American Resistance To Empire

Raids into Pakistan: What U.S. authority?

The strangest thing just happened, while I was attempting to access this article by googling it, every reference to it was blocked with “may harm computer” warning.

After I managed to access the article through the “Hidden Access” site, the block and the warning were removed by someone.  Google?  Military?  CIA?


SOURCES: ESRI; AP reports/AP Click to Enlarge

Raids into Pakistan: What U.S.


Bush’s orders to send special forces after Taliban militants have roots in previous presidencies.

By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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Orders President Bush signed in July authorizing raids by special operations forces in the areas of Pakistan controlled by the Taliban and Al Qaeda and undertaking those raids without official Pakistani consent, have roots stretching back to the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In an address to a joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bush said, “From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

But even before that declaration, two key steps had been taken: One, Congress had authorized the use of US military force against terrorist organizations and the countries that harbor or support them. Two, Bush administration officials had warned Pakistan’s leaders of the dire consequences their country would face if they did not unequivocally enlist in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.

What Mr. Bush’s July orders signify is that, after seven years of encouraging Pakistan to take on extremists harbored in remote areas along its border with Afghanistan and subsidizing the Pakistani military handsomely to do it, the US has become convinced that Pakistan is neither able nor willing to fight the entrenched Taliban and Al Qaeda elements. Indeed, recent events appear to have convinced at least some in the administration that parts of Pakistan’s military and powerful intelligence service are actually aiding the extremists.

“We’ve moved beyond the message stage here. I think the US has had it with messages that don’t get any action, and that is why the president authorized this,” says Kamran Bokhari, director of Middle East analysis for Stratfor, an intelligence consulting firm in Washington. “This says loud and clear, ‘We’re fed up.’ ”

Even before the July order, the US had undertaken covert operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Moreover, the CIA over the past year has stepped up missile attacks by the unmanned Predator drones it operates to hit targets in the region. That increase has coincided with a deterioration of the war in Afghanistan, where the Afghan Army and NATO forces have come under increasing attack from militants crossing over the rugged and lawless border from Pakistan.

But Bush’s orders, first reported in The New York Times Thursday, mean that operations against insurgent sanctuaries will become overt and probably more frequent. A Sept. 3 ground assault involving US commandos dropped from helicopters targeted a suspected terrorist compound. Missile attacks by the CIA’s unmanned drones, including one Friday reported by Pakistani officials to have killed at last 12 people, are also on the rise.

Precedence for the orders authorizing the attacks on terrorist havens can be found in President Bill Clinton’s authorization of retaliatory attacks in 1993 (against Iraqi intelligence facilities) and in 1998 (against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Sudan), and in President Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Libya, legal scholars say.

The administration has debated the use of commando raids in Pakistan for years, but the tipping point came in July, as relations with Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders deteriorated, intelligence sources say. The “kicker,” according to one source who requested anonymity over the sensitivity of the issue, was two July events: the bombing of India’s embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, an act that US intelligence officials concluded was aided by Pakistani intelligence operatives; and a July 13 attack on a US military outpost in eastern Afghanistan that killed nine US soldiers. The outpost attack was carried out by Taliban militants who had crossed over the nearby border from Pakistan.

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The evolution of operations in Pakistan from covert to overt actions is reminiscent of a trajectory followed in some aspects by the Vietnam War, some analysts note.

Patrick Lang, a former Middle East analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, says the evolution in Pakistan is similar to what occurred in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, when US operations against Vietcong sanctuaries there were initially covered up.

“We initially crossed into Cambodia as covert forces, but that changed,” says Mr. Lang, who was part of special forces that carried out the Cambodia operations. By 1970, cross-border operations against enemy sanctuaries were being carried out in the open. Looking at the evolution in operations in Pakistan, the national security analyst says, “We are letting [Pakistanis] know this could evolve into bigger things.”

Adds the intelligence source who requested anonymity, “The message is to the new civilian leadership and the military, ‘We have bought all these toys for you – if you don’t use them and do things in these areas that are causing us problems, we’ll do them for you.’ ”

The new orders reflect flagging confidence in Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership to address the problem of the Taliban and terrorist havens, which are thought to harbor Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. For seven years the Bush administration focused its Pakistan policy on President Pervez Musharraf and his assurances that he was battling the militant sanctuaries. But Mr. Musharraf was forced to resign last month after suffering a crushing electoral defeat earlier in the year, and the US appears to have little confidence in the new civilian and military leaders.

“Musharraf was a one-stop shopping center for US relations with Pakistan, but that no longer exists,” says Stratfor’s Mr. Bokhari. Senior State Department officials have met with Pakistan’s new civilian leaders, he notes, while top Pentagon officials have met with the military leadership including Army chief of staff Gen. Ashraf Parvez Kayani, the top military commander.

“The sense I get is they were given the runaround, and they came away from all these meetings convinced the leadership structure has become much more complex at a time when the Taliban are becoming stronger and the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating,” Bokhari says. “The feeling was the US couldn’t sit by and see how the leadership sorts itself out.”

Bush’s orders authorizing cross-border incursions into Pakistan mean in a sense that the rules governing US special operations have shifted from yellow to green. The military will no longer need a presidential “finding” for each operation – and that, military analysts say, means the handling of forays into Pakistan will fall increasingly into military rather than CIA hands.

That has some intelligence officials worried that the consequences of stepped-up US operations in Pakistan – in terms of Pakistani public opinion and the stability of the government – will get short shrift. According to intelligence sources, officials from the National Intelligence Council recently briefed the Bush administration’s national security team on the potentially dire consequences of US actions that could destabilize the government of a country with nuclear weapons.

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July 12, 2008, The Day America Turned Against Its Most Faithful Ally

US told not to back terrorism against Pakistan

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

By Kamran Khan

KARACHI: Pakistan has complained to the United States military leadership and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that Washington’s policy towards terrorism in Pakistan was inconsistent with America’s declared commitment to the war against terror.

Impeccable official sources have said that strong evidence and circumstantial evidence of American acquiescence to terrorism inside Pakistan was outlined by President Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj in their separate meetings with US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes on July 12 in Rawalpindi.

The visit by the senior US military official along with the CIA deputy director — carrying what were seen as India-influenced intelligence inputs — hardened the resolve of Pakistanís security establishment to keep supreme Pakistan’s national security interest even if it meant straining ties with the US and Nato.

A senior official with direct knowledge of these meetings said that Pakistan’s military leadership and the president asked the American visitors “not to distinguish between a terrorist for the United States and Afghanistan and a terrorist for Pakistan”.

For reasons best known to Langley, the CIA headquarters, as well as the Pentagon, Pakistani officials say the Americans were not interested in disrupting the Kabul-based fountainhead of terrorism in Balochistan nor do they want to allocate the marvellous predator resource to neutralise the kingpin of suicide bombings against the Pakistani military establishment now hiding near the Pak-Afghan border.

In the strongest evidence-based confrontation with the American security establishment since the two countries established their post-9/11 strategic alliance, Pakistani officials proved Brahamdagh Bugti’s presence in Afghan intelligence safe houses in Kabul, his photographed visits to New Delhi and his orders for terrorism in Balochistan.

The top US military commander and the CIA official were also asked why the CIA-run predator and the US military did not swing into action when they were provided the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan’s enemy number one and the mastermind of almost every suicide operation against the Pakistan Army and the ISI since June 2006.

One such precise piece of information was made available to the CIA on May 24 when Baitullah Mehsud drove to a remote South Waziristan mountain post in his Toyota Land Cruiser to address the press and returned back to his safe abode. The United States military has the capacity to direct a missile to a precise location at very short notice as it has done close to 20 times in the last few years to hit al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan.

Pakistani official have long been intrigued by the presence of highly encrypted communications gear with Baitullah Mehsud. This communication gear enables him to collect real-time information on Pakistani troop movement from an unidentified foreign source without being intercepted by Pakistani intelligence.

Admiral Mullen and the CIA official were in Pakistan on an unannounced visit on July 12 to show what the US media claimed was evidence of the ISI’s ties to†Taliban commander Maulana Sirajuddin Haqqani and the alleged involvement of Pakistani agents in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Pakistani military leaders rubbished the American information and evidence on the Kabul bombing but provided some rationale for keeping a window open with Haqqani, just as the British government had decided to open talks with some Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan last year.

Before opening new channels of communication with the Taliban in Helmand province in March this year, the British and Nato forces were talking to leading Taliban leaders through†Michael Semple, the acting head of the European Union mission to Afghanistan, and Mervyn Patterson, a senior UN official, before their unprecedented expulsion from Afghanistan by the Karzai government†in January this year.

The American visitors were also told that the government of Pakistan had to seek the help of Taliban commanders such as Sirajuddin Haqqani for the release of its kidnapped ambassador Tariquddin Aziz, after the US-backed Karzai administration failed to secure Aziz’s release from his captors in Afghanistan.

Admiral Mullen and Kappes were both provided information about the activities of the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and were asked how the CIA does not know that both Indian consulates are manned by Indian Intelligence who plot against Pakistan round the clock.

“ We wanted to know when our American friends would get interested in tracking down the terrorists responsible for hundreds of suicide bombings in Pakistan and those playing havoc with our natural resources in Balochistan while sitting in Kabul and Delhi,”, an official described the Pakistani mood during the July 12 meetings.

Throughout their meetings, the Americans were told that Pakistan would like to continue as an active partner in the war against terror and at no cost would it allow its land to be used by our people to plot terror against Afghanistan or India . However, Pakistan would naturally want the United States, India and Afghanistan to refrain from supporting Pakistani terrorists.

Pakistani officials have said that the current “trust deficit” between the Pakistani and US security establishment is not serious enough to lead to a collapse , but the element of suspicion is very high, more so because of† the CIA’s decision to publicise the confidential exchange of information with Pakistan and to use its leverage with the new government to try to arm-twist the Army and the ISI.

The Pakistani security establishment, officials said, want a fresh round of strategic dialogue with their counterparts in the US, essentially to prioritise the objectives and terrorist targets in the war against terror, keeping in mind the serious national security interests of the allies.

Pakistan envoy suggests India faked Mumbai transcripts

Pakistan envoy suggests India faked Mumbai transcripts

Pakistani police escort handcuffed and shrouded suspected high-profile militants into a court in Rawalpindi
Pakistan’s investigation into the Mumbai attacks has found that they were not planned from Pakistani territory, the country’s high commissioner to London said today in an interview that is certain to infuriate India.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner in Britain, also suggested that India had fabricated transcripts of telephone calls between the Mumbai attackers and their handlers in Pakistan.

His comments gave the first indication of the results of Pakistan’s investigation into the attack, which were supposed to be announced on Tuesday, but now appear to have been indefinitely delayed.

“Pakistani territory was not used so far as the investigators have made their conclusions,” Mr Hasan told India’s NDTV channel in an interview.

“They categorically informed me that [the] UK was not involved. Pak [Pakistan] was not involved. Its territories were not used for planning this operation,” he said.

“We are not doing any whitewashing business. We believe in going about facts. Our findings will be acceptable to the world.”

His remarks are bound to anger India, which blames the attacks on Pakistani militants who it says must have had support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

India this month presented Pakistan with a dossier of evidence, including details from the interrogation of the sole surviving gunman and information gleaned from satellite phones used by the attackers.

Asked about that evidence, Mr Hasan said: “Well, it could be fabricated. You took 45 days to give that sort of evidence although you started blaming Pakistan from day one.”

Pakistan has denied any state involvement in the attacks and promised on January 17 that the Pakistani commission investigating the attacks would publish their findings within 10 days.

That did not happen, however, and Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, said on Wednesday that Pakistan would release details of its investigation into the attack “very soon”.

There was no immediate response from the Indian foreign ministry.

Indian officials say that they are considering suspending all business, transport and tourists ties with Pakistan if it continues to drag its feet on the investigation and its pledge to crack down on Pakistani militant groups.

* Nine Pakistanis accused over a series of attacks that killed dozens of people and damaged the Danish embassy were remanded in custody by an anti-terror court. The suspects were arrested in the garrison city of Rawalpindi this week and confessed to involvement in bombings at the embassy in Islamabad, an Italian restaurant and against Pakistani security forces. (AFP)

Defense Department Establishes Civilian Expeditionary Workforce

Employees in deployable-designated positions will be trained, equipped and prepared to serve overseas in support of humanitarian, reconstruction and, if absolutely necessary, combat-support missions.

Defense Department Establishes Civilian Expeditionary Workforce

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2009 – The Defense Department is forming a civilian expeditionary workforce that will be trained and equipped to deploy overseas in support of military missions worldwide, according to department officials.

The intent of the program “is to maximize the use of the civilian workforce to allow military personnel to be fully utilized for operational requirements,” according to a Defense Department statement.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed Defense Department Directive 1404.10, which outlines and provides guidance about the program, on Jan. 23.

Certain duty positions may be designated by the various Defense Department components to participate in the program. If a position is designated, the employee will be asked to sign an agreement that they will deploy if called upon to do so. If the employee does not wish to deploy, every effort will be made to reassign the employee to a nondeploying position.

The directive emphasizes, however, that volunteers be sought first for any expeditionary requirements, before requiring anyone to serve involuntarily or on short notice. Overseas duty tours shall not exceed two years.

Employees in deployable-designated positions will be trained, equipped and prepared to serve overseas in support of humanitarian, reconstruction and, if absolutely necessary, combat-support missions.

The program also is open to former and retired civilian employees who agree to return to federal service on a time-limited status to serve overseas or to fill in for people deployed overseas.

Program participants are eligible for military medical support while serving in their overseas duty station.

All participants will undergo pre- and post-deployment medical testing, including physical and psychological exams.

Defense civilians reassigned from their normal duty to serve overseas will be granted the right to return to the positions they held prior to their deployment or to a position of similar grade, level and responsibility within the same organization, regardless of the deployment length .

Families of deployed Defense Department civilian employees shall be supported and provided with information on benefits and entitlements and issues likely to be faced by the employee during and upon return from a deployment.

Defense civilian employees who participate in the expeditionary program shall be treated with high regard as an indication of the department’s respect for those who serve expeditionary requirements.

Expeditionary program participants’ service and experience shall be valued, respected and recognized as career-enhancing.

Participants who meet program requirements would be eligible to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.

Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets

Governments across Europe tremble as angry people take to the streets

France's trade-unions call on workers to strike all over the country

Arcellor Mittal workers demonstrate during a protest march in Marseille. Photograph: Jean-paul Pelissier/Reuters

France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment figure rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce. New figures from the biggest bank in the Baltic show that the three post-Soviet states there face the biggest recessions in Europe.

It’s a snapshot of a single day – yesterday – in a Europe sinking into the bleakest of times. But while the outlook may be dark in the big wealthy democracies of western Europe, it is in the young, poor, vulnerable states of central and eastern Europe that the trauma of crash, slump and meltdown looks graver.

Exactly 20 years ago, in serial revolutionary rejoicing, they ditched communism to put their faith in a capitalism now in crisis and by which they feel betrayed. The result has been the biggest protests across the former communist bloc since the days of people power.

Europe’s time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.


Alexandros Grigoropoulos, a 15-year-old middle-class boy going to a party in a rough neighbourhood on a December Saturday, was the first fatality of Europe’s season of strife. Shot dead by a policeman, the boy’s killing lit a bonfire of unrest in the city unmatched since the 1970s.

There are many wellsprings of the serial protests rolling across Europe. In Athens, it was students and young people who suddenly mobilised to turn parts of the city into no-go areas. They were sick of the lack of jobs and prospects, the failings of the education system and seized with pessimism over their future.

This week it was the farmers’ turn, rolling their tractors out to block the motorways, main road and border crossings across the Balkans to try to obtain better procurement prices for their produce.


The old Baltic trading city had seen nothing like it since the happy days of kicking out the Russians and overthrowing communism two decades ago. More than 10,000 people converged on the 13th-century cathedral to show the Latvian government what they thought of its efforts at containing the economic crisis. The peaceful protest morphed into a late-night rampage as a minority headed for the parliament, battled with riot police and trashed parts of the old city. The following day there were similar scenes in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital next door.

After Iceland, Latvia looks like the most vulnerable country to be hammered by the financial and economic crisis. The EU and IMF have already mounted a €7.5bn (£6.6bn) rescue plan but the outlook is the worst in Europe.

The biggest bank in the Baltic, Swedbank of Sweden, yesterday predicted a slump this year in Latvia of a whopping 10%, more than double the previous projections. It added that the economy of Estonia would shrink by 7% and of Lithuania by 4.5%.

The Latvian central bank’s governor went on national television this week to pronounce the economy “clinically dead. We have only three or four minutes to resuscitate it”.


Burned-out cars, masked youths, smashed shop windows, and more than a million striking workers. The scenes from France are familiar, but not so familiar to President Nicolas Sarkozy, confronting the first big wave of industrial unrest of his time in the Elysée Palace.

Sarkozy has spent most of his time in office trying to fix the world’s problems, with less attention devoted to the home front. From Gaza to Georgia, Russia to Washington, Sarkozy has been a man in a hurry to mediate in trouble spots and grab the credit for peacemaking.

France, meanwhile, is moving into recession and unemployment is going up. The latest jobless figures were to have been released yesterday, but were held back, apparently for fear of inflaming the protests.


A balance of payments crisis last autumn, heavy indebtedness and a disastrous budget made Hungary the first European candidate for an international rescue. The $26bn (£18bn) IMF-led bail-out shows scant sign of working. Industrial output is at its lowest for 16 years, the national currency – the forint – sank to a record low against the euro yesterday and the government also announced another round of spending cuts yesterday.

So far the streets have been relatively quiet. The Hungarian misery highlights a key difference between eastern and western Europe. While the UK, Germany, France and others plough hundreds of billions into public spending, tax cuts, bank bailouts and guarantees to industry, the east Europeans (plus Iceland and Ireland) are broke, ordering budget cuts, tax rises, and pleading for international help to shore up their economies.

The austerity and the soaring costs of repaying bank loans and mortgages taken out in hard foreign currencies (euro, yen and dollar) are fuelling the misery.


The east European upheavals of 1989 hit Ukraine late, maturing into the Orange Revolution on the streets of Kiev only five years ago. The fresh start promised by President Viktor Yushchenko has, though, dissolved into messy, corrupt, and brutal political infighting, with the economy, growing strongly a few years ago, going into freefall.

Three weeks of gas wars with Russia this month ended in defeat and will cost Ukraine dearly. The national currency, at less than half the value of six months ago, is akin to the fate of Iceland’s wrecked krona. Ukrainians have been buying dollars by the billion. In November the IMF waded in with the first payments in a $16bn rescue package.

The vicious power struggles between Yushchenko and the prime minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, are consuming the ruling elite’s energy, paralysing government and leaving the economy dysfunctional. Russia is doing its best to keep things that way.


Proud of its status as one of the world’s most developed, most productive and most equal societies, Iceland is in the throes of what is, by its staid standards, a revolution.

Riot police in Reykjavik, the coolest of capitals. Building bonfires in front of the world’s oldest parliament. The yoghurt flying at the free market men who have run the country for decades and brought it to its knees.

An openly gay prime minister takes over today as head of a caretaker government. The neocon right has been ditched. The hard left Greens are, at least for the moment, the most popular party in the small Arctic state with a population the size of Bradford.

The IMF’s bailout teams have moved in with $11bn. The national currency, the krona, appears to be finished. Iceland is a test case of how one of the most successful societies on the globe suddenly failed.

Changing the CIA


Changing the CIA

I am still skeptical that our new president will — or can — fulfill all his sweeping promises, but he has made an essential start by bringing the CIA back into our rule of law by appointing Leon Panetta as director of the CIA. It is significant that next to The New York Times Jan. 5 front-page story on his appointment was an account of a six-year imprisonment, with torture, of a Pakistani first “rendered” (kidnapped) by the CIA and now released without ever having been charged with any crime.

Critics of President-elect Barack Obama’s choice charge that Panetta has had no direct experience with the CIA or other intelligence work. Actually, as Fred Kaplan reveals in Slate (Jan. 6), while Panetta was Bill Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, “he was one of a very few people who knew about all of the covert and special-access programs” — and he knows where to find the buried line-item budget items concerning the CIA.

As for Panetta’s patriotic and moral qualifications for his new office, he wrote last year in Washington Monthly: “Those who support torture (the CIA’s involvement in torture has been extensively documented) may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. We either believe in…the rule of law…or we don’t. There is no middle ground.”

Panetta added: “The Constitution was drafted by those who looked around the world of the eighteenth century and saw persecution, torture, and other crimes against humanity and believed that America could be better than that.”

Bush and Cheney have deeply shaken the world’s — including our allies’ — belief that we are, indeed, different.

The president-elect made another equally vital appointment that introduces the CIA to our Constitution. Beginning in 2002, it was at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — which advises the president, the attorney general and others in the executive branch on constitutional matters — that torture became U.S. policy and other violations of international treaties, and our own laws against cruel and inhumane punishments were also legitimized.

In the Obama administration, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel will be Dawn Johnsen, University of Indiana constitutional law professor, who previously served there under Clinton. She is convinced, like Panetta, that we can and will overcome terrorists by refusing to resemble them in any way.

Before I continue in the next column to indicate the possible impact of these two appointments in markedly improving our intelligence services, here is a partial list of the specific war crimes in international law and our own statues that have been committed during the past eight years, and before, by highly EXPERIENCED CIA officials and their agents in the field.

Neither Panetta nor Johnsen has committed any war crimes.

In Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the United States signed and has made part of our law, any person detained by our forces is guaranteed the right to freedom from “cruel treatment and torture; outrages on personal dignity (and) humiliating and degrading treatment.”

These rights must be in effect whether the detainee is a prisoner of war, unprivileged belligerent or noncombatant and — as I often tried to remind Dick Cheney in my columns — the guarantees apply “in all circumstances” and “at any time and in any place whatsoever.”

Moreover, the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996 makes it a criminal offense for military personnel to commit the war crimes I have cited from the Geneva Conventions. That law was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress.

Also, and this should interest the new Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the indispensable 1,249-page thoroughly documented “The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib” (Cambridge University Press) adds that our State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices “have expressly characterized as ‘torture’ or ‘other abuse’ tying detainees in painful positions; incommunicado detention; depriving detainees of sleep … long periods of imprisonment in darkened rooms … and instilling detainees with the false belief that they are about to be killed.”

That’s waterboarding, Mr. Departing Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

These are also precisely the common practices of torture and other abuses during the Bush-Cheney administration in our own detention centers. We do not yet know the interrogation techniques that have been used in the CIA’s secret prisons. In view of Panetta’s and Johnsen’s statements about the fundamental need to re-establish our rule of law for the CIA, I expect that they will insist on finding out — and telling us — what has been taking place in those “black sites.”

US envoy warns against Russian base in Abkhazia

US envoy warns against Russian base in Abkhazia

BRUSSELS, Jan 31 (Reuters) – Russia must refrain from opening a naval base in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia and should agree to extend the mandate of U.N. monitors in the region, said a senior U.S. envoy.

The NATO alliance has already expressed concern at a recent report Moscow plans a naval base in Abkhazia.

A separatist official told Reuters this week that Abkhazia expects to sign a deal over an airbase and naval base within a few months, but there has been no official confirmation from Moscow.

“The possible deployment of a naval base in Abkhazia, an airbase in Abkhazia and a military base in South Ossetia seems to be moving in the wrong direction,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told Reuters in an interview.
Georgia’s pro-Western leaders accuse Russia of effectively annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a second breakaway region that was the focus of Russia’s war with Georgia last August.

“Russia pledged to reduce its troops to the levels and locations of before the Russia-Georgia war,” said Bryza, an envoy to the region. “Russia is already in violation of those commitments… Deploying a naval base would be another violation.”

He said Russia should not prevent the extension of a mandate for United Nations observers in the region, which needs extending by Feb. 15.

“We’ve put compromises forward and Russia has rejected them so far,” he said. “We hope Russia won’t reject the compromise for the United Nations.”

Russia’s crushing of Georgian forces in the five-day war raised concerns in the West about a new Russian assertiveness in its traditional sphere of influence and stirred fears for the safety of energy supplies that run through Georgia.

This winter’s gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, which cut off supplies to Europe, stoked those fears further and highlighted the need for renewed investment in Ukraine, said Bryza.

The United States is considering putting its weight behind an $800 million pipeline that would de-bottleneck gas flows from Ukraine into Slovakia.

“From a U.S. perspective it makes it all the more urgent,” he said.
“With this less than a billion dollar investment it is possible to increase the transit of gas by almost 15 billion cubic metres, so about half of the South Stream pipeline for a very small investment,” he added, referring to Russia’s preferred gas project for bypassing Ukraine.

But Ukraine will have to work hard to reassure private investors, who might view the project as too risky.

“It’s time for both sides to rebuild their respective reputations…maybe this proposal to expand gas transit through Ukraine is a way to bring it all back together.”

Groups review Gaza conflict for war crimes

Groups review Gaza conflict for war crimes


Now that Israeli forces have left the Gaza Strip and fighting has largely ended, human-rights organizations are combing the detritus of war, surveying the extensive destruction, interviewing shell-shocked victims and building cases of war crimes against both combatant parties.

While Israel is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and, therefore, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, nearly all European courts have claimed authority to investigate and prosecute war crimes of other countries. It was a Spanish magistrate who prosecuted the case of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and, just Friday, another Spanish court announced it was investigating several Israeli officials for their alleged role in a 2002 military assault on Gaza.

The main danger to Israelis is expected to come from lawsuits brought by individuals and organizations, rather than governmental attempts to undertake official investigations. “We are preparing for a wave of international lawsuits,” Israeli Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz said.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s principal researcher in Israel and the Palestinian territories, warned: “Those [Israelis] giving the orders, and even those pulling the trigger, should not plan on taking any overseas holidays.”

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The allegations against Israeli forces operating in Gaza between Dec. 27 and Jan. 18 fall into five categories:

Unlawful killings

This is the broadest category, in which it is alleged that Israeli air, sea and ground forces carried out indiscriminate bombing and shelling of military targets without proper regard for the safety of innocent civilians in the area.

It is further alleged that the scale of Israeli attacks was often out of proportion to the value of some military targets, or to the threat the targets posed to Israel, leading to unwarranted collateral casualties.

The massive aerial bombing carried out without warning on the first day, the targeting of a police graduation ceremony, the shelling of an area near a UN school, the bombing of two other UN schools and shelling of the UN headquarters, all are cases being investigated.

“Those who embark on this course of action must be held responsible,” Ms. Rovera said. She said there were numerous cases of Israeli artillery being used against targets in built-up residential areas.

“It doesn’t matter if their indiscriminate attacks result in one unlawful death or a large number,” she said. “It’s the scale here [in Gaza] that’s new.”

The use of anti-personnel weapons such as flechettes when shelling a physical or a narrow target is another example of unlawful killing, Ms. Rovera argued. Thousands of these five-centimetre-long metal arrows can be packed into tank shells, and evidence of their use has been found in at least two areas of Gaza, she said.

“X-rays showed flechettes embedded in people’s brains,” Ms. Rovera said.

Use of such weapons is not banned, but their use in civilian-populated areas runs afoul of humanitarian law, experts say.

White phosphorous shells is another example of a legal munition that may have been used illegally in Gaza. Intended to illuminate an area or to provide a smoke screen, the phosphorous ignites when exposed to air and cannot be doused with water. It ignites most material with which it comes into contact and burns human flesh to the bone.

Its use in heavily populated areas is a violation of humanitarian law, most agree.

Israel acknowledges using white phosphorous, but insists it did so only in open areas and in complete compliance with international law.

Wanton destruction of property

The neighbourhood of east Jabalya in the northern part of the Gaza Strip was an expansive industrial area containing factories and warehouses. Cement making, stone cutting, agricultural processing and small manufacturing all were carried out here, but an inspection of the district this week showed almost every single factory, warehouse and barn destroyed. Cement trucks all were overturned; buildings that weren’t shelled were bulldozed; a complete field of cattle lay dead on the ground.

Such destruction, experts say, may constitute an international crime. “They have destroyed the livelihood of thousands of people,” said Martha Myers, country director for Care International.

Israel has justified the destruction as an effort to remove possible rocket-launching sites – the area is not far from the Israeli border – and to destroy stockpiles of rockets and rocket-making factories.

On a smaller scale, an inspection of several sites this week found examples of how Israeli troops, occupying houses during their ground invasion, left homes unnecessarily trashed, desecrated and with hateful graffiti on the walls.

And in what appears to be a disregard for religious symbols in favour of sport, Israeli tanks shot the top off a great number of minarets in areas that Israeli forces occupied.

“Israelis say they only destroyed things that had potential military use,” Ms. Rovera said, “but the destruction was indiscriminate.”

Hindering medical relief

Numerous examples are cited of Israeli military action preventing neutral medical personnel from reaching civilian victims. The most infamous case is that of the Samouni family, whose house in the Gaza suburb of Zeitoun was destroyed by Israeli shelling. Ambulances were reportedly unable to reach the site for three days. When they did, they apparently found three crying toddlers lying by their dead mothers.

Israel denies it blocked any relief efforts and says the logistics of battle may have made the way unsafe in some situations.

Use of human shields

“We’ve heard a lot about Hamas using human shields,” Amnesty’s Ms. Rovera said. “But Israel used them, too.”

Israeli troops would go into a house, she explained, put the family on the bottom floor and take over the upper floor to use for sniping at the enemy.

“This constitutes using the family as a human shield,” Ms. Rovera pointed out.

Mistreatment of prisoners

Seven Israeli human-rights groups complained to Israel’s judge advocate-general Wednesday that prisoners taken in the Gaza operation were held in conditions so poor that their lives were often endangered.

They presented testimony that many were held in hastily dug pits exposed to cold for days; that many were held “near tanks and in clear combat areas,” and that several were victims of “serious and degrading violence.”

Such “disregard of ethical and legal obligations” makes Israel guilty of violations of international law, the groups argue.

More Zionist Than Israel?

More Zionist Than Israel?

German Policy and Media on Gaza
by Ali Fathollah-Nejad

The Gaza massacre, at least for the moment, is over — ended just before Barack Obama’s inauguration, so as not to cast an unwelcome cloud over his first hours as U.S. President.  The initial Palestinian death toll is 1,300 . . . and expected to rise.  (Four times that number were injured, and more wounded may be discovered).  The number of the Israeli dead — 13 Israelis, ten of whom were soldiers, lost their lives — was one hundredth of the Palestinian dead.  Such are the revealing casualty statistics of this so-called war — onslaught or even slaughter would be a more accurate term to describe the world’s fifth largest army using the high-tech weaponry of the world’s No. 1 military power against the civilian population as well as a scant number of armed combatants.

Only two and a half years after the last Israeli onslaught in which a comparable number of people were killed — with the difference that the Lebanese, unlike the imprisoned Gazans, had a better chance of fleeing from the murderous bombs dropped on them — much of the world found themselves in a state of shock again as they witnessed the reemergence of barbarity at its worst.  Israel did not allow any Western journalists to cover the bloodbath of its “Operation Cast Lead,” though the non-Western world, watching Al Jazeera, Press TV, or TeleSur, could witness the carnage inflicted upon Gaza.

Needless to say, the “pictures” shown by the West’s “enlightened” media were antipodal to those shown by the non-Western alternatives mentioned above, which the same Western media promptly denounced as “propaganda.”  Let’s take Germany for example, Europe’s economically as well as demographically strongest country, whose Constitution (Basic Law), as a lesson of the terrible experiences of the Nazi period, commits the German people, “[c]onscious of their responsibility before God and man, . . . to promote world peace” (Preamble), emphasizing that “The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world” (Art. 1, para. 2).1 One might expect the German people’s political representatives to feel obliged to respect those principles.  Nothing of the sort!

“Unlimited Solidarity” Reloaded

In a telephone conversation on the second day of Israel’s attacks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “agreed that the responsibility for the development of the situation in the region clearly and exclusively lies with Hamas.”  Berlin’s spokesperson further declared: “Hamas unilaterally broke the agreement for a ceasefire, there has been a continuous firing of . . . rockets at Israeli settlements and Israeli territory, and without question — and this was stressed by the chancellor — Israel has the legitimate right to defend its own people and territory.”2 Merkel’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier embarked on a “peace mission” — the German media’s description — where he observed from a safe distance in Rafah the “self-defending” Israeli bombs being dropped upon “self-responsible” Palestinians.  Steinmeier, who as Schröder’s chief of staff played an inglorious role in keeping Germany-born innocents in the Guantánamo camp,3 is running as the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) candidate for the chancellery.  Impressive seamlessness!

Like the United States during the immediate post-9/11 days, today Israel is the unmerited beneficiary of Germany’s “unlimited solidarity” aiding and abetting crimes.

Now, what about the German media, which in turn are bound by the German Press Code stating that “[t]he freedom of the Press enshrined in the Basic Law includes the independence and freedom of information, the right of expression and criticism” (Preamble) and that “[r]espect for the truth, preservation of human dignity and accurate informing of the public are the overriding principles of the Press” (Section 1)?  Their story of “civilizational” war — comfortably embedded within the good-versus-evil scheme — was not surprising at all, though hardly compatible with the above principles.

The media overwhelmingly and across the political spectrum represented the interpretation given by the Israeli leadership, i.e. that the “Jewish State” was fighting a “defensive war” against rocket-throwing “Hamas terrorists,” pursuing the noble cause of defending “Western democracies,” such as Israel, in the “war on terror” against Islamism.  Despite this narrative’s non-sense in moral, political, and legal terms, it was echoed in papers of every political couleur.  The only newspaper consistently and extensively covering the “systematic nature of the destruction” (UN humanitarian chief Sir John Holmes)4 has been the left-wing junge Welt — which, alas, has only a small readership. This sole anti-imperialist German paper has been severely demonized by the ideologues of the mainstream but has received much praise from such respected personalities as Hans von Sponeck, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, who resigned in protest of the UN Security Council-mandated genocide of Iraqis in the 1990s.

Embedded Narratives

The country’s most prominent televised political discussion “Anne Will” announced that it would run a show on Gaza on 11 January, but in an unprecedented step canceled the topic only three days before the scheduled date, replacing it by a program on “suicide” — as if suicide were more important than mass killings.  Seeing the freedom of press and democracy in peril, a protest initiative was launched, signed by over 700 worldwide.5

When not outright erased as in the case of the canceled “Anne Will” program, the Gaza coverage à l’Allemande was fundamentally composed of (1) prescribed discriminatory terminology, with “radical Islamist Hamas” used as a journalistic mantra to describe Israel’s opponent while such loaded terms as “radical Zionist” were never attributed to Israel; (2) the tale of “double hostage-taking” of both Israelis and Gazans by Hamas; and (3) the repetition of Israeli government positions even by journalists working for the most prestigious public broadcasters.  German correspondents joining from Tel Aviv were practically embedded with Israel’s army.

