Nearly Half of All Americans Believe “The Federal Government Poses An Immediate Threat To The Rights And Freedoms Of Ordinary Citizens”

Nearly Half of All Americans Believe “The Federal Government Poses An Immediate Threat To The Rights And Freedoms Of Ordinary Citizens”

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

new Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans view the government as too powerful and obtrusive.

The poll found:

  • 59% of Americans now believe the federal government has too much power
  • 46% believe “the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens”. Only slightly more (51%) disagree with that statement *

* Gallup notes:

One can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

That means that as much as half of Americans may actually agree the government poses a threat.

Danube in danger: toxic timebombs from Soviet years put region at risk

Danube in danger: toxic timebombs from Soviet years put region at risk

String of disasters waiting to happen at sites across great river’s basin, says World Wide Fund for Nature

Environmental workers collect samples from the river Danube as it flows into Romania from Hungary.Environmental workers collect samples from the river Danube as it flows into Romania. Photograph: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty ImagesFrom the Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube meanders for almost 1,800 miles through 10 countries, its course punctuated by areas of great beauty and industrial disasters waiting to happen. 

The torrent of toxic sludge devastating tracts of western Hungary and the risk of heavy metals leaching into the great waterway have highlighted the dangers posed by the rusting heavy industrial plants lining the river’s banks.

In the past decade alone, it has been accosted by Nato bombs, oil spills and cyanide poisoning. The neglect that appears to have been the source of the problem at the Ajka tailings dam has environmentalists worried that there are dozens of other “ticking toxic timebombs” primed to explode and wreak havoc with Europe’s biggest river basin.

“There are a string of disasters waiting to happen at sites across the Danube basin,” said a spokesman for the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The organisation has used EU data and studies to compile lists and maps of pollution hot spots in the Danube area. Hungary has many vulnerable industrial sites but so do SerbiaRomania and Bulgaria.

In Hungary, anxiety is focused on another red sludge reservoir on the banks of the Danube at Almasfuzito, 50 miles north of Budapest. The waste here is similarly produced by turning bauxite into aluminium. Seven pools hold 12m tonnes of hazardous waste, including an estimated 120,000 tonnes of heavy metals.

“The pools have not been covered by clay to block leaking of water,” said the WWF. “The pools are more or less in direct contact with the ground water table and indirectly with the Danube. “An unusually high level of toxic metals as well as fluoride were detected in the monitoring wells several times recently.”

With 83 million people inhabiting the 19 countries that form the Danube basin, the river is the lifeblood and artery of central and south-eastern Europe.

There is no sign yet that the Hungarian calamity has affected the river, with all countries on the Danube monitoring the water’s pH levels every three hours and feeding the information to an office in Vienna for analysis.

“All the results show the water is quite clean,” said Mihaela Popovici, a pollution expert at the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube river (ICPDR) in Vienna. “We’re much more relaxed than we were a few days ago.”

Many of the threats to the river’s health are part of the legacy ofcommunism. Soviet bloc regimes promoted heavy industry including themining of bauxite, uranium and gold and placed large oil refineries along the waterway with scant heed for the environment.

The ICPDR has identified 160 hot spots in the river basin, more than 40 of which are classified as high risk.

Romania occupies a third of the basin, by far the biggest national chunk, and is seen as particularly problematic.

It is home to the most extensive and precious wetlands in Europe, the Danube delta, which is judged especially vulnerable.

The worst Danube disaster occurred in Romania a decade ago when a wall collapsed at a goldmine in the north-west region of Baia Mare, dosing the river with cyanide and heavy metals and poisoning drinking water across the Balkans.

The biggest goldmining project in Europe is underway in Romania, also using cyanide extraction methods.

In May the European parliament voted by a margin of 10-1 for an EU-wide ban on the technology, arguing that this “is the only safe way to protect our water resources and ecosystems against cyanide pollution from mining activities”.

But no EU ban has yet been decided.

Despite the alarm about the environmental risks, experts say things are improving. Until 2004 only two Danube states, Germany and Austria, were in the EU. The figure is now eight, meaning that stiffer European regulations and standards governing mining safety, industrial plant licensing and pollution are in force.

“It’s good to have better regulations but implementation is always a problem. That’s what we’ve seen in Hungary,” said Andreas Beckmann, Danube project co-ordinator at the WWF.

He said there had been huge progress in improving environmental disaster zones across the region since the collapse of communism in 1989.

“Many areas were also left relatively untouched. If there are great wildernesses left in Europe, they are in the east not the west.”

Mazar-e Sharif Commandos Make First “Hearts and Minds” Visit to Orphanage

[Look for more of these face-building missions in the Mazar-e Sharif area, as Special Forces operating out of new $100 million Special Forces Center start to build their "good-guy" reputation in the area.]

Commandos, special forces assess orphanage in Mazar-e Sharif

ISAF Joint Command

Courtesy Story

KABUL, Afghanistan – Soldiers from 2nd Company, 5th Commando Kandak and U.S. special forces conducted a medical assessment of an orphanage in Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh province, Tuesday, to determine the needs of the orphanage and patients.

The orphanage is home to more than 30 children and also acts as a women’s shelter, housing an additional 20 women.

The visit represents the first by Afghan or U.S. forces and the children showed their surprise by swarming around the soldiers.

“None of these children has father figures in their lives,” said a special forces non-commissioned officer that assisted with the assessment. “The commandos were great with them – they sat down to share snacks and played a game of volleyball.”

In addition to handing out volleyballs, the commandos passed out backpacks, crayons, notebooks, and other school supplies.

During medical screening, it was determined that the majority of the 20 patients seen by medics suffer from poor nutrition, along with a variety of other ailments. Medical personnel provided medical aid to the patients as necessary as well as advice on preventative medical practices.

After the medical assessment, the partnered-force looked at other basic necessities of the orphanage and discovered that the attic that holds the living quarter’s water supply has numerous broken windows, allowing doves to nest along the pipes. Force members noted the required materials so they could fix the attic in a future visit.

“The well water tested clean, but the attic area that the main water is held will need to be cleaned up,” said the NCO, who will lead follow-on operational trips to the orphanage.

Future visits to the orphanage will include medical supplies, additional doctors and winter clothing for the women and children.

Russia and Venezuela strike nuclear power station deal

[Further proof that the "reset" has either failed outright, or it was always just B.S. to amuse the peasant class.]

Russia and Venezuela strike nuclear power station deal

Hugo Chávez says he wants to cut oil reliance, while Moscow asserts Venezuela’s right to ‘full range of energy choices’

Hugo Chavez and Dmitry Medvedev after a signing ceremony in MoscowHugo Chavez and Dmitry Medvedev, the Venezuelan and Russian presidents, after a signing ceremony in Moscow. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPARussia has agreed to help Venezuela build its first nuclear power station in a move likely to raise concerns in Washington about increasingly close cooperation between Moscow and Caracas.

President Dmitry Medvedev announced the move at the end of a two-day visit to Moscow by Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez. The Venezuelan economy is overwhelmingly reliant on oil and Chávez has said he wants nuclear power to diversify energy supply.

Medvedev has implicitly acknowledged the deal is likely to be unpopular with the US but defended Venezuela’s right to seek access to peaceful nuclear technology. The station is likely to be built over the next 10-15 years. Its cost has not yet been revealed.

“An agreement has just been signed on co-operation in the atomic sphere. I don’t know who will shudder at this,” Medvedev told a press conference after his talks with Chávez. “The president [of Venezuela] said there will be countries in which this will provoke different emotions. But I want to say specially that our intentions are absolutely pure and open.” Russia wanted Venezuela to have a “full range of energy choices”.

Chávez’s visit is his ninth to Moscow and the first stop on a 12-day European tour that includes visits to Belarus and, for the first time, Ukraine – now once again within Moscow’s sphere of influence. On previous occasions, Chávez has bought billions of dollars worth of military hardware from Russia including submarines, helicopters and attack aircraft. Both leaders have reaffirmed their plans to continue military-technical co-operation.

Viktor Semyonov, an economist at Moscow’s Institute of Latin American Studies, said it was logical for Venezuela to seek civilian nuclear technology since its economy was even more dependent on oil than Russia’s. Russia was already building a nuclear power station in Iran and holding talks with other Latin American countries, including Brazil and Argentina.

“We are a country that exports nuclear technology around the world. Venezuela’s economy is 94 or even 95% made up of oil. Russia’s is 65%, which is already a lot. They (the Venezuelans) want to widen their sources of energy so they are less dependent on it,” Semyonov said.

Speaking in Moscow on Thursday night, Chávez offered assurances that Venezuela had no interest in building a nuclear weapon and only wanted peaceful nuclear technology. He described the collapse of the Soviet Union a “catastrophe” and launched a familiar attack on the United States, denigrating it as a “Yankee empire”.

Chávez went for a spin in a Lada car, causing miles of gridlock on Moscow’s traffic-clogged streets. Before heading to the airport Chávez handed Medevedev several gifts. They included three bars of chocolate, banana jam and a tin of cocoa.

“Helicopter Ben” Bernanke Revs-Up for Further Emergency Measures

["Strategy of tension" even applied to Fed's monetary policy:

"He acknowledged, with greater candor than Fed officials have normally used, the tension between the two parts of the Fed’s dual mandate: promoting price stability and maximum employment."

This is a clear signal that the bankers understand that the stimulus failed to correct anything other than short-term balance sheets.]

Bernanke Signals Intent to Further Spur Economy

Kevin Lorenzi/Bloomberg News

Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He said Friday that the central bank was poised to take steps to help fight unemployment.

By SEWELL CHAN

BOSTON — The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, sent a clear signal on Friday that the central bank was poised to take additional steps to try to fight persistently low inflation and high unemployment.

“Given the committee’s objectives, there would appear — all else being equal — to be a case for further action,” he said in a detailed speech at a gathering of economists here.

Mr. Bernanke noted that “unconventional policies have costs and limitations that must be taken into account in judging whether and how aggressively they should be used.” But he suggested that the Fed was prepared to manage the risks associated with the most powerful tool remaining in the Fed’s arsenal of weapons to stimulate the economy: vast new purchases of government debt to lower long-term interest rates.

As Mr. Bernanke sent an unmistakable message to the markets that the Fed was prepared to wander into uncharted territory, he tried to anticipate and address potential criticism.

“One disadvantage of asset purchases relative to conventional monetary policy is that we have much less experience in judging the economic effects of this policy instrument, which makes it challenging to determine the appropriate quantity and pace of purchases and to communicate this policy response to the public,” he said.

Mr. Bernanke addressed a criticism of new asset purchases, that they would “reduce public confidence in the Fed’s ability to execute a smooth exit from its accommodative policies at the appropriate time.” Such a reduction in confidence, “even if unjustified,” could lead to an undesirable increase in inflation expectations, he said.

For now, inflation appears remote. As Mr. Bernanke spoke, the government released the September figures for the consumer price indexshowing a rise of only 0.1 percent from the previous month. The core index, excluding energy and food, was flat.

Mr. Bernanke’s comments in Boston strongly suggested that the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy, is likely to take new steps at its next meeting, on Nov. 2-3.

The Fed’s balance sheet has nearly tripled, to about $2.3 trillion, since the financial crisis of 2008. Most of the increase can be attributed to the Fed’s purchases of $1.7 trillion in mortgage-related securities and Treasury securities in 2009-10. The Fed has tested a number of technical tools to drain the large pool of bank reserves that it created in order to purchase those securities.

“With these tools in hand, I am confident that the F.O.M.C. will be able to tighten monetary conditions when warranted, even if the balance sheet remains considerably larger than normal at that time,” Mr. Bernanke said.

Mr. Bernanke also weighed one other tool the Fed could take: communicating that it intends to keep short-term interest rates at nearly zero for even longer than the markets now expect. (The Fed has been saying since March 2009 that the benchmark federal funds rate, at which banks lend to each other overnight, would remain “exceptionally low” for “an extended period.”) Changing the statement could help lower longer-term rates.

