Monthly Archives: January 2013

Noam Chomsky: US, a top terrorist state

Syria Warns Israel of ‘Surprise’ Retaliation

Diplomat’s threat comes as Syrian ally Iran says air raid near Damascus will have significant implications for Israel.
February 01, 2013 “Al Jazeera” — Syria has threatened to retaliate for an Israeli air attack while its ally Iran says there will be repercussions for Israel over the attack.

Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, said in Damascus on Thursday that Syria “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation”.

Ali said he could not predict when Syria would retaliate. It was up to the relevant authorities to prepare the retaliation and choose the time and place, he told Al Ahad, a website of Hezbollah, the Lebanese group is closely allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran.

It is unclear what the exact nature of the target of Wednesday’s Israeli air raids was.

The Syrian military has denied the existence of any weapons shipment and said a scientific research facility outside Damascus was hit by the Israeli fighter jets.

Syrian state media said that the attacks targeted a military research centre near the Syrian capital, while regional security sources told the Reuters and AP news agencies that the target was a convoy of lorries allegedly carrying anti-aircraft missiles for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In Iran, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, as saying the raid on Syria will have significant implications for Israel.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign minister, condemned the Israeli raid on state television, calling it a clear violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

Iran is Syria’s strongest ally in the Middle East, and has provided Assad’s government with military and political backing for years.

Lodged official complaint

Later on Thursday, Syria complained to the UN over the Israeli strike.

Although Israel and Syria are technically still at war, the ministry’s official complaint evoked a 1974 disengagement agreement between the neighbours, state news agency SANA said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned Iqbal Singha, commander of the UN Observer Disengagement Observer Force… and informed him of an official protest over the Israeli violation of the disengagement agreement of 1974,” the ministry said.

The ministry said Israel “and the states that protect it at the UN Security Council” are responsible for the air strike, and “affirms Syria’s right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty”.

The ministry called on “all the competent UN bodies to take the necessary steps given this grave Israeli violation, and to guarantee that it will not happen again.”

The ministry denounced “the failure of the Security Council to take responsibility to prevent this grave Israeli attack, which poses serious threats to stability in the Middle East and security in the world”.

‘Barbaric aggression’

In a statement, Hezbollah condemned the attack as “barbaric aggression”, saying it “expresses full solidarity with Syria’s command, army and people.”

Hezbollah did not mention any convoy but said the raid aimed to prevent Arab and Muslim forces from developing their military capabilities.

Russia, Syria’s strongest international ally, said the Israeli raid appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

It said it is taking “urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details”.

“If this information is confirmed, we have a case of unprovoked attacks on targets in the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the UN charter and is unacceptable,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Whatever the motives, this is not justified.”

Late on Wednesday evening, the Syrian army confirmed that Israeli jets crossed into Syria below radar level at dawn and carried out raids against military targets.

“Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research centre in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defence,” the army’s general command said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

The attack came “after terrorist groups made several failed attempts in the past months to take control of the site”, the statement added, using the term the Assad’s government uses for rebel fighters.

The jets entered the Syrian airspace via Mount Hermon, or Jabal el-Sheikh in Arabic, the Syrian army said.

“They … carried out an act of aggression, bombarding the site, causing large-scale material damage and destroying the building,” Syrian state television quoted the military as saying.

The army added that two site workers were killed in the strike, and five others wounded.

News agencies quoted US and regional officials as saying that Israel had conducted an air raid inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of lorries.

The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the air raid to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah.

They said the shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the strike.

Israeli and US fears

In Israel, a parliamentarian close to Binyamin Netanyahu, prime minister, stopped short of confirming involvement in the attack. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.

Among Israeli security officials’ chief fears is that Hezbollah could get Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.

If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air violations in Lebanon.

The military in Lebanon, which shares borders with both Israel and Syria, said on Wednesday that Israeli fighter jets had sharply increased their activity over the country in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the south.

Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace occur on a daily basis and Lebanese authorities routinely lodge complaints at the UN against the flights.

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Chuck Hagel, John McCain Clash Over Iraq Surge


The debate over the Iraq War was reignited on Thursday when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel for his opposition to the surge of 2007.

Posted February 01, 2013

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Israel Must Remove All Jewish Settlers from Occupied West Bank – UN Inquiry

February 01, 2013 “RT” — A UN human rights inquiry has called on Israel to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank and cease expansion. The report said the settlements violate international law, and are an attempt to drive out Palestinians through intimidation.
“Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report read, adding that Israel must immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
The inquiry prompted a strong reaction from Israel who slammed the report as biased.
“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor in a statement.
The 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of a civilian population into an occupied area – such an act could constitute war crimes if brought before the International Criminal Court. Following the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestine last December, Israel announced plans to build thousands of homes in the OPT.
In response, Palestine wrote to the UN warning that Israel’s planned expansion into the occupied territorieswould lead to more war crimes being committed.
The UN investigators interviewed over 50 people who were driven from their homes. They described how their livelihoods were destroyed and their land was confiscated, and how they were subjected to continuous violence from Jewish settlers.
Israeli security forces apprehend a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest in Anin village in the West Bank near Jenin city, on January 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saif Dahlan)

Israeli security forces apprehend a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest in Anin village in the West Bank near Jenin city, on January 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saif Dahlan)

“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” said the report.
The report has the potential to significantly worsen the UN’s already-strained relationship with Israel, particularly after Israeli representatives failed to appear at a UN human rights review two days ago. 
The Israeli government has repeatedly ignored international condemnations of its settlements in the occupied territories, and continues to bar the entry of a Human Rights Council probe to assess the impact of the settlements. Israel has insisted that the organization is biased in favor of the Palestinians, and claimed that historic and biblical ties justify its claim to the territories.

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Cameron’s Attack on George Galloway Reflects the West’s Self-delusions

In an act of supreme projection, the British PM accuses a critic of lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator”: the core policy of the US and UK
By Glenn Greenwald 
February 01, 2013 “The Guardian” — On Wednesday afternoon in the British Parliament, near the end of question time for British Prime Minister David Cameron, a short though incredibly revealing exchange occurred between Cameron and Respect Party MP George Galloway. Whatever one’s preexisting views might be of either of these two polarizing figures is entirely irrelevant to the points and facts raised here about this incident.
Galloway stood to ask Cameron about a seeming contradiction in the policy of the British government (one shared by the US government). He wanted to know why it is that the British government is so intent on fighting and bombing Islamic extremists in Mali, while simultaneously arming and funding equally brutal Islamic extremists in Syria (indeed, although it was once taboo to mention, it is now widely reported in the most establishment venues such as the New York Times that while many ordinary Syrians are fighting against the savagery and tyranny of Assad, Islamic extremists, including ones loyal to al-Qaida, are playing a major role in the war against the regime). The same question could have been posed regarding Libya, where Nato-supported rebel factions were filled with fighters with all sorts of links to al-Qaida.
There certainly are reasonable answers to Galloway’s point, but whatever one’s views might be on those points, there’s no denying it’s a reasonable question. It is simply the case that the British government, along with its Nato allies including the US, were – in both the wars in Syria and Libya – on the same side as, and even arming and funding, the very extremists, “jihaidists”, and even al-Qaida-supporting fighters they claim pose the greatest menace to world peace.
In lieu of addressing the substance of the question, Cameron unleashed a 10-second snide attack on Galloway himself. “Some things come and go,” proclaimed the Prime Minister, “but there is one thing that is certain: wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world, he will have the support of [Galloway].” Here is the one-minute video of this exchange:

As usual, anyone who questions the militarism of western governments is instantly smeared as a sympathizer or even supporter of tyrants. Thus, those who opposed the aggressive attack on Iraq were pro-Saddam; those who now oppose bombing Iran love the mullahs; those who oppose Nato intervention in Syria or Libya harbor affection for Assad and Ghadaffi – just as those who opposed the Vietnam War fifty years ago or Reagan’s brutal covert wars in Latin America thirty years ago were Communist sympathizers, etc. etc. Cameron’s outburst was just the standard smear tactic used for decades by western leaders to try to discredit anyone who opposes their wars.
The more important point here is that of all the people on the planet, there is nobody with less authority to accuse others of supporting “brutal Arab dictators in the world” than David Cameron and his Nato allies, including those in the Obama administration. Supporting “brutal Arab dictators in the world” is a perfect summary of the west’s approach to the Arab world for the last five decades, and it continues to be.
In January of last year, Cameron visited the region’s most repressive dictators, the close British allies in Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, he met King Abdullah and Crown Prince Nayef in order, he said, to “broaden and deepen” the UK-Saudi relationship. That “relationship” was already quite broad and deep, as “Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with annual trade worth £15bn a year.”
Moreover, “a Saudi official told the BBC the leaders would discuss sales of the latest technology and weaponry, and making Britain a major part of a massive Saudi military expansion.” Indeed, as the Guardian noted in 2012, “during the third quarter of last year Britain exported arms valued at more than £1m to Saudi Arabia, including components for military combat vehicles and turrets.” In June, Cameron again visited Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE, and the Huffington Post UK reported at the time: “Cameron has been open about his desire to sell arms to the Saudis, the UAE and Oman.”
In November – just two months before yesterday’s attack on Galloway – Cameron again traveled around to several tyrannical Gulf states – including his close ally Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates – in order to sell British fighter jets and other military hardware to those regimes. As Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said: “Saudi Arabia has been the recipient of record-breaking arms deals involving the UK.” Indeed, as the Guardian noted during this trip: “In 2009 the Saudi air force used UK-supplied Tornado fighter-bombers in attacks in Yemen which killed hundreds – possibly thousands – of civilians.”
Then there was that charming incident in May, 2011, when – at the height of the violent crackdown by the Bahraini regime on democratic protesters – Cameron welcomed Bahrain‘s Crown Prince to 10 Downing Street and posed for photographers shaking hands with the tyrant. Former Labour foreign minister Denis MacShane protested that Cameron should not be “rolling out the red carpet for Bahrain’s torturer-in-chief”.
In August, Cameron met with Bahrain’s King in London. While the Prime Minister’s office claimed he pressed the King to implement greater political reforms, the Guardian noted that the King was “given red carpet treatment in Downing Street”.
Just last year, it was reported that – despite a temporary suspension of licenses – “Britain has continued to sell arms to Bahrain despite continuing political unrest in the Gulf state”. Indeed, “several licences were granted for arms exports, including in February and March 2011, and during the height of the violence.” Specifically:
“According to the figures the government approved the sale of military equipment valued at more than £1m in the months following the violent crackdown on demonstrators a year ago. They included licences for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.
“Also cleared for export to Bahrain between July and September last year were naval guns and components for detecting and jamming improvised explosive devices.”
As Maryam Al-Khawaja of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said: “The US, UK and France attack Russia for providing weapons to Syria, but that’s exactly what they are doing for the Bahrain government; Russia is criticised for a naval base in Syria, but the US has one here.” Of course, Bahrain wasn’t the only close UK ally to violently attack democratic protesters in the kingdom. “During last year’s uprising, Saudi Arabia sent forces to Bahrain in British military trucks.”
Then there’s Britain’s long-standing support for the Mubarak dictatorship, and Cameron’s personal support for Mubarak as the protest movement unfolded. In January, 2011, as tens of thousands of Egyptians assembled to demand an end to their dictatorship, he sat for an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, who asked him whether Mubarak should resign. Cameron said: “What we support is evolution, reform, not revolution.” As Egyptian police were killing protesters, this exchange then occurred:
“ZAKARIA: Is Mubarak a friend of Britain?
“CAMERON: He is a friend of Britain. Britain has good relations with Egypt.”
The following month, as Mubarak’s crackdown intensified, “the British government refuse[d] to say whether it would follow the example of Germany and France and suspend exports of arms and riot control equipment to Egypt.” In 2009, Britain sold £16.4m worth of arms to the regime in Egypt.
In 2010, the UK granted licenses for the sale of arms to Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen. In July of that year, shortly after Cameron assumed office, “the Scrutiny of Arms Exports report by the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) show[ed] that there are still 600 existing arms exports licences in place for the sale of goods including assault weapons, ammunition, and surveillence equipment, to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.” In 2011, Der Spiegel reported:
“Britain exported over €100 million ($142 million) in weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the last two years alone. Included in those shipments are sniper rifles that may currently be in use against the Libyan opposition. Furthermore, Gadhafi’s terror police are British-trained.”
So who exactly is it that is guilty of supporting every “brutal Arab dictator in the world”? At the top of any honest list, one would find David Cameron, along with the leaders of most leading Nato countries, beginning with the US (see here and here). Indeed, as Der Spiegel noted in April 2011 about yet another of Cameron’s trips to visit Arab tyrants: “Cameron flew on to Kuwait, where he got down to the real purpose of his trip: selling weapons to Arab autocrats.”
Cameron’s so-called “slapdown” of Galloway was predictably celebrated in many precincts. The reality, though, is that it was quite cowardly: he refused to answer Galloway’s question, then smeared him knowing that he could not reply, then simply moved on to the next questioner. Galloway was able to respond afterward only by posting an open letter on his website, noting the multiple Arab dictators steadfastly supported not by Galloway but by his accuser, David Cameron.
The more important point here is that this so perfectly reflects the central propagandistic self-delusion amazingly sustained throughout the west. The very same western countries that snuggle up to and prop up the planet’s worst dictators are the same ones who strut around depicting themselves as crusaders for democracy and freedom, all while smearing anyone who objects to their conduct as lovers of tyranny. That’s how David Cameron can literally embrace and strengthen the autocrats of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen and so many others, while accusing others with a straight face of lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world”.
In the most minimally rational universe, Cameron’s act of extreme projection would provoke a sustained fit of mocking laughter. In the propaganda-suffused western world, it all seems perfectly cogent and even inspiring.
The Hillary Clinton version
The outgoing US Secretary of State on Wednesday unleashed this bizarre description of the Egyptian people: “It’s hard going from decades under one-party or one-man rule, as somebody said, waking up from a political coma and understanding democracy.” As As’ad AbuKhalilastutely replied: “The US and not the Egyptian people were in denial about the true nature of the Sadat-Mubarak regime. No, in fact they were not in denial: they knew full well what they were doing against the Egyptian people.”
Indeed, it was Hillary Clinton – not the Egyptian people – who proclaimed in 2009: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.” (As a related bonus, see this all-time great Hillary Clinton quote about the US role in the world.) In sum, any list of those lending support “wherever there is a brutal Arab dictator in the world” must begin with the leaders of the US and the UK in order to have any minimal credibility.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited

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‘America’s Nazi Scientists Fulfilling Dream Of Ruling The World’ – Bruce Gagnon

By John Robles
February 01, 2013 — In an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia, Bruce Gagnon shares little known facts about the militarization of space by the United States, the development of first strike space drones and the foundation of the US Military Industrial Complex by Nazi scientists bent on victory in World War III. If you thought missile defense and drones were bad, you haven’t heard anything yet.
Robles: According to your organization the US Space Command has publicly stated they intent to control space in order to protect US interests and investments. Is space now US territory?
Gagnon: Well, indeed the United States likes to believe that it is its own space, and particularly the Space Command, who on their headquarters building in Colorado Springs, just above the doorway they have their logo that reads “Master of Space”. So, I think that it is quite evident that the Space Command does indeed view space as US territory that must be controlled because they clearly understand that all warfare on the earth today is coordinated by space technology and that whoever essentially controls space will control the planet below, in this case on behalf I believe of corporate globalization. And so the Space Command in our thinking has become the military arm of corporate globalization.
And so today the US is developing a whole host of technologies to allow it to fight war from space, through space and in space, controlling not only the Earth but also the pathway on and off the planet Earth, the pathway to other planetary bodies as resources are discovered on other planets: magnesium, cobalt, uranium, gold, water etc.
In a congressional study done back in the 1980s, the Congress gave the Pentagon the mandate to develop the technologies to control the pathway on and off the planet Earth. So, the Space Command sees its role in a very-very robust kind of way.
Robles: Several questions just popped up after what you just said. First one: how do they intend to “control the pathway”, I mean there is not only one pathway off the planet, I mean, how are they going to do that?
Gagnon: Well, in this particular study entitled “Military Space Forces the Next 50 Years”, they talk about the Earth-Moon Gravity Well, that whoever controls the Earth-Moon Gravity Well, essentially with bases on the Moon and armed space stations between, what they said were the L4 and L5 positions in space, they would be able to control these.
And interestingly enough, we know that it was in fact the former Nazi scientists that were brought to the United States following World War II under a program, a secret program, called Operation Paper Clip. These Nazi scientists that ran Hitler’s V1 and V2 rocket programs, they were the first to bring to the Congress of the United States, this idea of having orbiting battle stations controlling the pathway on and off the planet as well as the Earth below.
So, today again there is the whole host of technologies that are being developed by the Space Command. They say at the Pentagon that we are not going to get all of these technologies to work, but through the investment and the research and development in these various technologies, things like “Rods from God”: orbiting battle stations with tungsten-steel rods they would be able to hit targets on the Earth below…
Robles: They call those “Rods from God”?
Gagnon: Yes, they call it “Rods from God”. The new military space plane that is being tested now by the Pentagon, it has shown its ability to stay in orbit for a whole year at a time: an unpiloted space drone essentially. And then with ground stations all over the planet that the United States has established, what they call downlink stations that communicate with US military satellites all over the planet. This whole network has been put into place to really give the US, as they say in one of their planning documents, “control and domination of space”.
Robles: More questions: The space drone that you just mentioned, it is actually… it’s operational right now?
Gagnon: It is called the X37B, it’s been over the past couple of years. The testing program has accelerated and they’ve had three successful launches of it now. Just recently, I believe it was just at the end 2012, was the last of the missions, the third mission actually. But prior to that they had one of them spend a whole year in space.
The role of this X37B, or the military space plane, is somewhat in dispute. Some people believe that it is for surveillance, to spy on various countries, like Russia and China. Or others believe that it is actually a first strike weapons system whose job would be to fly down from orbit, drop an attack on a particular country.
In fact the Space Command annually war games a first strike attack on China set in the year 2016. And in one of the articles, in one of the industry publications, Aviation Week and Space Technology, I read a report about the first weapon that was used in one of these computer war game attacks of China, was this military space plane. So, indeed they are war gaming with it as a first strike weapon.
Robles: Now, you mentioned Nazi scientists a minute ago, I mean, it is not a very widely known fact that after World War II, I believe it was, about 400,000 Nazis found refugee in the United States. Can you tell us a little more on the scientists that were developing these programs and working with the US Government? Can you expand on that a little bit?
Gagnon: Under Operation Paper Clip, 1,200 Nazis were brought into the United States, former Nazi intelligence. They were brought in to help create the CIA.
Wernher von Braun, the Nazi scientist that ran the V1 and V2 operations was brought in. He became one of the leaders of NASA and he built the first successful rockets that were launched by the US military after the Kennedy Administration wanted to respond to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik.
Other Nazi scientists were brought in to create US Flight Medicine programs, the MKUltra LSD-drug experiments of the 1960s in the United States, where people were jumping out of windows and killing themselves because they were given drugs.
The people that were running these were the former Nazi scientists who had been doing similar tests on prisoners of war and Jews and other people in concentration camps inside of Germany.
So, the entire military industrial complex was seeded with these top Nazi operatives. And I’ve always maintained that when you do that: “Is there an ideological contamination that comes along with that?” My belief is: indeed there is.
Robles: That’s exactly the point I wanted to make myself.
Gagnon: Major-General Walter Dornberger was the Head of Hitler’s secret Space Development Program. He was brought to the United States to work for Bell Aerospace in New York State after the war.
He testified before the Congress in the 1950s. And I can quote him, he said to the Congress: “Gentlemen, I didn’t come to this country to lose the third world war, I lost two already.” And he again was one of the first to layout this vision of control of space, giving the US full control of the planet Earth.
Bruce Gagnon is the coordinator for the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
This article was originally posted at Voice of Russia

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Noam Chomsky: US, a top terrorist state

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‘There Is A Drone With Assange’s Name On It’ – William Blum

Assange will be assassinated if freed, expert says. In an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia, William Blum, an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy spoke about CIA assassinations (one of his areas of expertise) and some of his past work. Mr. Blum is candid in his assessment of CIA assassination plots against such people as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. He also has some surprising things to say about Julian Assange and Osama Bin Laden.
By John Robles
February 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Robles: Hello Mr. Blum, nice to be speaking with you. You have a very long and interesting history… a lot of things you have written. You wrote a book about the CIA. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Blum: Well, American interventions carried out via the CIA and all the U.S. military have been my specialty for many-many years. My books emphasize those things. As does my monthly newsletters “The Anti-Empire Report”.
As far as the backlash: the U.S. government doesn’t bother American authors that much, because they know we don’t have that much influence, they can afford to have us write things and point to that as proof of freedom of speech in America. So they don’t care.
Robles: I see. They said that you had exposed more than 200 CIA employees.
Blum: That was in 1969 when I was working for the “Underground Press” in Washington D.C. and I and a colleague we parked our car outside the CIA headquarters in Virginia and for a couple of hours or so, we recorded the license plate numbers of all the cars going into the CIA. And with that information we were able to compile a list of names and addresses of these people, which we published in our underground newspaper.
Robles: That sounds very interesting! You talked about CIA assassination plots, you’re pretty much an expert on that. Can you tell us a little bit about what you know about the plot to remove Hugo Chavez?
Blum: Assassination attempts? That was in 2004, the U.S. government met with the coup plotters both in Venezuela and Washington and these people then carried out a military coup which overthrew Chavez and the people took him to custody, but he was freed after about two days, because of a combination of public outcry and pressure from the remaining members of the military who were not part of the coup. So then he actually had and still has a lot of support in the military. He, himself was a member of it. So a combination of the military and a public outcry forced the coup plotters to abandon their plans and after two days Chavez was released.
Robles: Can you tell us about your book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”? And could you comment on an endorsement you received, at the time, in 2006 by Osama bin Laden?
Blum:It was supposed to be a mini-encyclopedia of all the nefarious things done by the U.S. foreign policy. There’s a chapter on assassination, a chapter on bombings and so on. There are many chapters covering the gross and illegal aspects of U.S. foreign policy. It’s compiled together many things which most Americans, and most people in the world are not aware of.
Individual elements of each of these compilations one could find in some public area or other but to put it together into long tables of information was my contribution and that came out in about 2000. And then in 2006 the Arabic version of the book, the book had many foreign translations, there were two in Arabic and one of those two was read by Osama bin Laden and he, in one of his periodic audio recordings, mentioned that Americans would be well served if they read my book and get a better understanding of their enemy.
And I can only guess that the theme in that book Rogue State which most caught his attention and his sympathy was one chapter dealing with the motivations of anti-American terrorists. Contrary to what we were being taught, and still now to a large extent, were that these people were: just hated America, or they hated Christianity, or they were just crazy, or they were just envious of democracy and our wealth, all of these reasons, but never even a hint that they were acting out of retribution for the decades of very serious military and other infringements upon people in the Middle East. All kinds of bombings and overthrows of governments, supporting dictatorships, supporting Israel,all kinds of things I gave a long list of the American actions which created all these anti-American terrorists, and that is what I am assuming most appealed to Bin Laden.
Robles: What do you know about the assassination plot to kill Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa? Before the elections, he is supposed to be assassinated.
Blum:This month you are speaking about?
Robles: Yes sir. Correa made this statement that they had uncovered a plot to assassinate him before…
Blum:I wouldn’t doubt that. I would be surprised if the CIA did not attempt to assassinate him. I mean among other reasons, he’s sheltering Assange! That by itself is reason to assassinate him.
Robles: Are you saying that just the fact that he’s given asylum to Assange, that’s enough for the CIA to assassinate him?
Blum: The CIA attempts to assassinate people for much less reasons than that. Assange is the public enemy №1 in America. The U.S. is obsessed with him and they are afraid that he will be issuing the realease of more classified documents so they’d really like to put him out of the way, if they can.
They were all set to invade the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, when the British government was finally talked out of it by their own people: That it would set a terrible precedent, that the U.K. Embassies all over the world would not be safe then. That was the reason that they called off the invasion plan.
They’re very serious about Assange. I mean he has to go. He’s the most marked man in the world.
Robles: You think so? You said he’s enemy number one of the United States.
Blum: As far as being put out of the way? Yeah. I would say that if the US had a choice it would get him out of the way before anyone else.
Robles: So you think it’s pretty credible his fears of being assassinated by the CIA? Yeah?
Blum: There is a drone somewhere with his name on it, and if he walks around in the world and he is not in the midst of a big city, he’s a marked man. There’s a rocket with his name on it inside of a drone with his name on it. So I can not imagine that would not be the case. The CIA has, if you delve as much as I have into the history of assassinations and so on, that is totally expected.
Robles: So as an expert you are saying that it is totally expected?! Wow! Okay
Blum: If he’s walking around free somewhere. Yeah.
Robles: Sure. I see. I see. Hey Bill thank you very much! I really appreciate you speaking with me!
William Blum is the author of several books on US foreign policy. He also sends out a monthly newsletter called “The Anti-Empire Report”
This article was originally posted at Voice of Russia