What was scrupulously omitted in the media’s narrative was the history of the conflict, particularly the fact that we had, on one side, an illegal occupying power flouting world opinion as enunciated by numerous UN resolutions and international legal opinions and, on the other, the brutally occupied who were being practically starved to death.  At best, this was only considered a marginal detail diverting one’s attention from the “continuous rocket attacks” by Hamas which rendered normal Israeli life impossible.  No mention of course was made about the worthiness of Palestinian life.

What Lessons from the Judeocide?

Still under the long shadow cast by the monumental — and in its industrial fervor unique — genocide of the European Jews, the country’s media did not provide space for any discussion worth its name about the great ordeal that Gazans suffered while the “international community” acted in complicit silence.  And when debated, as was done in “Anne Will”‘s competitor political talk show “Hart Aber Fair” (“Hard But Fair”), it was carefully made sure that the talk was not “switched” to a “discussion of facts.”  Instead, in a highly obvious manner, a frantic effort was made to connect anti-Semitism and criticisms of Israel.  While anti-Semitism certainly exists among some Germans, the more prevalent form of racism in today’s Germany is Islamophobia, which went un-discussed, despite it being relevant as a factor that explains official ideology and public opinion.  Hardly a fair practice.

What was even more scandalous was the fact that Jewish voices against Israel’s operation were widely ignored.  To be heard in the mainstream mass media, Jewish critics of Israel were forced to take out an ad.  In the SüddeutscheZeitung, under the header “German Jews say NO to the murder by the Israeli army,” European Jews for a Just Peace (EJPJ) Germany said: “We are appalled by this inhumanity. . . .  Do German politicians really believe that it is a compensation for the murder of our Jewish families and relatives that Israel can now . . . do whatever crosses her mind? . . .  Hamas is using terrorist methods, but this is also what the elected officials of Israel do, in fact a hundred times more effectively.”6

It is deeply disturbing, and particularly sad for someone who has grown up in Germany, to raise the question “What have Germans learned from the Holocaust?” and to hear either embarrassed silence or “We must not criticize Israel.”  I thought the lesson to be learned from the Holocaust was the duty to resist any kind of racism, oppression, and wars of aggression and to refrain from demonization which effectively paves the way for tacit acceptance of violence and war.   That is the lesson codified in the Basic Law, too, albeit held in contempt by the German media and politicians.  Despite the narratives promoted by them, however, polls suggest that a significant number of Germans are increasingly becoming aware of the moral hollowness of such “unlimited solidarity” and beginning to recognize that barbarity must be called barbarity, no matter who the perpetrators are.

A Rogue State: “If the Cap Fits. . . .”

Jewish Oxford international relations professor Avi Shlaim concluded his article on Gaza: “. . . Israel’s record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with ‘an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders’.  A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism — the use of violence against civilians for political purposes.  Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it.”7 As the leading scholar on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Norman Finkelstein corroborates Shlaim: “The record is quite clear.”  Well, it is.

This is why it makes sense to launch a campaign against Israel in the same way it was done against Apartheid South Africa, which was a Western colonial state with entrenched racism, backed by “Western democracies” and engaged in apartheid and oppression . . . much like Israel.

I agree with the historian Ilan Pappé: it is now high time to expose the links between the Zionist ideological factor and the crimes committed by the “self-righteous ideological state” of Israel.8 This might conceivably awaken those Germans who remain asleep in a highly disturbing state of moral apathy.

In the end, one awaited in vain a major German, or any other European, newspaper headlining an article — as Le Monde did after 9/11 with “Nous sommes tous Américains” (We are all Americans)9 — with “Nous sommes tous Palestiniens,” Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.  Instead, it’s as if the same headline blared, on the front pages of virtually all papers: “We are all Zionists.”

1 Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Promulgated by the Parliamentary Council on 23 May 1949, as amended up to June 2008, Berlin: German Bundestag, 2008.

2 Agence France-Presse (AFP), “Germany’s Merkel Blames Hamas for Gaza Violence,” 29 December 2008.

3 Cf. Navid Kermani, “Wir sind Murat Kurnaz” [We are Murat Kurnaz], die tageszeitung (taz), 23 March 2007.

4 “UN ‘Shocked’ by Gaza destruction,” BBC News, 23 January 2009.

5 See my report “German Media Censorship on Gaza?”, Global Research, Montreal: Centre for Research on Globalization, 22 January 2009.

6 “Deutsche Juden und Jüdinnen sagen NEIN zum Morden der israelischen Armee,” advert in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 17 January 2009, p. 10.

7 Avi Shlaim, “How Israel Brought Gaza to the Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe,” The Guardian, 7 January 2009.

8 Ilan Pappe, “Israel’s Righteous Fury and Its Victims in Gaza,” The Electronic Intifada, 2 January 2009; cf. also Ilan Pappe, “Dummy or Real,” London Review of Books (online), 14 January 2009.

9 Jean-Marie Colombani, “Nous sommes tous Américans,” editorial, Le Monde, 13 September 2001.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad is a German–Iranian political scientist focusing on the international relations of the Middle East.  For the open letter protesting the cancelation of the TV debate on Gaza

Islamic militancy is a foreign policy tool of the US and Pakistani establishments


Islamic militancy is a foreign policy tool of the US

and Pakistani establishments

By Yousuf Nazar

Admiral Mike Mullen (first from left), the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Pervez Kayani (third from the left) and next to him, the ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha (then Major. Gen. and Director General Military Operations) aboard the US naval carrier Abraham Lincoln in Indian Ocean; in a secret meeting on August 26, 2008. Pasha was promoted to the rank  of  Lt. Gen. and appointed as the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence on Sept. 29, 2008.                                            –_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Who stands to gain the most from the Mumbai attacks?

The Pakistani media was quick to dismiss Indian allegations about the complicity of elements from Pakistan in Mumbai attacks. Some channels even carried stories that there was no Aslam Amir in Faridkot, only to contradict themselves later. We need to reflect upon the whole paradigm of ‘terrorism’. For this purpose, it is essential to to take a holistic view including examination of some important and critical events since 9/11, US’s strategic interests in the Middle East and Central Asia, the relationship between the US and Pakistan authorities, and the murky nature of CIA’s involvement with the so-called Islamic militants.

In Pakistan, there are two extreme viewpoints. One view sees things through a conspiracy paradigm where India-US-Israel nexus is out to destroy Pakistan and Pakistani establishment is an innocent bystander. The other view sees fundamentalism as purely a home grown issue that has gone out of control. There are elements of truth in both the views. But the reality, as always, is far more complex.

It has been made more complex due to the fact there is big money involved on both the sides. The Americans have poured money into so-called Pakistani think-tanks and media groups. Some of these think-tanks have clear and identifiable linkages to those run by neocons or are indirectly funded by the US. Their views are given platforms by large and respected groups such as DAWN and GEO TV without bothering to make disclosures about conflict of interest; a standard practice.

Some of the so-called funadamentalists enjoy cosy relationship with the Arab kingdoms and the Pakistani intelligence agencies. These agencies are very close to the CIA and the Pentagon.

Hence, the exponential increase in militancy and terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 2004 cannot be analysed in isolation from the role of the establishment, the US policies, and the biggest ever [ongoing] covert operations of the CIA since the end of the Afghan war in 1989.

Continue reading

Tickled To Death!

CIA HAS BEEN TICKLING PEOPLE TO DEATH FOR YEARSBy: Peter ChamberlinMichael Hayden said the clandestine agency is using Predator missile attacks to tickle enemy groups, to provoke a reaction.We use military operations to excite the enemy, prompting him to respond.The agency director was jokingly referring to the policy of committing multiple mass-murders of innocent citizens of Pakistan, as a tactic for provoking retaliation by their relatives.http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress…Category: Science & Technology

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Mike Vickers Author of Anti-Soviet Strategy Now Plots the “Take-Over-the-World Plan”


Sorry, Charlie. This Is Michael Vickers’s War.


By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 28, 2007; A19

Defense officials once jokingly described Michael Vickers as being in charge of the “take-over-the-world plan.”

In the Pentagon’s newly expanded Special Operations office, a suite of sterile gray cubicles on the “C” ring of the third floor, Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael G. Vickers is working to implement the U.S. military’s highest-priority plan: a global campaign against terrorism that reaches far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wide-ranging plan details the targeting of al-Qaeda-affiliated networks around the world and explores how the United States should retaliate in case of another major terrorist attack. The most critical aspect of the plan, Vickers said in a recent interview, involves U.S. Special Operations forces working through foreign partners to uproot and fight terrorist groups.Vickers’s job also spans the modernization of nuclear forces for deterrence and retaliation, and the retooling of conventional forces to combat terrorism — a portfolio so expansive that he and some Pentagon officials once jokingly referred to his efforts as the “take-over-the-world plan,” one official said.

Vickers, a former Green Beret and CIA operative, was the principal strategist for the biggest covert program in CIA history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” released last weekend, portrays Vickers in that role, in which he directed an insurgent force of 150,000 Afghan fighters and controlled an annual budget of more than $2 billion in current dollars.Today, as the top Pentagon adviser on counterterrorism strategy, Vickers exudes the same assurance about defeating terrorist groups as he did as a 31-year-old CIA paramilitary officer assigned to Afghanistan, where he convinced superiors that with the right strategy and weapons, the ragtag Afghan insurgents could win. “I am just as confident or more confident we can prevail in the war on terror,” Vickers, 54, said in a recent interview, looking cerebral behind thick glasses but with an energy and build reminiscent of the high school quarterback he once was. “Not a lot of people thought we could drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.”

Vickers joined the Pentagon in July to oversee the 54,000-strong Special Operations Command (Socom), based in Tampa, which is growing faster than any other part of the U.S. military. Socom’s budget has doubled in recent years, to $6 billion for 2008, and the command is to add 13,000 troops to its ranks by 2011.

Senior Pentagon and military officials regard Vickers as a rarity — a skilled strategist who is both creative and pragmatic. “He tends to think like a gangster,” said Jim Thomas, a former senior defense planner who worked with Vickers. “He can understand trends then change the rules of the game so they are advantageous for your side.”

Vickers’s outlook was shaped in the CIA and Special Forces, which he joined off the street through a “direct enlistment” program in 1973. In the 10th Special Forces Group, he trained year-round for a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union. One scenario he prepared for: to parachute into enemy territory with a small nuclear weapon strapped to his leg, and then position it to halt the Red Army.

Vickers recalled that the nuclear devices did not seem that small, “particularly when you are in an aircraft with one of them or it is attached to your body.” Was it a suicide mission? “I certainly hoped not,” Vickers said.

An expert in martial arts, parachuting and weapons, and second in his class at Officer Candidate School, Vickers was also fluent in Czech and Spanish, which made him overqualified when he joined the CIA’s paramilitary unit in 1983. Soon after, he received a citation for combat in Grenada.

But Vickers’s greatest influence was in the clinically precise way he reassessed the potential of Afghan guerrilla forces and prescribed the right mix of weaponry to attack Soviet weaknesses. This brash plan to create a force of “techno-guerrillas” able to fight year-round called for exponentially more money, which through sheer force of logic Vickers was able to obtain.

Today Vickers’s plan to build a global counterterrorist network is no less ambitious. The plan is focused on a list of 20 “high-priority” countries, with Pakistan posing a central preoccupation for Vickers, who said al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the country’s western tribal areas are a serious threat to the United States. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia and Iran, and Vickers hints that some European countries could be on it. Beyond that, the plan covers another 29 “priority” countries, as well as “other countries” that Vickers does not name.

“It’s not just the Middle East. It’s not just the developing world. It’s not just nondemocratic countries — it’s a global problem,” he said. “Threats can emanate from Denmark, the United Kingdom, you name it.”

The plan deploys a variety of elite troops around the world, including about 80 to 90 12-man teams of Army Special Forces soldiers who are skilled in foreign languages and at working with indigenous forces. Today, those forces are heavily concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as their numbers grow, they will increase their presence in other countries.

“The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war. . . . It’s a war of partners . . . but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists,” Vickers said. “That’s why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important . . . and our Special Operations forces play a large role.”

Vickers is pressing Congress to double “train and equip” funding from levels approved in recent years for the military. The funds, which total $325 million for fiscal 2007, allow the U.S. military and Special Operations forces to pay indigenous fighters and paramilitaries who work with them in gathering intelligence, hunting terrorists, fomenting guerrilla warfare or putting down an insurgency.

The funds are “very important . . . so we can move rather rapidly to train and equip foreign security forces” and more will be needed, Vickers told senators at his confirmation hearing in July. “If you don’t have close cooperation, you can’t fight the war,” he said later.

But while local forces can be far more effective in countering terrorism in their regions, creating the forces must be done carefully, said Thomas, the former defense planner. “The last thing we want to do is create a bunch of right-wing goon squads that go out and shoot jihadists with very little legitimacy.”

Vickers is also arguing for billions of dollars in new technology: specialized stealthy aircraft able to fly over countries undetected, unmanned aerial vehicles and other equipment for distant and close-up surveillance, and technology to “tag” and “track” individuals and cars for long distances over time.

Finally, Vickers seeks authority for more flexible and rapid “detailing” that would allow Special Operations forces, in larger numbers, to be seconded to the CIA and allowed to work under agency rules.

“It’s striking to see how quickly he moves through large amounts of information” and then gives guidance how to get things done, said Kalev Sepp, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations, who works under Vickers. “He knows the key players on Capitol Hill. . . . He understands what level of general officer has to be contacted to make decisions,” Sepp said.

But with just over one year left in the Bush administration, Vickers is impatient with bureaucratic infighting within the military and between the Pentagon and other agencies, current and former officials said. One official noted that it took Socom about three years to write the counterterrorism plan, and two years for the administration to approve a classified “execute order” against al-Qaeda.

Vickers, who has advised President Bush on Iraq strategy, is convinced that more U.S. troops are not enough to solve the conflict in Iraq and that working with local forces is the best long-term strategy for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Its imperative that the Iraqis provide . . . security, so transitioning to an indirect approach is critical,” he said. “The surge has been phenomenally effective . . . but not sufficient,” he said, adding that he thinks that without political change the effects of the troop buildup “will dissipate.”

Working with proxy forces will also enable the United States to extend and sustain its influence, something it failed to do in Afghanistan, he said. “After this great victory and after a million Afghans died, we basically exited that region and Afghanistan just spun into chaos,” he said.

“It’s imperative that we not do that again,” he said.

Counterterrorism Mastermind Vickers Addresses Israeli-American Lobby On Terror War

Building the Global Counterterrorism Network

Featuring Michael Vickers
November 4, 2008

On October 24, 2008, Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers addressed a Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute as part of the Institute’s 2007-2008 counterterrorism lecture series. The U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Vickers as assistant secretary of defense (special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities) on July 23, 2007. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of his remarks.

Although much work still remains on the counterterrorism front, the past seven years have seen notable achievements. The Philippines and the area of Southeast Asia referred to as the “terrorist transit triangle” have seen considerable success against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. In the Middle East, the tide turned against al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula in 2003, and al-Qaeda in Iraq is now only “a whisper of what it used to be.” Moreover, although there have been many plots, no attacks have occurred on the U.S. homeland since September 11, 2001.

The threat, however, remains significant. Al-Qaeda has demonstrated an ability to regenerate, and its ambitions remain high. The group aims to catalyze an Islamist insurgency, break up and prevent the formation of international coalitions arrayed against it, exhaust and expel the West from Muslim lands, overthrow “illegitimate states,” establish a caliphate, and transform the international balance of power in favor of this new Islamic polity.

In Iraq, the situation has improved, but General Petraeus and others have pointed out that the durability of the past year’s dramatic change is difficult to measure, though the signs are pointing in the right direction. In Afghanistan, the insurgency has intensified over the past two years, and the international community faces a growing challenge to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and a source of instability.

The tribal areas of western Pakistan remain the most significant strategic threat, and the problem has escalated over the past decade. In late 2001 al-Qaeda’s senior leaders fled Afghanistan after the successful U.S. operation there and managed to align themselves with local Pakistani groups in this unsettled region. These groups have become more militant as a result and now present an internal threat to Pakistan’s government; in the past year, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have declared open war on the country. Not only is this threat serious for Pakistan, it poses an immense challenge to international strategy and stability in the region and beyond.

Furthermore, the United States faces challenges in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Yemen, the Levant, and the Maghreb — all areas that al-Qaeda targets strategically. The threat remains global, emanating not just from traditional Muslim lands but also from the United Kingdom and other parts of Western Europe. In fact, we have seen just as many or more threats emerging from Europe over the past decade as we have seen emanating from the greater Middle East.

The long-term strategic challenge of the war on terror is dealing with a threat that has spread across the globe to some sixty countries. We can take either a direct approach, applying power ourselves as primary actors, or an indirect approach, working through others whom we advise, train, and enable. A clandestine component is also imperative, as this is primarily an intelligence war, or a “war in the shadows.” Our intelligence disciplines are therefore essential — particularly covert action, which was the decisive instrument of the Cold War and remains critical to the war on terror today.

Above all, the critical operational instrument of this war is what we describe as a global counterterrorism network. This network’s purpose is to create a persistent, ubiquitous presence in many countries that prevents adversaries from gaining traction and gradually smothers them over time. Ultimately, it takes a network to defeat a network. It is not enough to have a strong partner in one or more countries; we must be stronger than our adversaries everywhere. The principal operational element of this network is the intelligence community, which gives us our global reach and allows us to move at the speed of war.

In particular, the national clandestine service of the Central Intelligence Agency, in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces and the security apparatuses of our partners around the world, is central in this battle. Special Operations Forces have grown tremendously in the Department of Defense in recent years. By the end of the decade, the forces will be twice as large (reaching upwards of 64,000 in terms of total manpower) than they were at its outset, with more than double the original budget. In addition, more senior leaders will have special-operations backgrounds.

The core of U.S. Special Forces consists of approximately 15,000 ground operators, ranging from Army Special Forces and Green Berets to Rangers, Seals, Marine Corps Special Operations, and other classified units. Each of these elements has increased its capacity by a third since 2001, constituting the largest growth in Special Operations history. These forces are present in sixty countries around the globe, with more than 80 percent concentrated in the greater Middle East, the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, we are expanding our force significantly to achieve broader global coverage.

These forces have invented a new way to fight the war on terror, waging it from an operational perspective and taking a proactive and sustained approach to counterterrorism. We now have intelligence-driven operations, with new tactics, techniques, and procedures — the cumulative effect of which will enable us to take down a network over time.

Gaps, however, still exist in the areas of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. We need to increase capacity in civil affairs and psychological operations, and we are also taking steps to acquire foreign-language expertise, in part by recruiting foreign-born operators. Additional organizational reform may also be in order, such as greater integration and consolidation, as exemplified by the Department of Homeland Security. We are looking at alternative command arrangements within the Department of Defense as well as mainstreaming Special Operations officers into senior leadership positions. We have the necessary institutions, but we must now focus on getting the right people and ensure that that they receive the necessary resources and authority.

Some of our current capabilities, capacities, and relationships predate the September 11 attacks, some have been significantly expanded since then, and others will reach the projected end state by the end of the next administration. There will likely be a need for more integration as we go forward, and we must operate simultaneously in countries with whom we are not at war. Thus, partner development and partner alignment remain critical issues, making diplomacy essential to achieving our goals. The pieces are gradually coming into place as we gain more experience and enhance our ability to build and develop a far more capable network. We are well on our way to building a global counterterrorism network — the critical instrument for keeping America safe through the next decade and beyond.

This rapporteur’s summary was prepared by Sana Mahmood.

American Secret Force based in Afghanistan includes Naval Units: Army Times USA

American Secret Force based in Afghanistan includes Naval Units: Army Times USA

From Army Times, USA

Critics: Afghanistan plan takes SF from usual training mission

By Sean D. Naylor – Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Dec 23, 2008 13:30:19 EST

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement of a plan to deploy an additional three brigades of combat troops to Afghanistan by the summer has superseded a contentious debate that pitted the Bush administration’s “war czar” against the special operations hierarchy over the National Security Council’s proposed near-term “surge” of special operations forces to Afghanistan, a Pentagon military official said.

The NSC proposal, which grew out of its Afghan strategy review, recommended an increase of “about another battalion’s worth” of troops to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan, or CJSOTF-A, said a field-grade Special Forces officer, who added that this would enlarge the task force by about a third.

There are two major special operations task forces in Afghanistan: CJSOTF-A, which is the “white,” or unclassified, task force and is organized around a Special Forces group headquarters with two SF battalions and Marine special operations and Navy SEAL elements; and a “black” special operations task force with a headquarters element drawn from the secretive Joint Special Operations Command overseeing elements of Navy Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Several sources said that the “SOF surge” proposal originated with Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, whose official title is assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, but who is often referred to as the “war czar.” The rationale behind deploying more special ops forces to Afghanistan was that any decision to deploy more conventional brigades to Afghanistan would take several months at a minimum to implement, whereas special ops units could be sent much more quickly, the field-grade Special Forces officer said.

The deployment of additional Special Forces A-teams, the 12-man units also known as operational detachments-alpha, or ODAs, “became the sine qua non” that the Bush administration was taking immediate action to reverse negative trends in the Afghan war, the Pentagon military official said.

“During this NSC review, my understanding was the most contentious issue was whether to arm the tribes,” a Defense Department civilian official said. “Lute had been pushing this idea of a lot more white SOF working specifically with the tribes.”

However, the proposal sparked a fierce high-level debate, with special operations officers charging that Lute and his colleagues were trying to micromanage the movement of individual Special Forces A-teams from inside the Beltway, and countercharges that Special Forces has strayed from its traditional mission of raising and training indigenous forces and become too focused on direct-action missions to kill or capture enemies.

“Four or five weeks ago, this was fairly contentious,” the Pentagon military official said. But the combination of Gates’ announcement of the plan to send an additional 20,000 troops to Afghanistan — which will include a significant special ops contingent — and the impending presidential transition has rendered the debate “stillborn,” the military official said.

Most major special operations commands were opposed to the proposal, special operations sources said. The sources identified U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low-Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities Michael Vickers as all resisting the initiative.

Lute declined to be interviewed through a representative, and spokesmen for SOCOM and Vickers’ office adopted a similar stance.

“It would be inappropriate for USSOCOM to comment on what may or may not be an ongoing policy discussion,” SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw said. “It’s pre-decisional, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about it until it’s officially released,” Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Bob Mehal, who handles media queries for Vickers, said with regard to the NSC review.

Special operations sources said that those opposing the “SOF surge” were generally against the idea on two grounds: that the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, has not requested them, and that the CJSOTF-A does not have enough “enablers” — such as helicopters and intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance assets — to support the forces it has in country now, let alone another battalion’s worth.

“This is being driven out of Washington, D.C., not requested by General McKiernan or by [U.S. Central Command],” a senior special operations staff officer said. “People in Washington, General Lute and those guys … want to micromanage the employment of individual ODAs. Is that really the right thing to do? Who are the guys in Washington to order the deployment of more forces if the theater commander has not asked for them and has no strategy to employ them? The next thing, those same guys in D.C. are going to be picking [high-value targets] for these guys to go after.”

A spokesman for McKiernan did not return a call seeking comment. An administration official denied that Lute was trying to interfere with the theater commander’s prerogatives.

“The requirements for forces are generated from the field, not generated from Washington,” the administration official said, adding that the NSC considered “all sorts of options” in putting together its strategic review for Afghanistan.

But the field-grade Special Forces officer said that the requests for forces generated by commanders in Afghanistan do not seem to comport to any overall plan for the theater. “Commanders are asking for what they think they can get, rather than what they need,” he said.

However, the field-grade SF officer acknowledged that the NSC proposal had run up against stiff opposition among the special ops brass. “SOCOM, USASOC, [USASOC commander Lt. Gen. John] Mulholland, ASD SO/LIC [i.e., Vickers’ office] are saying, ‘We’re not going to put more [forces] in until you give us dedicated enablers,’” he said. In addition to more helicopters and ISR assets, such as Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, the enablers sought by the special operations headquarters include “more dedicated forward operating bases, more money for [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles], the whole package,” he added.

The short supply of helicopters in Afghanistan has been a constant problem for conventional forces and CJSOTF-A. Unlike the Joint Special Operations Command task force, which is directly supported by elements of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, “white” Special Forces groups do not have their own dedicated aviation units and have to compete for helicopter support with the rest of the U.S. and allied force in Afghanistan. But CJSOTF-A is commanded by a colonel, whereas the other organizations are all commanded by flag officers. “They’re left begging black SOF — the 160th — or begging conventional [forces] — the 101st Airborne — and who’s going to lose in that fight?” the field-grade Special Forces officer said.

However, a special ops surge would still benefit Afghanistan, said the field-grade SF officer, a proponent of the surge initiative. “The bottom line is even ODAs or [Marine Special Operations Command units] or Navy SEALs that are less enabled will make parts of Afghanistan better off if they’re doing full-spectrum counterinsurgency than those parts of Afghanistan that have nothing at all,” he said.

The Pentagon military official said that the planned deployment of an additional 20,000 U.S. troops, including three brigade combat teams, to Afghanistan would also include a lot of “enablers” that the special operations forces could use. “When you start building in BCTs … you get a lot of stuff that the SOF guys can fall in on,” the military official said. The Pentagon plan includes more helicopters being sent to Afghanistan, as well as the possibility of a one-star special operations flag officer to command “white” SOF forces in country, which would obviate the need to have “O-6s arm wrestling with O-7s and O-9s,” he said, referring to the paygrades for colonels, brigadier generals and lieutenant generals, respectively.

A field-grade officer in Washington who has been tracking the debate said that the “white” SOF leaders’ argument that their forces need more ISR assets and helicopters is a reflection of how Special Forces has veered away from its traditional mission of “foreign internal defense” — training host nation forces to conduct counterinsurgency — in favor of the more glamorous direct-action missions.

“Lute would say that’s a symptom of the problem,” the field-grade officer in Washington said regarding the insistence by some SF officers that the task force needs more ISR assets and helicopters before it can accommodate more troops. “You don’t need ISR and rotary-wing aviation if you’re training indigenous forces. You only need those things if you’re doing direct action.”

Lute thinks that special operations forces, particularly Special Forces, “are the right force” to send to Afghanistan because of their skills at teaching foreign internal defense, the field-grade officer in Washington said. “He seems to remember that once upon a time, SOF did something like that. Last we checked, their principal mission is raising and training indigenous forces.”

This might explain the special operations hierarchy’s opposition to Lute’s surge proposal, the field grade officer in Washington said. “This is an implict criticism of what SOF has done for the last five years,” he said. “They haven’t been training indigenous forces. That may be what SOCOM is objecting to, is it’s implicitly a critique of SOF’s over-fascination with direct action.”

He noted that Special Forces A-teams in Afghanistan are partnered with Afghan commando units, not regular Afghan National Army battalions. “The CJSOTF may think that ODAs are too good to work with conventional forces, [so] they only work with SOF-like forces,” he said.

The senior special operations staff officer acknowledged that SF A-teams in Afghanistan do not routinely partner with conventional Afghan units, but said some of the blame lies with the way the coalition mission in Afghanistan is structured. “The real question is, are all Special Forces in Afghanistan sufficiently postured with Afghan forces? And the answer is no,” he said. “The problem is that the advisory mission is separate from the SF mission. That’s the fundamental problem with Afghanistan.” As a result, he said, “Our ODAs are not being effectively employed.”

Under the Defense Department plan for Afghanistan, Army brigade combat teams and Marine regimental combat teams would be responsible for “mentoring” Afghan National Army units, but “white” special operations forces would also have a role, according to the Pentagon military official. “White SOF can come in and focus on the much harder nuts … the tougher missions,” he said, adding that he was not referring necessarily to “kinetic” operations, but to training missions at more remote locations.

“The framework is going to look a lot more like the framework did in Iraq over the last couple of years,” the Pentagon military official said.

Part of the debate over the feasibility of a special operations surge revolves around the perception by some surge proponents that special operations leaders are not making as many of their forces available as they might. “Lute, for a long time, has been talking about his deeply held belief from his time as the J-3 [director of operations on the Joint Staff] that the SOF are withholding a lot of their assets in order to preserve their op tempo and their retention numbers,” said the field-grade officer in Washington who has been following the debate.

Special Forces’ deployment ratio was 1 to 0.8, he said, meaning that for every day the average SF soldier spent deployed, he spent 0.8 of a day at home. “That’s not even 1 to 1,” the senior special operations staff officer said. “The guys are deployed more than they are home.”

This claim was flatly rejected by the senior special operations staff officer.

Of 288 A-teams in the five active-duty Special Forces groups — there are also two National Guard groups — about 36 are assigned to CJSOTF-A and 44 to CJSOTF-Arabian Peninsula, the “white” special operations task force in Iraq, for a total of 80 committed to the two wars at any one time. “However,” he said, “that number is really 160 ODAs committed to the CJSOTFs as they are on a seven months in, five months out rotation. In addition, he said, there is “an almost permanent presence” of two company headquarters (“B teams” in SF terminology) and about 10 A-teams in Colombia and Central America, about eight to 10 A-teams in the Philippines, “a handful” in the Horn of Africa and a similar number dedicated to the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership that includes countries across north and west Africa. When other A-teams conducting training in Pakistan and classified missions elsewhere are included, that makes for a total of about 32 A-teams committed outside of the two CJSOTFs, “which translates into a commitment of 64 ODAs with rotations,” the senior special operations staff officer said.

There is also a Special Forces presence at more than 40 U.S. embassies, while SF is supporting six “named” operations and more than 50 requests for forces around the world, he said. “There’s no ODAs sitting around doing nothing,” he added, noting that any deployment of additional Special Forces to Afghanistan “is going to be a question of priorities.”

The field-grade Special Forces officer acknowledged that pulling ODAs from other groups that do not habitually deploy to Afghanistan, such as 1st Group, which focuses mostly on east Asia, would incur a cost for regional combatant commanders in those parts of the world, who would have to curtail the number of joint/combined exchange training programs that Special Forces teams conduct with host nation forces. “There’s a huge list of JCETs and other missions that are going to go unfulfilled” in the event of a special operations surge into Afghanistan, he said.

However, it’s not clear that a SOF surge, whether the near-term one sought by the NSC or the longer-term one envisioned by the Pentagon plan, would be made of entirely or mostly of Special Forces units. CJSOTF-A already includes a Marine Special Operations Command element in western Afghanistan, which is likely to grow, the field grade Special Forces officer said. “The term that’s being bandied about is ‘ODA equivalents,’” he said.

The senior special operations staff officer scoffed at such talk. “There’s only SF,” he said. “There’s no SF equivalents. That’s idiocy. SEALs are not SF. MARSOC are not SF and SF are not SEALs. They’re not interchangeable. … Those people who are throwing that [term] around certainly don’t understand what they’re talking about.”