“A potential drawback of using the F.O.M.C.’s statement this way is that, at least without a more comprehensive framework in place, it may be difficult to convey the committee’s policy intentions with sufficient precision and conditionality,” Mr. Bernanke said, hinting that that strategy was not his favored approach.

Mr. Bernanke used his speech to plant himself firmly on the side of those who view the high unemployment rate — 9.6 percent — as an outcome of the sharp contraction in economic demand that accompanied the financial crisis, rather than structural factors like a mismatch between workers’ skills and the skills required by employers.

Disappointing some Wall Street analysts, Mr. Bernanke did not reveal details of the magnitude and pace of any new debt purchases — a strategy known as quantitative easing.

Instead, and in line with his background as a professor who taught at Stanford and Princeton until he joined the government in 2002, Mr. Bernanke outlined the intellectual case for new action.

He acknowledged, with greater candor than Fed officials have normally used, the tension between the two parts of the Fed’s dual mandate: promoting price stability and maximum employment.

“Whereas monetary policy makers clearly have the ability to determine the inflation rate in the long run, they have little or no control over the longer-run sustainable unemployment rate, which is primarily determined by demographic and structural factors, not by monetary policy,” Mr. Bernanke said.

Therefore, Mr. Bernanke seemed to frame his argument for new actions more in terms of preventing inflation from getting too low than in terms of improving the job market quickly.

“In light of the recent decline in inflation, the degree of slack in the economy, and the relative stability of inflation expectations, it is reasonable to forecast that underlying inflation — setting aside the inevitable short-run volatility — will be less than the mandate-consistent inflation rate,” Mr. Bernanke said. That rate is commonly believed to be nearly 2 percent, though the Fed does not have an official inflation target.

Mr. Bernanke’s speech followed signals from within the Fed that for all its previous steps to get the economy back on track, new action was needed.

Minutes of the Fed’s most recent policy making meeting, released this week, showed the members divided between those with the view that the Fed should act “unless the pace of economic recovery strengthened,” and others who thought action was merited “only if the outlook worsened and the odds of deflation increased materially.”

The minutes of the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, held Sept. 21, indicated that several officials “consider it appropriate to take action soon,” given persistently high unemployment and uncomfortably low inflation.

But other officials “saw merit in accumulating further information before reaching a decision,” according to the minutes.

Israel endangers Obama’s peace plan

Israel endangers Obama’s peace plan

ATUL ANEJA

U.S. President Barack Obama, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House in Washington, on September 1.
APU.S. President Barack Obama, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House in Washington, on September 1.

As a result of the recent Israeli moves, the plan conceived by Barack Obama to achieve independent Palestinian statehood lies in tatters.

Israel has with rapid speed mounted a ruthless political offensive to dominate its future direct negotiations with Palestinians. The latest round of talks, which began in September, is about achieving a two-state solution — the emergence of Palestine as a nation-state co-existing with its Israeli neighbour.

But as a result of the recent Israeli moves, the 12-month plan conceived by President Barack Obama, to achieve independent Palestinian statehood — following direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas — lies in tatters. In fact, there is now a real danger that the negotiations, which began in Washington with much fanfare, may be on the verge of collapse.

The immediate problem, of course, is Tel Aviv’s decision not to extend the expired 10-month construction freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Apart from the West Bank, Israel occupied Gaza and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Faced with Israel’s obduracy and backed by the 22-nation Arab League, the Palestinians have now given the Americans a month’s notice to rescue talks by persuading Tel Aviv not to re-start settlement activity in the West Bank. Else, they said, they would have no option other than retracting from the already battered two-state peace process. The Americans have accepted the ultimatum. They are, however, well aware that President Abbas’ threats cannot always be taken at their face value.

While the revival of West Bank settlements is the immediate provocation, there is plenty happening within the Israeli political circles that bodes ill for the future of a fruitful dialogue. The crux of the problem lies in two issues. Israel’s fierce fixation with dismissing anything that could even remotely question its Jewish majority status is a key impediment. Its perception of what it would take to safeguard national security is the second major stumbling block. In trying to achieve both objectives — a Jewish majority status in perpetuity and foolproof security — Israel is giving the Palestinians very little which they can sell to their domestic audience as a fair deal. As a result, the peace talks — which, in any case, had to traverse a web of minefields — are in deep trouble, though not quite dead as yet.

What is happening in Israel that offends Palestinians so much? For starters, they are deeply troubled by its assertion that it does not want within its borders Palestinians, in numbers that are large enough to challenge its Jewish majority status. The Israelis argue that there could be a huge influx into the country if an agreement on the “right of return” is reached with the Palestinians. This would mean allowing those Palestinians displaced during the 1948 and 1967 wars the right to return to their homes in Israel. The war-displaced Palestinians can be found all over the world, but a large number reside in shabby refugee settlements in West Asia, especially Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Because of Isreael’s paranoia over demographics, and also to keep the ultra-right flock together, Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced that he would be inclined to meet the demand to freeze West Bank settlements for a longer period, provided the Palestinians formally recognise Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The Palestinians obviously have not taken the bait for, recognising Israel as a Jewish state would, in effect, mean relinquishing the right of around four million Palestinians to return to their homeland. On the contrary, they have stressed that the freeze over the settlements cannot be linked with any other issue. The former Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nabil Shaath, has, in fact, asserted that Israel should not only halt settlements in the occupied West Bank but also extend the moratorium to East Jerusalem as well. The Palestinians view East Jerusalem as their future capital. However, Israel did not cover this area under its 10-month settlement freeze, which expired in late September.

In recent weeks, there have been several indications of the Israelis considering removal from their territory a large number of Palestinians who have acquired Israeli nationality in order to preserve their country’s Jewish majority status. The mercurial Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman’s recent address at the United Nations was the first major indication that Israel was looking seriously at this possibility. He shocked many when he officially proposed that a population-territory swap be part of a final Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians. Under his plan, part of the Palestinian Arab population should be shifted to the future Palestinian state. In exchange, Israelis who vacate their settlements as part of the peace deal should be brought inside Israel, thus reinforcing the country’s Jewish character.

As resentment mounted against Mr. Lieberman’s proposals, which would inevitably involve extensive displacement and migration of people from their homes, an apparently embarrassed Mr. Netanyahu distanced himself from his Foreign Minister’s remarks. Nevertheless, subsequent developments in Israel suggest that the idea of an Arab and Israeli population-territory swap has not been abandoned. In fact, the Netanyahu administration may be actively preparing to implement some of the measures, which were part of Mr. Lieberman’s acerbic narrative.

The Israel Prisons Service, for instance, carried out a mock exercise in early October to detain a large number of Arabs following staged riots. According to Israel Radio, the drill was undertaken under the assumption that civil disturbances erupted following a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians over population swaps. Another aspect of this exercise was to arrest and send to prison people on board aid ships, thwarted by the Israeli forces in their bid to reach the Palestinians on the Gaza coastline. Obviously, the Israelis are preparing for more Mavi Marmara-type incidents. The deck of the Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship became a battleground for Israeli commandos and pro-Palestinian activists on May 31.

Alarmed at the conduct of this exercise, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has written to Mr. Netanyahu, seeking his clarification on whether transfers of Israeli Arab citizens to the Palestinian Authority is part of a peace agreement that has already been discussed, or whether it is on the agenda of future talks. “The holding of such a drill testifies to the fact that thoughts of transfer, called by such names as the exchange of territories or the exchange of populations, are not merely an election slogan or the personal fantasy of certain politicians and ministers but a subject for discussion on the agenda of the government and of those who are behind holding the exercise in this form,” ACRI wrote.

The Israeli Arabs, too, appear to be in the line of fire yet again as Israel recently adopted fresh measures to reinforce its Jewish national identity. Under the proposed amendment to the citizenship law, which the cabinet has passed, it would be imperative on non-Jewish immigrants to pledge under oath their loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The liberal Israeli dailyHaaretz slammed the bill in its editorial as “discriminatory and exclusionary.”

Israel’s sweeping proposals to keep out security threats emerging from its eastern borders have also upset the Palestinians greatly. Israel wants to establish an extensive security presence in the Jordan valley, a thinly populated stretch of barren land, which has the town of Jericho as its famous landmark. Its security experts have argued that Israel needs to dominate the area in order to stop weapon smuggling and infiltration by terrorists from neighbouring Jordan. Israeli vigilance is also perceived as necessary to prevent missile launches that could target Israeli mainland, including Jerusalem which is not too far away, from this area. Besides, Israel fears that terrorists, armed with anti-aircraft weaponry, can target its airliners overflying this area.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, consider the Jordan valley an area of prime importance to a future Palestinian state. Given its thin population profile, the area would be ideal for building new cities and settling a large number of Palestinians who are expected to return to their homeland once it is reborn. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has already broken ground for an agro-industrial Park south of Jericho, and aired his ambition to turn this hot wind-swept area, steeped in its Biblical past, into a major industrial hub. Resenting the proposed Israeli military deployments in the Jordan valley, but responding positively to Israel’s perceived security threat, President Abbas has offered to host NATO forces there once independence is achieved.

Israel’s refusal to extend the settlement freeze has deeply embarrassed President Obama, who has publicly exhorted it to stall West Bank construction for some more time. But with the Netanyahu administration refusing to budge from its maximalist positions, and President Obama unwilling to exercise Washington’s leverage over Israel to force it to change course, a rare opportunity for a meaningful and fair dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians may once again rapidly slip from grasp.

Zionist Govt. Approves Bid-Taking for 249 New Condos

Netanyahu Approves Tenders for 240 Settlements Sparking Palestinian Anger

15/10/2010 Despite global opposition to Israel’s settlement projects, Tel Aviv invited tenders to build 240 new settlement units in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved building of the new units in Pisgat Zeev and Ramot late on Thursday, Israeli media reported on Friday.

The Housing and Construction Ministry, along with the Israel Lands Administration, released its list of 3,500 newly approved tenders set for construction across the country.

The Palestinians on Friday lashed out at the Israeli plan, accusing Israel of trying “to kill” every opportunity to revive “peace talks”. “We call upon the US administration to hold the Israeli government responsible for the collapse of the negotiations and the peace process as a result of this government’s insistence on killing every opportunity for resuming negotiations,” chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

Erakat said the decision was “a clear answer to all international efforts, particularly US efforts to resume negotiations” which are facing imminent collapse over Israeli settlement building after the expiry of a building ban two weeks ago.

The move comes as the United States has failed to pressure Israel to extend its partial freeze on settlement activities in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Israel resumed expansion of its occupation through settlement construction just hours after the expiry of the freeze. The latest round of the direct talks, which were re-launched on September 2 in Washington, ended without any progress.

Ukraine Government Continues Reversal of Predecessor

Ukraine Government Probe Implicates Rivals

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s government issued a raft of corruption allegations against the country’s former prime minister Thursday—a move certain to step up tensions with her supporters who say the country’s new president is creating an authoritarian state.

Yulia Tymoshenko
In a new twist in Ukraine politics, the government of President Viktor Yanukovych has used Western expertise in leveling charges against his rivals.

Investigators released a report researched and written by U.S. private detectives and attorneys who have lately been employed by the country’s political elite to burnish its credentials.

The report takes aim at officials who served under former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a charismatic populist heroine of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution who was defeated in elections at the beginning of the year and has since seen a number of allies arrested or investigated for corruption or mismanagement.

Ms. Tymoshenko, a longtime arch rival of Mr. Yanukovych, has called the investigations politically motivated.

Political analysts said the latest attack on Ms. Tymoshenko may backfire, since voters in Ukraine have in the past viewed corruption allegations as a public-relations tactic used to destroy opponents.

Ms. Tymoshenko’s political career got a boost in the 1990s when she was briefly jailed on corruption charges that were later dropped.

“This is not an attempt to fight corruption,” said Oleh Rybachuk, a former chief of staff in Ukraine’s presidential administration. “It is a strategy to destroy their lifelong opponent [Tymoshenko]. She’s no angel, but this is a selective approach.”

