Archive | June 16th, 2011

Do American Schoolkids Suck at History?

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By Kevin Drum

The latest NAEP scores are out showing how much our schoolkids know about U.S. history. Results from the past 16 years for three different grade levels are on the right. Quick: what’s your reaction?

If you’re anything like me, it’s something like “not bad.” Fourth grade scores overall are up by about one grade level (two grade levels for blacks and Hispanics); eighth grade scores overall are up about half a grade level; and 12th grade scores are flat. (Ten points roughly equals a grade level on the NAEP test.)  It’s mostly good news — moderately good news, to be sure, but in any case nothing to be wildly distressed about. Unless you’re an education wonkinterviewed by the New York Times:

U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show

American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday….Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam.

….Fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a “seemingly easy question” asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution….Only 2 percent of 12th graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education….“The answer was right in front of them,” [Education historian Diane] Ravitch said. “This is alarming.”

….If history is American students’ worst subject, economics is their best: 42 percent of high school seniors were deemed proficient in the 2006 economics test, a larger proportion than in any other subject over the last decade.

Something smells wrong here on a variety of counts:

  • High school seniors are far more proficient in economics than history? That really sets my BS alarm flashing. Has anyone noticed that 18-year-olds have lately begun demonstrating a great grasp of economics? Anyone?
  • Only 2% of high school seniors correctly answered an item about Brown? That’s crazy. There has to have been something wrong with that question.
  • “Proficient” is a purely arbitrary standard. You can make it go up or down just by deciding what you think people ought to know. Are you non-proficient in high school economics if you don’t know how interest rates affect the economy? Are you non-proficient in history if you don’t know that China fought alongside North Korea in the Korean War? It all depends, doesn’t it?
  • I went through the five sample questions for 12th graders, and I have serious doubts that my 12th grade self could have answered two of them. I was a pretty good student in high school, but as near as I can tell this performance would have qualified me as barely proficient.

I’m just not sure what to think here. It’s obvious that American schoolkids aren’t getting any worse at history. It’s also clear that the history profession has a very high bar for what it considers minimal proficiency in U.S. history. Beyond that, I’m not sure what these results tell us.

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Seeds of Destruction: The Diabolical World of Genetic Manipulation PREFACE. This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.

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By F. William Engdahl

This skillfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms. The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and world peace.

Introduction

“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.To do so,we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”
-George Kennan, US State Department senior planning official, 1948

This book is about a project undertaken by a small socio-political elite, centered, after the Second World War, not in London, but in Washington. It is the untold story of how this self-anointed elite set out, in Kennan’s words, to “maintain this position of disparity.” It is the story of how a tiny few dominated the resources and levers of power in the postwar world.

It’s above all a history of the evolution of power in the control of a select few, in which even science was put in the service of that minority. As Kennan recommended in his 1948 internal memorandum, they pursued their policy relentlessly, and without the “luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”

Yet, unlike their predecessors within leading circles of the British Empire, this emerging American elite, who proclaimed proudly at war’s end the dawn of their American Century, were masterful in their use of the rhetoric of altruism and world-benefaction to advance their goals. Their American Century paraded as a softer empire, a “kinder, gentler” one in which, under the banner of colonial liberation, freedom, democracy and economic development, those elite circles built a network of power the likes of which the world had not seen since the time of Alexander the Great some three centuries before Christ—a global empire unified under the military control of a sole superpower, able to decide on a whim, the fate of entire nations.

This book is the sequel to a first volume, A Century ofWar: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. It traces a second thin red line of power. This one is about the control over the very basis of human survival, our daily provision of bread. The man who served the interests of the postwar American-based elite during the 1970’s, and came to symbolize its raw realpolitik, was Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Sometime in the mid-1970’s, Kissinger, a life-long practitioner of “Balance of Power” geopolitics and a man with more than a fair share of conspiracies under his belt, allegedly declared his blueprint for world domination: “Control the oil and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people

The strategic goal to control global food security had its roots decades earlier, well before the outbreak of war in the late 1930’s. It was funded, often with little notice, by select private foundations, which had been created to preserve the wealth and power of a handful of American families.