Organized Jewry Opposes Free Speech

Organized Jewry
Opposes Free Speech

By Prof Kevin MacDonald

It is something of an axiom of Jewish life that “Is it good for the Jews?” remains the litmus test of Jewish communal activity – in other words, interest over principles. A good example is free speech. There can be little doubt that the organized Jewish community sees free speech as a problem because it may be used to criticize the behavior of Jewish organizations and especially Israel.
In Canada the response of the organized Jewish community to recent demonstrations against Israel was to attempt to invoke Canada’s restrictions on free speech in order to silence their critics. The Canadian Jewish Congress complained that protests against Israel’s incursion into Gaza contained images that were “uncivil, un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis.” They are asking the police to investigate the matter, for referral to the Canadian Human Rights Commission which is in charge of enforcing laws that infringe on free speech. Although the organized Jewish community in Canada has strongly supported the thought crime legislation (see below), Bernie Farber, the head of the CJC, stated “we are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to demonstrate passionately in free and democratic societies.”
Because of the First Amendment, we are still a ways from situation in Canada here in the US. Nevertheless, the ADL has been in the forefront of promoting hate-crime legislation in America, and there can be little doubt that they see the First Amendment as a barrier to their interests in suppressing thoughts and speech critical of Israel and other Jewish interests.
An example of the efforts of the organized Jewish community in the direction of thought control is the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. This law created an office of “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism” within the State Department, headed by Gregg J. Rickman. The act not only requires the State Department to document acts of anti-Semitism, but also to “combat acts of anti-Semitism globally.”
The act does not say what the U.S. must do to combat anti-Semitism around the world. I assume combating anti-Semitism wouldn’t require any more in the way of lives and money than, say, the war in Iraq – another project spearheaded by Jewish activism on behalf of Israel. But that may be wishful thinking as the same activists are avidly promoting a war with Iran which would likely be even more disastrous.
In any case, the office issued its most recent Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report (GASR) in March of last year. The document is an excellent example of Jewish activism that would be unremarkable except that it is now officially ensconced at the highest reaches of the U.S. government. As we shall see, it goes beyond criticism anti-Jewish actions to anti-Jewish attitudes, such as statements about Jewish influence.
The report performs the by now familiar casuistry on Israel as a cause of anti-Semitism. The reader is led to believe that the allegations of Israeli atrocities are overblown propaganda – when the real question is just how Palestinians manage to survive at all in the occupied territories. The recent horrifying incursion into Gaza is only the most recent example. Not only did Israel carry out a starvation-inducing blockade during a ceasefire and an assault that finally provoked Palestinian retaliation, there seems little doubt that Israel committed war crimes – particularly the use of white phosphorus bombs in densely populated civilian areas.
The report complains that Israel’s bad behavior is singled out while nobody cares when other governments behave inhumanely. The problem here is that because Israel’s bad behavior is in important ingredient in enflaming the entire region, it should interest everyone. And because of the role of the Israel Lobby in shaping American policy, Israel’s bad behavior is even more properly the concern of all Americans. American taxpayers are not being asked to massively subsidize other badly behaved governments, nor are they asked to fight and die in wars designed to advance the interests of those governments.
The report graciously states that “responsible criticism” of Israel’s policies is acceptable. (Thanks!) But there’s a catch: “Those criticiz-ing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews.”
This, of course, has the effect of proscribing criticism of Israel for fear of being called an anti-Semite. Presumably responsible criticism of Israel does not include books like John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt’s The Israel Lobby, despite its academic tone and masterful marshalling of evidence. Jewish activists have routinely accused the authors of resurrecting the Protocols and other vicious acts of anti-Semitism.
As the report notes, Israel is without doubt the source of most anti-Jewish words and deeds in the contemporary world. But the report also points to traditional Jewish stereotypes as a continuing concern: Jews as more loyal to Israel and Jewish interests than the interests of their country of residence; and Jews as having inordinate influence and control over media, the economy or government. For example, according to ADL surveys, substantial percentages of Europeans believe that Jews have too much power in business and in international financial markets. (The percentages range from around 20% in Germany to 60% in Hungary.)
Similarly, ADL surveys indicate that beliefs that Jews are disloyal are common among Europeans, ranging from 39% in France to 60% in Spain. The report notes that “those who believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country tend to believe that Jew-ish lobbying groups and individual Jews in influential positions in national governments seek to bend policy toward Israel’s interests.”
In other words, these anti-Semites are living under the illusion that organizations like AIPAC actually have some influence. And they may even believe that highly placed Jews like Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams and Richard Perle may have steered U.S. policy in a way that benefited Israel to the detriment of the United States.
As I noted in my review of Mearsheimer and Walt, Pro-Israel activists such as Perle typically phrase their policy recommendations as aimed at benefiting the United States. Perle does this despite evidence that he has a strong Jewish identity and despite the fact that he has typical Jewish concerns, such as anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the welfare of Israel. Perle poses as an American patriot despite credible charges of spying for Israel, writing reports for Israeli think tanks and op-eds for the Jerusalem Post, and maintaining close personal relation-ships with Israeli leaders.
Needless to say, the GASR is not a good place to find nuanced or fair treatments of these issues.
The GASR also has a section deploring ethnic nationalist movements of non-Jews, mainly in Eastern Europe, complaining that these movements are commonly anti-Jewish. Typically the anti-Jewish sentiments of such movements stem from the perception that Jews are an elite with considerable power and that this elite opposes the ethno-nationalism of non-Jews-a view that certainly has some basis in reality. (Jewish opposition to ethno-nationalism is restricted to non-Jews in areas where Jews form a Diaspora; it does not, of course, apply to Israel.)
For example, the GASR singles out Roman Catholic institutions as “encouraging anti-Semitism and ethnic and religious chauvinism.” Chief among the offenders is a conservative Catholic radio station in Poland, Radio Maryja, cited for claiming that “Jews were pushing the Polish government to pay exorbitant private property restitution claims [for Holocaust reparations], and that Poland’s President was `in the pocket of the Jewish lobby.'”
This seems odd, since it would hardly be surprising if indeed Jews and Jewish organizations were pressuring the Polish government on this issue. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein points out:
In negotiations with Eastern Europe, Jewish organizations and Israel have demanded the full restitution of or monetary compensation for the pre-war communal and private assets of the Jewish community. Consider Poland. The pre-war Jewish population of Poland stood at 3.5 million; the current population is several thousand. Yet, the World Jewish Restitution Organization demands title over the 6,000 pre-war communal Jewish properties, including those currently being used as hospitals and schools. It is also laying claim to hundreds of thousands of parcels of Polish land valued in the many tens of billions of dollars. Once again the entire US political and legal establishment has been mobilized to achieve these ends. Indeed, New York City Council members unanimously supported a resolution calling on Poland ‘to pass comprehensive legislation providing for the complete restitution of Holocaust assets’, while 57 members of Congress (led by Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York) dispatched a letter to the Polish parliament demanding ‘comprehensive legislation that would return 100% of all property and assets seized during the Holocaust’.
No sign of Jewish involvement there. Clearly, Radio Marija is way out of line.
Incidentally, Finkelstein has paid dearly for offending the Israel Lobby: blacklisted from employment in the academic world, deported and barred from Israel, and living in a rent-stabilized apartment near his boyhood home in Brooklyn. The Lobby clearly believes in free speech so long as it’s in done in one’s closet and assuming the neighbors can’t hear it. (More on this below.)
Also related to Poland, the GASR notes that Maciej Giertych, European Parlia-ment Deputy and former head of the Political Party League of Polish Families, wrote a booklet “suggesting that Jews were unethical and a `tragic community’ because they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah.” The report also deplored the ADL’s finding that 39% of Polish respondents agreed that “Jews are responsible for the death of Christ.”
This is truly amazing. Here we have an official U.S. government report condemning a Polish politician and a large percentage of the Polish people for expressing religious ideas that date from the origins of the Church in antiquity. It’s very reminiscent of the situation in Canada where the Christian Heritage Party has been charged with promoting hatred because they published material opposing homosexuality for religious reasons stemming from their reading of the Bible.
Incidentally, the GASR complains that Giertych also claimed that “Jews `create their own ghettos’ because they like to separate themselves from others.” Residential segregation, of course, was standard Jewish behavior in the Diaspora beginning in the ancient world, and it certainly occurred in Poland well into modern times. Indeed, it continues in many areas of the Diaspora today. But, as with thought crimes generally, truth is no defense.
The GASR coyly states that “While the report describes many measures that foreign governments have adopted to combat anti-Sem-itism, it does not endorse any such measures that prohibit conduct that would be protected under the U.S. Constitution.”
Nevertheless, the act requires the compilation of material that would presumably be protected by the US Constitution, in particular “instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred against Jewish people.” When one considers that a great many of the attitudes mentioned in the GASR are either substantially factual or reflect common religious beliefs, they would certainly seem to fall within the protections of the First Amendment.
And it’s pretty clear where its heart lies. Indeed, as Ezra Levant has recently described, Jewish organizations and activists have been a major source of support for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, intervening in dozens of cases in favor of plaintiffs.
Levant describes the Simon Weisenthal Center as “one of the most vicious interveners in Canadian Human Rights Commission censorship trials.” And Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress stated recently that “our anti-hate laws are probably the most underused.” Levant comments: “That sounds like Ian Fine, senior counsel for the CHRC, who declared that `there can’t be enough laws against hate.’ So while the rest of the country is realizing that our government censorship has gone too far, Farber says it goes nowhere far enough; it’s underused. He wants more censorship, more government intervention into thoughts and ideas – and the emotion called `hate’.”
Clearly, the office of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is nothing if not a Jewish activist organization. And it doubtless would love to institute the same kinds of thought control in the U.S. that have made Canada into a police state. Indeed, it would be entirely within the letter of the law that created this monster if the United States were to declare war on Poland as a means of combating anti-Semitism. At least it won’t be necessary to invade Canada.
Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University­Long Beach.

Mubarak Thinks Kissing Israel’s Ass More Important Than Food For Gaza

Cairo against Iran aid delivery to Gaza
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 15:33:40 GMT

Egypt has officially refused to give an Iranian aid ship permission to dock at Al-Areesh port.

Cairo has officially refused to give an Iranian relief ship permission to unload Gaza-bound humanitarian aid at an Egyptian seaport.

After weeks of stalling the Iranian aid ship Shahed some 25 km (15 miles) off the coast of Gaza, the Egyptian government expressed opposition to the emergency delivery through the Al-Areesh port, an informed source said Wednesday.

The move dealt a blow to efforts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) aimed at channeling desperately-needed aid to Gazans, added the source who requested anonymity.

“The Immoral opposition of Egypt to aid transits is clearly a sign of cooperation with Israel and its policy of choking off humanitarian deliveries to Gazans,” he added.

Following the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, the Islamic Republic loaded a ship with 2,000 tons of medical and food supplies to help allay the humanitarian crisis brought about by the intense fighting.

The vessel, however, was intercepted by Israeli naval forces on January 14 and consequently opted to deliver the cargo through Egypt, the only state that shares a border with the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian authorities issued permits for the aid’s dispatch via the Al-Areesh port – some 50km (30 miles) off the coastal strip – but later backtracked on their promises.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday, the chief of operations of the Iranian Red Crescent, Morteza Shadbakht, said that the Iranian relief society was working hard to secure the delivery.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the head of the Egyptian interests section in Tehran, Amre al- Zayat, on Tuesday to expound on why the ship has not been permitted to dock.

The United Nations, concerned about the deepening humanitarian impact of the war, says there is an urgent need for emergency shipment as Tel Aviv’s repeated interception of Gaza-bound stockpiles of food, fuel and medicine has strangled humanitarian efforts for the besieged Palestinians.

Hamas officials have started paying compensation to the Gazan families who have lost their home in Israel’s three-week-long incursion into the Palestinian territory.

“We try to keep thing even between all people therefore we deliver to every family that lost their home 5000 dollars and every family that has a house which is not inhabitable 2500,” said Hamas welfare minister Ahmed al-Kurd.

An estimated 60,800 people are left homeless and more than 100,000 people remain displaced in the coastal sliver. Running water and electricity are reportedly available less than 12 hours a day. “Entire neighborhoods have disappeared,” the BBC reported.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that more than 4,100 homes have been reduced to rubble and 17,000 others damaged.

Netanyahu Gleefully Predicts Al-CIAda Will Attack Holy Sepulchre

Bibi: Qaeda to blow up holiest Christian site
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 19:34:01 GMT

Benjamin Netanyahu, the favorite to win the upcoming Israeli election, says al Qaeda terrorists will destroy Jesus Christ’s burial site.

Netanyahu, who claims he had predicted an Islamic extremists attack on the World Trade Center six years before the actual attack, said terrorists will target Church of the Holy Sepulchre also known as the Church of the Resurrection – Christianity’s holiest site.

The church located in Jerusalem (al-Quds) — which Christians believe is the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year and is considered a spiritual focal point.

“Radical Islam is willing and will want to attack the symbolic heart of the Christian religion,” said the former Israeli prime minister.

“This will incur a chain reaction we can’t even envision. We will witness an escalation of religious conflict above and beyond the regional conflict we have now,” Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The Right-wing Likud leader said he had warned in a 1995 book — six years before the September 11 attacks — that “Islamist terrorists” would detonate a nuclear device in the World Trade Centre in New York.

Life after the apocalypse

Life after the apocalypse

Tanya Gold

What if the doomsayers are right … what if society, as we know it, really is about to collapse? Do you have what it takes to make it in a world without electricity and running water? Tanya Gold offers an essential survival guide

I am standing in a wood with a tall man and a dead pheasant. There is blood everywhere: on my shoes, my hands, my face. Why am I here? Because the man – his name is Leon Durbin – is preparing me for the apocalypse, now.

What would happen if you awoke one morning and everyone was dead? Or if, less melodramatically, the world as we know it – and our teetering financial systems – ceased to function? What if you awoke to find your bubble-wrapped, gilded life was over, and for good? Could you survive? Could I?

I am an urban girl. I have no skills except whingeing and bingeing. I can barely open a packet of Hobnobs without an explosive device. But, unlike you, doomed and dying reader, I have decided to prepare for The End, and I am prepared to share the life-saving knowledge I will accrue. This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the apocalypse. Put it in a drawer. One day you may need it.

So you wake up; everyone is dead. For the purpose of this exercise, imagine it’s like Survivors, the cheap BBC rendition of the apocalypse, where a plague wipes out humanity and then everyone is mildly annoyed that the trains are delayed. We could imagine total financial or ecological collapse leading to the failure of social structures, but let’s say it’s a plague. So, how long can you stay in your house?

The answer is: not long. According to the people at the National Grid, the electricity will stop. So will the water. These systems have buttons. Buttons need fingers. Fingers need people who are alive. You have a day, maybe two, of electricity. Then you will be in darkness, with no way of washing your face.

What should you do? You can steal food from supermarkets but the rotting corpses on the floor of Sainsbury’s will be fetid fonts of infection. And if you try to sit out the plague in your home, you could burn or drown. After a lightning strike, fires will begin and they will not stop. And if you live in London, the Thames barrier will fail without electricity and the low-lying areas of the city will flood.

So you have to leave. But where do you go? The apocalyptic norm – see 28 Days Later and Survivors – is for survivors to sit in desirable country mansions, eat tinned tomatoes, develop post-traumatic psychosis and shoot each other. Never in any apocalyptic scenario in any movie I have seen – and I have seen them all – does anyone try to live off the land. They prefer to feed on the crumbs of the lost civilisation. It never works. How can you rebuild civilisation with tinned tomatoes? You need to grow your own food.

But where? I choose Devon. It is warm and wet and fertile, and I have been happy there. There are cows. This is where I would live off the land, but I need to learn how. This thinking has led me to Durbin and the dead bird.

Durbin is tall and tweedy. He is the sort of man who keeps firewood kindling in his pocket, just in case. He owns Wildwood Bushcraft, a company that explains how to survive if you are dropped into the wilderness with no supplies, no warning and no clue.

Durbin leads me through the spindly, sleeping trees, pointing out different kinds of branch and bush, and their uses. According to him, the wood is a shop that will give you everything you need. “Willow bark can be boiled to relieve a headache,” he says. “Yew is for making long bows. Oak is for shelters. Ash is for tool handles. Have you ever had a beech-leaf sandwich?” I don’t bother replying.

To be competent in bushcraft, you have to be well equipped: before you leave the city, stop for a saw, chisel, spade, axe and hunting knife. Durbin has them all. They poke out of his rucksack in a manly fashion.

We arrive at a clearing and Durbin demonstrates how to light a fire. He places a small block of wood on the ground and puts a wooden stake on it, point down. He takes a bow, made of wood and string, places it round the stake and, when he moves the bow in a sideways motion, the stake rotates very fast. Its friction with the block of wood magically creates a pile of super-hot matter. It can ignite dry hay or bark. This creates a conflagration that can light a fire.

How will I get water? Durbin runs bushcraft weekends for angry executives here, so he knows where it is. “Water,” I cry, lunging at a small stream. “Careful,” says Durbin. “We have to filter the water with a sock full of sand. Then we have to bring it to a rolling boil.” Why a sock? He ignores me.

Food is harder. It is winter and the countryside is closed for repairs. My two main vegetarian foods, Durbin explains, will be burdock root and hazelnut. Both are high-energy. You can make chips out of burdock and you can boil, mash and dry hazelnut to produce a repulsive kind of biscuit. Durbin picks up a spade and starts digging for burdock. He finds some, but it’s rotten. “Winter,” he sighs. “Hmmm.”

So, with a fiendish flourish, I produce a dead pheasant from my handbag. I had spent the day before negotiating with the Guardian as to the legal and moral implications of murdering a rabbit for the purposes of this article. Finally we had compromised, and I had gone to a posh butcher’s in Mayfair and bought this beautiful pheasant for £3.50. Durbin looks impressed. “You have to pull off its head,” he says. “Just twist it.”

I close my eyes and twist. The head comes off easily; it feels like wringing out a slightly damp scarf. Then Durbin makes a hole in the pheasant’s bottom and I stick my hand up and clutch everything inside. Out comes a squelchy mass of once-living flesh. Durbin grabs the heart and cuts it open. “Very nutritious,” he says. I am slightly sick in my mouth. I pluck, and soon I have a pile of bloodstained feathers – and a nude bird. Durbin sticks it on a spit over the fire. When it is cooked, we eat it. It tastes slightly of excrement but I still feel strangely empowered. It was much easier than I thought it would be, to rip this bird apart.

I now have bloodlust. I ask Durbin how to trap animals. I could theoretically shoot them, but trapping is more suitable for the lazy or incompetent survivor. He looks slightly nervous. “It’s illegal,” he says slowly. But I prod and he tells me about different types of trap. I could try the pit trap, he says, where you dig a hole in the forest floor, line it with sharpened stakes and camouflage it. It is for large animals – deer, wild boar, parents, other journalists. There is also the deadfall trap, which is for small animals. They saunter over a trigger mechanism, and a lump of wood falls on their head. Bon appetit and ha ha.

But what would I eat if I couldn’t trap? “Bugs,” says Durbin happily. “Worms.” There are 40 calories in a worm, apparently; this is the equivalent of two Maltesers. “Or snails,” he adds. “But quarantine the snail for three days before you eat it. It may have eaten poisonous plants, and you will have to wait until it expels them.”

Now you need shelter. If I had the choice, I would probably look for a small stone cottage – hardy and easy to maintain – but if I am foraging, I have to go to where the food is. So Durbin shows me how to make a survival shelter. He hurls logs up against a tree trunk, and covers them with a foot of leaves and bracken and mud. “It is waterproof,” he says. I climb in and lie down. It is a hole that only a troll could love. But there they are, the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire and shelter.

The next day, I go to Pullabrook Wood in Devon to practise my skills. It was easy to survive yesterday, with Durbin standing by. Can I cope alone? Pullabrook is a lovely wood, administered by the Woodland Trust. It is full of happy Tories and happy Labradors. But now I have my own mini-apocalypse. I fail at bow drilling. I find a stream, but a happy Tory says the water is poisonous, even if filtered by sock. Why? “Because sheep droppings have contaminated it,” he says. Death by Sheep is only slightly behind Death by Snail in the encyclopaedia of embarrassing ways to die.

The first shelter I build is too small for me to enter. My second shelter collapses. I decide to abandon bushcraft. I will try my hand at farming. Woman cannot live on worm alone.

So, a few days later, I am standing inside an Iron Age roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. Butser is a project that re-enacts Iron Age life. The roundhouse is huge and round and dim. I feel a bit as if I am standing inside a giant breast. Steve Dyer is the archaeological director. He is tall and red-faced, with a frizzy white beard.

“Roundhouses are easy to make,” he says, waving his arms. He points out two animal skulls, tied to the entrance posts. Is that a cow’s skull? Dyer grimaces politely. “It’s a horse,” he says, before proceeding to tell me how to make a roundhouse.

The ingredients are: 27 large oak trees, 60 small oak trees, 100 hazel trees, 100 ash trees, wheat straw for thatching, and animal hair, clay, manure, soil and water for the walls.

You will also need animals. Dyer escorts me to his pigpen to meet two nameless pigs. To domesticate animals, he says, you just have to enclose them in smaller and smaller areas. Provide them with what they need – food, water and attention – and they will obey you. You can then eat them, and peel them, and tan their hides for soft furnishings. But beware of sheep, he says, waving a bright red finger. “I know this guy called Si,” he says. “He approached a frisky ram. It jumped up and broke his nose.” I am back at Death by Sheep.

I telephone the psychologist Cecelia De Felice. I want to know if I will go insane in my new one-woman world, especially when faced with tasks such as chopping down 27 large oaks. “You will be in a state of trauma,” she agrees. “You will quickly become lonely and paranoid. It is possible you will have a breakdown.” And if I meet other survivors? Be cautious, she advises. “They too will be lonely and paranoid. Of course you are stronger in a group. But you do not know whether they will help you or just steal your resources. Trust no one.”

I am (vaguely) confident I will not starve. But there is one other thing I am sweating over: nuclear power stations. Professor Alan Weisman wrote The World Without Us, a description of what he believes would happen to Earth if we all vanished. I call him. He says I am right to worry. Why? Because most nuclear plants are water-cooled. Water, he explains, in a dry, calm voice, needs to circulate around the reactors, or they will explode. If there were no humans to operate it, the plant would shut down automatically, and the water would be cooled with diesel fuel. For about a week. Then the heat from the reactor would evaporate and expose the core. “It will either melt down or burst into very radioactive flames,” he says. So what would you do, Professor Weisman? “I would probably go to Canada,” he says. “There aren’t many nuclear power stations in Canada.”

So, it comes to this. No matter how hard you try, Britain will probably become a nuclear wasteland. The snails that are your lunch will either die, or look very weird. So, again, what to do? My considered advice is this. You, Guardian reader, need to begin building a boat – a sailing ship, actually – to take you to – yes, Canada. Before you leave the city you should pause at a library and steal the entire boat-making and maintenance shelf. Canada may be your only hope of salvation. And that is as fitting an obituary for our civilisation as I can type. In The End, it turns out you don’t just have to be the heroine of Survivors. You need to bloody well be Noah too.

Happy apocalypse.

It’s not all bad: Fun things you could do after the apocalypse

• Pop into the National Gallery and take Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man off the wall. (If you have no taste, take a Renoir.) The Van Eyck is hanging in the Sainsbury Wing. If you want to preserve it properly, Thomas Almeroth-Williams of the National Gallery suggests you store it in a slate mine, where the temperature and humidity levels are perfect for its conservation.

• Go to the British Library and help yourself to one of its two copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. One is in a box in a strong room under the library floor; the other is in a glass case in the Treasure Room. If you want to preserve it properly, Helen Shenton of the British Library suggests you store it in a cool, dark place, and watch it carefully for infestations by animals or fungi. Dust regularly.

• Steal the crown jewels. If you can. “There are contingency plans in place in event of a power failure,” says a Royal Palaces spokesperson, “so the crown jewels should remain safe.” Really? To preserve them properly, do nothing. A diamond is for ever.

• Invade the News of the World – it’s in Wapping – and read all its secret files. Then break into M15. It’s on Millbank. Read all its secret files too. Oh, no! She was murdered! I knew it!

• Go and stand on the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Skip over the bodies of the dead actors. Re-enact the whole of Oliver!

The vital skills you will need

How to make bread

I type this in full because I want bread at The End, and I want you to have it too (should you survive). So, clear the land, turn the soil over to create furrows, take seed from any wheat growing wild, sow it 20cm apart and kick the soil over. Make sure that the birds don’t eat the seed.

Stop browsing animals by hedging the field off and root out weeds. When the corn is ripe, thresh it by hitting it with a stick and mill it by rubbing it between large stones. Add the flour to water to make dough. Stick it in a pan on the fire. Result? Wholemeal flatbread!

How to make sanitary products and toilet paper

Find some sphagnum moss and use that. It is very spongy and it contains iodine, so it is slightly antiseptic.

How to eat snails

Always, always quarantine snails before eating them. Take the snail and put it where there is nothing for it to eat. Ignore its cries of hunger, leave for three days and then consume.

How to purify water

Collect the water from the purest source available, ideally a spring, minimising sediment and avoiding chemical contamination. Filter it through a sock full of sand. Sterilise the water by bringing it to a rolling boil for a few seconds.

How to clay bake a fish

Wrap the fish in large leaves, tying up the parcel with nettle stalk. Dig for clay in the earth. After combining the clay with water, cover the fish with a centimetre of clay, leaving no cracks. Scrape a shallow pit in the centre of the fire and lay the fish in it. Cover the fish with embers. After an hour, remove the fish and crack the outer shell open. The fish should be perfectly cooked.

How to remove the skin from a cow

You can kill a cow by strangulation apparently, although I have never met anyone who has done it. Or you can cut its throat, or spear it through the heart. Split the cow along its belly from the groin to the throat. Remove the internal organs. Hang the cow up by its hooves for several days to let the blood run out. Cows are heavy, so do not attempt to do this alone. To take the skin off, slide a blade or a sharp stone between the skin and the flesh. Once you have inserted the tool a little way, you can just peel the skin off.

How to shoot a deer with a bow and arrow

Deer are sensitive to human noise and smell. If you stomp through the wood with a bow and arrow you will never find one. Find out where the deer are going to be – they often walk the same way to the same place. Camouflage your scent, be quiet and do not move. When you see a deer, shoot it from 20m away. You ideally need a kill shot, eg in a lung. You don’t want to hit it in the bottom, because it will run off and you won’t get your dinner. TG

• Sources: Leon Durbin (Wildwood Bushcraft), Steve Dyer (Butser Ancient Farm) and Ben Jones (Merlin Archery Centre).

Israeli War Criminals in Jenin & Lebanon

The right place for the war criminals is jail. Leaving war criminals free is a big threat against the  security of the international society, and they are a grave danger to their own societies. The International lebanon_aCriminal Court was established to deal with exactly these criminals. Let us work together to bring these criminals to justice. Let us work together to push the International Criminal Court to fulfill it’s duties and to play an active roll in ridding the planet of this grave kind of criminality.

Here are some more names of Israeli soldiers who participated in war crimes during “Operation Defensive Shield”  from April 3 to 21 of 2002 in Jenin. The former OC Central Command, Maj-Gen. Yitzhak Eitan gave awards to these criminals for their war crimes and crimes against humanity in Jenin, which left large sectors of the Palestinian population of that city homeless, and where about 500 were massacred by the IOF. These Israeli war criminals received an appreciation medal from their regional commander for the crimes which they committed.
Colonel Fuad Halhal, the IOF officer in Jenin during during “Operation Defensive Shield”, a former Military officer in Hebron, a druze.

Fuad HalhalMaj. (res.) Baram Segev.

Senior Warrant Officer Richard Awizrat.

Capt. Tomer Tsiter

Sgt. Shenior Alfassi

Sgt. Ron Margalit

Maj. Nimrod Aloni

Capt. Alon Madanes

Capt. Ron Vardi

Capt. Kfir Cohen

Capt. Ofir Levy

Anyone having additional information about these individuals, please email me.

Here are some names of Israeli war criminals who participated in the Major General Yishai Barso-called “second war” against Lebanon in 2006. These criminals were awarded for their crimes by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and Maj.-Gen. Yishai Beer, the former President of the Court of Appeals of the Israeli Forces and now a lecturer at Hebrew University in the occupied Jerusalem.

Col. Miki Edelstein Nahal Brigade Commander.

Yehuda David from Nahal Brigade’s Battalion 931, he also participated in “Operation Defensive Shield” in Nablus in 2002.

Lt. Erez Ramati, Nahal Battalion 931. Ramati, 31, from Kochav Yair, is still the doctor of Battalion 931.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hibner, Nahal Battalion 931, death squad unit.

Staff Sgt. Amichai Avraham, a combat soldier from the elite Egoz unit

Staff Sgt. Steven Friedland, born in Houston, Texas, made aliyah to Jerusalem staff-sgt-steven-friedlandwith his family in 1995. He participated in the second war against Lebanon in 2006 and he received an award “citation of valor” as a recognition for his service in the Second Lebanon War crimes.
Friedland completed his military service in the IOF in October 2007 serving as a commander and teacher for the Intelligence unit. Currently, he is in Melbourne, Australia working for the Masorti (conservative) movement.

Maj. Ro’i Klein.

Sgt. Avichai Yaakov.

Capt. Hanoch Daube.

sergeant-yoni-binyamin-asraf_aLt. Anton Syomin.

Sergeant Yoni Binyamin Asraf, served as a gunner in the reconnaissance battalion of the Paratroop Brigade during the war in Lebanon.

Sergeant (res.) Rotmensch, 23, is from Beit Aryeh.

Sergeant (res.) Eliran Iluz, 24, is a resident of Even Yehuda.

The Israeli Death Squad war criminals
Nitai Okshi, a company commander who murdered several Palestinians at the Israeli concentration camp checkpoints surrounding Gaza

Major General David Ben-Ba’shat, Israeli Navy Head of Public Relations, department of the IDF Spokesman

Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter (or Winter), is the commander of the lt-erez-ramatireconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade, which has been at the forefront of the IOF offensive activity in the Gaza Strip in the past few years.  Winter is a war criminal who operated in Gaza in 2004. He headed the worst of Operation Orange Iron in the Al Namsawi neighborhood in Khan Youniss were a quarter of a million citizens suffered from electricity and water shortages. Four bulldozers razed houses and shelters in the camp, forcing several families to gather near the hospital. In December 18, 2004, the forces of Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter and tanks supported by helicopter gunships rolled into Khan Yunis refugee camp and israeli-lebanon_second_warkilled six Palestinians. Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter and his troops also participated in operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The war criminal commander Ofer Vinter also participated in dozens of infiltration operations to murder civilians on Palestinian territory. Winter is a illegal colonist who studied at the  academy which was established in the illegal colony of Eli in the northern West Bank at the end of the 1980s. Winter is suspected to be a German citizen.

If you have any more information about these individuals, or about others involved in any way in perpetrating grave crimes against Palestinians, please Email me.

The Illustrated Manual for Police Brutality

The Illustrated Manual for Police Brutality

The New York Times is not usually a favorite of those of us who are, well, addicted to the news.

But there is always something to be thankful for, everyday. Like this picture which the paper used today:

It was taken by Sebastain Scheiner of the AP and is used here in an illustrative purpose.

It displays “Lesson #53” in the (fictitious) Police Manual for Methods of Applying Brutality.

Lesson #53 reads: “while your colleague(s) subdue a protestor, raise your right arm to his/her head level, take a step forward with your left foot, pretend to accidentally stumble, thus causing you to take a brisk and firm step forward with your right foot, thus causing your upraised right elbow to effectively smash into the protestors face. With any luck, you can even break his/her nose or at the very least, his/her glasses”.

Other lessons:

#42 – When gently leading a protestor away, hold his/her hand in both of your and firmly press the his/her fingers together. With luck, you may crush a digit.

Like this:

and Lesson #77 – When carrying a demonstrator away, especially female, have two officers grab one leg each and then slowly separate as walking away.

Like this:

I found another legs version here:

And Maneuver #28, Twist Arm While Pressing Out Elbow here:-

Welcome to the Israeli Police, those guardians of civil rights and liberties.

You Thought Olmert Was a Maniac, Netanyahu Says Saving Israel More Important Than Saving World

Bibi: Iran threat trumps economic crisis

Keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons ranks above the economy in the challenges facing leaders in the 21st century, Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu told the World Economic Forum on Thursday.

Likud leader Binyamin...

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.
Photo: AP

Netanyahu said the global financial meltdown was reversible but the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a “fanatic radical regime” was not. “We have never had, since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons in the hands of such a fanatical regime,” he added.

Pro-Israel media: Bloggers join media war

Pro-Israel media: Bloggers join media war

Some 1,000 new immigrants and foreign-language-speaking Jews volunteer to army of bloggers set up by Absorption Ministry and Foreign Ministry with the stated objective of flooding blogs with pro-Israel opinions

Itamar Eichner

Arye Sharuz-Shalicar, 31, whose parents emigrated from Iran to Germany, is a one-man PR show. He speaks Persian, German, English, French, and Spanish and can also get by in Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and Italian.

Sharuz-Shalicar is one of the front-line soldiers in the Ministry of Absorption’s new “army of bloggers” that was recently established in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry’s public relations department following Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The Absorption Ministry is recruiting new immigrants and Jews living abroad who have access to a computer and who speak a second language to a volunteer effort to improve public relations for Israel on the internet. The campaign was launched last week.

In the cross hairs are problematic blogs, talkbacks, online social networks, online polls, Youtube videos, and more.

The ministry was amazed by the massive response to the effort. More than 1,000 interested applicants contacted them, of which 350 are Russian speakers, 250 English speakers, 150 Spanish speakers, 100 French speakers, and 50 German speakers.

A range of other European languages are also represented among the volunteers: Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Greek, Bulgarian, and Danish. Persian-, Turkish-, and Arabic-speaking Jews also offered their services. The ministry even got an application from a Chinese speaker.

Some 60% of the applicants are immigrants, old and new. The rest are Jews living in the Diaspora, Israelis living abroad, and even non-Jews who support Israel and want to help out.

The Absorption Ministry forwarded the volunteers’ details to the Foreign Ministry, which briefed them via email and provided up-to-date material on the situation, including video clips that could help them in the field.

While the Absorption Ministry is tasked with recruitment, the Foreign Ministry will be responsible for directing the volunteers online. Each time the ministry identifies an anti-Israel trend on a foreign-language blog, news site, or other website, it will immediately put out a message to the volunteers to flood the site with pro-Israel opinions.

Absorption Ministry Director-General Erez Halfon commented, “This provides an important opportunity for new immigrants, who have always been a strong Zionist nucleus, to feel like they are contributing to improving Israel’s image in the world. The foreign-language-speaking immigrants are a real asset, and it is important to take advantage of this. From our perspective, it was like an emergency call up, and I am thrilled that the response was so great.”

Noam Katz, director of the Foreign Ministry’s PR department, said, “We are in the process of thinking how to utilize these volunteers not only during conflict, but also during regular times as well.”

Miriam Schatzberger, 25, a new immigrant from Germany, joined the ranks of the ministry’s volunteers.

Schatzberger said, “I surf the German websites, and I was shocked by the anti-Israel reports. It is really smart to go on these blogs, to introduce myself as an Israeli and just to talk to them in order to try and balance out the picture.”

Doctors Spooked by Israel’s Mystery Weapon

A Palestinian woman with severe facial injuries from a Dime bomb

Doctors Spooked by Israel’s Mystery Weapon

By David Hambling

Critics continue to press the case that Israel committed “war crimes” in its war with Hamas, because of the civilian casualties in Gaza. Ironically, many of these wounds may have been caused by a weapon designed to reduce collateral damage. Not that the Israelis admit they have the thing.

We first reported on Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) munitions in 2006. The weapons originated as an offshoot of a bunker-busting program, when it was found that adding tungsten powder to explosives seemed to increase the blast effect over a small area. The powder was acting as micro-shrapnel which only carries for a few feet (compared to hundreds of feet for larger fragments), so the result was dubbed the “focused lethality munition” (FLM) which does massive damage in a small area and nothing outside.

There are a large number of reports from Gaza that suggest this type of weapon has been used, and, unfortunately, caused civilian deaths. There are reports and pictures of victims peppered with small particles, and descriptions which are consistent with very localized blast.

During Noah’s trip to Israel, he saw drone footage of an extremely small weapon hitting a car. When it struck — on a road, cutting through a Gaza cemetery — the car didn’t go up in a ball of flames. Its roof caved in, with a puff of smoke. The back doors were blown out; the front doors stayed shut.

Erik Fosse, a Norwegian doctor working in Gaza says that the weapon “causes the tissue to be torn from the flesh. It looks very different [from a shrapnel injury]. I have seen and treated a lot of different injuries for the last 30 years in different war zones, and this looks completely different.”

According to Fosse and his colleague Mads Gilbert, the weapon typically amputates or tears apart lower limbs and patients often do not survive.  It’s no more illegal than normal blast-and-shrapnel weapons, but it is a mystery.

The only known focused-lethality munition is a version of the GBU-40 Small Diameter Bomb. The weapon has been sold to Israel; Danger Room reported last month that the Israeli Defense Forces were using it in Gaza. But there are two problems. First, the Israelis seem to have bought the original version, not the FLM. And secondly, as Ares reported, Boeing has stated that it has not made any deliveries of the weapon to Tel Aviv, yet.

Ares speculated that the IDF is using weapons supplied by the U.S. Air Force; a spokesman told the site that “we cannot release sensitive information on foreign military sales.”

However, Fosse told Britain’s Independent newspaper, “all the patients I saw had been hit by bombs fired from unmanned drones. The bomb hit the ground near them and exploded.”

It’s just possible that Israel is dropping Small Diameter Bombs from drones, but far more likely that this is a small missile with a DIME warhead. Channel 4 News recently aired footage of Human Rights Watch’s Marc Garlasco investigating the site of a number of DIME strikes in Gaza. The damage was very localized — confined to one room in one case  — suggesting a much smaller weapon.

It is highly likely that Israel has developed its own version of DIME. In the United States, DIME is also being used for active defense systems to shoot down rocket-propelled grenades and other incoming threats. Because it does not throw shrapnel to any distance, it’s much safer than traditional warheads. The Israeli “Iron Fist” interceptor unveiled in 2006 is a similar concept, with small radar-guided projectiles. “Iron Fist uses only the blast effect to defeat the threat, crushing the soft components of a shaped charge or deflecting and destabilizing the missile or kinetic rod in their flight,” according to Defense Update. This suggests DIME technology.

One of the often-quoted concerns about DIME — which I mentioned two years back — is the potential for tungsten particles to cause cancer. But it’s quite possible that the Israeli version is not based on tungsten, and we will not know until there is chemical analysis. (Just a guess, but something called Iron Fist might well use iron or steel particles).