Mr. Yanukovych’s chief of staff, Serhiy Lyovochkin, denied any political motivation in the investigation, which has so far cost more than $2 million, and which officials say aims at retrieving stolen funds to state coffers.

The firms that compiled the report—the law firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Trout Cacheris, and the investigative firm Kroll Inc.—worked for five months in London, Washington and Kiev on the report.

The investigators deny their work is politically driven, and say they were retained to do research into genuine suspicions of unethical behavior.

The investigators compiled 2,000 pages of exhibits to back up allegations, and two civil suits have already been filed in the U.S. and U.K. against companies that allegedly aided corrupt government officials in skimming public funds.

While the report doesn’t link Ms. Tymoshenko to any alleged theft, it does accuse some high-level officials around her.

The report says Ms. Tymoshenko steered hundreds of millions of dollars of budget money to boost her popularity before presidential elections that swept her out of power this year, when she was defeated by Mr. Yanukovych, whose allies in Parliament then fired her as prime minister.

Among the more serious charges, the report says Ms. Tymoshenko authorized the sale last year of about €320 million ($443 million) in carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol framework, and used most of the proceeds to cover a shortfall in Ukraine’s pension fund.

Although some has been returned to segregate accounts earmarked for environmental projects as directed by the Kyoto agreement, about €200 million hasn’t.

The report also accused the Tymoshenko government of buying 1,000 imported vehicles for the Ministry of Health shortly before the elections, and using them mainly as a mobile advertising gimmick for her campaign.

The report accuses Ms. Tymoshenko of diverting money from a state stabilization fund for banks and steering it into an unrelated program to provide funding for 6.4 million citizens to register and formally own their plots of land.

Hryhoriy Nemyria, former deputy prime minister and a top adviser to Ms. Tymoshenko, declined to comment on specific allegations, saying he hadn’t had a chance to review them.

But he denied any widespread corruption in her government, and called the report a smear campaign conducted under the guise of a professional investigation.

He noted that investigators looked only at the Tymoshenko government, without looking at Mr. Yanukovych’s own role as prime minister from 2006 to 2007.

“These American firms are being used by a government widely accused of backsliding on democracy in a smear campaign to help cement their rule,” he said.

The investigators said they necessarily limited the scope of their research to a few cases of concern to Ukrainian law enforcement and Finance Ministry officials.

They said they hope the report will stand on its merits and the vast amount of credible evidence gathered.

The report accuses officials in Ms. Tymoshenko’s government of enriching themselves by acting as intermediaries in government purchases of vehicles, medical products, vaccines and 22,000 tons of sugar needed to replenish the country’s supplies this year after they were sold off in the summer of 2009.

Mark MacDougall, who headed the investigation for Akin Gump, said the investigation ranged far outside Ukraine to the state of Oregon, the U.K., Latvia, Israel and the Seychelles, where it found “the use of extensive classic offshore money laundering structures.”

Investigators said the findings give a rare glimpse into some of the methods of government graft in a country where allegations are plentiful but proof is usually scarce.

They allege that the cases were part of a wider pattern of malfeasance in Ms. Tymoshenko’s government, and that its profile of a half-dozen cases was part of an “effort to provide a survey or cross-section of suspect government transactions during the stated period of time.”

“From the start, our job has been to establish the facts,” Mr. MacDougall said. “Every material finding in the report is backed by hard evidence.”

Kroll and Akin Gump have in recent years been retained by top businessmen and politicians in other high-profile matters in Ukraine.

Kroll was in 2001 employed by a party backed by oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, son-in-law of Mr. Yanukovych’s political patron, then-President Leonid Kuchma, to look into the killing of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.

Mr. Kuchma had allegedly been caught on a tape recorded by a bodyguard discussing with leading officials how to deal with the journalist.

Although the U.S. government determined parts of the tape were authentic, Kroll produced a report maintaining Mr. Kuchma wasn’t involved in Mr. Gongadze’s killing.

Though some lower-level security service officers were ultimately convicted in the killing, the planners never were.

Source: Kyiv Post

Pakistan: Civilians in war

Pakistan: Civilians in war

My friends at CIVIC just released a new report with findings on the conflicts in northwest Pakistan, particularly the civilian harm occurring on a daily basis that we seldom here about back here in Washington. The group conducted over 160 interviews with war victims, most of whom have never received an apology or help for the losses they’ve suffered. That’s caused a lot of anger on the ground and is crippling the legitimacy of the Pakistani government. With US support funneling into that country and US drone strikes increasing exponentially, this is something we should all be concerned about. (Source: The Huffington Post)
Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan
By Chris Rogers , CIVIC Field Fellow

pdf FULL REPORT: Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan

Executive Summary

Since 2001, the conflict in northwest Pakistan has killed and injured thousands of civilians, displaced millions, and destroyed countless homes and livelihoods. The warring parties include Pakistani forces, US forces, and militant groups. This report documents civilian losses as a result of this armed conflict, analyzes the humanitarian, security, and strategic consequences of those losses, and examines existing-and needed-efforts by warring parties to make amends to survivors.

The number of civilian casualties-meaning deaths and injuries-is significant in Pakistan, though exact figures are unknown due to insecurity and government restrictions on information. In 2009, an estimated 2,300 civilians were killed in terror attacks alone with many more injured. Counting losses from Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes, civilian casualties in Pakistan likely exceed in number those in neighboring Afghanistan.

Despite the severity of losses and consequences of ignoring them, civilian casualties receive too little attention from US, Pakistani and donor-nation policymakers, military officials, and international organizations alike. Overlooking the majority of civilians harmed or displaced by combat operations is undermining the Pakistani government’s legitimacy. The US, too, has an obligation to these victims, as a major supporter of Pakistan’s anti-terror efforts and as a warring party itself, with small numbers of troops on the ground and drones conducting strikes from overhead.

Over the past year, CIVIC conducted interviews with Pakistani and US policymakers, humanitarians and officials from international organizations, and over 160 Pakistani civilians suffering direct losses from the conflict. After nearly a decade of conflict and billions of aid channeled into Pakistan, more can and should be done to address the civilian cost of the conflict. CIVIC proposes concrete, specific measures to warring parties and their partners toward finally acknowledging and making amends for civilian harm.

Headlines focus on the horrors of terrorism in Pakistan, but CIVIC’s research shows that civilians suffer greatly from a much broader range of conflict-related violence. Pakistani military operations, particularly artillery shelling and airpower, cause significant civilian losses. Civilians are caught between militants and Pakistani forces, while also suffering the consequences of extrajudicial killings, sectarian violence, explosive remnants of war, and US drone strikes.

US drone strikes, in particular, have touched off intense public debate. Neither the US nor Pakistani governments officially deny the program exists but tacitly concede its existence. Anonymous US officials insist that civilian casualties caused by drone strikes are minimal. CIVIC’s research and that of other independent non-government organizations indicates that the number of civilians killed and injured by drones is higher than the US admits.

Civilian losses in Pakistan are often long-lasting and complex, destabilizing families and entire communities. The loss of a husband can deprive the family of its only source of income. An injury can require expensive medical treatment, care by other family members, and prevent survivors from working in the household or finding a job. A house destroyed can mean homelessness, but also the loss of a family’s most important financial asset, forcing them into cycles of debt and dependency.

For Pakistanis already struggling to make ends meet, losses like these are compounded by underdevelopment, displacement, and economic vulnerability. Without savings, insurance, or social safety nets, the shock of a death, injury or property damage can dramatically alter families’ lives, pushing many into debilitating poverty.

Civilian victims expressed anger at warring parties for their losses. Despite some people’s fear of retribution for speaking out, many placed the blame squarely on the Pakistani and US militaries. Almost all victims insisted that the Pakistani or US governments, respectively, had a responsibility to make amends-meaning, an acknowledgment of the harm suffered and an offer of assistance or compensation.

Of the warring parties involved in the conflict, the Pakistani government is the only one making some form of amends to war victims. For example, the Pakistani government maintains compensation programs for some civilian deaths and injuries as well as housing destruction. While these programs need improvement in practice, amends like these can restore a measure of dignity through recognition of losses and provide much-needed help, while also mitigating anger and enhancing the perceived legitimacy of the Pakistani government and military.

This report demonstrates that amends are both possible and practicable in Pakistan, and expected by Pakistani civilians. This requires new programs and a significant improvement of efforts underway. Most Pakistani war victims have yet to receive any assistance, compensation, or even recognition of the harm they suffered.

Summary of Findings

  • Significant civilian casualties are caused by Pakistani military operations, US drone strikes, militant and terror attacks, and other forms of conflict-related violence such as unexploded ordnance and sectarian clashes;
  • There is no governmental or military mechanism that systematically and publicly investigates or collects data on civilian casualties;
  • Deaths, injuries, and property losses are greatly compounded by widespread poverty and displacement;
  • Civilians interviewed acknowledge the relative accuracy of US drone strikes but criticize them for causing civilian casualties and question the program’s long-term effectiveness against militants; most opposed the strikes and demanded an end to the practice;
  • Civilians hold warring parties responsible for their losses and expect amends (compensation, for example) from both the Pakistani and US governments;
  • The Pakistani government is the only warring party attempting to make direct amends to civilian war victims, with a compensation and housing program;
  • Civilians see Pakistani government efforts to compensate or assist war victims as providing real help to those in need and dignifying losses. These programs can also mitigate anger and enhance the perceived legitimacy of the Pakistani government and military;
  • Most victims interviewed were left without amends for their losses due to serious deficiencies in Pakistani compensation mechanisms and no US effort to help those harmed by its combat operations; this, despite US programs for such victims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recommendations

To the Government of Pakistan
  • Ensure all forces-including military, intelligence, security, and lashkars-adhere to the rules of international humanitarian law, including principles of distinction and proportionality, and that all government forces are adequately trained on the same;
  • Refrain from using artillery, mortars and airpower in densely populated areas and ensure such weapons are deployed in a manner that appropriately discriminates between civilians and combatants;
  • Publicly investigate all incidents of civilian harm and, when appropriate, acknowledge responsibility for causing harm;
  • Halt all extrajudicial killings and investigate potential incidents of extrajudicial killings;
  • Halt destruction of homes and other civilian property as retribution or collective punishment;
  • Remove restrictions preventing UN and non-governmental organizations from accessing conflict-affected areas;
  • Halt all intimidation and coercion of journalists, civilian victims or advocates who document or speak out about civilian harm;
  • Improve existing compensation mechanisms for civilians suffering losses by:
  • Proactively investigating all potential incidents of civilian casualties (or allowing independent investigators to do so), identify victims including those who are displaced, acknowledge responsibility where appropriate, and ensure harm is fully addressed;
  • Designating federal and provincial level institutions and administrators to oversee, coordinate, and standardize compensation mechanisms;
  • Developing mechanisms to ensure compensation accountability and transparency with record-keeping, clear and publicized guidelines, and official oversight;
  • Ensuring compensation amounts are appropriate to the loss (i.e. a multi-family house may require a larger payment) and standardizing amount ranges for compensation;
  • Standardizing eligibility and procedures for civilians filing claims and for officials that proactively offer compensation across the country;
  • Ensuring sufficient and timely financing (i.e. an accountable and steady funding stream) for compensation;
  • Developing mechanisms, preferably in partnership with the US, to make amends to victims of drone attacks;
  • Ensuring women and other vulnerable groups have equal access to compensation;
  • Do not ignore or improperly address civilian losses from the conflict in responding to the humanitarian crises caused by the recent floods.
To Militant Groups
  • Immediately cease all attacks directly targeting civilians;
  • Comply with applicable laws of war, including proportionality and distinction between combatants and non-combatants;
  • Publicly investigate all incidents of civilian harm and, when appropriate, acknowledge responsibility for causing civilian harm;
  • Provide compensation or assistance to civilians collaterally harmed as a result of legitimate combat actions, acknowledging that such assistance in no way justifies or excuses attacks that target or disproportionately harm civilians;
  • Do not inhibit or undermine aid provided to civilian victims, whether provided by the Pakistani government or humanitarian organizations;
  • Ensure civilians have freedom of movement and facilitate civilians’ departure from conflict areas;
  • Ensure UN, NGOs, other neutral humanitarian organizations, and journalists have access to conflict-affected areas and ensure forces refrain from any intimidation or violence targeting these groups.
To the United States Government
  • Ensure proportionality and combatant/non-combatant distinction in targeting in all drone strikes;
  • Make public the official definition of civilian, combatant, and non-combatant applied in the drone program, the legal justification for drone strikes, and measures taken to ensure strikes conform to applicable international law;
  • Investigate and publicly acknowledge incidents of civilian casualties caused by drone strikes;
  • Work in partnership with the Pakistani government to provide compensation and other assistance to all civilians harmed by drone strikes;
  • Support existing Pakistani compensation mechanisms including the provision of financial and technical support;
  • Identify additional programs and initiatives to fund that specifically help conflict victims recover, as the US Congress has done in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • Ensure funds appropriated by Congress under the Pakistan Civilian Assistance Program are used for programs directly aiding victims of the conflict;
  • Ensure that the US response to the flood crisis does not displace needed attention on the losses suffered by civilian victims of the conflict.
To the UN and other Members of the International Community
  • Establish a UN mechanism to monitor, document, and investigate incidents of civilian casualties;
  • Whenever possible, coordinate the provision of assistance with all other actors and link victims with existing government and non-governmental assistance;
  • Encourage all warring parties to provide amends to meaningfully recognize and assist civilian victims of the conflict;
  • Press the Pakistani government for increased access for humanitarian and development organizations to conflict-affected areas;
  • Ensure that in channeling resources to the flood crisis, the losses of civilian conflict victims are not ignored.