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Only One Solution To The FED Debt Trap

By Randy Clifford
February 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs lists the oldest written version of the saying “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” as coming from playwright George Pettie’s Petit Palace in 1576:
“So long as I know it not, it hurteth me not.”
Several Rothschild-controlled centuries later, what Americans don’t know about “the Fed” may be fatal.
The Fed gained control of America’s money in 1913. Government debt now soars toward $17 trillion. Interest paid to service this debt, for the year 2011 alone, was $454,393,280,417.03, largely funneled by the Fed to eight international banking families:
Rothschild’s of London and Berlin; Lazard Brothers of Paris; Israel Moses Seaf of Italy; Kuhn, Loeb & Co. of Germany and New York; Warburg & Company of Hamburg, Germany; Lehman Brothers of New York; Goldman, Sachs of New York; Rockefeller Brothers of New York.
Ever heard a better argument for entitlement reform?
Rothschild wealth alone is estimated at $500 trillion.
Keeping the America public ignorant of why debt crises and threatened government shutdowns are a semi-automatic ruse aimed at social programs; reinforcing that cherished ignorance is a vital function of mainstream corporate media (MSM). Prevailing “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” public attitudes toward the Fed are boosted by the trouble decent people have even imagining such an epic crime…there must be a law! Then, there’s faith…I really want to believe the Fed is part of the federal government.
No matter how many times former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and others remind us that the Fed is an untouchable independent agency, people like to believe what they want to believe, regardless.
An image problem with our country’s first two Rothschild-controlled central banks was transparency of the name, “U.S. Central bank”, or “BUS” (Bank of the United States).
Our current “Federal Reserve System”…now there’s a name with enough mojo to span a century, and even juice Congress into re-chartering the Fed for another 100 years (to 2113). MSM went totally mild.
In terms of persona, the Fed is Bela Lugosi. Spooky, deadly-secretive, omniscient, riveting…the Fed sounds like part of the federal government, sounds backed with reserves…a “system” instead of a bank—all a fiendishly-charming triple play. When the Fed walks into the room, heads turn. When the Fed controls a superpower’s money, heads roll.
Dollars From Thin Air
A dominant way to bank dollars from thin air is the Federal Reserve System’s entitlement.
For instance, to circulate another billion dollars of fiat currency, our government does not print debt-free U.S. Treasury Notes, as mandated in the Constitution. Instead, a billion dollars of debt (Treasury bonds) are given to the Fed, who then creates from nothing a billion dollars in Federal Reserve Notes and loans them to the government at compound interest. Whether it’s currency, or digits on a computer screen, by creating money this way, the amount of debt created is always more than the dollars created, leaving no way for the debt to ever be paid off.
Entitlements are one thing; the Fed’s exclusive dollar monopoly seems otherworldly. Could there be a greater entitlement than ownership of the dollar with accountability to no one?
By auctioning its (free) Treasury bonds through “Open Market Operations”, the Fed helps spread U.S. debt around the world.
1913 was a brutal year for U.S. public interest. The Federal Reserve Act, and the 16th Amendment (federal income tax) both began transferring wealth from the public to the elite in 1913. So much money is needed to finance government debt created by private central banking, a personal income tax is demanded.
When you write a check to the IRS…notice the endorsement on the payment coupon: “Pay any F.R.B. Branch or Gen. Depository for credit U.S. Treas. This is in payment of US. oblig.”
In other words, Pay the Fed.
Fractional Reserve Banking is another magical mystery machine for creating money from nothing, or as George Bush I blabbed:
“…the continuous consolidation of wealth and power into higher, tighter and righter hands.”
Bush I was talking about the reason for Iran-Contra, but wealth consolidation is what power is all about. Power to the People is exactly what the Fed is not about.
One of the Fed’s duties is regulating reserve requirements of member bank, currently 3% to 10%, depending….
Fractional-Reserve money creation, most simply: A bank at 10% reserve requirement gets a $100 deposit. The bank is allowed to lend $90 dollars of that deposit, so the original $100 dollars has become $190…and through subsequent lending, the bank may inflate the original $100 deposit into $1,000 dollars. A foundational transfer from those who create wealth, to those who manipulate wealth.
“Troubled Assets Relief Program”—taxpayers must relieve the global financial system of its bad bets. But….
How can an asset be “troubled”? People can be troubled, as upon learning festered secrets of private central banking. Indeed, private central banking reduces people to assets ripe for austerity. So doesn’t “troubled assets” seem a better label for taxpayers than for bad bets?
The global financial system is a casino with private profit and public risk, thanks largely to something power keeps people from thinking about, much less understanding: Derivatives.
“Derivative” is a well-groomed way to say a side bet has been made on anything you might imagine. A Bloomberg article from October 18, 2011, described them this way:
Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates.
Often highly-leveraged, derivatives prowl a mostly-unregulated market dominated by international banks of the Too-Big…! variety. Irresistible roulette, derivatives are the wicked queen of casino finance.
Taxpayers on the hook for, officially…$700 billion—or was that $800 billion, officially, to bail out Too-Big…! banks? Remember the ephemeral public outrage? The image of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (between stints at Goldman Sachs) going down on one knee to beg Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to pass TARP before the world imploded—that image should be tattooed upon the mass American consciousness.
However, MSM has minimized the image to barely a footnote that at least characterizes the science/art of bait-and-switch.
Taxpayer liability from TARP is closer to $23.7 trillion, and thanks to the Fed, forever inflating.
An Odd Audit
The Fed is a private agency not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and the Fed threw enough power at reinforcing this fact to make it shocking that Congress mustered enough votes to actually force a peek into some of the Fed’s books.
Since the Fed serves the interests of its owners, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “limited audit” gave MSM plenty to suppress.
Between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010, the Fed gave $16.1 trillion to banks and corporations around the world—loans virtually free, backstopped by the American public.
Recipients listed on page 131 of the “audit report”:
Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion
“Quantitative Easing”
In the middle of December, 2012, the Fed announced another Quantitative Easing (QE-4). In addition to QE-3 creating new money to transform $40 billion of toxic waste on bank balance sheets into taxpayer liabilities, QE-4 bumps the monthly taxpayer tab up to $85 billion.
A quip amid Weimar Germany hyperinflation went something like this: “If a wheelbarrow full of money were left on the street, thieves would dump the money, and steal the wheelbarrow.”
How much more Quantitative Easing will it take to deliver America’s Weimar Moment?
Since the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power.
In the four years since QE-1 (middle of the last “financial crisis”), the dollar’s value in gold has fallen more than 50%.
Early in 2012, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee announced the Fed’s goal of devaluing the dollar 33% over the next twenty years.
With dollar creation running wide open, and QE-3/QE-4 pouring $85 billion each month to scrub toxic waste from banks’ balance sheets, America’s Weimar Moment approaches the horizon.
We should have paid attention to Louis McFadden:
“The Federal Reserve (banks) are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen. There is not a man within the sound of my voice who does not know that this Nation is run by the International Bankers.”
“Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are the United States government’s institutions. They are not government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign swindlers” (Congressional Record 12595-12603 — Louis T. McFadden, Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency June 10, 1932).
Or Lindbergh:
“The financial system has been turned over to the Federal Reserve Board. That Board as ministers the finance system by authority of a purely profiteering group. The system is Private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people’s money.” (Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., 1923)
Prominent Americans have long pointed out that the Fed is a private banking cartel designed to systematically destroy the dollar, drain wealth of the American public and crush the federal government with debt.
Ben Bernanke, current chairman of the Fed, actually told truth about the Great Depression in his speech at a University of Chicago conference honoring the 90th birthday of Milton Friedman, concluding with:
“Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”
MSM excels at suppressing leaked documents and defector testimony that clearly reveal the Fed’s zeal over the thousands of banks and farms they hoped to acquire for pennies on the dollar by inducing a depression. MSM has also protected the public from the truth that derivatives were at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis, and will define the next crisis.
Estimates of the notional value of the global derivatives market range from $600 trillion to $1.4 quadrillion. Webster Tarpley said this about derivatives:
“Far from being some arcane or marginal activity, financial derivatives have come to represent the principal business of the financier oligarchy in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, and other money centers. A concerted effort has been made by politicians and the news media to hide and camouflage the central role played by derivative speculation in the economic disasters of recent years. Journalists and public relations types have done everything possible to avoid even mentioning derivatives, coining phrases like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and – most notably – “troubled assets,” as in Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, aka the monstrous $800 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators which was enacted in October 2008….”
With their ownership of MSM, and history of doing whatever they want—including whatever it takes to protect their dollar entitlement, the Fed might seem impossible to root out. And regardless of how severely they try to complicate the whole Fed crime, our choice is exquisitely simple:
Kill the Fed or the Fed will kill us.
Our only other choice is limping from economic bubble to bursting economic bubble, hobbled by debt and drenched in austerity until we can limp no more. And if MSM ever publicly calls derivatives, “derivatives”, it’s far too late. The imminent financial crisis will render public interest a ghost from a distant past.
The only epoch offering Americans a future: the Fed, AD.
The Fed, after death.
Bela Lugosi liked to say, “There is no…other way.”
Rand Clifford lives in Spokane, Washington. His novels, CASTLING, TIMING, Priest Lake Cathedral, and many earlier articles are published by StarChief Press.

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Israeli Attack: Desperate Bid to Save Failed Syrian Campaign

By Tony Cartalucci

February 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel has conducted airstrikes in Syria based on “suspicions” of chemical weapon transfers, in a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, international law, and in direct violation of Syria’s sovereignty. The Guardian in its report titled, “Israel carries out air strike on Syria,” claims:

“Israeli warplanes have attacked a target close to the Syrian-Lebanese border following several days of heightened warnings from government officials over Syria’s stockpiles of weapons.”

It also stated:

“Israel has publicly warned that it would take military action to prevent the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon or “global jihadists” fighting inside Syria. Israeli military intelligence is said to be monitoring the area round the clock via satellite for possible convoys carrying weapons.”

In reality, these “global jihaidists” are in fact armed and funded by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel since at least as early as 2007. They are also in fact the direct beneficiaries of Israel’s recent aggression. The Israeli “suspicions” of “weapon transfers” of course, remain unconfirmed, because the purpose of the attack was not to prevent the transfer of “chemical weapons” to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but to provoke a wider conflict aimed not at Israel’s defense, but at salvaging the West’s floundering proxy terrorist forces inside Syria attempting to subvert and overthrow the Syrian nation.

The silence from the United Nations is deafening. While Turkey openly harbors foreign terrorists, arming and funding them with Western,Saudi, and Qatari cash as they conduct raids on neighboring Syria, any Syrian attack on Turkish territory would immediately result in the United Nations mobilizing. Conversely, Turkey is allowed, for years, to conduct air strikes and even partial ground invasions of neighboring Iraq to attack Kurdish groups accused of undermining Turkish security. It is clear the same double standard has long applied to Israel.

Israel, along with the US & Saudi Arabia, are Al Qaeda’s chief sponsors.

It must be remembered that as far back as 2007, it was admitted by US, Saudi and Lebanese officials that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were intentionally arming, funding, and organizing these “global jihadists” with direct ties to Al Qaeda for the explicit purpose of overthrowing the governments of Syria and Iran.

Reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” it was stated (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Of Israel it specifically stated:
“The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.”

Additionally, Saudi Arabian officials mentioned the careful balancing act their nation must play in order to conceal its role in supporting US-Israeli ambitions across the region:

“The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.””

It may interest readers to know that while France invades and occupies large swaths of Mali in Africa, accusing the Qataris of funding and arming Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in the region, France, the US, and Israel are working in tandem with the Qataris to fund and arm these very same groups in Syria.

In fact, the US-based think-tank, the Brookings Institution literally has a “Doha Center” based in Qatar while US-Israeli citizen Haim Saban’s Brookings “Saban Center” conducts meetings and has many of its board of directors based likewise in Doha, Qatar. Doha also served as the venue for the creation of the West’s most recent “Syrian Coalition,” headed by an unabashed supporter of Al Qaeda, Moaz al-Khatib.

These are part of the brick and mortar manifestation of the conspiracy documented by Seymour Hersh in 2007.

The Wall Street Journal, also in 2007, reported on the US Bush Administration’s plans of creating a partnership with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, noting the group is the ideological inspiration for linked terror organizations including Al Qaeda itself. In the article titled, “”To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” it states:

“On a humid afternoon in late May, about 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the National Salvation Front, gathered outside Damascus’s embassy here to protest Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule. The participants shouted anti-Assad slogans and raised banners proclaiming: “Change the Regime Now.”

The NSF unites liberal democrats, Kurds, Marxists and former Syrian officials in an effort to transform President Assad’s despotic regime. But the Washington protest also connected a pair of more unlikely players — the U.S. government and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

 The article would also report:

“U.S. diplomats and politicians have also met with legislators from parties connected to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Egypt and Iraq in recent months to hear their views on democratic reforms in the Middle East, U.S. officials say. Last month, the State Department’s intelligence unit organized a conference of Middle East experts to examine the merits of engagement with the Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt and Syria.”

It describes the ideological and operational links between the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda:

“Today, the Brotherhood’s relationship to Islamist militancy, and al Qaeda in particular, is the source of much debate. Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders cite the works of the Brotherhood’s late intellectual, Sayyid Qutb, as an inspiration for their crusade against the West and Arab dictators. Members of Egyptian and Syrian Brotherhood arms have also gone on to take senior roles in Mr. bin Laden’s movement.”

Yet despite all of this, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, along with Israel and Turkey are openly conspiring with them, and have now for years been arming and funding these very sectarian extremist, terrorist groups across the Arab World, from Libya to Egypt, and now in and around Syria.

Israel’s fears of these terrorists acquiring “chemical weapons” is absurd. They have already acquired them with US, NATO, British, Saudi, Qatari and even Israeli help in Libya in 2011. In fact, these very Libyan terrorists are spearheading the foreign militant groups flooding into Syria through the Turkish-Syrian border.

What Israel’s strike may really mean.

Indeed, Israel’s explanation as to why it struck neighboring Syria is tenuous at best considering its long, documented relationship with actually funding and arming the very “global jihaidists” it fears weapons may fall into the hands of. Its fears of Hezbollah are likewise unfounded – Hezbollah, had it, the Syrians, or the Iranians been interested in placing chemical weapons in Lebanon, would have done so already, and most certainly would do so with means other than conspicuous convoys simply “crossing the border.” Hezbollah has already proven itself capable of defeating Israeli aggression with conventional arms, as demonstrated during the summer of 2006.

In reality, the pressure placed on Syria’s borders by both Israel and its partner, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey in the north, is part of a documented plan to relieve pressure on the Western, Israeli, Saudi-Qatari armed and funded militants operating inside Syria.

The above mentioned, Fortune 500-funded (page 19), US foreign-policy think-tank, Brookings Institution – which has blueprinted designs for regime change in Libya as well as both Syria and Iran – stated this specifically in their report titled, “Assessing Options for Regime Change.”

Image: The Brookings Institution, Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.


Brookings describes how Israeli efforts in the south of Syria, combined with Turkey’s aligning of vast amounts of weapons and troops along its border to the north, could help effect violent regime change in Syria:

“In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.” –page 6, Assessing Options for Regime Change, Brookings Institution.

Of course, airstrikes inside Syria go beyond “posturing,” and indicate perhaps a level of desperation in the West who appear to have elected their chief villain, Israel, to incrementally “intervene” just as they had planned in regards to attacking Iran – also documented by Brookings in a report titled, “Which Path to Persia?

In regards to Iran, in Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?” report, it states specifically (emphasis added):

“Israel appears to have done extensive planning and practice for such a strike already, and its aircraft are probably already based as close to Iran as possible. as such, Israel might be able to launch the strike in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what weather and intelligence conditions it felt it needed.  Moreover, since Israel would have much less of a need (or even interest)  in securing regional support for the operation, Jerusalem probably would feel less motivated to wait for an Iranian provocation before attacking. In short, Israel could move very fast to implement this option if both Israeli and American leaders wanted it to happen.

However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).” –page 91, Which Path to Perisa?, Brookings Institution.

And in this statement we can gather insight behind both Israel’s otherwise irrational belligerent posture throughout its brief history, as well as its most recent act of unprovoked aggression against Syria. Israel’s role is to play the “bad guy.” As a regional beachhead for Western corporate-financier interests, it provides a “foot in the door” to any of the West’s many desired conflicts. By bombing Syria, it hopes to provoke a wider conflict – an intervention the West has desired and planned for since it tipped off Syria’s violent conflict in 2011.

For Syria and its allies – the goal now must be to deter further Israeli aggression and avoid wider conflict at all costs. If NATO’s proxy terrorist forces are as weak as they appear – incapable of tactical or strategic gains, and tapering off into desperate terrorist attacks, it is only a matter of time before NATO’s campaign grinds to a halt. As mentioned before, such a failure on NATO’s part will be the beginning of the end for it, and the Western interests that have been using it as a tool to achieve geopolitical hegemony.

Israel should be expected to commit to increasingly desperate acts to provoke Syria and Iran – as its leadership represent directly corporate-financier interests abroad, not the Israeli people, or their best interests (including peace and even survival). For the people of Israel, they must realize that their leadership indeed does not represent them or their best interests and is able, willing, and even eager to spend their lives and fortunes in the service of foreign, corporate-financier interests and global hegemony.

This article was originally published at LandDestroyer

‘US Has Militarily Coerced Middle Eastern Political Outcomes Since the Cold War’

‘US Has Militarily Coerced Middle Eastern Political Outcomes Since the Cold War’.

The Ominous U.S. Presence in Northwest Africa

By Sheldon Richman

February 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” –  Ominously but unsurprisingly, the U.S. military’s Africa Command wants to increase its footprint in northwest Africa. What began as low-profile assistance to France’s campaign to wrest control of northern Mali (a former colony) from unwelcome jihadists could end up becoming something more.

The Washington Post reports that Africom “is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa [probably Niger] so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.” But before that word “surveillance” can bring a sigh of relief, the Post adds, “For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.”

Meanwhile Bloomberg, citing American military officials, says Niger and the U.S. government have “reached an agreement allowing American military personnel to be stationed in the West African country and enabling them to take on Islamist militants in neighboring Mali, according to U.S. officials.… No decision has been made to station the drones.”

The irony is that surveillance drones could become the reason the “threat worsens,” and could provide the pretext to use drones armed with Hellfire missiles — the same kind used over 400 times in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, killing hundreds of noncombatants. Moving from surveillance to lethal strikes would be a boost for jihadist recruiters.

Exactly whom do the jihadists threaten in northern Mali? They threaten anyone who wishes to live free of extreme Sharia law, such as the nomadic Tuaregs in the north and the 90 percent of Malians in the south. Before the jihadists were routed by welcome French and Mali troops, they inflicted horrific violence in northern towns like Timbuktu.

But are the jihadists a threat to Americans at home? It’s hard to see the case. Since we know that the original al-Qaeda grievances against the United States were about brutal U.S. intervention in the Muslim world, we already know how to minimize, if not eliminate, a domestic threat from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: withdrawal from the region. If American forces and drones come home, any real danger will subside. The jihadists will be too preoccupied with local and regional matters to bother with Americans minding their business thousands of miles away.

But should the U.S. government stop intervening there? From President Obama down, most people foolishly think the interests of the American people depend on what happens almost anywhere, and therefore virtually any crisis requires the application of U.S. power in some form. Outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. support role in Mali “is the kind of model that you’re going to see in the future.”

Africa is of particular interest to the policy elite because of its oil, gas, and other important resources. So American officials are eager to make sure those resources are controlled by friends. In the past that objective has led the U.S. government to support brutal rulers, which in turn has engendered hostility toward the United States. Demonstrations on behalf of democracy are often suppressed with weapons stamped “Made in the USA.” This does not go unnoticed by the repressed population.

The point is that intervention is ultimately self-defeating, because it creates the enemies the government says it seeks to defeat. The way to obtain resources is through peaceful market purchases.

On the other hand, “humanitarian intervention,” however alluring, must be rejected. Saving Malians from violent jihadists in itself is a worthwhile cause, but the U.S. government can’t do it without using force against innocent people, including American taxpayers.

And remember the law of unintended consequences. U.S.-led NATO intervention against Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi aided jihadists (as it does in Syria) and provided the arms cache that powered the trouble in northern Mali. That’s how things work. After helping France and the Malian central government defeat the jihadists, will Obama then help suppress the Tuaregs’ hopes for autonomy, which could be next on the central government’s agenda?

This is the treacherous web that empire weaves. The U.S. military is too blunt an instrument for such complex situations. American security lies in nonintervention.

Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF’s monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York.  He is a contributor to the The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. A former newspaper reporter and senior editor at the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies, Sheldon is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia. He blogs at Free Association. Send him e-mail.

The American Empire, RIP

January 31, 1968 marked the beginning of the end….

By Justin Raimondo

February 01, 2013 “Antiwar” —  When will historians of the future date the beginning of the decline and fall of the American empire?

The question may seem presumptuous. The idea that the American Century is a relic of the past, and we are entering a “new world order” of divided rather than hegemonic power, is relatively new, and still controversial. There are those who insist it ain’t necessarily so, primarilyneocons of the second mobilization such as Robert Kagan, who are quick to reassure all right-thinking patriotic Americans that we’re still Number One and warn against the fatal lure of committing “superpower suicide.”

To the rest of us, however – that is, to everyone outside the neocons’ cultic universe – the signs of the Great American Contraction are everywhere, most noticeably in the incomesproductivity, and general economic well-being of ordinary Americans. Our own CIA – never a friend to the neocons, but that’s another story – avers this condition is the single greatest threat to our national security: not Iran, notterrorism, but the very real threat of national bankruptcy. Our national debt is over 100 percent of GDP.

I would make the case, however, that the seeds of American decline were planted much earlier, during the cold war era. And if I had to pick a specific date that marked the beginning of the end, I would settle on January 31, 1968 – the day the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces began the Tet offensive, which was militarily a setback for them, but politically disastrous for the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Tet was costly for the Viet-Cong and North Vietnamese forces, but their decision to launch an all-sided assault on South Vietnam’s cities wasn’t entirely calculated for its military effect. As General Giap put it years later: “For us, you know, there is no such thing as a single strategy. Ours is always a synthesis, simultaneously military, political and diplomatic – which is why quite clearly, the Tet offensive had multiple objectives.”

Militarily, their success was uneven and hardly decisive: they did not take any major cities, and those villages they took they couldn’t hold on to. On the diplomatic and political front, however, they came out the clear victors: their goals were to drive a wedge between the South Vietnamese government and Washington, on the one hand, and between Washington and the American people on the other. Their bold attacks on Saigon itself, which underscored the weakness of our South Vietnamese sock puppets, achieved the former, while television footage of American soldiers rushing to stop an enemy that seemed to be everywhere achieved the latter. Public support for the warplummeted. Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of US forces in Vietnam, demanded more troops: his request was denied when the White House concluded the war was unwinnable. A few months later, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

But of course the war wasn’t unwinnable, as conservatives at the time protested: we could have sent the 200,000 troops Westmoreland requested, and initiated a Vietnamese “surge” which might have pushed the Viet Cong back. Indeed, we could have sent a million men into that carnage, and the reason we didn’t was because it was no longer politically possible. The country had turned against the war and not even a stream of scare-mongering red-baiting invective coming from the neoconservatives of the day could turn the tide.

Today, the neocons bitterly denounce what they call the “Vietnam Syndrome,” bemoaning its deleterious effect on their various schemes for world conquest, and – from their perspective – they are right to do so. Because if you worship at the altar of the war god, this Syndrome is a dangerous heresy: it means that the default of American foreign policy is caution rather than rollicking recklessnessprudence rather thanmindless belligerence, realism rather than utopianism armed.