But why is such a precise weapon, intended to avoid the risk of collateral damage, causing civilian casualties at all? It takes tactics and procedures, as well as technology. I can only quote Marc Garlasco’s original comment to me in 2006:

“It is unfortunate that these weapons are being developed specifically for use in densely populated areas which may negate the intended effect.”

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

By Alastair Macdonald

GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Whole streets lie in ruins, many thousands of Palestinians are homeless after weeks of Israeli bombing and foreign aid cash is piling up. As a builder in the Gaza Strip, this should be Anwar al-Sahabani’s big moment.

Instead, though, he sits at home, angry and sad, not just at the wounds he suffered on the first day of bombardment, but with frustration at being denied the basic supplies he needs to start rebuilding. Israel will not let in cement, steel pipes and other materials it says its Hamas enemies might use to make war.

“The fighting stopped over a week ago but people are still sleeping in the open air,” said Sahabani, whose firm employs up to 100 craftsmen and labourers when working at full capacity.

“We should have started reconstruction the day the war ended. But we have no supplies.” His men, like him, sit idle, he said: “I am sad and angry and I feel a pain beyond words.”

Along the 45 km (30-mile) strip of Mediterranean coastline, half-finished construction sites stand silent, and, amid the ruins left by this month’s violence, families are building makeshift wood-and-plastic shelters to escape the cold.

“For two years now, we have not been able to build,” Sahabani said of an Israeli embargo going back to 2007. “God knows what will happen now to the people who lost their homes.”

Across town, Nabeel al-Zaeem, understands. His Palestinian Commercial Services Co. is Gaza’s top importer of cement.

Only these days, he has no cement.

“We need cement to rebuild the Gaza Strip, because of the Israeli offensive and the comprehensive destruction,” he said on a quiet morning this week at his office overlooking Gaza’s blockade-hit fishing port. “But we have no raw materials.”

He was able to import only a fraction of what he needed since June 2007, when Hamas, victors in a 2006 parliamentary election, seized full control in the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Peter Lerner, a Defence Ministry official dealing with trade for Gaza, said Israel was helping international aid agencies in their efforts to move in the food and other vital supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans, most of whom are refugees, from families that fled or were driven from what is now Israel in 1948.

But until Israel was satisfied that cement would not be used by Hamas for fortifications and that steel pipes would be used only for plumbing and not to build improvised rockets for firing at Israeli towns, the embargo on construction material remained:

“We are working together with the international community to assist those needs that are beyond the humanitarian issues, such as building and reconstruction,” Lerner said.

But he added: “We are not interested today in rebuilding Hamas, their bunkers. We are not interested in supplying them with pipes that will be used for rockets.”

Amid the shaky ceasefire that has followed an offensive intended to deter Hamas rocket fire, Israeli ministers have also said this week that supplies will not re-start until Hamas frees an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was taken captive in 2006.

But John Ging, who runs the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency operations supplying much of Gaza’s population with basic rations, schooling and other essentials, said getting building materials into the enclave must be a priority: “This is the number one issue,” he said. “We have to get the crossing points open now to get everything that is needed to rebuild Gaza.”

Cement importer Zaeem said that even if the blockade were lifted it would take years to bring in all that was needed: “We need now 8,000 tonnes a month,” he said. “And even at that rate we would need three years to repair the damage.”

In all last year, he said, about 20,000 tonnes came in, all from Israeli quarries — Gaza has no cement industry. A crossing from Egypt is also largely closed, in coordination with Israel, and smuggling tunnels that provide many of the goods in Gaza’s stores cannot supply large quantities of building materials.


The World Bank says projects worth $240 million were frozen due to the blockade after Hamas took over and 42,000 workers had been laid off: “All the construction projects …. have been halted (due) to the absence of construction materials,” it said.

Yet even before losing some 5,000 homes this month and sustaining damage worth up to $2 billion by international estimates, Gaza was in dire need of a construction boom. At its present growth rate, the population is doubling with every generation, creating an acute shortage of schools and housing.

“It is just not acceptable in the 21st century that 1.5 million people are imprisoned like this,” said Zaeem, dismissing Israel’s security concerns about uses of cement as a “pretext”.

U.N. officials have described Israel’s blockade as illegal “collective punishment” of civilians and some Israelis also criticise the policy for fueling Palestinian resentment against the Jewish state while failing to stop Hamas attacks.

“They must open the passages,” Zaeem added. “We hope to live as everybody all over the world.”

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s infrastructure minister, made clear this week, however, that the government, which faces an election battle against the right-wing opposition on Feb. 10, has no intention of opening up the crossings in a hurry.

“Let nobody delude themselves that we are going to open the crossings for anything but humanitarian essentials,” he said.

“They can say what they want … We don’t intend to open the crossings before Gilad Shalit comes home.”

In Gaza, construction contractor Sahabani retorts: “Israel is inventing pretexts. For now the pretext is Hamas. Before it was Yasser Arafat … It doesn’t seem to matter.”

Lamenting one particular project, for 200 apartments, which his firm has had to mothball for lack of supplies, Sahabani said: “We hope there can be a truce, so that we can live like other people … We can appeal only to God.”

Asked if he thought Hamas and Israel might be able to come to terms and break the political deadlock from which he and other Gazans are suffering, he confessed to little optimism: “We have had so many disappointments that we have almost lost hope.” (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

By Alastair Macdonald

GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Whole streets lie in ruins, many thousands of Palestinians are homeless after weeks of Israeli bombing and foreign aid cash is piling up. As a builder in the Gaza Strip, this should be Anwar al-Sahabani’s big moment.

Instead, though, he sits at home, angry and sad, not just at the wounds he suffered on the first day of bombardment, but with frustration at being denied the basic supplies he needs to start rebuilding. Israel will not let in cement, steel pipes and other materials it says its Hamas enemies might use to make war.

“The fighting stopped over a week ago but people are still sleeping in the open air,” said Sahabani, whose firm employs up to 100 craftsmen and labourers when working at full capacity.

“We should have started reconstruction the day the war ended. But we have no supplies.” His men, like him, sit idle, he said: “I am sad and angry and I feel a pain beyond words.”

Along the 45 km (30-mile) strip of Mediterranean coastline, half-finished construction sites stand silent, and, amid the ruins left by this month’s violence, families are building makeshift wood-and-plastic shelters to escape the cold.

“For two years now, we have not been able to build,” Sahabani said of an Israeli embargo going back to 2007. “God knows what will happen now to the people who lost their homes.”

Across town, Nabeel al-Zaeem, understands. His Palestinian Commercial Services Co. is Gaza’s top importer of cement.

Only these days, he has no cement.

“We need cement to rebuild the Gaza Strip, because of the Israeli offensive and the comprehensive destruction,” he said on a quiet morning this week at his office overlooking Gaza’s blockade-hit fishing port. “But we have no raw materials.”

He was able to import only a fraction of what he needed since June 2007, when Hamas, victors in a 2006 parliamentary election, seized full control in the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Peter Lerner, a Defence Ministry official dealing with trade for Gaza, said Israel was helping international aid agencies in their efforts to move in the food and other vital supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans, most of whom are refugees, from families that fled or were driven from what is now Israel in 1948.

But until Israel was satisfied that cement would not be used by Hamas for fortifications and that steel pipes would be used only for plumbing and not to build improvised rockets for firing at Israeli towns, the embargo on construction material remained:

“We are working together with the international community to assist those needs that are beyond the humanitarian issues, such as building and reconstruction,” Lerner said.

But he added: “We are not interested today in rebuilding Hamas, their bunkers. We are not interested in supplying them with pipes that will be used for rockets.”

Amid the shaky ceasefire that has followed an offensive intended to deter Hamas rocket fire, Israeli ministers have also said this week that supplies will not re-start until Hamas frees an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was taken captive in 2006.

But John Ging, who runs the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency operations supplying much of Gaza’s population with basic rations, schooling and other essentials, said getting building materials into the enclave must be a priority: “This is the number one issue,” he said. “We have to get the crossing points open now to get everything that is needed to rebuild Gaza.”

Cement importer Zaeem said that even if the blockade were lifted it would take years to bring in all that was needed: “We need now 8,000 tonnes a month,” he said. “And even at that rate we would need three years to repair the damage.”

In all last year, he said, about 20,000 tonnes came in, all from Israeli quarries — Gaza has no cement industry. A crossing from Egypt is also largely closed, in coordination with Israel, and smuggling tunnels that provide many of the goods in Gaza’s stores cannot supply large quantities of building materials.


The World Bank says projects worth $240 million were frozen due to the blockade after Hamas took over and 42,000 workers had been laid off: “All the construction projects …. have been halted (due) to the absence of construction materials,” it said.

Yet even before losing some 5,000 homes this month and sustaining damage worth up to $2 billion by international estimates, Gaza was in dire need of a construction boom. At its present growth rate, the population is doubling with every generation, creating an acute shortage of schools and housing.

“It is just not acceptable in the 21st century that 1.5 million people are imprisoned like this,” said Zaeem, dismissing Israel’s security concerns about uses of cement as a “pretext”.

U.N. officials have described Israel’s blockade as illegal “collective punishment” of civilians and some Israelis also criticise the policy for fueling Palestinian resentment against the Jewish state while failing to stop Hamas attacks.

“They must open the passages,” Zaeem added. “We hope to live as everybody all over the world.”

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s infrastructure minister, made clear this week, however, that the government, which faces an election battle against the right-wing opposition on Feb. 10, has no intention of opening up the crossings in a hurry.

“Let nobody delude themselves that we are going to open the crossings for anything but humanitarian essentials,” he said.

“They can say what they want … We don’t intend to open the crossings before Gilad Shalit comes home.”

In Gaza, construction contractor Sahabani retorts: “Israel is inventing pretexts. For now the pretext is Hamas. Before it was Yasser Arafat … It doesn’t seem to matter.”

Lamenting one particular project, for 200 apartments, which his firm has had to mothball for lack of supplies, Sahabani said: “We hope there can be a truce, so that we can live like other people … We can appeal only to God.”

Asked if he thought Hamas and Israel might be able to come to terms and break the political deadlock from which he and other Gazans are suffering, he confessed to little optimism: “We have had so many disappointments that we have almost lost hope.” (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Spanish court to probe Israeli officials for alleged ‘crimes against humanity’

AFPAlex Kolomoisky

Spanish court to probe Israeli officials for alleged ‘crimes against humanity’

Madrid Court grants motion by Palestinian group to probe several senior defense officials for their involvement in 2002 hit on Hamas operative Salah Shehade; which left 14 dead, 100 wounded. Defense minister calls announcement ‘delusional’, says he will do all in his power to have charges dropped

Roni Sofer and AFP

Latest Update: 01.29.09, 18:18 / Israel News
National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz may face criminal charges in Spain for killing Palestinian civilians seven years ago.

A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two be investigated for alleged “crimes against humanity” for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, former GOC Southern Command Doron Almog, former National Security Council Head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog have also been named as persons on interest in the case.

“Those who call the killing of terrorists ‘a crime against humanity’ are living in an upside-down world,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He called the Spanish announcement “delusional”.

“This decision is all the more outrageous when you consider Hamas’ true colors, being revealed once again these days to us and the world,” Barak added. He said he would do everything in his power to get the charges dropped.

“All senior officials belonging to the defense establishment, past and present, acted properly and in the name of the State of Israel, out of their commitment to protect the citizens of Israel,” he said.

According to a legal source in Madrid, Justice Fernando Andeo decided to grant the Palestinian petition “in the name of universal justice.”

Scene of Shehade assassination in 2002 (Photo: Reuters)

Andeo, a Audiencia Nacional de España (National Court of Spain) judge, is expected to inform both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities of his decision.

Shehade was the founder of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the organization’s military wing. He was arrested by Israel in the 1980s and later turned over to the Palestinian Authority’s custody. The latter set him free in early 2000.

Shehade was considered to be the mastermind behind hundreds of deadly terror attacks on Israel. He was targeted by the IAF on July 22, 2002.

Dan Haluzt, who was still the Israeli Air Force chief at the time, was later quoted as telling his pilots that they carried out the mission “perfectly.”

Shehade’s assassination also gave birth to one of his most infamous quotes, noted when he was asked about the collateral damage of the hit: “If you want to know how I feel when I release a bomb (off a fighter jet) – I feel nothing but a little thump on the side of the plane. It only lasts a second. ”

‘Jewish money’ controls U.S.: African diplomat


‘Jewish money’ controls U.S.: African diplomat

Johannesburg – South Africa’s deputy foreign minister has been taken before the national human rights body for allegedly saying that “Jewish money” controls the United States, officials said Thursday.

Fatima Hajaig allegedly told a political rally two weeks ago in Johannesburg that Jews “control America, no matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush.”

“Their control of America, just like the control of most western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money,” she allegedly said.

Outraged by the remarks, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies — a civil rights group — said it filed a complaint Wednesday against Hajaig at the human rights commission.

“We submitted yesterday our formal complaint on the minister’s outrageous statement to the South African Human Rights Commission,” the head of the group, Zev Krengel, told AFP.

“That minister’s statement is incorrect, inflammatory and outrageous. We feel in our young democracy and in the 21st century, we should learn to respect each other and refrain from such anti-Semitic statements,” Krengel said.

The rights commission’s spokesman Vincent Moaga confirmed that the body had received the complaint, but could not give a timeline for processing it.

Foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa declined to give details on the case, but told AFP that the South African government “has committed itself to fighting against all forms of racism, in all their ramifications, including anti-Semitism.”

Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row

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Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row

Turkey‘s prime minister has stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel’s president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed with Shimon Peres, whose voice had risen as he made an impassioned defence of Israel’s actions, jabbing his finger.

Mr Erdogan said Mr Peres had spoken so loudly to conceal his “guilt”.

He accused the moderator of not allowing him to speak and said he did not think he would return to Davos.

The Turkish PM stressed later that he had left the debate not because of his disagreements with Mr Peres but because he had been given much less time to speak than the Israeli leader.

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been under strain since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002.

Late on Thursday, a WEF official said that Mr Peres and Mr Erdogan had spoken by mobile telephone, and both men now considered the matter closed.

Dinner time

In the debate, Mr Erdogan was cut off as he attempted to reply to Mr Peres.

Palestinian children reportedly injured in an Israeli missile attack lie in hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, 29 January

Many of the casualties in Gaza have been children, doctors say

Earlier the Turkish Prime Minister had made an address himself, describing Gaza as an “open-air prison”.

When the audience applauded Mr Peres, he said: “I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. You killed people. And I think that it is very wrong.”

The moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, had given him a minute to reply, then asked him to finish, saying that people needed to go to dinner.

“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” Mr Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of Mr Peres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an elite audience of ministers and international officials.

Mr Peres had told the audience Israel was forced on to the offensive against Hamas by thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel.

“The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas,” the Israeli leader said.

“Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza.”

He argued that Mr Erdogan would have reacted in the same way if rockets had hit Istanbul.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed during the three-week conflict which began on 27 December.

At news conference later on Thursday, Mr Erdogan complained that he had been allowed to speak for just 12 minutes compared with 25 for Mr Peres.

“I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres or the Jewish people,” he said.

“I am a prime minister, a leader who has specifically expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity.”

Israel Ramping-Up Rhetoric on Hezbollah, As Well As Iran

Azerbaijan Thwarts Hizbullah Plot to Blow up Israeli Embassy

Israel Thwarted ‘Major Terror Attack’ In Europe

Nasrallah vows revenge for Mughniyeh

Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America

President Aliyev: Joining NABUCCO hinges on price

President Aliyev: Joining NABUCCO hinges on price

28-01-2009 05:50:18
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday pledged further backing for the NABUCCO gas pipeline, but hinted the country`s joining the West-backed project depended on the most lucrative price for its fuel.
As European leaders held talks on the supplies of Caspian and Central Asian gas in Budapest, Aliyev said Baku was ready to cooperate with all parties involved in the project.
“I am confident that good partnership relations will be forged as part of this project. It is possible to succeed in getting all the work done as a result of cooperation.”
Although the Azerbaijani leader made it clear that his country generally supported the NABUCCO project, he had told Hungarian media prior to the summit that this was not a political, but rather a commercial issue for the resource-rich South Caucasus republic.
In his address, Aliyev brought to the attention of participants the prospects of Azerbaijan`s acting not only as a transit state but also as an exporter. In other words, the country intends to sell its gas to the parties that will offer the most commercially viable prices and conditions.
“Azerbaijan supports the project, however, as before, what role it will play in the project – that of a transit state or a supplier of gas – remains an outstanding issue,” the president said.
While a proposal on the price for Azerbaijani gas to be pumped into the NABUCCO pipeline is yet to be made, Russia, which is bypassed by the conduit, has offered to buy it for $250 per 1,000 cubic meters.
The NABUCCO pipeline will deliver about 30 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas a year to European markets through a 3,300-kilometer pipeline traveling via the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkey to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria.
The goal of the two-day summit held in the Hungarian capital was to rally support for the West-backed project and speed up its implementation. The project aims to help European countries diversify supplies of energy and ease reliance on Russian gas. It requires about 8 billion euros, but it is still unclear which countries will provide the needed funds and gas for the pipeline.
The summit was attended by representatives of Georgia, Austria, Romania, Egypt, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Germany, Iraq, the United States, as well as those of the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said NABUCCO was “a test for European unity.” He emphasized that if the countries involved fail to reach an agreement on the project, it will not be supported by the EIB and EBRD either.
“Amid the current financial crisis, no bank will assume the risk of allotting a loan just for the sake of a very good idea,” Piebalgs said.
The EIB Chairman Philippe Maystadt said his institution was ready to finance 25 per cent of the NABUCCO project, which will benefit European energy security.
EBRD President Thomas Mirow also pledged financial aid for the project. However, both banks require guarantees and a respective intergovernmental agreement.
Indeed, reaching an agreement among the governments of the interested countries appears more likely than before.
As per US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, the Russia-Ukraine dispute over gas supplies in the past weeks that threatened Europe`s supplies has drastically altered the view of the summit host Hungary, which saw NABUCCO as merely a dream just a year ago. The country`s Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, stopped short of calling the project a symbol of independence and urged European financial institutions to allocate 300 million euros to start realizing the project.
Mirek Topolanek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic that chairs the EU, said the North Stream and South Stream pipelines that Russia plans to build to export its gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine were a threat to NABUCCO.
“NABUCCO is a project that will ensure our [energy] independence, as it will allow the EU to buy gas from a third, alternate source – along with Russia and Norway. And, I didn`t mention these two countries together in vain — I am trying to make it clear that NABUCCO is not aimed against Russia.”
If we set aside statements by European politicians and bankers, the main question remains to be answered, i.e. whose gas will be pumped into the pipeline? It is indicative that although the officials of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, which are potential suppliers of gas for NABUCCO, attended the summit in Budapest, they stated merely generally-worded support for the project.
Russia`s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, has said Moscow offers Europe an alternative to NABUCCO – the South Stream pipeline passing through Turkey.
“The conduit already exists, and, after expansion, it will be able to transport 30bn cubic meters of gas annually. Moreover, Russia has gas available for the pipeline, while that for NABUCCO is not even there yet,” Chizhov maintained.
Transporting first gas via the NABUCCO pipeline, which will be an extension of the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum conduit, is expected in 2013 at the earliest. Deliveries of gas from Kazakhstan, Iran and Iraq are possible in the future as well. Six shareholders – German RWЕ, Turkish Botas company, Romanian Transgas, Bulgarian Bulgargas, Austrian OMV, and Hungarian MOL – hold equal stakes in the project consortium.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused, at the last moment, to attend a summit on the NABUCCO gas pipeline project held in Budapest early this week. Instead, the country was represented at the event by Energy Minister Hilmi Guler, local media reported.
The Turkish premier warned earlier that if talks on Turkey`s admission to the European Union did not resume, Ankara might reconsider its support of the Western-backed project.
Talks on Turkey`s EU admission were launched in 2005 but were suspended later over tension caused by the Cyprus issue.
The NABUCCO pipeline is a new route for transporting gas from the resource-rich Caspian and Central Asia regions to Europe. It will deliver about 30 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas a year to European markets through a 3,300-kilometer pipeline traveling via the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkey to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria, while by-passing Russia. The project is valued at about 8 billion euros. Transporting the first gas via the pipeline is expected in 2013 at the earliest.
Sinan Ogan of the Ankara-based think-tank Turksam has said that following the Russia-Ukraine dispute over gas supplies in the past weeks that threatened Europe`s supplies, Turkey witnessed how important energy resources are for the EU. Thus, by using this leverage, Ankara is now trying to bolster its influence and to speed its admission to the 27-member bloc.
“Turkey, itself, is in need of gas. But, if need be, Turkey doesn`t have to participate in this project, and, instead, it will lay a pipeline from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and then sell gas to Europe on its own. The EU needs the NABUCCO project more.”
According to the analyst, the EU has, so far, sought a limited role for Turkey as a transit state in the project, but Ankara will now demand that it become one of the pipeline`s owners.
Azerbaijani former state adviser, analyst Vafa Guluzada, has said Turkey has fallen under Russia`s clout, as Ankara and Moscow have drawn very close of late both in the trade and tourism sectors.
Nonetheless, Guluzada believes the NABUCCO pipeline will be built. “America will step in, hold consultations with Ankara and the EU, and bring Turkey on board,” he concluded.

“The only moderate Iranian is one who has run out of bullets.” –Robert Gates

Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?

Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Inter Press Service (IPS)

by Gareth Porter


WASHINGTON – When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.

In making a new accusation against Iran, just as Obama is still considering his diplomatic options on Iran, Gates appears to reprising his role in undermining a plan by President George H. W. Bush in early 1992 to announce goodwill gestures to Iran as reciprocity for Iranian help in freeing U.S. hostages from Lebanon.

Bush ultimately abandoned the plan, which had been three years in the making, after Gates, as CIA director, claimed in Congressional appearances that new intelligence showed Iran was seeking weapons of mass destruction and planning terrorist attacks.

In his Senate armed services committee testimony Tuesday, Gates said Iran was “opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on”. Gates offered no further explanation for what sounded like a Cold War-era propaganda charge against the Soviet Union.

It was not clear why Gates would make such an accusation on a non-military issue unless he was hoping to throw sand in the diplomatic gears on Iran.

Gates has made no secret of his skepticism about any softening of U.S. policy toward Iran. In response to a question at the National Defense University last September on how he would advise the next president to improve relations with Iran, Gates implicitly rejected what he called “outreach” to Iran as useless.

“[W]e have to look at the history of outreach [to Iran] that was very real, under successive presidents, and did not yield any results,” he said.

In the 1980s, Gates was known at the CIA as a hardliner not only on the Soviet Union but on Iran as well. Former CIA official Graham Fuller recalled in an interview that Gates often repeated in staff meetings, “The only moderate Iranian is one who has run out of bullets.”

Gates’s 1992 sabotage of the Bush plan for reciprocating Iran goodwill relied in part on making public charges against Iran which created a more unfavorable political climate in Washington for such a policy.

Bush had referred in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1989, to U.S. hostages being held by militant groups in Lebanon and suggested that “assistance” on the issue would be “long remembered”, adding, “Goodwill begets goodwill.” That was a clear signal to Iran of a willingness to respond positively to Iranian assistance in freeing the hostages.

After Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative, was elected Iranian president in July 1989, Bush asked U.N. Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar to convey a message to Rafsanjani: Bush was ready to improve U.S.-Iran relations if Iran used its influence in Lebanon to free the U.S. hostages. Giandomenico Picco, the U.N. negotiator sent to meet with Rafsanjani, recalled in an interview with IPS that he repeated Bush’s inaugural pledge to the Iranian president.

In 1991, Rafsanjani used both secret intermediaries and shuttle diplomacy by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Velayati to ensure the release of hostages held by anti-Western groups in Lebanon. Rafsanjani later told Picco that he had to use considerable Iranian political capital in Lebanon to get the hostages released in the expectation that it would bring a U.S. reciprocal gesture, according to the U.N. negotiator.

In a meeting with Picco six weeks after the last U.S. hostage was released in early December 1991, Bush’s National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft said “it might be possible” to take Iran off the terrorist list, reduce economic sanctions and further compensate Iranians for the July 1988 shoot-down of an Iranian civilian Airbus by the U.S. navy, which had killed all 290 Iranian passengers and crew. Scowcroft believed a decision might be made in early March.

Picco took personal notes of the meeting, from which he quoted in the interview.

On Feb. 25, 1992, Scowcroft again met Picco and told him that the administration was considering allowing the sale of some airplanes and parts and easing other economic sanctions, according to Picco’s notes.

But at a meeting in Washington on Apr. 10, Scowcroft informed Picco that there would be “no goodwill to beget goodwill”.

Scowcroft explained the sudden scuttling of the initiative by citing new intelligence on Iran. He referred to an alleged assassination of an Iranian national in Connecticut by Iranian agents and intelligence reports that Iran would use “Hezbollah types” in Europe and elsewhere to respond to Israel’s assassination of Hezbollah leader Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon in February.

Scowcroft also cited intelligence that Iran had made a policy decision to follow “a different road” from one that would have allowed improved relations with Washington. He said that intelligence related to Iranian “rearmament” and to its nuclear program, according to Picco’s notes.

But the alleged new intelligence on Iran cited by Scowcroft reflected the personal views of Gates, who had become CIA director for the second time in November 1991.

Gates was assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor from 1989 to 1991, and was well aware of the plan to make a gesture to Iran. His response after returning as CIA director was to launch a series of new accusations about the threat from Iran.

In Congressional testimony in January 1992, Gates said Iran’s rearmament effort included “programs in weapons of mass destruction not only to prepare for the potential reemergence of the Iraqi special weapons threat but to solidify Iran’s preeminent position in the gulf and Southeast [sic] Asia”.

Gates testified in February 1992 that Iran was “building up its special weapons capabilities” and the following month, he told Congress that Iran was seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons “capabilities” and was “probably” going to “promote terrorism”.

But Gates was not accurately reflecting a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran which had been completed on Oct. 17, 1991, just before he became director. New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino wrote just two weeks after the NIE was completed that it concluded only that “some” Iranian leaders were calling for a nuclear weapons program, and that the nuclear program was still in its infancy.

Sciolino reported that “some administration officials” believed the NIE “underestimates the scope of Iranian intentions”, suggesting that it had not supported Gates’s personal views on the issue.

The current intelligence reports sent to the White House to strengthen the argument against any gesture to Iran also turned out to be misleading. No allegation of an Iranian role in a murder in Connecticut has ever surfaced. And no terrorist attack by “Hezbollah types” in retaliation for the Israeli assassination is known to have occurred.

That was not even the first time Gates had sought to use intelligence to torpedo an effort to achieve an opening with an adversary. During the Ronald Reagan administration, Gates, as CIA deputy director and then director, had discouraged any warming toward the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, asserting that he would not be able to alter Soviet policy toward the United States. Former Secretary of State George Shultz decried Gates’s politicized intelligence to bolster the case against policy change his 1993 memoirs.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam [1]”, was published in 2006.

Turkish Gladio-like groups not a surprise, says researcher

Turkish Gladio-like groups not a surprise, says researcher

It would be a surprise not to have clandestine groups and structures in Turkey that bear the basic qualities of Operation Gladio — a stay-behind army set up in NATO countries during cold war years to counter a communist invasion — says Philip Willan, who has been researching the level and pattern of cooperation between secret services and the mafia, in addition to unsolved and mysterious assassinations.

Speaking to the Cihan news agency, Willan said Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government, is very similar to the Gladio network. He also stated that newly emerging evidence about Ergenekon in Turkey also highlighted the similarity. Describing Gladio as an organization set up by NATO through the US and British secret services and special operations units during World War II to prevent an invasion of Italy by the Eastern Bloc, Willan said the Gladio operation recruited individuals known for their anti-communist beliefs. The group also had arms and explosives caches buried underground in a large number of places in Italy.

Willan said Gladio employed a “Strategy of Chaos” to prevent some democratic forces from coming to power in Italy. He said at the time, secret services working for Gladio started gathering personal information about famous politicians, journalists and businessmen for the purpose of blackmail, just as some groups inside Ergenekon are accused of doing.

Willan said an ultranationalist group called “Grey Wolves” was active in Turkey’s intelligence services during the years of Gladio. CIA operations officer Duane Clarridge, who served both in Turkey and Italy, had contacts with both the Italian Gladio and its Turkish version. Mehmet Ali Ağca, whose attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II failed in 1981, was a link to the relationship between the secret services in the two Mediterranean countries, according to Willan. Gladio also had known links with a business group called P2, an illegal splinter Masonic organization led by Licio Gelli.

Willan said the role of the media is of prime importance in shedding light on the secret organizations that have created a society of fear, saying a free media and the elected parliament should make strong efforts to bring such networks to light. Willan said the failure to bring these to light would generate a constant environment of conflict within the country, endangering democracy.

He also said the prosecutors conducting the investigation and judges were facing great pressure from the probe’s rivals in Italy. The prosecutors could only start investigating these issues more comfortably after the end of the Cold War. Italian courts, he said, are given great powers by the Italian constitution, but their ability to use these powers depends on the courage of the judges.

He said the exposure of secret organizations that terrorize society, such as Ergenekon and Gladio, is extremely important for any society. He also said there still is much to be revealed about Ergenekon, noting that there were still many things in Italy that remain secret.

Drone attacks lead to sharp rise in mental ailments

Drone attacks lead to sharp rise in mental ailments

By By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Frequent drone attacks on suspected militants’ hideouts in South and North Waziristan and elsewhere in the rugged mountainous tribal region have started negatively affecting the minds of people, particularly children and women, in many ways.

In North Waziristan, the psychological impact of continuing drone attacks is leading to mental disorders, especially among women and children, observed Dr Munir Ahmad, a 50-year-old psychiatrist from Miramshah. “The aftermath of drone hits is alarming, as far as its impact on the psyche of women and children is concerned.”

In an exclusive telephonic chat with The News from the Gomal Medical College in Dera Ismail Khan, Dr Munir Ahmad confirmed a sharp rise in mental ailments. Two years ago, he examined about 10 patients with different mental disorders during a single visit to the area. As the number of such patients has dramatically shot up, the psychiatrist now sees 160 patients a day.

Uncontrollable fears and short temper are common corollaries of the murder and mayhem spawned by the drone raids. “The real worry is long-term effects on children,” observed Dr Munir, who hails from North Waziristan and now visits his native town once a month to examine patients.

“After disappointment, the next stage is aggression followed by violence,” Dr Munir elaborated, reckoning that 90 per cent of North Waziristan residents were suffering from some kind of mental diseases because of violence in the region.

“I don’t have the resources to see so many mentally disturbed people. And they can’t afford to be without help, as they wait for me to see them. Thus, many take their patients to distant districts like Bannu, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan,” he said.

Schoolteacher Muhammad Yaqoob said: “Children are the worst victims of this war. Students of the Government Primary School, Danday Darpakhel, where I have been teaching, would always look up to the sky.”

In South Waziristan, the drone raids have instilled a sense of insecurity among the people. Many people opine the attacks tend to be counterproductive, promoting militancy and terrorism. Relatives of the people killed in Predator strikes eventually become suicide bombers, they argue.

A farmer from Mirali town of North Waziristan, Mohammad Wali, recalled his neighbour lost four blood relatives in one such instance. Shell-shocked by the killing of his mother, two sisters and a seven-year-old brother in Khaisura village, he decided to avenge the irreparable loss.

“In retaliation, he rammed an explosive-laden car into a military convoy in Nawrak village in Mirali and killed 12 people, 10 of them Army soldiers and two civilians, on September 20, 2008,” recalled Mohammad Wali.

Army holds free medical camp in North Waziristan

Army holds free medical camp in North Waziristan

Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Bureau report
PESHAWAR: The Army Medical Corps held a free medical camp at Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency to provide healthcare facilities to people at their doorstep.

Over 350 patients, mainly women and children, were provided diagnostic facilities at the camp established in Saidgai area of the agency headquarter. Medical specialists, including lady doctors of Army Medical Corps, examined the patients. More than 200 children were also administered polio drops.

The free medical camp was part of the army’s efforts to provide healthcare facilities to the underprivileged people at their doorstep in the remote parts of the tribal areas. Provision of medical facilities to people has been given top priority since the army entered the tribal areas in 2001. Troops also distributed biscuits, sweets and stationery items to the children.

Huge crowds join French strikes

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Crowds clash with police in Paris

Huge crowds join French strikes

Huge crowds have taken to the streets in France to protest over the handling of the economic crisis, causing disruption to rail and air services.

Unions said 2.5m workers had rallied to demand action to protect wages and jobs. Police put the total at 1m.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said concerns over the crisis were legitimate and the government had to listen and act.

He will meet union and business leaders next month to discuss what programme of reforms to follow this year, he said.

Overall, the government estimated that a quarter of the country’s public sector workers had joined the action, which was called by eight major French unions. The unions put the figure higher.

A spokesman for the CGT union told AFP that 2.5m people across the country had taken part in the day’s protests. French police put the number at just over 1m.

CGT leader Bernard Thibault called on Mr Sarkozy to recognise the gravity of the situation and “reassess his measures” to deal with the economic crisis.

In Paris, police said some 65,000 demonstrators had joined a march from the Place de la Bastille towards the centre of the city.

There were reports of violent outbreaks on the outskirts of the protest as it reached central Paris, with dozens of youths throwing bottles and lighting fires in a main shopping street.

Police in riot gear charged the youths, pushing them back on to the Place de l’Opera where the  crowds were gathering, but the situation remained volatile.There were repeated baton charges, and after fires were lit on some of Paris’ best-known boulevards, police used tear gas on the minority of protesters who were violent.

Earlier, some 25,000 to 30,000 people rallied in the city of Lyon, according to organisers and police.

In Marseille, organisers and the authorities disagreed, with the former putting the number of demonstrators at 300,000 but the police estimating 24,000 had taken part.

The protests are against the worsening economic climate in France and at what people believe to be the government’s poor handling of the crisis.

Opposition Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry said people were out in the streets “to express what worries them: the fact that they work and yet cannot make ends meet, retired people who just can’t make it [financially], the fear of redundancies, and a president of the Republic and a government that just don’t want to change policy”.

Staying home

The strike action disrupted transport services but did not cause the paralysis forecast by unions.

Regional trains and those in and around Paris were hit, and a third of flights from Orly airport were cancelled.

Striking is… the national sport, a selfish and narrow-minded way of dealing with just about any disagreement
Brigitte Cavanagh, Paris

Forty per cent of regional services were running, train operator SNCF said, and 60% of high-speed TGV services. Three-quarters of metro trains were running in Paris.Paris’s second airport was heavily hit by the strike, but flights out of the larger Charles de Gaulle hub were experiencing only short delays, AFP news agency said.