Taliban, Jamaat-i-Islami and post-Islamism

Taliban, Jamaat-i-Islami and post-Islamism

by Ali Arqam

The killing spree of the Taliban in Pakistan is not limited to combatants, notwithstanding the propaganda of their Pakistani apologists. It extends to non-combatant civilians, minority sects, tribal elders, journalists, educationists, members parliament, clergy and intellectuals. Even shrines and mosques have not been spared. The Taliban feel that by stifling every whiff of dissent and rationality they are doing Allah’s work.

The latest high-profile victim of their intolerance is the renowned religious scholar, writer and intellectual Dr. Farooq Khan. Having studied at the Cadet Colleges in Kohat and Hassanabdal, he did his MBBS from the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar. He received his advanced psychiatry training in Austria. In July 2010, he was made the first vice-chancellor of Swat Islamic University.

He was gunned down at his clinic in Mardan by two militants. According to The Statesman, Peshawar, Umar Farooq, a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the cold-blooded murder. He made a phone call from an undisclosed location to members of Landikotal Press Club in the Khyber Agency, saying that the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, linked to the TTP carried out the assassination. The caller accused Dr. Farooq of speaking against the Taliban at every forum and for describing suicide bombing as haraam or un-Islamic. He also claimed to have kidnapped Dr. Ajmal Khan, the vice-chancellor of Islamia College University.

Dr. Farooq was a psychiatrist by profession and was running a rehabilitation centre for the would-be suicide bombers, trained by the militants and were captured from various parts of the areas affected by militancy.

It is said he was threatened by the militants for his writings and outspoken views against the militant version of Islam. But he refused to stop by saying he would prefer getting killed by the bullets of these militants to dying in his bed. His wish has been granted. And another voice of sanity has been silenced forever.

Like his mentor Javed Ghamidi, Dr. Farooq at one time was associated with the Jamaat-i-Islami. Gradually, he got dissatisfied with the JI because of its narrow vision and politically motivated interpretations of religious texts. Ultimately, he was expelled from the party when he published his book ‘Pakistan in the Twenty-first Century’ in Urdu. In this book he had taken a progressive position on women’s rights and a few other issues.

The Jamat-i-Islami, a religio-political party founded by Maulana Maududi in 1941, is the ideological sister of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was set up by Hasan Banna in Egypt in 1928. The JI started off as an organization that was not interested in active politics but then it came to the conclusion that to implement its interpretation of Islam, it needed to control the levers of state apparatus. During the Pakistan movement, it had harshly criticized the All India Muslim League and its leader, Mr. Jinnah, for being ignorant of Islamic teachings. Ironically, now it has become the biggest champion of the ideology of Pakistan.

Though they never succeeded in electoral politics, but their ideas spread through osmosis, as the state narrative was much in accordance with their ideological stances. They managed to penetrate the institutions of the state, such as the military and bureaucracy. They fully supported the Zia dictatorship. They were very instrumental in confronting the progressive elements in society, particularly among students. Their ideological stances were diluted in many necessary or unnecessary compromises of politics and it came out as a fierce pressure group, which can’t stop themselves from violence against opponents and have never refrained from twists and turns and contradictory political stances.

During the cold war, the JI and its affiliates were used by the Western powers against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. In the post-cold war era, these elements lost their importance, their Western backers considered them more of liabilities than assets, though in Pakistan the realization came very late. Perhaps this realization has not yet dawned on the Pakistanis. The Taliban and other extremists still have sympathies in the middle classes, the media and in our security establishment.

In many Muslim countries like Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan some of the Islamists have been transformed into post-Islamists. The post-Islamist scholars have some disagreements with the Islamists and their hardcore militant manifestations.

As in the words of Iranian intellectual Asif Bayat, “Post-Islamism is also a project, a conscious attempt to conceptualize and strategize the rationale and modalities of transcending Islamism in social, political, and intellectual domains. Yet, post-Islamism is neither anti-Islamic nor un-Islamic or secular. Post-Islamism represents an endeavour to fuse religiosity with rights, faith and freedoms, Islam and civil liberties and focuses on rights instead of duties, plurality instead of singular authority, historicity rather than fixed and rigid interpretation of scriptures, and the future rather than the past. Post-Islamists eagerly join a cosmopolitan humanity, link up with global civil activism and endeavour to work for global co-operation and solidarity. It wants to marry Islam with individual choice and freedom, with democracy and modernity, to achieve what some have called an ‘alternative modernity’. Post-Islamism is expressed in acknowledging secular exigencies, in freedom from rigidity, in breaking down the monopoly of religious truth. In short, whereas Islamism is defined by the fusion of religion and responsibility, post-Islamism emphasizes religiosity and rights.”

In Pakistan, their ideas came to prominence with the emergence of Javed Ghamidi and his associates and disciples like Dr. Khalid Zaheer, who at one time was a prominent leader of Dr. Israr Ahmad’s Tanzeem-i-Islami, Khurshid Nadeem, TV anchor and columnist, and Dr. Farooq Khan. In the last decade they have made their presence felt largely through the media, in particular through private TV channels. But they still have very limited influence among the masses. They are unlikely to make a breakthrough with the masses anytime soon as they are under the influence of religious orthodoxy.

In these times when extremists are brutalizing the society and the meek and timid politico-religious classes can’t speak out against these monsters, anyone who speaks out against them does so at the risk of his life. Javed Ghamidi has been forced into exile and his disciple Dr. Farooq Khan has been gunned down for fighting his battles with reason and sanity when unreason and insanity rule the roost in the land of the pure and gun has become the ultimate arbiter of arguments.

Source: Viewpoint

Pak. Forces Burn House of Tailor Blamed for Flag-Making

Pakistani forces raided the house of Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, Mashky military aggression continues

akistan military and Para-military forces have started pillaging and stealing valuables and household goods in the name of search operation

Occupied Balochistan: Pakistani military backed by Gunship Helicopters and armed with sophisticated weapons continue their military offensives in Mashky and adjourning areas in Balochistan.

Sources reported that several people have been arrested and taken to undisclosed locations. Some of the forcefully disappeared people have been named as Bashir Ahmed Baloch, a tailor by profession and his two sons of age 9 and 13 who have been arrested and disappeared from, Wahejo, a small town in Mashkay. Bashir Ahmad Baloch’s shop has been set on fire and his family member have been severely beaten and harassed at the time of his arrest. Eye-witnesses of his abductions heard the security forces saying that he was the only tailor in the area; he must be the one who sewed the flags of Balochistan.

Meanwhile in Mehi, Dr Allah Nazar Baloch’s birthplace, a school teacher named as Raza Muhammed Baloch, his relative Adam Baloch, Aziz Baloch, Rasool Bux Baloch and Ibrahim Baloch have also been apprehended and shifted toward an unknown location. Dr Allah Nazar’s family members and neighbours have reportedly been harassed and humiliated during a raid on their house. Pakistan’s immoral military also looted valuables and broke windowpanes of the house.

Houses of BNM leader Akhtar Nadeem Baloch and his father-in-law Dr Ghulam Mostafa Baloch were deliberately set on fire in Gorchik area 25 Miles from Mashky. Ghulam Mostafa Baloch is the secratery of Union Council Gujar in Mashky. Speaking to Daily Intekhab Dr Mostafa Baloch alleged that Pakistan forces looted around RS. 700,000 cash, a tractor, motorcycles, several expensive carpets, blankets correspondents of union councils offices have also been taken away by the greedy personnel of Pakistani security forces.

Moreover in Mandel, near the military garrison, the Pakistani forces raided the house of Dr Haneef Baloch and six of his neighbours. They deliberately set ablaze the houses and let them burn to ashes. While the houses of innocent poor Baloch were in flames the so called Islamic military of army celebrated with joy. They also warned other residents in their area that their houses will be burnt; they accused the Baloch as the agents of India and America or what the Islamic army calls “the infidels”.

The Pakistani military forced the shopkeeper to open their shops because they had shut their businesses in protest of the military operation in Mashky and surrounding areas. Some shopkeeper who were not present in the market their shops have been set on fire. Houses of the members of Baloch Student Organisation (Azaad) Fida Baloch, Zahor Baloch, Haroon Baloch, Mustafa Baloch and Gul Hassan Baloch were also burnt down on purpose. Their family members including women and children were forced out of their houses, humiliated in public and severely beaten on the roads.

On the other hand protest against ongoing military incursion against people of Balochistan also intensified and are continuing. BNF, Baloch women panel, Anjuman-e-Itehad Marri and BSO-azaad in their separate statements strongly condemned the military operation in Mashky. The Baloch pro-freedom nationalist parties term the new offensives of the Pakistan military as the psychological defeat of the occupying forces. They believed that the military has lost its senses and it is using the full military might indiscriminately against defenceless and unarmed armed civilian population in Balochistan.

Baloch Sources Claim State of Seige for Mashky Area

Reports of Military operation in Balochistan, fears of civilian casualties due to aerial bombardment

Several innocent Baloch have been arrested, 40 tanks and 4 Helicopters are reportedly being used in the operation

Occupied Balochistan: Pakistan military, FC and Police are carrying out a join military operation in the town of Mashky in Balochistan. The forces are reportedly using Gunship Helicopters for the aerial bombardment in mountainous regions on civilian populations. Local sources also claim that there houses and shops have been deliberately set on fire by the Pakistan military. According to reports over 40 military tanks, hundreds of FC personnel and at least 4 Helicopter are involved in the current operation. In addition hundreds of Pakistan military troops and ambulances have also reached the town late Wednesday night.

Local sources claim there have been civilian causalities but nobody can say with certainty how many people have been killed or injured because of the complete media blackout in the region. The Town of Mashky and adjourning areas are in a complete siege by the military. Presently the police, the FC and the military are conducting a house-to-house search, with the help of some masked men, [presumably their local hired agents] in the town and several people have been arrested so far. Locals complain that their valuables including cash, cycles, cars and motorcycles are forcefully being taken away by the Pakistani security personnel.

The town might face food and medical scarcity due to the siege and continued military operation. Due to the curfew like situation the residents of Mashky town are not being allowed to leave their houses and no medical aid has been permitted to enter the town from anywhere else in Balochistan.

Sources also reported that the military have cut off all the electricity and phone lines before they started the operation. People might face medical, food and water shortage if the operation continued. However,The current operation in Mashky is not something unexpected or new to the people of Balochistan.