Of course, this did not mean the US would no longer engage in wars of aggression: Reagan’s attack on Grenada, the invasion of Panama, thefirst Iraq war, the Kosovo adventure, all these and more showed that the Washington crowd had hardly surrendered their global ambitions. Yet you’ll note that none of these wars were all that successful, or popular – and all were over rather quickly, with no permanent expansion of the Empire’s frontiers. George Herbert Walker Bush, you’ll recall, earned the neocons’ eternal enmity when he gave the order for US troops to pull back instead of marching on Baghdad

The Vietnam Syndrome was temporarily sidelined in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but soon reasserted itself in growing opposition to the Iraq war. Our Afghan adventure has met the same fate, with the Obama administration trying to wind down this wildly unpopular war without giving the impression of a panicked retreat. Everybody remembers those helicopters hurriedly taking off from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon as the Viet-Cong marched in, and our rulers would rather not see a repetition of that edifying scene.

The Vietnam Syndrome is here to stay, and this is true for a number of reasons. The big problem for present day advocates of American imperialism is that we no longer have the resources to fight endless wars. Secondly, we don’t have the ideological motivation to engage in such a massive outlay of nonexistent resources: there is no competing ideology, like Communism or fascism, that serves as a credible enough threat. Efforts to replace the commie bogeyman with the specter of an Islamic “global caliphate” – never that convincing to begin with – foundered on the rocks of Al Qaeda’s apparent demise. (It’s alleged reappearance in such a marginal area as Mali only underscores the marginality of the “threat”).

Thirdly, I would advance the speculative thesis that modernity is characterized by a turning inward on the part of individuals and nations: that a focus on the self-development of the individual, and his personal relations, is increasingly the trend as living standards rise and technology advances. Of course, this trend is not inevitable: nothing is inevitable when we’re talking about the choices human beings make. Sometraumatic event could throw us back into pre-modernity, destroy the economic basis of our growing “isolationism,” and embroil us in a series of wars. Nor is there anything necessarily admirable about this inward-turning trend: at its worst, it is simply narcissism, an unhealthy and debilitating obsession that can only end in a kind of cultural madness. Think of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

In any case, the Tet offensive marked the beginning of the end of public support for our post-WWII foreign policy of global interventionism, and although there have been several attempts to roll back the Vietnam Syndrome since then, none have enjoyed anything but temporary success. Political support for grandiose foreign policy adventurism has simply evaporated, and no conjuring of ideological ghosts and demons – fear of “militant Islam,” the alleged shame and perils of “declinism,” nostalgia for the “American Century” – will raise it from the dead.

What this means, in the long term, is that America is slowly but surely retreating from the world stage – not out of any conviction, but out of necessity. The warlords of Washington may wish to conquer the world, but they are constrained from attempting to carry out their desires not only by economics but also by politics. The simple fact of the matter is that, after sixty or so years of global adventurism, America is economically and psychologically exhausted. We have neither the means nor the will to stay on the course set for us by the great internationalists of the 20th century. The 21st century is slated to be the age of a resurgent nationalism – which, in this country, has nearly always been inward-looking rather than outwardly aggressive.

In the short term, however, there is no telling what will happen, and before we reach the final stages of imperial senescence it may well be that we’re in for a whole series of bloody and debilitating wars.

It’s nice to know, however, that history is on our side. Now if only we can stop ourselves from blowing up the world before the curtain is drawn on the Age of Conquest.

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor atThe American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].

Notes in the margin

I’m on Twitter quite a bit these days: you can follow me here.

Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Forward by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

Buy my biography of the great libertarian thinker, An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books,2000), here.

When Truth Tried to Stop War

The year 2013 is the one-decade anniversary of the U.S. political/media system’s failure to stop a criminal President from launching a war of aggression on Iraq. It was a shameful time when only a few brave individuals, like the U.K.’s Katharine Gun, did the right thing, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reports.

By Ray McGovern

February 01, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Ten years ago, Katharine Gun, then a 28-year-old British intelligence officer, saw an e-mailed memo from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that confirmed for her in black and white the already widespread suspicion that the U.S. and U.K. were about to launch war against Iraq on false pretenses.

Doing what she could to head off what she considered, correctly, an illegal war of aggression, she printed a copy of the memo and arranged for a friend to give it to the London Observer. “I have always ever followed my conscience,” she said, explaining what drove her to take such a large risk.

Those early months of 2003 were among the worst of times – and not just because the U.S. and U.K. leaders were perverting the post-World War II structure that those same nations designed to stop aggressive wars, but because the vast majority of U.S. and U.K. institutions including the major news organizations and the nations’ legislatures were failing miserably to provide any meaningful check or balance.

The common excuse from politicians, bureaucrats, editors and other opinion leaders was that there was no way the momentum toward war could be stopped, so why take on the career damage that would result from getting in the way. And if Ms. Gun were made of lesser stuff, she might have hidden behind a similar self-serving excuse or found solace in other comforting rationalizations, like the government must know what it’s doing, or what do I, a Mandarin-to-English translator, know about Iraq.

But Katharine Gun could smell a rat, as well as the sulfur of war, and she would not put her career and comfort ahead of the slaughter and devastation that war inevitably brings to innocent people. In that, she distinguished herself, just as many others in positions of authority disgraced themselves.

Missing WMD

In fall 2002, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein shocked the world by agreeing to a very intrusive U.N. inspection regime with inspectors crawling all over suspect sites in Iraq, though not finding one “weapon of mass destruction.” Since Iraq’s inventory of WMD was the main casus belli, things were getting downright embarrassing. Even a few in the domesticated “mainstream” media in the U.S. and U.K. were feeling some discomfort in merely feeding off the official statements of President George W. Bush and co-conspirator Prime Minister Tony Blair.

At that key moment, the U.S. and U.K. leaders intensified their effort to get the U.N. Security Council to approve the kind of resolution that would enable them to attack Iraq with at least a thin veneer of legality. We know from the Downing Street memos, which were leaked two years later, that U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith had told Blair in July 2002 that, absent a new Security Council resolution, war on Iraq would be illegal.

So, in early 2003, the focus was riveted on the U.N. Security Council where Bush and Blair were having trouble rallying the three other recalcitrant permanent members – France, China and Russia – to support war on Iraq. Already facing that resistance, Bush and Blair were not about to brook interference by the non-permanent members. Thus, word went out to the U.S./U.K. intelligence services to ensure that none of those upstart nations did anything to complicate U.S./U.K. plans for war.

Accordingly, the NSA intensified electronic collection on those countries’ representatives (as well as on officials of the three obstinate permanent members). The Bush administration wanted to learn immediately of anything that could help win the Security Council’s approval of a resolution to make the attack “legal.”

On Jan. 31, 2003, NSA’s Frank Koza, head of “Regional Targets” (RT) sent a “HIGH-Importance,” Top Secret e-mail to Britain’s NSA counterpart, GCHQ, where Katharine Gun worked. The e-mail asked that British eavesdroppers emulate NSA’s “surge” in electronic collection against Security Council members “for insights … [on] plans to vote on any Iraq-related resolutions … the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. … [T]hat means a … surge effort to revive/create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.”

Koza’s “surge” instruction left no doubt in Gun’s mind that Bush and Blair were hell-bent to have their war – legal or illegal – and that she had been correct in dismissing recent assurances by GCHQ management that she and her co-workers would not be asked to cooperate in facilitating unprovoked war.

As Gun explained later to Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, authors of The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War, she calculated that if people could see how desperate Bush and Blair were to have an appearance of legitimacy for war, “Their eyes would be opened; they would see that the intention was not to disarm Saddam but in fact to go to war.”

She made a copy of the Koza memo, walked out with it in her purse, and eventually gave it to a friend with contacts in the media. TheLondon Observer got hold of it, was able to establish that it was authentic, and on March 2, 2003, two and a half weeks before the attack on Iraq front-paged the text of the memo with an accompanying article.

The report shook the government of Tony Blair and caused consternation on several continents. In the U.S., however, it was not a big story. For the New York Times, whose editors were either cheering on false articles about Iraq’s WMD or going into a self-protective career crouch, it was no story at all.

The U.S. intelligence agencies stonewalled any media inquiries and the journalists quickly moved on to the main event, embedding themselves inside the U.S. military as war correspondents. The story from Gun’s document – indicating a major spying initiative to coerce sovereign countries to support an unprovoked war – simply didn’t fit with the narrative of “good guy” America taking on “bad guy” Iraq.

Despite the spying, Bush and Blair failed to win approval from the Security Council to invade Iraq, forcing Bush and Blair to lead a “coalition of the willing” and counting on the cowardice and complicity of the U.S./U.K. mainstream news media to ignore the inconvenient truth about the illegality of the invasion.

Confession and Charge

Gun soon confessed to what she had done. She later explained to the Mitchells: “I’m pretty rubbish at telling lies … and I try to be an honest person. … I have to say that I’ve only ever followed my conscience. And it, my conscience, is such a nuisance.”

On Nov. 13, 2003, she was charged with violating the UK’s Official Secrets Act. She planned to plead “not guilty,” stressing that she acted to prevent imminent loss of life in an illegal war.

Gun’s pro bono lawyers insisted that the Blair government produce the opinions of U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith on the legality of the war but the government refused. It was already widely known, well before the leak of the Downing Street memos, that Goldsmith initially advised that an attack on Iraq would be illegal without a second U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing it, and that, only after intense consultation with several lawyers from the White House, Goldsmith showed the required flexibility and changed his mind.

Blair was not about to release such damning documents. Even the usually docile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally got around to acknowledging the obvious and agreeing that the attack on Iraq was illegal, albeit Annan found his voice only well after the butchery was underway.

So, when Gun’s case came to court on Feb. 25, 2004, her lawyers did not need to argue that trying to stop an illegal act (a war of aggression) trumped Gun’s obligations under the Official Secrets Act. The Blair government clearly did not want to let Lord Goldsmith’s dirty laundry hang out on the line. Within half an hour, the prosecution dropped the case and Katharine Gun walked.

The Sam Adams Award

For her courage and commitment to principle, Katharine Gun was the second recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The citation read at the presentation on April 14, 2004, noted that:

“Heeding the dictates of conscience and true patriotism, Ms. Gun put her career and her very liberty at risk trying to prevent the launching of an illegal war. That she is here with us today and not in a prison cell bespeaks a tacit but clear admission by her government that the US/UK attack on Iraq in March 2003 was in defiance of international law.

“Ms. Gun’s beacon of light pierced a thick cloud of deception. She set a courageous example for those intelligence analysts of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ who have first-hand knowledge of how intelligence was corrupted to ‘justify’ war, but who have not yet been able to find their voice.”

Commenting on Katharine Gun’s courage and integrity, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Dan Ellsberg had this to say:

“No one has had this story to tell before, because no one else – including myself – has ever done what Katharine Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important – and courageous – leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

Fast forward to Jan. 23, 2013, in the Debate Chamber of the Oxford Union where the tenth annual Sam Adams award presentation was held before a packed house of Oxford students. Ms. Gun, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter shed their coveted privacy long enough to allow Katharine to be one of two former Sam Adams Award winners to present this year’s award.

The other was Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent and counsel at the Minneapolis bureau, who blew the whistle on FBI and other shortcomings before 9/11 and was named one of the three Persons of the Year by Time Magazine in 2002. The Sam Adams award is named for the late CIA analyst Sam Adams who challenged false assessments of Vietcong and North Vietnamese troop strength during the height of that conflict.

The 10th annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence was given to Thomas Fingar, the consummate intelligence professional who led the U.S. National Intelligence Council from 2005 to 2008 (and is now a professor in Stanford’s overseas program at Oxford).

Fingar supervised the drafting of the eye-opening National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007 on Iran, which differed markedly from previous estimates in assessing that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003 and had not resumed such work – and key finding revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence in formal testimony to Congress.

With the help of that honest assessment, U.S. military leaders and other honest officials were able to beat back pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives for an attack on Iran during 2008 – the last year of the Bush administration. (See Bush’s own memoir,Decision Points, page 419.)

Heading Off Wars of Choice

The poignancy of the moment was not lost on the audience at the Oxford Union. After Katharine Gun read the citation (text below) for the award to Tom Fingar, she turned toward Fingar, and suggested that if honest professionals like him had been supervising U.S. and U.K. intelligence analysis in 2002-2003, the warping of intelligence to support plans for war would have been prevented. And Gun could have avoided the painful choice that her conscience required.

It was quite a spectacle: One “spy” who tried her best (but failed) to stop the Iraq war was giving the Sam Adams award to another, more senior intelligence official who, simply by adhering tightly to the professional ethos of following the evidence wherever it leads, played a huge role in stopping war on Iran.

Also “giving evidence” (in British parlance) on Jan. 23 at the Sam Adams Award evening at the Oxford Union were three other former awardees besides Gun and Rowley – former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, former NSA executive Thomas Drake and, video-linked from asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

Other Sam Adams associates also spoke briefly, including former U.K. MI5 officer Annnie Machon and two of the three U.S. diplomats who resigned on principle before the attack on Iraq – Ann Wright and Brady Kiesling. Oxford Union President Maria Rioumine joined me in introductory remarks; still other associates made the trek across the Atlantic, at considerable personal expense, just to be there to honor Thomas Fingar.

Iran: Always Iran

There is yet another poignant back story here. In 2006, as Thomas Fingar was settling into his position as chief analyst for the entire U.S. intelligence community, the threats from the West and Israel directed at Iran were proliferating in an alarming way, and the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program was just in the planning stage.

Amid the calls for military action against Iran, Katharine Gun came out of seclusion and wrote an op-ed titled “Iran: Time to Leak.” Her article appeared on March 20, 2006, the third anniversary of the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq.

Apparently unaware of the paradigm shift toward honesty in drafting U.S. intelligence estimates, Ms. Gun drew on her own experience and tried to motivate analysts to blow the whistle when necessary, as she had done three years before:

“Truth telling and whistle blowing [continue to be] crucial after a war as ill advised as Iraq — at least it allows us to piece together the facts — but it’s too late to save lives. Where are the memos and emails about Iran now?

“I urge those in a position to do so to disclose information which relates to this planned aggression; legal advice, meetings between the White House and other intelligence agencies, assessments of Iran’s threat level (or better yet, evidence that assessments have been altered), troop deployments and army notifications. Don’t let ‘the intelligence and the facts be fixed around the policy’ this time. …

“As the political momentum builds toward a military ‘solution,’ it would be wrong to wait until the bombs have fallen on Iran and families destroyed before finally informing the public.”

Only when the Fingar-supervised NIE, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, emerged in November 2007 could Katharine Gun (and the rest of us) understand that integrity had been restored to the estimative analysis process. It would be extremely difficult to attack Iran with that NIE on the books. No need to leak this time.

Not to say pressures to attack Iran have disappeared. Ironically, it was Julian Assange, the Sam Adams award winner in 2010, who alerted the Oxford Union audience (via videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy) of a DreamWorks movie, “Fifth Estate,” now in production. WikiLeaks somehow got hold of the script, which paints a much more ominous picture of Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities and takes the customary U.S. mass-media potshots at WikiLeaks and Assange.

Not to over-use “ironic,” the timely leak of that transcript to WikiLeaks will give those of us who remain committed to combating falsehood and pro-war propaganda advance time to expose the film for what it is and dissect its none-too-subtle objectives. No rest for the weary, as the expression goes.

Meanwhile, with the example set by Thomas Fingar, and the systems he has put in place to ensure intelligence assessments are not “fixed around the policy” – as the 2002 Downing Street Memo famously depicted the fabrication of the case for war with Iraq – there is reason to hope that yet another “war of choice” can be thwarted.

Following is the citation read by Katharine Gun to accompany the award to Thomas Fingar:

“Know all ye by these presents that Thomas Fingar is hereby awarded the Corner-Brightener Candlestick, presented by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

“In 2005, when Tom Fingar assumed responsibility for supervising the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), the discipline of intelligence analysis had been corrupted on both sides of the Atlantic.  We know from the Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002 that ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy’ prior to the US/UK attack on Iraq.

“Integrity and professionalism were the only cure. Dr. Fingar oversaw the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which concluded with ‘high confidence’ that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. That NIE was issued with the unanimous approval of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its key judgments have been revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence.

“The Estimate’s findings were a marked departure from earlier assessments of Iran’s nuclear program.  That it was instrumental in thwarting an attack on Iran is seen in President George W. Bush’s own memoir in which he complains that the ‘eye-popping’ findings of the 2007 NIE stayed his hand: ‘How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?’

“Presented this 23rd day of January 2013 at Oxford University by admirers of the example set by our former colleague, Sam Adams.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He is a former Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and served as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), as well as Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

This article was originally posted at Consortium News

Lies, Damned Lies, and Newspaper Reporting

Have You No Shame?

By Annie Machon

February 01, 2013 “Huffington Post” – -Where to start with this tangled skein of media spin, misrepresentation and outright hypocrisy?

Last week the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence presented this year’s award to Dr Tom Fingar at a ceremony jointly hosted by the prestigious Oxford Union Society.

Dr Fingar, currently a visiting lecturer at Oxford, had in 2007 co-ordinated the production of the US National Intelligence Estimate – the combined analysis of all 16 of America’s intelligence agencies – which assessed that the Iranian nuclear weaponisation programme had ceased in 2003. This considered and authoritative Estimate directly thwarted the 2008 US drive towards war against Iran, and has been reaffirmed every year since then.

By the very fact of doing his job of providing dispassionate and objective assessments and resisting any pressure to politicise the intelligence (à la Downing Street Memo), Dr Fingar’s work is outstanding and he is the winner of Sam Adams Award, 2012. This may say something about the parlous state of our intelligence agencies generally, but don’t get me started on that…

Anyway, as I said, the award ceremony was co-hosted by the Oxford Union Society last week, and many Sam Adams Associates attended, often travelling long distances to do so. Former winners were asked to speak at the ceremony, such as FBI Coleen Rowley, GCHQ Katherine Gun, NSA Thomas Drake, and former UK Ambassador Craig Murray. Other associates, including CIA Ray McGovern, diplomats Ann Wright and Brady Kiesling and myself also said a few words. As former insiders and whistleblowers, we recognised the vitally important work that Dr Fingar had done and all spoke about the importance of integrity in intelligence.

One other previous winner of the Sam Adams Award was also invited to speak – Julian Assange of Wikileaks. He spoke eloquently about the need for integrity and was gracious in praising the work of Dr Fingar.

All the national and international media were invited to attend what was an historic gathering of international whistleblowers and cover an award given to someone who, by doing their job with integrity, prevented yet further ruinous war and bloodshed in the Middle East.

Few attended, still fewer reported on the event, and the promised live streaming on YouTube was blocked by shadowy powers at the very last minute – an irony considering the Oxford Union is renowned as a free speech society.

But worse was to come. The next day the Guardian newspaper, which historically fell out with Wikileaks, published a myopic hit-pieceabout the event. No mention of all the whistleblowers who attended and what they said, no mention of the award to Dr Fingar, no mention of the fact that his work saved the Iranian people from needless war.

Oh no, the entire piece focused on the tawdry allegations emanating from Sweden about Julian Assange’s extradition case. Discounting the 450 students who applauded all the speeches, discounting all the serious points raised by Julian Assange during his presentation, and discounting the speeches of all the other internationally renowned whistleblowers who spoke that evening, the Guardian’s reporter, Amelia Hill, focused on the small demo outside the event and the only three attendees she could apparently find to criticise the fact that a platform, any platform, had been given to Assange from his political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

So this is where we arrive at the deep, really deep, hypocrisy of the evening. Amelia Hill is, I’m assuming, the same Guardian journalist who was threatened in 2011 with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. She had allegedly been receiving leaks from the Metropolitan Police about the on-going investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

At the time Fleet Street was up in arms – how dare the police threaten one of their own with prosecution under the OSA for exposing institutional corruption? Shades of the Shayler case were used in her defence. As I wrote at the time, it’s a shame the UK media could not have been more consistently robust in condemning the chilling effects of the OSA on the free-flow of information and protect all the Poor Bloody Whistleblowers, and not just come out fighting when it is one of their own being threatened. But such is the way of the world….

But really, Ms Hill – if you are indeed the same reporter who was threatened with prosecution in 2011 under the OSA – examine your conscience.

How can you write a hit-piece focusing purely on Assange – a man who has designed a publishing system to protect potential whistleblowers from precisely such draconian secrecy laws as you were hyperbolically threatened with? And how could you, at the same time, airbrush out of history the testimony of so many whistleblowers gathered together, many of whom have indeed been arrested and have faced prosecution under the terms of the OSA or US secrecy legislation?

Have you no shame? You know how frightening it is to be faced with such a prosecution.

Your hypocrisy is breath-taking.

The offence was compounded when the Sam Adams Associates all wrote a letter to the Guardian to set the record straight. The original letter is reproduced below, and this is what was published. Of course, the Guardian has a perfect right under its Terms and Conditions to edit the letter, but I would like everyone to see how this can be used and abused.

And the old media wonders why it is in decline?

Letter to the Guardian, 29 January 2013:

Dear Sir

With regard to the 24 January article in the Guardian entitled “Julian Assange Finds No Allies and Tough Queries in Oxford University Talk,” we question whether the newspaper’s reporter was actually present at the event, since the account contains so many false and misleading statements.

If the Guardian could “find no allies” of Mr. Assange, it did not look very hard! They could be found among the appreciative audience of the packed Oxford Union Debate Hall, and – in case you missed us – in the group seated right at the front of the Hall: the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

Many in our group – which, you might be interested to know co-sponsored the event with Oxford Union – had traveled considerable distances at our own expense to confer the 10th annual Sam Adams award to Dr. Thomas Fingar for his work on overseeing the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that revealed the lack of an Iranian nuclear weaponization program.

Many of us spoke in turn about the need for integrity in intelligence, describing the terrible ethical dilemma that confronts government employees who witness illegal activity including serious threats to public safety and fraud, waste and abuse.

But none of this made it into what was supposed to pass for a news article; neither did any aspect of the acceptance speech delivered by Dr. Fingar. Also, why did the Guardian fail to provide even one salient quote from Mr Assange’s substantial twenty-minute address?

By censoring the contributions of the Sam Adams Associates and the speeches by Dr. Fingar and Mr. Assange, and by focusing exclusively on tawdry and unproven allegations against Mr. Assange, rather than on the importance of exposing war crimes and maintaining integrity in intelligence processes, the Guardian has succeeded in diminishing none but itself.


The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence:

Ann Wright (retired Army Colonel and Foreign Service Officer of US State Department), Ray McGovern (retired CIA analyst), Elizabeth Murray (retired CIA analyst), Coleen Rowley (retired FBI agent), Annie Machon (former MI5 intelligence officer), Thomas Drake (former NSA official), Craig Murray (former British Ambassador), David MacMichael (retired CIA analyst), Brady Kiesling (former Foreign Service Officer of US State Department), and Todd Pierce (retired U.S. Army Major, Judge Advocate, Guantanamo Defense Counsel).