Schools, banks, hospitals, post offices and courts were also hit as workers stayed at home. Officials said just over a third of teachers and a quarter of postal and power company workers were on strike.

According to a 25 January poll by CSA-Opinion for Le Parisien, 69% of the French public backs the strike.

“I’m tired and frozen after waiting half-an-hour on the platform,” commuter Sandrine Dermont told AFP as she arrived by train in Paris.

“But I’m prepared to accept that when it’s a movement to defend our spending power and jobs. I’ll join the street protests during my lunch break,” she said.

Hit hard

Many people are furious that Mr Sarkozy said there was no money left to raise wages and consumer spending power, but nonetheless managed to find billions of euros to bail out floundering French banks, says the BBC’s Emma-Jane Kirby in Paris.

The walk-out has affected transport, education and postal services throughout the country, our correspondent says, and is the biggest one-day strike since Mr Sarkozy took up office.

With unemployment looking likely to reach 10% next year, she says, the protesters hope he will drop his programme of cost-cutting reforms and focus instead on protecting workers’ jobs and wages.

Mr Sarkozy cannot ignore this demonstration of anger, our correspondent adds. Street protests have repeatedly brought down French leaders and Mr Sarkozy does not want his government added to that list of casualties.

“We want to show how the people are dissatisfied with the situation at the moment,” Thierry Dedieu of the CFDT general workers’ union told the BBC.

People had the feeling they were paying for a crisis they were not responsible for, he added.

But earlier in the week, French Finance Minister Eric Woerth condemned the strike organisers, accusing them of scare-mongering during a time of economic uncertainty.

…and now the Mitchell fantasy

…and now the Mitchell fantasy

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Written by Khalid Amayreh
Thursday, 29 January 2009 12:57

It is really difficult to take seriously those who think that the new American envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has a real chance of getting  Israel, the Nazi-like entity,   to end its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,  and therefore achieve a just and lasting peace in this tortured part of the world.

True, Mitchell succeeded in resolving the 800-year-old conflict in Northern Ireland . However, with Israel in tight control of the American Congress, media and public discourse, it is unlikely that Mitchell will be able to do much in terms of pressuring the apartheid state to take a strategic decision to end its  40-year-old colonialist occupation of Palestinian territories.

The factors militating against  Mitchell’s mission are numerous and overwhelming.

First, Mitchell should be honest enough to realize that Israel has effectively killed any realistic prospects of creating  a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank . The building of hundreds of Jewish-only colonies throughout the occupied territories has simply left no room for establishing such a state.

This is of course unless a quisling Palestinian leadership will  be cajoled or coerced into accepting a “state” made up of disconnected Bantustans and townships under tight Israeli control.

Needless to say, such a  scandalous sell-out of Palestinian rights would be strongly and violently  rejected by a vast majority  of Palestinians, and whatever  Palestinian “Judenrat” acceding to such  deal would be mercilessly crushed and its members killed like stray dogs in the streets of the West Bank .

Traitors who trade the national patrimony of their people  for money, investment and preferential treatment by America and Israel can’t really hope for a better treatment from their people. This is how  traitors are treated everywhere.

Moreover, it should be amply clear by now  that no Israeli government would be able, even if willing, to dismantle the hundreds of settlements built on occupied Arab land since 1967.

The Israeli society and political environment are simply too jingoistic to allow any Israeli government to undo the “gains” of the 1967 war.

There are those who may argue that the settlers and their supporters can be overruled by a majority of Israelis who want peace. Well, this is not an accurate appraisal of reality. The settlers and their supporters represent a real majority within the Israeli society and especially within the Israeli army, as the upcoming Israeli elections will undoubtedly show.

This is the reason why successive Israeli governments  consistently refrained from dismantling even a single settlement, including  those created brazenly illegally, even according to the lopsided  Israeli law itself. (All settlements are illegal according to international law as elucidated a few years ago by the International Court of Justice in the Hague ).

Israeli leaders know deep in their heart that dismantling settlements and removing settlers  could lead to a Jewish civil war. Olmert, whose election platform a few years ago was based on a promise to remove settlements east of the “Separation Wall,” eventually cringed before the settlers and didn’t dare to remove a single outpost.

Hence, it is inconceivable that in the absence of a truly massive political and psychological earthquake hitting the collective Israeli psyche, no Israeli government would be able to embark on the unthinkable task of dismantling the settlements and withdrawing to the armistice lines of the 4th of June, 1967 .

Needless to say, such an “earthquake” can only be triggered by the United States , Israel’s guardian-ally. However, for such an earthquake to occur in Israel ,  a stronger political earthquake would have to occur in Washington D.C. first.

I am talking about a mental and political transformation, a real revolution that would free the American political class from the stranglehold of American Zionism, the demonic ghoul now gripping America by the throat.

This takes us  to another question. Is America capable of extricating herself from  this Zionist grip? Can America say “No” to the Israeli bully and act on it? Can America outsmart and outmaneuver the  tyrannical Zionist clique enslaving America now?

I am raising these questions because all the old tools of trying to resolve the conflict in Palestine have been  tried ad nauseam and proven ineffective and bankrupt.

This necessarily requires new “unorthodox” and “un-classical” tools that would convince Israel that “enough is enough” and that America wouldn’t continue to play the role of powerful whore in the service of Zionist supremacy in the Middle East .

But in order to reach such a realization, America would have to think honestly and do a lot of soul-searching. America would have to confront itself with the naked facts about the Nazi-like monster known as Israel. America would have to face the fact that the huge  crisis now haunting the American economy is attributed first and foremost to Israel . More to the point, America needs to realize that unless Israel is reined in, America itself will go down. Isn’t America already going down, at least in part because it allowed a tiny criminal entity 10,000 miles away to dictate American policy and behavior toward the rest of the world.

After all, it was Israel that by way of deception got the unmissed ignoramus of the White House, George Bush,  to invade, occupy and destroy two sovereign Muslim nations and murder or cause the death of over a million human beings.

It was Israel that envisaged the so-called  “war on terror.” And it may well be proven eventually that Israel stood behind the 9/11 events. Yes, I don’t  possess irrefutable evidence proving this point right  now, but the cunning  Zionist serpent is too demonic,  too nefarious and too sly to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Hence, I would like to give the following advice to Mr. Mitchell.

Don’t  be naïve, Israel and its leaders will try to dilute your mission by eviscerating it of  substance.  They will seek to overwhelm you with mountains of red-herring tactics. They will raise all sorts of issues, real and imagined to confuse you. They will shamelessly raise the issue of terror, ignoring the cardinal fact that Israel herself is the most satanic embodiment of terror in this world. They will speak about “anti-Semitism,” overlooking the obvious  fact that Israel’s Nazi behaviors, e.g. the recent genocidal blitzkrieg in Gaza , are the premier generator of anti-Semitism around the world.

They will confront you with an avalanche of distractions to divert attention from the real core issue, their enduring Nazi-like occupation of Palestinian land and their unmitigated oppression of the Palestinian people.

If you are brave and honest, confront them, let them frown in your face, let them get angry. But don’t  cower, or cave in to their bullying tactics, even if they threaten to mobilize Congress against you and your boss in Washington .

They might hint to you that the Jews control America and could therefore  get the President to fire you. Don’t be impressed by this. Report it directly to Mr. Obama.

You are likely to be affronted soon by a man named Benyamin Netanyah, who is likely to become Israel’s next Prime Minister.

This man is a pathological liar, a professional propagandist who thinks that effective hasbara (propaganda) is the solution for all problems. Diversionary tactics and  verbal prevarication are his policy and sheer mendacity is his modus operandi. So, don’t be deceived by his false magic.

Finally, I would like to say the following:

Be honest and frank with your boss in Washington . Tell him that Israel doesn’t want peace and is not seeking true peace partners among Palestinians.

A country that has built and continues to build settlements on stolen land obviously doesn’t want peace. Moreover,  a country that bullies   peace partners, e.g. the Palestinian Authority,  to act and behave  very much like the “Jewish councils” in Nazi-occupied Europe did, doesn’t seek genuine peace partners, but genuine quislings and bona fide collaborators.

Also, tell Mr. Obama that Israel and her leaders don’t really  take America seriously. I give you one little example. In eight years of Bush’s misrule, and despite incessant and occasionally aggressive demands from Washington to remove roadblocks from the West Bank to enhance  Palestinian mobility  and help revive the region’s  moribund economy, Israel actually increased rather than decreased the number of these evil checkpoints and roadblocks…and they did it under America ’s nose.

(Didn’t Olmert boast recently  about ordering President Bush to instruct Condoleezza Rice to abstain from voting in favor of a UNSC resolution calling for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip?)

Remember these barriers are erected in the heart of Palestinian population centers, not along side the Green Line, e.g. between Israel and the West Bank .  They are meant primarily  to torment and savage the Palestinian people.

This was done while Israeli leaders and officials  were having chummy chats with  Rice who visited Occupied Jerusalem and Ramalla  24 times. And the result  of all her visits was a great fat zero. Well, Mr. Mitchell, try to learn from Rice’s monumental failure…don’t repeat it, even if you have to quit.

Good luck Mr. Mitchell.

Pakistan claims arrests of 3 alleged terrorists trained in India

Pakistan claims arrests of 3 alleged terrorists trained in India

Islamabad – A senior Pakistani police officer on Thursday announced the arrest of three people he said were ‘trained and pampered’ by the Indian intelligence agency for carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

The Pakistani nationals had planned to target government buildings and important personalities, including religious figures, city police chief Pervez Rathore told reporters in Lahore, the capital of the eastern province of Punjab.

Rathore said the three suspects were detained close to the Pakistan-India border, which, he said, they crossed several times to receive training in bomb making from India’s Research and Analysis Wing spy agency.

‘They (Indian agents) were encouraging them, they were training them and they paid them in millions,’ he said.

During preliminary interrogations, the detainees confessed that they detonated a dust-bin bomb in 2006 in Lahore, killing two bystanders and injuring 16, the police officer said.

The allegations came as tensions simmered between Indian and Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people.

India blamed the Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist organization for the carnage. Although Islamabad admitted that the only alleged Mumbai attacker to be arrested is a Pakistani national, it categorically denied patronizing the four-day siege.

Rathore said Thursday that the three arrested men were involved in reconnaissance of Pakistani landmarks for the Indian spy agency and they had also recently been focusing on LeT offices.

IAF Bomb Tunnels along Gaza-Egypt Border

IAF Bomb Tunnels along Gaza-Egypt Border

Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 81

28/01/2009 Israeli occupation aircraft struck at tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday; hours before a US peace envoy was due to arrive in the Zionist entity.

The aircraft struck three times before dawn but there was no initial word of casualties.

An Israeli occupation army spokesman confirmed that Israel had carried out air strikes on smuggling tunnels in the town of Rafah.

The strike came after Tuesday’s violence in Gaza where resistance fighters attacked an Israeli military vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Gaza border, killing one occupation soldier and wounding three others, the army spokesman said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack, but Hamas leader Mushir al-Masri said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a “lull” in fighting. “The Zionists are responsible for any aggression,” he said.

An air strike shortly afterwards killed one Palestinian on a motorcycle, and injured 2 others. The exchanges were the first major military developments since Hamas and Israel declared separate ceasefires earlier this month after Israel’s offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said late on Tuesday that the killing of the man on the motorcycle was only an initial reaction and that Israel’s full response was still to come.

The Israeli occupation army holds Hamas responsible for preserving the peace south of the occupied territories, and will respond harshly to any attempt at undermining it, the announcement added.

On Tuesday the occupation army had received a green light to respond harshly to the bomb attack, though defense officials would not provide details on the planned response, but said it would be in line with Israel’s new policy to respond aggressively to any attack following the end of “Operation Cast Lead” earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in a bid to regain her plummeting popularity ahead of the elections, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told a gathering of the New York-based World Jewish Congress in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday that Israel would no longer show restraint against Palestinian attacks from the Gaza Strip.

“Israel is going to act according to a new equation. We are not going to show restraint anymore,” Livni said. “We need to change the rules of the game until they learn that the rules have changed and the equation has changed.”

Livni added that Israel needed to negotiate with the Fatah leadership in the occupation West Bank toward a two-state solution, while continuing to fight against Hamas in Gaza. “For me, an agreement with Hamas is not an option,” she declared.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called an urgent meeting of top defense officials after the bombing. “This is a serious attack, and we will respond, but there is no point in elaborating,” Barak said.

Israel closed its Gaza crossings to humanitarian aid traffic after briefly opening them Tuesday morning. Gaza border official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials had informed him the closure was due to the attack.

Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, said Israel’s response would not be limited to closing the crossings into Gaza. “The response will not be the way it used to be,” Gilad said in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “The equation has changed.”

Response to Breeding ‘terrorists’: What’s the solution?

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If one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem” – or so my corporate management used to drum into the engineering staff when I worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley in my younger days. Being a ’stud’, I found myself adept at not only comprehending the problem domains, but also provided useful, implementable, and actually shipped solutions. I was so enamored by that slogan and my successes that I found the principle to be an excellent lesson to teach my own children.

But strangely, I have consistently failed that lesson myself as soon as I entered the social arena and started applying my ‘awesome’ problem solving skills to the new problem domain of justice activism.

Here, the problem domain is pretty well understood, unlike in electrical engineering, where some real hard work and thinking was often necessary to even define the problem domain to tackle to build useful products around. Once that was done, the solutions often actually presented themselves and it was often the timeliness or attractiveness of the implementation that won or lost the markets.

But in the social domain, the matters are far more convoluted. The problem is rather simple. ‘Baboons’ out to conquer the world using lies and deception and by cultivating fake enemies as pretext for “imperial mobilization”. But what’s the solution-space? Platitudes of Moses haven’t worked.

Hegemony is as old as mankind.” So is oligarchy. Every once in a while, the oligarchs or their designated emperor have extended their reach and created greater dominions for themselves. This lesson is so old that St. Augustine even built an entire political-theory around it in the 4th century AD. The problem has been remarkably well understood and captured beautifully by him in this pithy statement:

When the King asked him what he meant by infesting the sea, the pirate defiantly replied: ‘the same as you do when you infest the whole world; but because I do it with a little ship I am called a robber, and because you do it with a great fleet, you are an emperor.’ ” (The City of God against the Pagans, Page 148).

But what is the darn solution if one is a modern victim of such an ancient ‘white man’s burden’?

Certainly if one is an emperor, the solution has been formulated and time-tested for every epoch since time immemorial – from god and divine rights to rule, to ‘la mission civilisatrice’, to Machiavelli 101 and the sophisticated Dialectics of Deception to move any unwilling public to fight for extending the empire.

So as per my corporate slogan “If one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem” – I must be part of the problem since I side with the innocent victims and don’t have any solution.

How does one become a part of the “solution” so as not to remain a part of the problem?

Thank you.

Zahir Ebrahim


Commentary: Will Obama see sense about nuclear threat?

National Nuclear Security Administration, US Government)

A Trident missile clears a flat pad during the US navy’s eighth development test flight (Image: Lockheed Missile and Space Div. Teaser image: National Nuclear Security Administration, US Government)

Commentary: Will Obama see sense about nuclear threat?

THE possibility that, in an Obama administration, science will drive rational public policy provides an unprecedented opportunity to deal with a gnawing yet persistently neglected threat to the world: nuclear weapons.

No government is likely to declare how many strategic nuclear warheads it has, but the US and Russia are thought to possess at least 5000 apiece. The 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty required each nation to have no more than 2200 “operationally deployed” strategic warheads by 2012, yet this represents no real progress towards disarmament, as the target number is essentially identical to that proposed at the 1997 summit on nuclear arms reduction between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki, Finland.

As we object to Iran’s apparent efforts to join the club of nuclear weapons states we should remember that the US, Russia, France, the UK and China have failed to meet their obligations to disarm, some four decades after they all signed the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Reducing the size of our nuclear weapons stockpile would not reduce our ability to deter a nuclear attack – a fact acknowledged by politicians such as Henry Kissinger, George Schultz and William Perry. Even 500 active warheads would be sufficient to kill hundreds of millions of people around the world. Reducing the size of the nuclear stockpile would bring one key benefit, though. Maintaining a huge and complex nuclear infrastructure is not cheap. In a time of increasing budget concerns, this is one area where savings could be achieved with little or no cost to security.

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai underscore the danger of a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan. Yet the US has turned a blind eye to an ongoing Pakistani project to build a plutonium reactor that would be capable of making enough fuel each year for up to 50 nuclear weapons. In 2006, Congress approved a nuclear cooperation pact with India that would help promote that country’s bomb-making capacity. Neither India nor Pakistan has signed the NPT. The new administration needs to defuse the situation by encouraging disarmament in this region, not proliferation.

Aside from the direct sociopolitical and economic consequences of a regional nuclear war, it is now clear that the longer-term impact of even a localised nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India would be more severe than previously estimated. A study published last year shows that global temperatures and growing seasons could decline significantly following as few as 50 15-kiloton explosions, as might result from such a regional war (Physics Today, vol 61, p 37).

Finally, the new administration might bring some rationality to the US’s efforts to deploy ballistic missile defence systems here and elsewhere in the world. It has been estimated that over the past 40 years the US has spent upwards of $600 billion on missile defence. Yet despite this, the US is not significantly closer to producing a workable system than it was in 1972 when it signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Obama might bring some rationality to the US’s efforts to deploy ballistic missile defence systems

Common sense suggests, as the US physics community did in 2003, that we should not use a missile defence system until it is shown to be workable against a realistic threat. Yet the US has nevertheless deployed a currently untested system at a cost of close to $10 billion per year – and the Bush administration complicated relations with Russia by declaring its intent to install it in Poland.

In this new year, as the country and the world look to Barack Obama with hope, he has signalled his intent to address one clear global threat, namely climate change. Leading the world away from the nuclear precipice will require at least as much sound thinking and political courage.

Lawrence Krauss is director of the Origins initiative at Arizona State University in Phoenix

Nabucco Remains a Pipe Dream


Yigal Schleifer 1/27/09

Conditions may never be better to spur construction of the Nabucco pipeline project, which would help wean the European Union from its dependence on Russian energy supplies. However, the European Union still seems reluctant to commit fully to the pipeline.

The proposed 3,300-kilometer-long Nabucco gas line would run from the Caspian Sea region via Turkey into Eastern and Central Europe. Although construction is scheduled to start in 2010 and the pipeline is expected to start delivering gas three years later, experts warn the project is far from a sure thing.

The recent gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia demonstrated a clear need for a rethinking of European energy policy, some experts say. Nabucco so far has been at the center of the discussion about potential new sources of energy. “There isn’t a PR campaign in the world that could have given the Nabucco as much attention as the Russian-Ukrainian dispute did,” a Hungarian government spokeswoman, Bernadett Budai, said. “This is the best opportunity in years to make progress.”

Amanda Akcakoca, an analyst at the European Policy Centre, a Brussels-based think tank, suggested that the Russian-Ukrainian row at least got EU officials to refocus on the question of diversifying the bloc’s energy resources. “The issue of energy diversification should be taken more seriously and so far there are signs that this is being done, but, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Akcakoca said.

Akcakoca made the comments prior to the start of a January 27 energy conference in Budapest, where, to the disappointment of some analysts and energy executives, top EU officials declined to take a big bite into the Nabucco project. While expressing vague notions of support for the pipeline, it seemed clear that Brussels doesn’t wants to make financing immediately available that could kick-start the construction process.

Europe currently gets a quarter of its gas from Russia, with 80 percent of it coming through Ukraine. Some countries, like Bulgaria, are almost entirely dependent on the Russian energy behemoth Gazprom for their gas. Thus, tens of thousands of Bulgarians were left shivering in the winter cold after the supply going through the Ukraine was cut early in January. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Nabucco to a great extent has come to symbolize the EU’s struggle to find a common energy policy. The multi-billion-dollar project has been stalled by several questions about long-term viability. Most importantly, the question continues to linger about how the pipeline will be filled. So far, only Azerbaijan has committed itself to supplying gas to Nabucco, but it can only fill a fraction of the pipeline’s capacity. Other potential suppliers, such as Turkmenistan or Iran, are currently problematic suppliers, either for logistical or political reasons. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Nabucco is also under threat of being undercut by Moscow, which is suggesting Europe diversify its gas shipment routes (though not its supply) via construction of South Stream, a pipeline that would bring Russian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria.

“What we have is a series of agreements and a theory,” says Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, referring to Nabucco. “It’s got problems all the way down the line.”

Other critics worry that Nabucco is being billed as a kind of panacea for Europe’s energy woes, without taking the discussion of what real energy diversity and security would mean any further. “Simply building a pipeline slightly south is not a strategic issue; it’s a regional one,” says Andrew Monaghan, a research advisor at the NATO Defense College in Rome. Monaghan recently wrote a paper examining Nabucco for the European Parliament. “What I’m saying is that we should consider enhancing the process, not simply changing the line and hoping that will create a better picture.”

The EPC’s Akcakoca says that if Europe doesn’t want to face another winter without gas, Nabucco must be part and parcel of a unified EU energy policy. “Overall [the EU’s] energy policy is quite weak, because each individual member state negotiates its energy deals,” she says. “There needs to be one EU energy policy, full stop. That’s what they should be aiming for.”

Editor’s Note: Yigal Schleifer is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul.

RDX being smuggled into India with cement from Pak

RDX being smuggled into India with cement from Pak

28 Jan 2009, 0206 hrs IST, Pranati Mehra

MUMBAI: Police and security agencies here have got a specific alert — from the police of a North Indian state — about RDX having been smuggled

into the country as part of a cement consignment from Pakistan and the target being an oil refinery.

Officials said the high alert sounded at vital installations like railway stations and hotels in Mumbai last December was not a reaction to the 26/11 carnage but had its basis in this specific intelligence input.

Officials also told TOI that more RDX could be coming in as part of cement or other consignments. But the alert did not name any refinery that was supposed to be the target.

That explained the reaction by Delhi Police and Mumbai Police during the days following the terror attacks on Mumbai. The two closest refineries to Delhi are at Panipat and Mathura. But most of the major refineries are near the coast, including those at Vishakhapatnam, Paradip and Jamnagar.

The alert also mentioned railways as a possible “soft target”.

Several ports, especially those in Vishakhapatnam and Ennore (Tamil Nadu), were also on a high alert on Tuesday. Shipping officials met home ministry and IB officials, agencies reported.

ATS joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria was not available for comment and state intelligence chief D Shivanandan said he was not privy to the information.

Security was stepped up at all railway stations in National Capital Region following the threat. The police deployed extra Quick Reaction Teams at New Delhi railway station and other stations. “After 26/11, every input is taken seriously,” said Delhi Police’s DCP (crime and railways), Neeraj Thakur.

India goes for ‘urgent’ purchase of anti-tank missiles

India goes for ‘urgent’ purchase of anti-tank missiles

Rajat Pandit

NEW DELHI: With tensions with Pakistan yet to abate and the indigenous “Nag” missile still not operational, the Army has gone in for an “urgent

order” of 4,100 French-origin Milan-2T anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs).

Defence ministry sources said the Rs 592-crore order for 4,100 Milan-2T missiles, pending for quite some time, was cleared after 26/11, with the government finally fast-tracking several military procurement plans.

Though tanks are slowly losing their relevance in the modern-day battlefield, and chances of face-to-face armoured confrontations diminishing, they will continue to play a critical role in the India-Pakistan context.

Both India and Pakistan, who share a long land border, are currently reorganising their mechanised forces to achieve strategic mobility and high-volume firepower for rapid thrusts into enemy territory.

India, of course, has plans to progressively induct as many as 1,657 Russian-origin T-90S main-battle tanks (MBTs), apart from the ongoing upgradation of its T-72 fleet.

But with Pakistan now looking to procure T-84 MBTs from Ukraine to bolster its already strong fleet of T-80UD, Al-Khalid and other tanks, India also wants its infantry battalions to have potent anti-armour capabilities.

This can be gauged from the fact that the latest order for 4,100 “advanced” Milan-2T missiles with “tandem warheads” to replenish the Army’s dwindling ATGM stock comes barely a few months after the Rs 1,380-crore contract for a staggering 15,000 Konkurs-M missiles.

Defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), incidentally, manufactures variants of the second-generation 2-km-range Milan and 4-km-range Konkurs ATGMs, under licence from French and Russian companies, at around Rs 4.50 lakh per unit.

As for the third-generation Nag ATGM, with a 4-km strike range, Army has already placed an initial order for 443 missiles and 13 Namicas (Nag missile tracked carriers). But the Nag is still to become fully operational almost two decades after it was first tested.

DRDO contends that Phase-I of Nag’s user-trials were successfully completed last month, with Phase-II now slated for May-June. “Pre-production of Nag is underway at BDL. It’s is a fire-and-forget missile, with potent top-attack capability to hit a tank’s vulnerable upper portion like the gun turret,” said an official.

Moreover, Nag’s range will be extended to over 7-km in its airborne version named “Helina”, to be fitted on “Dhruv” Advanced Light Helicopters, each configured to carry eight missiles in two launchers.

Incidentally, Nag is the only “core missile system” of India’s original Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), launched way back in 1983, whose development work is yet to be completed.

The IGMDP was “closed” in December 2007 after DRDO declared development work on all other missiles Agni, Prithvi, Akash and Trishul was over. While work on “strategic” nuclear-capable missiles like Agni-III (3,500-km range) and Agni-V (over 5,000-km) is being “undertaken in-house”, India is now increasingly look at foreign collaboration in other armament projects to cut delays.

On Arab TV, Obama makes overture to Muslims

WASHINGTON: In his first extensive interview since taking office, President Barack Obama has struck a conciliatory tone toward the Islamic world, saying he wanted to persuade Muslims that “the Americans are not your enemy.” He spoke a day after sending a special envoy on a Middle East tour in pursuit of what Obama called “progress that is concrete.”

The president told an interviewer from the Al Arabiya network, based in Dubai, that “the moment is ripe for both sides” to negotiate in the Middle East.

Shortly after the Obama interview was broadcast, an explosion on the Israel-Gaza border on Tuesday killed an Israeli soldier. A Palestinian farmer was shot and killed, according to Palestinian witnesses, in retaliatory gunfire. They were the first known fatal incidents since the Gaza fighting, which claimed nearly 1,300 lives, ended 10 days ago. (Page 2)

Al Arabiya, which is owned by a Saudi businessman, has a broad viewership in the region, and President George W. Bush had granted it several interviews.

But Obama did something in the interview Monday that he had not done during the presidential campaign: He mentioned the Muslim background of many of his Kenyan relatives and alluded to his childhood in predominantly Muslim Indonesia.

Obama’s remarks marked at least a stylistic shift from the Bush administration, which critics say engaged too slowly on Middle East peace; the new president offered a dialogue with Iran and what he depicted as a new readiness to listen rather than dictate. On his first full day in office he had taken time to phone several Middle Eastern leaders.

The president spoke as George Mitchell, his special Middle East envoy, was beginning an eight-day tour to include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and Britain. The former Senate majority leader arrived Tuesday in Cairo; he will also stop in the West Bank, though he will not enter Gaza.

Obama told Al Arabiya that he had instructed his envoy to “start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating.”

“Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what’s best for them. They’re going to have to make some decisions,” Obama said. “But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people – and that, instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.”

The new tone appeared to strike a positive note among at least some in the Muslim world, including Ahmed Youssef, a senior Hamas official.

“In the last couple of days there have been a lot of statements, some of them very positive, and choosing this George Mitchell as an envoy,” Youssef told the Al Jazeera network, according to The Associated Press. “I think there are some positive things we have to count.”

Obama noted that Israel “will not stop being a strong ally of the United States, and I will continue to believe that Israel’s security is paramount,” but he then added: “I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership.”

In terms that largely tracked Bush’s position, Obama said he believed it was “possible for us to see a Palestinian state – I’m not going to put a time frame on it – that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.”

He said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be seen in isolation.

“I do think it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what’s happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday was laying out a more modest set of objectives for Afghanistan; separately, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that there was now “a clear opportunity for the Iranians” to engage more meaningfully with the world community.

Obama said he wanted to communicate to Americans “that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives”; and to Muslims “that the Americans are not your enemy.”

“We sometimes make mistakes,” he said, urging a return to “the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”



Here is the full text of President Obama’s interview with Al-Arabiya Arab TV Network:


Map Room

5:46 P.M. EST

Q Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity, we really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.

Q Sir, you just met with your personal envoy to theMiddle East, Senator Mitchell. Obviously, his first task is to consolidate the cease-fire. But beyond that you’ve been saying that you want to pursue actively and aggressively peacemaking between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Tell us a little bit about how do you see your personal role, because, you know, if the President of the United States is not involved, nothing happens — as the history of peacemaking shows. Will you be proposing ideas, pitching proposals, parameters, as one of your predecessors did? Or just urging the parties to come up with their own resolutions, as your immediate predecessor did? THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the most important thing is for the United States to get engaged right away. And George Mitchell is somebody of enormous stature. He is one of the few people who have international experience brokering peace deals

And so what I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating — in the past on some of these issues — and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen. He’s going to be speaking to all the major parties involved. And he will then report back to me. From there we will formulate a specific response.

Ultimately, we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what’s best for them. They’re going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it’s time to return to the negotiating table.

And it’s going to be difficult, it’s going to take time. I don’t want to prejudge many of these issues, and I want to make sure that expectations are not raised so that we think that this is going to be resolved in a few months. But if we start the steady progress on these issues, I’m absolutely confident that the United States — working in tandem with the European Union, with Russia, with all the Arab states in the region — I’m absolutely certain that we can make significant progress.

Q You’ve been saying essentially that we should not look at these issues — like the Palestinian-Israeli track and separation from the border region — you’ve been talking about a kind of holistic approach to the region. Are we expecting a different paradigm in the sense that in the past one of the critiques — at least from the Arab side, the Muslim side — is that everything the Americans always tested with the Israelis, if it works. Now there is an Arab peace plan, there is a regional aspect to it. And you’ve indicated that. Would there be any shift, a paradigm shift?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, here’s what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia —

Q Right.

THE PRESIDENT: I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage —

Q Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT: — to put forward something that is as significant as that. I think that there are ideas across the region of how we might pursue peace.

I do think that it is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what’s happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan. These things are interrelated. And what I’ve said, and I think Hillary Clinton has expressed this in her confirmation, is that if we are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world, that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.

Now, Israel is a strong ally of the United States. They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel’s security is paramount. But I also believe that there are Israelis who recognize that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side.

And so what we want to do is to listen, set aside some of the preconceptions that have existed and have built up over the last several years. And I think if we do that, then there’s a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs.

Q I want to ask you about the broader Muslim world, but let me — one final thing about the Palestinian-Israeli theater. There are many Palestinians and Israelis who are very frustrated now with the current conditions and they are losing hope, they are disillusioned, and they believe that time is running out on the two-state solution because — mainly because of the settlement activities in Palestinian-occupied territories. Will it still be possible to see a Palestinian state — and you know the contours of it — within the first Obama administration?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is possible for us to see a Palestinian state — I’m not going to put a time frame on it — that is contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that people have a better life.

And, look, I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves? And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and security? And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real progress.

But it is not going to be easy, and that’s why we’ve got George Mitchell going there. This is somebody with extraordinary patience as well as extraordinary skill, and that’s what’s going to be necessary.

Q Absolutely. Let me take a broader look at the whole region. You are planning to address the Muslim world in your first 100 days from a Muslim capital. And everybody is speculating about the capital. (Laughter.) If you have anything further, that would be great.

How concerned are you — because, let me tell you, honestly, when I see certain things about America — in some parts, I don’t want to exaggerate — there is a demonization of America.

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.

Q It’s become like a new religion, and like a new religion it has new converts — like a new religion has its own high priests.


Q It’s only a religious text.


Q And in the last — since 9/11 and because of Iraq, that alienation is wider between the Americans and — and in generations past, the United States was held high. It was the only Western power with no colonial legacy.


Q How concerned are you and — because people sense that you have a different political discourse. And I think, judging by (inaudible) and Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and all these, you know — a chorus —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I noticed this. They seem nervous.

Q They seem very nervous, exactly. Now, tell me why they should be more nervous?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that when you look at the rhetoric that they’ve been using against me before I even took office —

Q I know, I know.

THE PRESIDENT: — what that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt. There’s no actions that they’ve taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.

In my inauguration speech, I spoke about: You will be judged on what you’ve built, not what you’ve destroyed. And what they’ve been doing is destroying things. And over time, I think the Muslim world has recognized that that path is leading no place, except more death and destruction.

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Q The largest one.

THE PRESIDENT: The largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I’ve come to understand is that regardless of your faith — and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers — regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.

And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task.

But ultimately, people are going to judge me not by my words but by my actions and my administration’s actions. And I think that what you will see over the next several years is that I’m not going to agree with everything that some Muslim leader may say, or what’s on a television station in the Arab world — but I think that what you’ll see is somebody who is listening, who is respectful, and who is trying to promote the interests not just of the United States, but also ordinary people who right now are suffering from poverty and a lack of opportunity. I want to make sure that I’m speaking to them, as well.

Q Tell me, time is running out, any decision on from where you will be visiting the Muslim world?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not going to break the news right here.

Q Afghanistan?

THE PRESIDENT: But maybe next time. But it is something that is going to be important. I want people to recognize, though, that we are going to be making a series of initiatives. Sending George Mitchell to the Middle East is fulfilling my campaign promise that we’re not going to wait until the end of my administration to deal with Palestinian and Israeli peace, we’re going to start now. It may take a long time to do, but we’re going to do it now. We’re going to follow through on our commitment for me to address the Muslim world from a Muslim capital. We are going to follow through on many of my commitments to do a more effective job of reaching out, listening, as well as speaking to the Muslim world.

And you’re going to see me following through with dealing with a drawdown of troops in Iraq, so that Iraqis can start taking more responsibility. And finally, I think you’ve already seen a commitment, in terms of closing Guantanamo, and making clear that even as we are decisive in going after terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians, that we’re going to do so on our terms, and we’re going to do so respecting the rule of law that I think makes America great.

Q President Bush framed the war on terror conceptually in a way that was very broad, “war on terror,” and used sometimes certain terminology that the many people — Islamic fascism. You’ve always framed it in a different way, specifically against one group called al Qaeda and their collaborators. And is this one way of —

THE PRESIDENT: I think that you’re making a very important point. And that is that the language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations — whether Muslim or any other faith in the past — that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith’s name.

And so you will I think see our administration be very clear in distinguishing between organizations like al Qaeda — that espouse violence, espouse terror and act on it — and people who may disagree with my administration and certain actions, or may have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful. I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down.

But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.

Q Can I end with a question on Iran and Iraq then quickly?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s up to the team —

MR. GIBBS: You have 30 seconds. (Laughter.)

