mumbai Police, state and central agencies, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) representatives have been the only ones permitted to view the bodies.

Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria said: “We had sent evidence to Pakistan to claim the bodies of the terrorists with their Pakistani addresses. We have sent another reminder last month but are yet to receive any correspondence from them.”

The Pakistan High Commission on its part washed its hands off the entire affair.

“They are not our friends, they are not followers of Islam. We have nothing to with them at all. Why ask us?” said a senior official.

Shortly after the attackers were gunned down, their bodies were brought to the hospital where a team of doctors performed autopsies and filed post-mortem reports with police.

Thereafter, the bodies were embalmed and shifted to the room where they lie.

According to hospital staff, the bodies are still in “perfect condition, recognisable and identifiable”. But the big question is how long will the bodies continue to remain in the morgue? A decision will have to be taken sooner or later.

CIA Enjoys Easy Recruitment In Florida, as Economic Difficulties Overcome Student Morality

CIA recruits on UCF campus

Students swarm to information session

By Camille Thomas

CIA Rami Rotlewicz

 

When recruiters from the CIA came to UCF, the room was so packed that many students had to stand along walls and sit on the floor to hear the information presented.

On Thursday, the CIA came to present information about job positions and to interview students interested in pursuing a career with the agency.

Some universities showed resistance against CIA recruitment on college campuses in the past, such as New York University and the University of Texas, where the Campus Antiwar Network protested to the point of cancellation of the recruitments in the spring of 2005. No UCF groups gathered to protest the event on Thursday, however.

Instead, there was optimism for students in need of well-paying careers after graduating into an economic downturn, especially those in currently lower-demand fields, such as humanities.

“If you are really passionate about something, there is something here for you,” said Director of Intelligence recruiter Michael Coles.

The CIA sought interns, fellows and employees from UCF in order to broaden the schools from which they recruit. UCF’s diverse student population and breadth of academics prompted the first-time CIA visit, Coles said, referring to UCF as a “school on the upswing.”

The agency was looking to attract primarily undergraduate students in the fields of political science specializing in international affairs or relations, modern foreign languages, graphic design, English, journalism, mass communications, multimedia, history, area studies, mathematics/statistics, sociology, biotechnology, physics and chemistry, but not exclusively, according to an e-mail sent to students by the assistant director of employer relations for the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Sciences.

“I was always interested in the CIA,” said senior biology major, Daniele Salles. “I wanted to see if [having a career with the CIA] was realistic, and it is.”

The benefits to the job were notable and included further education, job training, financial support from the agency in many aspects, flexible schedules and opportunities for those in the military as well as those with dual citizenship with other countries.

The information session addressed general departments and open positions as analytic methodologists, counterterrorism analysts, economists, leadership analysts, military analysts, political Islam analysts, political analysts, publications officers, science, technology and weapon analysts and targeting analysts.

Students were instructed by Career Services to apply online on the CIA Web site. The hiring process is ongoing as long as positions and programs are open. Students were also able to submit resumes at the Public Service Career Showcase for possible selection for an interview the following Friday. Recruiters from the CIA will be returning to UCF in the spring semester on Jan. 27 and 28

Blood, Oil & Afghanistan

Blood, Oil & Afghanistan

//

//

As a reminder of why we fight in Afghanistan the following was gleaned from news articles.

________________

1995 – Unocal signs agreements allowing the oil giant to build an oil and gas pipeline across Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to serve potential Asian markets.

 

Oct. 1997 – Unocal and other oil companies form Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) in preparation for building the trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

 

Oct. 1997 – US Congress passes a resolution declaring the Caspian and Caucasus region to be a “zone of vital American interests”.

 

Dec. 1997- Unocal execs host Taliban representatives at their corporate headquarters in Sugarland, Texas to seal the CentGas pipeline project. Taliban are invited to Washington DC for meetings with Clinton Administration energy officials.

 

Jan. 1998 – Dick Cheney, CEO of Halliburton (an oil services company) says: “I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian.”

 

Feb. 28, 1998 – John Maresca, VP for International Relations at Unocal speaks before US House of Representatives, stating that the Taliban government of Afghanistan should be removed and replaced by a government that is acceptable to UnoCal, adding that it could increase Unocal profits 500% by 2015. (Maresca’s full testimony is worth reading – it’s an eye-opener):

http://www.ringnebula.com /Oil/Maresca_testimony_USHouse_1998.htm)

 

May 15, 2001 – Regarding the the Unocal pipeline deal, a Bush government official delivers an ultimatum to the Taliban: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold (Unocal’s pipeline), or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” (source: Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in “Forbidden Truth”)

 

June 2001 – US Ambassador Barbara Bodine prohibits Deputy FBI Director John O’Neill from entering Yemen to investigate al-Qaeda links to the USS Cole attack.

 

July 2001 – Niaz Naik, former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, tells the BBC that the US was planning military attacks on the Taliban long before the 9-11 attacks, and that the US desires “to topple the Taliban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place”

(http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1550366.stm)

 

Aug. 22, 2001- Deputy Director O’Neill resigns in disgust over Bush Administration obstruction of FBI investigations into al-Qaeda. (New Yorker 1/14/02)

 

July – Sept. 2000 – Pakistani Intelligence Chief (ISI) Mahmoud Ahmad instructs British-born Saeed Sheikh in Pakistan to wire $100,000 to two Florida bank accounts held by 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. (Dawn News

10-9-01, World Net Daily 1-30-02, Times of India 08-1-03, inter alia)

 

Sept. 4, 2001 – Gen. Ahmad meets with top Bush officials in Washington.

 

Sept. 11, 2001 – Gen. Ahmad meets with Rep.(later FBI Director) Porter Goss (R-FL) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Porter Goss subsequently serves as co-chairman of the “Joint Intelligence Committee Investigating the 9/11 Attacks.”

 

Oct. 31, 2001 – Bush drafts an executive order sealing the presidential records of the Bush and previous administrations.

 

Dec. 22, 2001 – The US-backed interim government headed by Hamid Karzai takes office. Karzai is a former Unocal consultant and CIA asset.

 

Dec. 31, 2001 – Bush appoints Zalmay Khalilzad as Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Khalilzad is also a former Unocal consultant.

 

Jan. 29, 2002 – CNN reports “President Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the congressional investigations into the events of 9/11/01″

 

Feb 8, 2002 – Afghanistan’s interim ruler Hamid Karzai and the president of Pakistan agree to revive plans for the trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

 

May 13, 2002 – Mohammad Razim, Afghanistan’s minister for Mines and Industries, reports that Unocal is rumored to be “the lead company” to build the pipeline.

 

February 14, 2002: Israeli news Ma’ariv reports: “If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in Afghanistan], one is struck by the fact that they are

completely identical to the route of the projected (Unocal) oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.” Ma’ariv also notes: “Osama bin Laden did not comprehend that his actions serve American interests. If I were a believer in

conspiracy theory, I would think that bin Laden is an American agent. Not being a believer, I can only wonder at the coincidence.” [Chicago Trib, 3/18/2002]

Anti-war protests at Nato summit

Protestors take part in a Stop the War protest in Edinburgh

Demonstrators called for troops to leave Afghanistan

 

Hundreds of anti-war protesters have demonstrated at a meeting of Nato members in Edinburgh.

Politicians and families of dead soldiers were joined on the march by union, student and anti-nuclear groups.

The protest even involved some delegates from the annual Nato parliamentary assembly currently taking place in the city.

They joined their fellow legislators inside the city’s conference centre, after marchers passed outside.

Police barricades

Joan Humphreys, whose grandson Kevin Elliott, a 24-year-old Black Watch private, was killed in Afghanistan in August, addressed the crowd.

She called for British troops to be returned home.

Mrs Humphreys, from Dundee, said: “I would like the troops to come home walking – not on stretchers or in body bags.”

Police barricades kept demonstrators about 300 yards away from the entrance to the conference centre in Morrison Street.

The marchers stopped at the barricades, chanting and letting off flares.

Protestors take part in a Stop the War protest in Edinburgh

Protesters chanted and let off flares

John Cannell, of the Stop the War Coalition, said: “The only solution has to be a political one, but we need the troops out now to make the space for that political solution.”

The rally was later addressed by Rae Street, of the CND international committee.

She said: “Nato is not a peace group – it’s a military alliance, and nothing proves that more than the number of casualties coming back almost daily from Afghanistan.”

The Nato assembly, which began on Friday, will focus on six themes before drawing up resolutions.

These will include reinforcing nuclear non-proliferation and “moving beyond” the economic crisis.

Nato-led operations in Afghanistan feature prominently on the agenda and relations with Russia will also be key issues.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband is due to address the 55th annual assembly, hosted by the UK Government, when it closes on Tuesday.

Banks Move to Grab Gold as Dollar Fades

Gold items are displayed for sale at a shop in Hanoi November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Kham

Gold items are displayed for sale at a shop in Hanoi November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Kham

 

By James Regan

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Central banks will be net buyers of gold this year as they diversify away from the U.S. dollar, marking a reversal of a decades-old trend, global commodities investment fund BlackRock said on Monday in comments that helped drive bullion to fresh record highs.

Investment in gold by central banks has picked up recently, with India buying 200 metric tons from the International Monetary Fund, and Taiwan’s central bank is studying whether to raise the amount of gold in its forex reserves, with China and South Korea also debating the issue.

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest fund managers, boasting a total $1.4 trillion under management across all asset classes. It is manager and adviser to the U.S. Federal Reserve and its views can influence the direction of global markets.

Evy Hambro, who runs two of the world’s largest commodities funds, BlackRock World Mining Fund and Gold & General Fund, gave an upbeat outlook for gold during a media briefing in Australia.

His forecast for net central-bank purchases of gold this year would, if met, mark the first year in two decades when the world’s central banks bought more gold than they sold. They have been net sellers each year since 1988.

Gold stored in central banks worldwide has dropped more than one-sixth since 1989.

“The most recent break-out in the gold price in U.S. dollars has caused most gold prices to start trending higher at the same time,” Hambro said, adding that investors were now looking for gold to rise in other commodities as well as U.S. dollars.

“When you start to see the price rising in a range of different currencies, it is a clear sign of a very strong market to come,” he added.

Spot gold stood at $1,123.70 by 9:16 p.m. EST after touching $1,126.30 per ounce, a record, versus the notional New York close of $1,118.50, helped higher by Hambro’s bullish outlook, according to financial broking group IG Markets.

Bullion has been on an upward spiral as a hedge against the U.S. dollar’s weakness and rising inflation risks, traditional reasons to lap up gold.

Based on the dollar index of major currencies, the U.S. dollar has dropped 7.5 percent this year versus a 33 percent rise in the U.S. dollar gold price.

In other currencies, gold has not reached new highs since early 2009. In Australian and Canadian dollars and the South African rand, it peaked in February.

But Hambro said investors were now “looking for price rises across all currencies” as central banks built up their gold holdings and global supplies tapered off.

“Gold’s role is gathering a lot more attention in terms of risk diversification,” he said.

By 1999 central bank selling was so commonplace that the big European banks signed a pact capping sales at 400 metric tons a year to keep the price from collapsing.

It worked. Gold has gone up just about every year since.

Hambro also said the high level of gold production in China, which has replaced South Africa as the world’s biggest producer, was not sustainable, pressuring world supply.

China’s output rose 13.49 percent in the first half of 2009 from a year earlier to 146.505 metric tons, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China is widely assumed to be buying domestic gold production after revealing in April it held 1,054 metric tons of gold, a jump of 76 percent from its last word on the subject six years earlier.

The Reserve Bank of India last month bought 200 metric tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund, and Sri Lanka’s central bank governor told Reuters this month his bank had been buying gold for the past five or six months.

But not all banks are trading foreign currencies for gold.

Korea has the world’s sixth largest foreign exchange reserves but ranks 56th in terms of gold holdings. Its governor has said it would not be easy for the bank to suddenly increase gold holdings because of the market impact.

Japan has kept its gold reserves steady at 24.6 million troy ounces since mid-2001. The Royal Bank of Australia has not bought any gold since selling two-thirds of its reserve in 1997.

Hambro also said U.S. demand for commodities was starting to show signs of recovery. This, along with stronger Asian demand, set the stage for a prolonged bull market, he added.

Uranium in Iraq: the Poisonous Legacy of the Iraq Wars

Uranium in Iraq: the Poisonous Legacy of the Iraq Wars

Review of Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Joanne Baker’s book
by David MacGregor
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// // //
Global Research, November 15, 2009
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Hegel remarks upon the appearance of “concrete evil” in history, the intermittent eruption of human malevolence on a colossal scale capable of destroying entire societies. Perpetrators of world-historical crimes are propelled solely by passion—by self-regard, greed and hatred—and pay no heed, Hegel noted, to “order and moderation, justice and morality.” [1] The imperialist assault on Iraq—which began with the First Gulf War, reached a peak with “shock and awe” attacks launched by U.S./U.K military forces in 2003, and continues today, nearly twenty years later—offers a horrendous example of unrestrained evil spread across a titanic canvas.Abdul-Haq Al-Ani’s and Joanne Baker’s indispensable book spotlights the appalling criminal enterprise now working itself out in Iraq: Deliberate contamination of the Iraqi nation, its peoples, and natural environment with radiation from previously unheard of weapons of mass destruction—deadly implements of war fashioned from a practically inexhaustible global garbage dump of depleted uranium (DU).

Grisly newspaper photographs and televised images of the “Highway of Death” revealed in late February 1991 desert vistas of burnt-out, twisted Iraqi civilian and military vehicles destroyed in cold blood by US air strikes during Saddam Hussein’s hasty exit from Kuwait. Surely the world will be repelled by such savagery, many thought at the time. Surely these pictures alone will push popular sentiment against war, and propel combatants toward peace? But the cavalcade of cruelty on the road from Kuwait to Basra signaled just the beginning of a crusade that would unfold for most of the next two decades. And no photograph, no television video, nor even the senses of sight, taste, feeling and smell of witnesses on the ground could have revealed the secret corruption of those searing images, the deadly radioactive and toxic refuse emitted in clouds of invisible vapour from fired US missiles, shells and other armaments composed of DU that will contaminate the Gulf area for a millennium.

George H.W. Bush’s 1988 declaration that Saddam Hussein was “worse than Hitler” inaugurated a successful propaganda offensive vilifying the Iraqi people. The culumny against Iraq now extends to its inability to seek protection from radioactive and chemical poisoning by DU, or indeed to carry out and publicize scientific research on dangers presented to humans and animals by DU contamination. As documented in this book, US/UK governments treat DU deposits with serious concern, but only as regards their own territory and citizens. The people of Iraq have become a giant experimental colony for measuring the hazards of ionized radiation and toxicity associated with reckless deployment of DU.

From a purely military point of view, DU is highly cost-effective. [2] DU is a radioactive waste product generated by nuclear reactors and the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Suppliers are anxious to get it off their hands since gratis procurement by the military is a desirable alternative to prohibitively expensive, safe disposal of “nuclear tailings”. Just as chemically toxic as lead, DU is almost twice as heavy and much harder. DU is self-sharpening: DU bores through very tough materials while gaining ability to penetrate. DU at high velocity sears through hard targets such as tank armor and emerges on the other side with intense fire and deathly gases. As this book documents, over 2000 tons of burnt, pulverized and exploded DU have been scattered over Iraq by US/UK armed forces since 1991.

Beginning in 1991 the world stood by while western imperialism enforced a total blockade on Iraq: the first time in modern history that a nation has been entirely cut off from external trade and communications. Only barbaric sieges dating from the Middle Ages offer anything like the spectacle of suffering in Iraq. Even scholarly and scientific discourse fell victim. Without a murmur of dissent from the global community, imperialism barred Iraqi researchers and writers not only from vital materials required for research but also from international sources of scientific discovery and dissemination.

Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Joanne Baker offer in this book an initial scientific reckoning of DU despoliation from behind the uranium curtain. [3] The authors do not suggest that the poor state of health of the Iraqi people arises entirely from DU contamination. There are plenty of reasons for the massive increase in disease, including cancer and birth deformities, among Iraqis. US/UK imperialism destroyed the social infrastructure of the country, including water treatment plants, electric power installations, food markets, hospitals and schools. Uncontrolled oil fires polluted the air. Assaulted by malnutrition and infected water sources, the immunological systems of many Iraqi children have collapsed. Even the farcical trial and diabolical murder of Saddam Hussein did not satisfy western invaders. After the Iraqi leader’s removal, the embargo remained and infrastructure deteriorated even furtherPre-war Iraq enjoyed the professional services of 34,000 registered doctors. By 2006, 20,000 physicians had fled; 2000 of the remainder had been killed, and 250 kidnapped. By 2007, 8 million Iraqis required emergency aid and over half the population of 22 million suffered absolute poverty. The Red Cross reported last year that the humanitarian situation in Iraq was among the most critical on the globe.

Apologists talk about a “failure” of American and British policy in Iraq, the occupiers’ inability to construct a stable democratic system to replace the Ba’athist order under Hussein. [4] But peace and security were never on the order paper for US/UK militarism. Its job was to loot, divide, desecrate and cripple Iraq to ensure the country would never again thumb its nose at the western imperium.

According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, the crime of genocide involves acts committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. These acts include killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and inflicting conditions calculated to destroy the group in whole or part. The authors present compelling evidence that the occupying powers’ indiscriminate use of DU in Iraq, along with the affects of blockade and invasion, conform to these elements of the definition of genocide.

This book includes the results of controlled studies by Iraqi scientists of the relation between the presence of DU, ionizing radiation, and malignant disease rates carried out under extremely adverse conditions 7-10 years after the 1991 assault. These epidemiological studies and measures of high radiation are necessarily rudimentary and incomplete. Yet combined with documented reports of birth defects and cancer related to radiation exposure since the 2003 invasion (including a marked increase in breast cancer among Iraqi women), these pioneering investigations present an extremely disturbing picture. Alarming evidence revealed by the authors of this book constitutes a strong case that US/UK invaders committed genocide in Iraq through indiscriminate employment of DU-armed weaponry.

Notes

1. Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Introduction: Reason in History. Trans. H.B. Nisbet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 21.

2. For a useful summary of the issues surrounding DU see Rob White, “Depleted Uranium, state crime and the politics of knowing.” Theoretical Criminology. Vol. 12(1):31-54, 2008.

3. The US Atomic Energy Commission detonated the first deliverable hydrogen bomb in 1954 in the Marshall Islands, code-named “Bravo”. Deadly radiation from the gargantuan nuclear fireball fell upon island residents, US scientists and armed forces personnel. The Eisenhower administration tried unsuccessfully to block news of the disaster. Critics dubbed the US cover up, “the uranium curtain.” Shane Maddock, “The Fourth Country Problem: Eisenhower’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy,” Presidential Studies Quarterly; Summer 1998; 28, 3, p. 555.

4. E.g., Daniel Byman, “An Autopsy of the Iraq Debacle: Policy Failure or Bridge Too Far?” Security Studies, 17: 599–643, 2008.

Taliban claims some attacks, denies others in Pakistan

[SEE: American Jihad in Pakistan]

Taliban claims some attacks, denies others in Pakistan

By Ivan Watson
CNN

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Taliban leaders have claimed responsibility for a wave of suicide bombings that have battered the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The militants also vow to carry out more attacks in the future.

But a Taliban spokesman also denied responsibility for some of the deadliest suicide bombings in recent history, saying they were staged by Pakistani intelligence agencies to sap support for the militants.

On Monday morning, a suicide bomber in a car loaded with hundreds of kilograms of explosives self-detonated outside a police station in Peshawar, killing at least six people and wounding 25.

It was the sixth suicide bomb attack in and around the provincial capital in eight days.

“These are religiously legitimate targets,” Azam Tariq, the spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), said in a videotaped statement released over the Internet this weekend.

“The targets of the Tehrik-i-Taliban have always been clear: those state organizations who at the behest of the Americans target the Tehrik-i-Taliban and have the blood of our martyrs on their hands.”

He went on to deny responsibility for the twin suicide bombings at the International Islamic University in Islamabad and for the October 28 car bombing of a crowded Peshawar market, which killed more then 100 people.

“I want to make it clear to the Muslim world, especially Pakistan, that the bomb blasts targeting civilians are not the work of the mujahedeen,” Tariq said. “Instead, it is the work of Pakistan’s sinister secret organizations and Blackwater.”

He was referring to the controversial American security company formerly known as Blackwater, now Xe Services LLC.

Reports about the alleged and often unsubstantiated activities of U.S. security contractors have become the focus of much speculation and anger in the Pakistani media in recent weeks.

In response to such claims, Xe spokeswoman Stacy DeLuke said last week, “We have no contracts in Pakistan. Our competitor holds that WPPS (worldwide personal protection services) contract.

“We’ve been blamed for all that has gone wrong in Peshawar, none of which is true, since we have absolutely no presence there.”

DeLuke added: “Just as Kleenex has become the generic name for all tissues, we’ve become the generic name for all private contractors, regardless of truth or validity.”

In making his claims, Tariq read his statement before the camera, seated with his back to a tree in a mountainous area.

In recent days, Taliban officials have called news organizations to contradict battlefield claims by the Pakistani military. More then four weeks ago, the Pakistani army mounted an offensive against the remote Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan. The army says it has killed hundreds of militants, a claim that cannot be independently verified. Pakistani authorities have banned foreign observers from the conflict zone.

More then 160,000 civilians have fled the fighting.

In a call to CNN on Saturday, Qari Hussein, the man thought to have masterminded the Taliban’s suicide bombing campaign, said only 14 militants had been killed in the four-week operation.

He claimed responsibility for a massive car bombing last Friday, which destroyed the entrance to the Pakistan spy agency’s headquarters in Peshawar. Hussein also vowed to carry out more bomb attacks, and to add Pakistani political parties that criticize the Taliban to his list of targets.

“Only time will tell who the real ruler of Waziristan will be,” Hussein said. “The government, the army or the Taliban.”

The National Flip Is Complete–It Is the Republicans’ Turn to Talk Sense

McConnell: Americans Don’t Even Want Health Care Reform To Pass — And I’ll Help Delay It

Ben Frumin

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News Sunday today that a majority of Americans don’t want the Democrats’ health care reform plan to pass — and that if Democrats go forward with reform, they’ll be ignoring “the opinion of the American population.”

And McConnell said he plans to delay the bill with lots of amendments on the Senate floor.

The American people are overwhelmingly telling us, don’t pass it. It’ll be up to whether the Democratic majority wants to listen to the American people or whether they want to pass this anyway, just to basically ignore the opinion of the American population.

Regardless, McConnell said health care reform won’t leave the Senate anytime soon, suggesting that he’ll “delay the process to allow everyone to fully understand what is in the bill.”

UN Chief Politicizing Hunger Summit, Links Hunger to Climate Change

[In an attempt to distract concerns for "useless eaters" with B.S. climate change theories, Ban Ki-moon seizes opportunity to campaign for binding world government on the basis of Al Gore's scare campaign.]

U.N. chief says climate deal key to fighting hunger

By Silvia Aloisi

ROME, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The United Nations opened its world food summit on Monday by saying that a climate change deal in Copenhagen next month is crucial to fighting global hunger as rising temperatures threaten farm output in poor countries.

Government leaders and officials met in Rome for a three-day U.N. summit on how to help developing countries to feed themselves, but anti-poverty campaigners were already writing off the event as a missed opportunity.

The sense of scepticism deepened at the weekend, when U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders supported delaying a legally binding climate pact until 2010 or even later, though European negotiators said the move did not imply weaker action.

“There can be no food security without climate security,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Rome summit.

“Next month in Copenhagen, we need a comprehensive agreement that will provide a firm foundation for a legally binding treaty on climate change,” he said.  [SEE: Copenhagen Agreement on Climate Change–Beginning World Government]
Africa, Asia and Latin America could see a decline of between 20 and 40 percent in potential agricultural productivity if temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, the FAO says.

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be the hardest hit from global warming as its agriculture is almost entirely rain-fed.

With the number of world’s hungry topping 1 billion for the first time, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation had called the summit in the hope that leaders would commit to raising the share of official aid spent on agriculture to 17 percent of the total — its 1980 level — from 5 percent now.

That would amount to $44 billion a year against $7.9 billion now. Farmers in rich countries receive $365 billion of support every year.

TARGETS DILUTED

But a draft of the final declaration to be adopted on Monday includes only a general promise to pour more money into agricultural aid, with no target or timeframe for action.

A pledge to eliminate malnutrition by 2025 was also taken off the draft, which now states that world leaders commit to eradicate hunger “at the earliest possible date”.

Last year’s spike in the price of food staples such as rice and wheat sparked riots in as many as 60 countries. Rich food importers have rushed to buy foreign farmland, pushing food shortages and hunger up the political agenda.

Food prices have fallen back since, but they remain high in poor countries. The FAO says sudden price rises are very likely.

A summit of the Group of Eight leading powers in July pledged $20 billion over the next three years to boost agricultural development, in a big policy shift towards long-term strategies and away from emergency food aid.

But, apart from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, G8 leaders are skipping the food summit, which is looking more like a gathering of Latin American and African heads of state.

Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and are among those attending.

U.N. officials said those dismissing the summit because G8 leaders are not taking part were wrong, arguing the aim was to get poorer countries on board in the fight against hunger.

Still, the absence of many heavyweights means that another divisive issue — who should manage donors’ funds to boost agriculture in poor countries — will not be resolved.

The draft declaration urges a reform of the U.N. Committee on Food Security, which groups 124 nations, to give it a monitoring role and ensure that aid money goes to agriculture.

But the United States, the world’s biggest food aid donor, is looking to the World Bank rather than the United Nations to manage at least part of the money.

While governments dither, food companies are stepping up their own investments in sustainable farming to counter price volatility and to secure long-term supplies.

Khalid Sheikh Knows the Truth About “Al Qaida,” So Does Giuliani

[Trial of Jundullah leader,  Khalid Sheikh Mohammad has Republicans running scared.  He is responsible for most of the terror attacks attributed to "al Qaida."  Rudy wants us to consider the economic costs to the city of such a trial, even though the city of New York should want him to answer to justice more than any other entity.  If they successfully tried the Sheikh's nephew, Ramzi Yousef in the past, then they should have no problem now.]

New York Terror Trial Plan a ‘Mistake,’ Giuliani Says

By Alan Bjerga

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration’s decision to try five Sept. 11 suspects in federal court in Manhattan is a “mistake” that’s inappropriate for combating terrorism, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.

Giuliani said moving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self- proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and four others from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York for civilian trials will create additional costs and security concerns for the city. The White House plan is politically motivated, said Giuliani, New York’s mayor during the attacks, in interviews on “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Democratic administration’s plan, announced by Attorney General Eric Holder, marks a shift from the Republican Bush administration’s anti-terrorism strategy. Bush officials created military tribunals for the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, a process that was criticized by Democrats. Obama also is moving to close the prison in Cuba and relocate the detainees.

The decision of the Obama White House shows that “both in substance and reality, the war on terror in their point of view is over,” Giuliani told Fox. “There seems to be an over- concern with the rights of terrorists and a lack of concern with the rights of the public.”

White House senior adviser David Axelrod, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” today, defended the decision, saying that “we believe that these folks should be tried in New York City, as you say near where their heinous acts were conducted, in full view in our court system.”

Strength, Not Fear

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, said Manhattan trials show the U.S. “acts out of strength, not out of fear.”

“We’re the most powerful nation on Earth,” the Vermont Democrat said today in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “We have a judicial system that’s the envy of the world. Let’s show the world that we can use that power.”

The Sept. 11 attacks killed almost 3,000 people in New York, at the Pentagon outside Washington and in the crash of one airliner in Pennsylvania. To be tried along with Mohammed are his alleged co-conspirators: Walid Bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi.

The five who are to be tried in New York have been accused by the U.S. of conspiring to finance, train and direct the 19 hijackers who seized four airliners used in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.

1993 Bombing

Major terror trials in New York included that of Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Giuliani, who also was mayor during that trial, said the new trials will cost “millions and millions of dollars.”

“Anyone that tells you this doesn’t create additional security problems, of course, isn’t telling you the truth,” he told CNN.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, Giuliani’s successor, said in a statement he supports Obama’s decision and has “great confidence” the New York Police Department and federal authorities “will handle security expertly.” Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net.

Hamas Refuses to Consolidate International Support, Prefers Long Fight

Hamas to Palestinians: End occupation before declaring state

By Haaretz Service
Hamas on Monday rejected a Palestinian Authority suggestion to seek international support for unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, saying true independence required the complete cessation of Israeli occupation.

 

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday that frustrated Palestinians had decided to turn to the United Nations Security Council after 18 years of on-again, off-again negotiations with Israel.

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Hamas responded to the suggestion by pointing out that a unilateral declaration of statehood had already been made by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1988.

If it had to be done again, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardweel said on Monday, “why not declare a Palestinian state from the sea [Mediterranean] to the river [of Jordan]” rather than in the West Bank and Gaza only.

The declaration proposed by Erekat would have no meaning and was merely an attempt by the rival Palestinian camp of President Mahmoud Abbas to pretend it had an alternative to faltering peace negotiations, other than armed struggle, said Bardweel.

“This move is not a meaningful declaration. It simply aims at escaping the benefits of resistance against the occupation,” he said. “Instead of threatening to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state to be established in the air, we should work on liberating the occupied territories and end the current internal [Palestinian] division.”

Declaring a state “in the air on 20 per cent of the Palestinian land, which would be rejected by the world,” was not the solution, he argued. Rather, Palestinians should focus on their own “ability to liberate the land.”

Labor: We’ll quit coalition if settlements annexed

Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) said Monday that his center-left party would pull out of the government if it carried through with right-wing calls to annex more West Bank settlements in response to a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence.

“The Labor party cannot continued to sit in this government if it decides to annex settlements,” said Ben Eliezer. Negotiating with the Palestinians is the only viable option, he said, dismissing both Israeli and Palestinian threats for unilateral moves.

“In my opinion this whole thing about annexation is just words. I think the Palestinian threat also is just words. A ping-pong of declarations will get us nowhere, the only way forward is to bring the sides together for negotiations,” he told Army Radio.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Erekat’s suggestion by saying that Israel would make unilateral moves of its own should the Palestinians make good on its threat. He did not elaborate on what that might mean.

National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz backed up the prime minister’s call by detailing what they believed such unilateral motions would mean:

“We must be clear and tell them that, if that’s the route they choose to take, any unilateral declaration on their part will be countered by declaring our sovereignty on all ‘C’ Areas,” Landau said, referring to those which, according to the Oslo Accord, are in full Israeli civilian and military control.

“I think it is an outrage,” Landau added of the possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence.

“We’ve been seeing a series of Palestinian attempts in various area and this is one of them. It is a hostile proposition, one surely meant to erode any chances of continuing negotiations,” Landau said.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio: “If the Palestinians take such a unilateral line, Israel should also consider … passing a law to annex some of the settlements.”

Other options of sanctions were also available, he said. “Everything is open … it could begin at stopping the transfer of money that the Israeli government currently transfers to the Palestinian Authority,” he told the radio, referring to tax payments Israel collects on the Authority’s behalf under interim peace deals.

Erdan said Israel might also consider tightening recently loosened travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.

On Sunday, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the declaration of a Palestinian state would be a mere formality once the institutions of a Palestinian state are created.

Speaking at a joint press conference with U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman in Ramallah organized by the Saban Forum, Fayyad said it is important to create institutions that are functioning, committed to the Palestinian people and free of corruption.

“I know some people are concerned that this is unilateral,” Fayyad said, referring to his development plan. “But it seems to me that it is unilateral in a healthy sense of self-development.”

Fayyad said building national institutions is an important step in preparation for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Silent Hunger Crisis, One-Sixth of all of Humanity is Malnourished

World Leaders Tackle Hunger As Mass Poverty Peaks

Chioma Umeha

Less than 24 hours, heads of state and government will reach a consensus on how to stamp out the ugly world monster-hunger-when they converge for the World Summit on Food Security under the directive of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations .

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf also wants them to agree to increase agriculture’s share of official development assistance to 17 per cent, the level it was in 1980, from the current five per cent.

This is not the first time the world body and governments will congregate to agree on the elimination of hydra-headed world ogre. In 1996, 180 nations met at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for the World Food Summit (WFS) to discuss ways to end hunger. Nations pledged to eradicate hunger and committed to reduce by half the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. This was seen as a first step towards the goal of food for all.

But this target has not been met. This explains why many analysts view the agenda of the impending summit as an impossible mission. In October 2000, a report by FAO said that unless extra efforts are made to accelerate progress, it will not be achieved before 2030. The world body estimated that the number of hungry people could increase by a further 100 million in 2009 and pass the one billion mark.

At a time when the global economic crisis dominates the news, the world needs to be reminded that not everyone works in offices and factories. The crisis is stalking the small-scale farms and rural areas of the world, where 70 per cent of the world’s hungry live and work.

This was contained in a report published prior to the World Food Day last month, by two United Nations agencies- the food and agricultural organization and the World Food Programme which stated that a combination of the food crisis and the global economic downturn has pushed more than 1 billion people into hunger in 2009.

According to the report titled, "FAO’s Annual Hunger Report and The state of Food insecurity," the combination of food and economic crises had pushed the number of hungry people worldwide to historic levels with 1.02 billion people worldwide undernourished."

With the increase of 105 million hungry people this year, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, three quarters of them live in rural areas meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

This is more than ever before. Despite the fact that the world produces 125 per cent of the required food for all, 15 per cent of people are hungry; and most of them are women and children. Global agriculture production today fails to feed the world’s poorest people since they lack access to income and resources such as fertile land, water, seeds and knowledge for a farming system adapted to local conditions and the demands of markets. The green revolution accomplished a lot but failed to combat hunger. It focused only on technology and relied on huge quantities of climate damaging inputs such as agro-chemicals.

The November summit will discuss putting into place a more coherent and effective system of food security, including rules and mechanisms to ensure adequate incomes for farmers, mobilizing investments into agricultural infrastructure and access to inputs, and a mechanism for early reaction to food crises.

Diof describes the world food security governance system as inefficient and not well coordinated to address the present food crisis and the new challenges of the future. On World Food Day in October, he said rich donor countries, developing countries and assistance institutions all now have to focus on policies that will assist the 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world.

His words, "the silent hunger crisis – affecting one sixth of all of humanity – poses a serious risk for world peace and security. We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world."

In a message to the World Food Day celebrations, Pope Benedict XVI, who will be attending the November World Summit on Food Security, called for the "international community and its institutions to intervene in a more suitable and decisive manner." He said that access to food was a fundamental human right and that the "drama" of hunger could only be eliminated by "removing the structural causes" and by investing in agricultural development in poor countries.

The global food insecurity situation has worsened and continues to represent a serious threat for humanity. With food prices remaining stubbornly high in developing countries, the number of people suffering from hunger has been growing relentlessly in recent years. The global economic crisis is aggravating the situation by affecting jobs and deepening poverty.

According to FAO, poor countries need the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity. Investment in agriculture must be increased because for the majority of poor countries a healthy agricultural sector is essential to overcome hunger and poverty and is a pre-requisite for overall economic growth. The gravity of the current food crisis is the result of 20 years of under-investment in agriculture and neglect of the sector. Directly or indirectly, agriculture provides the livelihood for 70 per cent of the world’s poor.

Against this background, Nigerian government has taken measures to check overgrowing food prices and reinforce food supply for domestic market as the life of Nigerians is shadowed by the recent food crisis across the world. For instance, last year, the Federal Government’s spent N80 billion to import 500,000 metric tones of rice into the country and a whopping N950 billion to boost food production through the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, a step which many Nigerians perceived as half measures.

As a country highly depending on food imports, Nigeria suffered from rocketing prices of basic food items from the beginning of 2008. Many households in Nigeria have had to contend with rising cost of living. From cooking gas, kerosene to palm oil, pepper, tomatoes and onions, prices have continued to soar. Mostly affected by price increase is rice, a staple food in the country.

Early last year, the price of a bag of rice which was at N5, 700 was sold between N10, 000 and N12, 000 more than 100 per cent increase. Similarly, derica of rice, which hitherto sold for N100 was then pegged at between N180 and N200. Today, the difference in price is insignificant as the commodity, rice, still goes for between N150 and N200, depending on the specie. Last year, bean, which is the commonest source of protein, whose bag sold for N9, 000, rose astronomically to N16, 500, depending on the type. A derica was sold at N120, against the former price of N70. At present, the price has gone risen to N150. Similarly, the price of palm oil also rose and, to a large extent, encouraged adulteration of the commodity. Last year, a bottle of groundnut oil sold between N250 and N300 against N180. At the moment, the price remains the same.

Yam, which could have been a better alternative and could have helped cushion the effect of rice scarcity, was above reach of many persons. A small tuber that can barely feed three sold for between N350 and N700 in the market. Right now, the same size of yam goes for higher price, between N400 and N800.

Similarly, the price of a loaf of bread, another popular food in Nigeria, has also been on a geometric rise. A loaf of bread that sold for about N120 last year goes for N160 or more. Subsequent to this, the bakers’ association is threatened to mark up the price. As a prelude to that, the association directed its members to close down their bakeries for a few days to achieve price increases. That was exactly their strategy previous year, when they created artificial scarcity before embarking on the price increase.

For traders, the situation has only further worsened businesses activities that have been at their lowest ebb, which is fallout of the economic downturn.

Yinka Otedola, a yam trader at Agboju market said prices of yam at major markets, such as Mile 2, have gone beyond the reach of the poor. She stated that they buy 100 tubers of yam at N50, 000 and are forced to sell a tuber for N700 or N800 after adding fares and other miscellaneous expenses.

"Yam merchants have become lords to themselves. They now call the shots and have become voracious because demand for yam has increased significantly. We have no choice but patronize them, we don’t cultivate yam, neither are we ready to go out of business nor run at loss. Patronage has dropped, I must confess many people just walk away when they are told new prices", she bewailed.

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Gen. Jones Passes Zardari His Orders

U.S. urges Pakistan to expand military offensive

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) – The United States has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to expand its fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants, warning that the success of its new Afghanistan strategy depends on it, The New York Times reported on Monday.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected in the coming weeks to announce an overhauled strategy for Afghanistan that will include sending up to 40,000 more troops to fight in the eight-year-old war.

Obama sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari saying he expects the Pakistani leader to rally political and national security institutions in a united campaign against extremists, the Times reported, citing a U.S. official who was briefed on the letter’s contents.

In his letter to Zardari, Obama offered a range of new incentives to the Pakistanis for their cooperation, including enhanced intelligence sharing and military cooperation, the Times said.

The report said the letter was delivered by Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, who held meetings with Pakistani government and military leaders on Friday in Islamabad.

Jones also warned Pakistani officials that the Washington’s new Afghanistan strategy would work only if Pakistan broadens its fight beyond the militants attacking its cities to groups using havens in Pakistan for plotting attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Times said, citing American officials briefed on the confidential talks.

Jones also praised the current Pakistani operation in South Waziristan but urged Pakistan to combat extremists who have fled into North Waziristan, the Times reported. (Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by Anthony Boadle)

Crocodile Tears in the UN

Crocodile Tears in the UN

By: Eli Aminov

Shortly after the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted the Goldstone Report, the Israeli Ambassadress to the United Nations launched a whining bout of emotional blackmail against the commission: “Israel is the only state in the world which is being discriminated against by the commission and criticized more than any other state in the world!” she complained.

Her Excellency the Ambassadress should be reminded of what actually makes Israel so globally unique:

- Israel is the only state in the world that was founded on a United Nations resolution.

However, whereas the said resolution ruled the establishment of two states – a Jewish one and a Palestinian one – it was immediately breached by Israel which took over most of the territory designated for the Arab state.

- Israel is the only state in the world established during the 20th century on the ruins of an indigenous people, expelling two thirds of it out of its land, turning them into refugees and denying their return in direct contradiction to a UN resolution on this matter.

- Israel is the only state in the world that defined the remains of the indigenous population whose territory it had settled as “foreigners” and subjected them to its peculiar immigration laws as if they had just landed in the state from far and beyond.

- Israel is the only state in the world that has managed to annul a fully justified UN resolution defining Zionism as racism.

- Israel is the only state in the world that invented a nation which can only be joined through a religious conversion.

- Israel today is the only state in the world sustaining an Apartheid regime which discriminates against its own non-Jewish citizens through a comprehensive, legislative apparatus that includes property, nationality and security laws and regulations.

- Israel is in fact the only apparition in the “developed” world of an army that owns a state, whose commanders blatantly interfere with every attempt to end the conflict that might jeopardize the smooth run of their gravy train.

- Israel is the only state in the world that, instead of adhering to a humane code of conduct during its self-initiated wars, tries to convince the world that it deserves special, different and more convenient rules of war, rules that will not define the killing of non-Jews as a crime.

And so, while the Israeli ambassadress to the United Nations tries to present herself and her masters as the legendary Little Dutch Boy who tries to stop the flood by sticking his little finger into the hole in the dam, indeed the only finger Israel can offer the world as a solution to unsolved issues is a stick of dynamite.

(Eli Aminov is a peace activist living in Jerusalem and is a member of the Committee for a Secular and Democratic State).

Some Fear Bush Administration Could Become Target in 9/11 Trial

Some Fear Bush Administration Could Become Target in 9/11 Trial

Rebel News

Former President Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney (AP)

The Obama administration, in deciding to try alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in a New York courtroom, has said it is setting its sights on convictions, but some critics say a civilian trial — instead of a military tribunal — could end up targeting the Bush administration and its anti-terror policies.

One of those five defendants, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, has been at the center of the debate over those Bush-era polices, in particular the harsh interrogation techniques used on Mohammed and others in an effort to obtain information on Al Qaeda and any additional attacks.

“The government is going to try to put Khalid Sheik Mohammed on trial. Defense lawyers will try and put the government on trial,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News.

The Justice Department says in a 2005 memo that CIA interrogators subjected Mohammed 183 times to waterboarding, a near-drowning technique described by Obama officials as illegal torture. But others disagree with Obama, most notably former Vice President Dick Cheney, who argues that the techniques used have kept the country safe from another attack.

Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, announced in the summer that he would investigate whether CIA officers should be prosecuted for their interrogations, setting off intense debate over the prospect of prosecuting officials from the previous administration.

But on Friday, in announcing a civilian trial for Mohammed and four other detainees, Holder dismissed questions about whether politics was a factor in the decision.

“My job as attorney general is to look at the law, apply the facts to the law and ultimately do what I think is in the best interests of this country and our system of justice. Those are my guides,” he said. “To the extent that there are political consequences, well, you know, I’ll just have to take my lumps, to the extent that those are set in my way.”

“But I think if people will, in a neutral and detached way, look at the decision that I have made today, understand the reasons why I made those decisions, and try to do something that’s rare in Washington — leave the politics out of it and focus on what’s in the best interest of this country — I think the criticism will be relatively mild.”

But Holder already has faced strong criticism from conservatives and some families of 9/11 victims.

Karl Rove, a former top Bush adviser and now a Fox News contributor, said some attorneys in the Justice Department have tried for years to undermine the military tribunals system and “gain for these war criminals the rights that we would accord American citizens who might be accused of knocking over the local 7-Eleven.”

“I think we make a mistake by focusing on the politics of it,” Rove said. “What we ought to do is focus on the real danger this represents to the American interest and to the American security in the years ahead.”

Supporters of trying the detainees in military tribunals note that the tribunals have relaxed standards for presenting evidence and offer minimized risk of disclosing government anti-terror secrets.

Tom Ridge, head of the Homeland Security Department in the Bush administration, warned against using the trials as a means of going after Bush administration officials.

“You’d like to think that … it is simply their interpretation that these individuals are entitled to these kinds of criminal justice protections — rather than using it as a fishing expedition to revisit decisions made during the past six years,” he told FoxNews.com, adding that “time will tell.”

“If we discover later that it’s really just a facade to delve into a fishing expedition, I would find that just unacceptable, outrageous and a further distortion of the system,” he said. “If it’s subterfuge for the fishing expedition, that’s just wrong and unconscionable.”

Palestinians aim to secure U.N. support for state

Photo

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat attends a meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo in this November 26, 2008 file photo.

REUTERS/Amr Dalsh/Files

Palestinians aim to secure U.N. support for state

By Tom Perry

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – The Palestinians plan to go to the U.N. Security Council in an effort to secure international support for an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, officials said on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against any “unilateral” moves by the Palestinians.

Palestinians attributed the move to frustration at the lack of progress in peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled for a year.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said there was no time frame for the initiative, backed by Arab governments, to secure backing for the state with East Jerusalem as its capital. “When we are ready, we will go,” he told Reuters.

His remarks prompted a warning from Netanyahu, who said only peace negotiations with Israel would secure a Palestinian state.

“There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel’s side,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu, who was addressing a forum on the Middle East in Jerusalem, did not directly refer to the Palestinians’ plan to take their quest for statehood to the U.N. Security Council.

Erekat said the Palestinians did not intend to declare independence but to seek international support to “preserve the two-state solution.”

“Israel should refrain from any unilateral steps on its part, because what they do today is nothing but unilateral steps,” he added, listing West Bank settlement expansion among other Palestinian complaints.

Despite months of diplomacy, the United States has failed to broker a resumption of talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli government led by Netanyahu, who on Sunday repeated his call for a swift resumption of the talks.

Abbas has stuck by his demand for a total halt to Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank before any return to peace talks. He has resisted recent U.S. pressure to resume negotiations right away.

Head of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, Abbas aims to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war.

TESTING INTERNATIONAL INTENTIONS

Mohammed Dahlan, a senior official in Abbas’s Fatah faction, told reporters that the diplomatic initiative would be “a real test of the intentions of the international community.”

He added: “If the American administration does not agree, that will be another setback.”

Netanyahu reiterated his position that any future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and its borders must be monitored to prevent the smuggling of weapons.

The United States, which had called for a freeze of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, eased the pressure in September by calling only for “restraint,” in a change of policy that frustrated the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership.

In the event of failure at the Security Council, where the United States wields veto power, Dahlan said other options included a unilateral declaration of statehood and “popular, comprehensive resistance against settlement and the occupation.”

He did not spell out what that might entail. In the past two decades, the Palestinians have twice launched uprisings in the occupied territories.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who in June set a goal of establishing the institutions of a state within two years, said it was time for the international community to take responsibility for “the mission of ending the occupation.”

“This is the responsibility of the international community and when we talk about that and international law, of course we are talking about the United Nations,” he said in Ramallah.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Ari Rabinovitch and Eli Berlzon in Jerusalem; Writing by Tom Perry and Joseph Nasr; editing by Ralph Boulton)

CIA says it gets its money’s worth from Pakistani spy agency

CIA says it gets its money’s worth from Pakistani spy agency

It has given hundreds of millions to the ISI, for operations as well as rewards for the capture or death of terrorist suspects. Despite fears of corruption, it is money well-spent, ex-officials say.

Suicide bomb blast site in PakistanA damaged car is removed after the bombing at the regional office in Peshawar of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency. The U.S. has had misgivings about the ISI, with some officers believed to support radicals. (K. Parvez / Reuters / November 13, 2009)

By Greg Miller

Reporting from Washington – The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan’s intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency’s annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.

The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI’s assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan’s tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.

The White House National Security Council has “this debate every year,” said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official involved in the discussions. Like others, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, “there was no other game in town.”

The payments to Pakistan are authorized under a covert program initially approved by then-President Bush and continued under President Obama. The CIA declined to comment on the agency’s financial ties to the ISI.

U.S. officials often tout U.S.-Pakistani intelligence cooperation. But the extent of the financial underpinnings of that relationship have never been publicly disclosed. The CIA payments are a hidden stream in a much broader financial flow; the U.S. has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the last eight years in military and civilian aid.

Congress recently approved an extra $1 billion a year to help Pakistan stabilize its tribal belt at a time when Obama is considering whether to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.

The ISI has used the covert CIA money for a variety of purposes, including the construction of a new headquarters in Islamabad, the capital. That project pleased CIA officials because it replaced a structure considered vulnerable to attack; it also eased fears that the U.S. money would end up in the private bank accounts of ISI officials.

In fact, CIA officials were so worried that the money would be wasted that the agency’s station chief at the time, Robert Grenier, went to the head of the ISI to extract a promise that it would be put to good use.

“What we didn’t want to happen was for this group of generals in power at the time to just start putting it in their pockets or building mansions in Dubai,” said a former CIA operative who served in Islamabad.

The scale of the payments shows the extent to which money has fueled an espionage alliance that has been credited with damaging Al Qaeda but also plagued by distrust.

The complexity of the relationship is reflected in other ways. Officials said the CIA has routinely brought ISI operatives to a secret training facility in North Carolina, even as U.S. intelligence analysts try to assess whether segments of the ISI have worked against U.S. interests.

A report distributed in late 2007 by the National Intelligence Council was characteristically conflicted on the question of the ISI’s ties to the Afghan Taliban, a relationship that traces back to Pakistan’s support for Islamic militants fighting to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

“Ultimately, the report said what all the other reports said — that it was inconclusive,” said a former senior U.S. national security official. “You definitely can find ISI officers doing things we don’t like, but on the other hand you’ve got no smoking gun from command and control that links them to the activities of the insurgents.”

Given the size of overt military and civilian aid to Pakistan, CIA officials argue that their own disbursements — particularly the bounties for suspected terrorists — should be considered a bargain.

“They gave us 600 to 700 people captured or dead,” said one former senior CIA official who worked with the Pakistanis. “Getting these guys off the street was a good thing, and it was a big savings to [U.S.] taxpayers.”

A U.S. intelligence official said Pakistan had made “decisive contributions to counter-terrorism.”

“They have people dying almost every day,” the official said. “Sure, their interests don’t always match up with ours. But things would be one hell of a lot worse if the government there was hostile to us.”

The CIA also directs millions of dollars to other foreign spy services. But the magnitude of the payments to the ISI reflect Pakistan’s central role. The CIA depends on Pakistan’s cooperation to carry out missile strikes by Predator drones that have killed dozens of suspected extremists in Pakistani border areas.

The ISI is a highly compartmentalized intelligence service, with divisions that sometimes seem at odds with one another. Units that work closely with the CIA are walled off from a highly secretive branch that has directed insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

“There really are two ISIs,” the former CIA operative said. “On the counter-terrorism side, those guys were in lock-step with us,” the former operative said. “And then there was the ‘long-beard’ side. Those are the ones who created the Taliban and are supporting groups like Haqqani.”

The network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani has been accused of carrying out a series of suicide attacks in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

Pakistani leaders, offended by questions about their commitment, point to their capture of high-value targets, including accused Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. They also underscore the price their spy service has paid.

Militants hit ISI’s regional headquarters in Peshawar on Friday in an attack that killed at least 10 people. In May, a similar strike near an ISI facility in Lahore killed more than two dozen people. Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who served as ISI director before becoming army chief of staff, has told U.S. officials that dozens of ISI operatives have been killed in operations conducted at the behest of the United States.

A onetime aide to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described a pointed exchange in which Kayani said his spies were no safer than CIA agents when trying to infiltrate notoriously hostile Pashtun tribes.

“Madame Secretary, they call us all white men,” Kayani said, according to the former aide.

CIA payments to the ISI can be traced to the 1980s, when the Pakistani agency managed the flow of money and weapons to the Afghan mujahedin. That support slowed during the 1990s, after the Soviets were expelled from Afghanistan, but increased after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In addition to bankrolling the ISI’s budget, the CIA created a clandestine reward program that paid bounties for suspected terrorists. The first check, for $10 million, was for the capture of Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda figure, the former official said. The ISI got $25 million more for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed’s capture.

But the CIA’s most-wanted list went beyond those widely known names.

“There were a lot of people I had never heard of, and they were good for $1 million or more,” said a former CIA official who served in Islamabad.

Former CIA Director George J. Tenet acknowledged the bounties in a little-noticed section in his 2007 memoir. Sometimes, payments were made with a dramatic flair.

“We would show up in someone’s office, offer our thanks, and we would leave behind a briefcase full of $100 bills, sometimes totaling more than a million in a single transaction,” Tenet wrote.

The CIA’s bounty program was conceived as a counterpart to the Rewards for Justice program administered by the State Department. The rules of that program render officials of foreign governments ineligible, making it meaningless to intelligence services such as the ISI.

The reward payments have slowed as the number of suspected Al Qaeda operatives captured or killed by the ISI has declined. Many militants fled from major cities where the ISI has a large presence to tribal regions patrolled by Predator drones.

The CIA has set limits on how the money and rewards are used. In particular, officials said, the agency has refused to pay rewards to the ISI for information used in Predator strikes.

U.S. officials were reluctant to give the ISI a financial incentive to nominate targets, and feared doing so would lead the Pakistanis to refrain from sharing other kinds of intelligence.

“It’s a fine line,” said a former senior U.S. counter-terrorism official involved in policy decisions on Pakistan. “You don’t want to create perverse incentives that corrode the relationship.”

greg.miller@latimes.com

Times staff writer Alex Rodriguez in Islamabad contributed to this report.