Julian Assange | Sam Adams Awards | Oxford Union


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Israel Attacks Syria Arms Convoy’

Media reports say Israel hit a convoy transporting weapons inside Syria near the Lebanese border.
By Al Jazeera
January 30, 2013 “Al Jazeera” — Israel has conducted an airstrike inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks, US and regional officials say.
“The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon,” said one Western diplomat on Wednesday. 
A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said an air strike around dawn (0430 GMT) on Wednesday blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 kilometres south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border.
The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.
A US official confirmed the overnight strike hitting a convoy of trucks.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the strike.
No comments
The Israeli military declined to comment, and Syrian officials and state media were silent on the issue.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said that there has yet to be any word from the Syrian government, despite the press reports circulating.
“It also shows the Israelis are very concerned that Syria’s weapons could fall into the hands of either Hezbollah, or groups like Al Qaeda,” she said.
US officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be solidly under regime control.
Among Israeli security officials’ chief fears is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.
If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air violations in Lebanon.
Earlier this week, Israel moved a battery of its new “Iron Dome” rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
The Israeli army called that move “routine.”
Airspace violation
The military in Lebanon, which shares borders with both Israel and Syria, said on Wednesday that Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity over Lebanon in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the country’s south.
A senior Lebanese security official said there were no Israeli airstrikes inside Lebanese territory. Asked whether it could have been along the border on the Syrian side, he said that that could not be confirmed as it was out of his area of operations. 
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
A Lebanese army statement said the last of the airspace violations took place at 2 am local time on Wednesday. It said four warplanes which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura hovered for several hours over villages in southern Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.
It said similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted on Tuesday.
A Lebanese security official said the flights were part of “increased activity” in the past week but did not elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
The area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria. 
Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace occur on a daily basis and Lebanese authorities routinely lodge complaints at the UN against the flights.
Syria confirms Israeli airstrike
The Syrian army said an Israeli airstrike targeted a military research center near Damascus.
By Al Jazeera” —
January 30, 2013 — The Syrian army said that an Israeli air strike at dawn targeted a military research centre in Jamraya, near Damascus.
“Israeli fighter jets violated our air space at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research centre in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defence,” the army’s general command said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.
Earlier on Wednesday, reports emerged that Israel had conducted an airstrike inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks, US and regional officials said.
“The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon,” said one Western diplomat on Wednesday. 
A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said an air strike around dawn (0430 GMT) on Wednesday blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 kilometres south of where the main Damascus-Beirut highway crosses the border.
The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.
A US official confirmed the overnight strike hitting a convoy of trucks.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the strike.
No comments
The Israeli military declined to comment, and Syrian officials and state media were silent on the issue.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said that there has yet to be any word from the Syrian government, despite the press reports circulating.
“It also shows the Israelis are very concerned that Syria’s weapons could fall into the hands of either Hezbollah, or groups like Al Qaeda,” she said.
US officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be solidly under regime control.
Among Israeli security officials’ chief fears is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.
If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air violations in Lebanon.
Earlier this week, Israel moved a battery of its new “Iron Dome” rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
The Israeli army called that move “routine.”
Airspace violation
The military in Lebanon, which shares borders with both Israel and Syria, said on Wednesday that Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity over Lebanon in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the country’s south.
A senior Lebanese security official said there were no Israeli airstrikes inside Lebanese territory. Asked whether it could have been along the border on the Syrian side, he said that that could not be confirmed as it was out of his area of operations. 
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
A Lebanese army statement said the last of the airspace violations took place at 2 am local time on Wednesday. It said four warplanes which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura hovered for several hours over villages in southern Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.
It said similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted on Tuesday.
A Lebanese security official said the flights were part of “increased activity” in the past week but did not elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.
The area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria. 
Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace occur on a daily basis and Lebanese authorities routinely lodge complaints at the UN against the flights.
See also –
Israeli aircraft fires missile along Lebanon-Syria border: The Western official and a U.S. official said there is no indication the truck targeted by the Israeli strike was carrying chemical weapons — which have been under intense scrutiny by both the United States and Israel as the brutal, bloody civil conflict in Syria has intensified.

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Who Owns The Federal Reserve?

Global Research

“Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.” 

– The Honorable Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1930s 
The Federal Reserve (or Fed) has assumed sweeping new powers in the last year. In an unprecedented move in March 2008, the New York Fed advanced the funds for JPMorgan Chase Bank to buy investment bank Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. The deal was particularly controversial because Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, sits on the board of the New York Fed and participated in the secret weekend negotiations.1 In September 2008, the Federal Reserve did something even more unprecedented, when it bought the world’s largest insurance company. The Fed announced on September 16 that it was giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG) for a nearly 80% stake in the mega-insurer. The Associated Press called it a “government takeover,” but this was no ordinary nationalization. Unlike the U.S. Treasury, which took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the week before, the Fed is not a government-owned agency. Also unprecedented was the way the deal was funded. The Associated Press reported: 
“The Treasury Department, for the first time in its history, said it would begin selling bonds for the Federal Reserve in an effort to help the central bank deal with its unprecedented borrowing needs.”2 
This is extraordinary. Why is the Treasury issuing U.S. government bonds (or debt) to fund the Fed, which is itself supposedly “the lender of last resort” created to fund the banks and the federal government? Yahoo Finance reported on September 17: 
“The Treasury is setting up a temporary financing program at the Fed’s request. The program will auction Treasury bills to raise cash for the Fed’s use. The initiative aims to help the Fed manage its balance sheet following its efforts to enhance its liquidity facilities over the previous few quarters.” 
Normally, the Fed swaps green pieces of paper called Federal Reserve Notes for pink pieces of paper called U.S. bonds (the federal government’s I.O.U.s), in order to provide Congress with the dollars it cannot raise through taxes. Now, it seems, the government is issuing bonds, not for its own use, but for the use of the Fed! Perhaps the plan is to swap them with the banks’ dodgy derivatives collateral directly, without actually putting them up for sale to outside buyers. According to Wikipedia (which translates Fedspeak into somewhat clearer terms than the Fed’s own website): 
“The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility that will offer Treasury general collateral to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral. It is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally. . . . The resource allows dealers to switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable.” 
“To switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable” means that the government gets the banks’ toxic derivative debt, and the banks get the government’s triple-A securities. Unlike the risky derivative debt, federal securities are considered “risk-free” for purposes of determining capital requirements, allowing the banks to improve their capital position so they can make new loans. (See E. Brown, “Bailout Bedlam,”, October 2, 2008.) 
In its latest power play, on October 3, 2008, the Fed acquired the ability to pay interest to its member banks on the reserves the banks maintain at the Fed. Reuters reported on October 3: 
“The U.S. Federal Reserve gained a key tactical tool from the $700 billion financial rescue package signed into law on Friday that will help it channel funds into parched credit markets. Tucked into the 451-page bill is a provision that lets the Fed pay interest on the reserves banks are required to hold at the central bank.”3 
If the Fed’s money comes ultimately from the taxpayers, that means we the taxpayers are paying interest to the banks on the banks’ own reserves – reserves maintained for their own private profit. These increasingly controversial encroachments on the public purse warrant a closer look at the central banking scheme itself. Who owns the Federal Reserve, who actually controls it, where does it get its money, and whose interests is it serving? 
Not Private and Not for Profit? 
The Fed’s website insists that it is not a private corporation, is not operated for profit, and is not funded by Congress. But is that true? The Federal Reserve was set up in 1913 as a “lender of last resort” to backstop bank runs, following a particularly bad bank panic in 1907. The Fed’s mandate was then and continues to be to keep the private banking system intact; and that means keeping intact the system’s most valuable asset, a monopoly on creating the national money supply. Except for coins, every dollar in circulation is now created privately as a debt to the Federal Reserve or the banking system it heads.4 The Fed’s website attempts to gloss over its role as chief defender and protector of this private banking club, but let’s take a closer look. The website states: 
* “The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations – possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.” 
* “[The Federal Reserve] is considered an independent central bank because its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.” 
* “The Federal Reserve’s income is derived primarily from the interest on U.S. government securities that it has acquired through open market operations. . . . After paying its expenses, the Federal Reserve turns the rest of its earnings over to the U.S. Treasury.”5 
So let’s review: 
1. The Fed is privately owned. 
Its shareholders are private banks. In fact, 100% of its shareholders are private banks. None of its stock is owned by the government. 
2. The fact that the Fed does not get “appropriations” from Congress basically means that it gets its money from Congress without congressional approval, by engaging in “open market operations.” 
Here is how it works: When the government is short of funds, the Treasury issues bonds and delivers them to bond dealers, which auction them off. When the Fed wants to “expand the money supply” (create money), it steps in and buys bonds from these dealers with newly-issued dollars acquired by the Fed for the cost of writing them into an account on a computer screen. These maneuvers are called “open market operations” because the Fed buys the bonds on the “open market” from the bond dealers. The bonds then become the “reserves” that the banking establishment uses to back its loans. In another bit of sleight of hand known as “fractional reserve” lending, the same reserves are lent many times over, further expanding the money supply, generating interest for the banks with each loan. It was this money-creating process that prompted Wright Patman, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1960s, to call the Federal Reserve “a total money-making machine.” He wrote: 
“When the Federal Reserve writes a check for a government bond it does exactly what any bank does, it creates money, it created money purely and simply by writing a check.” 
3. The Fed generates profits for its shareholders. 
The interest on bonds acquired with its newly-issued Federal Reserve Notes pays the Fed’s operating expenses plus a guaranteed 6% return to its banker shareholders. A mere 6% a year may not be considered a profit in the world of Wall Street high finance, but most businesses that manage to cover all their expenses and give their shareholders a guaranteed 6% return are considered “for profit” corporations. 
In addition to this guaranteed 6%, the banks will now be getting interest from the taxpayers on their “reserves.” The basic reserve requirement set by the Federal Reserve is 10%. The website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York explains that as money is redeposited and relent throughout the banking system, this 10% held in “reserve” can be fanned into ten times that sum in loans; that is, $10,000 in reserves becomes $100,000 in loans. Federal Reserve Statistical Release H.8 puts the total “loans and leases in bank credit” as of September 24, 2008 at $7,049 billion. Ten percent of that is $700 billion. That means we the taxpayers will be paying interest to the banks on at least $700 billion annually – this so that the banks can retain the reserves to accumulate interest on ten times that sum in loans. 
The banks earn these returns from the taxpayers for the privilege of having the banks’ interests protected by an all-powerful independent private central bank, even when those interests may be opposed to the taxpayers’ — for example, when the banks use their special status as private money creators to fund speculative derivative schemes that threaten to collapse the U.S. economy. Among other special benefits, banks and other financial institutions (but not other corporations) can borrow at the low Fed funds rate of about 2%. They can then turn around and put this money into 30-year Treasury bonds at 4.5%, earning an immediate 2.5% from the taxpayers, just by virtue of their position as favored banks. A long list of banks (but not other corporations) is also now protected from the short selling that can crash the price of other stocks. 
Time to Change the Statute? 
According to the Fed’s website, the control Congress has over the Federal Reserve is limited to this: 
“[T]he Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by Congress, which periodically reviews its activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute.” 
As we know from watching the business news, “oversight” basically means that Congress gets to see the results when it’s over. The Fed periodically reports to Congress, but the Fed doesn’t ask; it tells. The only real leverage Congress has over the Fed is that it “can alter its responsibilities by statute.” It is time for Congress to exercise that leverage and make the Federal Reserve a truly federal agency, acting by and for the people through their elected representatives. If the Fed can demand AIG’s stock in return for an $85 billion loan to the mega-insurer, we can demand the Fed’s stock in return for the trillion-or-so dollars we’ll be advancing to bail out the private banking system from its follies. 
If the Fed were actually a federal agency, the government could issue U.S. legal tender directly, avoiding an unnecessary interest-bearing debt to private middlemen who create the money out of thin air themselves. Among other benefits to the taxpayers. a truly “federal” Federal Reserve could lend the full faith and credit of the United States to state and local governments interest-free, cutting the cost of infrastructure in half, restoring the thriving local economies of earlier decades. 
Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, and Forbidden Medicine. Her websites are and .

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Sacramento moves to close 11 public elementary schools

By Julien Kiemle 
30 January 2013
The Sacramento City Unified School District’s decision to close 11 elementary schools, primarily in the neighborhoods and suburbs around South Sacramento and in the downtown area, is a direct attack on working people’s right to a decent education. In a district with approximately 50 public elementary schools, the closures represent about one fifth of the total. This will force nearly 3,700 students to change schools.
The school board plans to hold a formal vote to confirm the decision on February 21.
The closing of 11 elementary schools in Sacramento is not an isolated occurrence, but is part of broader trend taking place across the US and internationally. Democratic Party lawmakers, primarily California Governor Jerry Brown and US President Barack Obama in the US, have been at the center of driving this forward.
The official reason given for the school closings is their alleged “underutilization,” although there are larger budgetary problems at the heart of the decision. Sacramento unified school district has been anticipating a $10-12 million budget shortfall, although the proponents of the November 2012 California state Proposition 30 claimed that this shortfall would be reduced by the passage of the education tax measure. In fact, the closing of so many schools in the immediate aftermath of the election points to the sham nature of Proposition 30. The measure enacted a regressive sales tax increase that will take money predominantly from working people, ostensibly to fund public education. And yet, in the wake of the election, Brown and company are ramping up the assault on public education. Since coming to office, Brown has cut $18 billion from K-12 education.
Brown’s actions place him at the head of a national trend. Following in the footsteps George W. Bush, Obama’s “Race to the Top” program penalizes schools for failing to achieve benchmarks on standardized tests. The primary beneficiaries of these actions are charter schools, whose numbers have ballooned faster in California than in any other state. The dramatic growth of charter schools has played a role in cherry-picking students away from public schools, thus lowering their test scores.
The 11 schools targeted by the district for closure are utilized, on average, at around 40 percent of their capacity. There is a glaring contradiction between these “underutilized” school campuses and their overfilled classrooms. Sacramento Unified School District expanded the maximum class size in grades K-3 to 32 children per instructor—abandoning the earlier limit of 20 pupils per teacher—on January 20, 2013. From a low of 16 students per teacher in 2000, California’s average is now 25-to-1 for K-3 and 31-to-1 for higher grades.
The school district’s decision is at its base a statement that these schools are simply not crowded enough. The goal of the Sacramento school closures, as with school closures across the country, is to drive pupils into for-profit charter schools.
Sacramento has been at the forefront of the privatization of education for the past decade.
Sacramento’s Democratic mayor Kevin Johnson rose from retired point guard for the Phoenix Suns to political prominence when, in 2003, with funding from the Gates Foundation, he led the drive to convert the historic Sacramento High into a charter school.
He was elected mayor in 2008. In 2009 Johnson delivered a white paper at an Education Summit in Sacramento, which called for “aggressive reforms” to education, specifically the promotion of charter schools. He called for the city to provide charter schools with “facilities at no cost and access to district resources.” The summit featured speakers from several major charter school corporations, as well as Joel Klein, then chancellor of the New York City Department of Education; Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of the Washington, DC Department of Education; and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Michelle Rhee is now head of StudentsFirst, the political lobbying organization at the forefront of the drive against public schools, seeking their wholesale disassembly and conversion into for profit charter schools. She is also Mayor Johnson’s wife.
The 11 Sacramento schools scheduled for closure represent important centerpieces in neighborhoods with a combined population well over 100,000. These schools, and the children who attend them, are the victims of poverty and officially sanctioned neglect.
The location of those schools to be closed reveals the class issues underlying the fight for public education.
The downtown area, South Sacramento and the surrounding area has a markedly lower income and a higher population density than the city as a whole. These sections include large Hispanic and minority populations. In Meadowview, 38 percent of the adult population has not completed high school, and educational attainment in these neighborhoods is already well below the average by all measures. These neighborhoods also suffer from poverty rates as high as 30 percent and levels of unemployment above the Sacramento average.
Median household income in the neighborhoods around Washington Elementary is around $20,000 dollars a year, although the numbers drop to as low as $12,000 a year in some areas.
Meadowview suffered a school closure last year. Now two more of its seven remaining elementary schools are scheduled to be closed. Since 2000, 11 schools in the Sacramento Unified District have been closed. The currently slated closures will double that number.
The decision to simultaneously close nearly a dozen schools clearly demonstrates that the Sacramento school district has, for the foreseeable future, no intention of continuing to provide the level of education that it did in the past. This decimation of public education is meant to be permanent. According to the school board’s president, “regardless of whether our fiscal picture get rosier, the lack of capacity in our schools still creates a drag on our district.”
Sacramento’s working class residents are in the crosshairs of the ongoing assault of the ruling on public education. They share a common lot with working class communities across the country whose fundamental social right to education is being stripped from them as public schools are being dismantled to make way for profit-driven private education corporations.
To secure the right to a guaranteed, free, high-quality education for everyone, the working class must break completely from the Democratic Party. The SEP calls on all those who want to take up a fight to defend education and fight school closures—through the formation of independent action committees comprised of parents, students, teachers and area residents—to contact us today. Write to or call (313) 409-8083.

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Germany acquiring drones for military use

By Johann Müller 
30 January 2013
The German government is re-arming. It wants to procure armed drones for missions abroad and use re-engineered military reconnaissance drones domestically.
In response to parliamentary questions from the Left Party, the government has admitted it is procuring armed drones for the Bundeswehr (armed forces), as had been reported by Spiegel Online. Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière (Christian Democratic Union-CDU) already agreed to the use of armed drones in foreign military missions in August of 2012. The chief of the Air Force, Karl Müllner, is also demanding that Germany purchase armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
It remains unclear exactly which type of armed drones the Bundeswehr will introduce. Under discussion is the purchase of American Predator drones, used by Washington for targeted killings.
Another option is the re-engineering of Heron drones, produced by the Israeli arms manufacturer IAI and used by the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan for intelligence-gathering. These would be converted by Cassidian, a subsidiary of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company). What is clear is that Berlin is intent on deploying armed drones as swiftly as possible.
The significance of this announcement is highlighted by the heinous crimes committed by the US military and the CIA be means of armed drones. In the name of the “war on terror”, drones are currently used to attack targets in Afghanistan, the Pakistani border region, Somalia and Yemen. Alleged “terrorists” are killed illegally, with President Barack Obama personally selecting the designated victims. Thousands of civilians have already been killed in these attacks.
The deployment of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan and other international theatres of war, the deployment of Patriot missile systems to the Turkish-Syrian border, and the support for France’s Mali invasion show that the German government is pursuing its imperial interests increasingly at gunpoint. Strengthening the effectiveness of the Bundeswehr by deploying armed drones is a further step in the direction of aggressive combat missions.
In its response to the Left Party, the German government stated that in contrast to unarmed robotic aircraft, armed drones could be used against designated targets “rapidly, accurately and to scale.” It added that armed drones create a situation in which “enemy forces are exposed to a permanent, and for them unpredictable, threat, and their room for manoeuvre is reduced.”
The use of surveillance drones domestically holds great dangers for democratic rights. Such UAVs can provide a great deal of information that can be gathered in conventional ways only with much greater effort.
For example, the Bundeswehr wants to spend €1.2 billion to purchase five Euro Hawk drones. This drone, co-developed by the EADS subsidiary Cassidian, is gigantic. It successfully completed its first test flight in early January.
The Euro Hawks will fly for thirty hours at very high altitudes over Germany. They are equipped with sensors that can receive and evaluate various radio signals.
Previously, such missions were carried out using reconnaissance aircraft. In future, both pilots and the specialist personnel involved in the evaluation of the signals can remain on the ground. Moreover, it will be possible to monitor a far more extensive range of signals than before.
As is already the case in the US, drones will now be allowed in civilian airspace in Europe. A paper published by the European Commission entitled “Towards a European Strategy for the Development of Civil Applications of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems,” which was the basis of the inquiry made by the Left Party, discusses the opening up of Europe’s airspace to unmanned aerial systems.
The German government has already begun to prepare the ground. In May 2012, a new version of the Federal Aviation Act was passed that recognized drones weighing more than 25 kg as aircraft.
As reported by Die Welt, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (Christian Social Union-CSU) is considering the use of medium-sized UAV systems by the federal police. The plan is to deploy the Heron drones in this context. Die Welt speaks of the drones being used for “air-sea rescue, but also (…) for fighting crime, for example, by environmental polluters, as well as (…) controlling refugee flows.”
“Control of refugee flows” is a euphemism for the more effective sealing of the EU’s external borders, a process that has already led to thousands of refugees attempting to reach Europe drowning or dying in some other way.
The Interior Ministry has not yet confirmed the plans regarding the use of drones, but broad-based and in some cases already completed tests and simulations show that the plans are well advanced.
These tests are part of an EU project managed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). Among other things, the suitability of drones for coastal surveillance is being investigated by the police, as the DLR confirmed to Die Welt .
Before Christmas, as part of such a simulation in Brunswick, the interaction of Heron drones and other flying objects, such as rescue craft, was evaluated—with great success, as the head of the Interior Ministry unit responsible for federal police engineering and logistics, Achim Friedl, said. Test flights are planned this summer over Spain’s southern coast.
The introduction of medium-sized UAV systems by the German police will be a first in Europe. Not only can they be used to seal off the EU’s external borders, but also, in face of mounting social tensions, they can be used in monitoring demonstrations and suppressing social rebellions.
Such surveillance measures have previously been employed. For example, in 2007, military surveillance aircraft were used at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, providing high-resolution photos of the protesters’ camp.
In 2011, during an anti-Nazi demonstration in Dresden, all mobile phone traffic and positional data from phones were captured and analyzed in one district.
In some parts of Germany, including Hesse and Lower Saxony, smaller drones are already being used by the police. In Lower Saxony, the police have used such drones to monitor protests against nuclear waste transport.

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Obama announces his immigration “reform” plan

By Kate Randall 
30 January 2013
In an appearance Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Barack Obama made his case for the adoption of “common sense, comprehensive immigration reform.” The proposals he presented followed the general framework of an immigration “reform” plan unveiled Monday by a bipartisan group of eight US senators. (See “US senators unveil draconian immigration ‘reform’”)
The president said that the time had come to end a situation where “11 million illegal immigrants live their lives in the shadows.” This would be achieved, he said, through beefing up border security, cracking down on undocumented workers and streamlining the pathway to legal immigration and citizenship.
In remarks that were large on demagogy and short on specifics, Obama outlined a proposal involving further militarization of the US-Mexico border and implementation of enhanced verification of immigrants’ status. Similar to the senators’ plan, it would leave the vast majority of undocumented immigrants waiting a decade or more to achieve permanent resident status, if they could do so at all.
The president drafted a proposal to overhaul the immigration system in 2009, but withdrew it in the face of Republican opposition in the US House. In his speech Tuesday, he endorsed the principles put forward in Monday’s bipartisan proposal, which he said “are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.”
He said, however, that if lawmakers failed to advance their own proposal he would send legislation to Congress based on his own principles “and insist that they vote on it right away.”
The president was criticized earlier Tuesday for his apparent failure to endorse one of the more reactionary components of the Senate “framework,” which would make any immigration legalization reforms contingent on “securing” the US-Mexican border, through increasing drone surveillance of the border and other measures. The decision on whether the border was “secure” would apparently be in the hands of a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general and “community leaders” in the states bordering Mexico.
Speaking on Fox News, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, argued that allowing illegal immigrants to obtain green cards—let alone citizenship, before “the enforcement stuff is in place … would be a terrible mistake.” He indicated that he would not support an immigration bill that did not tie legalization measures to approval of border enforcement by such a panel.
While skirting this issue, Obama made clear that his vision of immigration “reform” was based on the same draconian principles as those advanced by the bipartisan Senate group. He touted his administration’s record number of deportations—nearly 410,000 last year alone and 1.2 million in his first term—and doubling the number of “boots on the ground” at the US-Mexico border compared to 2004.
A White House Fact Sheet distributed to coincide with the president’s remarks outlined some of his proposals to build up border security, including the establishment of “border community liaisons” by the Department of Homeland Security along the southern and northern borders of the continental US. The plan would also expand “smart enforcement efforts” to target immigrants in prisons for deportation.
Proposals allegedly aimed at “cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers” would in fact expand surveillance of immigrants and the population at large, through the use of federal government databases to verify workers’ eligibility to work in the US. Mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years, with certain exceptions for small businesses.
In a move toward establishing a form of national identity card, the plan would also mandate development of a “fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant Social Security card” as well as creating “a voluntary pilot program to evaluate new methods to authenticate identity and combat identity theft.”
In order to attain “provisional legal status,” undocumented immigrants would have to register with the government, submit biometric data and pass a criminal background and national security check. They would also be required to pay back penalties and fees that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
Clearly, such requirements would serve to discourage immigrants from coming forward, either due to inability to pay the fines and fees, fear of deportation, or both. Those granted provisional status would not be eligible for welfare and other federal benefits, or for subsidies included in the new health care legislation.
Having reached provisional status, immigrants would then have to “get at the back of the line” to seek permanent resident status. Those applying for a green card would have to pay back taxes, pass additional criminal and security checks, register for the draft (if applicable), and learn English, among other requirements. If these hurdles are passed and the green card is granted, an individual could apply for US citizenship after five years.
The Obama proposal would temporarily increase annual visa numbers in the family-sponsored immigration system. It would also treat same-sex families as families, giving US citizens and lawful permanent residents the opportunity to apply for a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.
The plan includes several proposals for fast-track residency that will have little impact on the vast majority of the millions of undocumented immigrants looking for legal residency, work and a future for their families. Foreign students achieving graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) would have a green card “stapled” to their diplomas if they find a job in the US.
Obama’s immigration reform would also create a “startup visa,” through which foreign entrepreneurs with funding from US venture capitalists and other investors could remain permanently in the US. “After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo!” Obama noted. “They created entire new industries that, in turn, created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens. In recent years, one in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants.”