Pakistani Army continues to pound Mashkay in Balochistan, civilian properties set ablaze

 

Pakistani Army continues to pound Mashkay in Balochistan, civilian properties set ablaze

By Frontier India

Pakistan Army continues to bombard area of Mashkay in what the locals say “Pakistani Occupied Balochistan.” This offensive is being carried out with the help of gunship helicopters. Sources around Mashkay report properties of the local people, who have resisted against the looting or kidnappings, were set on fire. Several people were kidnapped by the army and were taken to undisclosed locations.

According to the reports received Bashir Ahmed Baloch, a tailor by profession and his two sons of age 9 and 13 were abducted from Wahejo, a small town in Mashkay. Bashir Ahmed’s shop was set ablaze and his family members were severely beaten at the time when three of them were being kidnapped. It is said that the personal’s repeatedly said that he was the only tailor in the area therefore he must be the one who stitches the flags of Independent Balochistan.

Meanwhile in Moee, the town where Baloch leader Dr. Allah Nizar was born, a school teacher named as Raza Muhammed Baloch, his relative Adam Baloch, a shepherd named Abdul Latif Baloch and a brother of Dr. Alla Nizar, Ibrahim Baloch were kidnapped and were taken to undisclosed location. Dr. Alla Nizar’s house was raided as well, and his family and neighbors were humiliated and their belongings were taken away. On the other hand in Kandali, a place near Mashkay Cantonment, Dr. Haneef Baloch’s house was raided by Pakistan army, and his house, along with the houses of six of his neighbors, were burnt to ashes. By burning the houses of the people who are already living a miserable life and live below the poverty line in their mineral rich motherland, the army officer present at the scene celebrated victory and warned other residents of the area that they would all be slaughtered and that they were all working for India and America (the infidels as Pakistan Army calls them).

In the main market of Mashkay which was observing a shutter down strike against the army offensive, 18 shops were set on fire and people were forcefully asked to keep their shops open if they wished to save their properties from burning. Houses of Fida Baloch, Zahor Baloch, Haroon Baloch, Mustafa Baloch and Gul Hassan Baloch were also burnt for the sole reason of being members B.S.O. (Azaad). Their family members were forcefully taken out of the houses and children and women were said to be humiliated and beaten on the roads of Mashkay.

In a separate incident, two members of Baloch Student Organization (Azad)Gwadar zone Sameer Baloch So Abdul Rasheed & Yasir Baloch, son of Haji Nasir Baloch were whisked away by unknown abductors from ‘’Surbandar’’ area of Gwadar.

Pak. Security Forces Unleash New Baloch Operation in Mekran

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: A minister in Balochistan Assembly (BA) pointed out on Thursday that security forces had unleashed a new phase of operation in Mekran Division, arresting several political workers and whisking away some others to unknown locations.

Provincial minister for Social Welfare, Mir Asghar Rind, complained on the floor of the Balochistan Assembly on a point of order about the search operation in Mekran charging the security forces of initiating military action during which many people have been whisked away or gone missing.

When Speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhoothani did not allow him continue his speech, Rind joined another provincial minister Mir Asad Balcoh to stage a walk out in protest against the Speaker. Adviser to Chief Minister Dr Fauzia Nazir Marri, who is also a member of BNP-Awami,  also joined the protest.

Addressing a news conference, Asad Baloch said that the security forces even did not  take the Chief Minister of the province on board before carrying out a massive search operation.

“They (the forces) are violating the sanctity of homes and insulting the people during the home-to-home search. The gunship helicopters also shelled in mountainous areas of Mashkay,” said Asad Baloch adding, “The action is being carried out on the direction of Interior Minister who had already threatened us in his last visit to Quetta that Islamabad would use brute force in Balochistan under the excuse of maintaining peace in the province.”

He said that Chief Minister had also complained that Islamabad was not paying ample attention towards the problems of Balochistan.

” I wonder if the Chief Minister is not being heard in Islamabad then where the ministers should go to register their complaint against the security forces?” asked the minister helplessly.

He asked the Federal Government to stop the operation immediately and advised that such action must be taken under a legal framework.

“The latest operation is a violation of the country’s  constitution and it will have long-term negative impact on the province-Center relations,” he added.

Groups rally around anti-war activists under FBI attack

Groups rally around anti-war activists under FBI attack

By John Catalinotto

Support throughout the progressive movement in the U.S. and worldwide continues to grow for the anti-war and international solidarity activists whose homes were invaded by the FBI on Sept. 24. The StopFbi.net website had 88 messages of solidarity from organizations as of Oct. 11.

Supporters have called for a national call-in day to back the activists on Oct. 12, the next day that people are scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago. A message went out the morning of Oct. 10 for people to call U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is in charge of the Northern District of Illinois and responsible for the FBI raids and grand jury investigation.

The calls are to raise the demands that are central to this struggle. They are: End the repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists! Return all materials seized in the raid! Stop the grand jury subpoenas of activists!

On Sept. 24, the FBI raided seven Chicago and Minneapolis homes of well-known anti-war and international solidarity activists. The raid targeted activists involved with many groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Their ranks included a number of trade unionists; some trade unions have sent solidarity statements, including one from the San Francisco Labor Council.

The FBI took computer hard drives, cell phones, documents, newspapers and children’s artwork. According to the FBI, the goal of the raids was to show material support for terrorism charges. Those targeted are well-known leaders in the anti-war movement and many of them helped to organize the huge protest against the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., in September 2008.

Fourteen people were handed subpoenas to appear before the grand jury on one of four successive Tuesdays in Chicago. On Oct. 5, the 14 declared in a statement to 100 supporters in Chicago that none of them would cooperate with the grand jury — that is, none would bear witness against other activists.

In the first week after the FBI invasion, supporters held demonstrations in 43 cities around the U.S. Protests continued on Oct. 5-7, with demonstrations in Chicago, New York, Boston, Milwaukee, Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Durham, N.C., among others.

In Durham, Elena Everett, who spoke at a news conference, was the target of Homeland Security and Joint Terrorism Task Force harassment for anti-war activities in 2004. “We’re calling for an immediate end to harassment of anti-war activists,” Everett said. “The peace and justice community will not be silent, and we will not allow this to have a chilling effect on our work for justice and against war.”

Kosta Harlan of Students for a Democratic Society and the Colombia Action Network, an activist the FBI tried to visit on Sept. 24, said, “The FBI has been using these repressive tactics against the Muslim community for nine years, with disastrous results for Muslims and for our democratic rights. Now they want to broaden the repression to other sections of the people.”

Despite a united movement supporting the activists under attack, the FBI nevertheless continued to harass anti-war fighters in Minneapolis. Without delivering any new subpoenas, the FBI tried to visit other members of the Anti-War Committee. One, Jennie Eisert, said, “FBI agents came to my work and wanted to talk to me about activists in the anti-war movement. I was called away from my desk and when I refused to talk to them, they tried to turn me against my friends and fellow activists.

“They said that Jess Sundin, Meredith Aby and Mick Kelly had manipulated me and others in the anti-war movement. The only ones trying to manipulate me are these FBI agents,” Eisert said. (Fight Back! News)

Kelly urges everyone in the progressive community to exercise their legal right to not answer questions put to them by FBI agents. “This is a witch-hunt against anyone who is standing up against war and injustice. Tell FBI agents you have nothing to say. Period.” said Kelly. (Fight Back! News)

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression is focusing the Oct. 12 protest on mobilizing people to send messages to U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald and to call him at 312-353-5300. Already, organizations supporting those under attack have sent the message out to their lists. For example, the International Action Center has sent it out to its national list, urging people to pass it along and asking for more signatures on a petition, located on the IAC website, protesting the FBI raids. (See http://www.iacenter.org)


Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World.

Russian Leaders Grow Weary of NATO Embrace of Opium Culture

[The realization of American ulterior motivations for overlooking the opium culture of Afghanistan will compel Russia to set its own anti-narcotics agenda in Afghanistan and the region.  The falling apart of the Obama strategy in Afghanistan will unravel many things, possibly even Russian cooperation in the Northern Distribution Network strategy.  The simultaneous collapse of the pipeline strategy (focused on the Nabucco pipeline) and the project to dismantle Pakistan on the other end of "pipelineistan," will cause the outbreak of new wars, perhaps even major wars, as Russia uses its military might to reinforce its own positions throughout the former USSR.  The war calculus of Bush and Cheney, now compounded by the logarithmic corrections made by Obama, were always pushing for wars all over Eurasia, but the plan was to keep their timing under American control.  The failure of the war theories of Bush, Cheney and Obama has unleashed a cycle of new tensions and new wars that will be under no one's control.  It may be that our best hope right now is praying that these wars do not go nuclear.  It is to this end that I concentrate my own efforts on the sub-continent, hoping to help both Pakistan and India avoid the great war that has been planned for them.
Russian leaders see all of this unfolding before their own eyes.  How can they avoid the great wars that America has planned for them?  We live in very interesting times, to say the least.]

Poppies bloom on a field in the Khogyani district of Afghanistan. (Photo: UNODC)

Poppies bloom on a field in the Khogyani district of Afghanistan. (Photo: UNODC)

“NATO is showing ‘incomprehensible passivity in the fight against drugs’”

Russian frustration is rising with NATO’s “incomprehensible passivity” in efforts to contain Afghanistan’s growing drugs output. It has reached a point where some politicians in Moscow are starting to call for an active Russian military presence in Central Asia.

The Kremlin flashed its dissatisfaction with anti-trafficking efforts in Afghanistan on September 29, when Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, lambasted the inability of US and NATO forces to curb trafficking in northern Afghanistan. He also intimated that the growing presence of Islamic militants in northern Afghanistan may be linked to the recent clashes in Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley.

“Drug crime fused with terrorism has become a threat to peace and stability,” Churkin said in a speech delivered to the UN Security Council.

NATO is showing “incomprehensible passivity in the fight against drugs” and has failed to respond to “logical proposals” from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Churkin added.

The same day Churkin was speaking in New York, there was an announcement in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek that 40 Russian border guards would be stationed in Osh to serve as “advisors” to their Kyrgyz counterparts.

A September 30 statement issued by Russia’s permanent mission to NATO called on the Atlantic Alliance to redouble its anti-trafficking efforts. “The drug problem has to be settled once and for all, if we are to achieve stabilization in Afghanistan and the region,” the statement said.

Some Russian MPs are now actively contemplating the deployment of Russian units in Central Asian states to wage an anti-drug campaign. Speaking at a security conference held in Moscow in early October, Semyon Bagdasarov, a member of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee, called on Russia to seize the initiative. The United States, he hinted strongly, can’t be trusted to defend Russian interests.

“We need to amend the law ‘On Defense’ and allow the use of troops to combat drug trafficking in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. … If we don’t do this, the Americans will do it,” Bagdasarov said. “It is unacceptable, given that drug trafficking is a threat to our national security, that representatives of a different state, not us, fight it.”

Abdugani Mamadazimov, the head of National Association of Political Scientists of Tajikistan, told EurasiaNet.org that Russia is motivated not only by intent to combat drug trafficking, but also by a desire to stem the spread of Islamic extremism. “The situation in Central Asia isn’t a direct threat to Russia but it has indirect influence. But if the security situation gets worse because of Islamic militants in the region, it will affect Russia. It will be seen as a second front – they already have a problematic area in the Caucasus,” he said.

An increased Russian troop presence in Tajikistan could create a fresh set of problems, Mamadazimov suggested. Russian border guards used to be responsible for patrolling Tajikistan’s porous border with Afghanistan, but they withdrew in 2005 at the behest of Tajik President Imomali Rahmon. The re-introduction of Russian forces along the frontier would be perceived as “neo-colonialism” by many Tajiks, Mamadaziev asserted.