Q Will the United States ever live with a nuclear Iran? And if not, how far are you going in the direction of preventing it?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I said during the campaign that it is very important for us to make sure that we are using all the tools of U.S. power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran.

Now, the Iranian people are a great people, and Persian civilization is a great civilization. Iran has acted in ways that’s not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region: their threats against Israel; their pursuit of a nuclear weapon which could potentially set off an arms race in the region that would make everybody less safe; their support of terrorist organizations in the past — none of these things have been helpful.

But I do think that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress. And we will over the next several months be laying out our general framework and approach. And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.

Q Shall we leave Iraq next interview, or just —

MR. GIBBS: Yes, let’s — we’re past, and I got to get him back to dinner with his wife.

Q Sir, I really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.

Q Thanks a lot.

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate it.

Q Thank you.


END 6:03 P.M. EST

Pakistan Army Finally Getting Electronic Jammers To Scramble “Radio Mullah”

‘Army getting jammers for Taliban radio’

LAHORE: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Athar Abbas on Monday said the military was acquiring the latest technology to jam the illegal radio transmissions of the Swat Taliban, a private TV channel reported. The ISPR spokesman told the channel that the Taliban’s FM radio transmitters were mobile and could not be destroyed immediately. However, Abbas said, the acquisition of the technology would help block the illegal transmissions. General Abbas said the Taliban were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in Swat and wanted to extend their presence to other parts of the country, the channel reported. He told the channel that the Taliban were trying to project themselves as a parallel government in the valley, but the military would control the situation soon. daily times monitor

CIA Insurgents Stage Attack On Iranian Border Guard

Iranian guards killed near Pakistan border

TEHRAN, Jan 26: Several members of Iran’s border security forces were killed in an ambush near the Pakistani border, state radio reported on Monday.

The report cited a police commander who alleged that Pakistan had become a “backyard for rebels and drugs smugglers” and said that Iran could help if Islamabad was not able to secure its side of the boundary.

“A pick-up truck moving at Mirjaveh border point (in southeast Iran) carrying special provisions for border outposts in the past day was ambushed by a group of rebels in which a number of our colleagues were martyred,” the commander, only identified as Nekouhi, was quoted as saying.

He did not say how many Iranian border police were killed.

“The rebels entered from the Pakistan border and returned there using the same route after committing the inhuman act,” the commander added.

Iranian security forces regularly clash with heavily armed drugs smugglers and bandits in the southeast border area around Sistan-Baluchestan province next to Pakistan’s border.

Nekouhi said that Iran had notified the Pakistani authorities about the incident.

“In the event that Pakistan is not able to control this, they can invite us and we will help them inside Pakistan to encounter and eliminate rebel, hostile and smuggling groups,” he added. —Reuters

Rioting Shiites Demand Government Action for Assassinated Leader

Paramilitary troops were deployed to restore calm, using tear gas and batons in a bid to stop the violence. [AFP]

Paramilitary troops were deployed to restore calm, using tear gas and batons in a bid to stop the violence. [AFP]

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Violent protests in Pakistan

Created: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 12:34:51 GMT-0500

Ian Burrows

Last Updated: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 10:28:00 +1100

Violent protests have erupted in southwest Pakistan after militants killed the head of a small Shiite political party.

Vehicles and building were set alight as paramilitary troops were called in to help quell the violence.

Hundreds of supporters of the Hazara Democratic Party spilled onto the streets of Quetta, setting government buildings, cars and motorbikes alight.

The protesters were enraged at the killing of Shiite muslim political leader Hussain Ali Yousafzai, who was shot by gunmen on a motorbike as he got out of his car.

A banned Sunni Muslim militant group – Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – rang local media outlets claiming responsibility.

Paramilitary troops were deployed to restore calm, using tear gas and batons in a bid to stop the violence.

Protesters shouted “down with the government” and a dozen people people were wounded in the clashes.

“We are protesting today against the culprits, against the terrorists who killed head of our party,” said a protester.

About 80 percent of Pakistan’s 160 million people are Sunni Muslims. While most people from the communities live in peace, militants from both sides have for years carried out attacks on their rivals.


Meanwhile, at least five people have been killed and 20 others injured in a bomb blast in the country’s northwest.

The bomb was strapped to a bicycle and exploded near a women’s hostel and hospital.

“I was in the area when a blast happened near the hospital. When I got here we found it was a bomb attached to a bicycle and many people had been harmed,” said a police officer at the scene.

The blast happened in a region that neighbours a Waziristan tribal area – a known sanctuary for Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

A self-study guide for uncovering the agendas behind the economics gibberish

Monetary Reform Bibliography

A self-study guide for uncovering the agendas behind the economics gibberish

Zahir Ebrahim


Israel’s lie machine is working flat out

Israel’s lie machine is working flat out

By Stuart Littlewood
Jan 26, 2009, 17:57

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While the murderous assault on Gaza continues, I notice there’s a briefing document on the website of the Israeli Embassy in London which has a lie in every line. The West’s mainstream media repeat them, and even the most senior TV and radio interviewers don’t bother to challenge them.

(Watch video: Israel launches deadly air strikes on Gaza)

(Watch video: UN calls for Israel to open Gaza border to aid)

The document is a transcript of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s statement to the Israeli press dated 27 December 2008 – a day that will live in infamy. It is a perfect example of the falsehoods used to dupe not only us westerners but Israel’s own people. The statement shows how the regime’s view of itself is constructed on a web of dishonesty and self-delusion.

For example:

• “Israeli citizens have been under the threat of daily attack from Gaza for years.”

Palestinians have been under harsh Israeli occupation for 60 years.

• “Only this week hundreds of missiles and mortars shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities.”

Only one in 500 Qassam rockets causes a fatality. How many thousands of Israeli bombs, missiles, rockets, grenades and tank-shells have been blasted into the crowded city and towns of the Gaza Strip by Israel’s high-tech weaponry?

• “Until now we have shown restraint. But today there is no other option than a military operation.”

The only legitimate option for Israel is to end the occupation and withdraw behind its 1967 border, as required under international law and UN resolution. Israel has been killing Palestinians at the rate of 8 to 1 since 2000, and children at the rate of nearly 12 to 1 (B’Tselem figures). This is somebody’s idea of restraint?

• “We need to protect our citizens from attack through a military response against the terror infrastructure in Gaza.”

Self defence is not a right exclusive to Israel. Palestinians have an equal right to protect their citizens from the terror tactics of Israel.

• “Israel left Gaza in order to create an opportunity for peace.”

Israel never left Gaza. It still occupies Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters and controls all entrances and exits.

• “In return, the Hamas terror organization took control of Gaza and is using its citizens as cover while it deliberately targets Israeli communities and denies any chance for peace.”

Hamas was voted into power as the legitimate government of Palestine. Israel chose not to accept the people’s choice, which amounted to a denial of their human rights, and immediately set about obliterating it.

• “We have tried everything to reach calm without using force. We agreed to a truce through Egypt that was violated by Hamas, which continued to target Israel, hold Gilad Shalit and build up its arms.”

Try talking. The Israelis’ ongoing siege and economic blockade, begun shortly after Hamas was elected early in 2006, was never going to generate calm. And why is Shalit considered more important than the 9,000 Palestinians abducted and held prisoner by Israel? As soon as a Hamas government was formed Israeli troops arrested 8 Hamas ministers and 20 other parliamentarians, making the work of government impossible.

• “Israel continues to act to prevent humanitarian crisis and to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.”

Every agency operating in Gaza has warned of the deepening humanitarian crisis and protested about the starvation and suffering, especially of children many of whom show evidence of stunted growth.

• “The responsibility for harm to civilians lies with Hamas.”

Not according to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

• “Hamas is a terrorist organization, supported by Iran, that does not represent the legitimate national interests of the Palestinian people but a radical Islamist agenda that seeks to deny peace for the peoples of this region.”

Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election. It is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel receives mega-support from the U.S. When it comes to terror, it is Israel’s conduct which fits the U.S. definition of terrorism so perfectly – see Bush’s Executive Order 13224, Section 3

• “While confronting Hamas, Israel continues to believe in the two State solution and remains committed to negotiations with the legitimate Palestinian Authority in the context of the peace process, launched at Annapolis.”

Israel is busy establishing irreversible facts on the ground that make a viable Palestinian state impossible. As everyone knows, the regime has reneged on the peace process and carries on building illegal settlements and the illegal Wall, and demolishing Palestinian homes.

Months ago Hamas accepted a Palestinian state based on internationally recognized (pre-1967) borders, in accordance with UN resolutions, with full sovereignty and its capital in Jerusalem, but this has been ignored. Hamas also offered a 10-year truce, also ignored. Earlier, Arafat and the PLO recognized the State of Israel in the Oslo agreement but what good did it do? Today’s U.S.-backed, Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority is not representative of the Palestinian people.

• “Israel expects the support and understanding of the international community, as it confronts terror, and advances the interest of all those who wish the forces of peace and co existence to determine the agenda of this region.”

Israel, next to the U.S., the biggest purveyor of terror in the region and only advances its own interests. It may get the support of Israel lobby stooges in other western governments but is rapidly earning the contempt of everybody else.

From a statement dated 22 December 2008:

• “Hamas, backed by Iran, has regularly stated its desire to see the complete destruction of Israel.”

Israel is itself a leading destroyer and currently engaged in trying to wipe out Hamas and the Gazans. Iran’s Ahmadinajad quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini as saying that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” – fair comment considering Jerusalem, with Bethlehem, was designated an ‘international city’ under the UN Partition Plan.

Israeli propaganda twisted the Iranian’s words to read “Israel must be wiped off the map”. Zionist sources and the manifestos of Israeli political parties have made it clear for a long time that Israel plans to wipe Palestine off the map, and every act and lie is directed towards that end.

• “Our fight is not with the people of Gaza; it is with the extremists of Hamas.”

Then why does the Israeli navy harass and fire on peaceable Gazan fishermen who are well within their own territorial waters? Why does Israel prevent Palestinian students from taking up places at foreign universities and block hospital spares, medicines, foodstuffs and foreign medics from entering Gaza?

Why has the Israeli navy just rammed a mercy vessel in international waters taking doctors and medicines to Gaza? Latest air-strikes have hit the Islamic University and the ministry of education. These are direct attacks on Gazan civil society and its infrastructure.

• “Hamas started this conflict, and it bears responsibility for any harm to civilians on either side.”

The conflict, started by Jewish terrorists, has been going on for 60 years, decades before Hamas came into being.

• “Israel’s only responsibility is to protect Israeli citizens.”

As the occupying power Israel has a duty to see that the people of the occupied territories come to no harm.

• “Just as Israel seeks to defend its civilian population, Hamas seeks to kill them.”

This reads far better the other way round: “Just as Hamas seeks to defend its civilian population, Israel seeks to kill them.”

• “Rocket attacks have continued for years and are now a daily occurrence. How long does the international community expect Israel will wait before defending itself against them?”

The rocket attacks will end when Israel ends the occupation and stops terrorizing its neighbours.

• “In the south of Israel, Israeli citizens live with air raid sirens sounding every day – sometimes every hour. Their situation is intolerable.”

Not half as intolerable as it is for the Gazans, who live in constant fear of air raids and re-invasion and are constantly under surveillance by armed drones which can fire missiles under computer control from an armchair in Israeli headquarters.

• “For years, the international community has turned a blind eye to this onslaught. Only when Israel seeks to stop the rockets do they take notice.”

For years the international community has turned a blind eye to Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, which is why the problem remains unsolved.

• “Hamas is not only the enemy of Israel – it is the enemy of every Palestinian who believes in peace.”

Israelis just can’t come to terms with the Palestinians’ democratic choice and are bent on obliterating it.

• “It is Hamas’ attacks – not Israel’s reactions – that destroy every opportunity we have for peace.”

The world has managed to work out by now that Israel doesn’t want peace until it has stolen all the land and water it needs to expand its racist state into a ‘Greater Israel’. It is well on the way to achieving this and won’t be thwarted.

• “Palestinian militants targeted by Israel are not just the enemies of the Israeli people; they are criminals under international law, and enemies of peace.”

Israel is in no position to preach international law.

• “What is collective punishment? ‘Collective punishment’ is a city – schools, hospitals, homes – civilians being bombarded every single day by rockets and mortars.”

Collective punishment is keeping a whole population bottled up under siege and blocking supplies and exports, smashing their infrastructure, wrecking their economy and starving their children. Trying to equate Sderot with what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is idiotic.

• “Today’s Middle East is divided between extremists and pragmatists. Hamas, backed by Iran, belongs to the extremists, who must be defeated for the sake of the future of the Middle East…. Israel’s primary goal is peace.”

Israel’s primary goal is the expansion of Israel by making the occupation of the West Bank permanent and bringing the Gazans to their knees.

The core issue in this struggle is the illegality of Israel’s brutal occupation. Israel goes to great lengths to avoid and suppress all mention of it and play-acts the pathetic victim. As the official statements (above) show, the strategy is to frame and define the situation in Israel’s own terms regardless of the truth.

It uses advanced propaganda skills, and the elaborate Israel lobby network, to persuade western politicians and media to accept Israel’s version of events (and even use Israel’s biased language) and not question its motives.

In political PR terms it works wonderfully well. The loony leaders of my own government happily spread the poison and don’t seem interested in halting Israeli aggression and the vaporizing, dismembering and crushing of Gaza’s population. In human PR terms it is a disaster.

I have been listening to the BBC’s senior interviewers these last few days. None has had the gumption to ask Israeli spokesmen the only question that matters – the ‘killer’ question on which hangs the key to peace: WHEN IS ISRAEL GOING TO END ITS OCCUPATION AND RETURN TO THE PALESTINIANS THEIR LANDS AND FREEDOM?

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

End of eight years misrule of George W. Bush

End of eight years misrule of George W. Bush

Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Within months of assumption of power by Republican candidate George W Bush in January 2001 under dubious circumstances, the harrowing terrorist attacks took place in New York and Washington which changed the dynamics of the world. Till this day, USA has not been able to establish who financed the 9/11 attacks. CIA destroyed all the video tapes of Al-Qaeda detainees interviews recorded in Guantanamo Bay. Efforts by US Congress to carry out inquest independently have been thwarted. It seems CIA, and Pentagon are party to the crime and the two have hushed it up. If Al-Qaeda hand in 9/11 attack was fabricated by CIA at the behest of an interested group, and WMDs in Iraq were faked, converting FATA into most dangerous place on earth can be another fabrication masterminded by CIA and Mossad.

Attack emanating from FATA on US homeland is another figment of imagination and wilfully floated with sinister designs. Al-Qaeda has been demonised asserting that in its bid to sap US economy, it would continue attacking US interests all over the world particularly its soil. Seven years have lapsed and so far no attack has been carried out in USA, but the US economy has tumbled at its own.

George W. Bush during his misrule pursued unilateralist and belligerent policies which inflamed extremism. He made the New World Order conceived by his father violent prone and devoid of morals and ethics and Muslim centric. Use of unabashed military force became the hallmark of his policies Rule of law and established norms were sidelined thereby shredding America’s ideals and values. He justified his immoral actions in Afghanistan and Iraq by posing himself as omniscient sage and acting upon the commandments from God. Decimation of Afghanistan was hailed and rejoiced by jingoistic Americans. Although the Americans took out demonstrations against the intended invasion of Iraq mainly because of worldwide protests, his stubbornness to go-ahead was not objected to in real sense. The Americans were told that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq would be liberated from the cruel clutches of Taliban and Saddam and endowed with democracy and prosperity. They were also assured that terrorism would be wiped off the face of the globe and the world made safe.

His madness to hunt and kill so-called Islamic terrorists throughout the Muslim world to make American homeland safe was acclaimed by the Americans. They however never bothered to find out what pains and agonies were being suffered by the teeming millions in the occupied lands at the hands of US troops and their allies. Tens of hundreds languished in infamous Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharib and Baghram prisons for years under most pitiable conditions without any recourse to judicial justice. No moral or political pressure was put on Bush Administration on this account by the Americans or human rights commissions. No questions were asked on the spine chilling tales of torture and abuses narrated by the released detainees. Massacre of thousands of innocent men, women and children by trigger-happy pilots was justified under the unholy term of collateral damage.

While Bush made Gen Musharraf his blue-eyed boy and honoured him by inviting him to Camp David, he marked Pakistan as the future target for pulverisation and adopted dual-faced policies. Under the garb of friendship, America in collaboration with India, Israel, UK and Afghanistan took deliberate steps under a well conceived plan to destabilise, de-Islamise and denuclearise Pakistan and to turn it into a vassal state of India. Bush Administration accused Pakistan of cross border terrorism and constantly prodded it to do more through policy of stick and carrot. Defamation of the army and ISI was part of the gory plan and so was murder of Benazir and making NRO cleared Zardari into most powerful civilian president and turning the legislature into a dummy. Bush declared FATA a war zone and indicated his intention to modify the doctrine of pre-emptive strike against a hostile country. A new clause has been added in pre-emption doctrine permitting USA to launch pre-emptive strikes against non-state fighters residing within jurisdiction of another country. This blatant bullying act is being rationalised under the plea that if a country is unable to prevent misuse of its territory by militants, it becomes incumbent upon USA to take unilateral action in self-defence.

Bush yearned for a big catch from the Pak-Afghan border belt including FATA, or a high value trophy from al-Qaeda or the Taliban to bow out with a note of triumph. For the attainment of his wish he took host of offensive actions against his so-called ally Pakistan including a ground attack in FATA and acceleration of drone attacks killing hundreds of innocent people. Desperate to cover up its failings in Afghanistan, Bush Administration gave its blessing to India to go ahead with its Mumbai drama to blame Pakistan government, ISI and Lashkar-e-Taiba for their involvement in Mumbai attacks and to pave way for surgical strikes against Pakistan from the east. Under the garb of strikes against Jihadi outfits, Pakistan’s nuclear and missile sites were to be targeted. An Indian ground offensive from Rajasthan had also been given a final shape. His mania to end his rule victoriously proved illusive.

After 8 years of inglorious rule, Bush has faded into oblivion. He will be remembered as the most ruthless, unjust and hateful president of USA. All his promises and tall talk proved illusive. He and his neo-cons have not been held accountable for deceiving the Americans and not fulfilling any of the stated objectives. With the heavy baggage of crimes he carries on his shoulders, it is distressful to see that he doesn’t suffer from any sense of guilt or remorse. In fact he and the Republicans took credit for ensuring homeland security by keeping the flames of war on terror well away and keeping the terrorists deterred from making another attempt on American soil. Disharmony between the faiths of two leading religions took place in his time and he contributed a lot to gain acrimony of the Muslim world because of his cruel and unjust policies and dual standards.

He has not been held accountable for devastating Afghanistan; for presiding over the killing of 1,297,997 Iraqis and displacing half of Iraqi population and making them refugees; for making thousands of women widows and children orphans and destroying their homes and property. He and his team has not been punished for wasting over $587,141,917,596 in futile war on terror which earned USA undying abhorrence and ignominy and resulted in killing of 4223 US soldiers and injury to 31000 in Iraq alone apart from physiological disorders suffered by the troops. Bush and Cheney have not been put on the mat for indulging in blatant falsehood and fabricating cooked up stories to justify invasion of Iraq.

The two had lied to the Congress and American public that Iraq possessed WMDs. Bush was not questioned as to why he pursued dual-faced policies by looking the other way to terrorism of Israel and India and gave a raw deal to the oppressed and thus earned a bad name for USA. He backed Israel for its slaughter of people of Gaza. In his quest for making America safe he made the world unsafe and sank America’s prestige and credibility to rock bottom and triggered anti-Americanism across the globe to new heights. His mad policies have ignited terrorism and given a fatal blow to American economy and resulted in global meltdown. Extremism that was confined to Afghanistan has spread all over the world. Americans and the world at large will have to reap the harvest of seeds of terrorism sown by Bush Administration for a long time.

In the wake of fearsome designs of our so-called friends against Pakistan, it is to be seen whether Obama will pursue policies of his predecessor or opt to go a step ahead of him, or reverse the anti-Pakistan trend and befriend it in real earnest and remove the grievances of the Muslim world as a whole.

Brig Asif Haroon Raja. is a defence and political analyst.

Main Core, PROMIS and the Shadow Government pt.1

Main Core, PROMIS and the Shadow Government pt.1

Ed Encho

“Over the last two weeks I have encountered just such an apocalyptic situation, where I and the Department of Justice have been asked to be part of something that is fundamentally wrong.”

(Excerpt from Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s draft letter of resignation to President Bush, dated March 16, 2004, which Comey did not in the end send.)

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull” (George Orwell: 1984)

I: Main Core and PROMIS

Suppose that the United States Government, or more likely an unaccountable privatized intelligence colossus empowered by the reaction to the 9/11 attacks and fueled by the rampant cronyism of a system long ago gone rotten had a surveillance tool capable of peering into the most private aspects of American lives on a whim. Now suppose that the new growth industry of a previously unthinkable futuristic police state was already in place, fully operational and has been online and has actively been being utilized for domestic spying for years before those two airplanes slammed into the World Trade Center. The ‘terrorist’ attacks were used as the justification for every unconstitutional reigning in of civil liberties ever since that heinous September morning seven years ago when the reset button was hit on two and a quarter centuries of American history and we all stepped forth into the brave new world of perpetual war, fear, suspicion and vengeance into a parallel reality in a place that would come to be known as The Homeland. What if this surveillance industrial complex was in possession of a database that was so large and so powerful that not only could it instantly process and retrieve the most minute or intimate aspects of a citizen’s lives but was also able to utilize extremely sophisticated artificial intelligence capabilities to actually predict likely patterns of future behavior.

Such a huge database would be able to use cutting edge technology funded with taxpayer dollars and awarded to unaccountable private corporations largely through ‘business as usual’ no bid contracts to create the most invasive tool of oppression this country has ever seen. This database would rely on software that was capable of performing social network analysis based on block modeling technology to monitor all forms of electronic communications, all internet searches, all debit and credit card transactions, all travel arrangements, all library records, all bank activity and all telephone records. It would then be able to use the data to not only find links between persons who already know and interact with each other but to categorize each individual into a particular group that possess similar behavioral and purchasing habits. These groups could then be further divided into subgroups and further analyzed in order to determine under some loosely defined and largely unknown guidelines whether they could potentially represent a threat. While all of this may sound like some sort of futuristic dystopian nightmare straight out of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report and “Precrime” it is very real and it goes by the name of Main Core. For example, if you are selling a bicycle and run an advertisement in your local newspaper and you happen to receive a call from a Muhammad who is interested in your bicycle and Muhammad happens to have certain friends who have relationships with an organization that is determined by some unknown criteria to be a potential terrorist organization then the call that you received from Muhammad would then in all likelihood place you in the database and subject to an increased level of scrutiny at best and at worst in jeopardy of being picked up and held indefinitely without any sort of judical review.

This techoology is being used today absent any form of legitimate oversight, with a Constitution that has been eviscerated by the Bush-Cheney-Rove Axis of Evil, a vast gulag network of top secret prisons and ‘detention facilities’ and the decidedly anti-American new phenomenon of state sanctioned torture. Throw in an overworked, systematically dumbed-down populace that has been propagandized by the corrupt institution that is the corporate media machine with it’s clever use of fear and loathing and scientific development of advanced mind control techniques who despite the infinite wisdom of our forefathers would gladly sacrifice their liberty for the any sort of temporary safety (no matter that it is fleeting) and there exists today in ‘The Homeland’ a perfect petri dish for an authoritarian fascist society.

It is though a very sophisticated form of fascism unlike more outwardly obvious regimes that we have known in the past. Author Bertram Gross published a book back in 1980 that was entitled Friendly Fascism, Jim Garrison once said that “fascism would come to America in the name of national security”, and author Kevin Phillips in his 1983 book Post-Conservative America warned of the potential of an “apple pie authoritarianism” and a coming society in which: “the Star Spangled Benner would wave with greater frequency and over many more parades; increased surveillance would crack down on urban outbreaks and extreme political dissidents”. This very accurately describes post 9/11 America where any semblance of reason has been abandoned for cheap flag-waving pimped off as patriotism, criticism of authority has made into potential treason by the highly paid shills for neoconservative doctrine, sloganeering and demagoguery have replaced discourse, critical thinking is becoming extinct and just as George Orwell so accurately predicted Big Brother is now watching over us, protecting us and ensuring that we understand that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

But I digress…

Main Core has received attention in two 2008 articles, one a piece by investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham entitled The Last Roundup (which also looks at Continuity of Government programs but more on that in a little while) and Tim Shorrock entitled Exposing Bush’s Historic Abuse of Power. Both articles tie Main Core to the now legendary PROMIS software, an extremely advanced program designed to aid federal prosecutors in case management tracking. PROMIS could pull and put together a wide range of data from disparate sources into a single record. The PROMIS software was created by INSLAW Inc., a company owned by a former NSA intelligence officer named William Hamilton. PROMIS was to have been licensed to the U.S. government in the early 1980’s before the technology boom became widespread but was then stolen by the seamy officials in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. The software was modified for espionage purposes to include a ‘back door’ that could be used for spying on those that it was sold to and in a detail that should be especially relevant with the economic crisis that threatens to crash the global financial system, the software could also be used to track in real time (in order to manipulate?) stock market transactions, once can certainly speculate as to how such a tool could have contributed to an economic catastrophe as we are now facing if it were used for such a thing. It is important to keep in mind the period when PROMIS was stolen in the early 1980’s and the fact that the techology boom was still years in the future which should give one an idea to just how far advanced and therefore how important that it was to those who would use it in order to promote a sinister agenda.

Mr. Shorock’s piece goes into the relationship between PROMIS and Main Core in some detail:

According to William Hamilton, a former NSA intelligence officer who left the agency in the 1970s, that description sounded a lot like Main Core, which he first heard about in detail in 1992. Hamilton, who is the president of Inslaw Inc., a computer services firm with many clients in government and the private sector, says there are strong indications that the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance operations use Main Core.

Hamilton’s company Inslaw is widely respected in the law enforcement community for creating a program called the Prosecutors’ Management Information System, or PROMIS. It keeps track of criminal investigations through a powerful search engine that can quickly access all stored data components of a case, from the name of the initial investigators to the telephone numbers of key suspects. PROMIS, also widely used in the insurance industry, can also sort through other databases fast, with results showing up almost instantly. “It operates just like Google,” Hamilton told me in an interview in his Washington office in May.

Since the late 1980s, Inslaw has been involved in a legal dispute over its claim that Justice Department officials in the Reagan administration appropriated the PROMIS software. Hamilton claims that Reagan officials gave PROMIS to the NSA and the CIA, which then adapted the software — and its outstanding ability to search other databases — to manage intelligence operations and track financial transactions. Over the years, Hamilton has employed prominent lawyers to pursue the case, including Elliot Richardson, the former attorney general and secretary of defense who died in 1999, and C. Boyden Gray, the former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush. The dispute has never been settled. But based on the long-running case, Hamilton says he believes U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database.

Hamilton was first told about the connection between PROMIS and Main Core in the spring of 1992 by a U.S. intelligence official, and again in 1995 by a former NSA official. In July 2001, Hamilton says, he discussed his case with retired Adm. Dan Murphy, a former military advisor to Elliot Richardson who later served under President George H.W. Bush as deputy director of the CIA. Murphy, who died shortly after his meeting with Hamilton, did not specifically mention Main Core. But he informed Hamilton that the NSA’s use of PROMIS involved something “so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem,” Hamilton told me. He added, “I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core.” Hamilton also provided copies of letters that Richardson and Gray sent to U.S. intelligence officials and the Justice Department on Inslaw’s behalf alleging that the NSA and the CIA had appropriated PROMIS for intelligence use.

Hamilton says James B. Comey’s congressional testimony in May 2007, in which he described a hospitalized John Ashcroft’s dramatic standoff with senior Bush officials Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card, was another illuminating moment. “It was then that we [at Inslaw] started hearing again about the Main Core derivative of PROMIS for spying on Americans,” he told me.

Through a former senior Justice Department official with more than 25 years of government experience, Salon has learned of a high-level former national security official who reportedly has firsthand knowledge of the U.S. government’s use of Main Core. The official worked as a senior intelligence analyst for a large domestic law enforcement agency inside the Bush White House. He would not agree to an interview. But according to the former Justice Department official, the former intelligence analyst told her that while stationed at the White House after the 9/11 attacks, one day he accidentally walked into a restricted room and came across a computer system that was logged on to what he recognized to be the Main Core database. When she mentioned the specific name of the top-secret system during their conversation, she recalled, “he turned white as a sheet.”

An article in Radar magazine in May, citing three unnamed former government officials, reported that “8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect” and, in the event of a national emergency, “could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and even detention.”

The INSLAW/PROMIS story reached deep into the darkest bowels of an increasingly secretive and malevolent National Security State that had manifested itself in the Reagan administration, the arms for hostages ‘October Surprise’ deal that sank Jimmy Carter’s bid for re-election leading to the Reagan-Bush hostile takeover of America, Iran-Contra, BCCI, media manipulation (see Robert Parry’s excellent special report for Consortium News entitled Iran Contra’s ‘lost chapter’), Oliver North’s swashbuckling adventures with C.O.G., drugs for guns and subversion of Congress all were components of Reagan’s government, a government that he hypocritically railed against for its intrusiveness and yet presided over while the shadow government that would rise again with the Supreme Court installation of George W. Bush as president with many of the key operatives of Reagan and George H.W. Bush’s dark shops of oppression being given key positions in this brazenly lawless administration that has brought America to the brink of fascism. Many of these hard-liners remain in place throughout the bureaucracy in order to do whatever is necessary to preserve the power of the shadow government.

Ketcham’s The Last Roundup is particulary of interest in that he examines the now infamous 2004 visit of Bush administration officials Alberto Gonzalez and Andrew Card to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft who had been stricken with pancreaitis after acting A.G. James Comey refused to sign off on the reauthorization of what was an illegal surveillance program related to Continuity of Government. The story is fascinating in that it not only illustrated the length to which the Bush-Cheney junta would go to in order to keep their dirty little programs in place but also for the high speed chase through the streets of Washington and the race up the hospital stairs that Comey engaged in to beat Gonzalez and Card to the sedated Ashcroft to take advantage of a sick man, when John Ashcroft actually comes out looking like a heroic figure it becomes very apparent of just how grossly un-American that this flagrantly criminal administration truly is. James Comey went on to give testimony to Congress over the hospital room showdown and more details are available from blogger Glenn Greenwald in his piece entitled What illegal “things” was the government doing in 2001-2004? and in Barton Gellman’s book Angler and exerpts were published in the Washington Post which part one and part two can be read for more information on the back story behind the surveillance reauthorization. Murray Waas also has done a story on whether former Attorney General Gonzalez created a set of falsified notes to provide a cover story for what occurred while trying to bully Comey and Ashcroft into signing off on the obviously illegal surveillance program.

Excerpts from Ketcham’s story are chilling:

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, “There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Of course, federal law is somewhat vague as to what might constitute a “national emergency.” Executive orders issued over the past three decades define it as a “natural disaster, military attack, [or] technological or other emergency,” while Department of Defense documents include eventualities like “riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, [and] disorder prejudicial to public law and order.” According to one news report, even “national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad” could be a trigger.

Let’s imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a “parallel government” that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.

And –

Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary. From the comfortable perspective of peaceful times, such behavior by the government may seem far-fetched. But it was not so very long ago that FDR ordered 120,000 Japanese Americans—everyone from infants to the elderly—be held in detention camps for the duration of World War II. This is widely regarded as a shameful moment in U.S. history, a lesson learned. But a long trail of federal documents indicates that the possibility of large-scale detention has never quite been abandoned by federal authorities. Around the time of the 1968 race riots, for instance, a paper drawn up at the U.S. Army War College detailed plans for rounding up millions of “militants” and “American negroes,” who were to be held at “assembly centers or relocation camps.” In the late 1980s, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications reported the existence of 10 detention camp sites on military facilities nationwide, where hundreds of thousands of people could be held in the event of domestic political upheaval. More such facilities were commissioned in 2006, when Kellogg Brown & Root—then a subsidiary of Halliburton—was handed a $385 million contract to establish “temporary detention and processing capabilities” for the Department of Homeland Security. The contract is short on details, stating only that the facilities would be used for “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs.” Just what those “new programs” might be is not specified.

In the days after our hypothetical terror attack, events might play out like this: With the population gripped by fear and anger, authorities undertake unprecedented actions in the name of public safety. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security begin actively scrutinizing people who—for a tremendously broad set of reasons—have been flagged in Main Core as potential domestic threats. Some of these individuals might receive a letter or a phone call, others a request to register with local authorities. Still others might hear a knock on the door and find police or armed soldiers outside. In some instances, the authorities might just ask a few questions. Other suspects might be arrested and escorted to federal holding facilities, where they could be detained without counsel until the state of emergency is no longer in effect.

Despite the departure of the Bush regime, martial law is a very serious possibility with it having now been established that the executive branch can exercise dictatorial powers during a “catastrophic emergency” (as put forth in the Bush administration’s NSPD-51) which is defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy or government functions”. With events unfolding as they currently are it is especially troubling to note that the “economy” is one of the criteria that would trigger the declaration of martial law, the current economic crisis along with the lack of will to do what it takes to make corrections rather than bailing out and essentially giving amnesty to the Wall Street looters who are responsible for it only guarantees that the collapse when it does come will be much more devastating. An article in The Army Times that was published last fall reveals that as of October troop deployments will include ‘Homeland’ duty under the command of NORTHCOM. Assignments will allow for an increased public visibility (translation: getting Americans used to seeing troops on the streets) and will have a stated purpose as follows: “They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.” If action by the military (and the unaccountable mercenaries from privatized ‘security’ firms like Blackwater) is decided to be merited by the unitary executive and a state of martial law declared then exectly what exactly is going to happen to those “8 million” names that Ketcham writes of as “potentially suspect” who are in the Main Core database?

That Main Core and PROMIS are linked raises some extremely provocative questions in regards to intent on the subversion of the Constitution and the overthrow of the legitimate government by a shadow government using the Continuity of Government infrastructure. Ketcham also references a massive 1993 piece for Wired Magazine entitled The INSLAW Octopus that none other than the infamous rogue operative Lt. Col. Oliver North was using PROMIS for illegal surveillance purposes:

Lt. Col. Oliver North also may have been using the program. According to several intelligence community sources, PROMIS was in use at a 6,100-square-foot command center built on the sixth floor of the Justice Department. According to both a contractor who helped design the center and information disclosed during the Iran-Contra hearings, Oliver North had a similar, but smaller, White House operations room that was connected by computer link to the DOJ’s command center.

Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States as part of a domestic emergency preparedness program, commissioned under Reagan’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to sources and published reports. Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude. This operation was so sensitive that when Rep. Jack Brooks asked North about it during the Iran-Contra hearings, the hearing was immediately suspended pending an executive (secret) conference. When the hearings were reconvened, the issue of North’s FEMA dealings was dropped.

North’s involvement with Continuity of Government programs including REX 84 has long been known and while Col. North no longer is active in such programs (at least not to the knowledge of anyone) a larger part of the C.O.G./shadow government infrastructure continued to breed in darkness and secrecy and on that most glorious day for American fascism, 9/11/2001 went live under the guidance of one of its most ardent and longtime architects, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

The secrets of Main Core, PROMIS and other variations of the monstrous tools of an out of control shadow government are the veritable crown jewels of the police state and every effort has and will continue to be vigorously employed to stifle any investigations through the official channels. Is there really any doubt that these surveillance systems aren’t being used for raw political purposes and for blackmail? How much serious opposition did the Bush-Cheney-Rove Axis of Evil meet in their systematic dismantling of the Constitution over the past eight years? How much of it will the Obama administration undo? In the ongoing exploitation of the ‘terrorist’ attacks of 9/11 that have been used to justify each and every incursion on American civil liberties and thugs like Dick Cheney and David Addington acting as the muscle for the shadow government (as is evident in the stories linked to above) the footfalls of those little cat feet grow louder and louder.

Now if PROMIS was being used by Colonel North as a part of Rex 84 back in the 1980’s when the Continuity of Government plans were being tweaked, FEMA being set up for the eventual incorporation into the Department of Homeland Security and financial transactions as well as communications already being monitored what does that say about the current state in which we all find ourselves in? Every new police state measure has been implemented largely after being conceived in secrecy under the premise of ‘national security’ and NSPD-51 has allowed for the executive branch to issue a declaration of martial law under which the roundup of dissidents for detention (or worse) will be conducted. And this has all been non-reviewable by Congress, a supposedly (at least according to the Constitution) a co-equal branch of government. When a Congressman named Peter DeFazio was last year denied access to the NSPD-51/C.O.G. plans by the Bush administration it was yet another example of what has been a disturbing pattern. The Main Core list of potential ‘enemies of the state’, the assignment of troops to NORTHCOM, the ongoing frantic efforts of the neocons to launch a war with Iran, the threat of the Cheney cabal being further exposed, the deteriorating economy and the growing public anger at government along with a loss of faith in public institutions all add up to something very dark that is about to come to fruition after decades of planning.

None of this is about terrorism at all, it never has been. It is all about the implementation of a fascist style dictatorship in America. It is imperative that it be brought to light now that there is a window of opportunity and a new administration, the police state and the illegal surveillance system must be dismantled and our intelligence system be put under honest and principled oversight.

(This is the first installment of what will be an ongoing series)

Palestine Holocaust & Western Democracy

Palestine Holocaust & Western Democracy

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Post-Holocaust scene in Mideast after the new US administration took office is depressing, to say the least, with the Arabs still undecided about their coordinated security action against enemies of Islam and Islamic nations and, worst, fact that the Palestinians claming a vague “victory” in Israeli holocaust in the face of a strong roguish and state of Israel unleashing intermittent terror attacks on Palestinians, against all human norms. There has been a strong notion in the Islamic world that nothing would change in White House and the world art large. This means the status quo of the new presidency in Washington would continue as before.

What would amount to mean the new US President’s resolve for peaceful resolution of regional crises, Barack Obama named his two key envoys to the Middle East:  Pakistan and Afghanistan. George Mitchell, who negotiated an end to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, has been charged with moving the Middle East peace process forward. Richard Holbrooke has been named envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He brokered the 1995 deal that ended the war in the former Yugoslavia. Earlier, Obama ordered Guantanamo Bay prison camp to close within a year. Barack Obama’s first statement, however, did not significantly depart from earlier US policies. Obama made his first public statement on the Middle East as US president. He named former senator George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian leaders have warned the US that it needs to change attitudes over the Arab-Israeli conflict. Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the US said ex-President George W Bush had left a “sickening legacy” in the Middle East. He accused the US of contributing to the killing of Gazans. Prince Turki’s abruptly resigned and left Washington after just 15 months in the job. The post of ambassador to Washington is one of the most important for Saudi foreign relations. In recent years, the US-Saudi relations have occasionally been uneasy. Saudi Arabia opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, and has been dismayed by events across its northern border since. US-Saudi relations became strained after it was revealed that most of the hijackers involved in the 11 September attacks came from Saudi Arabia. Prince Turki’s departure left a void in US-Saudi relations at a moment when the Middle East faces crises on several fronts.

As it is known, the USA has a long cherished agenda for its military superiority in the world even before the Nazist Germany began its fascist terror voyage, devastating, to capture the whole world. Israel keeps clinging on to USA in executing its nefarious designs world wide through their secret agencies secretly. There are a few Jewish strategists who poison the American minds with anti-Islamic themes and rhetoric.

As the so-called democracies make tall claims about their Human rights records their terror forces test all routes of global terrorism. The recent installment of holocaust in Palestine unleashed by the fascist Israeli terror forces takes the world to route of anti-Islamic nations towards the goals if fully controlling the resources of Arab world and containing the global Muslims. Knowing that Palestinians and their “friends” in Arab world  would claim some victory in Israel’s holocaust in Palestine, Tel-Aviv played its terror card quite effectively, began as Bush was getting ready to quit the White House and Obama, a lefty,  was rising to power.

The Jewish control of the US Government apparatus and the mass media can be clearly seen the exact wording of the resolution: In three places this short resolution endorses the survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish State with secure borders. That’s a JEWISH STATE, not a multicultural or multi-religious state but a state exclusively dedicated to Jews. The controlled media had not a word in criticism of the resolution supporting Israel as an ethnic and religious state exclusively dedicated to Jews! The resolution is the clear proof of Jewish supremacy over the U.S. government. One could not even imagine the U.S. Congress or the mass media tolerating a resolution, which called for the control immigration and secure American borders so as to preserve an overwhelmingly White and Christian America.

As per CIA-Mossad plan, Afghanistan was destroyed, its resources squandered and booty shared by the invading state terrorists form the West with help of Russia, among others in East.. A puppet regime was installed there in Kabul and the fascists want on rampages in Arab world by invading Iraq first. The further invasions are now on hold the neocons expect the Obama regime to pursue the US policy of controlling the global resources and therefore invade Iran and other “rogues”..

Resources of Afghanistan and Iraq are now under the invaders control and the people there under their terror custody. People are split by the occupying forces to make them kill each other thereby making the job the occupying forces fairly easier. USA, the most powerful country with all latest arms and remote technology frightened the world by creating Islamaphobia and hatred for Islam and Muslims. But all powerful USA having  best remote equipment failed to track and make disappear any object pretended to be afraid of one Osama , the super man, rather Spiderman with his only military uniform and video tapes meant only for Al-Jazeera supposedly one of media creations of the USA to support its global terrorism designs.

In the democracy and rule of law many nasty developments have happened in the world. Democracies, like the autocracies, believe that their advancements depend on the destruction of other nations. Muslims nations have had a pathetic existence for centuries but with the oil hitting the Arab coasts, some improvement in the lives of Muslims was noticed. Over all progress in life conditions in Arab and other few Islamic nations became a matter of jealousy and animosity in non-Islamic world. US-led west along with Israel hatched plans to subvert the Islamic nations by creating proxy wars. US seeks a good portion of wealth for itself form every part of the world and hence creates tension every where and sell weapons there. Arabs also buy huge arsenals of arms form US-led west and of course from other nations. But they want to just control the energy resources for their own companies without paying any price to the Arabs. Hence they ignited troubles every where. Israel wants to keep the Palestine issue alive by killing ht innocent people there so that USA could bring the Arabs under its control. USA supports and aids the Jewish attacks in Palestine.

The global state terrorist networks have skilfully utilized the services of the media in propaganda business and Islamaphobia dramatics. The partiality of even the so-called impartial media like the BBC and VOA is not entirely unknown to the world, but the recent Israeli terror war in Palestine killing innocent people there including little children and women exposed the BBC partiality in favour of fascist Israel. More than 400 children have died, thousands are homeless and nothing short of a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Gaza. It is shocking to know that the broadcast about Gaza reality could compromise the impartiality of the BBC’s reporting from the Palestinian territory. BBC wants to shield the Jewish fascists, just as the Indian media try to protect Hindu terrorists involved in terrorist activities in Indian town, including Mumbai.

Bulk of the media in Islamic and Arab world is being controlled and managed by non-Muslims who are also anti-Muslims when situations warrant. This situation has catered to the onward march of the anti-Islamic forces globally, making it dents in countries like Israel and India. Baring one or two, the English newspapers in Arab world are fully equipped with Western staff, ideas and their propaganda machinery. They terrorized Muslims telling them they are indeed the terrorists and have to behave well. Lest the US-led forces would kill them. Muslims are terrorized in such a manner that most of the Muslims have shaven off their pet beards out of fear of fellow Muslims and anti-Muslims.  This is no exaggeration.

Osama Factor & Global Terror

Since sept11 when the western media including the TV medium began blasting the global Muslims and “Islamic fundamentalism”, a lot lost of water has flown under the under the anti-Islamic regional and national bridges, a lot more Muslim blood too. In fact the global media, essentially anti-Muslim by nature and in essence, have enjoyed a lot of bloody pleasures at the site of dead bodies of Muslims on international arena. The US-led terror wars exposed a few facts about Islamic world.

It is a known fact that many state agencies have recruited and employed Muslims and non-Muslims to be engaged in terrorism activities across the globe and blame the Muslims and Islamic fundamentalism for that. After the success of Sept 11 terrorism, it was tried out in many countries and Muslims were targeted for murder and torture. India does the same with its Parliament terrorism. Some Islamic groups are supposed to accept the claim for having “done” a particular terrorism. In Mumbai, thus, it was the turn of the Deccan Mujahideen to accept the blame, but Indians switched the blame on to Pakistan.

USA is supposedly fighting terror wars, but in fact its forces are engaged in slashing the Muslim population in the Islamic world and hence many anti-Islamic nations lent them support. Interestingly even several Islamic nations have joined the global state terror gangs for their own reasons. Ably supported by anti-Islamic media, the global terror networks by CIA-Mossad combine have indeed did the magic for the anti-Islamic nations and terror forces to attack Muslims and terrorize Muslim nations. After the Soviet withdrawal in May 1989 and fall of the puppet regime in Kabul, the Mossad agents manipulated the Mujahideen to fight with each other. This created hostility and distrust among their major groups, and the coalition government they belatedly set up in Kabul was unworkable from the start.

USA-Mossad do plan meticulously about the terror machinations across the globe and use the Al-Qaeda as their base tool to aggravate the tensions. Al-Qaeda had to be shown as having all the power and resources for committing the most terrible acts at the global level. Al-Qaeda is thus credited with “enormous capabilities” including use of chemical, biological, and tactical nuclear weapons, and of intricate computer technologies.

CIA and Mossad have established worldwide secret networks with poisonous tentacles and can deploy biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, but the Western media provide a bundle of disinformation and fabricated scenarios of past events and anticipated threats from Islamic fundamentalists. They make events and history too. In Afghanistan, within a short period the Taliban marched on to Kabul unopposed. Enemies of USSR suddenly started speak against USA. Mullah Omar, programmed for his role and surrounded by disguised Afghani Jews as his ministers and advisers, was invested with the image of an intolerant extremist Islamist, a mentor of Osama Bin Laden and a foe of the West. Simultaneously, Osama and his senior disciples, who had previously been programmed to oppose the Soviets, were now cultivated and programmed to speak and act as ‘enemies’ of the United States. The name, AlQaeda, meaning ‘the Base,’ originated. It was the title of the computer folder in which Osama Bin Laden, employed by CIA through the Saudi Intelligence in December 1979, began to keep the data of the Mujahideen, recruited and trained by CIA and Mossad for Afghan Jihad. USA and West derived “fundamentalism” out of this..

Israel’s Mossad and American CIA had already been setting up AlQaeda cells in the Muslim World and in other countries, such as, US, Canada, Britain, Germany, Spain, France, Kenya, the Philippines, to suit their schemes of engineering acts of terrorism before and after 9/11, to create the bogus threat of worldwide terrorism. It was not surprising that within a few weeks of 9/11, CIA produced a map of AlQaeda cells located in over 40 countries. CIA-Mossad agents, who can merge with the local people, control each cell. They decide the target, the timing and scope of each major operation, and they arrange for the required finances, technology, equipment, intelligence and hideouts. The cell’s militants may be local or foreign brainwashed, disposable minions, who have no idea of their controllers or of the real aims of the terror acts they are asked to undertake. Zionist stool pigeons go about recruiting emotion-charged volunteers for the cells in the name of Osama and Jihad against America and its allies/satellites.

The terror gangs, propped up by US-Israel combine that came to be known as Al-Qaeda were formed in the early 1930s by the Jewish Agency (JA) for a dreadful purpose. Established in 1929 in Jerusalem as an arm of WZO, the JA was to function as a ‘government-in- being’ for the future Zionist state. They operate under CIA cover. One of its tasks was to expel the Palestinians from Palestine and to compel the large numbers of Jews living in and around the Middle East to immigrate to Palestine to increase its Jewish population. They also targeted the British Mandatory Authority in Palestine to make it submit to various Zionist demands. Disguised as Muslims and operating with extreme secrecy, these gangs of Eastern Jews subjected selected Jewish communities in each country to frightful psychological propaganda and shocking acts of terrorism including burning their synagogues and homes and slaughtering the Jewish people to make them believe they could no longer live safely among the Muslims. These gangs were to later form the core elements of the body named as AlQaeda. They gained direct deep access into the secret agencies of all the pro-US Middle Eastern states. They had been trained to look, act and live like dedicated Muslim Mujahideen. Many Tajik, Uzbek, Afghani Jews, as well as Jews from Pakistan’s Tribal Areas were added to their ranks. When Mossad/CIA inducted Osama into the Afghan Jihad, the Arabian Jews as anti-Communism specialists had already established a firm footing in the Saudi intelligence service. As the game’s players in the field were all Afghani Jews.

The “terror mastermind”, Osama is silent these days, and only the USA and Israel and their allies know the reason for that. Rise of terrorism as the most important global theme for academic debates in fact enhanced the terrorism planks to survive as the dominant political instrument in the world and polls were fought on this issue. The Pentagon-CIA-Mossad combine aided by their predominantly anti-Islamic media, in fact is controlling the world almost in every sphere of activities. These media magnets promote not only terrorism but also fuel the crises by making the Palestinians fight with Israel and kill themselves eventually. Osama gives his secret taps only to Al-Jazeera, one of the US creations.

Global media, broadly speaking, are promoting state terrorism unleashed by their respective favorite nations, but they also are committed to defame Islam and help the anti-Islamic fascist regimes to kill and torture Muslims. The US-led West and its Eastern associates successfully created a firmly rooted anti-Islamic media to spread rumours and anti-Islamic propagandas. It is a known fact that Taliban and Al-Qaeda were created by the CIA-SIS combine to punish the communists, dismantle communist regime in Afghanistan and push the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Every terror operation by Mossad-CIA but cleverly ascribed to AlQaeda, in its real consequences and effects has been a severe blow to Islam, the Muslim Countries and the Muslims living all over the world.

When all of a sudden a few miscreants appeared in a Mosque in Srinagar and spoke about independence on behalf of the so-called Al-Qaeda and Taliban I wrote to expose the designs of anti-Kashmiris, anti-Muslim tactics to mislead the Kashmiris and get them killed by Indian terror forces supported with Israeli weapons. Soon they disappeared not to appear again in Kashmir. Al-Qaeda could be a powerful CIA-cum-Zionist Weapon against Islam. Most of the Muslims rightly perceive the so-called West’s War on Terrorism as a War against Islam. Already the so-called fundamentalists, Osama and AlQaeda are the greatest threat to the Muslims, not to the Western people. Has it not been proved already by the ugly events of the past four years since 9/11?

Fascism & Media hypes

Maybe Osama is already a spent force for the USA and it might have already discarded him, but thanks to Osama’s timely terror assistance to USA, one of the outcomes of the Sept11 is to bring all secret services agencies of the world powers under CIA-Pentagon. The way the entire world kept their mouth shut and military arsenals closed down disallowing any arms movement to Palestine during the Israeli terror war in Palestine reveals the crude fact that USA-Israel control the world, its economy, military, intelligence and other arsenals.

It is horrid to think that we are covered by terrorists of all sorts and their local agents every where and anything could happened any where. Osama seems to have offered enough substance for the media to target Islam and Muslims. When there seems to be some logic when the state run media, including the newspapers trumpet about the achievements of the regime including state terrorism feats, the same practice by the non-state media is ridiculous as they fail to uphold the genius of being the fourth estate and declining to guard the genuine interest so people when hidden agendas are being pursued by the state against legitimate some sections of population (Muslims).

Although the concerned regimes have not yet admitted openly role in the terrorism activities to discredit Islam and torture Muslims, they now are aware of the crude fact that pseudo democracy facade has fallen off their faces exposing their real fascist terrorist faces. However, their media are still waging an intense life and death battle to hide the state terrorists and continue to implicate the Muslims and their organizations, real and fake, their own and those launched by the Pentagon-CIS-Mossad-RAW etc

The genocides and torture scene of Muslims at global level by the anti-Islamic forces and nations is not the fallout of terrorism as the global media try to argue with some filthy evidences manufactured by the USA, but the result of a deep rooted and planned conspiracy against Islam and Muslims. US-Israel led anti-Islamic forces began executing their long cherished agenda of Islamic holocaust in Arab (Islamic) world and torture them every where by branding them as “terrorists”, suspected and potential. Indians and Russians joined the band gradually to serve their own Muslim problems in their neighborhoods, like Kashmir and Chechnya etc.

Although the US-Israel and combine are yet to admit their role in Sept1 terrorism in USA, by now it is becoming clear to the world. Some of the western editors tell me as Israel gets more lands form Palestine, they would be less afraid of Arabs and more relaxed which in turn let them give away some lands for the Palestinians to establish their own state. That mean first of all let the Jews settle down in Palestine and decide what to be given to the Palestinians , but Tel Aviv would continue to control Palestine as India is doing in Kashmir. These sorts of arguments are common in West

Creation of Osama bin Laden as a “terrorist” with an anti-Islamic mandate was one of finest imaginative activities of the US-led West. Rise of Osama-bin Laden as “global terror” was only the beginning of western inspired terrorism and USA sought to project him and his own associates as “threats to America” to pursue the hidden agenda of the USA-Israeli strategists operating across the world infiltrating into every organization, including Islamic. Osama relocated himself in Afghanistan, as per CIA-Mossad ideas, because it was precisely fast emerging Islamic Afghanistan that was the target of the anti-Islamic nations. Saudi led Arab nations supported the USA and other masters of petrodollars to wind up the Taliban regime in Kabul and  replace it with royal regime that would just follow the usual Islam followed the world wide, wealth creations, the corruption, nepotism, pro-Americanism, etc.

It seems the Palestinians indirectly oppose any punitive measures against the Jewish killers of Muslims in Palestine with their mischievous victory claims in genocides of children. By not demanding for punitive measures beginning with disarming of Israel but arranging quick money for reconstruction of Gaza, the Arab stats have indirectly financed the holocaust of Muslims confirming the wide speculations about their secret understating with Israel like Egypt is openly doing. Thus it looks like a joint terrorism efforts on permanent basis in Palestine with USA, UK-led Quartet, PLO led by Abbas of pro-US-Israel Fatah, Egypt and Arab nations while the entire Islamic world is watching the genocide shows along with UN and UNSC bigwigs.

USA and Israel are keen to make the world spend more resources on military equipment that they sell. Militarization of the world and heavy spending on military equipment remain the chief goals of Israel-US combine. USA and other advanced countries sell more weapons to the weak nations on terrorism pretext. If any country refuses to budge and help the US pursue its own interests, terrorism is tried out there too. (Indonesia)

Even while the Arabs are trying to compromise with the US-Israeli arrogance, the Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will protect from prosecution any of its soldiers accused of war crimes in Gaza. Many colonial terror nations like India are seeking protection under the commonly existing torture regimes around the world and they think nothing will happen to their terror forces and their leaders. This is what Olmert stressed recently.

Bulk of the media in Arab world is being managed by non-Muslims and Arabs are happy about because they need not do any thing about journalism, as they are busy in making petrodollars. This has crated an alarming situation in Arab world. Arabs think they are terrorists and culprits and that the anti-Islamic nations are the best ones in the world.

Now the world, largely seen as anti-Islamic, is not at all bothered about disarming a fascist Israel to deny it anymore chances of invasions and holocaust, rather the world leaders and media are blaming Hamas to stop any move to punish the aggressors and killers.  Had any Islamic country invaded Israel, USA would have long ago passed UNSC resolution to attack the “rogue” state concerned, but now Israel and its supporters are not rogues. But the matter has to be settled in favor of world peace and Israel has to be punished for the war crimes and holocaust us9ng dangerous weapons.

With the Soviet system collapsing under its own weight and the Islamic nations weakening gradually for their own wickedness, the only super power of the world, USA emerges as the sole custodian of democratic and secular values and all like mined nations have to seek membership in its club.   By using the terror environments in regions, USA wants to advance its economic goals. As a result, the US-led capitalist world is steering up to rope in as many third world nations as it is possible to advance their national economic and security interests by re-equipping the instruments of capitalism and imperialism world wide.

First, Israel should be asked to vacate the stolen Lands of the Palestinians immediately; enough funds should be raised by the UN and UNSC � and by any other sources- for Palestine Reconstruction and establishment; the leaders of Israel, including the military and strategists should be tried in special tribunals for their anti-human crimes and disregarding international law and UN and UNSC. A memorial should be raised at the entrance of Gaza dedicated to the children killed by the fascist Jews in Palestine.

US president Obama has a larger role to play now in resolving the Palestine issue first by making all efforts to disarm Israel and arrange, through the UN and ICJ in The Hague bind the Israeli terrorists to legal procedures to punish them in special tribunals for their crimes (war crimes and other wise) against humanity in its neighborhoods.

Side by side, Obama and UNSC have to put India also on notice for its cirmes committed aganst Kashmiri Muslims in Jammu Kashmir since 1947.

The author is Delhi based Research Scholar in International Studies and can be reached at

CIA-ISI Jihadi “Frankenstein” Sows Chaos, Reaps Death

CIA-ISI Jihadi “Frankenstein” Sows Chaos, Reaps Death

With 180 girls’ schools torched since 2008 in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and some 900 indefinitely closed, the future for education for some 125,000 young women is under dire threat by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The latest bombings took place Monday in the district capital, Mingora, “once considered the safest place in Swat,” according to The Guardian. Five girls’ schools were leveled by TTP militants who last week decreed a permanent ban on education for girls.

In recent weeks, residents who have crossed the TTP have been strung-up from trees, beaten, or had their shops destroyed while markets have been ruled “no go” areas for women.

First mobilized during the 1980s by the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) as “plausibly deniable” assets to wage “holy war” against Afghanistan’s socialist government, organized crime and drug-linked jihadi groups now threaten Pakistan itself. Call it “blowback” on steroids.

As the Obama administration prepares to the double the size of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, attacks in Pakistan by the American-led NATO coalition will only accelerate the splintering of the nuclear-armed South Asian nation and fuel new attacks by international terrorist outfits such as “former” allies, the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda.

Amply warned by South Asian and Middle Eastern experts in the 1970s who predicted a slow-moving but inevitable catastrophe for the region, short-term Cold War “gains” against the Soviet adversary trumped long-term strategic planning which, if America were a sane country, would have worked to strengthen, rather than undermine, progressive regional forces.

Despite the inescapable conclusion that the CIA’s Islamist Frankenstein monster is running amok, one can only surmise that America’s corporatist masters continue to view religiously-inspired neofascists as a reliable auxiliary force to advance geopolitical goals against their capitalist rivals.

As I documented in “Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century: U.S. Surrogates, Terrorists and Narcotraffickers,” (Antifascist Calling, December 19, 2008) despite the catastrophes wrought by American global gamesmanship, for United States Special Operations Command (USSOC) and the CIA, this disastrous paradigm is still fully operational.

Indeed a September 2008 USSOC planning document, first disclosed by Wikileaks, avers that unconventional warfare “must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces.” For the people of Pakistan, the “irregular forces” ranged against them are driving the country headlong over the edge of a precipice. Unfortunately however, this is not by accident.

As Swiss investigative journalist Richard Labévière wrote, describing Pakistan’s descent into chaos, “The Pakistani morass and its profound strategic implications for all of Central Asia have become one of the most alarming and chaotic scenes on the planet. As one of the most strategic areas of the next millennium slips into a criminal state, Uncle Sam looks on with cynicism (if not benevolence).”

Citing the confluence of interests amongst American corporate grifters and far-right Islamist terror networks, Labévière pointedly cites a top U.S. intelligence officials’ approval of the reactionary forces set in motion by America’s anti-Soviet Afghan gambit as a signpost for future destabilization campaigns:

“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army,” explains a former CIA analyst. “The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter Chinese influence in Central Asia.” In a certain sense, the Cold War is still going on. For years Graham Fuller, former Deputy Director of the National Council on Intelligence at the CIA, has been talking up the “modernizing virtues” of the Islamists, insisting on their anti-Statist concept of the economy. Listening to him, you would almost take the Taleban and their Wahhabi allies for liberals. “Islam, in theory at least, is firmly anchored in the traditions of free trade and private enterprise,” wrote Fuller. “The prophet was a trader, as was his first wife. Islam does not glorify the State’s role in the economy.” (Richard Labévière, Dollars for Terror: The United States and Islam, New York: Algora Publishing, 2000, p. 6)

But inevitably, facts on the ground put paid the mad schemes of imperialist architects such as Graham Fuller and his acolytes. Fast forward a decade and it becomes all-too-painfully clear it is the Afghan and Pakistani people who are paying the price in blood for America’s bankrupt policies. Having armed, financed and provided an ample array of targets for “free trade liberals” such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda–subsisting on the illicit profits of the international narcotics trade and other dubious ventures–Yankee hubris, as historian Chalmers Johnson reminds us, has called forth the goddess of divine retribution, Nemesis, on all our heads.

Medievalism in Swat Valley: Pakistan, and America’s, Future?

While moves to impose sharia law on the Pakistani people through violence is the alleged intent of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and their al-Qaeda “brothers,” more mundane, though far-more worldly concerns motivate the jihadists: state power and the loot such a position would afford enterprising charlatans.

What better means than control–through fear–of a terrorized population forced to look the other way as a gang of “holy warriors” steal their resources and process heroin on an industrial scale while turning a quick profit in the bargain!

Investigative journalist Amir Mir, writing in the Lahore-based newspaper The News International reports that

Around 10,000 TTP militants have been pitted against 15,000 Army troops since Oct 22, 2007, when the [Swat Valley military] operation was officially launched. Leading the charge against the Pakistan Army is Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio for the illegal FM radio channel he operates. Through his FM broadcasts, still operational despite being banned by the NWFP [North West Frontier Province] government, the firebrand keeps inspiring his followers to implement Shariah, fight the Army and establish his authority in the area.

Military authorities have repeatedly alleged that Fazlullah, who has thousands of armed supporters ready to challenge the security forces on his command, has close links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives. The cleric has already become a household name in Swat, as his Shaheen Commando Force is destroying and occupying government buildings, blowing up police stations, bridges, basic health units and hotels and burning girls’ schools. (”Amid Rising TTP Gains, Army Adopts New Strategy,” The News International, January 21, 2009)

Since the military launched an offensive against the clericalist thugs, indiscriminate Army attacks against the civilian population have wrecked havoc. In addition to burning down nearly 200 girls’ schools, the TTP have torched 80 video shops, 22 barber shops and have destroyed some 20 bridges in the mountainous region. Mir reports the TTP have carried out some 165 bomb attacks against security forces, including 17 suicide bombings and increasingly sophisticated remote-controlled IED attacks.

So serious has the situation grown in the Swat Valley, that 800 provincial police, half the stated total according to The News International, have either deserted or left the area under pretext of going on “extended leave.” Other observers contend that the TTP and the Army are collaborating together.

Local politicians who have fled the valley claim that “elements of the military and the militants appear to be acting together.” Bushra Gohara, the Vice-President of the Awami National Party told The Independent on Sunday, “Even if they are not, there needs to be a complete review of the military’s strategy.”

“The suspicion of collusion, said a local government official in the largest town, Mingora,” according to the IoS, “is based on the proximity of army and Taliban checkposts, each ‘a mile away from the other’.”

Reports indicate that Fazlullah’s militia now effectively controls the Swat Valley. “Under these circumstances,” Mir writes, “the state writ has shrunk from Swat’s 5,337 square kilometres to the limits of its regional Mingora headquarters, which is a city of just 36 square kilometres.”

In Mingora itself, once a prosperous urban hub that thrived on the tourist trade, the nature of the crisis can be gauged by the number of bodies that appear each morning after a night of terror. According to Mir, shopkeepers are now finding “four or five dead bodies hung over the poles or trees.”

Unsurprisingly, it is the civilian population who have suffered the worst depredations of the TTP and the Pakistani Army. Hemmed-in on all sides, a military spokesperson conceded that a third of the population has fled the area since the Army launched its offensive.

Creating a dual-power situation as the state’s hold in the area shrinks, some “70 Taliban courts are now ruling on hundreds of cases of ‘immoral activity’ every week,” The Sunday Times reported.

Fueled by the repressive Saudi-inspired Wahhabi doctrine that fired the Afghan mujahedin during America’s anti-Soviet Cold War “jihad,” the TTP have embarked on a rule-by-fear strategy that seeks to impose “Sharia law” on an unwilling–and unarmed–population, as part of its long-term strategy to seize state power.

As in Afghanistan under the Taliban however, it is women who face the harshest sanctions by the jihadi thugs. The refusal to wear a veil or dancing in public are “offenses” punishable by death. The Sunday Times averred,

The emergence of a parallel Taliban legal system has a sinister objective. “This is our first step towards the implementation of sharia in Swat,” said Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman. In the next phase, Khan said, the courts would begin to carry out harsher punishments, such as execution or chopping off hands.

Villagers said the Taliban were already killing people who defied their orders. “They didn’t even spare barbers and women coming out of markets without wearing their veils,” said a Mingora resident.

There have been 51 Taliban executions since the start of the year, he added. The victims include politicians, security men, dancers, prostitutes and shopkeepers selling alcohol. (Daud Khattak, “Taliban’s deadly ‘justice’ cows Pakistan,” The Sunday Times, January 18, 2009)

Ominously, Fazlullah’s state within a state is not staffed primarily by madrassa-educated cannon-fodder, but draw on a surplus of former Army and intelligence officers to fill the ranks, raising suspicions that the TTP enjoys powerful backing from ruling elites.

According to Mir, the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) and TTP are composed of two Shuras, or councils. One is the Ulema Shura that advises the group on “religious polices,” while the Executive Shura, “is the highest policy-making organ of the TNSM, which has a large number of ex-servicemen, including retired commissioned officers, as its members.”

Since 9/11, under intense pressure by their American “allies” in the “war on terror,” the Army and ISI have been partially purged by military and political elites who rule the roost. However, disaffected ISI cadre who never endorsed former President-General Pervez Musharraf’s half-hearted–some would say, deceitful–”break” with the Army’s own creation, the Taliban, continue to sponsor retrograde jihadist outfits.

Still allied with the Taliban, al-Qaeda and home-grown terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), elements burrowed deep within the state, including prominent former generals closely associated with former dictator, General Zia ul-Haq and the CIA, are actively conspiring to destabilize the civilian government.

Indeed, last November’s terrorist assault on Mumbai, a joint venture amongst disaffected elements of the security/intelligence apparatus, LET and organized crime-linked assets such as Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company, was a shot across the bow of President Asif Ali Zadari’s administration meant to further polarize the country and sow doubt amongst ruling class elites as to the efficacy of civilian rule.

Staggering from crisis to crisis, under heavy pressure from imperialism to “show results” for the billions of dollars in “aid” showered on the military by Washington, time is running out as the jihadi Frankenstein flexes its muscles.

From the Lal Masjid Siege to the Bhutto Assassination

Fazlullah’s rise, and the TTP’s assault on the people of the Swat Valley, can be directly linked to the fall-out from the July 2007 Red Mosque siege.

When the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) controversy exploded, the state was forced, though some would say dragged kicking and screaming, to act against brothers Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the al-Qaeda-linked leaders of the Mosque.

It wasn’t always that way. Since its founding in 1965 in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, the Red Mosque enjoyed patronage from influential members of the government, primes ministers, army chiefs and presidents, according to BBC News.

During the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad, the Red Mosque played a prominent role in the recruitment and training of fighters and was supported handsomely by the ISI when the Taliban was launched in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. During the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, many Red Mosque fighters were captured or killed by U.S. forces and Northern Alliance militia fighters.

In other words, high state officials, including intelligence chieftains such as Hamid Gul and Mahmoud Ahmad were staunch backers of the Ghazi brothers, hard-line advocates of dictator General Zia ul-Haq’s program to “Islamize” Pakistani society come hell or high water. In this bankrupt project to destroy what little remained of Pakistani democracy and civil society, Zia and his retinue of Islamist generals were generously supported by the United States.

Former ISI General Hamid Gul told Asia Times, “It is a pity that our army was preparing youths to seize Lal Qala [the Red Fort of Delhi] and they ended up seizing the Lal Masjid.” According to a recent report in The News International, Gul is now wanted by the U.S. “charged … with providing financial assistance to Kabul-based criminal groups and involvement in spotting, assessing, recruiting and training young men from seminaries,” as well as accusations that the ex-general has been “assisting the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in developing high-tech weapons.”

Gun battles erupted in 2007 after gangs of burqa-clad seminary students occupied a children’s library, kidnapped a group of Chinese women accused of being “prostitutes,” and after repeated forays into surrounding commercial districts trashed CD shops accused of selling “pornography.” But when the “students” demanded strict enforcement of sharia law, the state’s hand was forced.

When police failed to stamp-out the mini-rebellion in the nation’s capital, the Army was brought in. By the time the smoke cleared, Abdul Ghazi had been killed and his brother Abdul Aziz was arrested after attempting to flee the scene dressed in a woman’s burqa, sparking outrage amongst the fundamentalists and former high-ranking intelligence officials. Conflicting reports claim that anywhere between 200 and 1,000 people lost their lives during the siege. In the aftermath, according to multiple press reports, a huge arms’ cache was recovered, including stocks of AK-47 rifles and grenade launchers.

After the raid, Fazlullah joined forces with TTP and Pakistani al-Qaeda “emir” Baitullah Mehsud, “in a bid to provide an umbrella to all insurgent movements operating in several tribal agencies and settled areas of the NWFP,” according to journalist Amir Mir.