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US secures drone base in Northwest Africa

By Bill Van Auken 
30 January 2013
Washington has secured an agreement with the government of Niger to establish a US military base in the Northwest African country, which borders Mali. The agreement comes in the midst of the French intervention in Mali, employing ground troops and warplanes.
The deal, first reported Monday by the New York Times, citing unnamed US officials, would clear the way for the Pentagon to set up a base for drone flights over the entire region.
While US officials and the media have placed the base agreement in the context of the French war in Mali, it is evident that Washington had been negotiating with the Niger government well before the advance of Islamist militias toward southern Mali triggered the French intervention on January 11. It appears more the case that the recent Mali events have served as a pretext for an already planned US militarization of the region.
For several months there has been a drumbeat in the media and official circles about Africa being the “new front” in the war on terror, along with reports that AFRICOM (Africa Command), the US military command set up for operations in Africa, was seeking to establish bases on the continent and deploy for the first time a combat brigade on African soil.
The deal reached with the Niger government is a status of forces agreement of the kind demanded by the Pentagon wherever US forces are deployed. It grants blanket immunity to American troops for any crimes committed on the country’s soil.
According to the Times, it is anticipated that some 300 US troops and private contractors will be stationed at the Niger base. The Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday that there are already some 50 US military personnel deployed in Niger.
The US had previously set up drone bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti, the tiny semi-colonial African territory at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, where the US and France jointly operate Camp Lemonnier, the site of a 2,000-member American special operations task force. These bases, together with secret air fields in the Arab peninsula, have been used to carry out drone missile strikes and assassinations in Somalia and Yemen. However, they are some 3,000 miles away from Mali.
Washington has also deployed turboprop spy planes flying from secret fields in Burkina Faso and Mauritania, as the Washington Post reported last year, based on secret US diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks as well as military contracting documents. US officials, however, have reported that these spy flights have proven less than effective in terms of intelligence gathering over Mali and other parts of Northwest Africa.
“For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the [Niger] base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens,” the Times reported Tuesday.
This seems hardly credible. While drones may well be used to collect intelligence on potential targets that would be handed off to the French for execution, there is little doubt that the Obama administration intends to spread its drone killing spree to Northwest Africa.
This was implicitly threatened by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta following the hostage siege at the gas facility in Algeria earlier this month. “We have a responsibility to go after Al Qaeda wherever they are,” Panetta stated, adding that the US was “going after” it in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia—all the scene of continuous drone missile strikes—and would act to deny Al Qaeda a “a base for operations in North Africa and Mali.”
As the Wall Street Journal noted, the moves toward a permanent base in Niger “show the extent to which the US and France are girding for what could be an open-ended campaign against the militants in North and West Africa.”
Indeed, one of the top US State Department officials in charge of Africa warned Monday that the present offensive in Mali “could take years.”
“This is only the first phase,” Don Yamamoto, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told the Associated Press. “I think people should not be into the illusion that it is going to be quick,” he added. “It’s going to take a long time and time means that it could take several years … you got do it right.”
Yamamoto noted that Washington has already begun training and equipping troops from Niger, Chad, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo and will transport them to Mali for use in an African proxy force. AFRICOM has also announced that it is backing the French intervention by providing military transport planes to move French troops and weaponry and by flying refueling missions for French warplanes.
The US State Department official also told the AP the following: “A lot of the rebel groups that are now fighting in the region were under Gaddafi’s troops. They were trained for over a decade. You have rebel groups that are well trained and well armed and very aggressive. And so if you have any problems in governance in the country, that would allow these extremist groups to come and that’s what happened in Mali.”
This is a grossly distorted and self-serving presentation of the events in Mali. The reality is that the crisis was precipitated by the US-NATO war for regime-change that ended in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s assassination. The bringing down of the Libyan regime served to destabilize the entire region. It sent Tuaregs, a nomadic population that is present in Libya, Mali, Niger and elsewhere in the region, fleeing to Mali under conditions in which US-backed “rebels” were hunting down and killing black people in Libya.
The Tuaregs, who had fought on the side of Gaddafi, brought with them large quantities of weapons, reigniting a revolt that has erupted at least four times since Mali’s independence in 1960. Entire Tuareg units of the Malian army went over to the rebels.
However, better armed and better funded Islamists, affiliated with Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, entered northern Mali and gained control of large swathes of territory. These were the very forces that the US and NATO has backed and armed in Libya, utilizing them as a proxy ground force in the war to topple Gaddafi.
Yamamoto’s remarks strongly suggest that US imperialism is intervening in Mali not merely to drive out or destroy its erstwhile allies, the Islamists (the same forces that it is still backing in Syria), but also to crush the Tuareg revolt.
Given that the same Tuareg population exists to the east in Niger, the US intervention has the potential of spreading this revolt and igniting a bitter ethnic-based transnational civil war.
Underlying Washington’s incendiary activities in Northwest Africa are not, fundamentally, concerns about a supposed terrorist threat, but rather the determination of US imperialism, like its French counterpart, to lay hold of the region’s strategically vital energy and mineral wealth.
The US is flexing is military muscle under conditions where it has been outstripped in terms of trade and investment by its ascendant rival in the region, China.
As the secret diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks made clear, China’s economic activities have been a central preoccupation of the US spies and diplomats assigned to Niamey, the capital of Niger.
As one such cable to Washington warned: “China is building a major portfolio in Niger’s resource sectors and will probably replace France as Niger’s top foreign investor when projects under construction are fully operational. Chinese investments include oil and gas production, refining, uranium mining, and infrastructure. There are no current examples of US-China collaboration in Niger.”
The move to militarize Africa’s Sahel region is part and parcel of the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, based on a steady escalation of Washington’s confrontation with China. This extends to Africa, where the attempt to militarily assert US dominance over resource-rich territories in which China has developed significant economic interests has the potential of contributing to a far wider war.

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Western push to oust Syrian regime escalates

By Oliver Campbell 

30 January 2013

Statements by top Iranian officials last weekend are another indication of the destabilising impact of the escalating efforts by the US and its allies to oust the Syrian regime of President Bashar al Assad. Ali Akbar Velayati, a top aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the media that “an attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran’s allies.”

The warning, the sharpest by Tehran since the civil war in Syria began, came as batteries of patriot missiles deployed by the US and NATO on the Syria-Turkey border, manned by hundreds of NATO troops, began to go operational. On Saturday, a pair of missile batteries provided by the Dutch government became active at Adana in Southern Turkey.

According to media reports, a German security official confirmed on Tuesday that the two German missile batteries, stationed near the city of Kahramanmaras, 100 kilometres from the Syrian border, also became functional as of Monday. The US government has deployed two missile batteries to the border region.

The US, NATO and the Turkish government claim that the missile batteries are purely defensive—aimed at protecting civilians in southern Turkey from Syrian missiles. In reality, the deployment of the missiles is a preparation for the imposition of a no-fly zone and a campaign of aerial bombardment to support anti-Assad militias—along the lines of the Libyan regime-change operation.

On Tuesday, the US government committed $155 million in “non-lethal” and “humanitarian aid” to be channelled into pro-Western forces in Syria. A CNN report noted that previous “non-lethal” aid to anti-Assad fighters had included advanced technology, such as phones, computers and cameras.

On Sunday, Israel stepped up the pressure on the Assad regime. The Israeli military deployed two missile systems, part of an “Iron Dome” battery, near the northern Israeli city of Haifa, close to the Israeli-Syrian border. While some Israeli security officials claimed the deployment was a routine rotation of military infrastructure, it coincided with a significant ratchetting up of the threats against Syria.

Following meetings among Israeli security officials, Israel’s vice prime minister Silvan Shalom suggested that Israel could launch an attack on Syria, using the pretext of preventing Syrian chemical weapons coming into the hands of Hezbollah, or Al Qaeda-linked organisations. Speaking on an army radio station, Shalom declared that such a possibility “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach, including even action.” He did not rule out a pre-emptive attack.

Chemical weapons have been repeatedly raised as a possible pretext for war since last December, when unspecified American intelligence reports first claimed that Assad’s regime could unleash chemical weapons against the opposition. Allegations that the Syrian government is preparing to use chemical weapons, or transfer them to other organisations, have never been backed up by evidence. In December, it was revealed that the Israeli government had twice asked Jordan for support and assistance in carrying out Israeli strikes against Syria.

On Monday, the French government pressed for a stronger support for the Syrian National Coalition (SNC)—the puppet regime-in-waiting being established by the US and its allies. While content to allow Al Qaeda-linked militias inside Syria to weaken the Assad regime militarily, there are growing concerns in Paris and other imperialist centres that such groups could marginalise the overtly pro-Western SNC and its associated fighters.

Late last year, the US and other major powers reshaped the Syrian National Council into the SNC in a bid to bring opposition groups more firmly under their control. Inside Syria, however, Islamist extremists such as al Nusra have remained in the forefront of the fighting.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called on the Friends of Syria group meeting in Paris to provide greater finance to the SNC, warning: “Facing the collapse of a state and society, it is Islamist groups that risk gaining ground if we do not act as we should… Chaos is not tomorrow, it is today and we need to end it.”

At a meeting in Marrakech last month, the Friends of Syria group, which involves more than 50 nations, pledged $100 million to support the SNC. But SNC vice president George Sabra complained that the money had not arrived and was insufficient. He said that at least $500 million was needed to set up a viable government-in-exile, and repeated an appeal for arms.

The SNC has been recognised by over 100 countries, but is yet to form a provisional government. France, which is playing an increasingly prominent role in the predatory scramble for Africa and the Middle East, was the first country to recognise the organisation as the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. The SNC is dominated by Islamists with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Around two-thirds of the 30-member unified military command elected at an SNC conference in December reportedly also had links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Another push for greater Western intervention and arms emerged at the World Economic Forum held at Davos last week. Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi intelligence, called on the major powers to provide the Syrian opposition with sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry, noting that this would strengthen their ability to “select the good guys, and … build their credibility.”

These comments underline the danger that the Syrian civil war conflict will expand into a broader regional conflict. With the backing of the US and its European allies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are deliberately fanning sectarian animosities, along Sunni-Shiite lines, not only in Syria but throughout the Middle East, directed in particular against the Shiite regime in Iran.

The warning by top Iranian officials last weekend against Western intervention to oust its Syrian ally demonstrates just how quickly a broader conflagration could erupt.

Australian PM announces unprecedented seven-month election campaign

By James Cogan 

30 January 2013

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Labor prime minister Julia Gillard announced that the federal election will be held on Saturday, September 14. The release of the election date more than seven months in advance of the actual ballot is historically unprecedented. It is the Labor government’s response to strident and continuing demands by the corporate and media elite that the two main establishment parties—Labor and the opposition Liberal-National coalition—unveil their policy agendas under conditions of rising global political tensions and what Gillard herself described as the “biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.”

Gillard’s announcement was made just one week after she began the new political year with the launch of her government’s so-called “National Security” strategy. Reduced to its essentials, the strategy consists of a guarantee to Washington that Labor will unambiguously align Australia militarily and politically with the Obama administration’s provocative “pivot to Asia” to contain China and with American militarism in the Middle East, Africa and every other part of the globe.

Her speech this week was another guarantee—this time to satisfy the economic demands of the financial markets and big business. If Labor holds onto power, Gillard pledged to deepen her austerity cutbacks to social spending and enforce a renewed assault on wages and conditions to ensure the “competitiveness” of Australian-based corporations amid the global struggle for shrinking markets.

Gillard is seeking to win the backing of the corporate elite for Labor’s re-election with a clear majority. One of her central pitches was that the challenges of the global crisis demanded “certainty and stability”—rather than the instability that has surrounded her minority government since the August 2010 election resulted in the first hung parliament in 70 years. She called for a policy debate and an end to the scandals and personal vitriol that has dominated politics over the past year as opposition leader Tony Abbott has sought to force an early election. His strategy failed, largely because it received no significant corporate or media backing under conditions where the opposition had made no commitment to the agenda of austerity.

Both establishment parties are acutely conscious of the deep hostility of broad sections of the population to the entire parliamentary setup, engendered by decades of attacks on living standards at the hands of successive Labor and Coalition governments. Labor is so despised that it would be decimated if an election were held today. At the same time, Abbott and the Coalition parties are viewed with suspicion and contempt.

Gillard signalled in her speech that Labor will spend the next seven months making cynical appeals for electoral support by feigning sympathy for the plight of the millions of ordinary working people whose social conditions have been driven down.

She spoke of the “pressures on living standards” and the “struggle to make ends meet” meaning it could “seem far harder to get ahead in the post-GFC world.” She raised that the “uncertainties and pressure we live with have led some of us to be concerned that our children won’t live a better life than us”, and claimed that “nothing matters more than the jobs of working people.” She declared repeatedly that the Labor Party was concerned about “opportunity”, “fairness” and “meeting the needs of modern families.”

In reality, Labor is modelling its re-election campaign on that of Barack Obama in the US, who dressed up his defence of corporate interests with similar populist rhetoric. The fraudulent and two-faced nature of Gillard’s claims was made clear by her focus on policies to boost corporate competitiveness and productivity at the expense of the working class. Every measure raised by Gillard will deepen social inequality, poverty and exploitation, and further erode public education, health and welfare.

The centre-piece of Labor’s economic agenda, the prime minister made clear, is addressing the impact on business of the 60 percent increase in the value of the Australian dollar over the past three years. The rise in the currency is due to the confluence of historic levels of government-encouraged investment, especially by transnational mining conglomerates; the deliberate devaluation of other global currencies, particularly the US dollar; and the exploitation by financial speculators of higher-than-average interest rates in Australia. With the Labor government’s backing, employers are imposing job cuts and restructuring across the economy, including in the car plants, steel, the airlines, the ports and, in the past several months, in mining as well.

Every sector of industry has continued the long-term trend of replacing full-time positions with part-time and casual jobs. The average working week has fallen to a historic low of just 32 hours, and the estimated combined unemployment and underemployment rate is hovering close to 20 percent.

Labor’s duplicity was exposed in Gillard’s assertion that Labor had created “836,000 jobs” in Australia since the global financial crisis. In fact, the policies she announced on Wednesday will drive unemployment and underemployment far higher. She declared that the high dollar demanded more “industry-specific plans” that increase productivity—the corporate euphemism for stripping workers of overtime and other penalty rates, greater flexibility to hire and fire and the outright lowering of wages.

Gillard insisted that her government’s announcement in December to withdraw its pledge of a surplus in the next May budget did not mean Labor had retreated from imposing historic cutbacks to public spending. She declared that her government would find major “structural savings” and take “tough, hard decisions.”

Pointing to the dimensions of the “savings”, or austerity cuts, that had to be made, Gillard noted that federal revenues had been slashed by $30 billion a year since 2008 and, as a proportion of GDP, had reached the lowest level since the recession in the early 1990s. At the same time, Labor had to finance the roll-out costs of long-term restructuring to public education, health and disability support.

The Gillard government is introducing US-style performance-based testing and local autonomy systems into both the school and health system, and a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It is attempting to portray these policies as social reforms that benefit the population. In reality, its education agenda, which Gillard described as her “crusade”, will mean a wholesale assault on teachers’ conditions, the closure of so-called “underperforming” public schools in working class areas and the continuing drive towards privatisation. The NDIS is being implemented to slash the rising cost of the federally-funded Disability Support Pension. In public health, funding reductions by the federal and state level governments are already leading to cutbacks at hospitals around the country, while profitable niche areas are being privatised.

Gillard vowed that billions of dollars of spending cutbacks would be announced in the lead-up to the May budget, to enable Labor to pursue this regressive agenda in education and health care. While she omitted to mention it in her speech, the prime minister last week gave a categorical guarantee to Washington that military spending would not be cut and that billions of dollars would be found to purchase new submarines, jet fighters and other hardware—pointing to the need for further spending reductions elsewhere.

In the wake of Gillard’s speech, the corporate elite is already bringing pressure to bear on the Liberal-National opposition. The head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Peter Anderson immediately called for a “bidding war” on economic policy between the major parties. Liberal leader Abbott will make a speech to the National Press Club on Thursday, which will be judged in business circles on the basis of the concrete policies he announces.

In line with governments around the world, Gillard has launched a protracted election campaign that will be dominated by an agenda of austerity, militarism and war.

For workers’ power in Egypt!

30 January 2013

With the approach of the second anniversary of the February 11, 2011 overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian working class is again being driven into revolutionary struggle. Mass protests are shaking cities across Egypt, defying a murderous crackdown by the police and sections of the Egyptian army presided over by Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Mursi.

Summing up the revolutionary situation threatening the Egyptian bourgeoisie and its backers in Washington and the European capitals, Defense Minister General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi bluntly declared that the current uprising “may lead to the collapse of the state.”

The military is threatening to intervene directly with the aim of crushing opposition and drowning it in blood.

The democratic promises with which the ruling class initially responded to the working class uprising of 2011 are being exposed by bitter experience. “The fundamental political process of the revolution,” Leon Trotsky wrote in his famous History of the Russian Revolution, “consists in the gradual comprehension by a class of the problems arising from the social crisis—the active orientation of the masses by a method of successive approximations.”

In two years of struggle, the workers are weighing and testing the political forces that put themselves forward as alternatives to the Mubarak regime.

Initially, there were hopes that the Egyptian military, as a “people’s army,” would grant the workers democratic and social rights. Such hopes were soon dashed. Sponsored by Washington and representing the interests of the military brass, the army junta that succeeded Mubarak soon turned to banning strikes and crushing protests.

The first elections after Mubarak’s fall brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power. After only six months, the reactionary character of the Brotherhood stands exposed before the Egyptian masses. Since taking power last summer, it has continued the anti-working class, pro-imperialist policies of Mubarak. Mursi is in talks with the IMF to impose cuts in subsidies for bread and fuel that will devastate the working class. The Muslim Brotherhood government has also supported the suppression of the Palestinians in Gaza and the US-led proxy war in Syria.

The nominal official opposition to the Brotherhood, the liberal factions of the ruling class grouped in the National Salvation Front (NSF), led by Mohammed ElBaradei, has absolutely nothing to offer. It includes within it Mubarak-era officials such as Amr Moussa as well as the Wafd and Tagammu parties, which collaborated closely with Mubarak.

The array of political forces in Egypt is a vindication of a central premise of the Trotskyist Theory of Permanent Revolution—that in economically backward and former colonial countries, there is no faction of the bourgeoisie that is capable of or interested in carrying through the most basic democratic tasks, let alone addressing the economic and social demands of the masses. Dedicated to the defense of the capitalist order and subordinated to imperialism, all factions of the bourgeoisie respond to social opposition with repression and dictatorship.

Underscoring this point is an analysis that has appeared in Egypt Independent. The author, Amr Adly, notes the deep economic crisis in Egypt and the country’s dependence on foreign finance, and writes of the precarious position of the Muslim Brotherhood government. Yet, “the NSF, the biggest opposition coalition, remains heavily reliant on the support of urban middle- and upper-middle classes,” Adly writes. “The front’s political platform barely contains genuine social and economic elements.”

While seeking to counter the Brotherhood’s Islamism with a vague Egyptian nationalism, the NSF has no independent program. “As for the deteriorating economic situation, the front’s stance has been by and large opportunistic and myopic, with very little alternatives given to austerity measures,” Adly observes.

The working class of Egypt is coming into direct conflict with all factions of the bourgeois elite, a conflict that is assuming an increasingly violent form. Under these conditions, a particularly reactionary role is played by the “left” petit-bourgeoisie.

Chief among the organizations that operate in the orbit of the bourgeois establishment is the Revolutionary Socialists. After first praising the army junta for offering a “democratic space,” the RS then celebrated Mursi’s election as “a real victory for the Egyptian masses.” As Mursi’s counterrevolutionary role became clear, the RS shifted to promote the NSF and serve as adviser to the liberal bourgeois opposition.

A recent statement by the Revolutionary Socialists, cloaking thoroughly conformist politics in leftist verbiage, gives expression to its essential role. After criticizing the Brotherhood and Mursi for continuing the same policies as Mubarak—a devastating exposure of their own previous support for the Muslim Brotherhood—the RS goes on to make clear its intransigent opposition to an independent struggle of the working class for power.

Speaking on behalf of a privileged section of the upper-middle class, the RS offers counsel to the bourgeois parties. They bemoan the fact that the “Muslim Brotherhood is digging its own grave by following Mubarak’s policies.”

Unfortunately, they continue, the NSF “made an error by including remnants of the old regime in its ranks.” These “remnants” [of the Mubarak dictatorship!] are “known for their social and political bias against the revolution.” This is how the RS speaks of participants in a regime that for decades ruled with savage brutality on behalf of the Egyptian ruling class and American imperialism!

In a passage that sums up their perspective, the RS writes, “We call on the revolutionary youth in the Front to fight for the cleansing of its ranks.” That is, the bourgeois coalition must be refurbished.

They then call on the NSF to “participate with us and all the revolutionaries in building a genuine revolutionary front which can achieve the aims of the revolution of bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.”

The RS advocates not an independent movement of the working class, but a reorganization of bourgeois politics. Absent in their demagogic proclamation is any reference to socialism, the overthrow of the bourgeois state, or a call for independent organs of working class power.

What underlies the bankruptcy of all the existing political parties is this: while they pay homage in words to the revolution, they base themselves on capitalist property and want no change in the basic forms of political power. They defend the established order.

Two basic tasks emerge from the social and political logic of the Egyptian Revolution.

First is the establishment of independent organs of working class power. The foremost examples of fighting organizations of the working class and oppressed masses were the soviets established by the Russian working class that came to power in the October 1917 revolution. The working class cannot rely on the bourgeois state. It must develop its own forms of organization that will become the basis for the conquest of state power.

Second is the development of a revolutionary leadership that can provide the strategic direction necessary to guide these workers’ organizations in the struggle for power.

The entire experience of the Egyptian Revolution, from its initial eruption in January 2011 to the crossroads at which it stands today, has confirmed the fact that heroism and revolutionary fervor cannot by themselves overcome the crisis of leadership. The working class needs a party and a program of its own—independent of the bourgeois Muslim Brotherhood and National Salvation Front and their hangers-on among the petit-bourgeois organizations.

Since the initial uprising two years ago, the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) has insisted that the working class of Egypt would not be able to realize its interests and aspirations outside of the conquest of state power and the socialist reorganization of economic life. This perspective has been confirmed. We call on workers and youth in Egypt take up the essential task of the day: the construction of a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Johannes Stern and Joseph Kishore

Mali: Here We Go Again

Obama’s inauguration speech drops hints at further overseas involvement.
By Sheldon Richman
January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – In testimony before Senate and House committees, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enthusiastically endorsed increased U.S. intervention in Africa. When government officials seem incapable of learning obvious lessons from the recent past, maybe their incentive is not to learn but to keep doing the same destructive things.
President Obama’s inaugural speech contained this line, which has gone quite overlooked: “America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad.”
That’s a recipe for perpetual war and perpetual fiscal crisis.
The latest locale for American intervention is the west African country of Mali. Aside from whatever covert activity the U.S. government may be conducting there, the American role is said to consist of logistical support for France, Mali’s former colonial overlord, which has intervened militarily to defend a central corrupt government. (The deadly hostage-takings in Algeria may have been retaliation for France’s action.) As The New York Times reports, “The Pentagon is airlifting a French battalion to join the fight in Mali against Islamist militants, Pentagon and administration officials said.” Ominously, the Times adds, “The airlift expands the involvement of the United States in support of a NATO ally, but officials stressed that the American military footprint on the ground in Mali would remain small.” That is, there’s already an American footprint on the ground.
Such is how quagmires begin.
What’s going on in Mali that requires U.S. meddling? It’s a complicated and murky story that goes back to the repression of the separatist ethnic group, the Tuaregs, in northern Mali and, writes Jeremy Keenan, the Algerian government’s effort after Sept. 11, 2001, to concoct a “terrorist threat” to motivate the U.S. government to pay for modernization of its army. Seeing Africa as a rich source of oil, gas, and other resources, the Bush administration was happy to get involved in the region. (Got to keep the Chinese away.)
While the Obama administration sounds alarms about al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), reporter Patrick Cockburn notes that
Tuareg nationalist insurgency, not radical Islam, is at the heart of the crisis in Mali. What, for instance, are AQIM doing in northern Mali, which has never in the past been a bastion for fundamentalists? AQIM is in origin an Algerian movement that emerged from the civil war of the 1990s. Formed in 1998, its members moved to northern Mali in 2003, where the government saw it as a counterbalance to Tuareg separatists.…
The strange truth is that it was the Malian government which, over the last 10 years, tolerated AQIM in northern Mali and allowed it to operate, taking a share in the profits of its kidnapping and drug-running operations. International military aid for use against al-Qa’ida was diverted for use against the Tuareg.
A key precursor to the latest episode was the 2011 U.S. and NATO intervention in Libya, which overthrew the government of Muammar Qaddafi and provided a cornucopia of weapons. When the regime-change operation ended, well-armed Tuaregs, who had fought for Qaddafi, returned to northern Mali to pursue their separatist aims. After expelling the central government’s army, they declared independence last April, after a coup overthrew the government in Bamako. Tuaregs also live in neighboring Algeria, Niger, Libya, and Burkina Faso, and a successful separatist movement in Mali could spread throughout the region, which those countries would abhor.
The Tuareg movement, Keenan writes, was co-opted by jihadists linked to the Algerian intelligence service, and these jihadists have imposed sharia law and have committed horrendous violence. Thus, he wrote, “Washington’s Global War on Terror has come home to roost for the peoples of the Sahara.”
These events now provide the excuse for the latest Western intervention. When will it end?
The lesson is clear: Internationalizing local, often ethnic, conflicts has consequences that furnish the pretext for further intervention. Inevitably, innocents are killed, while the American power elite pursues its geopolitical aims and the military-industrial complex prospers.
Moreover, intervention—once again on behalf of a corrupt and brutal government—makes enemies of those who would otherwise present no threat to the American people. Nothing helps jihadi recruitment like Western occupation.
As a cover for imperialism, the war on terror has worn thin.
This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Good Terrorist, Bad Terrorist

By Chandra Muzaffar
January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The French military operation in Mali has brought to the fore the blatant double standards in the approach of certain Western nations to the whole question of terrorism. In the case of Mali, France, with the support of Britain, Germany and the United States, has committed itself to combating diehard militants who are determined to use violence to establish their power and authority. Yet in Libya, these countries and their allies in West Asia and North Africa (WANA) had no compunctions about colluding with militant groups to oust Muammar Gaddafi in a bloody and brutal campaign which killed tens of thousands of people in 2011.
Their hypocrisy becomes even starker in Syria. Western powers and groups from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Turkey have been providing funds, logistical support and sophisticated weapons to rebels within Syria and mercenaries from a number of other countries, to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad government. Many of these armed groups, like their counterparts in Libya and Mali, justify their acts of terror and violence in the name of Islam — albeit a distorted and perverted interpretation of the religion.
Different armed groups in Iraq at different times in the course of the US led occupation of that country have also, it is alleged, received material assistance from countries in the region and the US. It is an established fact that the US under Ronald Reagan gave enormous financial and military aid to so-called “jihadist” groups fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The US has often condoned acts of terror perpetrated by its close ally, Israel, against Palestinians and other Arabs. Indeed, the US itself is regarded in some circles as a “terrorist state”, given its record of killing innocent civilians in various parts of the world, including Latin America, West Asia and Southeast Asia.
What this shows is that there is terrorism that is condoned and terrorism that is condemned by Western powers and other states. If violence serves their interests, it is acceptable. If it doesn’t, the militants are targeted. In other words, there are ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists’.
One of the main reasons why the militants in Mali have to be defeated — from France’s standpoint — is because France imports huge amounts of uranium from that country for its nuclear plants that generate 80% of its electricity. It is not because France abhors violence or seeks to protect human life! Besides, France wants to maintain its hegemonic grip upon West Africa and parts of North Africa at a time when resource rich Africa is becoming increasingly important to the global economy.
The ulterior motives for Western military action in Libya; for their covert operations in Syria; for their hobnobbing with militant groups in Iraq; and for their collusion with Jihadists in Afghanistan have been exposed in numerous studies. There is no need to repeat them here. Suffice to note that that they have very little to do with defending human rights or upholding democracy. It is the overwhelming desire to perpetuate their military, political, economic and cultural hegemony over the world which is the real reason why the US and its allies seek to crush terrorism in one instance and consort with it in another instance.
Why is it that this irrefutable truth about the attitude of the centers of power in the West to terrorism is not widely known? Why is it that citizens in Western democracies who are supposed to be informed and educated are not ashamed of the double standards and the hypocrisy that surround the war on terror? One of the primary reasons is because the media — both the old and the new — does not want to tell the whole truth.
More often than not, the media regurgitates the propaganda put out by the centers of power in the West. If it is the ‘bad terrorists’ that say French troops are pursuing, the latter are projected in the media as heroes on a noble mission, without any analysis of the root causes of the conflict or what the motives are for launching the assault. If, on the other hand, it is the ‘good terrorists’ sponsored by the West who are responsible for some merciless slaughter somewhere, their barbarity is either played down by the media or the whole incident is turned and twisted to present the adversary as the perpetrator of the killing.
This has been happening in the case of Syria. In one of the most recent episodes the ‘good terrorists’, the rebels, claimed that the horrendous attack on Aleppo University on 15 January 2013 that killed 87 people, many of them students, was the work of the Bashar government. This was the story that most media carried though a number of newspapers and television channels also reported the government’s denial. However, when evidence emerged that showed that the ‘good terrorists’ were the actual culprits and independent journalists and student groups in Syria, apart from a number of foreign governments, condemned the ‘good terrorists’ for their savagery, very few media outlets gave any prominence to their remarks.
It is through distorted reporting and analysis of this sort that the media conceals the double standards and hypocrisy of the centers of power in the West. This is why we should on our own look for alternative sources of news and analysis and use the information at our command to challenge the powerful to be honest and consistent about the fight against terrorism.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Malaysia.
This article was originally posted at Countercurrents

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Five Broken Cameras : Full Movie:  A Palestinian farmer’s chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

Five Broken Cameras : Full Movie:  A Palestinian farmer’s chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

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The World Doesn’t Need Killer Mothers

Now Lady GIs Can Kill the Poor Overseas 
Big step forward for society’s ruling rich adding half of the population to its reservoir of cannon fodder as they heavily invest in WMD and their deployment surrounding Iran, China and Russia. But potential recruits should consider how difficult it will be to avoid self-incriminating themselves in obvious crimes against humanity and peace. An Nuremberg style trial is inevitable. 
By Jay Janson
January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The Secretary of Defense (read War) has, by memorandum, ended the official but unheeded ban on women in combat. 
It is a great step forward for society’s ruling rich to have added half of the population to its reservoir of cannon fodder as they heavily invest in weapons of mass destruction, deploying them around the world, and surrounding Iran, China and Russia.
Ladies, who will supposedly be rushing to join up, will have known about, or heard a lot about, the death of millions of men, women and children for the American invasions of Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Somalia, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, the bombing of Lebanon, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Libya and military backed covert operations in virtually every country in Latin America, Asia and now Syria, Mali and other African nations, all to, as Martin Luther King Jr. cried out, “maintain unjust predatory overseas investments.” [see King Condemned US Wars
However, women, di-spirtualized and educated in ‘me first’ -self-centeredness by investor owned commercial mass-media from childhood on, will probably be thinking of more of the perks that come with a militry career, namely: 
– the glamour and prestige of wearing a proud uniform in militarized-for-power America.
– nailing down a life-time job in an America where the ruling wealthy are hiring overseas in cheap labor countries; another reason for joining the American Armed Forces – even if they are destroying people and places abroad.
– in the ‘greatest country on earth’ where most people constantly worry about paying for health insurance, it will be comfortable to know one is going to always have good health care. And investors in war must see that the US government takes care or its veterans of war crimes, otherwise few would kill for them.
– you get a chance to fire guns and more devastating weapons and even if this is not an attraction for all female recruits, being tough on designated foreigners could well be an outlet for the built up rage inherent in a century long commercial promotion of women first, and devilishly foremost, as sex-objects, and only secondly or thirdly as beautiful human beings. The army puts women on a near equal level of camaraderie with men, though men suffer being put upon almost as much women, and are equally depressed and anxious in the desperate search for the meaning of being alive within the overbearing materialism of the US empire’s ‘home’land.
– perhaps the fringe benefit that will appeal to many girls is being heralded as a heroine, automatically and fervently, by Big Brother mass-media, unless a potential recruit would be knowledgeable enough to be ashamed to be called a heroine on TV and in newspapers totally owned by the Wall Street led international community of private investors in war and world domination, operated under guidance of its Pentagon and CIA.
But these enthusiastic expectant heroines should be forewarned of a less pleasant but very probable eventuality. Maybe the days are gone when many frustrated moral Americans spat upon GIs returning from the killing frenzy in Vietnam, but should these days come back, what with gender equality, ladies GIs will feel the spray on them as well as their brother ‘servers’ of their country.
In the coming era of instant communication technology and change at computer-speed, the whole world, minus the US allied empires of England and France, will turn to spitting on the US for its merciless invasions, occupations, bombings, covert attacks and economic sanctioning. Germany invaded, bombed and occupied only twenty nations, and only its generals and media celebrities were prosecuted at Nuremberg. German and American investors in Hitler and in building the Nazi war machine up to #1 were intentionally not prosecuted, and German soldiers were not held legally responsible for the atrocities they willing followed orders to commit against people in other countries. This might well not be the case when it comes America’s turn for prosecution in our computer facilitated information era. Both lady and men GIs should consider abstaining from self-incriminating themselves in obvious crimes against humanity and peace. [Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign ]
The general drift of the reported public reaction to the official change in policy to allowing women to join in the killing of the bad guys, might be summed up as, ‘Sure, why should men have all the fun.’ NBCNews: Placing American women in combat is “a great idea,”
There is of course dissent from that smaller segment of America, especially from those expressing themselves in disagreement with America’s many illegal, criminal, mass-homicidal wars and murderous covert operations. For an example, note the satiric title of an article in a peace oriented Catholic newsletter: My Gosh’ Military Women in Combat: ‘What a Great Idea!’ by Brian Kelly January 24, 2013, .
“Women, some of whom are mothers, will be side by side with men fighting unjust wars for the imperium on the front lines while their children are left motherless.
The world doesn’t need killer mothers and girls anymore that it needs cowardly men that enjoy following any orders to kill anyone anywhere, now often from a distance of half-way around the earth or from a flying weapon of mass-destruction, by pushing a button on fellow human beings. Men and women doing to other peoples families and homes what they would cry foul if others did to their own families and homes, this is an example of today’s American exceptionalism – exceptionally immoral, exceptionally blind and bestial and exceptionally and proud of being ignorant, thoughtless of others but exceptionally clever (or so they imagine).
Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India and the US; now resides in NYC; Is coordinator and founder of the King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign: (King Condemned US Wars) and originator of Prosecute US Crimes Against Humanity Now Campaign / featuring a country by country history of US crimes.

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From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

The Politics of Debt in America 
By Steve Fraser
January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise. They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be. As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life. So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors. Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.
Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight. We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.
Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism. For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse. For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it. For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm.
Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy. Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures. 
Think of this upstairs-downstairs class calculus as the politics of debt. British economist John Maynard Keynes put it like this: “If I owe you a pound, I have a problem; but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.”
After months of an impending “debtpocalypse,” the dreaded “debt ceiling,” and the “fiscal cliff,” Americans remain preoccupied with debt, public and private. Austerity is what we’re promised for our sins. Millions are drowning, or have already drowned, in a sea of debt — mortgages gone bad, student loans that may never be paid off, spiraling credit card bills, car loans, payday loans, and a menagerie of new-fangled financial mechanisms cooked up by the country’s “financial engineers” to milk what’s left of the American standard of living. 
The world economy almost came apart in 2007-2008, and still may do so under the whale-sized carcass of debt left behind by financial plunderers who found in debt the leverage to get ever richer. Most of them still live in their mansions and McMansions, while other debtors live outdoors, or in cars or shelters, or doubled-up with relatives and friends — or even in debtor’s prison. Believe it or not, a version of debtor’s prison, that relic of early American commercial barbarism, is back. 
In 2013, you can’t actually be jailed for not paying your bills, but ingenious corporations, collection agencies, cops, courts, and lawyers have devised ways to insure that debt “delinquents” will end up in jail anyway. With one-third of the states now allowing the jailing of debtors (without necessarily calling it that), it looks ever more like a trend in the making.
Will Americans tolerate this, or might there emerge a politics of resistance to debt, as has happened more than once in a past that shouldn’t be forgotten? 
The World of Debtor’s Prisons
Imprisonment for debt was a commonplace in colonial America and the early republic, and wasn’t abolished in most states until the 1830s or 1840s, in some cases not until after the Civil War. Today, we think of it as a peculiar and heartless way of punishing the poor — and it was. But it was more than that.
Some of the richest, most esteemed members of society also ended up there, men like Robert Morris, who helped finance the American Revolution and ran the Treasury under the Articles of Confederation; John Pintard, a stock-broker, state legislator, and founder of the New York Historical Society; William Duer, graduate of Eton, powerful merchant and speculator, assistant secretary in the Treasury Department of the new federal government, and master of a Hudson River manse; a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge; army generals; and other notables.
Whether rich or poor, you were there for a long stretch, even for life, unless you could figure out some way of discharging your debts. That, however, is where the similarity between wealthy and impoverished debtors ended.
Whether in the famous Marshalsea in London where Charles Dickens had Little Dorritt’s father incarcerated (and where Dickens’s father had actually languished when the author was 12), or in the New Gaol in New York City, where men like Duer and Morris did their time, debtors prisons were segregated by class. If your debts were large enough and your social connections weighty enough (the two tended to go together) you lived comfortably. You were supplied with good food and well-appointed living quarters, as well as books and other pleasures, including on occasion manicurists and prostitutes. 
Robert Morris entertained George Washington for dinner in his “cell.” Once released, he resumed his career as the new nation’s richest man. Before John Pintard moved to New Gaol, he redecorated his cell, had it repainted and upholstered, and shipped in two mahogany writing desks.
Meanwhile, the mass of petty debtors housed in the same institution survived, if at all, amid squalor, filth, and disease. They were often shackled, and lacked heat, clean water, adequate food, or often food of any kind. (You usually had to have the money to buy your own food, clothing, and fuel.) Debtors in these prisons frequently found themselves quite literally dying of debt. And you could end up in such circumstances for trivial sums. Of the 1,162 jailed debtors in New York City in 1787, 716 owed less than twenty shillings or one pound. A third of Philadelphia’s inmates in 1817 were there for owing less than $5, and debtors in the city’s prisons outnumbered violent criminals by 5:1. In Boston, 15% of them were women. Shaming was more the point of punishment than anything else.
Scenes of public pathos were commonplace. Inmates at the New Gaol, if housed on its upper floors, would lower shoes out the window on strings to collect alms for their release. Other prisons installed “beggar gates” through which those jailed in cellar dungeons could stretch out their palms for the odd coins from passersby.
Poor and rich alike wanted out. Pamphleteering against the institution of debtor’s prison began in the 1750s. An Anglican minister in South Carolina denounced the jails, noting that “a person would be in a better situation in the French King’s Gallies, or the Prisons of Turkey or Barbary than in this dismal place.” Discontent grew. A mass escape from New Gaol of 40 prisoners armed with pistols and clubs was prompted by extreme hunger. 
In the 1820s and 1830s, as artisans, journeymen, sailors, longshoremen, and other workers organized the early trade union movement as well as workingmen’s political parties, one principal demand was for the abolition of imprisonment for debt. Inheritors of a radical political culture, their complaints echoed that Biblical tradition of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus, which called for a cancellation of debts, the restoration of lost houses and land, and the freeing of slaves and bond servants every 50 years.
Falling into debt was a particularly ruinous affliction for those who aspired to modest independence as shopkeepers, handicraftsmen, or farmers. As markets for their goods expanded but became ever less predictable, they found themselves taking out credit to survive and sometimes going into arrears, often followed by a stint in debtor’s prison that ended their dreams forever. 
However much the poor organized and protested, it was the rich who got debt relief first. Today, we assume that debts can be discharged through bankruptcy (although even now that option is either severely restricted or denied to certain classes of less favored debt delinquents like college students). Although the newly adopted U.S. Constitution opened the door to a national bankruptcy law, Congress didn’t walk through it until 1800, even though many, including the well-off, had been lobbying for it.
Enough of the old moral faith that frowned on debt as sinful lingered. The United States has always been an uncharitable place when it comes to debt, a curious attitude for a society largely settled by absconding debtors and indentured servants (a form of time-bound debt peonage). Indeed, the state of Georgia was founded as a debtor’s haven at a time when England’s jails were overflowing with debtors.
When Congress finally passed the Bankruptcy Act, those in the privileged quarters at New Gaol threw a party. Down below, however, life continued in its squalid way, since the new law only applied to people who had sizable debts. If you owed too little, you stayed in jail. 
Debt and the Birth of a Nation
Nowadays, the conservative media inundate us with warnings about debt from the Founding Fathers, and it’s true that some of them like Jefferson — himself an inveterate, often near-bankrupt debtor — did moralize on the subject. However, Alexander Hamilton, an idol of the conservative movement, was the architect of the country’s first national debt, insisting that “if it is not excessive, [it] will be to us a national blessing.”
As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s goal was to transform the former 13 colonies, which today we would call an underdeveloped land, into a country that someday would rival Great Britain. This, he knew, required liquid capital (resources not tied up in land or other less mobile forms of wealth), which could then be invested in sometimes highly speculative and risky enterprises. Floating a national debt, he felt sure, would attract capital from well-positioned merchants at home and abroad, especially in England.
However, for most ordinary people living under the new government, debt aroused anger. To begin with, there were all those veterans of the Revolutionary War and all the farmers who had supplied the revolutionary army with food and been paid in notoriously worthless “continentals” — the currency issued by the Continental Congress — or equally valueless state currencies.
As rumors of the formation of a new national government spread, speculators roamed the countryside buying up this paper money at a penny on the dollar, on the assumption that the debts they represented would be redeemed at face value. In fact, that is just what Hamilton’s national debt would do, making these “sunshine patriots” quite rich, while leaving the yeomanry impoverished.
Outrage echoed across the country even before Hamilton’s plan got adopted. Jefferson denounced the currency speculators as loathsome creatures and had this to say about debt in general: “The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.” He and others denounced the speculators as squadrons of counter-revolutionary “moneycrats” who would use their power and wealth to undo the democratic accomplishments of the revolution.
In contrast, Hamilton saw them as a disinterested monied elite upon whom the country’s economic well-being depended, while dismissing the criticisms of the Jeffersonians as the ravings of Jacobin levelers. Soon enough, political warfare over the debt turned founding fathers into fratricidal brothers. 
Hamilton’s plan worked — sometimes too well. Wealthy speculators in land like Robert Morris, or in the building of docks, wharves, and other projects tied to trade, or in the national debt itself — something William Duer and grandees like him specialized in — seized the moment. Often enough, however, they over-reached and found themselves, like the yeomen farmers and soldiers, in default to their creditors. 
Duer’s attempts to corner the market in the bonds issued by the new federal government and in the stock of the country’s first National Bank represented one of the earliest instances of insider trading. They also proved a lurid example of how speculation could go disastrously wrong. When the scheme collapsed, it caused the country’s first Wall Street panic and a local depression that spread through New England, ruining “shopkeepers, widows, orphans, butchers… gardeners, market women, and even the noted Bawd Mrs. McCarty.” 
A mob chased Duer through the streets of New York and might have hanged or disemboweled him had he not been rescued by the city sheriff, who sent him to the safety of debtor’s prison. John Pintard, part of the same scheme, fled to Newark, New Jersey, before being caught and jailed as well.
Sending the Duers and Pintards of the new republic off to debtors’ prison was not, however, quite what Hamilton had in mind. And leaving them rotting there was hardly going to foster the “enterprising spirit” that would, in the treasury secretary’s estimation, turn the country into the Great Britain of the next century. Bankruptcy, on the other hand, ensured that the overextended could start again and keep the machinery of commercial transactions lubricated. Hence, the Bankruptcy Act of 1800.
If, however, you were not a major player, debt functioned differently. Shouldered by the hoi polloi, it functioned as a mechanism for funneling wealth into the mercantile-financial hothouses where American capitalism was being incubated.
No wonder debt excited such violent political emotions. Even before the Constitution was adopted, farmers in western Massachusetts, indebted to Boston bankers and merchants and in danger of losing their ancestral homes in the economic hard times of the 1780s, rose in armed rebellion. In those years, the number of lawsuits for unpaid debt doubled and tripled, farms were seized, and their owners sent off to jail. Incensed, farmers led by a former revolutionary soldier, Daniel Shays, closed local courts by force and liberated debtors from prisons. Similar but smaller uprisings erupted in Maine, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, while in New Hampshire and Vermont irate farmers surrounded government offices. 
Shays’ Rebellion of 1786 alarmed the country’s elites. They depicted the unruly yeomen as “brutes” and their houses as “sties.” They were frightened as well by state governments like Rhode Island’s that were more open to popular influence, declared debt moratoria, and issued paper currencies to help farmers and others pay off their debts. These developments signaled the need for a stronger central government fully capable of suppressing future debtor insurgencies.
Federal authority established at the Constitutional Convention allowed for that, but the unrest continued. Shays’ Rebellion was but part one of a trilogy of uprisings that continued into the 1790s. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was the most serious. An excise tax (“whiskey tax”) meant to generate revenue to back up the national debt threatened the livelihoods of farmers in western Pennsylvania who used whiskey as a “currency” in a barter economy. President Washington sent in troops, many of them Revolutionary War veterans, with Hamilton at their head to put down the rebels. 
Debt Servitude and Primitive Accumulation
Debt would continue to play a vital role in national and local political affairs throughout the nineteenth century, functioning as a form of capital accumulation in the financial sector, and often sinking pre-capitalist forms of life in the process. 
Before and during the time that capitalists were fully assuming the prerogatives of running the production process in field and factory, finance was building up its own resources from the outside. Meanwhile, the mechanisms of public and private debt made the lives of farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and others increasingly insupportable.
This parasitic economic metabolism helped account for the riotous nature of Gilded Age politics. Much of the high drama of late nineteenth-century political life circled around “greenbacks,” “free silver,” and “the gold standard.” These issues may strike us as arcane today, but they were incendiary then, threatening what some called a “second Civil War.” In one way or another, they were centrally about debt, especially a system of indebtedness that was driving the independent farmer to extinction.
All the highways of global capitalism found their way into the trackless vastness of rural America. Farmers there were not in dire straits because of their backwoods isolation. On the contrary, it was because they turned out to be living at Ground Zero, where the explosive energies of financial and commercial modernity detonated. A toxic combination of railroads, grain-elevator operators, farm-machinery manufacturers, commodity-exchange speculators, local merchants, and above all the banking establishment had the farmer at their mercy. His helplessness was only aggravated when the nineteenth-century version of globalization left his crops in desperate competition with those from the steppes of Canada and Russia, as well as the outbacks of Australia and South America.
To survive this mercantile onslaught, farmers hooked themselves up to long lines of credit that stretched back to the financial centers of the East. These lifelines allowed them to buy the seed, fertilizer, and machines needed to farm, pay the storage and freight charges that went with selling their crops, and keep house and home together while the plants ripened and the hogs fattened. When market day finally arrived, the farmer found out just what all his backbreaking work was really worth. If the news was bad, then those credit lines were shut off and he found himself dispossessed.
The family farm and the network of small town life that went with it were being washed into the rivers of capital heading for metropolitan America. On the “sod house” frontier, poverty was a “badge of honor which decorated all.” In his Devil’s Dictionary, the acid-tongued humorist Ambrose Bierce defined the dilemma this way: “Debt. n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”
Across the Great Plains and the cotton South, discontented farmers spread the blame for their predicament far and wide. Anger, however, tended to pool around the strangulating system of currency and credit run out of the banking centers of the northeast. Beginning in the 1870s with the emergence of the Greenback Party and Greenback-Labor Party and culminating in the 1890s with the People’s or Populist Party, independent farmers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, small businessmen, and skilled workers directed ever more intense hostility at “the money power.”
That “power” might appear locally in the homeliest of disguises. At coal mines and other industrial sites, among “coolies” working to build the railroads or imported immigrant gang laborers and convicts leased to private concerns, workers were typically compelled to buy what they needed in company scrip at company stores at prices that left them perpetually in debt. Proletarians were so precariously positioned that going into debt — whether to pawnshops or employers, landlords or loan sharks — was unavoidable. Often they were paid in kind: wood chips, thread, hemp, scraps of canvas, cordage: nothing, that is, that was of any use in paying off accumulated debts. In effect, they were, as they called themselves, “debt slaves.” 
In the South, hard-pressed growers found themselves embroiled in a crop-lien system, dependent on the local “furnishing agent” to supply everything needed, from seed to clothing to machinery, to get through the growing season. In such situations, no money changed hands, just a note scribbled in the merchant’s ledger, with payment due at “settling up” time. This granted the lender a lien, or title, to the crop, a lien that never went away.
In this fashion, the South became “a great pawn shop,” with farmers perpetually in debt at interest rates exceeding 100% per year. In Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, 90% of farmers lived on credit. The first lien you signed was essentially a life sentence. Either that or you became a tenant farmer, or you simply left your land, something so commonplace that everyone knew what the letters “G.T.T.” on an abandoned farmhouse meant: “Gone to Texas.” (One hundred thousand people a year were doing that in the 1870s.) 
The merchant’s exaction was so steep that African-Americans and immigrants in particular were regularly reduced to peonage — forced, that is, to work to pay off their debt, an illegal but not uncommon practice. And that neighborhood furnishing agent was often tied to the banks up north for his own lines of credit. In this way, the sucking sound of money leaving for the great metropolises reverberated from region to region.
Facing dispossession, farmers formed alliances to set up cooperatives to extend credit to one another and market crops themselves. As one Populist editorialist remarked, this was the way “mortgage-burdened farmers can assert their freedom from the tyranny of organized capital.” But when they found that these groupings couldn’t survive the competitive pressure of the banking establishment, politics beckoned.
From one presidential election to the next and in state contests throughout the South and West, irate grain and cotton growers demanded that the government expand the paper currency supply, those “greenbacks,” also known as “the people’s money,” or that it monetize silver, again to enlarge the money supply, or that it set up public institutions to finance farmers during the growing season. With a passion hard for us to imagine, they railed against the “gold standard” which, in Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s famous cry, should no longer be allowed to “crucify mankind on a cross of gold.”
Should that cross of gold stay fixed in place, one Alabama physician prophesied, it would “reduce the American yeomanry to menials and paupers, to be driven by monopolies like cattle and swine.” As Election Day approached, populist editors and speakers warned of an approaching war with “the money power,” and they meant it. “The fight will come and let it come!”
The idea was to force the government to deliberately inflate the currency and so raise farm prices. And the reason for doing that? To get out from under the sea of debt in which they were submerged. It was a cry from the heart and it echoed and re-echoed across the heartland, coming nearer to upsetting the established order than any American political upheaval before or since. 
The passion of those populist farmers and laborers was matched by that of their enemies, men at the top of the economy and government for whom debt had long been a road to riches rather than destitution. They dismissed their foes as “cranks” and “calamity howlers.” And in the election of 1896, they won. Bryan went down to defeat, gold continued its pitiless process of crucifixion, and a whole human ecology was set on a path to extinction.
The Return of Debt Servitude
When populism died, debt — as a spark for national political confrontation — died, too. The great reform eras that followed — Progessivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society — were preoccupied with inequality, economic collapse, exploitation in the workplace, and the outsized nature of corporate power in a consolidated industrial capitalist system.
Rumblings about debt servitude could certainly still be heard. Foreclosed farmers during the Great Depression mobilized, held “penny auctions” to restore farms to families, hanged judges in effigy, and forced Prudential Insurance Company, the largest land creditor in Iowa, to suspend foreclosures on 37,000 farms (which persuaded Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to do likewise). A Kansas City realtor was shot in the act of foreclosing on a family farm, a country sheriff kidnapped while trying to evict a farm widow and dumped 10 miles out of town, and so on.
Urban renters and homeowners facing eviction formed neighborhood groups to stop the local sheriff or police from throwing families out of their houses or apartments. Furniture tossed into the street in eviction proceedings would be restored by neighbors, who would also turn the gas and electricity back on. New Deal farm and housing finance legislation bailed out banks and homeowners alike. Right-wing populists like the Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin carried on the war against the gold standard in tirades tinged with anti-Semitism. Signs like one in Nebraska — “The Jew System of Banking” (illustrated with a giant rattlesnake) — showed up too often.
But the age of primitive accumulation in which debt and the financial sector had played such a strategic role was drawing to a close. 
Today, we have entered a new phase. What might be called capitalist underdevelopment and once again debt has emerged as both the central mode of capital accumulation and a principal mechanism of servitude. Warren Buffett (of all people) has predictedthat, in the coming decades, the United States is more likely to turn into a “sharecropper society” than an “ownership society.”
In our time, the financial sector has enriched itself by devouring the productive wherewithal of industrial America through debt, starving the public sector of resources, and saddling ordinary working people with every conceivable form of consumer debt.
Household debt, which in 1952 was at 36% of total personal income, had by 2006 hit 127%. Even financing poverty became a lucrative enterprise. Taking advantage of the low credit ratings of poor people and their need for cash to pay monthly bills or simply feed themselves, some check-cashing outlets, payday lenders, tax preparers, and others levy interest of 200% to 300% and more. As recently as the 1970s, a good part of this would have been considered illegal under usury laws that no longer exist. And these poverty creditors are often tied to the largest financiers, including Citibank, Bank of America, and American Express.
Credit has come to function as a “plastic safety net” in a world of job insecurity, declining state support, and slow-motion economic growth, especially among the elderly, young adults, and low-income families. More than half the pre-tax income of these three groups goes to servicing debt. Nowadays, however, the “company store” is headquartered on Wall Street.
Debt is driving this system of auto-cannibalism which, by every measure of social wellbeing, is relentlessly turning a developed country into an underdeveloped one. 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are back. Is a political resistance to debt servitude once again imaginable?
Steve Fraser is a historian, writer, and editor-at-large for New Labor Forum, co-founder of the American Empire Project, and TomDispatch regular. He is, most recently, the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace. He teaches at Columbia University. This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobin magazine
This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobin. It is posted at with the kind permission of that magazine.
Copyright 2013 Steve Fraser

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A Blowback Hurricane

By David Swanson

January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” –  Most violence we face we’ve provoked.  Those confronting us with violence are exactly as wrong as if we hadn’t provoked them.  But we are not as innocent as we like to imagine.

This seems like a simple concept awaiting only factual substantiation, but in fact it is dramatically at odds with most people’s ridiculously ill-conceived notion of how blame works.  According to this common notion, blame is like a lump of clay.  Whoever holds it is to blame.  If they hand it to someone else, then that person is exclusively to blame.  If they break it in half, then two people can each be half to blame.  But blame is a finite quantity and the clay is very difficult to break.  So once the clay is attached to one person, everybody else is pretty well blameless.

I faulted President Obama for instructing the Justice Department not to prosecute anyone in the CIA for torture, and someone told me that Attorney General Holder was in fact to blame, and therefore Obama was not.  I faulted easy access to guns for mass shootings, and someone told me that antidepressant medications were to blame, and therefore gun laws were not.  If you’re like me, these sorts of calculations will strike you as bizarrely stupid.  The question of whether Obama is to blame is a question of what he has done or not done; Holder doesn’t enter into it at all.  The question of whether Holder is to blame comes down to whether Holder acted against the interest of the greater good; it has nothing to do with Obama.  One or both or neither of them could be to blame.  Or they could both be to blame and 18 other people be to blame as well.  We have problems with gun laws, psychiatric drugs, films, tv shows, video games, examples set by our government’s own violence, and many other elements of our culture; none of them erase any of the others.

Blame is unlimited.  Rather than a finite lump of clay, blame should be pictured as water droplets condensing out of the air on a cold glass.  There is no limit to them.  They appear wherever another glass is cold.  Their quantity bears no relation to the quantity of the harm done.  A million people can carry the blame for a trivial harm, or one person can be alone to blame and to blame only slightly for a most horrible tragedy.

Another type of example may help explain where the common conception of blame comes from.  A man convicted of murder is proven innocent, but loved ones of the victim want him punished anyway (and in proportion to the harm done).  Another is proven insane or incompetent or underage, but he is punished just the same.  Blame is perceived as a burning hot ball of clay that must be tossed from person to person desperately until it can be attached to someone deserving of it.  Once that is done, there is no rush to find anyone (or anything) else who might also be to blame.  Blame is a concept that is tied up in people’s muddled minds with the concept of revenge.  It’s hard to seek revenge against numerous people or institutions all bearing different types and degrees of blame.  It’s much easier to simplify.  And once the demand for revenge is satisfied in the aggrieved, it ceases to search for new outlets.

When hijackers flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they were given blame.  Anyone who helped them was given blame (after all, it’s hard to seek revenge against the dead).  But anyone who provoked or accidentally permitted those crimes was deemed absolutely blameless.  There wasn’t any more clay to go around.  To blame the U.S. government for having spent years arming and training religious fanatics in Afghanistan and provoking them in Palestine and Saudi Arabia would mean unblaming the hijackers.  To blame the U.S. government for not preventing the hijackings would mean unblaming the hijackers.

This kind of infantile thinking has prevented us from grasping anything like the true extent of blowback our nation has encountered.

There are individual encounters in which zero-sum blame thinking appears to work.  Someone who kills in self-defense is given less blame than someone who kills an innocent victim.  But translating this to the public or even international arena seems to me to fail.  Violent social movements are wrong and to blame even when they are resisting injustice.  Crimes of resistance by Native Americans and slaves can be seen as crimes even as we understand them as blowback.  The World War II era crimes of Japan create a great deal of blame for Japan, and that is unchanged by understanding the history of how the United States brought war making and imperialism to the Japanese.  Often in U.S. history we have been confronted by a Frankenstein monster of our own creation, and one intentionally provoked at that.  This is different from the myth of our innocence and of the other’s irrational random aggression.  A more informed understanding doesn’t excuse the aggression.  It erases our (the U.S. government’s) innocence.

Saddam Hussein was our creature.  So was Gadaffi.  And Assad.  “Intervene” is Pentagon-speak for “switch sides.”  Our dictators remain guilty of their crimes when we learn that we funded them.  Every graduate of the School of the Americas who heads off into the world to murder and torture is to blame for doing so, and so is the School of the Americas, and so are the taxpayers who fund it and the governments that send students to attend it.

We imagine that crazy irrational Iranians attacked us out of the blue in 1979, whereas the CIA’s coup of 1953 made the embassy takeover predictable — a completely different thing from justifiable.

Britain and its apprentice / master-to-be the United States long feared an alliance between Germany and Russia.  This led to facilitation of the creation of the Soviet Union.  And it led to support for the development of Nazism in Germany.  The goal was Russian-German conflict, not peace.  When war is imagined to be inevitable, the great question is where to create it, not whether.  The post-World War I talks at Versailles laid the groundwork for World War II, helped along by the West’s financial and trade policies for decades to come.

Also at Versailles, President Wilson refused to meet with a young man named Ho Chi Minh — an initial bit contribution perhaps to a great deal of future blowback.  The Cold War was of course provoked by lies, threats, and weapons development.

Even if you assume that the United States should dominate the globe militarily, some of the military bases being built right now are very hard to explain, except as thoughtless overreach or intentional provocation of China.  One can guess how China is perceiving this.  And yet, while the U.S. military spends many times the amount of money spent by China’s each year, Chinese increases provoked by U.S. troop deployments, are being used in the U.S. media to justify U.S. military spending.  Most Americans have no more idea that their own government is provoking China than most Israelis have a remotely accurate conception of what their government does to Palestinians.  Watch these young Israelis exposed for the first time to their nation’s occupation of Palestine.  Their world is altered.

Imagine if people in the United States were to learn what their funding and weaponry are used for.  U.S. weapons account for 85% of international weapons sales.  While the NRA bought a political party, Lockheed Martin bought two.  We don’t talk about it, but many U.S. wars have been fought against U.S. weapons.  U.S. wars like the recent one in Libya result in more violence in places like Mali.  U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and Afghanistan are generating intense anger, and blowback that has already included the targeting and killing of drone pilots, as well as attempted acts of terrorism in the United States.

When will we ever learn?  The hacker group Anonymous replaces government websites with video games to “avenge” Aaron Swartz, and we laugh.  But vengeance is at the root of our inability to think sensibly about blame, which is in turn at the root of our inability to process what is being done to the people of the world in our name with our funding.  Because war is not inevitable, everywhere we stir it up is somewhere that might have lived without it.  We spend $170 billion per year on keeping U.S. troops in other people’s countries.  Most people living near U.S. military bases do not want them there.  Many are outraged by their presence.  The blowback will keep coming.  We should begin to understand that it is normal, that it is the theme of our entire history, that its predictability does not of course justify it, that we are to blame, and that there’s plenty of blame for anyone else who’s earned it.

David L. Swanson is an American activist, blogger and author.

Escobar: Shadow wars & no interventions – US plan for MidEast & Asia

Israel to Demand Apology for ‘Anti-Semitic’ Netanyahu Cartoon

The Sunday Times ‘crossed a red line,’ says Ambassador to UK Daniel Taub; Knesset Speaker Rivlin lodges complaint with British counterpart

By Raphael Ahren

January 29, 2013 “Times Of Israel” —  Israel is planning to demand an apology for a controversial cartoon that appeared in the British Sunday Times, Israel’s ambassador to London said Monday, while one minister mulled steps against the paper.

One day after the caricature sparked outrage among Jewish groups for its depiction of a bloodthirsty Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu building a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinians, leading Israelis joined the chorus of condemnation.

“The newspaper should apologize for this. We’re not going to let this stand as it is,” Israeli Ambassador to London Daniel Taub told The Times of Israel in a telephone interview. “We genuinely think that a red line has been crossed and the obligation on the newspaper is to correct that.”

Taub added that he was going to meet with the newspaper’s editor “at the earliest opportunity, perhaps already today,” to express the government’s concern about a cartoon that draws “on classical anti-Semitic themes.”

In a meeting Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East quartet who’s also a former British premier, deplored the caricature, noting the timing of its publication on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office

Earlier on Monday, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein told Army Radio that the government would probably refrain from filing an official complaint with the London-based paper. However, he said, “We will think about how to act against the paper’s representative here in Israel.”

The cartoon is “certainly” anti-Semitic, Edelstein asserted. “I don’t think there is any other possible way to interpret it,” he said, adding that its publication on International Holocaust Remembrance Day was particularly hurtful, a sentiment shared by Taub.

Responding to an outcry from Jewish groups — Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, called the cartoon “absolutely disgusting” and said it “makes all the talk of fighting anti-Semitism seem irrelevant,” and Michael Salberg of the Anti-Defamation League said “The Sunday Times has clearly lost its moral bearings — a spokesman for the newspaper told The Times of Israel Sunday the cartoon was not anti-Semitic but critical of the prime minister’s policies, as it was “aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu and his policies, not at Israel, let alone at Jewish people.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin wrote a letter Monday to his British counterpart, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, expressing the Israeli people’s “extreme outrage” at the cartoon, which was drawn by veteran caricaturist Gerald Scarfe.

“For me and for other Israelis, this cartoon was reminiscent of the vicious journalism during one of the darkest periods in human history,” Rivlin wrote. While government authorities should not attempt to control the media and must grant freedom of speech, many Israelis are “shocked that such cartoons can be published in such a respectable newspaper in the Great Britain of today, fearing that such an event is testimony to sick undercurrents in British society.”

Scarfe’s cartoon, captioned “Israeli elections: Will cementing peace continue?”, “blatantly crossed the line of freedom of expression,” Rivlin added.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky drew a direct connection between the cartoon and the increase in anti-Semitic violence that took place in 2012.

“There is a very tragic alliance between primitive, anti-democratic, nationalist, racist, fundamentalist forces who are committing most of the violence, and enlightened, liberal, intellectual representatives of the intelligentsia in Europe,” Sharansky told The Times of Israel. By using clear double standards towards Israel, Western intellectuals evidently accept the delegitimization of Israel and are thus “helping to justify” anti-Jewish violence, he said. While Israel respects other nations’ right to freedom of speech, it is was “necessary and important” to label people such as Scarfe, the cartoonist, as anti-Semites, he added.

Some Israelis came to Scarfe’s defense. Haaretz correspondent Anshel Pfeffer listed several reasons the cartoon was “not anti-Semitic by any standard”: the cartoon, he argued, isn’t directed at Jews, features no Jewish symbols and does not use Holocaust imagery.

Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire CEO of News Corp., which owns The Times, nevertheless tweeted a harshly worded apology.


Rupert Murdoch

Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon.


Nissim “Nusko” Hezkiyahu, one of Israel’s most famous caricaturists, defended Scarfe. While Sunday’s cartoon turned his stomach, it is not anti-Semitic, Hezkiyahu told Army Radio. “You need to know this man. He wasn’t born yesterday nor did he start publishing caricatures yesterday,” Hezkiyahu said. “We’re talking about Gerald Scarfe, one of the world’s most famous caricaturists, who doesn’t just make fun of Bibi” but of many politicians, and he treats them all equally disrespectfully. “If you look at the other caricatures, Bibi came off easy.”

“To say that this caricature shows Bibi with a big nose — compared to all the caricatures that are published here, I think that was the smallest nose he ever had,” Hezkiyahu said.

The fact that the cartoon was published on a day on which the world remembers the Holocaust was unfortunate, but most likely not the fault of the cartoonist but of the editor, Hezkiyahu added.

Taub, Israel’s ambassador in London, acknowledged that Scarfe is famous for politically incorrect drawings but said that the depiction of Netanyahu went too far. “Scarfe is known to be provocative, but I think that even according to his own provocative standards, this is a cartoon that crosses any line,” Taub said. “What is very troubling is that fact that these are things that we have become accustomed to see only really only at the extreme end of society, the most extreme elements on the fringes. And to see them in a respected newspaper like the Sunday Times, which is really in the heart of mainstream, is very troubling indeed.”

© 2013 The Times of Israel, All rights reserved

See also –

French poll: 40% say Jews too powerful in business: Survey conducted by World Zionist Organization ahead of International Day for Countering Anti-Semitism shows 47% of France’s population believe local Jews are ‘more loyal to Israel than to the country they live in’

Verbal Defecation Buries Truth

By William A. Cook

“ We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments (made by MP David Ward last week) about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience ” (Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1/25/2013).

January 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – I must apologize for not responding to the lashing given to Lib Dem MP David Ward a week ago as my wife’s Mother, 88 years of age, was moved into Hospice care readying her for leaving this vale of tears. Her life, as is true of my own, suffered the horrors of WWII and the Nazi devastation of prisoners including, from 1933, Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah Witnesses,   homosexuals , (and) persons accused of “asocial” or socially deviant behavior, and Jews, between 1938 and 1945 (Holocaust Encyclopedia). Our lives are bookended between depressions and wars. So what have we learned, as David Ward so tellingly asks to the chagrin of many including Mr. Benjamin quoted above. Curiously I found Mr. Ward’s comment incomplete. This is what he said:

Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.

If truth be told, it did not take “a few years” for the Jews to inflict “unbelievable levels of persecution” on the indigenous people of Mandate Palestine; the persecution began in earnest in 1939 against the British, the British Mandate Government established in 1922 by the League of Nations to maintain order and peace in Palestine. The Zionists undertook “a war against the British Mandate Government, its Police and Soldiers” while it lobbied and subverted the MP’s in Westminster with propaganda and money. Here are the words Weizmann and Ben-Gurion promised the Mandate Government:

•  “if further action was taken against them (by the British Mandate Government) to destroy Zionism, then there would be a blood bath. Nothing could prevent it. Nobody would be safe in Palestine  (July 12, 1946, Rhodes Archive Documents). If need be, we shall take the country by force. If Palestine proves too small, her frontiers will have to be extended” (Ben Gurion, Appendix LVc).

This war set the British Government against its own soldiers and police, yea against the nations of the world that had authorized Britain to manage Palestine, and its own Balfour Declaration wording, to appease the Zionists that made this period one of the most destructive and humiliating experienced by the British people through their elected representatives. When in 1948, May of 1948, the Mandate soldiers and police returned home they were virtually shunned by the MPs as Robert Fisk notes in his piece, “The Forgotten Holocaust.”

Let’s move beyond the “outrage and shock” experienced by Mr. Benjamin, dig through the defecation if you will, to understand why he avoids telling the truth. Should he care to find it, he need only travel a few miles to Oxford , specifically seek in the Rhodes House Archives the “Top Secret” files of Sir Richard C. Catling lodged in a long card board box tied with a shoestring. Catling was Assistant Head Deputy of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Mandate Police. His file contains almost 500 pages of evidence detailing the subterfuge of the Jewish Agency that ostensibly cooperated with the British Government as Jewish immigrants came to Palestine . The documents were seized by the Mandate authorities from the Jewish Agency and its affiliated terror groups, the Haganah, Stern and Irgun “gangs.”

Two reports are included, one from High Commissioner Hugh MacMichael written in 1941 and sent to the British Secretary of State’s office and the second Catling’s report from 1947. The contents of these documents and the commentary of the reports were published by myself as Editor of The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction. That volume was published in 2010 by Macmillan Company with offices in London and New York . More than 20 renowned writers from around the world contributed to this work that describes the original intent of the Zionists as they terrorized the British authorities and the Palestinians from 1939 to May 14, 1948 and never stopped to this day. It is a book about genocide in Palestine .

How do you say that kindly? How do you make people, Jews and gentiles alike, feel comfortable talking about such behavior? How do you atone for the massacres of innocents as the Jewish armies raped, pillaged, slaughtered or drove out the residents of 418 towns and villages in Palestine while the British forces there had to stand by and watch because their fellow British politicians in Westminster called the shots?

Seven to eight hundred thousand Palestinians were driven from their homes and lands, into exile in foreign countries or into Gaza . They are a people without a homeland, contrary to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No passports, no recognized rights to employment or medical care or support of any kind—in Beirut and other cities in Lebanon , in Syria , in Jordan . To this day they live in refugee camps, thousands imprisoned with no place to go, no right of return, yet any Jew living anywhere in the world, who never stepped foot in Palestine, who has no Semitic blood in his/her veins, has a “right of return.” How can this be? Where is the justice?

Where is the cry of lamentation by the British MPs for allowing these conditions to persist? Why a cry of “Outrage and Shock”? What hypocritical nonsense from the “Good” people of Britain who walk around in pin striped suits and glittering pearls asking for “decency” and “respect” and “kindness” toward those who suffered the holocaust because they would be appalled at such “words” as David Ward uttered. I’m sorry, I don’t believe the Jews of the concentration camps would be “shocked and outraged” by such words; I think they would be “shocked and outraged” if the MPs and the Deputies of British Jews did not speak against the horrors the Zionist government of Israel has perpetrated on the Jews in the name of Judaism. Perhaps they can speak through me:


I saw the pictures children drew at Terezin
As they clustered in the attic’s closing darkness, —
Pictures of the sun beyond the rain,
Of Mothers muffled in scarves and solemn dress,
Of Fathers proud beneath their yarmulkas, —
All waiting patiently the promised day
When they would board the silver train
And flee to the Holy City.

And I wept at their plight,
The silent, unknown, gnawing fright
That burned within their Ghetto of sin,
This Terezin.

And then before my eyes there came
Another scene, so strange, as if incarnate in the first
That burst untimely before my weeping heart;
A scene more ravaged than Terezin,
Of streets and alleys swamped in sewage and despair
Where children breathed the fetid air of hate
That smoldered like steaming ashes there.

Suddenly appeared above the graves, the ghosts of Terezin,
Arising like mist around the crematorium;
Fathers and Mothers, in their promised land at last,
Grasping children to their breasts.
Silent as sentinels they stood,
And there they wept as they watched in vain
The wardens wander through the camps
Like Gestapo agents of old,
Stark, cold, indifferent to the pain
Of those who huddled beneath the tin roofs,
Encased like the dead in cement boxes
As the acrid stench of lingering sewage
Flowed through the alleys and the homes.

They saw the tanks rattle through the streets
With ranks of soldiers scurrying behind,
Seeking the vermin that infested this place, –
Homeless, nameless, without a face, —
Sneaking through this ghetto in the dark of night
To drive the children from this transport town,
This resurrected refugee camp, this new Terezin,
Where the new Jew wanders the world
Like the Jews of Terezin,
Joined in their loneliness and despair
As they watch their children there
Become the walls of Terezin!

The “despatch” sent by MacMichael to the Secretary of State resulted from an investigation into the funding practices and use of those funds by various Jewish organizations.

The memorandum illustrates … the fact that the Mandatory is faced potentially with as grave a danger in Palestine from Jewish violence as it has ever faced from Arab violence, a danger infinitely less easy to meet by the methods of repression which have been employed against Arabs. In the first place, the Jews … have the moral and political support … of considerable sections of public opinion both in the United Kingdom and the United States of America . … all the influence and political ability of the Zionists would be brought to bear to show that the Jews in Palestine were the victims of aggression, and that a substantial body of opinion abroad would be persuaded of the truth of the contention. (i)

Quite obviously, MacMichael understands that the Mandatory has little power at home over the zealous actions of the Zionists as they manipulate public and political opinion even as they expand their terrorism against the British Mandate government in Palestine . This is an untenable position to be in, responsible for government control and security of those under its authority, i.e. Palestinians as well as Jews, knowing that the Jews are set on driving the British out of Palestine, and knowing that the home government can offer little help.

To bolster his points, MacMichael offers the following:

… the Jews in Palestine are by no means untrained in the use of arms … large numbers have received training in the Palestine Police… or in His Majesty’s Forces. At the present time, in addition to approximately 10,000 Jews in His Majesty’s Forces, there are 5,800 in various units of the police force and 15,400 special policemen (31,000) … When to those men … are added the illicit ‘defence’ organizations of the Jews (Haganah alone had an estimated 60-70,000 men by 1945, see Mss, Med. S20 Appendix XXI), it will be evident that the Jewish people in arms would numerically and in calibre be a very formidable adversary. (ii)

This is in 1941before the full deployment of Jewish terrorism against the legitimate Palestine government got under way.

MacMichael and Catling found themselves missing one of Catling’s primary supports for the waging of “irregular warfare” drawn from his image of the 3-legged stool that required the support of the people, the commander and his army and the government, an image, no doubt, from his childhood in Suffolk where his family were butchers and farmers. But the situation only got worse as the end of WWII loomed. The Haganah carried out anti-British military operations, including the kidnapping, killing and booby trapping of soldiers’ bodies, conducted against the Mandate Government while the home government remained silent under the pall of Israeli Zionist propaganda. (iii)

But recording the acts of terrorism does not do justice to the conditions the Mandate government faced. MacMichael describes the reality of the forces aligned against the police in Palestine .

A second matter which deeply impressed me is the almost Nazi control exercised by the official Jewish organizations over the Jewish community, willy nilly, through the administration of funds from abroad, the issue of labor certificates in connection with the immigration quota…. The Royal Commission were, in my view, fundamentally at error in describing the Jewish community in Palestine as “intensely democratic”. … The Zionist organization, the whole social structure which it has created in Palestine , has the trappings but none of the essentials of democracy. The community is under the closed oligarchy of the Jewish official organizations which control Zionist policy and circumscribe the lives of the Jewish community in all directions…. The reality of power is in the Agency, with the Haganah, the illegal military organization, always in the background. (iv)

And so the authorities in Palestine , the legal authorities, have no power to enforce measures that would curtail terrorism against their own police. “The use of force cannot be contemplated at present as any such action would have to be on a very large scale.” MacMichael understands that he can get no help from the Jewish community, even from those who find themselves at odds with the Agency’s methods or morality. The consequences to the individual Jew for disobedience is horrendous as the second document seized from the Zionists in 1947 attests.

But we’ll stop here; David Ward’s comment was nothing to condemn. He didn’t know of the years before the end of WWII when the Zionists were destroying Mandate Palestine and the indigenous people there. Yet he knew enough to ask a discerning question. Did the Jewish people learn anything from their experience under Hitler’s rule? The Zionists did quite obviously and they used it and continue to use it to decimate and destroy the Palestinian people, to disarm truth with distortion, to steal land and subjugate the innocent, and to verbally defecate with deafening verbal, righteous indignation, to avoid the reality and truth that could be discovered if their actions were brought before the International Courts.

Should anyone care to extend their interest in this deception you might read “Deception as Truth: the Myth of Mid-East Peace,” “The Birth Date of Fratricide: May 14, 1948 ,” “A Miscarriage of Birth: a Miscarriage of Justice,” and the Introduction to the book, The Plight of the Palestinians .

William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His books include Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East policy, The Rape of Palestine, The Chronicles of Nefaria, a novella, and the forthcoming The Plight of the Palestinians. He can be reached at or

(i) MacMichael, Harold. (1947). “Memorandum on the Participation of the Jewish National Institutions in Palestine in Acts of Lawlessness and Violence” The Palestine Police, Jerusalem , 7-31-1947 in Catling file.

(ii) MacMichael. “dispatch.” 1.

(iii) Ibid., “Despatch.” 2.

(iv) Ibid., “Despatch.” 2.

Obama’s Non-closing of GITMO and US Government Irony

The excuse used to justify Obama’s failure to close GITMO is incomplete and misleading. Plus: multiple other items

By Glenn Greenwald

January 30, 2013 ” The Guardian” – – A few (relatively) brief items worthy of note today:

(1) The New York Times’ Charlie Savage reported yesterday that the State Department “reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him”. That move obviously confirms what has long been assumed: that the camp will remain open indefinitely and Obama’s flamboyant first-day-in-office vow will go unfulfilled. Dozens of the current camp detainees havelong been cleared by Pentagon reviews for release – including Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a 36-year-old Yemeni who died at the camp in September after almost 11 years in a cage despite never having been charged with a crime. Like so many of his fellow detainees, his efforts to secure his release were vigorously (and successfully) thwarted by the Obama administration.

Perfectly symbolizing the trajectory of the Obama presidency, this close-Guantánamo envoy will now “become the department’s coordinator for sanctions policy”. Marcy Wheeler summarizes the shift this way: “Rather than Close Gitmo, We’ll Just Intercept More Medical Goods for Iran”. She notes that this reflects “how we’ve changed our human rights priorities”. Several days ago, Savage described how the Obama DOJ is ignoring its own military prosecutors’ views in order to charge GITMO detainees in its military commissions with crimes that were not even recognized as violations of the laws of war.

Whenever the subject is raised of Obama’s failure to close GITMO, the same excuse is instantly offered on his behalf: he tried to do so but Congress (including liberals like Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders) thwarted him by refusing to fund the closing. As I documented at length last July, this excuse is wildly incomplete and misleading. When it comes to the failure to close GITMO, this “Congress-prevented-Obama” claim has now taken on zombie status – it will never die no matter how clearly and often it is debunked – but it’s still worth emphasizing the reality.

I won’t repeat all of the details, citations and supporting evidence – see here – but there are two indisputable facts that should always be included in this narrative. The first is that what made Guantánamo such a travesty of justice was not its geographic locale in the Caribbean Sea, but rather its system of indefinite detention: that people were put in cages, often for life, without any charges or due process. Long before Congress ever acted, Obama’s plan was to preserve and continue that core injustice – indefinite detention – but simply moved onto US soil.

Put simply, Obama’s plan was never to close GITMO as much as it was to re-locate it to Illinois: to what the ACLU dubbed “GITMO North”. That’s why ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said of Obama’s 2009 “close-GITMO” plan that it “is hardly a meaningful step forward” and that “while the Obama administration inherited the Guantánamo debacle, this current move is its own affirmative adoption of those policies.” That’s because, he said, “the administration plans to continue its predecessor’s policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for some detainees, with only a change of location.”

And the reason Democratic Senators such as Feingold voted against funding GITMO’s closing wasn’t because they were afraid to support its closing. It was because they refused to fund the closing until they saw Obama’s specific plan, because they did not want to support the importation of GITMO’s indefinite detention system onto US soil, as Obama expressly intended.

In sum, Obama’s “closing GITMO” plan was vintage Obama: a pretty symbolic gesture designed to enable Democrats to feel good while retaining the core powers that constituted the injustice in the first place. As the ACLU’s Romero said: “shutting down Guantánamo will be nothing more than a symbolic gesture if we continue its lawless policies onshore.” Again, had Obama had his way – had Congress immediately approved his plan in full – the system of indefinite detention that makes GITMO such a disgrace would have continued in full, just in a different locale.

(2) Regarding the story I wrote about yesterday – the Pentagon’s massive expansion of its so-called “cyber-security” program – here is how the New York Times described the move in its headline:

nyt cyber

But here, as As’ad AbuKhalil noted, is how the article itself described the program:

The Pentagon is moving toward a major expansion of its cybersecurity force to counter increasing attacks on the nation’s computer networks, as well as to expand offensive computer operations on foreign adversaries, defense officials said Sunday.

Although it is easy to take for granted given how common it is, it is worthwhile every now and then to pause and note how courteous and kind the NYT is to the Pentagon.

On Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story Americas” program yesterday, I debated this Pentagon expansion of its cyber-war program with two defenders of the program: former Reagan Defense official and current CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb, and Scott Borg of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, a government-funded 501c3 research institute. The 20-minute segment can be viewed here:

As I noted, although 4,000 new employees may not be enormous in the scheme of overall Pentagon spending, the expansion of this program and the new contracts it will entail certainly is substantial.

(3) As a hobby over the years, I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of US government statements that are so drowning in obvious, glaring irony that the officials uttering them simply must have been mischievously cackling to themselves when they created them. Among my favorites of this genre were all those denunciations by US officials of how Iran was “interfering” in Iraq and Afghanistan: two countries the US had invaded and, at the moment the statements were issued, were occupying with tens of thousands of soldiers.

In a Reuters report from Tuesday on the interception of a ship off the coast of Yemen which was allegedly carrying arms intended for Yemeni rebels and which anonymous US officials claim was sent by Iran, we have another excellent entry:

“‘This demonstrates the ever pernicious Iranian meddling in other countries in the region,’ said the second US official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.”

How dare Iran “meddle” in a country in which we have propped up (and continue to prop up) a dictatorship for decades and which we regularly bomb? It’s just hard to believe that any human brain – even the most nationalistically self-deluded – is capable of making these kinds of statements while hiding from itself the oozing irony.

(4) The reviews of Zero Dark Thirty continue to pour in. Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf calls it “the most vile and immoral war film I’ve seen in years”, and he separately noted that “Hollywood is giving [Kathyrn] Bigelow prizes because she makes Americans feel good about themselves and their wars.” In the Guardian, Slavoj Žižek depicts the film as “Hollywood’s gift to America’s power”. Meanwhile, Atlantic Wire’s Richard Lawson yesterday wrote that the growing objections to the film – see here – have caused it to “crash” from its status as early-Oscar favorite into “something vaguely taboo”.

(5) The war in Mali rages on. As the west’s attention focused on the genuinely tragic destruction of ancient manuscripts by Malian rebels, a French attack on the central Mali town of Konna killed 12 civilians.

Earlier this week, the New York Times noted about the war in Mali that “France gets about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, and much of the uranium used for fuel is mined in [neighboring] Niger by Areva, the French nuclear company.” The Washington Post reports this morning that “the US military is planning a new drone base in Africa that would expand its surveillance of al-Qaida fighters and other militants in northern Mali” and “military planners are eyeing the West African country of Niger as a base for unarmed Predator drones, which would greatly boost US spy missions in the region.”

It’s an awesome stroke of good luck how the selfless Humanitarian Interventions of Nato nations always nicely coincide with their material self-interest. These interventions also coincidentally ensure the endless perpetuation of the War on Terror, as France is significantly heightening domestic security measures in anticipation of retaliatory bombings. And that’s all separate from what will undoubtedly be all the unanticipated instability, violence and suffering that comes from this latest bombing campaign. Many of these campaigns are justified by pointing to authentic atrocities (Saddam’s mass graves and Kurdish oppression) but they are rarely about those. Even when they are, the harms almost always outweigh the benefits.

(6) The New York Times’ John Harwood this morning reports that “for all the talk that President Obama has shifted leftward, much of his early second-term energy seeks simply to preserve the status quo.” Really? Obama is an agent of status quo perpetuation? But he just gave (another) really pretty liberal speech. Is it possible that there’s no correlation between his pretty speeches and his actual beliefs and actions?

(7) A couple of years ago, I spoke at an event at Brooklyn Law School on the lethal Israeli assault on the Gaza flotilla along with Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi and lawyer Fatima Mohammadi, who was on the Mavi Marmara. It was an excellent event but what I remember most is how nervous school administrations were about it: they took the unusual step of posting security guards at the entrance to the building to bar all non-students from attending, meaning that the community at large was excluded from hearing the event. What amazed me about that was how cowardly so many university administrators often are in the face of controversy: if there’s one place where marginalized and offensive ideas should be able to thrive and be heard without fear, it’s academia.

I was reminded of this by a brewing and evolving controversy at Brooklyn College, where I’m scheduled to speak next month to deliver the college’s annual Konefsky Lecture. Earlier this year, the college’s Political Science Department decided to sponsor a panel discussion on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at stopping Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, featuring Palestinian and BDS activist Omar Barghouti and US philosopher Judith Butler.

Knowing how easily cowed many university administrators are, an intense campaign emerged demanding cancellation of the event. The New York Daily News this morning decreed that “Brooklyn College is no place for an Israel-bashing lecture” while so-called pro-Israel students are complaining that the event will “condone and legitimize anti-Jewish bigotry” and “contribute significantly to a hostile environment for Jewish students on our campus”. They have “called on the Political Science Department to rescind its sponsorship of this hateful, hurtful and discriminatory event.”

It doesn’t matter what you think of the BDS movement. This is all part of a pernicious trend to ban controversial ideas from the place they should be most freely discussed: colleges and universities. Just last month, a gay student leader at Canada’s Carelton University used exactly the same language as these Brooklyn College students to justify his destruction of a “free speech wall” that contained ideas and sentiments he found upsetting. He decreed: “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression,” simultaneously anointing himself arbiter to decide which opinions are so invalid they cannot be heard. He added: “We are supposed to be creating safe(r) spaces for ourselves, and for other students, but there can be no safe(r) spaces where there is potential for triggering, the invalidation or questioning of the identities of others, and/or the expression of hatred.”

Actually, academia is where one should go to have one’s views and assumptions challenged, disturbed and confronted, not flattered and shielded by a “safe space”. If you find the BDS movement or anti-gay advocacy disturbing, the solution is to debate and debunk it, not ban it. So far, the Brooklyn College administrators are holding firm, but if they cancel the event, I’d strongly consider asking them to cancel mine as well, as I assume when I accept invitations to speak in academic venues that I’m going somewhere that fosters rather than suffocates the free exchange of ideas. Those inclined to do so can contact school administrators – here – and encourage them not to capitulate to these censorship calls.

(8) To say that I’ve had numerous disputes over the years with University of Tennessee Law School Professor Glenn Reynolds (“Instapundit”) is a drastic understatement, but he has a column in USA Today with an intriguing proposal to stop – or at least slow – the “revolving door”, whereby government officials go to private industry and enrich themselves by exploiting their government contacts:

“I propose putting a 50% surtax – or maybe it should be 75%, I’m open to discussion – on the post-government earnings of government officials. So if you work at a cabinet level job and make $196,700 a year, and you leave for a job that pays a million a year, you’ll pay 50% of the difference – just over $400,000 – to the Treasury right off the top. So as not to be greedy, we’ll limit it to your first five years of post-government earnings; after that, you’ll just pay whatever standard income tax applies.

“This seems fair. After all, when it comes to your value as an ex-government official, it really is a case of ‘you didn’t build that.’ Your value to a future employer comes from having held a taxpayer-funded position and from having wielded taxpayer-conferred power. Why shouldn’t the taxpayers get a cut?”

Given that this would have to be enacted by the very people who benefit most from this revolving door – members of Congress and their staffs – its value is more in highlighting the problem than solving it. But this revolving door is what enables corporatist control over government, and anything that can foster a bipartisan and trans-ideological solution should be welcomed.

(9) The Q-and-A session I did with Guardian readers last week was quite enjoyable. The questions were almost uniformly thoughtful and thought-provoking, and I think it’s critical that journalism always be an interactive, two-way conversation rather than a stilted monologue. Numerous readers emailed to say they were particularly interested to hear for the first time the underlying assumptions and motives for the writing I do here. Along those lines, I did a 45-minute interview last year with Berkeley’s Harry Kreisler that contains probably the most extensive discussion I’ve had of the background, goals and assumptions of the journalism I try to do. I’ve posted this before, but for those who are interested and haven’t seen it, it’s here or below:

The second half focuses on the book, but the first half is a general discussion of the objectives I try to fulfill with the work I do.

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerfull

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited.

 National Nervous Breakdown

By Linh Dinh

January 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Tales of madness are subjective. I mean, what is insanity exactly? If all of your ghastly indiscretions, mental and actual, were strung together, they could wrap this earth many times over, ditto mine, so all of us can easily be deemed deranged, including you, solemn pastor, rah rah coach or prissy board lady. Still, when unhinged behaviors become increasingly pervasive, it’s time we ask if this society is going through a nervous breakdown as it’s falling apart structurally? From our psychopathic President on down, we’re showing the world, and posterity, that we’re clearly not right in the noggin. Our meaty football players fall in love with chimeric sirens, our grade school children swoon over homicidal rappers, our poets neuter themselves when not sucking up, professorial morons are trotted out as national pundits on all matters, and caged fighting becomes family and patriotic entertainment, while on television, a slurring, chubby girl frolics in a crib with a farting piglet. Or take crime news. Random, wanton, disproportionate or particularly sadistic acts of violence used to be seldom, but now they occur so often, in all parts of the country, that most never register on our national consciousness, or conscience, assuming we still have one, tucked away somewhere. Shocking less and less, senseless acts of carnage merely amuse or titillate many of the angry, bored and frustrated, economically, socially or sexually, whatever, with commentators rushing online just to flaunt their limp, one-line witticism.

With neither will nor strategy for collective resistance against a government that consistently works against us, that ships our jobs overseas and uses our tax money for vampiric banks and incontinent bombs, thus wrecking our communities, we are left adrift and isolated, with the most alarmed among us turning preppers with discount bags of rice, beans, mac and cheese, Ramen Pride and an odd rifle, awaiting the SWAT team and drones. Long conditioned to cheer things and people being blown up, most of us don’t even realize that it’s our turn to scream and be splattered, by the same military, banking and media hoodlums that have long had us, and the world, by the privates. Stay meek, or you can’t move. Yes, officer. In any case, with our pharma-treated skulls well shoved up our IPods’ a-holes, we hardly know how batshit our own cities or towns are, much less the next one over.

In the City of Brotherly Love, all these happened in a one-week span: At the sparsely used Chinatown subway stop, a man in a Trumps Taj Mahal Casino Resorts jacket noticed a woman sitting alone on a bench. Though it was only afternoon, no one else was around. He decided to ask her for a lighter. After she obliged, he paused, sized her up, then lunged forward to push her against the wall. He then struck her face several times, dragged and threw her heavy form onto the tracks, before skipping away with her cell phone. Since no train rolled in, she survived. Two days later, he was captured after being spotted strutting through a subway car.

Missing his bus stop, a man pulled a gun on the driver, so he could get off right then and there. He couldn’t wait 20 seconds for the next stop, less than a block away. I doubt that such mad urgency was due to any doo doo emergency, like what happened to a squatting dude falling between two trains in New York City. (In the US, only baseball catchers squat in public, by the way, and even then, they hedge by not staying flat-footed. Evoking defecation or, Rocky forbid, female micturition, this posture pisses off all brisket bangers or Viagrally erectile Americans.) Also, in 2012, shots were fired into a Philly subway car and bus in separate incidents.

Across the river, a 27-year-old man deliberately shot his 11-year-old daughter in the face, as he was visiting the child’s mom, his ex. Another man then shot him in the buttocks.

A woman, Linda Ann Weston, was convicted for luring, then imprisoning mentally handicapped people in a squalid concrete basement, all to steal their benefit checks. She also subjected her own children and a niece to enhanced stress position techniques. With four accomplices, she chained them to a boiler, drugged them, beat them with a stick or baseball bat, shot them with a pellet gun, burnt them with a heated spoon, fed them irregularly with meager portions of instant noodles, forced them to drink their own urine and sleep naked. She prostituted her female victims. One man had half of his right ear bitten off by a pitbull. Two detainees died. This woman’s torturing spree lasted ten years.

In 2003, eight years before Weston was finally caught, a mother of one victim alerted the city that her daughter, and the daughter’s boyfriend, may have been kidnapped by Weston, but nothing was done about it. Philadelphia ignored all the red flags, for already in 1981, Weston and her sister, Venus, were convicted of beating a man with a hammer and broomstick, then tying and locking him up in a closet, where he was fed just four times in two months, until he died at 75 pounds, and for this, Weston got an eight-year sentence, for which she served only four. In fact, after her release, they gave her back her children, as well as custody of her niece, all of whom she proceeded to abuse.

Though local cops are slow to catch on, torture dungeons for the mentally retarded may be a Philly specialty, for it has already boasted Gary Heidnick. A bedwetting, high-IQ fellow with a peculiarly shaped head, Heidnick was an US Army medic, then self-declared bishop of his own church, catering to the feeble minded. White, he wedded a retarded, black woman, and all was fine until he raped her sister, which landed him in jail. Released, he snatched a Filipino mail order bride, but that didn’t work out either, so he started to lure one black, retarded woman after another, ending up with six, all of whom he kept in his basement, beat up, raped and electrocuted, killing one. Another died after being strung up. He dismembered, then cooked her corpse, chunk by chunk, but when a neighbor called the cops about the ungodly stench, one came, sniffed around outside, but did nothing. Before being executed in jail, Heidnick griped about his treatment, “I resent this kind of shit being done to a disabled veteran.” Too bad Heidnick’s gone, for surely there’s a swell job for him in the CIA, Pentagon or Hollywood.

Back to 2013. Last week, a pill-popping 36-year-old exterminator strangled, hogtied then burnt a 35-year-old doctor, after what he claimed was an argument in her basement. The petite woman belittled him, he explained, and though she was found in just her shirt, the police said there had been no sexual assault. After killing, the exterminator went to another appointment, and was arrested four days later at his home, while watching American Idol with his girlfriend. Many comments to this story focus on the death of the exterminator’s dog, shot by the cops as they were trying to snag its owner.

As of January 26th, Philly has 16 murders for the year, compared to 30 for all of January, 2012, so unless there is a sudden uptick in the next few days, we have made progress, so to speak, since last year, but I’m not just counting corpses here, but trying to limn the increasing alienation and sickness of my environment. As the country tortures, so do its citizens. As it kills for material gains, ego replenishment or just the hell of it, most casually, so do Americans. As it robs weaker nations, its teens swarm stores to shoplift. As the country preemptively attacks its trumped up or imaginary enemies, so do its cheap beer swilling couch potatoes. After murdering a stranger, a man exterminates rats, then drives home to watch TV with his lovely girlfriend. If up for a movie out, they can choose between John Dies at the End, Knife Fight, Texas Chainsaw in 3D, Zero Dark Thirty, Broken City or Bullet to the Head. “Revenge never gets old.” While droning, bombing and starving foreigners, Obama charms on television.

Barely seen by neighbors, because that’s how we like it, we can live, die, torture or be tortured in the privacy of our dungeons. I’ll finish, though, on a cheerful note. In a men’s room of Liberty One, Philly’s tallest skyscraper, dubbed “half an erection” by Robert Ventura, I heard a man sing at the urinal, “It’s a Friday, Friday! It’s a snow day on a Friday! I see snowflakes coming down, coming down!” When you have to wait until late January to get wet snow that doesn’t stick, you might just loose your mind when it finally happens. An aberration during global warming, this cold snap does chill the killing impulse, however. As a Philly prosecutor once told me, “There’s a correlation between ice cream sales and murders.” Enjoy this conditional pause in mayhem while it lasts.

Linh Dinh is tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union

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