Archive | April 1st, 2010

THE JEWISH DIASPORA IS TURNING ON ZIONIST REGIME

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My following article, written with John Docker and Ned Curthoys, appears in New Matilda:

It’s not just major western allies who are talking tough with Israel – evidence suggests ordinary Jews are also withdrawing their support from the rogue state

Earlier this month the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief correspondent Paul McGeough quizzically asked if there are any “major allies” left for Israel to offend. With the abuse of passports in the Dubai Mossad scandal, Israel has caused anger in Britain, Ireland, Australia, France and Germany.

It has even managed to annoy the United States, announcing on 8 March, the day of US vice president Joe Biden’s arrival in Jerusalem, that 1600 new homes for Israeli Jews would be built in East Jerusalem — that is, on illegally occupied and annexed Palestinian land. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement “an insult to the United States”, and President Obama reportedly gave Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu an icy reception during last week’s visit to the White House. The implication is clear: if Israel is rapidly losing moral legitimacy in the world, so might its close ally, sponsor, and defender in the United Nations.

Some years ago the American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in the London Review of Books, warned that Americans must see that continuing total support for Israel will harm their own national interests, jeopardising “not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world”. With that situation now playing out, western countries are finally beginning to question their traditional subservience to Israel.

Another of Israel’s powerful allies, however, has been steadily moving away from the rogue state for a number of years. The international Jewish Diaspora no longer automatically backs every Israeli action. In what was at first a trickle and is now a broad stream of dissent, Diaspora Jews are regaining their independence and questioning Israel’s moral and intellectual foundations. Refusing the leadership of the blindly pro-Israeli Zionist organisations, they have formed groups of “independent Jewish voices”, including in Australia, suggesting that Israel does not act in the name of all Jews, as it claims to do.

A recent US study found that only 54 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 were “comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state” — compared to more than 80 per cent of those over 65. Another study, conducted by progressive Jewish lobby J Street, found significant opposition among American Jews to continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As well, high-profile Jewish activists and intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, and Ronnie Kasrils, are energetically joining in the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and inspired by the non-violent anti-racist, anti-colonial philosophies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

In Australia, following similar initiatives in the United States and Britain, prominent Jews have signed a petition rejecting the 1950 Israeli Law of Return whereby people of Jewish descent can migrate to and become citizens of Israel. They are also expressing anger that Israel will not permit the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles as sanctioned by international law.

The petition, signed by ethicist Peter Singer, actor Miriam Margolyes, feminist Eva Cox, academic and pioneering gay rights activist Dennis Altman, writer Susan Varga, and others (including the three of us), argues that the Israeli Law of Return is “a form of racist privilege that abets the colonial oppression of the Palestinians … We renounce this ‘right’ to ‘return’ offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may ‘return’ to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed”.

The petition sits within an interesting historical context. In 1961 the famous German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber — who was forced to leave Germany in 1938, went to live in Palestine and was himself a cultural Zionist — wrote to prime minister David Ben-Gurion protesting against the persistent refusal of the Israeli government to accept and implement UN Resolution 194. Buber considered that Israel’s refusal to abide by international humanitarian law brought dishonour upon the Zionist movement and the Israeli state. For many decades Buber had put forward the idea that Palestine should become a bi-national state with equal citizenship for Arabs and Jews.

In the present, Jewish intellectuals such as the American Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, have looked to alternative traditions of critique such as those of Martin Buber to pose against the mainstream Zionist ideals that inspired the coming into existence of Israel as a militantly nationalist and aggressive settler-colonial state.

But while she still admires Buber, in a recent interview for the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Butler was quoted as saying that we now have to go beyond the notion of bi-nationalism to consider “even multiculturalism. Maybe even a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc.”

She continues: “It is no longer the question of ‘two peoples’, as Martin Buber put it. There is extraordinary complexity and intermixing among both the Jewish and the Palestinian populations.”

In our view, although we don’t necessarily speak here for our fellow petition-signatories, renunciation of the Israeli Law of Return by Jews in the Diaspora, and Israel’s immediate compliance with a vast array of relevant international law including UN Resolution 194, would be definite steps towards what Judith Butler envisages as “a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc”. The kind of citizenship, we might note, that is taken for granted as basic to those very same western democracies that have enabled Israel’s rogue status until now.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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AIPAC: SUPPORT ZIO=NAZI REGIME RIGHT OR WRONG

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AIPAC moves into gear and asks Israel lovers to deepen the relationship

For anybody worrying about Israel’s decline into deeper repression and occupation (such as the former editor of Haaretz, David Landau), America’s leading Zionist lobby would like you and Congress to shut up, now and forever:

America’s main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilising members of Congress to pressure the White House over its bitter public confrontation with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

The move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), appears aimed at exploiting differences in the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel towards concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.

Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to “reinforce” its relationship with the Jewish state.

The open letter, which has been circulating among members of Congress for the last week, says that while it is recognised that there will be differences between the two countries, they should be kept behind closed doors. “Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence,” it says.

The public differences, and revelations of Obama’s private snubs of Netanyahu at the White House last week, have proved embarrassing to the Israeli leader at home, where he has been accused of undermining Israel’s most important relationship.

Signatories to Aipac’s letter include Steny Hoyer, the Democrat majority leader, and Eric Cantor, the Republican whip. The wording is similar to an email Aipac sent out during Netanyahu’s visit, describing Obama’s criticisms of the Israeli government as “a matter of serious concern” and calling on the US administration “to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish state”.

But while Aipac has for years influenced US policy on Israel, by targeting members of Congress who criticise the Jewish state, it may no longer have the same impact.

Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs, said the administration’s decision to take a once routine disagreement over settlement construction in East Jerusalem and turn it in to a confrontation is a reflection of the determination in the White House.

“This episode tells us more about the past and the future than the present. It’s a reflection of the accumulated frustration and mistrust of the Netanyahu government by the White House. For the future, they’re headed for a collision on the pace and nature of peace negotiations,” he said. “We’re seeing determination.”

A source, who is consulted by administration officials on Israel policy but did not wish to be named, said that having chosen to take Netanyahu on, Obama cannot afford to back away. “The administration’s credibility is at stake – in Israel and the Arab world. Netanyahu thought he had the better of it last year after he humiliated the president by rejecting his demand for a settlement freeze. If the administration does not follow through on this, or reaches some compromise that takes the heat off the Israelis, I suspect it will be almost impossible for us to get anything off the ground,” he said.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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OLLIE ACCUSED OF SCAMMING VETERANS

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 by Robert L. Hanafin

In line with our article on those non-profit organizations that do provide a service to our Veterans and ‘Support Our Troops’ as was covered in my previous article Do All Non-Profits really Support Veterans, Troops, and Military Families?

We will be exposing reports of fraudulent efforts and causes that scam our Veterans and Troops. We are also working on getting the latest ratings of organizations that provide services or support to our Veterans and Troops from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) that has reportedly just released its latest ratings for April-May 2010.

Joe Conason at Salon reports that Sean Hannity and Ollie North say they collect millions of dollars for veterans’ kids. But where did the money go?

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News

Do Hannity and North operate a “charitable” fraud?

A potentially damaging scandal erupted that implicates Fox News Channel personalities Sean Hannity and Oliver North in the worst kind of charitable fraud.

According to complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the IRS, the two right-wing icons have exploited American veterans for personal and partisan gain. The actions filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) accuse Hannity and North of misusing millions of dollars collected by the Freedom Alliance, a charity they promote and control.

Veterans Today Editorial Comment: If the accusations prove to be true, this scandal will open up more questions about how charity watchdog organizations rate such efforts. A check of the Freedom Alliance shows that they claim at four star rating from Charity Navigator, have been screened by the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and paid for Best in America Independent Charities recognition via membership in that organization.

Similar accusations were aired recently by right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel, who complained that the “Freedom Concerts” sponsored by the Freedom Alliance and headlined by Hannity were not donating all proceeds — estimated at more than $10 million — to scholarships for the children of wounded and killed service members, as advertised. But now CREW, which had been investigating the same allegations independently before Schlussel posted her warning, has completed its own probe and filed legal actions before the two federal agencies.

Without naming who two of the most left-wing organizations were that are attacking Hannity and North, we must assume that CREW is one of them, according to a Freedom Alliance media release. The conservative charity organization claims these complaints to the IRS and FTC are a smear campaigns from the political left-wing.

However, one complaint has been lodged by a right-wing blogger, and we would not necessarily consider VoteVets a political action committee affiliated with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to be too left of center given their silence on the Afghanistan War.

POINT: These are not anti-war groups filing complaints against Freedom Alliance moderate maybe but calling them left-wing is a bit awkward.

Freedom Alliance Responds to Complaints

By Freedom Alliance

Monday, 29 March 2010

“Today, Freedom Alliance was attacked with baseless complaints. There is absolutely no merit to the scurrilous charges launched against Freedom Alliance from two of the most left-wing organizations in the country.“The smear-mongers who have launched this politically motivated witch hunt against Freedom Alliance will be proven wrong as we aggressively defend ourselves in the days and weeks ahead.”

-Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon

A review of Charity Navigator shows that Freedom Alliance has indeed been rated a four star, however comments sent to Charity Navigator take issue with the four star rating and includes the above response from Freedom Alliance.

The news section also takes issue with the rating given by Charity Navigator with VoteVets a political action committee associated with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and other younger Veterans Service Organizations has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission.

It will be insightful to follow these developments, and it is essential to note that efforts and causes that claim to support our troops and Veterans needs much closer scrutiny and monitoring by Congress, and each state’s Attorney General, and the Justice Department as necessary if they have broken any federal laws.

To Freedom Alliance’s credit they did pass the stringent screening and requirements of a noted charity watchdog organization Charity Navigator so if any legal actions find Freedom Alliance has not been spending proceeds on the children of Veterans, Vets or our troops in general will reflect negatively on Charity Navigator.

Freedom Alliance also got a satisfactory C- rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) to its favor so any illegal actions by the management of Freedom Alliance could also shed negative light on AIP a watchdog organization that has rated far too many Veterans and Troop support efforts and causes with an “F” efficiency rating. A ‘C minus’ rating reflects that although Freedom Alliance could do better they are supposedly meeting their obligations to their stated mission or cause.

Speaking of which, the latest ratings of Veteran and Military related charities and causes has just been posted by AIG in their recent April-May 2010 newsletter to members of Congress. That is a story we will be preparing for our readers, because little has changed since the last ratings in 2007.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News Network.

See: www.veteranstoday.com

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FOREIGN POLICY BRIEFING

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March 31, 2010 by

Bob Higgins

This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

Support the work of Just Foreign Policy:
Please donate what you can to support our work.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate.html

Urge Congress to Talk About the Human Cost of War
In the next few weeks, Congress is expected to be asked to approve $33 billion more for war and occupation in Afghanistan. Urge your representatives in Congress to use this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the human cost of continuing war and occupation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/humancost

How Many Vets Have Been “Wounded” in Iraq and Afghanistan?
According to Department of Defense statistics cited in press reports, 36,904 U.S. soldiers have been “wounded” in Iraq and Afghanistan. But according to information obtained by Veterans for Common Sense from the VA under FOIA, 508,152 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been patients at the VA, and there have been 442,412 disability claims.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/532

Jewish Voice for Peace: Stand Up for Divestment
The president of UC Berkeley’s student senate vetoed a historic 16 to 4 vote calling for divestment from General Electric and United Technologies because of their involvement in Israel’s illegal occupation and the bombing of Gaza. But the veto can be overturned with just 14 senate votes.
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2747

Institute for Public Accuracy: “Energy Independence” is “Ludicrous”
President Obama said increased offshore drilling was needed to assure ‘energy independence.’ But the idea the U.S. could be “energy independent” is “ludicrous,” says Robert Bryce, author of “Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence.’” IPA notes that while politicians talk of “dependence on Mideast oil” (Rep. Henry Waxman: “We’re so dependent on importing oil from the Middle East”), the countries the U.S. gets the most oil from are Canada, Mexico and Nigeria.
http://accuracy.org/newsrelease.php?articleId=2209

Mustafa Barghouti on declaration of Hebron site as “Israeli national heritage site”
Katya Reed interviews Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.
http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/03/27/mustafa-barghouti-on-declaration-of-hebron-site-as-quot-israeli-national-heritage-site-quot.aspx

Highlights of the Afghanistan Debate
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/video/housedebate

Summary:
 
1) U.S. forces hope to control Kandahar and surrounding areas by late summer, the Washington Post reports. Officials have pressed local leaders to eject the Taliban or their areas will be the focus of expanding military operations. Among those specifically warned by U.S. military commanders is Ahmed Wali Karzai, the elected head of Kandahar’s provincial council, the unquestioned power broker in the province and brother of President Hamid Karzai [and also President Karzai’s representative in talks with Taliban leader Mullah Baradar weeks before Baradar’s arrest, a fact curiously unmentioned by the Post or the very similar New York Times story – JFP.] One senior U.S. military official said he threatened Ahmed Wali Karzai thus:

“I told him, ‘I’m going to be watching every step you take. If I catch you meeting an insurgent, I’m going to put you on the JPEL,’ ” the Joint Prioritized Engagement List, reserved for the most wanted insurgents. “That means,” the official said he told Karzai, “that I can capture or kill you.” [If the Post had mentioned Ahmed Wali Karzai’s role in talks with Baradar, it could have explored the implications of the US official’s threat to kill President Karzai’s brother for President Karzai’s claim that the US was obstructing Karzai’s efforts to make peace with the Taliban – JFP.]

2) The Obama administration has expressed hopes that this year’s U.S. military buildup, if successful, will push insurgents toward a political settlement, paving the way for an eventual Western withdrawal, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some viewed Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s dispatch of a Hezb-i-Islami delegation for public peace talks with President Karzai as preempting the indirect contacts that have been taking place for months between the Taliban and the Karzai administration. But a former Taliban official said some of the Hezb-i- Islami demands presented to the government represented common aims of the two movements.

3) Followers of Moktada al-Sadr announced they were arranging a referendum to pick Iraq’s next prime minister, the New York Times reports. A Sadrist member of Parliament said the Iraqi National Alliance had begun talks with Prime Minister Maliki’s State of Law, Allawi’s Iraqiya and the Kurdish parties. He said serious negotiations would not start for several weeks and that an alliance between the Iraqi National Alliance and State of Law was likeliest.

Iran
4) The New York Times and Reuters are joining Fox News in hyping the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, writes Glenn Greenwald for Salon. Fox falsely claims a CIA report says Iran is still working on building a nuclear weapon; Reuters misinterprets the stance of the of the IAEA, which continues to certify that none of Iran’s supervised nuclear material has been diverted to military uses; the New York Times’ David Sanger darkly warns that Western intelligence agencies “suspect” Iran is preparing to build more enrichment sites, when Iran has publicly declared its intention to do so.

Mexico
5) Congress and State Department have taken little notice of Mexico’s failure to comply with the human rights conditions of the Merida Initiative, Kristin Bricker reports for NACLA. One of the human rights conditions requires that Mexico improve “the transparency and accountability of federal police forces . . . including establishing police complaints commissions with authority and independence to receive complaints and carry out effective investigations.” But a new law gives the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) discretion to decide what information it will withhold from the government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). Giving the PGR sole discretion in determining what information it hands over to the CNDH regarding human rights abuses allegedly committed by its officials and police officers significantly reduces its transparency and accountability.

6) The UN Human Rights Committee said Mexico has failed to make significant progress on human rights issues like violence against women, abuses by military troops involved in policing work, and attacks on journalists, Inter Press Service reports. The Committee expressed concern about the use of torture, violations of women’s rights, and the safety of human rights activists.

Israel/Palestine
7) Palestinians held protests to mark Land Day, the anniversary of 1976 protests against Israeli land expropriation in northern Israel, during which six Israeli Arab citizens were killed in confrontations with Israeli security forces, the New York Times reports. Several Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army fire in Gaza as they demonstrated close to the border with Israel.

See: www.veteranstoday.com

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ZIONIST SOCIETY AND HISTORY

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Jamal Zahalka, leader and MK of the Balad party, formerly led by Azmi Bishara, talks about Israeli society and history in this clip from the film Ashkenaz, by Rachel Leah Jones.

When you watch, make sure to turn the English subtitles on (if you need them.) And notice that in this clip taken from Israeli TV, the film has Hebrew and Russian subtitles but no Arabic subtitles.

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ABU-ZUBAYDAH ALLEGED AL-QAEDA LEADER ?

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by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Reportphoto
(Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration made about Abu Zubaydah, the alleged al-Qaeda leader who was the first suspected terrorist subjected to the torture of waterboarding and other White House-approved “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

In a federal court filing, Justice backed away from the Bush administration’s statements that Zubaydah had helped plan the 9/11 attacks and was a close confidant to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, as well as even earlier claims from the Clinton administration that he was directly involved in planning the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.

The US government’s retreat underscores yet another problem with President George W. Bush’s use of torture. Besides its illegality and immorality, torture can be applied to suspected terrorists who have been falsely identified and who thus don’t possess the expected information, which can lead frustrated interrogators to escalate the torture until the subject provides something, whether true or not.

Such false expectations appear to have been a factor in the case of Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan on March 28, 2002. He appeared to respond cooperatively to FBI interrogators using “rapport-building” techniques, but his failure to supply details that the CIA had anticipated led the agency to obtain high-level permission to subject him to the near-drowning experience of waterboarding and other harsh techniques.

After those techniques were cleared by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in mid-summer 2002 – and were sanctioned by Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials – CIA interrogators applied the methods to Zubaydah. In their frustration, they ultimately waterboarded him 83 times before concluding that many of his claims of ignorance were truthful.

In recent months, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign promoting his book, “Courting Disaster,” in which he defended the torture of Zubaydah, claiming that he reviewed classified intelligence that revealed Zubaydah’s torture produced actionable intelligence that thwarted imminent plots against the United States.

The Justice Department has now backed away from the Bush administration’s more extreme claims in a 109-page court document filed in US District Court in Washington last September in response to 213 discovery requests from Zubaydah’s attorneys in his habeas corpus case, which demands evidence to support his continued detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In the filing, the Justice Department asked the judge presiding over the case to deny virtually every discovery request sought by Zubaydah’s attorneys, explaining, in some instances, that the US government no longer relied upon the explosive allegations that President Bush and other top officials made about Zubaydah after he was captured and tortured in 2002.

For instance, the document refutes Bush’s direct statements about Zubaydah, including a claim that he was one of al-Qaeda’s “top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.”

For the first time, the government officially admitted that Zubaydah did not have “any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” and was neither a “member” of al-Qaeda nor “formally” identified with the terrorist organization.

Retreat’s Impact

The government’s retreat also could add to the mounting criticism of US Appeals Court Judge Jay Bybee, who in August 2002 as head of the Office of Legal Counsel signed memos authorizing the torture techniques that were applied to Zubaydah and other “high-value” detainees.

At the time, Bybee asserted, based on information he received from the CIA, that Zubaydah “is one of the highest ranking members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization,” “has been involved in every major terrorist  operation  carried out by  al-Qaeda,” and was “one of the planners of  the September 11 attacks.” Bybee approved the harsh interrogation as necessary to thwart pending attacks on US interests, which the CIA claimed Zubaydah knew about. 

While backing away from the extravagant claims of the Bush era, the Obama administration says Zubaydah should still be detained based on his “actions” as an “affiliate” of al-Qaeda.

The Justice Department filing alleged that Zubaydah “supported enemy forces and participated in hostilities” and “facilitat[ed] the retreat and escape of enemy forces” after the US invaded Afghanistan in November 2001.

The government acknowledged that its case against Zubaydah is based entirely on the first six volumes of his diaries that he wrote beginning in 1992 and an undated “propaganda video [Zubaydah] recorded before his capture in which [he allegedly] appears on camera expressing solidarity with Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaida.”

The government’s new charges, according to the court filing, claim “[Zubaydah] was present in [the Afghan city of] Kandahar in November 2001, and a number of prominent terrorist figures converged on Kandahar around the same time,” including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But the government does not “specify whether any of these figures met during that that time period.”

Zubaydah’s attorneys say the new allegations are baseless and have asked the government for “evidence that would undermine an ‘insinuation that [Zubaydah’s] presence in Kandahar … was related to the presence of known terrorists in the city’ is vague and insufficiently specific and is not supported by any allegations about whether [Zubaydah] in fact was present in Kandahar or for what purpose.”

Zubaydah’s attorneys claim that “the persons whom [Zubaydah] assisted in escaping Afghanistan in 2001 included ‘women, children, and/or other non-combatants'” and that the government has evidence to support those assertions. The lawyers also questioned the government’s history of falsehoods about their client.

“The Government’s accounts frequently have been at variance with the actual facts, and the government has generally been loath to provide the facts until forced to do so,” said Zubaydah’s attorney, Brent Mickum, in an interview.

“When the Government was forced to present the facts in the form of discovery in Zubaydah’s case, it realized that the game was over and there was no way it could support the Bush administration’s baseless allegations. So it changed the charges.”

No Formal Allegiance

In seeking to block Zubaydah’s discovery motions, the Justice Department also said the government was no longer contending that Zubaydah “was a ‘member’ of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn bavat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either [Zubaydah] or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for  inclusion in al-Qaeda.

“Nor is the government detaining [Zubaydah] based on any allegation that [Zubaydah] views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology or worldview. Rather, [the government’s] detention of [Zubaydah] is based on conduct and actions that establish [Zubaydah] was ‘part of’ hostile forces and ‘substantially supported’ those forces.”

That retreat contradicts initial claims made by senior Bush administration officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who described Zubaydah as a “close associate of [Osama bin Laden], and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that’s well established.”

Even after Zubaydah’s interrogators apparently apologized to him for that mistaken impression – at his Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing, Zubaydah said “they told me sorry we discover that you are not number three [in al-Qaeda], not a partner, even not a fighter” – the Bush administration continued to hype his role.

John Bellinger, legal adviser to Secretary of  State Condoleezza Rice, said during a June 2007 briefing about Guantanamo Bay detainees that Zubaydah, who was transferred to Guantanamo in 2006, helped  plan the 9/11 attacks and was “extremely dangerous.”

But the Justice Department now says “the Government has not contended in this [habeas] proceeding that [Zubaydah] had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, so [to] the extent that this request seeks information ‘tending to show … that [Zubaydah] did not know of the planned attacks of 9/11’, the request seeks evidence about contentions the Government has not made.”

The Justice Department also asked US District Court Judge Richard Roberts, who is presiding over the  habeas case, to deny defense requests for evidence that would “undermine”  government claims that Zubaydah worked on bin Laden’s “military and security plan to confront  an American counterattack” in Khost,  Afghanistan, after 9/11.

“The Government does not rely on any contention that [Zubaydah] did this work as an ‘al-Qaida’ deputy or because he was subject to al-Qaida command,” according to the court document.

Blocking a KSM Interview

And the Justice Department opposed Zubaydah’s lawyers’ request to question Khalid Sheikh Mohammed about whether he met Zubaydah, when the two were allegedly in Kandahar at the same time in November 2001.

“It is difficult to imagine how any answer from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would substantially help [Zubadyah],” the government filing said. “Even if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were to say he did not meet with Petitioner while they were in Kandahar, the fact that [Zubaydah’s] presence in Kandahar coincided with the presence of major terrorist figures in Kandahar would still weigh in favor of [his continued] detention.”

According to lawyer Mickum, the government’s “entirely new position” about Zubaydah was revealed late last year in a 50-page Factual Return that included 2,500 pages of exhibits.

“I’m not surprised at all that the Government has dropped the old charges against our client and is alleging new charges against him,” Mickum said in an interview. “That is their tried-and-true modus operandi. That’s exactly what they did with my client Bisher al Rawi. He was initially charged with associating with a known al-Qaeda figure in London.

“Unfortunately, Bisher was associating with him at the express request of Britain’s MI5 [intelligence service]. After we established that he [Bisher] worked for MI5, the US simply changed the charges against him, alleging that he had terrorist training in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

“Once again, we were able to show those charges were utterly bogus when we proved that Bisher had never left England from 1998 until his fateful business trip to Africa, where he was arrested by the CIA, rendered to the ‘Dark Prison’ in Afghanistan and tortured, tortured at Bagram Air Force base and tortured in Guantanamo.

“What all these cases have in common is torture, and [Zubaydah’s] case has that in spades. Given, the government’s history, it is not likely they would simply let him go and apologize. No, when their case falls apart, they re-jigger the evidence, and come up with new charges and [say] ‘we will defend the new charges with the same zeal we defended the earlier bogus charges.’”

Zubaydah’s attorneys argued in his initial petition for habeas corpus filed in February 2008 that he was not a member of al-Qaeda, that he had no knowledge of any terrorist operations, and that the military camp he was alleged to be affiliated with, Khaldan, was closed by the Afghan Taliban after refusing to let it go under the formal control of bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

“We have never deviated from that position, and now the government admits that we were correct all along,” Mickum said.

Indeed, the Justice Department’s response agrees that Khaldan was “organizationally and operationally independent” of al-Qaeda’s camps. The filing also backed off other claims made by Bush administration officials that Zubaydah knew the identities of specific individuals who trained at Khaldan and later went on to al-Qaeda-operated camps and allegedly took part in terrorist activities.

“The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner selected or knew the identities of specific persons who were selected to leave Khaldan for training at al-Qaida camps,” the filing states.

Undermining 9/11 Report

The US government’s new position also undercuts the 9/11 Commission’s report as it relates to Zubaydah. The report called him the leader of Khaldan.
The 9/11 report added that Zubaydah was a “major figure” in the “Millennium plot,” claiming he was a mastermind behind a plan to bomb a hotel in Jordan and Los Angeles International Airport.

The 9/11 report cited several  intelligence memoranda from then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke that Zubaydah was planning “a series of major terrorist attacks” on Israeli and possibly US targets and was working closely with bin Laden. Clarke declined numerous requests for comment.

Terrorist suspicions about Zubaydah predated the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, in the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US,” he was identified as bin Laden’s “lieutenant” and alleged to have “helped facilitate” the plot to detonate a bomb at LAX.

FBI officials obtained that information from Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted in the LAX plot in April 2001. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Ressam apparently made up stories about Zubaydah’s role at Khaldan and his connections to bin Laden. Ressam also said Zubdaydah told him in 1998 that, independent of bin Laden, he was preparing his own attack against the United States. However, Ressam later recanted those claims.

When asked about what the 9/11 Commission was told regarding Zubaydah, Mickum suggested that the panel was lied to by the CIA.

“After torturing our client, the CIA knew he was never a member of al-Qaeda and that he had no knowledge of any al-Qaeda terrorist activities,” Mickum said. “And this fact was confirmed after other members of al-Qaeda like [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and the [alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing] al-Nashiri were tortured.”

In an interview last year, Jack Cloonan, a former FBI special agent assigned to the agency’s elite bin Laden unit, said the CIA and the Bush administration were flat wrong in designating Zubaydah as a top official in al-Qaeda.

“To cast him and describe him as the al-Qaeda emir or leader for the subcontinent or worse … I think was a mistake. … Based on his age and ethnicity, [he] would [n]ever be brought into the inner circle of al-Qaeda,” Cloonan said.

There was also the question of Zubaydah’s personality. “My partner had a chance to look at a lot of Abu Zubaydah’s diaries [which forms the basis of the government’s case], poems and other things that he has written and he said that after reading this you just come away with the feeling that this is a guy who can’t be trusted or be given huge amounts of responsibility.”

Zubaydah began keeping a diary in 1992, after he suffered a severe head injury while fighting communist forces in Afghanistan. The injury left “significantly impaired both his long- and short-term memory,” states a Jan. 14, 2009, motion his attorneys filed related to his diaries.

“Long after his 1992 injury, once [Zubaydah] had recovered the ability to speak and write, he began to keep a diary. It is his memory. Without it, he is lost.”

The diary now appears to be the chief element of the US government’s remaining case against him.

See: www.veteranstoday.com

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C.I.A : BRUTAL TORTURE ABU ZUBAYDAH

NOVANEWS

* By: Jason Leopold t r u t h o u t *

Illustration by Jared Rodriguez / Truthout

The Justice Department has quietly recanted nearly every major claim the Bush administration had made about “high-value” detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo prisoner who at one time was said to have planned the 9/11 attacks and was the No. 2 and 3 person in al-Qaeda.

Additionally, Justice has backed away from claims intelligence officials working in the Clinton administration had also leveled against Zubaydah, specifically, that he was directly involved in the planning of the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.

Zubaydah’s name is redacted throughout a 109-page court document the government filed in US District Court in Washington, DC in response to 213 discovery requests Zubaydah’s attorneys made in connection with his habeas corpus case, which sought evidence to support the governments position that Zubaydah was a top al-Qaeda official.

But he is identified on the first page of the filing by his real name, Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn. He was the first detainee captured after 9/11 who was subjected to nearly a dozen brutal torture techniques, which included waterboarding, and was the catalyst, the public has been told, behind the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has publicly admitted that personally approved of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.

His torture was videotaped and the tapes later destroyed. The destruction of 90 videotapes of his interrogations is the focus of a high-level criminal investigation being conducted by John Durham, a federal prosecutor appointed special counsel in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

In recent months, former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen has been on a public relations campaign promoting his book, “Courting Disaster,” in which he defended the torture of Zubaydah, claiming, among other things, that he reviewed classified intelligence that revealed Zubaydah’s torture produced actionable intelligence that thwarted imminent plots against the United States.

But court documents unclassified last week debunk Thiessen’s assertions as well as those made by, among others, George W. Bush, who said Zubaydah was one of al-Qaeda’s “top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.”

For the first time, the government now officially admits that Zubaydah did not have “any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” and was neither a “member” of al-Qaeda nor “formally” identified with the terrorist organization. The government now claims Zubaydah is being detained based on his “actions” as an “affiliate” of al-Qaeda.

See: www.veteranstoday.com

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DID McCAIN COVER UP FOR USS LIBERTY SCANDAL ?

NOVANEWS

NEVER HAS AN AMERICAN CANDIDATE HAD SO MUCH TO HIDE AND DONE SO MUCH TO HURT AMERICA’S VETERANS AND MILITARY

QUESTIONS JOHN MCCAIN DOESN’T WANT TO ANSWER:

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Time has come for John McCain to make some public disclosures.  Yes, we all remember his admissions of wrong doing during the Keating 5 incident and the drug theft problems his wife had.  These aren’t the questions we are asking.  We want to go back to where that reputation for heroism was made and to find out if, not all but any of it is actually true. 

Many of us don’t feel that the apple fell far from the tree.  Dad, Admiral McCain, was responsible for the cover up of the USS Liberty scandal and had a reputation as an arrogant blowhard and totally incompetent military leader.

However, it is his son we are dealing with now.  Ted Sampley, heroic Vietnam combat vet, who kept watch on McCain is no longer with us.  Sampley is the one who tracked down Medal of Honor winner Colonel Bud Day’s “inconsistencies.”  Day, who ran interference on stage for McCain for years, wearing the only Medal of Honor given with no witness statements of any kind in support, spurred our curiosity.

Most famous John McCain quote:  “You know why Chelsea Clinton’s so ugly? Because her dad is Janet Reno.”

These are our questions to Senator McCain:

  1. Why did you have your service record and POW debriefing classified FOREVER?
  2. Did you provide military secrets to North Vietnam as stated by Colonel Earl Hopper of Army Intelligence?
  3. Did you narrate 32 propaganda broadcasts for the North Vietnamese and give interviews to communist papers as is stated at www.mccainbetrayspows.com?
  4. Why have you kept your Presidential Pardon secret?  Did you know that you are the only person serving in Congress with a Presidential pardon?
  5. Was Colonel Hopper accurate when he accused you of providing flight paths and altitude information to North Vietnamese gunners, to help them shoot down American planes?
  6. Are you aware that Colonel Ted Guy was in the process of preparing treason charges against you when you received your presidential pardon?
  7. Why did you work to end all POW inquires?  Why are you referred to as the Manchurian Candidate by POW/MIA groups?

If you want veterans to support you, please have all your records declassified and let us see the truth.

See: www.veteranstoday.com

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OPEN LETTER TO BERKELEY STUDENT ON THEIR HISTORIC ZIONIST DIVESTMENT BILL

NOVANEWS

March 31, 2010

By Naomi Klein

 http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100412/klein/print

On March 18, continuing a long tradition of pioneering human rights campaigns, the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC) passed “A Bill In Support of UC DIVESTMENT FROM WAR CRIMES.”

The historic bill resolves to divest ASUC’s assets from two American companies, General Electric and United Technologies, that are “materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government’s occupation of the Palestinian territories”–and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel’s illegal actions in the Occupied Territories, follow suit.

Although the bill passed by a vote of 16-4 after a packed and intense debate, the President of the Senate vetoed the bill six days later. The Senate is expected to reconsider the bill soon; groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace are asking supporters of the bill to send letters to the Senators, who can overturn the veto with only fourteen votes.

Here is the letter I just sent:

Dear members of the ASUC Senate,

I am writing to urge you to reaffirm Senate Bill 118A, despite the recent presidential veto.

It comes as no surprise that you are under intense pressure to reverse your historic and democratic decision to divest from two companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

When a school with a deserved reputation for academic excellence and moral leadership takes such a bold position, it threatens to inspire others to take their own stands.

Indeed, Berkeley–the campus and the wider community–has provided this kind of leadership on many key issues in the past: not only Apartheid in South Africa but also sweatshops in Indonesia, dictatorship in Burma, political killings in Nigeria, and the list goes on.

Time and again, when the call for international solidarity has come from people denied a political voice, Berkeley has been among the first to answer. And in virtually every case, what began as a small action in a progressive community quickly spread across the country and around the world.

Your recent divestment bill opposing Israeli war crimes stands to have this same kind of global impact, helping to build a grassroots, non-violent movement to end Israel’s violations of international law.

And this is precisely what your opponents–by spreading deliberate lies about your actions–are desperately trying to prevent. They are even going so far as to claim that, in the future, there should be no divestment campaigns that target a specific country, a move that would rob activists of one of the most effective tools in the non-violent arsenal.

Please don’t give into this pressure; too much is on the line. As the world has just witnessed with the Netanyahu government’s refusal to stop its illegal settlement expansion, political pressure is simply not enough to wrench Israel off its current disastrous path. And when our governments fail to apply sanctions for defiant illegality, other forms of pressure must come into play, including targeting those corporations that are profiting directly from human rights abuses.

Whenever we take a political action, we open ourselves up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards, since the truth is that we can never do enough in the face of pervasive global injustice. Yet to argue that taking a clear stand against Israeli war crimes is somehow to “discriminate unfairly” against Israelis and Jews (as the veto seems to claim) is to grossly pervert the language of human rights. Far from “singling out Israel,” with Senate Bill 118A, you are acting within Berkeley’s commendable and inspiring tradition.

I understand that there is some debate about whether or not your divestment bill was adopted “in haste.” Not having been there, I cannot comment on your process, though I am deeply impressed by the careful research that went into the decision.

I also know that in 2005 an extraordinarily broad range of Palestinian civil society groups called on activists around the world to adopt precisely these kinds of peaceful pressure tactics. In the years since that call, we have all watched as Israeli abuses have escalated dramatically: the attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, a massive expansion of illegal settlements and walls, an ongoing siege on Gaza that violates all prohibitions on collective punishment, and, worst of all, the 2008/9 attack on Gaza that left approximately 1,400 dead.

I would humbly suggest that when it comes to acting to end Israeli war crimes, the international response has not suffered from too much haste but from far too little. This is a moment of great urgency, and the world is watching.

Be brave.

Yours sincerely,

 Naomi Klein

 

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DID WE PAY FOR THIS ZIONIST JUDGE ?

NOVANEWS

Gaza Demonstrators Support Campaign
 
Following those protests, 119, predominantly muslim, young people were arrested.The youngest was 12. 83 have been charged with offences, the vast majority with public order offences which hold a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. 24 have already been sent to prison. Their sentences have ranged from 8 months to 2 years. The majority of them aged between 16-19 years of age.

It is clearly stated both by the judge’s own rhetoric and general analysis that the judge was passing a deterrence sentence….and that he will continue to do so….This is a political sentence, one criminalising the right to protest and using the muslim community as its example….

In addition to this, 33 complaints about police violence during the demonstrations have been registered, but NONE followed through. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have made clear that they will NOT be pursuing any allegations of police brutality or misconduct.

Examples of the completely unjust sentencing:

24 yr old man, 12 months for throwing a light weight stick at the police line after seeing an elderly woman assaulted by the police 19 year old man sentenced for 12 months for throwing a water bottle in the direction of the israeli embassy

These are just a few of the many examples…In addition to the sentencing, the nature of the arrest is in itself shocking. Most of the arrested were taken from their homes in the early hours of the morning after their houses had been raided and their entire family handcuffed and thrown into one room.

All of their electronic equipment was confiscated. The nature of the arrest is definitely more like those associated with terrorism cases then with public order offences. In addition they had to surrender their passports because of the “international dimension” of the case.

These arrests and these sentences which can only be interpreted as going down the path of criminalising the right to protest go against all the democratic principles with which people throughout history have fought to uphold. The arrests are also part of a long and ongoing process which has aimed to ostercise and alienate the muslim community which hit its peak with the anti terror laws post 9/11.

What should be made clear is that we will never forfeit our right to peaceful demonstration. And however provoked we are with kettling, intimidation by photography, abuse by certain members of the police force, we shall never stop excercising our right to protest.

It is also important to fully understand these arrests within the context of criminalising the right to speak up against the human rights violations and war crimes committed against the Palestinians by the Israeli state…..

In addition, it is also completely relevant to highlight that certain members of the British government (Gordon Brown has stated that he wishes to ammend the laws regarding universal jurisdiction) are trying to stop Israeli members of state, directly responsible for the war crimes and human rights violations in Gaza, from being arrested in Britain. So we have a situation where the British state protects war criminals from facing an international tribunal while members of the British public are criminalised for opposing those very crimes.

The reality is the muslim community and the general resisting British community is being smeared, as part of a wider campaign, into apathy….

This can NOT and will NOT succeed….this group is the voice of just that!

See: www.gazademosupport.org.uk

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