Scant months after the Lal Masjid affair and in the midst of tumultuous nation-wide demonstrations by tens of thousands of democracy activists, including lawyers and left-wing labor militants demanding the restoration of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry, sacked by the Musharraf regime after ordering the government to account for Pakistan’s “disappeared,” Benazir Bhutto was murdered in Rawalpindi.

In the aftermath of Bhutto’s December 27, 2007 assassination, state officials alleged that Mehsud claimed responsibility for her murder, a claim he denied. The “targeted killing” of Pakistan’s most popular political figure followed on the heels of the October 2007 Karachi bombing that killed 150 of Bhutto’s supporters when she returned home from exile.

The official story has undergone several contradictory metamorphoses. Shortly after Bhutto’s murder it was alleged that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), another banned terror group linked to al-Qaeda, were the reputed authors. The story then changed and al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility, telling Asia Times, “We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat the mujahideen.” Many analysts believe these serial fabrications by the government were meant to muddy the waters and conceal the true architects of the attacks.

In a letter to Musharraf before her murder, published by the Karachi-based newspaper Dawn, Bhutto named four persons involved in an alleged plot to kill her: Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Ijaz Shah, former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former chief minister of Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and the former ISI chief, Hamid Gul. All are prominent pro-Islamist figures within the intelligence and security establishment who favored a continuation of Pakistan’s policy of fielding terrorist proxy armies.

While first claiming that Bhutto was killed when she struck her head on the latch of her SUV sunroof fracturing her skull as the result of a suicide bomb blast, video footage surfaced showing a gunman firing several shots at the popular politician prior to the bomb’s detonation. This would increase the likelihood that the suicide bomber’s actual target was the gunman and therefore, part of a clean-up operation meant to conceal the identities of those who ghostwrote the Bhutto assassination script.

However, conflicting claims of responsibility, the hasty manner in which the security services removed all traces of forensic evidence from the crime scene and threats by police and intelligence officials against physicians who examined Bhutto’s body, fueled speculation that Islamist elements within ISI and the Army–or the state itself–either manipulated the militants or carried out the terrorist outrages in a move to bolster Musharraf’s waning grip on power.

Though allegedly on the outs with the clericalists, Musharraf was a staunch supporter of the Army’s policy of fielding “irregular forces” comprised of far-right thugs such as Lashkar or the virulently anti-Shia communalist group Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) to carry out “plausibly deniable” strikes against India or internal left-wing political opponents.

Originally founded in 1985 at the behest of dictator General Zia ul-Haq to liquidate secular and leftist forces opposed to his moves to “Islamize” Pakistani society with the blessings of the CIA, the SSP was “banned” in 2002 but quickly regrouped under the banner of Millat-e-Islamia. Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was an SSP member as was his uncle, the al-Qaeda operative and alleged architect of the 9/11 attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Echoes of the Lal Masjid affair continue to reverberate. On September 21, 2008 a massive truck bomb was detonated outside the Marriot Hotel in downtown Islamabad, killing 60 and wounding some 260 people, virtually obliterating the five-star hotel. Some 700 Pakistanis had gathered to break the daily Ramadan fast. If the bomber had managed to drive the truck into the lobby, the toll would have been far higher.

The conclusion drawn was bleak: if the Marriot could be hit in one of the most secure and upscale neighborhoods in the heart of Pakistan’s capital, then no one was safe. It was feared that the bombers’ intent was to destabilize and possibly spark an Army coup against the first civilian government in nine years.

With little to hope for from the Army and ISI, President Asif Ali Zadari has expanded the civilian-led Special Investigations Group (SIG), a distinct antiterrorist branch of the Federal Investigations Agency (FIA), The Guardian reported earlier this month. The SIG had languished under Musharraf. According to investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott Clark,

On December 14, the British PM flew to Islamabad to announce a £6m “pact against terror”, saying he wanted to “remove the chain” that led from the mountains of Pakistan to the streets of Britain. A significant part of the funding was intended for the SIG currently a tight-knit cell of 37 full-time specialists that was to be expanded into a 300-strong force with an investigation division, an armed wing, an intelligence department and a research section. In return, Britain asked for access to the SIG’s raw data and captured extremists who might illuminate British plots. (”On the Trail of Pakistan’s Taliban,” The Guardian, 10 January 2009)

The need for security would indeed be high. On March 11, 2008, the anniversary of the Madrid transport attacks, a suicide bomber struck the SIG’s provincial office in Lahore, killing 25 people, including 13 officers. Tariq Pervez, the SIG’s head told The Guardian that since the end of 2007, “suicide strikes from this region had killed 597 security force personnel and 1,523 civilians, including Benazir Bhutto on December 27.”

Despite attempts to recruit–or co-opt–poverty-stricken, often unwilling young members of TNSM/TTP head-honcho Baitullah Mehsud’s extended clan in Waziristan for use as cannon-fodder, Pervez told The Guardian its a hard sell given Mehsud’s brutal methods of dealing with those who oppose him.

Indeed, according to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, when 600 tribal elders spoke out against the TNSM/TTP in 2005, Mehsud had each of them sent a needle, black thread and 1,000 rupees with which to buy some cloth to stitch their own funeral shrouds: all of them were subsequently murdered.

The situation has deteriorated to such a degree for U.S./NATO “coalition” forces that America’s main supply route into Afghanistan from western Pakistan’s tribal belt, that the military “has obtained permission to move troop supplies through Russia and Central Asia, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in the Middle East, said on Tuesday,” according to The New York Times.

In December, hundreds of NATO supply trucks were torched in Peshawar by Taliban, TTP and al-Qaeda fighters and Pakistani truck drivers are now refusing to drive along the supply route.

Frankenstein Turns on its Master: “Round Up the Usual Suspects!”

The alliance forged in the wake of the Lal Masjid siege and the Bhutto assassination amongst forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP, Mullah Mohammed Omar’s Afghan Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Afghan-Arab database, al-Qaeda, are chickens that have come home to roost for U.S. imperialism. But it is the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who are paying the price.

Despite the grave threats to the people of Central, South Asia and the Middle East posed by a resurgence of far-right fundamentalism sponsored by the United States, Washington still continues to view Islamist terror and organized crime-linked networks such as al-Qaeda and their related complex of jihadi groups as “off-the-shelf,” plausibly deniable intelligence assets.

Notwithstanding the severe global capitalist economic meltdown, geopolitical expansion into regions of strategic and economic interest to the United States is a top priority of the Obama administration. A central pillar of the American policy despite “regime change” in Washington, is the destabilization of Iran. As Seymour Hersh reported, the U.S. via their ISI and Saudi “allies” are arming and financing Pakistani-based jihadi groups such as Jundullah to target Iran.

The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers–in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” [Vali] Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support. (”Preparing the Battlefield,” The New Yorker, July 7, 2008)

While North American and European Muslim communities remain a target of repressive “counterterrorist” policies that demonize Muslims and Arabs as dangerous “others,” internal “enemies” and “usual suspects” to be preyed upon by police and intelligence agencies, real, not fictional, terrorist networks continue to operate, indeed thrive, with impunity. Here, as elsewhere, short-term tactical advantage over capitalist rivals trump democratic processes and economic well-being based on social justice.

As security analyst and historian, Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed documented in a Briefing Paper prepared for the British Parliament in the wake of al-Qaeda’s 2005 London transport attacks,

The government appears unable to fully extract itself from these strategic interests, continuing to tolerate Islamist extremist networks in the UK, including successor organizations to al-Muhajiroun, and showing an inexplicable unwillingness to investigate them; displaying ongoing reluctance to arrest and prosecute leading extremists despite abundant evidence of their incitement to terrorism, murder, violence and racial hatred (with serious action delayed until public pressure is brought to bear); and refusing to investigate key al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist suspects based or formerly based in the UK connected to 7/7 and other terrorist attacks. In this dire situation, proposing the extension of state power through yet further anti-terror legislation, as the Brown government is now doing, can never hope to contribute to real security. For in this context, such legislation not only fails to rectify the multiple failures of domestic and international security policy behind the paralysis of the British national security system; it simply lends unprecedented powers of social control to a paralysed system operating according to a defunct and dangerous intelligence paradigm. (Inside the Crevice: Islamist terror networks and the 7/7 intelligence failure, London: Institute for Policy Research and Development, August 2007)

Much the same can be said for the United States and its myopic “counterterrorist” policies that rely on the demonization of entire communities, driftnet surveillance of the population, the infiltration of provocateurs into antiwar, socialist and left-wing organizations with no demonstrable ties to international terrorism, and the induced climate of suspicion and fear that breed social paralysis in the face of grave, contemporaneous ruling class threats to democracy.

As a tsunami of Predator drones rain remote-controlled death on the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as the Obama administration prepares a major military escalation in Central- and South Asia, girls’ schools continue to burn in the Swat Valley with matchbooks labeled “Made in the USA.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily and Pacific Free Press. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom’s website.

Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century: U.S. Surrogates, Terrorists and Narcotraffickers

Unconventional Warfare in the 21st Century: U.S. Surrogates, Terrorists and Narcotraffickers

On December 13, the whistleblowing website Wikileaks did investigative- and citizen journalists a great service by publishing the Army Special Operations Forces FM 3-05.130, titled Unconventional Warfare.

Published in September 2008, the 248-page document though unclassified, is restricted “to U.S. Government agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or operational information from automatic dissemination under the International Exchange Program or by other means.” The Department of the Army urges recipients to “destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.” Wikileaks has guaranteed that the disappearance of this critical primary source into the bowels of the Pentagon will not occur.

Special Warfare’s Nazi Provenance

Since the end of World War II, the United States has acted through proxies either to defeat leftist insurgencies or to subvert “hostile” governments, e.g. those states viewed by Washington and the multinational corporations they serve as ideological competitors.

Historically, U.S. unconventional warfare (UW) doctrine was derived from Nazi experiences in countering “partisan warfare” across Europe during World War II. As analyst and scholar Michael McClintock detailed in his essential study on the topic,

American special warfare doctrine would draw considerably on Wehrmacht and SS methods of terrorizing civilian populations and, perhaps more importantly, of co-opting local factions to combat partisan resistance. The Department of the Army’s A Study of Special and Subversive Operations (November 1947) was an early assessment of the lessons learned from World War II in the context of Cold War imperatives. (Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, 1940-1990, New York: Pantheon Books, 1992, p. 59)

But the United States did more than translate captured Wehrmacht and SS documents: they recruited many Waffen SS veterans, often with an assist from high Vatican officials. Tens of thousands of war criminals were spirited out of Europe along “ratlines” into U.S. hands for clandestine war against the new enemy: the Soviet Union and the international left.

Pathological killers such as SS veteran Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons, was instrumental when the CIA and the Argentine death-squad generals launched their 1980 “cocaine coup” in Bolivia. Barbie, along with operatives linked to the CIA, Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and preexisting Nazi networks, “reorganized” Bolivia’s intelligence services to reflect the Southern Cone’s “changing realities.” (For background, see Robert Parry’s excellent series, Dark Side of Rev. Moon, The Consortium for Independent Journalism)

Even when the “competition” was peaceful and confined to the political-economic spheres, once the U.S. intervened, violence, civil war and chaos followed. This scenario was played out in Chile during the 1970s, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and El Salvador throughout the 1980s, in Yugoslavia and the Balkans generally during the 1990s, today in Bolivia and Venezuela and on a planetary scale under the rubric of the “global war on terrorism” (GWOT). The lesson for those who buck the global hegemon? U.S. political subversion and state terror will wreck havoc and halt independent development in its tracks.

And when the global Godfather’s military forces directly intervene? Although the U.S. was defeated in Southeast Asia, target countries such as Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were destroyed by the United States in the process. Devastated economically and socially, decades later these nations have yet to fully recover from the depredations wrought by their American “liberators.” However, the U.S. military did learn certain unique skills, not least of which was the application of selective violence against the communist National Liberation Front’s civilian infrastructure.

The Phoenix Program, meticulously analyzed in researcher Douglas Valentine’s definitive account, was launched in 1967 by the CIA and U.S. Special Forces as a means to win “hearts and minds.” But from its inception, Phoenix operators worked in tandem with drug-linked South Vietnamese and Laotian “allies” and morphed into an assassination and torture program that killed thousands. Long after the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia, lessons learned through Phoenix and related programs such as Condor and Gladio, were “refined” during the 1970s-1980s in Afghanistan, Italy, Turkey and Central America, and now constitute the bedrock on which the Pentagon’s unconventional warfare doctrine operates today.

Throughout the Cold War, U.S. power in proxy states was exercised through repressive police, intelligence agencies and by far-right civilian allies (referred to as “foreign internal defense,” FID). Such forces, trained and funded by the U.S., combined a neofascist political outlook with organized criminal activities generally, though certainly not limited to, the international narcotics trade.

NATO’s infamous “stay-behind” Operation Gladio networks in Italy and Turkey for example, worked directly with international narcotics syndicates and pro-fascist political parties such as the Italian Avanguardia Nazionale (National Vanguard) founded by the terrorist drug trafficker Stefano delle Chiaie and the Turkish Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi (National Action Party, MHP) and the drug-linked terror gang, the Grey Wolves, founded by Alparslan Türkeş, a German sympathizer during World War II.

With links to those nations’ intelligence services, the CIA and the Pentagon, these organizations waged a relentless war against the left through terrorist bombings, murders and assassinations in a bid to destabilize their governments and spark a full-fledged military takeover. Along with the CIA, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) have been instrumental in organizing and waging unconventional warfare with the express purpose of maintaining the economic-political status quo in target countries.

As long-time readers of Antifascist Calling are aware, among the more critical issues explored here are those relating to the intersection of corporate and military power and how those interactions play out on the contemporary political plane to subvert democracy and movements for social justice.

Indeed, reference is frequently made to what I have identified, following Peter Dale Scott and other analysts, as the corporatist deep state: that is, the objective interface amongst political elites, multinational corporations, the military, intelligence agencies and organized crime. Unlike Scott however, I contend these linkages do not “transcend” the left-right continuum, but rather are part and parcel of Washington’s decades-long war against the left, social justice movements generally and in particular, democratic socialist movements from below.

As we will see in my analysis of FM 3-05.130, USSOCOM make these links explicit, arguing that “UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces.”

As I averred, proxy forces, often aligned with far-right groups and organized crime-linked assets (for the most part interchangeable players) are the preferred “irregular forces” employed by Washington. USSOCOM states that this definition “is consistent with the historical reasons that the United States has conducted UW” and goes on to cite its “support of both an insurgency, such as the Contras in 1980s Nicaragua, and resistance movements to defeat an occupying power, such as the Mujahideen in 1980s Afghanistan.” It doesn’t get any more explicit than this!

Ideologically Coherent

The authors of FM 3-05.130, far from being militarist troglodytes are knowledgeable and erudite, presenting a broad and ideologically coherent narrative that is both informative and historically intriguing in its transparency and methodological purpose. In other words, unlike their political masters, they don’t pull any punches.

Right up front they inform the reader that UW establishes a “litmus test” which is warfare conducted “by, with or through surrogates” and that their preferred assets are irregular forces:

Irregulars, or irregular forces, are individuals or groups of individuals who are not members of a regular armed force, police, or other internal security force. They are usually nonstate-sponsored and unconstrained by sovereign nation legalities and boundaries. These forces may include, but are not limited to, specific paramilitary forces, contractors, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistance or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political “undesirables.” (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-3)

While “conventional warfare” is viewed as a conflict between states, Irregular Warfare (IW) and UW according to FM 3-05.130 is “about people not platforms.” Irregular and unconventional warfare “does not depend on military prowess alone.”

It also relies on the understanding of such social dynamics as tribal politics, social networks, religious influences, and cultural mores. Although IW is a violent struggle, not all participating irregulars or irregular forces are necessarily armed. People, more so than weaponry, platforms, and advanced technology, will be the key to success in IW. Successful IW relies on building relationships and partnerships at the local level. It takes patient, persistent, and culturally savvy people within the joint force to execute IW. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-5)

Indeed, FM 3-05.130 explicitly states that its “strategic purpose [is] to gain or maintain control or influence over the population and to support that population through political, psychological, and economic methods.” While both IW and UW seek to influence “relevant populations,” UW in contrast to IW, “is always conducted by, with, or through irregular forces.” In other words, local surrogates drawn from relevant far-right and/or organized crime-linked assets are the means of eliciting “influence” over “relevant populations.”

In Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, “irregular forces” deployed during U.S./NATO destabilization operations in the former Yugoslavia included elements of the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, e.g. al-Qaeda, which have been linked to the CIA, Britain’s MI6, Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI), as well as long-established drug, arms and human trafficking networks aligned with the Albanian and Turkish Mafias. Indeed, “irregular forces” such as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) demonstrated all of these relationships in spades.

According to FM 3-05.130, the constituent elements of contemporary IW theory include: Insurgency; COIN (counterinsurgency); UW;); CT (counterterrorism); FID (foreign internal defense); Stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations; Strategic communication (SC); PSYOP; Civil-military operations (CMO); Information operations (IO); Intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities; Transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions that support or sustain IW; and Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 1-5)

Its but a short step as far as it goes, from citing the elements of UW to deploying the most dubious players as strategic assets in planetary-wide U.S. destabilization operations.

The Media’s Role

Explicitly stated is the media’s role in advancing the goals of United States national power. As recent exposés in The New York Times and elsewhere have documented, “message force multipliers” such as retired Pentagon officials and former high-ranking officers, often linked to corporate defense firms that rely heavily on Pentagon largesse, have leveraged their expertise and conducted illegal domestic psychological operations (PSYOPS) and information warfare, with the complicity and full knowledge of the giant media firms.

It is important for the official agencies of government, including the armed forces, to recognize the fundamental role of the media as a conduit of information. The USG uses SC to provide top-down guidance for using the informational instrument of national power through coordinated information, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the other instruments of national power. The armed forces support SC themes and messages through IO, public affairs (PA), and defense support to public diplomacy (DSPD). The armed forces must assure media access consistent with classification requirements, operations security, legal restrictions, and individual privacy. The armed forces must also provide timely and accurate information to the public. Success in military operations depends on acquiring and integrating essential information and denying it to the adversary. The armed forces are responsible for conducting IO, protecting what should not be disclosed, and aggressively attacking adversary information systems. IO may involve complex legal and policy issues that require approval, review, and coordination at the national level. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-2)

Indeed, as the authors aver, since UW consists of operations conducted “by, with or through irregular forces,” engagement with the “human terrain” is “fundamentally a conflict of ideas”! In a nutshell, the “human terrain” explicitly includes the American public who are also the targets of Pentagon propagandistic “information operations.” This is stated explicitly:

By contrast, USG-controlled specific instruments of informational power, while narrower in scope, can achieve specific and measurable results useful to prosecuting UW. ARSOF [Army Special Operations Forces] can work with DOS [Department of State] counterparts to identify and engage select TAs [target audiences] that are able to influence behavior within a UWOA [unconventional warfare operating area]. Such TAs may be inside the UWOA itself or outside but able to influence the UWOA. The USG can then subject these TAs, directly or indirectly, to a DOS public diplomacy (PD) campaign coordinated to support the UW effort. Similarly, since UW may be a long-duration or politically sensitive effort, ARSOF and its DOS partner, the Bureau of Public Affairs, can craft a PA campaign intended to keep the U.S. domestic audience informed of the truth in a manner supportive of USG goals and the effective prosecution of UW. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-3)

Economic Subversion

For the authors of FM 3-05.130, “properly integrated manipulation of economic power can and should be a component of UW.” Never mind that such “manipulation” can and did result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings in Iraq prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation as well as in a score of other nations that have defied the U.S.

The cases of Chile and Nicaragua are instructive in this regard, where the disgraced president, Richard Nixon, vowed to “make the economy scream,” prior to the 1973 coup, or the crippling sanctions and economic embargo imposed on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Various sanctions regimes unambiguously “can build and sustain international coalitions waging or supporting U.S. UW campaigns.” A similar methodology is being applied today against Iran as “punishment” for its legal development of civilian nuclear power.

Like all other instruments of U.S. national power, the use and effects of economic “weapons” are interrelated and they must be coordinated carefully. Once again, ARSOF must work carefully with the DOS and intelligence community (IC) to determine which elements of the human terrain in the UWOA are most susceptible to economic engagement and what second- and third-order effects are likely from such engagement. The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) placement abroad and its mission to engage human groups provide one channel for leveraging economic incentives. The DOC’s can similarly leverage its routine influence with U.S. corporations active abroad. Moreover, the IO effects of economic promises kept (or ignored) can prove critical to the legitimacy of U.S. UW efforts. UW practitioners must plan for these effects. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-7)

Indeed, ARSOF plans for waging UW take an integrated approach and assert that they “can and should exploit the active and analytical capabilities existing in the financial instruments of U.S. power.” The application of financial warfare however, including the “persuasive influence” of state and nonstate “actors” regarding the availability and terms “of loans, grants, or other financial assistance” is predicated on towing the U.S. line. The authors aver that “such application of financial power must be part of a circumspect, integrated, and consistent UW plan.” In other words, threats, bribery and economic subversion generally can work wonders in getting the attention of recalcitrant states not “on board” with the U.S.

Narcotrafficking Networks and the “Global War on Terror”

For decades, investigative journalists, researchers and analysts have noted the symbiotic relationship amongst international narcotrafficking syndicates, neofascist political groups, U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. Special Forces in the war against leftist adversaries.

Dozens of books and hundreds of articles by journalists and writers such as Alfred W. McCoy, Peter Dale Scott, Henrik Krüger, Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Jonathan Marshall, Douglas Valentine, Daniel Hopsicker, Bill Conroy as well as exposés by former DEA investigators such as Michael Levine and Celerino Castillo III, have documented the long and bloody history of U.S. complicity in the global drugs trade.

While the United States has pumped billions of dollars into so-called drug eradication programs in target countries such as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Afghanistan and Mexico through ill-conceived projects such as Plan Colombia and the Mérida Initiative, also know as Plan Mexico, recent reports, most notably by The Narco News Bulletin, have documented the close interrelationships amongst narcotraffickers, rightist extremists, political elites and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Indeed, investigative journalist Bill Conroy recently documented how a U.S. trained and equipped special operations group within the Mexican army (the Zetas) “is now assisting the Mexican military in its narco-trafficking operations along the border.”

None of this however, phases the authors of Unconventional Warfare. And why should it. As they themselves describe the doctrine, unconventional warfare is “conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces,” the next logical step in the equation is the utilization of transnational criminal networks to advance U.S. national power. The section, “Law Enforcement Instrument of United States National Power and Unconventional Warfare,” states this explicitly: no tinfoil hat needed here!

Actors engaged in supporting elements in the UWOA may rely on criminal activities, such as smuggling, narcotics, or human trafficking. Political and military adversaries in the UWOA will exhibit the same sensitivity to official exposure and engagement because criminal entities routinely seek to avoid law enforcement. Sometimes, political and military adversaries are simultaneously criminal adversaries, which ARSOF UW planners must consider a threat. At other times, the methods and networks of real or perceived criminal entities can be useful as supporting elements of a U.S.-sponsored UW effort. In either case, ARSOF understand the importance of coordinating military intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) for specific UW campaigns with the routine intelligence activities conducted by U.S. law enforcement agencies. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 2-7)

During subversive operations by U.S. ARSOF soldiers in target areas, indigenous networks, many of whom are linked to far-right and narcotrafficking groups (Nicaragua, Bosnia, Kosovo), including “former” allies such as al-Qaeda, are referred to as “The Underground” and “The Auxiliary” in FM 3-05.130. Details however, are few and far between and the authors state unambiguously:

There is more SF participation in developing and advising underground [and auxiliary] elements than is widely understood or acknowledged. Most such participation is classified and inappropriate for inclusion in this manual. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 5-5)

Preparing the ground for U.S. attacks and/or subversive operations by proxy forces aligned with American goals are a key component of UW theory. Whether a population is “on-board” with U.S. geostrategic goals or the tactical modalities employed in such campaigns is irrelevant to the new cold warriors of the GWOT. When “persuasion” fails the muscle moves in to get the attention on the “natives.”

Organization of the larger indigenous population from which the irregular forces are drawn–the mass base–must likewise be conducted primarily by the irregular organization itself under indirect guidance of SF. The primary value of the mass base to UW operations is less a matter of formal organization than of marshaling population groups to act in specific ways that support the overall UW campaign. The mass base, or general population and society at large, is recognized as an operational rather than a structural effort for ARSOF in UW. Elements of the mass base are divided into three distinct groups in relation to the cause or movement–pro, anti/con, and those who are uncommitted, undecided, or ambivalent. ARSOF, the underground, and the auxiliary then conduct irregular activities to influence or leverage these groups. These groups may be witting or unwitting of the UW nature of the operations or activities in which they are utilized. (Unconventional Warfare, p. 5-5)

In Colombia for example, U.S. “counterdrug” assistance to the corrupt Uribe government flowed directly to the narcotrafficking far-right death squad, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or AUC. Though designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, the Uribe government’s military high command, directly advised by the Pentagon, funneled weapons and intelligence that was used by the narcofascists to murder union organizers, often after payment by U.S. multinational corporations such as Chiquita Brands International, of anyone the group identified as a “guerrilla.”

In ARSOF parlance, AUC “influence”–dragging unsuspecting citizens off a bus and beheading them in front of their children, for example–is what is meant when corporate- or drug-linked death squads “conduct irregular activities” to “leverage these groups.” But the international community has another term to describe these activities: state terrorism.

In 2004, as part of broad U.S. efforts to unseat Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan authorities arrested some 100 AUC fighters who were planning to attack specially-selected targets in Caracas. According to published reports, several high-ranking American and Colombian military officers were implicated in the operation.

The parapolitical scandal which continues to rock Bogotá, revealed high-level involvement by Colombia’s political and military elite with the narcofascist AUC. But the scandal also revealed the involvement of the U.S. 7th Special Forces Group and the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion in directly training and advising Colombian military units responsible for the worst human rights abuses.

Numerous reports have emerged that detail these linkages, including the 2007 disclosure by the National Security Archive that Colombian Army commander General Mario Montoya “engaged in a joint operation with a Medellín-based paramilitary group. ‘Operation Orion’ was part of a larger military offensive in the city during 2002-03 to attack urban guerrilla networks. The sweep resulted in at least 14 deaths and dozens of disappearances. The classified intelligence report confirmed ‘information provided by a proven source,’ according to comments from the U.S. defense attaché included in the document.”

This is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg, however.

In Afghanistan, the world’s number one producer and processor of opium and its finished “product” heroin, bound for European and U.S. markets, drug trafficking according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) in their 2008 World Drug Report, is “out of control.” According to UNDOC, drug money is used as “a lubricant for corruption, and a source of terrorist financing: in turn, corrupt officials and terrorists make drug production and trafficking easier.”

Indeed, since the 2001 U.S. invasion and occupation, opium production has skyrocketed some 1,000% and accounts for a large percentage of the country’s gross domestic product. Tellingly, some of the staunchest U.S. allies in the area are directly tied to international narcotics organizations. According to UNDOC, the global increase in opium production “was almost entirely due to the 17% expansion of cultivation in Afghanistan, which is now 193,000 ha [hectares]” reaching 8,700 metric tons in 2007, accounting for a staggering 92% of global opium production!

Despite these horrendous statistics, the authors of FM 3-05.130 can asset that “the methods and networks of real or perceived criminal entities can be useful”! Indeed they can, as a seemingly limitless source of black funds earmarked for U.S. planetary subversion in the interest of expanding American corporate power.

According to a June 2008 report by The Times, after last year’s bumper crop sent the price of opium spiraling downwards, the Taliban and U.S.-connected drug lords linked to Hamid Karzai’s government, are stockpiling vast quantities of opium in order to induce a rise in world prices. And Time Magazine reported in October that the value of hoarded opium may be as much as $3.2 billion.

Celebrated by the Pentagon and the U.S. media as a “splendid victory,” the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan quickly spiraled out of control and the country now faces a resurgent Taliban, a new base of operations for al-Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan and evidence of Pakistani ISI involvement in aiding the fundamentalist insurgents and the global drugs trade. But for American unconventional warriors, a full accounting of war crimes that ARSOF supervised and their Northern Alliance “allies” carried out have yet to be answered.

As Peter Dale Scott noted in 2002,

It’s a bitter irony: The largely successful U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan is resulting in an increase of funds for terrorists around the globe.

It is true, as President Bush has insisted, that global terrorism is financed by the flow of illicit drugs. Yet by installing and rewarding a coalition of drug-financed warlords in Kabul, the United States has itself helped restore the flow of Afghan heroin to terrorist groups, from the Balkans and Chechnya to Tajikistan, Pakistan and Kashmir. (“Poppy Paradox: U.S. War in Afghanistan Boosts Terror Funds,” Dissident Voice, August 3, 2002)

Indeed, among the staunchest U.S. allies in the region, characters such as Hazrat Ali and Gul Agha, “have been ‘bought off’ with millions in deals brokered by U.S. and British intelligence.” But while America was happy to endorse a drug-linked status quo that relied on its so-called “warlord strategy” to “stabilize” Afghanistan, part of the blowback from these dubious alliances included allowing bin Laden to escape into Pakistan in 2001 after the “battle” of Tora Bora.

But for Pentagon proponents of unconventional warfare, the “price is always right” when it comes to strategic and tactical alliances with narcotraffickers and international terrorists. After all, since “UW must be conducted by, with, or through surrogates; and such surrogates must be irregular forces,” everything is permitted.

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

• US forces to step up operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan
• Pakistani president tells US ambassador strikes ‘do not help war on terror’

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Saeed Shah in Islamabad

The Obama administration warned the US public yesterday to brace itself for an increase in American casualties as it prepares to step up the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

Against a background of widespread protests in Pakistan and Afghanistan over US operations since Obama became president, the vice-president, Joe Biden, said yesterday that US forces would be engaged in many more operations as the US takes the fight to its enemies in the region.

The Obama administration is to double the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 60,000 and when asked in a television interview if the US public should expect more American casualties, Biden said: “I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”

Greater US involvement in Afghanistan is a political risk for Obama, with the danger that mounting American casualties could make the war as unpopular as Iraq. Obama, in his first military action as president, sanctioned two missile attacks inside Pakistan on Friday, killing 22 people, reportedly women and children among them. The attacks drew criticism from Pakistani officials at the weekend.
The Pakistani president, Asif Zardari, told the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, that the strikes “do not help the war on terror”. According to reports, he also warned her that “these attacks can affect Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror”.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Sadiq, said: “With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach towards dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism. We maintain that these [missile] attacks are counter-productive and should be discontinued.”

Biden, in an interview with CBS news, defended the strikes, saying that Obama had repeatedly said on the campaign trail he would not hesitate to strike against any high-level al-Qaida targets. He suggested cooperation between the US and Pakistani counter-terrorist agencies would increase, with more US training for Pakistani counterparts.

Over the last year, there have been at least 30 US missile attacks on Pakistan’s tribal area, which is used as a haven for insurgents fighting international troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, condemned a separate US operation within Afghanistan that he said killed 16 Afghan civilians, prompting hundreds of villagers to demonstrate against the American military.

The US said the raid, on Saturday in Laghman province, killed 15 armed militants, including a woman with an rocket-propelled grenade. But Afghan officials said they killed civilians, including two women and three children. In Laghman’s capital, hundreds of protesters demanded an end to overnight raids.

Karzai warned the killing of innocent Afghans during US military operations was “strengthening the terrorists”. He also announced that his government had sent Washington a draft agreement that seeks to give Afghanistan more oversight over US military operations. The document has also been sent to Nato headquarters.

The death toll on Pakistan’s borders and within Afghanistan has caused widespread public anger, with resentment directed at the US, as well as the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments.

“It undermines the position of the government, its ability to negotiate [a peace deal] with the militants when the Taliban can say: ‘You’re not even master in your own house,'” said Ayaz Amir, a newspaper columnist and an opposition member of Pakistan’s parliament. “It undercuts the credibility of a government, whose credibility is already low.”

Some of the strikes in Pakistan have killed senior al-Qaida militants but they tend to live with local families in the tribal area, making civilian casualties inevitable – which are then used by the Taliban as a recruitment tool.

Rustam Shah Mohmand, an analyst who was formerly Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said that Pakistan had leverage it could use, by stopping supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan to pass through its territory or threatening to withdraw the Pakistani forces deployed along the Afghan border.”

“If anything, the policy [of missile strikes] is going to be more focused, more aggressive, under Obama. There is going to be a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan,” said Mohmand. “The Americans can’t wage this war without Pakistan’s assistance.”

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Published: Sunday 25 January 2009 13:14 UTC
Last updated: Monday 26 January 2009 10:29 UTC

Thousands of people in the town of Mehtar Lam in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the streets in protest at Saturday’s US air strikes. The protesters say civilians were killed in the strikes. The US military says the victims were 15 Taliban fighters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed anger over the US failure to properly coordinate its attacks with his government. Mr Karzai said that the many civilian casualties in US operations undermine support for the Afghan government and only serve to win support for the terrorists.

Saudi patience is running out

Illustration: Dwynn Ronald V. Trazo/Gulf News

Saudi patience is running out

By Turki al-Faisal, Special to Gulf News
Published: January 24, 2009, 00:31

In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”

But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,200 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospect of peace itself. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.

Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you”. King Abdullah spoke for the entire Arab and Muslim world when he said at the Arab summit in Kuwait that although the Arab peace initiative was on the table, it would not remain there for long. Much of the world shares these sentiments and any Arab government that negotiated with the Israelis today would be rightly condemned by its citizens. Two of the four Arab countries that have formal ties to Israel – Qatar and Mauritania – have suspended all relations and Jordan has recalled its ambassador.

America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region – from the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to the humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib – but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

The incoming US administration will be inheriting a “basket full of snakes” in the region, but there are things that can be done to help calm them down. First, President Barack Obama must address the disaster in Gaza and its causes. Inevitably, he will condemn Hamas’s firing of rockets at Israel.

When he does that, he should also condemn Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from colony building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America’s intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sheba’ Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Obama should strongly promote the Abdullah peace initiative, which calls on Israel to pursue the course laid out in various international resolutions and laws: to withdraw completely from the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, returning to the lines of June 4 1967; to accept a mutually agreed just solution to the refugee problem according to the General Assembly resolution 194; and to recognise the independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, there would be an end to hostilities between Israel and all the Arab countries, and Israel would get full diplomatic and normal relations.

Recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shiite and Sunni. Further, Ahmadinejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region.

So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain. When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action. Eventually, the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel.

Today, every Saudi is a Gazan, and we remember well the words of our late King Faisal: “I hope you will forgive my outpouring of emotions, but when I think that our Holy Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem is being invaded and desecrated, I ask God that if I am unable to undertake Holy Jihad, then I should not live a moment more.”

Let us all pray that Obama possesses the foresight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts.