Monthly Archives: September 2012

Contradictions and Hypocrisy Professor Obama Lectures the Muslim World

By Esam Al-Amin
September 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – On Sept. 25, Professor-turned President Barack Obama lectured the Muslim World and world leaders during his annual address before the United Nations.
The beautifully crafted speech of the Nobel peace laureate would have been believed – and better received—had it simply been genuine. The president’s appeal for rejecting violence, spreading peace among nations, while emphasizing the vital use of diplomacy in international relations, as well as his call for respecting the rule of law, due process, and cultural understanding were remarkable. But unfortunately, they were simply not credible.
In his speech, the president admonished the Muslim World by underscoring the important belief that people must “resolve their differences peacefully” and that “diplomacy” should take “the place of war.” Laudable words, but only if America practiced what it preaches.
In his seminal work “A Century of U.S. Interventions,” based on the Congressional Records and the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Services, Zoltan Grossman chronicled 133 U.S. military interventions by the most active military in the history of the world, between 1890 and 2001. Similarly, William Blum’s study “A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” covered 67 interventions between 1945 and 2000 that, according to him, resulted in the deaths of 13-17 million people. In his book “The Fall of the U.S. Empire – And Then What?,” European intellectual Johan Galtung listed 161 incidents of American overt political violence between 1945 and 2001, including 67 military interventions, 25 bombings, 35 political assassinations (or attempted ones), 11 foreign countries that were assisted with torture, and 23 interferences with elections or the political process abroad. And all that was before the 9/11 attacks.
Since then, the U.S. military has been extremely busy, invading Iraq in 2003 under false pretenses and causing hundreds of thousands of casualties while creating millions of refugees. Before that, it invaded Afghanistan in 2001, causing tens of thousands of casualties in the longest war in U.S. history while still maintaining to this date over 70,000 soldiers on the ground. The U.S. has also been waging open warfare with the whole world as its theater of operations in the so-called “war on terror.” This endless war allowed the U.S. military to engage in undeclared military operations, violating the sovereignty of many countries in Asia and Africa including Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, and numerous Sub-Saharan and West African countries. So much for peaceful conflict resolution and mutual respect between nations.
During that period, the Bush administration allowed (and the Obama administration has since refused to prosecute) the CIA to violate the sovereignty of allied countries including in Europe by authorizing the use of prison black sites, rendition, and torture. In one case, Italy tried and convicted in absentia twenty-three CIA operatives who violated its sovereignty when they kidnapped and rendered an Egyptian cleric to be tortured by the former Egyptian regime. Likewise, Germany condemned the U.S. intelligence agency for kidnapping and torturing one of its citizens of Lebanese descent. While Canada regretted and apologized for its role in rendering one of its citizens of Syrian descent, the U.S. – the country that actually carried out the rendition knowing that the subject would be tortured by the Syrian regime that it now enthusiastically condemns- still refuses to acknowledge its role, let alone apologize for the gross violation of its human rights obligations under international treaties.
Moreover, no American senior officials were ever held accountable for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and torture in Iraq, or for waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation techniques” (read: torture) used against Muslim prisoners (the overwhelming number of whom were innocent bystanders according to legal and human rights organizations) at Guantanamo, Bagram, or elsewhere.
President Obama further stated in his scolding of Muslim world leaders that they needed to emulate the behavior of civilized nations that respect “the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.” But such lofty rhetoric from the president might be very difficult to accept since he himself acted as prosecutor, judge, and executioner when he ordered the murder of several American citizens, including a cleric of Yemini descent and a magazine editor of Pakistani descent with a drone attack in Yemen. People across the Muslim world wondered why the rule of law was absent in these cases and why their due process rights did not apply. Even two weeks after their death, the cleric’s sixteen-year old son, also an American citizen with supposedly constitutional protections, and a child by international standards, was also assassinated in a separate drone attack. So much for due process or respect for human rights.
In fact, since Obama became president in 2009, dozens of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and else where have been killed each year. But rarely does the civilized nation apologize for killing innocent Muslim civilians because “America does not apologize” as many American politicians repeatedly love to say.
Furthermore, Obama’s commendable call for mutual respect among nations may have fallen on deaf ears because it was considered by many as disingenuous. As noted above, for years the U.S. has disrespected the sovereignty of Pakistan and Yemen as it assassinated many individuals, including U.S. citizens, on their soil without any regard for the national sovereignty of the host countries, which are not at war with the U.S. But Obama could not have dared to use a drone attack in the U.K. to kill a cleric of Egyptian descent, who the U.S. has been after for years. In the U.K., the U.S. simply asked the British to extradite him so that he could be tried on U.S. soil. So the U.K. gets every consideration while the administration only shows contempt for Yemen or Pakistan.
In his speech, the president lauded the “enshrined” American values of constitutional protections and freedom of speech, as he reminded his world audience that “citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe,” and that they should be allowed to “speak their minds and assemble without fear.” He then emphatically stated that in the U.S. “our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.”
Yet Muslims around the world wondered where were these protections of freedom of speech when several American Muslims were indicted and sentenced to as much as life in prison in the U.S. for exercising First Amendment activities, including an American Muslim pharmacist of Egyptian descent in Boston who was sentenced to seventeen years in 2012 for translating passages and uploading videos to the internet, and a cable operator of Pakistani descent who was sentenced to almost six years in 2004 for connecting his New York customers to Hezbollah’s satellite channel.
In many of these cases, government prosecutors speculated that the speech of the Muslim defendants was not protected because it could have led to violence even though no evidence was ever presented to support such a theory. Contrast that with the proven record of hate speech spewed by numerous American Islamophobes, many of whom were quoted extensively by anti-Muslim extremist Anders Breivik, who deliberately killed in cold blood 77 people in Norway in July 2011. In his 1500-page manifesto, Breivik cited many American anti-Muslim haters such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller, Martin Kramer, and others. They apparently inspired him to commit the atrocious killings, though none were ever held, even morally, accountable, or subsequently condemned for their hateful inciting anti-Muslim speech.
Moreover, President Obama proudly affirmed his belief in “freedom and self-determination” and expounded that such concepts are “not unique to one culture,” since they are “not simply American values or Western values; they are universal values.” But these words ring hollow as the American president failed to explain to peoples around the world why the U.S. and its Western allies while steadfastly declaring that they “believe in these values” have continuously blocked freedom and self-determination, even symbolically at the United Nations, to the Palestinian people who have been suffering for over six decades either under brutal military occupation or in squalid refugee camps.
He further failed to justify why America has continued to fully arm and finance the tools that maintain and sustain the Israeli military occupation for decades, while shielding Israel’s atrocious policies against the unarmed Palestinian civilian population. Or why it protects Israel from any accountability for its illegal settlement activities and occupation in flagrant violations of international law and the Geneva conventions.
Towards the end of the speech, President Obama accused the Iranian government of supporting “terrorist groups” in the Middle East (none of which is known to have targeted the U.S.), while his administration has just delisted the Iranian terrorist group MEK, which has a bloody history and in recent years has been responsible for many terrorist attacks and assassinations inside Iran including the targeting of government officials, scientists, and academics.
Overlooking the fact that he started his speech by emphasizing peace and diplomacy, the president ended it by implicitly threatening Iran with war unless it accepts the dictates of the West as he stated that “the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” since “it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful.”
Most Americans might simply be deceived by Israeli propaganda in regard to the Iranian nuclear program, but most of the citizens of the world are not oblivious to the facts or the double standard applied to this issue by the American administration and its Israeli ally. So here are the facts that the president is fully aware of but conveniently decided to totally ignore.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East that actually possesses nuclear weapons- over 300 nuclear warheads along with their delivery systems. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while Iran is. Under the NPT, Iran not only has the right to have a robust civilian nuclear program, but the five recognized nuclear power countries have the obligation to help Iran develop one.
Moreover, Iran’s nuclear facilities have been fully and are currently under the IAEA inspection regime. Iran has repeatedly disavowed the use of nuclear arms and has only enriched its uranium stockpile to the civilian use level of twenty percent- not the ninety eight percent needed for weaponization. Moreover, since at least 2007 the consensus of the sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies has been that Iran abandoned any steps towards building a nuclear arms program. Finally, it was Iran that accepted the conditions set by President Obama in 2010 in his communication with the president of Brazil and prime minister of Turkey for Iran to prove its civilian use intentions. But it was Obama who subsequently backed away from the diplomatic solution as soon as Iran agreed to it, the same plan that he himself outlined to the world leaders.
When Obama arrived on the world stage in 2009, people the world over including many in the Muslim World had high hopes for real and genuine change. People were ready to turn the page on the painful years of the arrogant behavior of George W. Bush. But apparently the empire’s inertia overpowers the raised hopes of any false prophets.
Regrettably, with such self-aggrandizing posture, Obama’s tenure, whether it ends in four months or four years, will not conclude in celebration or optimism. Rather, in all likelihood its ending may follow T. S. Eliot’s words: “This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Esam Al-Amin can be contacted at alamin1919@gmail.com
This article was originally posted at Counterpunch

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s Warning Reveals His Moments of Memory Loss

Killed For Exposing Truth

He knew what was at stake. “My people are dying and I am waiting my turn,” he wrote. Maya knew that powerful forces were at work maligning his country.
By Finian Cunningham
September 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – The 33-year-old journalist placed his own life in danger on several occasions because he wanted the world to know the truth about the real cause of suffering afflicting the Syrian people. Despite receiving death threats for his critical reporting, he courageously returned to the line of duty time and again. Maya, from Syria, was said by colleagues to be painfully concerned by the suffering of ordinary people. He wanted their truth, their voices to be heard. 
The day he was killed was typical of his spirit. When two powerful bombs rocked the centre of the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday morning, Maya and his Press TV colleagues were first on the scene, as Syrian army forces fought gun battles with the perpetrators. He was fatally wounded while doing his job of “getting the story” and factually reporting for the Syrian public and the wider world. 
While the Western media would misreport, often from remote offices in the region, on how the Syrian army was bombarding civilian districts and shooting on innocent protesters, Maya would take great personal risk to report on the ground from places like Aleppo. His reports were real, not second-hand versions from un-named “activists” based in Britain and other countries. Crucially, his brave journalism provided a corrective view of what was really happening in Syria. 
He knew what was at stake. “My people are dying and I am waiting my turn,” he wrote. Maya knew that powerful forces were at work maligning his country. He knew that Western governments, the US, Britain and France, were fuelling a covert war of aggression in his country by arming foreign mercenaries, who for the past 18 months have unleashed atrocities and carnage on the Syrian people. Yet all the while, these Western governments and their powerful media organizations have turned reality on its head by insisting that the violations are being committed by the Syrian government against its people and the “rebels”. 
Maya knew that regional powers like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel are also colluding in the foreign conspiracy to destroy his country and to replace the government of President Bashar al-Assad with an entity that would serve the interests of foreign powers, not the interests of his people. A professed Christian, Maya knew that the sabotage of his country was based on the tactic of whipping up sectarian fears between Muslims and Christians, to wreck centuries of peaceful coexistence and tolerance, to replace that with factionalism and tribalism that would best serve the interests of foreign powers. 
The conspiracy against Syria is real. It is not just rhetoric plied by the Assad government. The people of Syria have been living under a foreign-backed reign of terror since March 2011. Yet, the Western media, as well as those backed by the Saudi and Qatari monarchs, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, have indulged in the most fantastic fabrications and illusions. 
Some 20 journalists have been killed so far in Syria’s violence, most of them Syrian nationals. Many others have been kidnapped or wounded. Most of the attacks have been carried out by Western-backed mercenaries against Syrian journalists who are deemed to telling the truth about the Western-backed terrorism in their country. Saudi and Qatari-backed satellite platforms have even blocked Syrian news channels in a bid to choke the truth and prevent the world from understanding what is really going on in Syria.
Month after month, the barrage of lies and distortions from the New York Times, CNN, Financial Times, BBC, the Independent, Guardian, the Irish Times, to name a few, has served the political agenda of “regime change” by the Western governments in Syria. 
Massacres have been blamed on government forces whenever they were perpetrated by Western and Arab-backed mercenaries; car bombs in cities causing the deaths of hundreds have been misattributed to Machiavellian psy-ops by Assad’s military intelligence; CNN and Al Jazeera have even engaged in fabricating atrocities and falsely claiming they were carried out by the Syrian army; the BBC has removed footage that clearly shows violations by the so-called rebels. 
Maya Naser was well aware of the disservice to the truth and to his country that foreign powers and their supposed independent news media are engaging in. He knew that the bigger picture was one of twisting world public opinion to perversely blame the victims of violence and to champion the perpetrators. He knew that this veil of lies and demonization was setting the scene for illegal foreign military intervention in his country, to “liberate” the Syrian people from the very violence that these foreign powers have unleashed, criminally, on his country. 
Even reporting his death this week, the Western media could not find the integrity to tell the truth. The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Reuters and Irish Times, for example, all reported that Maya was killed by “a sniper”. Invariably, they attributed the source “according to Press TV”. Using innuendo, these media went on to remind the reader that Press TV is an Iranian channel, and that Iran is a supporter of the Assad government in Syria. None of these media would prominently report that Maya had received death threats, that these death threats were issued by Western-backed mercenaries, nor that his death was finally caused by foreign militants that have been infiltrated into Syria to commit acts of terrorism. No, these media would only report that he was killed “by a sniper” – thus once again shrouding the nature of conflict in Syria in mystery. 
The day before Maya was killed, US President Barack Obama regaled the United Nations General Assembly in New York with his usual act of sanctimony and pious words. The man who secretly draws up weekly assassination lists for drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, lectured the assembly on the rights and virtues of free speech and freedom of information. “True democracy… depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear,” Obama intoned with high-minded gravitas.
Well less than 24 hours later when a fearless young Syrian journalist went out to practice Obama’s principles, he was cut down by American-backed terrorists on the streets of Damascus. 
Thanks to the courage of Maya Naser, the world is given a far more accurate view of the violence bearing down on Syria. While the supposed august Western media organizations have displayed the most pathetic servile dependency on Western governments, Maya actually lived, fulfilled and died for the principles of truthful, independent journalism. His journalism empowers people to make accurate judgments and to determine the truth of violence and who the perpetrators are. May he now rest in peace.
Finian Cunningham is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He specialises in Middle East and East Africa issues.