Such a Russian deployment would probably not make much of a difference in the anti-drug fight, Mamadazimov added. “NATO is taking some measures to address [drugs trafficking and security] but their actions are not sufficient,” he explained. “Tajikistan needs not only Russia’s assistance but also [more] help from the European Union and the United States. But nobody is doing enough.”

Leonid Gusev, a professor of international relations at Moscow State University, said the rising rate of drug abuse in Russia created a major incentive for the Kremlin to act. But he cautioned against a unilateral approach. He said all the major regional organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization needed to coordinate and implement a single strategy.

“The OSCE will hold a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, in December where [representatives of] all of these organizations will meet,” he said. “Perhaps that kind of coordination might be discussed as well. It would be at least a step towards addressing this problem.”

For Gusev and many others in Moscow, memories of Russia’s ill-fated occupation of Afghanistan still loom large in the decision-making process. “If Russian troops are to be stationed abroad they should only go in with some international organization. I remember Russian troops going in to Afghanistan in 1979 and coming back in 1988, why do we need that again?” Gusev said.

Editor’s note:

Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.

Militia Leader Suspected in Kamarob Gorge Attack Helping Govt. Look for Abdullo

Mirzokhouja Ahmadov helps government forces hunt down Mullo Abdullo and Ali Bedaki


Author: Avaz Yuldoshev

DUSHANBE, October 15, 2010, Asia-Plus  — Speaker of the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament) Shukurjon Zuhurov, who is currently on working visit to Rasht Valley, has not conducted any negotiations with illegal armed groups in Rasht district, the source at the Rasht district administration told Asia-Plus today.

According to him, the speaker has been meeting with voters and getting acquainted with socioeconomic situation in Rasht district.

He added that armed groups of Mirzokhouja Ahmadov and so-called Mullo Sayriddin, totaling 27 people, surrendered to government forces three days ago already.

At present the surrendered militants are cooperating with government forces in hunting down Mullo Abdullo (Abdullo Rahimov) and Ali Bedaki (Alovuddin Davlatov), who are suspected of having been involved in an attack on a military convoy in Kamarob Gorge in Rasht district, the source said.

We will recall that at least 25 officers and soldiers of the Ministry of Defense were killed by unknown assailants in the deadly attack in Kamarob Gorge in Rasht district on September 19.

Former opposition field commander Mullo Abdullo, who turned 60 this year, rejected the General Peace Agreement singed between the government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in 1997 and later joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).  Mullo Abdullo reportedly left for Afghanistan in 2000 where he fought alongside the Taliban and was detained by international forces in 2002.  According to some sources, he spent several years in an Afghan prison and it is said that he illegally returned to Tajikistan in 2009.

Alovuddin Davlatov, also known as Ali Bedaki, is also former UTO field commanders.  His brother Husniddin Davlatov, an activist of the Islamic Revival Party (IRP) in Rasht district, who was arrested in Dushanbe on September 10, was shown on the Tajik national TV on September 20.  He said he was arrested by government forces because he had supplied his brother, Alovuddin Davlatov, with explosives and military uniforms.  Husniddin Davlatov added that his brother organized a training camp for local and foreign youth in which he taught them how to carry out terrorist attacks.

Pakistan says willing to assist Afghan talks

Pakistan says willing to assist Afghan talks

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attends a news conference during his official visit in Doha September 2, 2010. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

By David Brunnstrom

BRUSSELS | Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:04am EDT

(Reuters) – Pakistan said on Friday it was willing to assist talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban because stability and peace in Afghanistan were in its own interests.

NATO and U.S. officials have also said they are ready to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, butPakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the talks must be led by Afghanistan.

“They have to own it, they have to lead it. We are there to help,” Qureshi said in Brussels before talks on supporting economic development in Pakistan and fighting terrorism.

“We are there to facilitate. Because we want to see a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. It’s in Pakistan’s interest to have stability and peace in Afghanistan.”

A senior Pakistani official familiar with the contacts between the Afghan government and the Taliban said they had been made possible by the lifting of U.S. opposition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week Washington would do “whatever it takes” to get the peace process on track.

“I don’t know whether these contacts will succeed or not but the process has been set into motion,” the Pakistani official said on condition of anonymity.

“It’s just the beginning and this in itself is a success because earlier there has been (U.S.) opposition to such contacts.”

Pakistan’s backing for talks is important. Although it is officially an ally in NATO’s campaign against Islamist militancy in Afghanistan, it has been accused of playing a double game by covertly supporting militants fighting there.

Islamabad was the main backer of the Taliban when it was in power in Afghanistan, and has been concerned by the influence that its nuclear-armed rival India has on the Kabul government.

U.S. AND NATO CAUTIOUS

U.S. and NATO leaders also caution that reconciliation is a complex process that may not happen quickly.

The disclosure by a senior NATO official on Wednesday that NATO has already facilitated contacts between Kabul and Taliban figures pointed to a bigger Western role than previously acknowledged as Kabul seeks a political resolution to the war.

The conflict is in its bloodiest phase since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, and more than 2,000 foreign troops have been killed since the fighting started, more than half of them in the last two years.

This has led to increased disillusionment with the conflict among Western nations contributing to the 150,000-strong NATO-led force.

China leaders gather to map economic, political plans

China leaders gather to map economic, political plans

By Chris Buckley and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING | Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:57am EDT

(Reuters) – China’s leaders grapple with high politics and grassroots needs at a conclave from Friday to set growth priorities and possibly advance succession plans intended to secure an economic ascent free of political upheavals.

The meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee opens a delicate phase of economic refitting and elite turnover that will preoccupy Chinese policy-makers for the next couple of years, reaching a crescendo in early 2013.

Some 370 central and provincial officials cloistered in a heavily guarded hotel in west Beijing will settle on the key parts of the next five-year development plan that starts in 2011. President Hu Jintao said it would promote “inclusive growth” to improve the incomes and welfare of farmers and workers.

“China has entered a different stage now,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher on China for Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog group.

“Now we’re getting into the difficult part when it’s much more difficult for the Party to satisfactorily respond to popular demands,” Bequelin said in a telephone interview.

The four-day meeting may also approve promotions that will signal officials’ prospects in a emerging leadership line-up to succeed President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The results will be announced only after the meeting ends on Monday and state media issue a broad summary. The full details of the economic plan will appear only next year.

Much of the guessing in Beijing is about whether Vice President Xi Jinping will be promoted to the Vice Chairmanship of the Central Military Commission, cementing his status as favored successor to Hu, who gives up the presidency in early 2013.

Hu joined the Commission before he became top leader, and based on that precedent, some observers say Xi’s hold on the top job could be less certain if he does not get the same this time.

But whatever their eventual pecking order, China’s emerging leaders, including Xi and Wen’s most likely successor, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, are likely to stick to the government’s current formula of reworking the economy to domestic demand and eschewing bold political experiments or open splits in the elite.

“In a way, all these fifth generation leaders are groomed as a group, as a cohort,” said Bo Zhiyue, a researcher at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute, referring to the next generation of leaders such as Xi.

IT’S THE ECONOMY, COMRADE

Chinese Premier Wen has repeatedly called for more urgent reform of the political system to give citizens more say.

But there are no signs that the Party meeting will head down that path. The government’s vehement condemnation of the Nobel Peace Prize for dissident Liu Xiaobo has shown how far the Party is from embracing the democratic changes some critics want.

“This leadership is obsessively risk averse,” said Bequelin.

China’s governing elite will be most focused on discussing economic challenges, said Wang Zhengxu, a Chinese politics expert at the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute.

China’s next five-year plan “will reflect how deeply the Party wants to change the economic model, toward more environmentally friendly ways of production, more internal consumption instead of export dependence, and toward more equitable growth, reducing income inequality,” Wang said.

“For the Party, that will be the main thing and succession politics will be second.”

China is edging past Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy, and keeping growth aloft will remain a priority for the government.

But generating the more balanced, domestically-sustained growth the leadership wants will demand a shift in priorities from provincial and local officials, hitherto more worried about keeping aloft GDP rates to generate revenue, jobs and kudos.

Last month, President Hu said the country should “achieve inclusive growth and truly address the social problems that have emerged in economic development.”

Those social problems include the residential barriers and welfare inequalities dividing 720 million rural residents from urban growth and incomes, and the country’s inexorable shift from a surplus of cheap workers to a graying population and tightening labor force.

This plan, and the next one from 2016 to 2020, will also include goals to cut energy and the chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, emitted for each dollar of economic activity. [ID:nLDE68L23Z] That will also be a demanding job, say officials.

The Party gathering will be important to win over officials to policies to address these issues before the plan is formally approved by the national parliament in early 2011.

(Editing by Ken Wills and Ron Popeski)

US Army Makes Major Investment In “Learned Helplessness” Theory

[SEE: Weaponizing Psychology]

“War on terror” psychologist gets giant no-bid contract

BBCWorldNews/AP
Left: Marty Seligman. A Guantanamo detainee sits alone inside a fenced area during his daily outside period, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba.

The Army earlier this year steered a $31 million contract to a psychologist whose work formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration’s torture program.

The Army awarded the “sole source” contract in February to the University of Pennsylvania for resilience training, or teaching soldiers to better cope with the psychological strain of multiple combat tours. The university’s Positive Psychology Center, directed by famed psychologist Martin Seligman, is conducting the resilience training.

Army contracting documents show that nobody else was allowed to bid on the resilience-training contract because “there is only one responsible source due to a unique capability provided, and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.” And yet, Salon was able to identify resilience training experts at other institutions around the country, including the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. In fact, in 2008 the Marine Corps launched a project with UCLA to conduct resilience training for Marines and their families at nine military bases across the United States and in Okinawa, Japan.

Government contracting regulations allow sole-source contracts, but only under very limited conditions, such as when only one company has the ability to do the needed work, according to Trevor Brown, a contracting expert at Ohio State University.

Brown said inappropriately awarding sole-source contracts is an “endemic” problem throughout the Department of Defense.

“I am not an expert on resilience training,” he said, “but I know enough to know they could have put out a tender, and my guess is they would have gotten a number of bids. My first reaction was that there is a market for this stuff.”

Army resilience training is the pet project of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, previously the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq during the darkest days of the war there, from July 2004 through February 2007. Army sources say the director of the Army’s resilience program, Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, rammed the training contract through the Army bureaucracy on Casey’s behalf.

Seligman is most famous for his work in the 1960s in which he was able to psychologically destroy caged dogs by subjecting them to repeated electric shocks with no hope of escape. The dogs broke down completely and ultimately would not attempt to escape through an open cage door when given the opportunity to avoid more pain. Seligman called the phenomenon “learned helplessness.”

Government documents say that the goal of Bush-era torture was to drive prisoners into the same psychologically devastated state through abuse. “The express goal of the CIA interrogation program was to induce a state of ‘learned helplessness,'” according to a July 2009 report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

Seligman, described as politically conservative by a psychologist who knows him well, once chastised his fellow academics for “forgetting” 9/11. “It takes a bomb in the office of some academics to make them realize that their most basic values are now threatened, and some of my good friends and colleagues on the Edge seem to have forgotten 9/11,” Seligman once wrote on the Edge Foundation website. In that post, Seligman was arguing that any science advisor to the president “needs to help direct natural science and social science toward winning our war against terrorism.”

Previous reports have explored how Seligman’s fingerprints show up on the CIA and military torture programs — including his interactions at key moments with individuals and institutions that helped set up and carry out government torture. Seligman told Salon he never intended for the government to use his ideas for torture and described the timing of the meetings as coincidental.

Understanding Seligman’s connection to torture requires a bit of background. Bush-era torture was designed by a small group of current and former military psychologists who had been training elite U.S. soldiers to resist torture, an effort that has been in existence in the military for decades in what is called the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program.

In late 2001, both the CIA and the Pentagon first requested interrogation assistance from various SERE psychologists, according to a November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee and a 2004 CIA inspector general report. A small group of those SERE psychologists agreed to reverse-engineer their torture-resistance training tactics into brutal interrogation methods.

Seligman shows up early on. In December 2001, one of the SERE psychologists who helped establish and run the CIA torture program, James Mitchell, attended a small meeting at Seligman’s house along with Kirk Hubbard, then the CIA’s director of Behavioral Sciences Research. The New York Times has described this meeting as “the start of the program.”

In a lengthy correspondence with Salon over the previous months, Seligman described that meeting at his house as a small gathering of professors and law enforcement personnel as well as at least one “Israeli intelligence person,” to conduct an academic discussion about the so-called war on terror. “It was about isolating Jihad Islam from moderate Islam,” Seligman said of the meeting. “It did not touch on interrogation or torture or captured prisoners or possible coercive techniques — even remotely.”An interview with another attendee as well as an agenda for that meeting, obtained by Salon, support Seligman’s description of that meeting.

Seligman said he interacted with Mitchell at that meeting infrequently, but does recall the SERE psychologist “telling me that he admired my work at a coffee break.”

Another interaction between Seligman and the architects of Bush-era torture came a few months later, in the spring of 2002. Jane Mayer’s 2008 book “The Dark Side” shows that Seligman made a three-hour presentation at the Navy’s SERE school in San Diego in the spring of 2002. Mayer said Hubbard, the CIA official, was involved in arranging Seligman’s presentation. Hubbard confirmed that in an e-mail to Salon.

In e-mails to Salon, Seligman said that Hubbard, the CIA official, also attended the presentation. So did Mitchell and Mitchell’s partner in setting up government torture, another SERE psychologist named Bruce Jessen. Seligman said the audience included 50 to 100 SERE officials. “I was invited to speak about how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors,” Seligman wrote.

Seligman did allude to discussions at that time with SERE officials about interrogating al Qaida suspects, but said those talks were limited because of security clearance issues. “I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not detail American methods of interrogation with me,” he wrote. “I was also told then that their methods did not use ‘violence’ or ‘brutality,'” he wrote.

Seligman’s colleagues estimate that the famous psychologist charges between $20,000 and $30,000 to present a speech. Seligman waived his fee when he presented to the SERE officials.

The Senate report says that at around the same time during that spring of 2002, Mitchell’s partner, Jessen, wrote for the military a “draft exploitation plan” for use on detainees. The Senate report says that at the same time, a number of SERE officials became involved in developing the torture program. “Beginning in the spring of 2002 and extending for the next two years (SERE officials) supported U.S. government efforts to interrogate detainees,” the Senate report says. “During that same period, senior government officials solicited (SERE) knowledge and its direct support for interrogations.”

Another related thing was going on at the same time in the spring of 2002. The CIA had also just recently taken custody of al Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah, the first so-called “high-value” detainee subjected to CIA abuse. Mayer’s book documents how Mitchell, the SERE psychologist, led the team that tortured Zubaydah that spring of 2002. She quotes an unnamed source present at the scene who says Mitchell described his plans for Zubaydah “like an experiment, when you apply electric shocks to a caged dog, after a while, he’s so diminished, he can’t resist.”

(Mayer’s book also explores the ironic leitmotif of Bush-era torture: that SERE officials are not trained interrogators and the methods they employed were originally designed by Communists to produce forced confessions, not good intelligence.)

In his correspondence with Salon, Seligman said the CIA and military appear to have hijacked his learned helplessness work without his knowledge or consent. “I am grieved and horrified that good science, which has helped so many people overcome depression, may have been used for such dubious purposes,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Most importantly, I have never and would never provide assistance in torture. I strongly disapprove of it.”

Similarly, Seligman says he doesn’t know anything about how or why the military early this year steered the $31 million resilience-training contract to his psychology center with no other competition allowed. “I just don’t know,” Seligman wrote. “Government contracting is way above my level of knowledge or competence.”

“You will need to ask General Cornum and (Army Chief of Staff.) Gen Casey about their process,” Seligman added.

Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman, said in an e-mail that the Army steered the contract to Seligman for the benefit of soldiers. “The decision not to compete was affected by a compelling reason to execute this contract as quickly as possible, as the impact of current operations (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] incidents) and a suicide rate reported to be sixty percent higher than in 2003 posed significant concern for the well-being of our Soldiers,” Tallman wrote. He said the contract also went to Seligman because the psychologist had “the only program available that demonstrated it could meet stated requirements such as ‘longitudinal efficacy in randomized clinical trials, with improvement well documented in published research.'”

Tallman said Casey and Cornum declined Salon’s interview request.

White House in Crisis

[My feeling is that Wayne is probably right on this one.  The departure of Emanuel and Jones is proof that the administration is falling apart.  The self-destruction of the Obama team, just as they surged the war is a sign that the war is about to shut-down, just like Vietnam.  Crisis upon crisis.]

White House in Crisis

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment likely to be invoked; Obama being shipped out!

By Wayne Madsen

Washington has not witnessed so much top level White House intrigue since October 20, 1973, when a Saturday night saw President Nixon fire the Watergate independent counsel, the U.S. attorney general, and the deputy attorney general in the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Just ten days earlier, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after being charged with accepting bribes while governor of Maryland.

In the case of President Obama, the senior firings are not happening during a single nght but the recent involuntary sudden departures of the White House chief of staff and national security adviser, along with what WMR can confirm from multiple sources is a president who is suffering from Nixonian levels of paranoia, depression, and schizophrenia, has some top-level administration officials considering the first-ever invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment — the involuntary removal of the president from office. The White House meltdown has the Washington political circuit buzzing under the surface.

Unlike Watergate and the Iran-contra scandal, however, the corporate media is refusing to report on the breakdown of the Obama administration and the internecine political warfare within the Executive Office of the President.

The “Ulsterman” Diary

Like Watergate, the rumors about Obama’s mental health, his lack of interest in the routine tasks of the presidency, and his mistaken belief that the crowds who see him on the campaign trail automatically adore him, are emanating from a “Deep Throat,” a former White House staffer who is providing detailed information on the chaos and in-fighting in the White House to a blogger who goes by the name of “Ulsterman.” Ulsterman has conducted a number of background interviews with the former Obama staffer over the past few weeks, publishing them in a series. WMR has independently confirmed with Washington insiders, some with high-level contacts in the White House, that most of the information in the interviews is correct.

The latest leak from the former White House official has Obama offering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012. However, Clinton has no intention of taking the job and may well quit as Secretary of State after the mid-term election, especially if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates leaves earlier than his announced departure of next year and the Democrats suffer a big defeat at the polls on Nov. 2. It is known that Gates does not like the new National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and was not happy that National Security Adviser James Jones was fired earlier than his own planned departure date.

The other Ulsterman interviews are as follows:

White House Insider On Obama: The President Is Losing It Sep. 7

White House Insider Part 2: The President needs to grow up. Sep. 15

White House Insider: What The Hell Have We Done? Sep. 18

White House Insider: The Clintons Are Going For It. Sep. 21

White House Insider: Pelosi and Obama at War Oct. 7

Another similarity to the Watergate crisis is the usual “pre-crisis presence” of Washington Postinfluence peddler and original “Deep Throat” conjurer Bob Woodward.  Woodward’s new book,Obama’s Wars, quoted Jones as calling Obama’s advisers “water bugs,” an utterance that resulted in Jones’s early firing by Obama.

Rahm Emanuel’s firing came after he and Mrs. Obama had a major argument, and the First Lady told Emanuel he had to go “for a reason.” Mrs. Obama reportedly flatly told Emanuel he was “no longer welcome at the White House.” The “Emanuel-running-for-Chicago-mayor” story was mere window dressing to cover up the meltdown in the White House leadership. The top-level White House resignations, just before a critical mid-term election, are unprecedented even by Watergate standards. The October 1973 White House instability was one year before the 1974 mid-terms, an election that still saw the Republicans suffer tremendous losses in the Congress.

As with “Deep Throat” and other past White House leakers, there is as much speculation on who has been speaking to Ulsterman as there is on the earth-shattering revelations coming out of his or her interviews. The leaker’s information indicates that he or she was relatively high-ranking with access to the inner workings of the Oval Office. The following have all left the White House, some abruptly:

  • Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff. Resigned effective October 1, 2010.
  • Retired General James Jones, National Security Adviser. Resignation announced on October 8, 2010.
  • Ellen Moran, Communications Director, left in April 2009, however, the leaks indicate the Obama “Deep Throat” had more recent access to the Oval Office. Moran is now chief of Staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
  • Van Jones, special adviser for “Green Jobs.” Left in September 2009, again, too early to have been privy to later inside information.
  • Mark Lippert, deputy national security adviser. Left in October 2009 and went from reserve to active status in the US Navy. Lippert was a “pick-up basketball” partner of Obama during the campaign.
  • David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General. Resigned in February 2010.
  • Greg Craig, White House Counsel. Craig was forced to announce his resignation in November 2009. Although November 2009 was also possibly too early for Craig to be the source, he is a consummate Washington insider who may continue to be privy to information from within the Oval Office and West Wing.
  • Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Resigned in June 2010. Like Craig, a strong possibility.
  • Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence. Resigned in May 2010. Would have had classified access to White House operations although he did not work in the White House.
  • Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Resigned in September 2010.
  • Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council. Resignation not to take effect until after November 2 election.

There are also reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been told to look for another job. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced his decision to leave but with James Jones’s early dismissal, Gates may move up his departure from the Pentagon. David Axelrod plans to leave as early as March 2011 to work, as he has stated, on Obama’s re-election campaign from Chicago.

Obama’s depression and paranoia and Hillary’s intentions

WMR has learned that Obama’s paranoia and severe depression over his correct belief that certain interests are out to get him have been mitigated by First Lady Michelle Obama and domestic policy adviser Valerie Jarrett. Mrs. Obama has been telling Obama that he should forgo a second term because he is “too good for the American people” and he has a future role on a “bigger world stage.”

It is also being reported from White House sources that Hillary Clinton plans to run against Obama in 2012, something WMR previously reported. The reports that Obama has offered Mrs. Clinton the vice presidential position in 2012 is both an attempt at defusing the reports that Clinton, backed by her husband Bill Clinton, are planning a primary challenge to Obama and an attempt to send a message to Biden, who is considered by Obama to be working with the forces arrayed against him.

On August 27, 2010, WMR reported on the Obama-Clinton intrigue: “Informed sources in Washington, DC have told WMR that President Obama has been personally told by a delegation of top Democratic Party financiers that unless he radically changes his economic policies they will bolt from him for another Democratic candidate in 2012. The Democratic money moguls conveyed the warning to Obama in Martha’s Vineyard, where the president and his family are spending their vacation. There are various factions within the Democratic Party that see different scenarios to bail out what many Democrats see as an administration in deep trouble with the electorate. One would have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton move up to replace Vice President Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket with Senator John Kerry becoming Secretary of State. However, WMR has been told that Clinton personally loathes Obama and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and may not want to be part of the 2012 president ticket playing second fiddle to Obama. WMR has also learned that Obama’s reported ‘severe narcissism’ has a number of his cabinet officials and top Democratic fundraisers perplexed. Obama’s refusal to change course because of his ego was discussed at the recent annual Bohemian Grove conclave in northern California, which brings together influential businessmen and politicians from both parties. Top U.S. business leaders openly complained about Obama’s economic policies, with some stating that Obama is, for the business community, the worst president in anyone’s lifetime. They also complained about White House gatekeepers like Emanuel and policy advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod who are preventing access to the Oval Office.

Although such complaints could be expected from Republican businessmen, we have learned that top Democratic businessmen at the Bohemian Grove have told Jarrett, Obama’s chief liaison to them, that all she does is  shake them down” for campaign contributions and that the uncertainty on the costs for Obama programs on health care and taxes has prevented the hiring of workers.

WMR has also learned that rather than change course, the White House staff, who are keenly reading anything that is critical of the president, are more interested in exacting revenge for criticism than in changing course. ‘The White House staff are voracious readers who are obsessed with favorable coverage,’ one source said.

The Obama administration’s interest in a favorable public image over all other interests has a number of Democrats running for re-election privately miffed. One change many Democratic politicians and fundraisers would like to see is the replacement of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with someone with more gravitas and a better handle on fixes for the plummeting economy.”

On January 7, 2010, WMR reported: “WMR has also learned of a schism that has opened up between Obama’s political team of Emanuel, Jarrett, David Axelrod, and White House pollsters and focus group specialists who meet at the White House every Wednesday and the national security team of National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The national security team is convinced that the political team is only focused on the 2012 re-election campaign and not on pressing national security issues. Brawls have reportedly broken out between the two groups with Emanuel looking for ways to threaten Jones, Gates, and Clinton with retaliation if their criticisms of the political team continues.”

Now that Jones is out, Gates is going — maybe sooner than reported — and Clinton is contemplating leaving and challenging Obama in 2012, the national security team under Biden’s close friend Donilon is now in the hands of a veteran Democratic political team. But the political team has also taken major hits, with Emanuel gone, Axelrod leaving next year, and White House General Counsel Greg Craig having left last January. New Chief of Staff Rouse is a protege of former Senator Tom Daschle and is considered close to Biden’s circle.

Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is Biden’s chief of staff and his brother, Mike Donilon, a long-time Democratic campaign consultant who advised Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign, is counselor to the vice president.

John O. Brennan, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, is also under pressure to resign. Brennan, after retiring as interim chief of the National Counter-terrorism Center at the CIA in 2005, became CEO of The Analysis Corporation. Brennan’s firm’s employees were among those cited in rifling through Obama’s State Department passport files in January 2008. It was never ascertained what information was gleaned from Obama’s files and possibly those of his mother, grandfather, and grandmother. However, WMR has learned that Obama’s past is curently of interest to individuals linked closely to the CIA.

Crisis management in the White House

The White House team now consists of Biden’s circle of Donilon and Rouse, the Obama circle of Michelle Obama, Jarrett, and an increasingly weakened Axelrod, and those in the middle who are not sure about the future of the administration.

Mrs. Obama and, to a lesser extent, Jarrett, have tried to smooth things over between people like Vice President Biden and chief of staff Pete Rouse on one hand and President Obama, who is detached from his duties, and, according to the former White House staffer who is talking to Ulsterman, extremely lazy, only interested in watching ESPN and discussing sports, and playing golf, and doing what he is most comfortable at: campaigning. Obama clearly wants to run again for president, citing the “adoring crowds” who greet him on the political stump. Mrs. Obama has reportedly told the president that “there are no more adoring crowds.”

Last March, the annual report on the president’s health contaned a reference to drinking. Obama’s doctor urged him to ”Continue smoking cessation efforts, a daily exercise program, healthy diet, moderation in alcohol intake. . .” WMR has been told by informed sources that Obama’s drinking has, on occasion, been more than moderate.

Previously, WMR reported that Michelle has told the president that he can make more money after one term as president than Bill Clinton has made after two terms. Privately, the First Lady has made no secret of her dislike of her role as First Lady and the constraints it has put on her own ability to make money. In a book about French First Lady Carla Bruni, “Carla and the Ambitious,” Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy reportedly said that Mrs. Obama told her that life in the White House is “hell.” The White House staffer told “Ulsterman” that he was uncomfortable talking about the marital situation between the president and the First Lady, but WMR has previously reported on Obama’s bi-sexuality, his activities with gay members of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and an uptown Chicago bath house, in addition to his current controversial relationship with his personal trainer, Reggie Love, and a past short relationship with Larry Sinclair.

Obama’s depression and lack of interest in his duties have senior administration officials and some Cabinet secretaries considering the invocation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which deals with the involuntary removal of the president for physical or mental incapacity.

The first invocation of the Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is on the table

Section 4 has never been invoked. However, on two occasions it was almost invoked on President Reagan, after the March 30, 1981, assassination attempt against Reagan and in 1987 when Howard Baker took over as White House chief of staff from the fired Donald Regan. PBS reported that Baker’s team was shocked over what they heard from Regan’s staff: that “Reagan was ‘inattentive, inept,’ and ‘lazy,’ and Baker should be prepared to invoke the 25th Amendment to relieve him of his duties.”

When asked by the Associated Press in March 1983 about White House plans to invoke Section 4 after his shooting in March 1981, President Reagan responded, “No one has ever mentioned such a thing to me.” White House Chief of Staff James Baker III countered Reagan’s statement by contending that Reagan must have forgot.

During the Bill Clinton impeachment episode, there was talk in the White House of creating the position of a White House psychiatrist who would be empowered to ascertain the mental fitness of the president to serve. Clinton’s self-destructive sexual activities were cited as one reason for such a position. Lyndon Johnson’s war-time depression and Richard Nixon’s paranoia were also given as reasons for an “independent psychiatrist” on the White House staff. The issue returned during President George W. Bush’s term of office with reports of alcoholism and depression.

1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Thomas Eagleton (D-MO) was stepped down from the ticket after revelations that he had been treated for mental depression. Presidential candidate George McGovern was forced to replace Eagleton with Sargent Shriver.

A March 14, 1999, New York Times report addressed the issue of presidential psychological problems and quoted former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford as being against the idea of a White House shrink. Carter was opposed to a mandatory annual psychiatric evaluation as part of the annual physical examination of the president. He told the Times, “No — You don’t have a mandatory requirement in the law to check a President for athlete’s foot,” but he added, “I believe that mental illness should be considered with the same import as physical illness.” Ford also opposed the idea of a presidential psychiatrist, saying, “I don’t see the need for someone in that discipline being assigned specifically to the White House medical office . . . I think I was normal. I think I am still normal. If I had any problem along that line develop, the White House can acquire the best almost instantaneously.” Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) also voiced opposition, saying, “The signal to the world that the American President, the leader of the free world, is having to get advice as to his mental condition might destabilize a lot of things, including stock markets and negotiations.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Carter national security adviser, not rejecting outright the idea of a presidential psychiatrist, said, “The psychiatrist would also probably have to sign a document obligating him to raise an alarm if he detected serious problems that could affect the President’s ability to govern.”

The present talk about invoking Section 4 has made Obama even more paranoid about his enemies, who he feels range from Biden and the Clintons to the banks and Wall Street.

Section 4 would allow Vice President Biden, along with a majority of either ‘the principal officers of the executive departments,” the Cabinet or such other body as Congress may by law provide,to declare the President disabled by submitting a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Under Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, Vice President Biden would become Acting President.

Section 4 is designed to be invoked if the president’s incapacitation prevents him from discharging the duties of his office. A written declaration to that effect must be presented to Congress. The president may resume exercising the Presidential duties by sending a written declaration to the president of the Senate pro tem and the speaker of the House.

However, should the Vice president and Cabinet remain unsatisfied with the president’s condition, within four days of the president’s declaration that he is fit, may submit another declaration that the president is incapacitated. The Congress must then assemble within 48 hours, if not already in session. Within 21 days of assembling or of receiving the second declaration by the Vice President and the Cabinet, a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress is required to affirm the President as unfit. Upon this finding by the Congress, Section 4 states that the vice president would continue to function as the “Acting President.” If the Republicans win one or both houses of Congress on November 2, a lame duck Democratic-led Senate and House might have to deal with the invocation of Section 3, something that could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

If Biden were to become president, he would have to nominate a vice president subject to a majority approval of the Senate and House of Representatives. Again, a lame duck Congress may find itself thrust into approving a vice presidential successor and Biden would likely want such a decision to fall to Democratic-led chambers rather than one or both being controlled by the Republicans. In such an event, Secretary of State Clinton, the senior Cabinet member, may find herself as the favorite. Current talk in the corporate media about Clinton being offered the vice presidential slot by Obama in 2012, and her rejection of such a scenario, may be part of a campaign to prepare the American people for a vice presidency, not under Obama, but under Biden.

Enter the CIA

In another eerie replay of the Watergate crisis, WMR has learned that the CIA has not sat by idly as the Obama White House has unraveled. WMR has previously reported on Obama’s and his family’s past links to the CIA. However, Langley appears ready to take advantage of the weakening position of Obama to bring about added uncertainty.

WMR has learned from a reliable intelligence source that the CIA has secretly contracted with a retired top CIA official who was a principal actor in the Iran-contra scandal, to uncover any information that could be damaging to Obama from his past. On the table are any documents and information on Obama’s place of birth, his paternal parentage, and his past employment activities. By contracting outside the CIA’s normal channels, the agency is seeking ”plausible deniability” should documents or information damaging to Obama be uncovered and subsequently leaked to the media.

The retired CIA official has recently been active with a carve-out special Pentagon intelligence-gathering contract approved by his one-time boss at the CIA, then-CIA deputy director Robert Gates, now the defense secretary, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, President Clinton’s White House chief of staff. There is at least $15 million of Pentagon funds unaccounted for in the CIA’s off-the-books intelligence-gathering operation, reported to have officially been for counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The contractor firm has been involved in domestic and foreign intelligence operations for the CIA and FBI for at least 20 years, including monitoring labor strikes, investigating at least one U.S. Supreme Court nominee, and its linkage to the FBI corruption case involving Boston criminal syndicate boss James “‘Whitey” Bulger.

The scenario of invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is a worst-case scenario but the mere fact that it is “on the table” provides an indication of the current dysfunctional situation in the White House. Democratic Party leaders are scrambling in anticipation of major losses on Nov. 2 in the Congress and state houses. President Obama may soon find himself at the receiving end of senior Democratic Party elders who will bear a “shock therapy” message: “shape up or ship out.”

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs.

Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows.  He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government.

As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO), and the National Press Club. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.

Pak Press Claims That Russia Refuses Route for NATO Supplies

Russia refuses route for NATO supplies

By: Sikander Shaheen

Russia refuses route for NATO supplies

ISLAMABAD – Russia has formally conveyed to NATO that it would not allow its soil to be used for transporting NATO military supplies to Afghanistan while it (Russia) can only allow transportation of the non-military consignments across the border.

Credible diplomatic sources confided to TheNation that after unknown miscreants had torched more than three dozens NATO oil tankers in Quetta last Thursday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had formally contacted the Russian Government to discuss the option of using Russian land as transit route for the transportation of NATO cargoes to Afghanistan.
Russia has reportedly conveyed to NATO that it would only allow the transportation of non-military items like food, medicines, tents and other related usable commodities and that there was not even a slightest possibility for the NATO to transport military consignments to Afghanistan via Russia.
Sources believe that Russia’s adamant stance towards NATO military cargo is embedded with mistrust that thoroughly evolves around Russia-NATO relationship.
Russia has had been accusing NATO of uncalled for interference in Eastern Europe since long. NATO’s presumed military aid to Georgia, Ukraine and Estonia is strongly opposed by Russia. The Organisation is reportedly instrumental in flaring up Russia over territory row with Georgia as the Western military alliance backs Georgia over its claim on South Ossetia, a disputed territory between Georgia and Russia. Back in 2008, Russian forces had bombarded Georgian cities Tbilisi and Gori and South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, over the same dispute.

 

Russia sees NATO at Ukraine’s back for not allowing Russia to use Ukraine as transit state for providing gas to Europe. It is by ‘virtue’ of NATO’s support for Ukraine that Russia and Ukraine have not so far been able to settle fiscal disputes involving the proposed gas project from Russia to the rest of Europe via Ukraine.
Last year, Estonians demolished the monuments of Russian soldiers who were regarded as heroes of World War II. The Estonians termed these monuments as “Relics of Russian occupants.” Again, it was the presumed NATO’s involvement that stirred reaction against the Russian soldiers that were once highly revered in Estonia. In addition, NATO’s anti-narcotics ‘strategy’ in Afghanistan is strongly deplored by Russia and the country accuses NATO forces of patronising drug trade in that region.
Options are shrinking to minimum for the NATO to consider alternative supply routes in the wake of repeated attacks on NATO consignments in Pakistan. While using Iran as transit state for carrying cargo supplies to Afghanistan is out of question for NATO, the aforementioned scenario suggests that NATO could only wish to use Russian route for its military supplies.