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I Will Never Forget Omar Khadr

Romney Wants to Waterboard Again: Bringing Torture Back

By Matthew Rothschild
September 30, 2012 “The Progressive” — So now Mitt Romney wants to bring waterboarding back?
An article buried on the bottom of page 13 of The New York Times on Friday revealed that Romney’s national security team has recommended to him that he rescind President Obama’s executive order barring torture.
The Times article, by the great Charlie Savage, also notes that Romney last December said he didn’t think waterboarding was torture and that he would use techniques—isn’t that a creepy word—that Obama refuses to use and that are not allowed by the Army manual.
This puts Romney squarely back in the sadistic Bush-Cheney camp
And little wonder: Because many of the people on his national security team actually served in the Bush-Cheney administration and backed waterboarding and other kinds of brutalities.
This is not a lovely glimpse into what a Romney presidency would look like.
In fact, it’s a horrifying flashback, and a reminder that the neocons and Cheneyites are just biding their time, waiting for their opportunity to abuse power once more.
This is what happens when there is impunity, as Professor Al McCoy of the University of Wisconsin argues. By not prosecuting Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld or Alberto Gonzales and other senior officials who designed the torture policy, and by not prosecuting the CIA agents who actually did the waterboarding, President Obama has left the door open for the torturers.
And they’re lining up to get back in.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story“Hey NFL, You Hire Scab Labor, You Get a Scab Product.”
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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How The Government’s Lies Become Truth

International Warlords Coercing Mankind

By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD
September 30, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – And here is the dilemma we face as a civilization. We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
(Chris Hedges – author of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (“How to Think”).
The UNO does not represent humanity; it represents the paper-based concept of the Nation States having membership at the UN. The same set-up as of the failed League of Nations craving the 2nd WW. You will find less than being intelligent, lacking leadership and vision of the mankind holding important office at some of these organizations. Often the self-geared leaders of the Nation Sates are eager to voice their individualistic interests and priorities to the global community that lives and flourishes outside the legal and intellectual scope of the domains of the UNO. Viewing this week the deliberations of the UN General Assembly, most of the Western leaders are driving the mankind to ambiguous threats of wars appearing on the horizon. None of these so called leaders exhibit any sense of moral and intellectual accountability toward the humanity – being the direct object and victim of all of their delusional thoughts and priorities. Most scholars would agree that these outspoken characters are just programmed dummies run by the hired advisors-political strategists and pretending to be political leaders. They do not possess any originality of intellect or vision and are not representative leaders of nations but actors at the global stage. The truth is that none of them have actually fought any wars on the real war fronts except their decorated offices – a disconnect with the real world. Most appear to be individualistic retarded psychopath and liars on the global political scene – falsify the facts of human affairs, the mankind knows it well. They hire news media to propagate their message to the global arena. President Obama is overwhelmed with his re-election campaign, and given the critical juncture of the media operated political numbering games, he has no interest or time to face the global community because of his broken promises for change, lost credibility and misgivings to end the bogus wars on terrorism. In line with his confused mindset, PM Netanyahu is actively falsifying the facts about the Iran nuclear capability and using it as an excuse to define the unilateral “Red Lines.” Rationality of global affairs wonders, if this is not the extreme insanity, what else is new. Iranian President Mahmood Ahmad Deenjehdad took defensive overtures that Iran is not developing the bomb making capability. Leaders do not pretend to be leaders more so if they have accountability to the electorate Most of the current international critical assessments including those of the US intelligence point out that Iran does not have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons.
There are critical issues of peace and harmony amongst varied people and cultures deserving immense global significance that these spokesmen are not talking about. Paul Craig Roberts (“The Culture of Delusion” 9/27/2012) calls them political “prostitutes” operating in Washington. The people who do the political horse-trading. America is financially and militarily broke and exhausted and it cannot survive to cope with more wars. Israel needs peace and harmony not more animosity to co-exist with the Palestinians, not more wars. The freedom of Palestine and the end of Israeli occupation is the central problem to be focused not the threat of wars to Iran. Amongst the leading Jewish scholars, there are many better equipped in intellect and vision to speak on behalf of Israeli people than what Netanyahu claims to represent-the warmongering psyche. Peace is more vital and much need by the global community than any talk of the more wars. Earlier European wars of centuries were aimed at annihilation of imperial, political and national enemies but the 21st century conflicts are ready-made recipes not only to eliminate the mankind but also the environment in which human beings survive and the planet Earth that sustains life. One would have imagined that more knowledgeable people become, more rational world will emerge in the coming ages of rational thinking. Not so, we continued to be occupied with false images and misleading rationale of the global conflicts. Like always, few cynical and mentally unbalanced people plan and wage wars against others, not imagining the dreadful end results of their intrigues and conspiracies against life, human rights and dignity and futuristic possibilities for survival on the planet.
Those who plan and wage wars, know what they are engaged in, they are not innocent belligerent or without knowledge. Those who go to farfetched lands to bomb the innocent people, divide and massacre men, women and children, fully understand what they are doing. Perhaps, common people are misled by the warmongers enabling them to sustain their war agendas under false political perceptions and imagery as is the case in the US. In his article Professor Camillo “Mac” Bica, School of Visual Arts, New York City and an activist of Peace and Justice (“Atrocity and War”, OpenedNews, 4/28/2010) offers a penetrating insight:
“…war is not accessible through the understanding, rationally, intellectually, by watching a film or by reading a book. To “know” war, you have to experience it, live it, feel it in your gut the anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, hopelessness, despair, anger, rage, etc. In truth, warriors exist in a world totally incomprehensible to those who have never had the misfortune of experiencing the horrors of the battlefield.”
Paul Craig Roberts (“A Culture of Delusion”) captions the prevalent context of the US strategic delusion:
“Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement. There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Gaddafi fed his troops Viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change–yes we can! The US is “the indispensable country.” …..Israel is America’s most loyal ally.…..
The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars.
The endless lies have created a culture of delusion.”
To Chris Hedges – a global scholar of rational thinking and author of Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (“How to Think”), visualize basic problems with Human Thinking, the delusional concept of war by the masses:
Human societies see what they want to see. They create national myths of identity out of a composite of historical events and fantasy. They ignore unpleasant facts that intrude on self-glorification…. The psychoanalyst John Steiner calls this phenomenon “turning a blind eye.” He notes that often we have access to adequate knowledge but because it is unpleasant and disconcerting we choose unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, to ignore it….. At night you could hear gunfire. But they were the last to “know.” And we are equally self-deluded. The physical evidence of national decay—the crumbling infrastructures, the abandoned factories and other workplaces, the rows of gutted warehouses, the closure of libraries, schools, fire stations and post offices—that we physically see, is, in fact, unseen. The rapid and terrifying deterioration of the ecosystem, evidenced in soaring temperatures, droughts, floods, crop destruction, freak storms, melting ice caps and rising sea levels, are met blankly with Steiner’s “blind eye…… The Shakespearean scholar Harold Goddard wrote: “The imagination is not a faculty for the creation of illusion; it is the faculty by which alone man apprehends reality. The ‘illusion’ turns out to be truth.” “Let faith oust fact,” Starbuck says in “Moby-Dick.”…..“It is only our absurd ‘scientific’ prejudice that reality must be physical and rational that blinds us to the truth,”
Strangely enough, warmongers hire war propagandists to classify wars as “noble”, “good”, necessity of the ruling nobility and to protect the flag, borders and national interests. George Bush claimed to be a “Man of God” who started the day with reading of the Bible. Nobody ever mentions in America that George Bush and his neocons massacred three million Iraqi civilians. The same bloodbath is well in progress in Afghanistan. The Drone attacks in Northwest Pakistan tribal areas have killed an estimated 2,900 people just in 2011. The recently released observations by the New York University – Stanford University on the Drone Attacks, calls into question the legal and moral stance of the sting operations and the continued drone attacks most harmful to American political interests in that part of the world.
Paul Buchheit (“War or Revolution happen in Every 75 Years. ) reminds us: “In our ‘civilized’ times people aren’t being run down by noblemen or forced to eat grass. The aristocracy has learned a lot about suppressing crowds in 225 years. But they need to fear the growing revolution. They need to fear, as Dickens put it, “the remorseless sea of turbulently swaying shapes, voices of vengeance, and faces hardened in the furnaces of suffering until the touch of pity could make no mark on them.”
Professor Camillo “Mac” Bica, School of Visual Arts, New York City and an activist of Peace and Justice (“Atrocity and War”) makes it known in bold words:
“…..while I do not justify nor excuse the actions of these individuals, neither do I seek scapegoats in order to absolve myself of culpability and responsibility as a citizen of a democracy in whose name and with whose tax dollars these atrocities are committed. Consequently, if there is to be condemnation and punishment, let it begin with those whose incompetence and desire for wealth and power make war inevitable and unnecessary; whose apathy allows the slaughter to continue; and whose blind allegiance, misguided patriotism, or utopian idealism hamper their ability to understand and appreciate the true reality and nature of war and its tragic and profound effects upon the warrior. We must see through the mythology, the lies and the deceptions, and understand that all who become tainted by war are victims. Consequently, we must recognize as well, that their culpability must be mitigated and that we all share responsibility and blame for the inevitable atrocities of war.”
Nobody seems to be pursuing any rational course of plan and actions to promote global peace and understanding amongst different cultures and civilizations or the need to stop the political belligerency and the bogus Wars on Terrorism and help the humanity to return to normal setting of co-existence. America and Israel could have used it to build new relations for co-existence and for the good of all. The US and some Europeans are living in a state of paranoid thinking, and fail to see the prevalent realities and reactions of the global masses against their warmongering. The Western world is terribly naïve in its approach to warmongering against the poor, deprived and divided mankind in other parts of the world. History has a role to teaching and learning which is denied by the global war strategists. All wars are the outcome of anti-human thinking and cruelty and none can or will usher peace and security to the mankind. After the 2WW, the Europeans have learned it in a hard way but American political minds are trying to escape the prevalent truth. Those who try to overrun the humanity, do get overtrumped by their vicious plans. Hitler and Mussolini experienced it and so did the former USSR and so many other tyrannical empires. Every beginning has its end. Those who perpetuate wars and victimize the mankind sooner or later will cease to exist. This is the Law of God that no worldly materialistic or political power can change or challenge. Seeing a nation or a people depicted most powerful on the visual screen is not a reality but a delusional imagery – falsification of truth carved by the political propagandists and hired agents of influence. The recorded history clearly demonstrates that whenever worldly powers went haunting the large segments of the mankind in farfetched lands, it is usually the end game of their role-play in global affairs. Massouline, Hitler and the former USSR all went through that path. America and Israel are alone in global political configuration. America, Israel and some of their hired European allies live in constant FEAR that soon they will be replaced by others – the natural course of history to override the dead past. All the great political powers have met the same end. America and its bribed–coerced European allies are at the top of waiting list to reach the end game. C.E.M Joad (Guide to Modern Wickedness, 1935), the classical scholar on world politics offers a rational perspective:
“War provides an outlet for every evil element in man’s nature. It enfranchises cupidity and greed gives a charter to petty tyranny, glorifies cruelty and places in position of power the vulgar and base.”
The conscientious and informed global citizenry looks for an active and effective new world organization under intelligent leadership and responsible to the Global Community, not a dysfunctional UNO debating forum facilitating the old imperial powers of the dead past. Redundant myths make no difference. The question is how soon the global citizenry will see a NEW UNO and an end to this monstrous mindsets and act of belligerency against the interest of global mankind and its futuristic survival?
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany, May 2012)

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From Start to Finish: Why We Won and How We Are Losing

Failed UNGA-rithm: Pointless talks of war & peace flip-flop?

Financialization and the World Economy

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Failed UNGA-rithm: Pointless talks of war & peace flip-flop?

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Cut & Bleeding: Austerity-bitten Spain stands up in fury

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Bad Romance: Iran saber-rattling strains US-Israel relationship

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Video: Violent clashes erupt as Madrid cops squelch austerity protest

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"Political Fraud" by ClassWarFilms

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“Political Fraud”

Video


By 

Addiction is a kind of insanity. The American people have been addicted by relentless indoctrination to the worship of a cynically concocted fantasy version of their country.

See also Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine – A brief and crucial history of the United States.

Posted September 29, 2012

To expose, explain, attack, and dismantle the myth of American Exceptionalism, the mask and disguise of Predatory Capitalism.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32589.htm

Egypt’s Morsi Takes UN Center Stage on Syria and Palestine

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Venezuelan Barrios Vote for Chavez and Participatory Democracy

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American Drones for Covert Underwater Warfare against Iran

Parallel secret services

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LAUNCHING THE U.S. TERROR WAR (2/3)

by Peter Dale Scott


Continuing his analysis, Peter Dale Scott shows that liaison arrangements among the intelligence agencies of allied countries gave rise to parallel services and shadow operations. This former Canadian diplomat thereby reveals the method that allowed the September 11 plotters to employ means appertaining to the U.S. state apparatus without the knowledge of other insiders.
VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 29 SEPTEMBER 2012
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The Liaison Agreements with Other Intelligence Agencies

Initially, I believe, al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi may have been protected because they had been sent to America by the Saudi GID intelligence service, which would explain why after their arrival they were apparently bankrolled indirectly by the Saudi embassy in Washington. The facts are well summarized by Paul Church in Asia Times Online (February 11, 2012):
Between 1998 and 2002, up to US$73,000 in cashier cheques was funneled by [Saudi Ambassador Prince] Bandar’s wife Haifa – who once described the elder Bushes as like “my mother and father” – to two Californian families known to have bankrolled al-Midhar and al-Hazmi. … Princess Haifa sent regular monthly payments of between $2,000 and $3,500 to Majeda Dweikat, wife of Osama Basnan, believed by various investigators to be a spy for the Saudi government. Many of the cheques were signed over to Manal Bajadr, wife of Omar al-Bayoumi, himself suspected of covertly working for the kingdom. The Basnans, the al-Bayoumis and the two 9/11 hijackers once shared the same apartment block in San Diego. It was al-Bayoumi who greeted the killers when they first arrived in America, and provided them, among other assistance, with an apartment and social security cards. He even helped the men enroll at flight schools in Florida.” [1]
If the two Saudis were in fact sent by the GID, they would almost certainly have been admitted to the U.S. under the terms of the liaison agreement between the GID and the CIA. [2] Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of the GID, has said that he shared his al Qaeda information with the CIA, and that in 1997 the Saudis “established a joint intelligence committee with the United States to share information on terrorism in general and on…al Qaeda in particular.” [3] The 9/11 Commission Report adds that after a post-millennium review, the Counterterrorism Center (which included Alec Station, the Bin Laden Unit) intended to proceed with its plan of half a year earlier, “building up the capabilities of foreign security services that provided intelligence via liaison.” [4]
This was a Blee specialty. Steve Coll reports that Richard Blee and his superior Cofer Black, excited about the opportunities presented by liaison arrangements for expanding the scope of CIA reach in critical regions, had flown together into Tashkent in 1999, and negotiated a new liaison agreement with Uzbekistan. [5] According to Coll and the Washington Post, this arrangement soon led, via Tashkent, to a CIA liaison inside Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance. [6] Thomas Ricks and Susan Glasser reported in the Washington Post that, beginning after the embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, “The United States and Uzbekistan have quietly conducted joint covert operations aimed at countering Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban regime and its terrorist allies …, according to officials from both nations.” [7]
This involvement in Uzbekistan was part of a wider regional pattern. Beginning in 1997, the U.S. had begun a series of annual military maneuvers with Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek forces, as exercises for possible deployment of combat U.S. forces in the region.
CENTRAZBAT ’97, as it was known, was clearly a test of America’s ability to project power into the Caspian basin in the event of a crisis. “There is no nation on the face of the earth that we cannot get to,” said General Jack Sheehan…the highest-ranking officer to attend the exercise. And, lest anyone doubted the nature of our interests in the region, a deputy assistant secretary of defense accompanying Sheehan, Catherine Kelleher, cited “the presence of enormous energy resources” as a justification for American military involvement. The 1997 operation was the first in an annual series CENTRAZBAT exercises designed to test the speed with which Washington could deploy U.S.-based forces directly to the region and commence combat operations. [8]
In other words, the Pentagon had been active in Uzbekistan for four years before the public Rumsfeld-Karimov agreement of October 2001.
[Insert K-2 picture here. Move Panjshir photo to p. 28, after Massoud reference at footnote 94]
Speaking as a former junior diplomat, let me observe that a liaison arrangement would probably have required special access clearances for those privy to the arrangement and sharing the liaison information. [9] This would explain the exclusion of the FBI agents who were not cleared for this information, as well as the behavior of other non-cleared CIA agents who proceeded to collect and disseminate information about the two alleged hijackers. Alec Station needed both to protect the double identity of the two Saudis, and to make sure that they were not embarrassingly detained by the FBI.
Almost certainly the CIA had relevant liaison arrangements, not just with the Saudi GID and Uzbekistan, but also with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, as well as the intelligence services of Egypt, and perhaps Yemen and Morocco. In particular there is reason to think that Ali Mohamed, a double agent who was protected by the FBI from being detained in Canada, thus allowing him to help organize the al Qaeda embassy bombings of 1998, was permitted under such arrangements to enter the US as an agent of foreign intelligence, probably Egyptian. [10] Ali Mohamed figures both in the content and as source of the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) of August 6, 2001, in which the CIA warned the president, “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” [11] According to Mohamed’s FBI handler, Jack Cloonan, “all that information came from Ali,” while the PDB itself attributes its key finding to what “an Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an [—] service.” [12] (Ali Mohamed was definitely EIJ, and this service was probably Egyptian.)
But when Mohamed, like al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, was inappropriately admitted to the US, it was reportedly not by the CIA, but possibly by “some other Federal agency.” [13]
This was very possibly a Pentagon agency, because from 1987 to 1989, Ali Mohamed “was assigned to the U.S. [Army] Special Operations Command [SOCOM] in Fort Bragg, the home of the Green Berets and the Delta Force, the elite counterterrorism squad.” [14] SOCOM, which includes JSOC (the Joint Special Operations Command), has its own intelligence division; [15] and SOCOM is the command that first mounted the Able Danger program in 1999 to track al Qaeda operatives, and then, inexplicably, both shut it down before 9/11 and destroyed its database. [16] In addition SOCOM was working in Uzbekistan with CIA operatives as a result of the liaison agreement negotiated by Cofer Black and Richard Blee of the CTC.
For this and other reasons, I suggest reconceptualizing what Fenton calls the anomalous “Alec Station group” as an inter-agency liaison team (or teams) with special access clearances, including Alec Station personnel, collaborating personnel in the FBI, and possibly SOCOM. (One of these collaborators was FBI agent Dina Corsi, who according to Fenton withheld vital information from fellow agent Steve Bongardt even after the NSA had cleared it for him.) [17]
Background: the Safari Club and William Casey
These arrangements can be traced in one form or another, at least back to the 1970s. Then senior CIA officers and ex-officers (notably Richard Helms), who were dissatisfied with the CIA cutbacks instituted under Jimmy Carter’s CIA director, Stansfield Turner, organized an alternative network, the so-called Safari Club. Subordinated to intelligence chiefs from France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and (under the Shah) Iran, the Safari Club provided a home to CIA officers like Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines, who had been marginalized or fired by CIA Director Turner. As Prince Turki later explained, the purpose of the Safari Club was not just to exchange information, but to conduct covert operations that the CIA could no longer carry out directly in the wake of the Watergate scandal and subsequent reforms. [18]
In the 1980s, CIA Director William Casey made key decisions in the conduct of the Afghan covert war, not through his own CIA bureaucracy but with the Saudi intelligence chiefs, first Kamal Adham and then Prince Turki. Among these decisions was the creation of a foreign legion to assist the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets – in other words, the creation of that support network which, since the end of that war, we have known as al Qaeda. [19] Casey worked out the details with the two Saudi intelligence chiefs, and also with the head of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the Saudi-Pakistani bank in which Adham and Turki were both shareholders.
In so doing, Casey was in effect running a second or back-channel CIA, building up the future al Qaeda in Pakistan with the Saudis, even though the official CIA hierarchy underneath him in Langley rightly “thought this unwise.” [20] In American War Machine, I situated the Safari Club and BCCI in a succession of ”second CIA” or “alternative CIA” arrangements dating back to the creation of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) in 1948. Thus it is relevant that CIA Director George Tenet, following Casey’s precedent, met with Saudi Ambassador Bandar around once a month, and would not tell CIA officers handling Saudi issues what he had discussed. [21]
Fenton himself invokes the example of the Safari Club in proposing the possible explanation that Blee and Wilshire used a “parallel network” to track al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi inside the United States. In his words, “Withholding the information about Almihdhar and Alhazmi only makes sense if the CIA was monitoring the two men in the US itself, either officially or off the books.” [22] But a third option would be that the GID was monitoring their movements, a situation quite compatible with Saudi Prince Bandar’s claim that Saudi security had been “actively following the movements of most of the terrorists with precision.” [23]
Joseph and Susan Trento heard from a former CIA officer, once based in Saudi Arabia, that “Both Hazmi and Mihdhar were Saudi agents.” [24] If so, they were clearly double agents, acting (or posing) as terrorists at the same time they were acting (or posing) as informants. In espionage, double agents are prized and often valuable; but to rely on them (as the example of Ali Mohamed illustrates) can also be dangerous.
This was particularly the case for the CIA with respect to Saudi Arabia, whose GID supported al Qaeda energetically in countries like Bosnia, in exchange for a pledge (negotiated by Saudi Interior Minister Naif bin Abdul Aziz with Osama bin Laden) that al Qaeda “would not interfere with the politics of Saudi Arabia or any Arab country.” [25] Pakistan’s ISI was even more actively engaged with al Qaeda, and some elements of ISI were probably closer to the ideological goals of al Qaeda, than to Pakistan’s nominally secular government.
But in all cases the handling of illegal informants is not just dangerous and unpredictable, but corrupting. To act their parts, the informants must break the law; and their handlers, knowing this, must protect them by failing to report them, and then, all too often, intercede to prevent their arrest by others. In this way, handlers, over and over again, become complicit in the crimes of their informants. [26]
Even in the best of circumstances, decisions have to be made whether to allow an informant’s crime to go forward, or to thwart it and risk terminating the usefulness of the informant. In such moments, agencies are all too likely to make the choice that is not in the public interest.
A very relevant example is the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993 – relevant because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, was one of the 1993 plotters as well. The FBI had an informant, Emad Salem, among the 1993 plotters; and Salem later claimed, with supporting evidence from tapes of his FBI debriefings, that the FBI deliberately chose not to shut down the plot. Here is Ralph Blumenthal’s careful account in the New York Times of this precursor to the mystery of 9/11:
Law-enforcement officials [i.e. the FBI] were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.
The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.
The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City’s tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars. Four men are now on trial in Manhattan Federal Court in that attack. [27]
What makes the 1993 plot even more relevant is that Salem, according to many sources, was an agent of the Egyptian intelligence service, sent to America to spy on the actions of the Egyptian “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman. [28] This raises the possibility that the F.B.I. supervisor who had “other ideas” about how to use Emad Salem, was a member of a liaison team, with special knowledge he could not share with other FBI agents. It may have been, for example, that the Egyptian intelligence service declined to let Salem’s cover be blown. This suggestion is both speculative and problematic, but it has the advantage of offering a relatively coherent explanation for otherwise baffling behavior.
This explanation does not at all rule out the possibility that some officials had more sinister motives for allowing the bombing to take place and covering it up afterwards. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was at this very time a key figure in a sensitive Saudi program, signed on to by U.S. officials as well, to supply mujahideen warriors in Bosnia against Serbia (including some, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who were later accused of the 9/11 plot). [29] It is clear from both investigative and prosecutorial behavior that a number of different US agencies did not want to disturb Rahman’s activities. Even after Rahman himself was finally indicted in the 1995 conspiracy case to blow up New York landmarks, the US Government continued to protect Ali Mohamed, a key figure in the conspiracy.
Worse, the performance of the FBI in allowing the bombing to proceed was only one of a series of interrelated bungled performances and missed opportunities, climaxing with 9/11. The first was in connection with the murder in New York of the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane. The FBI and NY police actually detained two of the murderers in that case and then released them, allowing them to take part in the WTC bombing of 1993. A key trainer of the two men was Ali Mohamed while still in U.S. Special Forces, whose name was systematically protected from disclosure by the prosecuting attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald. Then in 1994, when Ali Mohamed was detained in Vancouver by the Canadian RCMP, the FBI intervened to arrange for his release. This freed Mohamed to proceed to Kenya, where he became the lead organizer of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi. [30]
Ali Mohamed was finally detained by the Americans in 1998, but still not imprisoned. He was apparently still a free man when he readily confessed to his FBI handler, Jack Cloonan, that he not only knew at least three of the 9/11 alleged hijackers, but had helped instruct them in how to hijack airplanes. [31] According to Ali Soufan, in a book released in September 2011, Ali Mohamed was still awaiting sentencing in 2011, twelve years after his guilty plea in May 1999. [32]
We have to conclude that there is something profoundly dysfunctional going on here, and has been going on since before 9/11, indeed under both political parties. The conditions of secrecy created by special clearances have not just masked this dysfunctionality; they have, I would argue, helped create it. The history of espionage demonstrates that secret power, when operating in the sphere of illegal activities, becomes, time after time, antithetical to public democratic power. [33] The more restricted the group of special planners with special clearances, the less likely are their decisions to conform with the dictates of international and domestic law, still less with common morality and common sense.
Add to these conditions of unwholesome secrecy the fundamentally unhealthy, indeed corrupt, relationship of U.S. intelligence agencies to those of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This has been profoundly anti-democratic both at home and in Asia. The US dependency on Saudi oil has in effect subsidized a wealth-generated spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world, while what the 99.9 percent of ordinary Americans pay for oil and gas generates huge sums, which Saudis then recycle into the financial institutions of the one tenth of one percent at the pinnacle of Wall Street.
In like manner, America’s fraught relationship with the ISI of Pakistan has resulted in a dramatic increase in international heroin trafficking by the two agencies’ Afghan clients. [34] In short the bureaucratic dysfunction we are talking about in 9/11 is a symptom of a larger dysfunction in America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, and through them with the rest of the world.
Liaison Agreements and the Protection of Al-Mihdhar and Al-Hazmi
Even without the suggestive precedent of the 1993 WTC bombing, it is legitimate to posit that liaison agreements may have inhibited the roundup of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Let us consider first Fenton’s finding of fact: “It is clear that this information [about the two men] was not withheld through a series of bizarre accidents, but intentionally.” [35] This finding I consider rock hard. But we cannot be so confident about his explanation: that “the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward.” [36]
I believe that in fact there are a number of possibilities about the intention, ranging from the relatively innocent (the inhibitions deriving from a liaison agreement) to the nefarious. Before considering these, let us deconstruct the notion of “letting the attacks go forward.” Clearly, if the alleged hijackers were not detained at the airport gates, people would probably have been killed – but how many? Recall that in the Operation Northwoods documents, which envisaged planning “false flag” attacks to justify a U.S. military intervention in Cuba, the Joint Chiefs wrote “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign” in which “We could sink a boatload of Cubans.” [37] Would the loss of four planeloads of passengers have been a qualitatively different tragedy?
Of course 9/11 became a much greater tragedy when three of the planes hit the two Towers and the Pentagon. But it is possible that the liaison minders of the two Saudis did not imagine that their targets were capable of such a feat. Recall that their flying lessons, even in a Cessna, were such a fiasco that the lessons were quickly terminated. Their instructor told them “that flying was simply not for them.” [38]
Let me suggest that there are three separable ingredients to the 9/11 attacks: the hijackings, the strikes on the buildings, and the astonishing collapse of the three WTC buildings. It is at least possible that the Alec Station liaison team, as a group, contemplated only the first stage, without ever imagining the two stages that ensued.
A minimal, least malign initial explanation for the withholding of information about two of the alleged hijackers would be the hypothesis I proposed in the case of Emad Salem – the restricted access created by the special clearance for a liaison agreement. But just as in 1993, the secret power created behind the wall of restrictive clearances may have been exploited for ulterior purposes. The dangerous situation thus created – of potential would-be-hijackers being protected from detention at a time of expected attack – may have inspired some to exploit the resulting conditions of secrecy as an opportunity to plan an incident to justify war. One important analogy with the 1964 false Second Tonkin Gulf Incident that was used to justify attacking North Vietnam is the same presence of a powerful faction – in 2001 the PNAC clique inside government – that was bent on unilateral military action. [39]
One clue to this more sinister intention is that the pattern of withholdings detailed by Fenton is not restricted exclusively to the two Saudis and their CIA station handlers. There are a few concatenating withholdings by other agencies – above all the Able Danger info that was destroyed at SOCOM and the withholding – apparently by NSA — of an important relevant intercept, apparently about the alleged hijackers and Moussaoui. [40]
If the NSA was withholding information from relevant officials, it would recall the role of the NSA at the time of the second Tonkin Gulf Incident in August 1964. Then the NSA, at a crucial moment, forwarded 15 pieces of SIGINT (signals intelligence) which indicated – falsely – that there had been a North Vietnamese attack on two US destroyers. At the same time NSA withheld 107 pieces of SIGINT which indicated – correctly – that no North Vietnamese attack had occurred. [41] NSA’s behavior at that time was mirrored at the CIA: both agencies were aware of a powerful consensus inside the Johnson administration that had already agreed on provoking North Vietnam, in hopes of creating an opportunity for military response. [42]
We know from many accounts of the Bush administration that there was also a powerful pro-war consensus within it, centered on Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the so-called cabal of PNAC (the Project for the New American Century) that before Bush’s election had been lobbying vigorously for military action against Iraq. We know also that Rumsfeld’s immediate response to 9/11 was to propose an attack on Iraq, and that planning for such an attack was indeed instituted on September 17. [43] It is worth considering whether some of those protecting the alleged hijackers from detention did not share these warlike ambitions. [44]
[1] The 9/11 Commission Report discounted the importance of al-Bayoumi (217-18); but the Report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 (173-77), even though very heavily redacted at this point, supplied corroborating information, including a report that Basnan had once hosted a party for the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdurrahman, involved in the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
[2] At first I suspected, as have others, that the two men were Saudi double agents. Another possibility is that they were sent as designated targets, to be surveilled by the Saudis and the Americans separately or together. One of my few disagreements with Fenton is when he calls al-Mihdhar “one of [the hijackers’] most experienced operatives” (Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 205). My own impression is that he was either an inexperienced and incompetent spy, or else someone deliberately exposing himself to detection, in order to test American responses.
[3] Summers, Eleventh Day, 396.
[4] 9/11 Commission Report, 184.
[5] Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004), 456-57.
[7] Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post, October 14, 2001; cf.
[9] In 1957, I myself, as a junior Canadian diplomat, acquired a special access, higher-than-top-secret clearance to access intelligence from NATO, a relatively overt and straightforward liaison.
[10] For the Ali Mohamed story, see Scott, Road to 9/11, especially 151-60.
[11Scott, Road to 9/11, 158; citing John Berger, “Unlocking 9/11: Paving the Road to 9/11”: ”Mohamed was one of the primary sources for the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief (PDB) entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’” The PDB, often cited as an example of the CIA’s good performance, is in my opinion more probably another example of the Bin Laden Unit salting the record in preparation for post-9/11 scrutiny. The PDB, without naming Ali Mohamed, refers to him no less than three times as a threat, despite the fact that at the time he was under USG control awaiting sentence for his role in the 1998 embassy plots. The PDB, in other words, appears to have been a performance for the record, analogous to Wilshire’s performance in the same month of August at the FBI.
[12] John Berger, Ali Mohamed, 20 (Cloonan); 9/11 Commission Report, 261 (PDB).
[13] James Risen, New York Times, October 31, 1998; in Scott, Road to 9/11, 346-47.
[14] Raleigh News and Observer, November 13, 2001; in Scott, Road to 9/11, 347. I have added the word “Army.” The HQ for USSOCOM itself is at Fort MacDill Air Force Vase in Florida.
[16] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 168-69; Summers, Eleventh Day, 371, 550.
[17] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 372.
[18] Scott, American War Machine, 161; Scott, Road to 9/11, 62-63.
[19] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, oil, and fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven CT: Yale UP, 2000), 129.
[20] John Prados, Safe for Democracy, 489; discussion in Scott, American War Machine, 12-13.
[21] James Risen, State of War: the secret history of the CIA and the Bush administration (New York: Free Press, 2006), 188-89.
[22] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 104.
[23] Summers, Eleventh Day, 397.
[25] Wright, Looming Tower, 161; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 216.
[26] Such corruption is predictable and very widespread. In the notorious cases of Gregory Scarpa and Whitey Bulger, FBI agents in the New York and Boston offices were accused of giving their mob informants information that led to the murder of witnesses and other opponents. Agents in the New York office of the old Federal Bureau of Narcotics became so implicated in the trafficking of their informants that the FBN had to be shut down and reorganized.
[27] Ralph Blumenthal, “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast,” New York Times, October 28, 1993, emphasis added. The next day, the Times published a modest correction: “Transcripts of tapes made secretly by an informant, Emad A. Salem, quote him as saying he warned the Government that a bomb was being built. But the transcripts do not make clear the extent to which the Federal authorities knew that the target was the World Trade Center.
[28] Scott, Road to 9/11, 145.
[29Peter Dale Scott, “Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 29, 2011, http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-S…. Evan Kohlmann has described how a Zagreb office in support of the Saudi-backed jihad in Bosnia received “all orders and funding directly from the main United States office of Al-Kifah on Atlantic Avenue controlled by Shaykh Omar Abdel Rahman” (Evan Kohlmann, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe, 39-41; citing Steve Coll and Steve LeVine, “Global Network Provides Money, Haven,” Washington Post, August 3, 1993).
[31] Scott, Road to 9/11, 151-59.
[32] Ali Soufan, The Black Banners, 94-95, 561.
[33] The corruption appears to be inevitable in superpowers – states which have accumulated power in access of what is needed for their own defense. The pattern is less discernible in less powerful states like Canada.
[34“America’s Afghanistan: The National Security and a Heroin-Ravaged State,” Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, #20, 2009, May 18, 2009,Cf. “U.S. looks into Afghan air force drug allegations,” CNN, March 8, 2012,: “The United States is investigating allegations that some members of the Afghan air force have used their planes to transport drugs, a U.S. military spokesman said Thursday.
Investigators want to know whether the drug-running allegations, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, are linked to the shooting deaths last year of eight U.S. Air Force officers at the airport in the Afghan capital, Kabul. ‘The allegations of improper use of AAF aircraft is being looked into,’ said Lt. Col. Tim Stauffer, referring to the allegations that Afghan air force equipment has been used to illegally ferry drugs and arms.”
[35] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 310.
[36] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95.
[37] Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II),” in Scott, American War Machine, 196.
[38] Washington Post, September 30, 2001; in Summers, Eleventh Day, 293; cf. 9/11 Commission Report, 221-22.
[39] See Scott, American War Machine, 199-203.
[40] Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 360-61, 385. There was also apparent withholding of information at a high level in the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM): “One official who attended the DO5 [a USJFCOM intelligence unit assigned to watch terrorism against the US] briefing was Vice Adm. Martin J. Meyer, the deputy commander in chief (DCINC), USJFCOM ….. But despite the red flags raised during the briefing , Meyerreportedly told Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), and other high-level CONR staffers two weeks before the 9/11 attacks that ‘their concern about Osama bin Laden as a possible threat to America was unfounded and that, to repeat, “If everyone would just turn off CNN, there wouldn’t be a threat from Osama bin Laden”’ ” (Jeffery Kaye and Jason Leopold, “EXCLUSIVE: New Documents Claim Intelligence on Bin Laden, al-Qaeda Targets Withheld From Congress’ 9/11 Probe,” Truthout, June 13, 2011,).
[41] Scott, American War Machine, 201.
[42] Scott, American War Machine, 200-02.
[43] Clarke, Against All Enemies, 30-33; Summers, Eleventh Day, 175-76; James Bamford, A Pretext for War, 287.
[44] Mark Selden has described the pattern of “arousing nationalist passions as a result of attacks out of the blue” as one which has “undergirded the American way of war since 1898” (Mark Selden, “The American Archipelago of Bases, Military Colonization and Pacific Empire: Prelude to the Permanent Warfare State,” forthcoming, 2012, International Journal of Okinawan Studies).

‘US aims to destabilize Iran by dropping opposition group from terror list’

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‘UN ridiculous, cover for US hypocrisy as force for democracy’

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Dollar Hegemony in the Empire of the Damned

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Global Research
Many commentators and economists wonder if the US is able to turn its ailing economy around. The reality is that it is bankrupt. However, as long as the dollar remains the world currency, the US can continue to pay its bills by simply printing more money. But once the world no longer accepts the dollar as world reserve currency, the US will no longer be able to continue to pay its way or to fund its wars by relying on what would then be a relatively valueless paper currency.
And the US realises this. Today, more than 60 per cent of all foreign currency reserves in the world are in US dollars, and the US will attempt to prevent countries moving off the dollar by any means possible. It seems compelled to do this simply because its economic infrastructure seems too weak and US corporate cartels will do anything to prevent policies that eat into their profits or serve to curtail political influence. They serve their own interests, not any notional ‘national interest’.
Pail Graig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, notes that much of the most productive part of the US economy has been moved offshore in order to increase corporate profits. By doing so, the US has lost critical supply chains, industrial infrastructure, and the knowledge of skilled workers. According to Roberts, the US could bring its corporations back to America by taxing their profits abroad and could also resort to protective tariffs, but such moves would be contrary to the material interests of the ruling oligarchy of private interests, which hold so much sway over US politics.
So, with no solution to the crisis in site, the US is compelled to expand its predatory capitalism into foreign markets such as India and to wage imperialist wars to maintain global allegiance to the dollar and US hegemony. And this is exactly what we are seeing today as the US strategy for global supremacy is played out.
Over the past two decades, the US has extended its influence throughout Eastern Europe, many of the former Soviet states in central Asia and, among other places, in the former Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan. But with each passing year and each new conflict, the US has been drawing closer and closer to direct confrontation with Russia and China, particularly as it enters their backyards in Asia and as China continues to emerge as a serious global power.
Both countries are holding firm over Syria. Syria plays host to Russia’s only naval base outside of the former USSR, and Russia and China know that if the US and its proxies topple the Assad government, Tehran becomes a much easier proposition. Ideally, the US would like to install compliant regimes in Moscow and Beijing and exploiting political and ethnic divisions in the border regions of Russia and China would be that much easier if Iran fell to US interests.
A global US strategy is already in force to undermine China’s growth and influence, part of which was the main reason for setting up AFRICOM: US Africa Command with responsibility for military operations and relations across Africa. But China is not without influence, and its actions are serving to weaken the hegemony of the US dollar, thereby striking at a key nerve of US power.
China has been implementing bilateral trade agreements with a number of countries, whereby trade is no longer conducted in dollars, but in local currencies. Over the past few years,China and other emerging powers such as Russia have been making agreements to move away from the US dollar in international trade. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China,South Africa) also plan to start using their own currencies when trading with each other. Russia and China have been using their own national currencies when trading with eachother for more than a year.
A report from Africa’s largest bank, Standard Bank, recently stated:
“We expect at least $100 billion (about R768 billion) in Sino-African trade – more than the total bilateral trade between China and Africa in 2010 – to be settled in the renminbi by 2015.”
Under Saddam, Iraq was not using the dollar as the base currency for oil transactions, neither is Iran right now. Even Libya’s Muammar Gadhaffi was talking about using a gold backed dinar as the reserve currency for parts of Africa. Look what happened to Libya and Iraq as a result.
In 2000, Iraq converted all its oil transactions to euros. When U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it returned oil sales from the euro to the dollar. Little surprise then that we are currently watching the US attempt to remove the Iranian regime via sanctions, destabilization, intimidation and the threat of all out war.
In the meantime, though, Iran is looking east to China, Pakistan and central Asia in order to counteract the effects of US sanctions and develop its economy and boost trade. In order to sustain its empire, US aggression is effectively pushing the world into different camps and a new cold war that could well turn into a nuclear conflict given that Russia, China and Pakistan all have nuclear weapons.
The US economy appears to be in terminal decline. The only way to prop it up is by lop-sided trade agreements or by waging war to secure additional markets and resources and to ensure the dollar remains the world reserve currency. Humankind is currently facing a number of serious problems. But, arguably, an empire in decline armed to the teeth with both conventional and nuclear weapons and trapped in a cycle of endless war in what must surely be a futile attempt to stave off ruin is the most serious issue of all.
Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other publications. His East by Northwest website is at http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com
Copyright © 2012 Global Research

Catalonia plans referendum on independence from Spain

Witchhunt intensifies against anti-US protesters in Australia

Report reveals deteriorating social conditions in Wisconsin

By Niles Williamson 
29 September 2012
The scope of the social crisis in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin is revealed in a recent report, “The State of Working Wisconsin 2012,” released by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While the overall unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 9.2 percent in July of 2010, it remains double what it was in 2000. This year has seen the state’s unemployment rate trending upward, rising from a recent low of 6.7 percent in April to 7.5 percent in August. Since the year 2000, long-term unemployment has tripled from 1 percent to 3 percent.
As of July 2012, Wisconsin had a deficit of nearly a quarter million jobs, this being the number of jobs required to make up for population growth and job losses since the onset of the 2008 recession. In December 2007, there were nearly 2.88 million jobs in the state; this number was down to 2.72 million jobs by the middle of this year.
Median income for a family of four in Wisconsin, adjusted for inflation, fell $8,500 between 2000 and 2010. This follows the trend for family income nationally, marking the first time in six decades that median family income has fallen. At the same time, the number of Wisconsinites earning poverty wages grew to one out of every five.
Young people and African Americans have been the most severely affected by the economic crisis. One out of every four young workers between the ages of 16 and 24 is either unemployed or underemployed. A full quarter of African Americans workers earn poverty wages. One third of black workers were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011. Additionally, the median wage for black women in 2011 ($13.67) was over three dollars less than the state’s median wage ($16.84). According to the report, these conditions are among the worst for black workers anywhere in the United States.
In a clear illustration of the wage stagnation facing workers, the report notes that, adjusted for inflation, the state’s median wage in 2011 was only one dollar higher than it was in 1979. This is the reward for a workforce whose productivity has increased dramatically over the past three decades.
Construction has been the one of the hardest hit sectors of Wisconsin’s economy, with the state losing nearly 35 percent of its construction jobs between December 2007 and July 2012.
While manufacturing has seen the greatest growth over the past year and a half, with job losses hitting bottom in late 2009, the employment numbers pale in comparison to a decade ago. Since 2000, the state has lost a quarter of its manufacturing jobs, down to 450,000 from 600,000.
Workers in Wisconsin face not only stagnant wages and high unemployment but also a state government that is dedicated to austerity for public education while dramatically building up its prison system. Last month the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 2011 marked the first year in which public funding for prisons and correctional facilities exceeded funding for the University of Wisconsin System.
The 2011-2013 state budget allocated approximately $2.1 billion for public universities, while the Department of Corrections was given $2.25 billion. While not accounting for inflation, funding for prisons grew by a whopping 620 percent between 1990 and 2012. Wisconsin’s prison population grew more than threefold between 1990 and 2011, from under 7,000 to over 22,000.
This is the culmination of a more than 20-year trend that has seen continuous cuts to funding for the Wisconsin state university system and a steady growth in the size of the Department of Corrections budget, in which Democrats and Republicans have played an equal hand.

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US scuttles Syria negotiations, backs anti-Assad forces at UN

By Niall Green 
29 September 2012
Syrian opposition fighters linked to the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a major offensive in the city of Aleppo on Friday. The main commercial center and most populous city in Syria, Aleppo has seen months of heavy fighting between the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition militant groups backed by Washington and its allies in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Fighting in Aleppo, located close to the Syrian border with Turkey, has produced a major humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians killed or injured and tens of thousands forced to flee their homes. The United Nations has estimated that as many as 700,000 refugees will have fled Syria by the end of the year.
The BBC reported that members of an opposition militia, the Tawhid Brigades, led by Islamist militant Abu Kalid, a veteran of the Sunni sectarian conflict in US-occupied Iraq, claimed that a “decisive” battle for control of Aleppo had been launched.
Bashir al-Haji, a Tawhid Brigades commander, told the Guardian newspaper that some 6,000 militants were engaged in the offensive inside Aleppo. “We are not aiming to liberate the whole of Aleppo with this battle, but to regain control of most of the city,” said al-Haji.
The fighting in Aleppo is focused in and around the Jobar neighborhood, one of the limited areas of the city where FSA forces have managed to maintain a base of support and operations. However, the Tawhid Brigades appear to have only a very loose connection to the FSA, a deeply divided umbrella group headed by ex-Assad regime officers and other figures on the payroll of the CIA and the Gulf sheikdoms.
The Syrian state news agency, SANA, reported that government forces had launched a counteroffensive in Aleppo “to evict the gunmen, who have come in from neighboring countries.”
The renewed drive by opposition militias to capture Aleppo comes as the United Nations General Assembly gathers for its 2012 session in New York, where discussions have focused on the conflict in Syria and the rising tensions between the US and its Israeli allies, on one side, and the Iranian regime on the other.
There can be little doubt that the new bout of fighting in Aleppo has been sanctioned, if not planned, by Washington to further its bloody intervention in Syria even as the Obama administration sanctimoniously lectures the assembled delegates at the UN about “human rights” and “democracy.”
The Syrian opposition, augmented and led by foreign Islamist fighters, has received financing, weapons, training and intelligence from the US and its allies, while the CIA is reportedly organizing the supply lines to these “rebels” from inside Turkey.
In a sign of the growing tensions generated by Washington’s aggressive policies in the Middle East, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a thinly veiled criticism of the support given to Syria’s opposition militants by the US and its regional allies in Turkey and the Gulf monarchies.
“The states that encourage the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to give up on the ceasefire and dialogue and to demand that the regime capitulate, bear responsibility for the continuing bloodshed,” said the Russian foreign minister. “Such an approach is unrealistic and encourages terrorism, which is used by the opposition.”
At the UN, the representatives of China, India, Brazil and South Africa signed a joint communiqué with Russia that affirmed their support for a negotiated settlement of the Syrian conflict. Pursuing their own interests, these countries, the so-called BRICS group of “emerging” economies, have opposed the use of military force by the US and its European allies to secure their economic and strategic interests in the Middle East, first in the NATO-led air war against Libya in 2011 and now in Syria.
The Russian government has also indicated its support for a Syrian ceasefire proposal mediated by a “quartet” of regional powers, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Obama administration has so far refused to seriously acknowledge the “quartet” proposal, which was first put forward in August by Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi. Washington’s principal Arab ally in the Middle East, the Saudi regime, has refused to take part in negotiations over Syria that include its regional rivals in Iran.
Rather, US imperialism has used the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly as a platform to issue a series of bellicose threats against Syria and Iran. Following President Barack Obama’s belligerent speech to the assembly on Tuesday, in which he threatened war with Iran and demanded regime change in Damascus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted that the US would consider military action against Syria that bypassed the UN Security Council.
Speaking at Thursday’s session of the Security Council, Clinton claimed that the body was in a state of “paralysis” over Syria. She then exemplified the contempt of the Obama administration toward the UN by departing the session before Lavrov spoke on the position of the Russian government.
Secretary Clinton then held a private meeting with various anti-Assad opposition groups before going on to host talks on the sidelines of the General Assembly with the so-called Friends of Syria group—a collection of European imperialist powers, Middle Eastern stooge regimes, and various US assets.
The head of the Turkish-based opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), Abdulbaset Sayda, also attended this meeting. Washington and its allies have attempted to forge a closer alliance between the SNC and the disparate militias that make up the FSA, the main anti-Assad military bloc.
Largely based on reactionary Sunni Islamist militants, many of them foreign fighters with links to Al Qaeda, the armed opposition in Syria is deeply divided and has failed to win mass support inside the major urban centers of Damascus and Aleppo.
After the September 11 assault by Islamist fighters on the US consulate and a CIA base in the Libyan city of Benghazi, as well as the mass anti-American protests across the Muslim world sparked by the crude US-made Islamophobic film The Innocence of Muslims, sections of the Washington foreign policy establishment began questioning US policy in Syria and raised the dangers of “blowback” from US support for the Islamist militants now fighting the Assad regime.
The Obama administration hopes that a unified political and military opposition in Syria will be even more directly subordinate to US interests, providing Washington with a better proxy force through which it can either oust the regime in Damascus or, failing that, pressure Assad into make concessions, such as weakening the longstanding Syrian alliance with Iran.
In a statement clearly timed to maintain pressure on the Assad regime, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed Friday that the Syrian government had moved some of its chemical weapons stockpile. Panetta told a press conference at the Pentagon that there were intelligence reports of “limited” movements of chemical weapons, while the major stores remained “secured by the Syrian military.” President Obama has threatened that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian armed forces, or the inability of the regime in Damascus to secure its stockpiles, could trigger a US military intervention.

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Austerity budgets imposed across Europe

What is behind the global stock market rally?

Building Bridges Instead of Imperial Wars

by: 
John Grant
“Blows that don’t break your back make it stronger.”
– Anthony Quinn in Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert
For years, I’ve been working either in the journalism realm or as an antiwar veteran activist expressing the core idea that the United States of America is an “empire,” that its militarist foreign policy is “imperialistic” and that many of our perennial and current problems are rooted in the reality that, as an imperial nation, like many empires in history, we’re overextending ourselves and destroying something that is dear to all American citizens who love this country.
When I wrote guest opinion pieces for the Philadelphia Daily News, a good-natured debate developed between me and the paper’s regular columnist, Stu Bykofsky. I don’t mean to pick on Stu, but his position was classic empire denial. He would argue we weren’t an empire because US troops didn’t look or act like Roman legions. He seemed to feel that Americans were always good and always intervened around the world to slay monsters or help the benighted peoples of the world. Unlike the Brits, we did not exploit the wogs while we played cricket and drank gin and tonics on the verandah. Of course, he’s right that the nature of empire has evolved with the times. But for me the argument was all semantics. It seems hard to claim that the United States is not an empire or that its imperial drive — with some 700 military bases around the world — has not led to a problem of overextension that plays to the detriment of US citizens at home.
The other night, I stumbled on the 1981 film epic Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert. Mukhtar was a simple village teacher of the Koran in Libya who turned out to be a natural military genius; he brilliantly fought an occupying Italian army from 1911 to 1931. Italy had taken Libya from the declining Turkish empire. Once Benito Mussolini rose to power in 1922, the occupation became a powerful drive to establish “the fourth shore,” the name given to Italy’s ambitions to re-create a new Roman Empire in North Africa.
..
Above, General Graziani (Oliver Reed) readies his troops to brutally attack a Libyan village. The real Graziani in the inset photo. Below, Quinn as Mukhtar with the boy who ends up with his glasses; the real Mukhtar before he is hung, and his hanged body.
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Anthony Quinn plays Mukhtar in the three-hour film, which to my surprise is a well written, acted and filmed cinematic gem. Like The Battle of Algiers, the film offers serious insights for a western audience. When the film was released, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Iranian hostage crisis, it bombed. It only recouped $1 million in box office receipts on the $35 million it cost to make; the fact the $35 million was put up by Muammar Gaddafi also contributed to the film’s doom. As one commentator noted, this was only five years after the demoralizing end of the Vietnam War, and most Americans tended to identify with the fascist Italian imperialists in the film, not with the Libyan insurgent heroes.
The unquestioned standing in cinematic history of the blatantly racist epic Birth of a Nation makes it clear a film’s quality and importance is separate from its message or the identity of its producers. As Birth of a Nation tells us how post Civil War Reconstruction was seen from a racist, white perspective, Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert (in the west the film simply goes by the title Lion of the Desert) has a lot to tell us about two things: first, the raw imperial impulse as seen through the actions of Mussolini, his ruthless general, Rodolfo Graziani and the Italian army; and second, the determination of a people to identify with their land and to place opposition to an invading imperial army over even life itself.
The film poster, Mukhtar on the Libyan ten dinar note and a current billboard of Mukhtar in Benghazi
The film poster, Mukhtar on the Libyan ten dinar note and a current billboard of Mukhtar in Benghazi
Myth is often a strong component in film, and in this case, it’s the mythic association with homeland and tradition that simmers below the surface. Myth also works on the imperial side. At work below the strutting Italian fascist arrogance and expansionism, there’s a powerful sense of superiority that draws from historic memories of Imperial Rome and a desire to regain that glory.
In the US case, there’s the notion of American Exceptionalism that at times of economic stress and foreign policy confusion many politicians like to dredge up in speeches. Even MSNBC’s liberal Chris Matthews regularly taps this theme of American Exceptionalism. It’s what fueled the drive of Manifest Destiny and western expansion and it’s what Rudyard Kipling meant in his poem passing the torch of British Imperialism to the United States; the mission was to “take up the white man’s burden.”
It’s the clash of such deep-seated psychological forces that manifest in the creation of al Qaeda as our favorite boogieman. You can see it playing out now with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others who, with little evidence, are suggesting an al Qaeda link in the Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Stevens. Instead of addressing insurgent motivations for the attack, the need is to link it to the “al Qaeda franchise” — as if those attacking us were an evil, competitive fast-food chain rather than people upset with US intervention. Confusion and imprecision are deadly in the retribution game, so there’s a strong imperial impulse to establish a quick link with a known and favored demon. Of course, the public relations savvy global insurgents in the al Qaeda franchise are delighted.
My favorite absurdity of the moment is the sticky problem of Afghan soldiers and policemen killing US soldiers in Afghanistan there to train their own replacements. This is how Sgt. Abdul Karim Haq, a candid Afghan soldier not afraid to give his name, put it to a New York Times reporter:
“They are always talking down to us like we are little children.”
Here’s another, Abdul Hanan, age 20, who says, “We would have killed many of them already, but our commanders are cowards and don’t let us.” He adds that Americans curse, treat them roughly and bully them. Then, he seems to reveal the crux of the matter: “We like the Americans’ heavy weapons, but we don’t like their soldiers.”
The question about Afghan “allies” killing US soldiers is often couched in intentionally evasive or distracting terms. We are assured the killers’ motives are “personal” — ie. friction between two men — when it should be clear the issue at hand is really one of loyalty to US foreign policy, in this case, imperial intervention, versus loyalty to one’s homeland. The lure of western affluence and our very lethal weaponry certainly makes the relationship complicated; but it doesn’t alter the deep calling of the homeland and the offensive nature of an arrogant occupying army.
The film Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert addresses these ideas with a clear-headed dramatic insight beneficial for westerners to grapple with.
“We win or we die.”
Lion of the Desert was produced and directed by Moustapha Akkad, a Syrian-born Muslim who became a US citizen, studied film at UCLA and ended up working with film director Sam Peckinpah on films like Ride The High Country. In 1976, with Quinn starring as the prophet Muhammed’s uncle Hamza, he made Muhammed: The Messenger of God, a film also funded by Gaddafi that dealt with the life of Muhammed while, respectful of religious prohibitions, it never actually showed the prophet. The opening was ruined by violence when a Nation of Islam faction, mistakenly believing Quinn played Muhammed, took over the offices of B’nai B’rith. Two people were killed. The film sank into oblivion.
The story, then, gets quite strange. Producer/director Akkad shifts gears and creates the slasher film Halloween. The commentator 
Juan Cole puts an interesting Muslim spin on these horror films that are about a killer of females set off by seeing his sister having sex.
“The anxieties around the Halloween films are, whether it is by coincidence or deliberate, very Middle Eastern,” Cole writes. “Michael Myers’s killing of his sister echoed the problem of honor killings in the Arab world, where lack of chastity in teenaged girls so dishonors the men of the family that they are sometimes driven to restore their honor by doing away with the girl.”
The series was so successful it generated seven sequels. A frustrated Akkad told an interviewer, “I cannot understand the continuing success of Halloween. Do you realize they want to make Halloween Nine!?”
At this point, Akkad turns to the making of Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert, which was filmed in Libya from an excellent script by the Irish screenwriter H.A.L. Craig.
The film opens in an ornate palace with a shaved-headed and strutting Rod Steiger as Mussolini giving marching orders to General Graziani, played with suave cold-bloodedness by Oliver Reed. Five previous generals have failed and been made fools by Omar Mukhtar. Mussolini is determined that a simple desert peasant will not “thwart the destiny of 40 million Italians.”
Cut to a graceful, wise Quinn in a white robe teaching young Libyan kids the Koran. Holding his wire-rimmed glasses balanced on his finger, he talks to them about how the Koran teaches the value of balance. The glasses become a nice symbolic thread. A little boy whose father has just been killed in battle playfully snatches the teacher’s glasses and puts them on to warm laughter from the surrounding men.
Running from an Italian gas attack, Mukhtar drops the glasses, which are returned to him after he’s captured at the end in a dramatic meeting with General Graziani. Mukhtar refuses Graziani’s offer that they “both work together to make peace,” something that would have saved his life. Graziani orders him to be hung.
Standing on the gallows, with his people forcibly gathered to witness his hanging, he puts on the glasses to read a verse from the Koran. As the noose is put around his neck and his hands are tied behind his back, he is shown grasping the glasses. The glasses fall to the gallows floor. The disturbed crowd begins to move in menacingly, and the soldiers quickly remove the body and flee. The little boy walks up onto the gallows and picks up the glasses.
The film shows Italian soldiers and tanks pouring into Libya to thwart the insurgency. Graziani slaughters villagers and incarcerates thousands in concentration camps. Real aerial documentary footage is shown of vast encampments. As a Vietnam veteran, it reminded me of a time when I was attached to a Fourth Division unit tasked to remove and repopulate several villages into a large “strategic village” where people could be controlled by US forces. I watched young US soldiers in armored personnel carriers herding the Vietnamese and their water buffalo like it was a cattle drive.
The Italian actor Raf Vallone plays Colonel Diodiece, a more diplomatic soldier who respects Mukhtar for his spirituality and his humanity. Graziani uses him in an attempt to co-opt Mukhtar, but he sees Diodiece as a fool. As far as Omar Mukhtar is concerned, both men are the enemy, equally linked to the drive for empire at his expense. He will have nothing of a “peace” imposed by Italian violence. In this respect, Pax Italiana is the same as Pax Britannica and Pax Americana.
A boyhood friend of Mukhtar played by John Gielgud travels under a white flag into the guerrilla’s mountain stronghold. He reasons with his old friend: You can’t win; Graziani is too powerful. “It’s your last chance for an honorable peace.”
Mukhtar’s reply is unambiguous:
“They steal our land; they destroy our homes; they kill innocent people. And you call it ‘peace?’ I will not be corrupted by that man’s ‘peace.’ ”
Later, in the final dramatic meeting with Graziani, the insurgent leader tells the fascist general: “No nation has the right to occupy another. We will never surrender. We win or we die.”
US imperial overreach in 2012
Despite the conservative US strain of nostalgia for the good ol’ days when men were men and the brown people of the world respected the sting of our imperial might, the so-called Arab Spring is a harbinger of change for the Middle East and for the United States. The confidence of US imperialism rooted in the bully days of Teddy Roosevelt can only be regained in the minds of Americans through the fantastical fever dreams of bullies like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and political hacks like the hero John McCain and his trusty sidekick Lindsey Graham.
The glory days are over. From now on out, it’s fantasy and firepower or it’s being able to humbly recognize reality. The challenge for our leaders is to pragmatically transition an arrogant, imperial nation to accepting itself as just a powerful and responsible nation among other nations in the world. A City On The Hill populated by Exceptional People may make for great poetic speeches, but it’s a lousy symbol to guide the nation anywhere but over a cliff.
I think most Americas, no matter what party, would agree that the future requires hard work and the hard, unromantic thinking that goes with it. The recent embassy attack in Libya is a case in point. While we have done the obligatory beating of the chest about bringing the culprits to justice, the fact is the attack was so successful it caused an American rush for the exits. Reportedly, CIA agents tripped over themselves getting to the airport to flee the country like rats leaving a sinking ship. Right now, the FBI can’t get to Benghazi to investigate the attack due to fears for their own safety.
This is not a good omen for future influence in the land of Omar Mukhtar. No doubt, like the Afghan soldier quoted earlier, many elements in Libya covet our weaponry. They’re glad to see Gaddafi gone. But whether they desire our presence, our advice and our oversight is another question. It’s imperial predicaments like this that raise the stock of drone R&D and manufacturing. We can still muster significant imperial sting with young men and women in air-conditioned rooms 12,000 miles away from the action. Ms Clinton gave the imperial mindset away in the New York Times story when she bemoaned the fact, “Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions.”
A translation of a “larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver” might be there’s a perceived growth of areas of the world US imperial might cannot control. This sense of urgency has roots in the imperialist’s core assumption that everywhere around the world people are crying out for the US to save them from chaos. Pax Americana to the rescue.
Syria is in full civil war. Israel, facing a partially self-inflicted sense of being cornered among enemies, seems to want war with Iran as a way out of its nightmare. Meanwhile, the mullahs in Iran — from all evidence, quite rational — aren’t playing the game and are spewing hatred at Israel and the US. They’re threatening to join Israel and make a bomb of their own. The fact Israel and the US are killing their scientists in broad daylight and Iran has a real historic beef with European and American imperialism is never recognized in the west. I’m referring to the 1953 overthrow of a democratically-elected, moderate Iranian government and the ushering in of the brutal shah. Imperial perpetrators always forget this stuff; imperial victims don’t.
One of the more interesting turns of events in the Middle East — I’d call it a bright spot — is a potentially constructive relationship between the US and Egyptian Presidents, both of whom in their own ways have declared themselves to be bridge builders. Back in 2009, Obama told Al Arabya TV, “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.” At the UN the other day, he seemed to re-emphasize that approach. The trouble is, he has to manifest those sentiments in actions beyond the rhetoric.
On his part, Mohamed Morsi — the popularly elected Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt — recently outlined a formula for future relations between Egypt and the US that seems to provide a way to move beyond the imperial relationship of old. (The new president of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki, a former human rights activist, is also a very interesting new leader.)
By supporting dictators over popular government, Morsi told The New York Times, “Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region.” Was the Egypt he now ruled an “ally” of the United States, he was asked? “That depends on your definition of ally,” the US educated engineer responded.
Morsi emphasized that as the popularly elected leader of all Egyptians he had reined in the powerful Egyptian military that rose to power under Mubarak and was a clear ally of an imperial United States. “The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the commander of the armed forces, full stop,” he said. “Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern.”
This, of course, scares the living bejesus out of traditional American imperialists. Mitt Romney criticized Obama for going easy on the Arab Spring in Egypt, although he hasn’t shared what he would have done as President. Would he have recommended gunning down demonstrators in Tahrir square like a General Graziani would have done in Libya? Would he have sent in F-16s?
Morsi ended The Times interview by raising the issue of Palestine. By signing the Camp David accord, he said, the US had obligated itself to Israeli withdrawal of troops from the West Bank as a precursor to Palestinian sovereignty. For this reason he considered the treaty “unfulfilled.”
The powerful connection with a homeland is a vital force throughout the Middle East. Vincent Canby’s 1981 movie review of Lion of the Desert emphasized this by pointing out, “The film is the biggest piece of movie partisanship to come out of the Middle East or North Africa since Otto Preminger’s Exodus.“ In this spirit, maybe the two films should be run as a double feature overseen by the United Nations.
Muammar Gaddafi -- with the Italian trophy photo of Omar Mukhtar headed to the gallows on his chest -- is welcomed to Italy by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Muammar Gaddafi — with the Italian trophy photo of Omar Mukhtar headed to the gallows on his chest — is welcomed to Italy by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert is a film that has, indeed, found its way into the realm of international politics. In 2009, its chief funder Muammar Gaddafi made a very public visit to Rome to sign an oil deal with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He brought Mukhtar’s elderly son with him, and as he met Berlusconi he wore on the chest of his uniform the photo of Omar Mukhtar taken just before his hanging in 1931. The film that had been banned in Italy as an offense to the Italian military was given a gala public showing, and the oil-hungry Berlusconi publicly apologized for Italian abuses in Libya.
But détente between Gaddafi and the west was short-lived. Mukhtar’s name and image were taken up by Gaddafi’s bitter enemies in Libya. An Omar Mukhtar Brigade was formed. Gaddafi may have once shared something of the spirit of the simple and honorable Mukhtar, but he had now become just another megalomaniacal tyrant — an international clown whose legacy ended badly.
The saddest part of the film’s story was the 2005 death of director Akkad and his daughter from a suicide bombing in an Amman hotel, where they were attending a Palestinian wedding. The bombing was undertaken by people associated with the Jordanian-born insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was either a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter” opposed to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, a cruel and disastrous imperial adventure if there ever was one.
Akkad, a man whose passion was to make art as a bridge between his religion and the region of his birth on one side and his adopted home in the United States on the other, was not a target of the bombing. He was collateral damage.

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Oops! They Rigged It Again

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CrossTalk: Bibi’s Bomb

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Judges to Review Constitutionality of NDAA Military Detention Legislation

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America’s Drone Attacks Are ‘Killing 49 People for Every Known Terrorist in Pakistan’

 Study found war against violent Islamists has become increasingly deadly

 Researchers blame common tactic now being used – the ‘double-tap’ strike

 Drone strikes condemned for their ineffectiveness in targeting militants

By Leon Watson

September 28, 2012 “Daily Mail —  Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians, a new report claimed today.
The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-a-day’.
And the authors lay much of the blame on the use of the ‘double-tap’ strike where a drone fires one missile – and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.

 

The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that people often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack. Investigators also discovered that communities living in fear of the drones were suffering severe stress and related illnesses. Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-strike.

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan's tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years

Bombardment: More than 345 strikes have hit Pakistan’s tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years
Today campaigners savaged the use of drones, claiming that they were destroying a way of life. 

 

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the charity Reprieve which helped interview people for the report, said: ‘This shows that drone strikes go much further than simply killing innocent civilians. An entire region is being terrorised by the constant threat of death from the skies. ‘
There have been at least 345 strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan in the past eight years.
‘These strikes are becoming much more common,’ Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of drone strikes, told The Independent.
‘In the past it used to be a one-off, every now and then. Now almost every other attack is a double tap. There is no justification for it.’
The study is the product of nine months’ research and more than 130 interviews, it is one of the most exhaustive attempts by academics to understand – and evaluate – Washington’s drone wars.
The site of a missile attack in Tappi, a village 12 miles east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border after a U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft in 2008. At least six people were killed

The site of a missile attack in Tappi, a village 12 miles east of Miranshah, near the Afghan border after a U.S. missile attack by a pilotless drone aircraft in 2008. At least six people were killed
Tribesmen gather near a damaged car outside a house after a missile struck in Dandi Darpakheil village on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region

Tribesmen gather near a damaged car outside a house after a missile struck in Dandi Darpakheil village on the outskirts of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region
 
Despite assurances the attacks are ‘surgical’, researchers found barely two per cent of their victims are known militants and that the idea that the strikes make the world a safer place for the U.S. is ‘ambiguous at best’.
Researchers added that traumatic effects of the strikes go far beyond fatalities, psychologically battering a population which lives under the daily threat of annihilation from the air, and ruining the local economy.
They conclude by calling on Washington completely to reassess its drone-strike programme or risk alienating the very people they hope to win over.
They also observe that the strikes set worrying precedents for extra-judicial killings at a time when many nations are building up their unmanned weapon arsenals.
The Obama administration is unlikely to heed their demands given the zeal with which America has expanded its drone programme over the past two years.
Washington says the drone program is vital to combating militants that threaten the U.S. and who use Pakistan’s tribal regions as a safe haven. 

 

The number of attacks have fallen since a Nato strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and strained U.S.-Pakistan relations.
Pakistan wants the drone strikes stopped – or it wants to control the drones directly – something the U.S. refuses. 

 

Reapers and Predators are now active over the skies of Somalia and Yemen as well as Pakistan and – less covertly – Afghanistan.
But campaigners like Mr Akbar hope the Stanford/New York University research may start to make an impact on the American public.
‘It’s an important piece of work,’ he told The Independent. ‘No one in the U.S. wants to listen to a Pakistani lawyer saying these strikes are wrong. But they might listen to American academics.’
Today, Pakistani intelligence officials revealed a pair of missiles fired from an unmanned American spy aircraft slammed into a militant hideout in northwestern Pakistan last night. 

 

The two officials said missiles from the drone aircraft hit the village of Dawar Musaki in the North Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan to the west. 

 

Some of the dead were believed to be foreign fighters but the officials did not know how many or where they were from.
The Monday strike was the second in three days. On Saturday a U.S. drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in northwest Pakistan, killing four suspected militants. 

 

That attack took place in the village of Mohammed Khel, also in North Waziristan. 

 

North Waziristan is the last tribal region in which the Pakistan military has not launched an operation against militants, although the U.S. has been continually pushing for such a move.
The Pakistanis contend that their military is already overstretched fighting operations in other areas but many in the U.S. believe they are reluctant to carry out an operation because of their longstanding ties to some of the militants operating there such as the Haqqani network.

VOICES FROM THE DRONE ZONE
 

Sadaullah Khan, a 15-year-old who lost both legs in a drone strike, says that before his injury, ‘I used to go to school…I thought I would become a doctor. After the drone strikes, I stopped going to school.’

Noor Behram, a journalist: ‘Once there has been a drone strike, people have gone in for rescue missions, and five or ten minutes after the drone attack, they attack the rescuers who are there.’
Taxi driver: ‘Whether we are driving a car, or we are working on a farm, or we are sitting at home playing cards – no matter what we are doing we are always thinking the drone will strike us. So we are scared to do anything, no matter what.’ 
 

Safdar Dawar, President of the Tribal Union of Journalists: ‘If I am walking in the market, I have this fear that maybe the person walking next to me is going to be a target of the drone. If I’m shopping, I’m really careful and scared. If I’m standing on the road and there is a car parked next to me, I never know if that is going to be the target. Maybe they will target the car in front of me or behind me. Even in mosques, if we’re praying, we’re worried that maybe one person who is standing with us praying is wanted. So, wherever we are, we have this fear of drones.’
 

Resident from the Manzar Khel area: ‘Now (they have) even targeted funerals…they have targeted people sitting together, so people are scared of everything’

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Why the American Raj is Under Seige

A Culture of Delusion

By Paul Craig Roberts
September 28, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – A writer’s greatest disappointments are readers who have knee-jerk responses. Not all readers, of course. Some readers are thoughtful and supportive. Others express thanks for opening their eyes. But the majority are happy when a writer tells them what they want to hear and are unhappy when he writes what they don’t want to hear.
For the left-wing, Ronald Reagan is the great bogeyman. Those on the left don’t understand supply-side economics as a macroeconomic innovation that cured stagflation by utilizing the impact of fiscal policy on aggregate supply. Instead, they see “trickle-down economics” and tax cuts for the rich. Leftists don’t understand that the Reagan administration intervened in Grenada and Nicaragua in order to signal to the Soviets that there would be no more Soviet expansion or client states and that it was time to negotiate the end of the cold war. Instead, leftists see in Reagan the origin of rule by the one percent and the neoconservatives’ wars for US hegemony.
In 1981 curtailing inflation meant collapsing nominal GNP and tax revenues. The result would be budget deficits–anathema to Republicans– during the period of readjustment. Ending the cold war meant curtailing the military/security complex and raised the specter in conservative circles of “the anti-Christ” Gorbachev deceiving Reagan and taking over the world.
In pursuing his two main goals, Reagan was up against his own constituency and relied on rhetoric to keep his constituency on board with his agenda. The left wing heard the rhetoric but failed to comprehend the agenda. 
When I explain these facts, easily and abundantly documented, some of leftish persuasion send in condescending and insulting emails telling me that they look forward to the day that I stop lying about Reagan and tell the truth about Reagan like I do about everything else.
“Knee-jerk liberal” is a favorite term of conservatives. But conservatives can be just as knee-jerk. When I object to Washington’s wars, the mistreatment of detainees and the suspension of civil liberties, some on the right tell me that if I hate America so much I should move to Cuba. Many Republicans cannot get their minds around the fact that if civil liberties are subject to the government’s arbitrary discretion, then civil liberties do not exist. The flag-waving element of the population is prone to confuse loyalty to the country with loyalty to the government, unless, of course, there’s a Democrat in the White House.
Rationally, it makes no sense for readers to think that a writer who would lie to them about one thing would tell them the truth about another. But as long as they hear what they want to hear, it is the truth. If they don’t want to hear it, it is a lie. 
Both left and right also confuse explanations with justifications. 
When a writer writes about the perils that we as a society face and the implications, it is very discouraging for the writer to know that many readers will not listen unless it is what they want to hear. This discouragement is precisely what every truth-teller faces, which is why there are so few of them.
This is one reason I stopped writing a couple of years ago. I found that solid facts and sound analysis could not penetrate brainwashed and closed minds seeking vindication to keep the mind locked tightly against unsettling truths. Americans want to have their beliefs vindicated more than they want the truth. The success of print and TV pundits is based on allying with a prominent point of view or interest group and serving it. Those served make the writer or talking head successful. I never thought much of that kind of success.
But success as a whore is about the only kind of success that can occur in Washington or in the media these days. Those who refuse to prostitute themselves arouse pity and denunciation, not admiration. A couple of years ago an acquaintance from a university in the northeast called me to say he had recently had lunch with some of my former associates in Washington. When he inquired about me, he said the response was, “Poor Craig, if he hadn’t turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.”
I replied that my former associates were undoubtedly correct. My acquaintance said that he hadn’t realized that he was having lunch with a bunch of prostitutes.
The incentive to speak the truth and the reward for doing so are very weak. And not just for a writer, but also for academics and experts who can make far more money by lying than by telling the truth. How else would we have got GMOs, jobs offshoring, the “unitary executive,” and a deregulated financial system? It is a very lucrative career to testify as an expert in civil lawsuits. It is part of America’s romance with the lie that experts purchased by the opposing sides in a lawsuit battle it out as gladiators seeking the jury’s thumbs-up.
And look at Congress. The two members of the House who stood up for the Constitution and truth in government will soon be gone. Ron Paul is stepping down, and Dennis Kucinich was redistricted out of his seat. As for the Senate, these thoughtful personages recently voted 90-1 to declare war on Iran, as the sole dissenter, Rand Paul, pointed out. The Senate is very much aware, although only a few will publicly admit it, that the US has been totally frustrated and held to a standoff, if not a defeat, in Afghanistan and is unable to subdue the Taliban. Despite this, the Senate wants a war with Iran, a war which could easily turn out to be even less successful. Obviously, the Senate not only lies to the public but also to itself.
Last week the Pentagon chief, Panetta, told China that the new US naval, air, and troop bases surrounding China are not directed at China. What else could be the purpose of the new bases? Washington is so accustomed to lying and to being believed that Panetta actually thinks China will believe his completely transparent lie. Panetta has confused China with the American people: tell them what they want to hear, and they will believe it.
Americans live in a matrix of lies. They seldom encounter a truthful statement.There is no evidence that Americans can any longer tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Americans fell for all of these lies and more: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Saddam Hussein’s troops seized Kuwaiti babies from incubators and threw them on the floor. Gaddafi fed his troops Viagra to help them rape Libyan women. Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Change–yes we can! The US is “the indispensable country.” America is broke because of food stamps and Social Security, not because of wars, bankster bailouts, and a failing economy. Russia is America’s number one enemy. China is America’s number one enemy. Iran is a terrorist state. Jobs offshoring is free trade and good for the US economy. Israel is America’s most loyal ally. The US missile shield surrounding Russia is not directed at Russia. The South China sea is an area of US national interest. Financial markets are self-regulating.
The list is endless. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision. The most successful people in America are liars. 
The endless lies have created a culture of delusion. And this is why America is lost. The beliefs of many Americans, perhaps a majority, are comprised of lies. These beliefs have become emotional crutches, and Americans will fight to defend the lies that they believe. The inability of Americans to accept facts that are contrary to their beliefs is the reason the country is leaderless and will remain so. Unless scales fall from Americans’ eyes, Americans are doomed.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. paulcraigroberts.org

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Bibi’s Crazy UN Speech

Israel Is A Pretty Crazy State

An Interview With Noam Chomsky

By Ricardo Lezama
September 28, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – – RICARDO LEZAMA: Have you heard about the Stand With Us group/campaign?
NOAM CHOMSKY: No. Tell me about it.
LEZAMA: They are a group that spread favorable propaganda regarding the IDF on different campuses.
CHOMSKY: Never heard of them.
LEZAMA: Just trying to see how prominent their campaign was – must be a West Coast/Midwest thing. Moving on, What kind of repression do Palestinian Americans face in the U.S.?
CHOMSKY: In America, for one thing, all Muslims are subjected to a kind of Islamaphobia. That is endemic to the United States, and ranges from being detained in the airport, being followed by the FBI, problems at colleges, and elsewhere. Palestinians, of course, are a part of that, and there has been more in the past than today for Palestinian scholars in universities. For example, there have been efforts to defame them as anti-Israeli terrorists. However, it is the kind of repression that is familiar to ethnic groups out of favor with the U.S. government. I have plenty of Palestinian friends who make out fine.
LEZAMA: It is not off the charts?
CHOMSKY: It is not off the charts, it shouldn’t be there, but yeah, if you’re a Mexican American in Arizona and you get pulled over, the police can claim you’re doing anything, basically.
LEZAMA: Ok. Well, in March 2012, the Israeli Air Force bombed the Gaza strip. I thought this was a particularly harsh period for Palestinians. I was hoping you could give us a brief overview of what happened?
CHOMSKY: Well, just to go back a bit to June 2008, when a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas, the dominant force in the Gaza strip. Right after the ceasefire there were no missiles at all fired by Hamas at Israel. The missiles don’t amount to much. They are kind of home-made missiles.
LEZAMA: They never even make it to Tel Aviv.
CHOMSKY: The missile launches from Hamas stopped altogether during that period, even though Israel didn’t observe the ceasefire. Part of the ceasefire was that Israel was supposed to stop the siege. Still, no Hamas missiles. You can read that on the official Israeli government website. In November 2008, the day of the presidential election, Israeli military forces invaded Gaza and killed half a dozen Hamas militants. Well, that was followed by a missile exchange for a couple of weeks in both directions. Like always, all the casualties were Palestinian but there were some Hamas missiles, followed by a much heavier, far bloodier response from Israel. This leads us to mid-December 2008. At that point, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire. Israel considered the offer, rejected it and decided instead to invade and attack Gaza. That is Operation Cast Lead, which started on December 27, 2008. It was brutal and murderous.
There is a very good account of Operation Cast Lead by independent participants. For example, there were a couple of Norwegian doctors working at the Gaza hospital through the attack. I mean, they just called it infanticide. The IDF killed a lot of children, were attacking ambulances, committing all kinds of atrocities. [These doctors], they wrote a very graphic and dramatic account of what the invasion was like. The Israeli military must have killed 1500 people. There was a UN Security Council effort to call a ceasefire early in January, but the U.S. blocked it – it wouldn’t allow it. It was very carefully planned. It ended right before Obama’s inauguration. The point of that was to protect Obama from having to say anything critical about it. He was asked about it before he was elected and said ‘I can’t comment on that, I am not president’. It started a few days before the election, and ended before the inauguration. When he was asked about it after the election, Obama took the position that we shouldn’t look backwards but should move forwards. There was no punishment for those involved, and, it was a really criminal assault on a completely defenseless population. It was one of the most brutal attacks in recent years – that’s Operation Caste Lead. There is no pretext for it. They claim it was to protect the population from Hamas missile, but an easy way to do that would have been just to renew the ceasefire.
LEZAMA: That’s an interesting point regarding the timing of the attacks. Right now, we have to pick between one really bad candidate, and Romney. It seems like the Israeli government is taking advantage of the Obama administration’s bid for re-election. Israel is talking a lot about attacking Iran, and trying to mobilize support for it in the U.S. These kinds of things tend to have consequences for Palestine; what will happen in Palestine? I think Israel is bluffing, and looking for something else.
CHOMSKY: Well, Israel is a pretty crazy state. My suspicion is that they are trying to create the circumstances under which the U.S. will attack Iran – they don’t want to do it themselves.
LEZAMA: They want to set up a rationale?
CHOMSKY: I would not be surprised if they staged some kind of an incident in the Persian Gulf, which would not be hard. You and I can do it. The Persian Gulf is lined with U.S. Naval missiles, aircraft carriers, destroyers, and so on. Any small incident, a skiff, or, a boat bumping into an aircraft carrier could lead to a vicious response.
Actually, we should bear in mind that the United States is already at war with Iran by Pentagon standards. The assassinations – which is terrorism – the cyberwar, the economic warfare, are all considered by the United States as acts of war if they are done to us, but not if we do it to them. So, by our standards, we are already attacking Iran. The question is how much further we will take it. An important aspect of this never discussed in the United States. You never read about it. I write about it, maybe two or three other people, but you never read about it. There is a pretty straightforward solution to this, a diplomatic solution. Namely, move towards establishing a nuclear weapons free-zone in the region. That is strongly supported by virtually the entire world. The U.S. has been blocking the solution for years. However, support for it is so strong that Obama was forced to agree to it in principle, but stated that Israel has to be excluded. Well, that is a joke. Israel has hundred of nuclear weapons, carries out aggression, is a violent state, refuses to allow inspections, and so on. To say that Israel has to be exempted, then, kills the prospect of a nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East. This situation is coming to a head in December. There is to be an international conference on a nuclear weapons free-zone in the Middle East; Israel just announced that it is refusing to participate.
LEZAMA: Will the U.S. participate?
CHOMSKY: Everything always depends on what the U.S. is going to do. So far, there is nothing official. Up until now, Obama has said ‘yes, we are in favor of it, but Israel has to be excluded’. That exception essentially kills the possibility of a nuclear weapons free-zone. If anybody believes Iran is a threat, which I think is pretty much fabricated, but if you believe it, this is the way to do it: impose a nuclear-weapons free-zone.
Of course, that would mean Israel has to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The U.S. has to stop protecting the Israeli development of nuclear weapons. That is what is required to end whatever you think the threat of Iran is. There is a straightforward diplomatic approach. As usual, the media is supressing this information. I don’t think they even reported the fact that Israel announced its withdrawal. It was announced on the Israeli press. They all know about it.
LEZAMA: Assuming that the U.S. does not go into all out war, ground troops, airstrikes, and so on, assuming that doesn’t happen, which is what the Israeli’s want.
CHOMSKY: I don’t’ think they expect ground troops, they expect, or, want.
LEZAMA: Airstrikes?
CHOMSKY: A major missile and aerial assault. Israel could do it too. Israel has submarines, which they received from…
LEZAMA: …Germany.
CHOMSKY: …which can carry nuclear tipped missiles. I’m pretty sure they are deployed in the gulf. So, if they want, they can carry out a missile attack.
LEZAMA: Why don’t they do it themselves?
CHOMSKY: They are afraid it would be too costly. For one thing, the world would be furious. Everybody is already furious at Israel. Even in Europe, it is regarded as the most dangerous state in the world, and it is becoming a pariah state. Of course, in the third world, in the Arab and Muslim world it is very much feared and hated. An attack on Iran – maybe they don’t care – could turn them into South Africa. They would rather have the United States do it.
LEZAMA: Whether a larger scale attack on Iran happens or not, there will still be consequences for the Palestinians.
CHOMSKY: The Palestinians are in a dire state now. There is a political settlement, which is agreed upon by the entire world, the UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, World Court, by everyone, namely, a two state solution. An easy, straightforward solution.
LEZAMA: Just abide to the two state solution, and the conflict is eliminated? What about the idea that Gaza and the West Bank be contiguous?
CHOMSKY: That’s required!
LEZAMA: Right.
CHOMSKY: That is part of the Oslo agreement. The Oslo agreement stipulates explicitly that the West Bank and Gaza strip are a single territory. Ever since they signed the Oslo agreement, the United States and Israel have been dedicated to undermining them. The U.S. can violate law freely but it is never reported. Everybody else is too weak to do anything about it. The U.S. is just a rogue state.
LEZAMA: What should people in the U.S. be doing in response?
CHOMSKY: They should be breaking through the media and general doctrinal barriers to come to know what is going on. They should be helping people learn about this. I don’t have any secret sources of information. Everything I have said is public knowledge, but it is not known by anyone. The problem is self-censorship; the media just don’t report anything about it, and rarely do. There is just a tremendous amount of propaganda and indoctrination so people dont know what is going on. This is not the only case, but it is an important one. Everything I have just mentioned is straight on the public record. What activists ought to be doing is place this in the public’s attention.
LEZAMA: I think that has been done in college campuses in California, and elsewhere. It is a good way to circumvent the media, but then the move administrators make is to begin charging for use of these spaces. They essentially price out minority organizations. (For example, UC Davis now charges for usage of buildings.)
CHOMSKY: I know, and I’ve been following it. It is true, and I’ve spoken at universities in California. There is plenty of activism. Actually, it has changed a lot in the past four or five years. Just to illustrate, at UCLA back in 1985, I was invited to give philosophy lectures. I said ‘sure’, but the next day I got a call from campus police asking if they could have uniformed police accompany everywhere I went. I said ‘no’. The next day I saw police following me everywhere I went. They are not hard to detect in a philosophy seminar … I could not walk across from the faculty club to other parts of campus. The reason is that they had just picked up a lot of death threats. They don’t want someone killed on campus. I gave the talk at Royce Hall, the big campus hall, but it was airport security. One entry, everybody’s bag had to be checked. The next day there was a huge attack on the Daily Bruin. First of all, it was a huge attack on me, but also on the professor who invited me. In fact, there was an effort to take away the tenure of the professor who invited me. It was beaten back, but they tried. Well, that was back in 1985. I was back in UCLA maybe a year ago. There was a huge mob, very supportive, hard to get a critical word of what I was saying. That is a huge change. It changed because of student activism. It’s the kind of thing you asked about, you know, ‘what should people do?’.
LEZAMA: Would you say that the state of the country is reflected on campuses? So, if you get negative responses at a campus, you’ll get the same sort of thing happening in libraries?
CHOMSKY: Its the same thing. Yeah, I can give the talk in public meetings, libraries etc. The general atmosphere has just changed enormously. Even in my own university, MIT, if I was giving a talk on Israel-Palestine, up until maybe 10 years ago, I had to have police protection. Now, it is unheard of. There is just a big change. The same is true in the town that I live, Lexington, MA.
LEZAMA: That is odd because you would expect the exact opposite response from the public. Just consider the enormous amount of September 11 related propaganda.
CHOMSKY: Yeah, the propaganda is not as effective as it used to be. That is exactly why this IDF group (Stand With Us) has to go around campuses, trying to counter the support for Palestine. It is trying to reverse the change in general attitudes.
LEZAMA: Seems like this IDF group was strong enough to get a favorable response from the Regents. Did you hear of Yudof statements regarding anti-Semitism? It was completely false, but he felt he could say them.
CHOMSKY: That’s the board of trustees, or, whoever runs the place. But the actual mood on campus I’m sure is quite different.
LEZAMA: What do we make of those people? Even with this climate, all the positive things going for students, there are tuition hikes, hostile police etc. There are so many things happening on these campuses.
CHOMSKY: Yeah, but that’s true of anything. The same is true for the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and so on. You are not going to get support from the authorities!
LEZAMA: Would that then imply that the legislation in California requiring colleges clamp down on anti-semitic speech on campus is nullified by student activism?
CHOMSKY: Yeah, activism can change things.
LEZAMA: Ok, ok.
CHOMSKY: It has done it in plenty of cases. That is how activism works. Take the feminist movement, in the mid-1960′s, these feminists were being ridiculed, people called them fem-nazi’s, all sorts of things, but eventually they broke through in many respects.
LEZAMA: What do you think of the Caravan for Peace?
CHOMSKY: I think it’s important. I met Sicilia a couple months ago; he’s an impressive guy. Everything depends on how many people the message reaches. You can’t count on the media, but others can. In fact, all through Latin America, there is a major effort to decriminalize Marijuana, maybe more, but, at least, Marijuana. In Uruguay, they are instituting state production of Marijuana. In most of the hemisphere, there is a strong effort to decriminalize it. In fact, in the Cartagena meetings, the hemispheric meetings held a couple of months ago, the United States and Canada were totally isolated on that issue. Everyone wanted to move in that direction. The U.S. and Canada refused. In fact, my guess is that if there are ever hemispheric meetings, the U.S. will not attend. The U.S. has lost Latin America on a lot of issues. The reason is pretty obvious: they are the victims! The U.S. is responsible for both the demand and the supply, the supply of arms since the arms are coming in from the U.S. What is tearing Mexico to shreds are the arms coming in from Texas and Arizona. They are getting it at both ends. The United States is creating the demand and providing the supply of arms. They are the ones getting massacred and smashed up. All through the hemisphere, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, of course, where it is a disaster. Naturally, they want to get out of it, and the U.S. won’t do it. The Caravan could be a way of educating Americans about it.
Ricardo Lezama s a student at the University of California, Davis studying psychology and linguistics.
Noam Chomsky’s latest books are Occupy (Zuccotti Park Press) and Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance (City Lights Publishers).
This article was originally posted at Counterpunch

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Will Israel Launch a False Flag Against Iran to Start War?

‘Our (New) Terrorists’ the MEK: Have We Seen This Movie Before?

By Coleen Rowley 
Former FBI Special Agent
September 28, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – And what kind of mind-boggling corruption — of the worst kind — influence peddling by a “foreign power” (as defined by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to include foreign terrorist groups) — lies hidden behind the curtain? Could some members of the MEK “foreign terrorist organization,” their murderous history magically erased, be sent to a nice suburb somewhere to live as your next door neighbor as happens with the organized crime “witness protection program?” Or will the soon-to-be-legalized “terrorism” of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (or Mojahedin-e Khalq, usually referred to as MEK) find more utilitarian function in the mode of how U.S. neoconservative officials plotted with and used convicted con artist Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi expatriate group to gin up the false “intelligence” that served to launch the unjustified and counter-productive war on Iraq? Even worse, might this new MEK operation end up resembling the sequel to Charlie Wilson’s War?
Since we cannot seem to learn from history and therefore seem doomed to repeat our mistakes, all of the above could be true. In any event, the old movie script will require few changes.
From MAK to MEK
The popular 2007 movie Charlie Wilson’s War found a way to glorify a rather derelict Texas congressman’s exploits and secret appropriations to fund CIA covert assistance to Mujahideen “rebels” (one faction recruited and trained by Osama Bin Laden himself) based on the repeatedly discredited notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” As John Hanrahan points out, Hollywood and Tom Hanks also found a way to edit out the real truth: “that the U.S.-aided Mujahedeen’s ouster of the Soviets in 1989 ultimately led to civil war and the ultra-orthodox Islamic Taliban coming to power in 1996, an event that also enabled anti-Soviet fighter Osama bin Laden and his fledgling al Qaeda to set up a base from which to plan the 9/11 attacks.”
… Osama bin Laden arrived in the country… sent by then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Faisal, where he set up the Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which helped finance, recruit and train mujahidin fighters. Bin Laden, the MAK, and the Afghan mujahidin in total received about half a billion dollars a year from the CIA, and roughly the same from the Saudis, funneled through Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) 
… Continued US sponsorship of the al-Qaeda-Taliban nexus in Afghanistan was confirmed as late as 2000 in Congressional hearings. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on South Asia, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher — former White House Special Assistant to President Reagan and now Senior Member of the House International Relations Committee — declared that ‘this administration has a covert policy that has empowered the Taliban and enabled this brutal movement to hold on to power’. The assumption is that ‘the Taliban would bring stability to Afghanistan and permit the building of oil pipelines from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Pakistan’ — From “Our Terrorists” by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed in New Internationalist Magazine
In other words, Charlie Wilson’s War seriously backfired and was a significant factor that gave rise to the 9-11 attacks. (Incidentally — and a big reason why there’s so little hope of anyone having learned from this sordid history — is that Dana Rohrabacher happens to be one of the main Congressmen who has now taken big sums of money from the MEK front groups!) An October 2010 report (“Restoring Afghanistan’s Tribal Balance”) for the New World Strategies Coalition described U.S. covert support of the Mujahideen as follows:
During the ‘jihad’ against the Soviets, the Judeo-Christian West teamed up with violent Islamic radicals of the worst sort, against the Soviets, because they shared a common hatred for the godless communists. The same people American leaders once called ‘freedom fighters’ throughout the 80’s are now [in the current war] violent extremist jihadist terrorists who commit immoral acts and heinous human rights violations that all Americans should find deplorable. Of course, before 9/11 when these ‘terrorists’ were fighting against the Soviets, they were ‘our terrorists’ and such human rights violations and war crimes hardly ever made the press. Today, people aren’t really supposed to remember nor point out this interesting historical irony, especially within the media.
By fast forwarding 30 years and changing one vowel, (MAK to MEK) we see history repeating almost exactly. There’s ample evidence that Iranian MEK terrorists, “our new terrorists,” are responsible for conducting assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. U.S. officials confirmed the charges leveled by Iran’s leaders as well as the fact that the killings and bombings in Iran were financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service. In an exclusive report, NBC reported that:
The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980. The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars. — From NBC Rock Center exclusive report February, 2012
In April of this year, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker article “Our Men in Iran” that members of MEK were also being trained in Nevada by U.S. Joint Special Operation Command for covert actions to topple the Iranian government.
The following comments are from former U.S. security experts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s excellent analysis of the highly politicized flip-flop, “By Delisting the MEK, the Obama Administration is taking the Moral and Strategic Bankruptcy of America’s Iran Policy to a New Low“:
We have seen too many times over the years just how cynically American administrations have manipulated these designations, adding and removing organizations and countries for reasons that have little or nothing to do with designees’ actual involvement in terrorist activity… Yet, precisely because we know how thoroughly corrupt and politicized these designations really are, we recognize their significance as statements of U.S. policy. 
Today, the Obama administration made a truly horrible statement about U.S. policy toward Iran… Just this year, U.S. intelligence officials told high-profile media outlets that the MEK is actively collaborating with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, see here; Iranian officials have made the same charge. Since when did murdering unarmed civilians (and, in some instances, members of their families as well) on public streets in the middle of a heavily populated urban area (Tehran) not meet even the U.S. government’s own professed standard for terrorism? 
…Here, the Obama administration is taking an organization that the U.S. government knows is directly involved in the murder of innocent people and giving this group Washington’s “good housekeeping seal of approval.”… Count on this: once the MEK is formally off the FTO list — a legally defined process that will take a few months to play out — Congress will be appropriating money to support the monafeqin as the vanguard of a new American strategy for regime change in Iran. 
In the 1990s, similar enthusiasm for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress — who were about as unpopular among Iraqis as the MEK is among Iranians — led to President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which paved the way for George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The chances for such a scenario to play out with regard to Iran over the next few years — with even more disastrous consequences for America’s strategic and moral standing — got a lot higher today. 
Flynt Leverett served as a Middle East expert on George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff until the Iraq War and worked previously at the State Department and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillary Mann Leverett was the NSC expert on Iran and — from 2001 to 2003 — was one of only a few U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq.
Governmental Influence Peddling Barely Hidden
A steady flow totaling in the millions of dollars during these last years has been revealed, funneled through various front groups to latter-day Charlie Wilson U.S. congresspersons, Washington lobbying firms and former high level Department of Justice, Homeland Security, military and U.S. counter-terrorism officials. Check out the excellent reports — here andhere — of Chris McGreal, a Guardian investigative journalist based in Washington who really did some good research attempting to trace the sordid money trail, writing:
US policy change on banned Iranian group came after extraordinary fundraising operation to transform its image. Only a few years ago, US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists. To the US government, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) was a terrorist group alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and the Farc in Colombia. The MEK landed on the list in 1997 with American blood on its hands and by allying itself with Saddam Hussein along with a long list of bombings inside Iran. 
But the organisation is regarded very differently by a large number of members of Congress, former White House officials and army generals, and even one of the US’s most renowned reporters, Carl Bernstein. They see the MEK as a victim of US double dealings with the regime in Tehran and a legitimate alternative to the Iran’s Islamic government. 
That difference is in no small part the result of a formidable fundraising operation and campaign to transform the MEK’s image led by more than 20 Iranian American organisations across the US. These groups and their leaders have spent millions of dollars on donations to members of Congress, paying Washington lobby groups and hiring influential politicians and officials, including two former CIA directors, as speakers. 
In a highly sensitive political game, MEK supporters have succeeded in pressing the state department into removing the group from the list of terrorist organisations after winning a court order requiring a decision to be made on the issue before the end of this month. But its supporters were forced to tread a careful path so as not to cross anti-terrorism laws. 
Only a few years ago, the US authorities were arresting pro-MEK activists and freezing the assets of front groups for “material support for a terrorist organisation”. Now members of Congress openly praise the group in apparent contradiction of the anti-terrorism legislation many of them supported. Nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives backed a resolution calling on the US government to drop the MEK from the terrorist list.
Most of the damning details, however, of what would probably be otherwise considered “material support for terrorism” will probably lie buried and stamped “Top Secret” in Treasury Department files forced closed when the presumptive targets of the investigation turned out to include over three dozen top U.S. officials and even many of the federal investigators’ former bosses and cronies: former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Assistant Attorney General and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff; two former CIA Directors; former DOJ Attorney and Homeland Security Advisor to the President Frances Townsend; former U.S. Attorney and NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, etc. Clearly such powerful “political considerations” can trump the law and easily subvert even the U.S. terrorism laws constantly promoted since 9-11 as all-important but now turned on their head. So unless a brave whistleblower or two steps forward, we probably won’t know much more about the presumably forced closure of these criminal terrorism investigations for another 20 years or so until a federal judge finally rules in agreement with a FOIA request. Or unless new movie producers can force some leaks out to jazz up the old script.
“Terrorism” Propaganda: How to Play it Up or Play it Down
The last 11 years have seen almost uninterrupted, cynical exaggerating and distorting of the threat of Mid-east “terrorism” by our mainstream media (to scare us into doing dumb things like launching war on countries like Iraq that had no connection to 9-11) so it was strangely out of the norm for the Washington Post article to frame the de-listing of the MEK Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) as humanitarian intervention. Interestingly, the Post reporter also chose the term “label” to minimize the importance of the U.S. government’s designation-undesignation of a “FTO” in the case of the MEK.
So it’s just a “label” when Michael Mukasey and three dozen other high level political figures flaunted the law in support of a “foreign terrorist organization.” But would the Post say mere FTO “labels” justify launching thousands of US government investigations and prosecutions of ordinary, non-powerful, non politically-connected people for “material support”? There are 23 anti-war activists in the Mid-west who are still under Department of Justice investigation two years after their homes were raided by the FBI; and there are thousands of people serving long prison terms or, even worse, on “kill lists” to be summarily executed due, the Government would allege, to even a fleeting or tenuous connection to someone or some group on the US FTO list. Furthermore, no transparency, no judicial process has seemingly existed — until MEK’s big money lobbying campaign came along — to dispute the accuracy of such FTO “labels.” 
An article at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s “Peoples Blog for the Constitution” entitled “Terrorist designation a problem? Befriend a politician” points out this terrible double standard:
The severe ramifications of this law have resulted in solitary confinement and a fifteen year sentence for US citizen Fahad Hashmi, who allowed a suitcase of raincoats at his apartment, and a 17 year sentence for Tarek Mehanna, who translated a text by a Saudi religious scholar. The removal of the MEK from the FTO list demonstrates not only the double-standard for enforcement of material support laws, but also the over-broad and heavy-handed criminalization of constitutionally protected activity. 
When the overbroad law resulted in investigations of prominent politicians and former officials, the law was not modified to address First Amendment concerns, but instead maintained, while a specific organization was removed from the terrorist list to accommodate those politicians’ activities. The material support law should be changed so that it doesn’t criminalize association, expression, or other activity protected by the First Amendment, or efforts aimed to advance humanitarian goals.
Finally, consider how unbelievable and in-congruent for the MEK to have such a powerful lobby that it can reach its tentacles into U.S. political “leadership” like this, spending millions of dollars in exchange for political endorsements and yet be portrayed at the very same time, as the Post and other media does, as a poor group of refugees trapped in Iraq enemy territory in need of humanitarian intervention. Where would this refugee group which (for 15 years) has been designated a “foreign terrorist organization” get the millions it paid to U.S. officials and politicians for their assistance and influence-peddling? News articles do allude to the fact that the payments and the political pressure were in violation of U.S. law, but these articles fail to go into how and why federal investigators were apparently forced to drop their investigation of officials who received huge payments from the MEK.
The big money model for lobbyist success has paved the way for the coalition of MEK front groups to corrupt U.S. Government by funneling millions of dollars from who-knows-where to elected and appointed political figures to turn dark into light. Certainly there will now be other foreign-based front groups following this example in ever more flagrant disregard of what Justice Brandeis long ago warned us, about how government wrongdoing and contempt for (and subversion of) the law functions. 
Contrast the portrayal of the need for “humanitarian intervention” on behalf of what was portrayed as defenseless women and children refugees in the MEK Camp in Iraq with the millions of dollars that have gone into PR propaganda firms, corrupt U.S. congresspersons and former high level DOJ, Homeland Security and counter-terrorism officials to essentially re-write the history of a violent terrorist group that worked for Saddam Hussein — who some of these same officials were, only a decade before, falsely implying was responsible for 9-11. Why did these millions of dollars not go to helping the MEK women and children move from Iraq if they are in such danger instead of going into corrupt U.S. political figures’ pockets? 
If only the American people would wake up to this corruption, they might find themselves, at the very least, extremely confused that some of the same U.S. political figures who were so hell-bent to take out Saddam Hussein are now sponsoring one of Saddam’s main “terrorist” underlings. Don’t they remember Charlie Wilson’s War? Or what Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” 
This article was originally posted at Huffington Post

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Memo to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: The Door on a Two-state Solution was Closed 45 Years Ago

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