Originally the families centered their wealth and power in New York and along the East Coast of the United States, from Boston to New York to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. For that reason, popular media accounts often referred to them, sometimes with derision but more often with praise, as the East Coast Establishment.

The center of gravity of American power shifted in the decades following the War. The East Coast Establishment was overshadowed by new centers of power which evolved from Seattle to Southern California on the Pacific Coast, as well as in Houston, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Miami, just as the tentacles of American power spread to Asia and Japan, and south, to the nations of Latin America.

In the several decades before and immediately following World War II, one family came to symbolize the hubris and arrogance of this emerging American Century more than any other. And the vast fortune of that family had been built on the blood of many wars, and on their control of a new “black gold,” oil.

Click here to learn more about Seeds of Destruction

What was unusual about this family was that early on in the building of their fortune, the patriarchs and advisors they cultivated to safeguard their wealth decided to expand their influence over many very different fields. They sought control not merely over oil, the emerging new energy source for world economic advance. They also expanded their influence over the education of youth, medicine and psychology, foreign policy of the United States, and, significant for our story, over the very science of life itself, biology, and its applications in the world of plants and agriculture.

For the most part, their work passed unnoticed by the larger population, especially in the United States. Few Americans were aware how their lives were being subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, influenced by one or another project financed by the immense wealth of this family.

In the course of researching for this book, a work nominally on the subject of genetically modified organisms or GMO, it soon became clear that the history of GMO was inseparable from the political history of this one very powerful family, the Rockefeller family, and the four brothers—David,Nelson, Laurance and John D. III—who, in the three decades following American victory in World War II, the dawn of the much-heralded American Century, shaped the evolution of power George Kennan referred to in 1948.

In actual fact, the story of GMO is that of the evolution of power in the hands of an elite, determined at all costs to bring the entire world under their sway.

Three decades ago, that power was based around the Rockefeller family. Today, three of the four brothers are long-since deceased, several under peculiar circumstances.However, as was their will, their project of global domination—“full spectrum dominance” as the Pentagon later called it—had spread, often through a rhetoric of “democracy,” and was aided from time to time by the raw military power of that empire when deemed necessary. Their project evolved to the point where one small power group, nominally headquartered in Washington in the early years of the new century, stood determined to control future and present life on this planet to a degree never before dreamed of.

The story of the genetic engineering and patenting of plants and other living organisms cannot be understood without looking at the history of the global spread of American power in the decades following World War II. George Kennan, Henry Luce, Averell Harriman and, above all, the four Rockefeller brothers, created the very concept of multinational “agribusiness”. They financed the “Green Revolution” in the agriculture sector of developing countries in order, among other things, to create new markets for petro-chemical fertilizers and petroleum products, as well as to expand dependency on energy products. Their actions are an inseparable part of the story of genetically modified crops today.

By the early years of the new century, it was clear that no more than four giant chemical multinational companies had emerged as global players in the game to control patents on the very basic food products that most people in the world depend on for their daily nutrition—corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, even vegetables and fruits and cotton—as well as new strains of disease-resistant poultry, genetically-modified to allegedly resist the deadly H5N1 Bird Flu virus, or even gene altered pigs and cattle. Three of the four private companies had decades-long ties to Pentagon chemical warfare research. The fourth, nominally Swiss, was in reality Anglodominated. As with oil, so was GMO agribusiness very much an Anglo-American global project.

In May 2003, before the dust from the relentless US bombing and destruction of Baghdad had cleared, the President of the United States chose to make GMO a strategic issue, a priority in his postwar US foreign policy. The stubborn resistance of the world’s second largest agricultural producer, the European Union, stood as a formidable barrier to the global success of the GMO Project. As long as Germany, France, Austria, Greece and other countries of the European Union steadfastly refused to permit GMO planting for health and scientific reasons, the rest of the world’s nations would remain skeptical and hesitant. By early 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) had forced open the door of the European Union to the mass proliferation of GMO. It appeared that global success was near at hand for the GMO Project.

In the wake of the US and British military occupation of Iraq, Washington proceeded to bring the agriculture of Iraq under the domain of patented genetically-engineered seeds, initially supplied through the generosity of the US State Department and Department of Agriculture.

The first mass experiment with GMO crops, however, took place back in the early 1990’s in a country whose elite had long since been corrupted by the Rockefeller family and associated New York banks: Argentina.

The following pages trace the spread and proliferation of GMO, often through political coercion, governmental pressure, fraud, lies, and even murder. If it reads often like a crime story, that should not be surprising. The crime being perpetrated in the name of agricultural efficiency, environmental friendliness and solving the world hunger problem, carries stakes which are vastly more important to this small elite. Their actions are not solely for money or for profit. After all, these powerful private families decide who controls the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and even the European Central Bank. Money is in their hands to destroy or create.

Their aim is rather, the ultimate control over future life on this planet, a supremacy earlier dictators and despots only ever dreamt of. Left unchecked, the present group behind the GMO Project is between one and two decades away from total dominance of the planet’s food capacities. This aspect of the GMO story needs telling. I therefore invite the reader to a careful reading and independent verification or reasoned refutation of what follows.

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IsraHell An Impediment to Nuclear-Free Middle East

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By Kourosh Ziabari

You might have frequently heard of the Western mainstream media’s claims that Iran is pursuing a military nuclear program which is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Actually, spreading falsehood and untruth about the nature of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program has been a constant, unchanging and recurring theme of the Western corporate media’s coverage of Iran’s events.

Over the past years, the world mainstream media, funded and fueled by certain Western governments to derail Iran’s sublime position in the international community through their unyielding black propaganda have laboriously and persistently attempted to pretend that Iran’s nuclear program poses a serious threat to the global peace and security and that Tehran is taking steps to create atomic bombs to drop on Israel and European countries.

Unfortunately, the people who believe such claims are credulously unaware of the fact that those who accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons are themselves the largest possessors of the state-of-the-art nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction.

It should not be neglected that Iran has always been at the forefront of combating the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and also a victim of such weapons during the 8-year imposed war with the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians, and it was the United States that equipped Saddam with such weapons to use against the Iranian people in an unequal and unjustifiable war in which the brutal Iraqi dictator was unconditionally supported by a strong coalition of the United States and its European allies.

Since the U.S.-manufactured controversy over Iran’s nuclear program was ignited in the early 2000s, the White House and its cronies successfully distracted the international attention from the illegal, underground nuclear activities of Israeli regime and helped Tel Aviv to secretively further its nuclear program and build atomic weapons.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Israel now possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads and since it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), it cannot be held accountable over its military nuclear program.

The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country generally reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities, and an offensive biological warfare program.

Since Israel started the development of nuclear weapons in early 1950s, it adopted a so-called policy of “deliberate ambiguity” and concealed its nuclear activities under this counterfeit label to enjoy immunity and avoid responsibility over its nuclear program, meaning that it neither confirms nor denies the possession of nuclear weapons, while even the U.S.-based scientific and research organizations have admitted that it has a perilous nuclear arsenal which is potentially able to evaporate the whole Middle East in a matter of seconds.

On June 19, 1981, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution which urgently called upon Israel to put its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); however, Israel never heeded the calls of the UNSC and following that resolution, no significant decision was ever made to domesticate Israel and bring its dangerous nuclear facilities under control.

According to Nuclear Weapons Archive website, “the most specific and detailed information to be made public about Israel’s nuclear program came from a former mid-level nuclear technician named Mordechai Vanunu. Vanunu had worked at the Machon 2 facility, where plutonium is produced and bomb components fabricated, for 9 years before his increasing involvement in left wing pro-Palestinian politics led to his dismissal in 1986. Due to lax internal security, prior to his departure he managed to take about 60 photographs covering nearly every part of Machon 2.”

He made contact with the London Sunday Times and began to write an exclusive story about the details of Israel’s nuclear program. Unfortunately for Vanunu, “the Israeli government had found out about his activities and the Mossad arranged to kidnap him and bring him back to Israel for trial,” the report added.

Now, Iran has hosted dozens of representatives and experts from over 40 countries in the Second International Nuclear Disarmament Conference in Tehran to discuss the most important nuclear threats which jeopardize the international peace and security.

Last year, Iran had hosted the first Nuclear Disarmament Conference under the title of “Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapon for None.”

Kourosh Ziabari

According to the scholars and experts who took part in this years conference, the possession of nuclear weapons by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Israel which is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East are among the main concerns of international community which not only thwart the creation of a nuclear-free Middle East but also portray an unquestionable exercise of double standards by the Western powers.

The Tehran conference on nuclear disarmament has concluded that all of the non-NPT members should ratify this treaty and allow the inspection of their nuclear facilities. It has also proposed that Israel should be disarmed as soon as possible, because it’s the only owner of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Even as even the U.S. intelligence services have confirmed that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, Tehran is lethally under the pressure of the United States and its European friends over its civilian nuclear program. This is while 9 countries in the world own more than 20,000 nuclear warheads and this leaves us with a basic question: who poses the real threat to international peace and security?

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US Congressman Asks Iraqis to Pay for Iraq War

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (GOP) asks Iraq to Pay Up!

by Enver Masud

Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher, while leading a bipartisan US congressional delegation to Iraq, asked Iraqis to pay for the destruction, invasion, occupation, and pillaging of Iraq.

On June 10, 2001, Agence France-Pressereported, “Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country… we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years,” Rohrabacher told journalists at the US embassy in Baghdad.

Based on claims known to be false — that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, the US invaded and occupied Iraq. Even if true, Iraq was not a threat to the US.

The US has spent $ 44.6 billion in taxpayer funds on rebuilding Iraq — $21.25 billion for security, $11.48 B for Infrastructure, 6.36 billion for government, $1.37 billion for the economy.

Arguably, not all of the $44.6 billion spent was for the benefit of Iraqis. At best less than half of this amount went toward rebuilding Iraq, and much of this went to pay US  contractors for often shoddy work.

And billions of Iraq’s own funds entrusted to the US are missing. The missing money may represent “the largest theft of funds in national history”, investigator Stuart Bowen told the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

According to BBC News, about $6.6bn . . . may have been stolen. “The money came from a special fund set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with Iraq’s own money, which was previously withheld from the country under harsh economic sanctions imposed against Saddam Hussein’s regime.”

With the cost of the Iraq war estimated at over $3 trillion, and with over 4000 American troops killed and over 30,000 wounded in Iraq, Americans are understandably upset.

Meanwhile, Iraqi deaths are approaching 1.5 million.

Rohrabacher added that the same principle held for Libya, saying: “If the Libyans for example are willing to help pay, compensate the United States, for what we would spend in helping them through this rough period, that’s one way to do it.”

Contrary to Rohrabacher’s reasoning on reparations, Kuwait has received $37 billion of the $52 billion in war reparations claims imposed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council for Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

If the law and legal precedent mean anything, it is the US that should pay reparations to Iraq.

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“Stop The War Coalition” Afghanistan Conference

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Afghanistan and the War

on Terror: 10 Years On


Over 300 attended the highly successful conference on ten years of the Afghanistan war, to hear speakers from abroad, including Arab Spring activists, students, artists, military family members, historians, and members of Parliament.


by David Swanson

George Galloway



George Galloway

Tony Benn

Report on Stop the Wars Afghanistan conference — David Swanson

Before long public pressure might just lead Britain to drop out of participation in US wars, a move that would seriously damage future pretenses of acting as an international coalition.

I’ve spent the past few days here in London talking with leaders of the Stop the War Coalition, sitting in on a weekly planning meeting, and attending a day-long conference on building opposition to the Afghanistan and Libya wars. This movement is strong, smart, well-organized, and eager to work with other peace movements around the world.

Over two-thirds of the people over here, just like back home, want out of the wars. They’re going to deliver a petition against bombing Libya to Downing Street, along with a number of members of Parliament on June 28th, and they are planning to occupy Trafalgar Square in October on the 10th anniversary of both the invasion of Afghanistan and the creation of the Stop the War Coalition — which organized the world’s largest demonstration against the invasion of Afghanistan 10 years ago. They support and will work in solidarity with Americans’ plan for the same anniversary: http://october2011.org

London is like DC and New York combined in one place, with the rest of the country compressed into the mid-Atlantic. There’s a relatively good communications system, relatively good social supports, far better public transportation, and a tradition of leftist activism with no shame or self-loathing. Labor unions here oppose the wars, including the one in Libya. Random people asking questions during sessions of Saturday’s conference demanded that the movement become more intellectual. It’s a different world. It’s not shocking that the British government agreed to pull its troops out of Iraq. Nor is it surprising that Tony Blair has been unable to hold a book event in London, facing the threat of massive protest.

The peace movement has struggled over here, just as in the United States, with momentum slowing down in recent years, and with hesitations over the propaganda for the Libya War. But the Stop the War Coalition is growing, bringing in more dues-paying members and prominent supporters. Saturday’s conference included speakers from abroad, including Arab Spring activists, students, artists (see this young woman’s powerful poetry: http://sanasino.wordpress.com/poems ), military family members, historians, intellectuals, and members of Parliament.

As at home, the peace movement has made connections with movements against spending cuts. Students understand that higher education is being sacrificed to fund wars, and that those wars are at the choosing of Washington, not London. This movement also understands the threat that restrictions on civil liberties pose to peace advocacy. Bahraini opposition cannot legally demonstrate in London, but Prime Minister David Cameron dines with the crown prince. The students here object to police tactics like kettling as violations of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Jeremy Corbyn, MP, was introduced on Saturday by Stop the War Coalition’s Andrew Murray as working with a pack of war lords. Corbyn agreed: Parliament is made up of war lords and war criminals, he remarked.

Corbyn credited Stop the War Coalition with helping to prevent an attack on Iran in recent years, just as I believe the US peace movement deserves credit.

Corbyn called the idea that more time is needed to finish a job in Afghanistan a “load of tosh.” He also pointed out that the two sides fighting in Libya can exchange parts for their rifles, because they both have rifles provided by Britain. I didn’t hear a good word about Gadaffi in London — in fact, plenty of condemnation. But many speakers, including Fiona Edwards of Student Broad Left argued that a rebel movement subsumed under international imperialism would be even worse than Gadaffi. A young woman from Tunisia expressed the sentiment shared by others from that region: “Our countries do not want Western intervention, or money! It comes with policies. It’s not free or even just with high interest.”

A number of speakers argued that a counter-revolution against the Arab Spring is being fought by Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United States, the UK, France, and NATO. An opposition leader from Bahrain said that what his people want is for the West to stop training troops to oppress and torture. Author John Rees said that after Tunisia and Egypt took the imperial powers by surprise, they went into Libya and Bahrain as a counter-attack, misusing popular sympathy with the Arab Spring to rehabilitate the idea of war that had been so discredited in Iraq and Afghanistan. Egypt, Rees argues, is still the central struggle, where the new military government is working to demobilize the people and imprison those who demonstrate or strike.

Tariq Ali said that people should be left free to succeed or fail. No one ever proposed that China invade Indochina, he said. Why should NATO invade Libya? Or Syria? Or Yemen? Bahrain didn’t ask for intervention, he pointed out, but got it anyway. Bahrainis chanting “Neither Sunni nor Shia but Bahraini” were attacked and the struggle sectarianized by the Saudis with the support of the United States.

Mohammed Kozbar of the British Muslim Initiative expressed his outrage that on the same day in Baghdad six member of the U.S. Congress had proposed that Iraq compensate the United States for the costs of the war. Later that day, Iraq asked the Congress Members to leave the country. The rest of the Americans should go with them.

George Galloway, MP, was the last speaker on Saturday (nobody ever dares speak after him). He recalled telling Jack Straw in Parliament eight years ago that, contrary to Straw’s assertion, British troops would not be home by Christmas, nor would they be home 10 Christmases hence. Straw laughed. But the war will eventually conclude, Galloway said, on the very terms it could have concluded with 10 years earlier.

The BBC, Galloway complained, is denouncing Syria for using Apache helicopters to attack its own people. “I’ve never understood,” said Galloway, “why it is worse to kill your own people than other people’s people.” The BBC had cheered a week or 10 days earlier for Apache helicopters used by Britain to kill Libyans. The problem with Syria, Galloway said, is not that it’s run by the latest Adolf Hitler of the month, but that it harbors Palestinian leadership, supports Lebanese national resistance, and refused to participate in the attack on Iraq.

I spoke in support of US plans for October (october2011.org) with Galloway pounding the table and leading the cheering in support. He concluded his own remarks by recalling that Lindsey German, the brilliant organizer of the Stop the War Coalition, had scolded him in 2003 for predicting that they would bring a million people to protest in London. They brought many more than that.

Galloway chose to speak slightly out of turn again: “We’re fed up with marching!” he said. “We’re going to occupy public space!”

A standing ovation followed.

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Pakistan “Do More or Else!”

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Restraint on Counter Insurgency Funds….a Blessing In Disguise?

by Yasmeen Ali

The statement “Pakistan Must Do More” made by the US Secretary of State has become a joke in Pakistani drawing rooms.

Pakistan must do more?

The 9/11 attacks resulted in 2,996 deaths. Out of this, 246 on the planes,2606 in towers and on ground, 126 at the Pentagon. The attack justified invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq & attacks on the “ally on war of terror”, Pakistan.  USA has come a long way since. The policy of extrajudicial killings survived the Bush era in post 9/11 and has intensified from an estimated 45 attacks to 200 under Obama. Few killed in these attacks have been militants, mostly civil casualties. According to the New American Foundation only 2% of deaths have been of the militants. But that’s ok. That’s why the term “collateral damage” was coined, no?

Pakistan Army has been engaged in a non conventional war since then. Fighting against an enemy within. Parts of Pakistan lies destructed, millions displaced, civil amenities destroyed with increasing pressure on Pakistan to now target South Waziristan.

However, Pakistan needs to “Do more or else”?

In an article carried by Pakhtoonistan Gazette on 10th April 2011, Muhammad Tahir comments on the White House Report claiming that Pakistan has no “clear path” to defeat militants on it’s soil.

My humble submission, dear readers, is, neither does USA.

However, Pakistan needs to “Do More”. Or else!

To ensure Pakistan does”do-more”, US lawmakers approved tougher scrutiny over the $1.1 billion counterinsurgency funds for Pakistan. Congress will have 30 days to review administration spending plans before 75% of the funds can be released.

Democratic Representative Norman Dicks is bull’s eye when he says that a choice must be made where to spend the funds. On American people. Or on foreign wars. “I think that is a choice we are all going to have to consider in the days ahead,” he said. True! However, the “ally on war of terror” has no such right to prioritize the needs of their country!

Pakistan must “Do More” or else!

The Kerry Lugar Bill, already stipulated that for the   fiscal years 2011 through 2014, no security-related assistance may be provided to Pakistan in a fiscal year until the Secretary of State, under the direction of the President, makes the certification required under the bill provision, for such fiscal year.

However, Pakistan must “Do More”, or else!

A friend wrote,” Pakistan has been relegated to the level of a “tea boy” working in the street restaurant for it’s master. The tea boy must do to his master’s bidding……or else….!”

What must Pakistan do?

For starters, try developing some dignity and stop being so damn apologetic. After that, strengthening her position in the South West Asia Region. Developing trade and other treaties with countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh & China. Of course any closeness with China will be frowned upon by the restaurant owner, who may decide to deduct the tea-boy’s pay on some pretext at the end of the month. A risk worth taking?

Should Pakistan look towards Germany for arms sales? Germany is a rising power in the arms trade business. A study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service puts Germany, with an 8 percent share of the global market, at No. 3 behind the United States (41 percent) and Russia (10.5 percent).

One thing Pakistan needs to do pronto: stop expecting others to look after HER national interests. This is the task of Pakistan herself. Not others! Unless, she wants to remain the “tea-boy” for the rest of the “war on terror?”

Yes Pakistan must “Do More”. However, not by anyone else’s definition but by her own!

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2010 State Department Human Rights Report on Bahrain

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by Stephen Lendman

 

In April, 19 human rights organizations condemned Bahrain as one of the world’s leading terror states, the Al Khalifa monarchy having lost all legitimacy.

In a joint press release, they said:

The undersigned “severely condemn the authorities’ crackdown on prominent human rights defenders Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain. We are gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of both human rights defenders who are being targeted for their human rights work.”

Both were lawlessly arrested, beaten, detained, and brutally tortured as were hundreds of others for supporting democracy, human rights and equal justice.

On June 6, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) denounced Bahraini authorities for brutally repressing protesters, demanding an immediate end to violence. So far, they said, international community silence reflects complicity in horrendous crimes against humanity.

As a result, both organizations called on UN Human Rights Council members “to take immediate action by adopting a strong resolution condemning” government attacks on civil society.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Bahraini violence “no accident,” saying:

Since mid-March (actually since mid-February and earlier), “state security forces (as well as Saudi ones) brutally quashed the largely peaceful protests for democratic reforms that began a month earlier, shooting to death a score of people. Since then, the government has conducted (a reign of terror) to punish all manner of pro-democracy activism, a situation (Washington) has yet to unequivocally condemn” publicly.

Amnesty International (AI) condemned Bahrain’s excessive force, killings, mass arrests, detentions, and torture, including beatings, electro-shocks, threatened rape, as well as other abuses to extract forced confessions despite no crimes committed.

Police state show trials are being held. Those affected are guilty by accusation. On June 12, student/poet Ayat al-Qarmezi was sentenced to one year in prison for publicly reading a poem criticizing the regime. In detention, she was brutally tortured, AI’s Malcolm Smart saying:

“By locking up a female poet merely for expressing her views in public, Bahrain’s authorities are demonstrating how free speech and assembly are brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis.”

Her message included:

“We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery. Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?”

On March 30, she was forced to submit to arrest after masked police raided her parents home repeatedly, threatening to kill her brothers if she resisted. Brutalized ever since and now convicted, she, like other prisoners of conscience, face hard time confinement very likely including more torture and abuse.

On June 12, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said at least two former Shia MPs (who resigned in protest against police state lawlessness) went on trial Sunday. Matar Matar and Jawad Fairooz were charged with “spreading malicious lies in an attempt to overthrow the government” Information Affairs Authority official Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Murarak announced. Both men, of course, pleaded not guilty.

On June 12, the UK based Morning Star said:

“Bahrain received over $200 million in military equipment from US companies in the 12 months from October 2009….It was more than double the $89 million approved over the previous US financial year.”

Washington actively supports Bahrain’s repression. Weapons, munitions and other military equipment have been used to murder nonviolent Bahrainis protesting for their democratic rights. Information on this and much more is omitted in the report below.

So were recent comments by Rodney Shakespear, Chairman of the Committee against Torture in Bahrain, saying:

“I’m afraid that” Israel largely dictates US Middle East policy “which demands that the situation be as it is in respect of Bahrain….The facts on the ground are such that genocide is actually being committed.” It’s gotten so bad that security forces actually “beat up little girls.”

“Something has happened. They are out to destroy a culture and yet apart from the torture and the physical effects and the genocide, the world is not standing up against this. And this, of course, it’s because (Israel) controls all the media organizations,” especially in America and Britain.

State Department Report on Bahrain

Each year, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries, omitting a critical self-assessment of the world’s leading human rights abuser.

Yet, in its recent “Report of the United States of America Submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights In Conjunction with the Universal Periodic Review,” it shamelessly said:

“The story of the United States of America is one guided by universal values shared the world over – that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. (These) values have grounded our institutions and motivated the determination of our citizens to come ever closer to realizing these ideals.”

We remain committed “to help build a world in which universal rights give strength and direction to the nations, partnerships, and institutions that can usher us toward a more perfect world (based on) a just peace (and) inherent rights and dignity of every individual.”

In fact, America spurns human rights, civil liberties, peace, justice, and democratic values as the world’s leading rogue state, lawlessly terrorizing millions, making the world safe for capital. Shameless rhetoric changes nothing, including downplaying the worst of Bahrain’s human rights practices in its 2010 report.

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

“There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings,” despite clear evidence they occurred last year before the current uprisings began.

Politically motivated disappearances were also ignored.

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment of Punishment

Prohibited by Bahrain’s constitution, “there were multiple allegations during the year (by human rights organizations and victims) that security forces employed them.”

Authorities “asserted in December that” torture claims were investigated. “At year’s end, neither the court nor the government had released the findings of any such investigation.”

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Authorities said “prison conditions met international standards.” A March UN report, however, described ‘suboptimal health conditions….’ ” Moreover, detainees “alleged” security personnel physically abused them, including withholding medical care.

“Authorities generally permitted inmates reasonable access to visitors and religious observance.” In fact, political prisoners have no rights and face brutal torture and other abuse.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

Despite maintaining a hotline for citizens to report police abuses, Shia community members “believed the government condoned police misconduct and, therefore, did not report allegations of abuse. In practice, (temporary) investigation committees” responded to public complaints, but didn’t issue reports on their findings, suggesting serious abuses were whitewashed.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

From August through December, authorities arrested about 200 men, including children. Human rights groups accused them of abuse and torture in detention. Show trials followed. Attorneys prevented from meeting with detainees withdrew in protest in December. New lawyers were appointed. At year’s end, cases were unresolved.

“Human rights activists and attorneys alleged that the detainees’ right to a fair, public trial was undermined by (their clients’) limited access to legal counsel and the presiding judge’s failure to rule on the defense attorneys’ requests.”

Political Prisoners and Detainees

Human rights organizations “alleged that some of those arrested on security changes….were targeted (for) their political activism.”

Throughout the report, the State Department stressed that Bahrain’s constitution prohibits abusive practices authorities, in fact, commit. At the same time, it summarized harsh conditions Bahrainis face, including:

“Citizens did not have the right to change their government. Trafficking in persons and restrictions on the rights of foreign resident workers continued to be significant problems. There were numerous reports of abuse against foreign workers, particularly female domestic workers. There were many reports of domestic violence against women and children. Discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, nationality, and sect, especially against the Shia majority population, persisted.”

“There were multiple allegations of mistreatment and torture, especially of Shia activists associated with rejectionist and opposition groups. Authorities arbitrarily arrested activists, journalists, and other citizens and detained some individuals incommunicado. Some detainees did not always have adequate access to their attorneys. At least two of the detainees were dismissed from their public sector jobs prior to the commencement of judicial proceedings.”

“The government restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and some religious practices. There were instances of the government imposing and enforcing official and unofficial travel bans on political activists. The Shia are underrepresented in positions of leadership in the civil service, police, and security forces.”

Despite constitutionally affirming freedom of speech and the press, national security laws limit or suppress them. “Both censorship and self-censorship took place.”

The Information Authority reviews all books and publications prior to issuing printing licenses. While nominally respecting Internet freedom, draconian restrictions apply, including prohibiting information critical of the government as well as banning opposition web sites.

In addition, online activities are monitored and blocked in cases considered to be anti-government or anti-Islamic. Academic freedom, peaceful assembly and association are also compromised in violation of constitutional provisions. In fact, Bahraini freedom and basic rights are nonstarters except for the privileged few.

Those speaking out against repression face severe recrimination, arrest, detention, torture, and show trial justice automatically convicting those charged by accusation.

Anyone may be detained indefinitely, denied access to legal counsel and family members, and tortured to sign forced confessions used to convict.

Moreover, King Hamad appoints judges. Jury trials are denied. Authorities control the major media. Opposition publications and web sites are threatened. Print and online journalists face stiff fines and imprisonment for criticizing official policies. Public demonstrations are prohibited without official permission. Human rights organizations are harassed.

Workers have few rights. No minimum wage exists. Rights to form unions, collectively bargain, and strike are severely limited, majority foreign workers denied them entirely. Some, in fact, face forced labor, their passbooks and wages withheld, as well as their movements restricted. Instances of child trafficking for domestic service and sexual exploitation have also been reported.

Sunnis dominate Bahraini politics. Majority Shias face widespread discrimination. Women overall are marginalized in a male dominated culture. Spousal and child abuse are common.

While detailing widespread lawless abuses, especially against majority Shias, the State Department’s report stresses rights included in Bahrain’s constitution without condemning authorities for systematically denying them or explaining severe repression against anyone challenging monarchal rule.

Listen to this young womans’ powerful poetry:

I AM BAHRAIN
Sanasino



Posted in Bahrain1 Comment

A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother

NOVANEWS

 

A Woman Before Her Time

A major publishing event: an unprecedented look into the life of the woman who most singularly shaped Barack Obama-his mother

Barack Obama has written extensively about his father, but little is known about Stanley Ann Dunham, the fiercely independent woman who raised him, the person he credits for, as he says, “what is best in me.” Here is the missing piece of the story.

Award-winning reporter Janny Scott interviewed nearly two hundred of Dunham’s friends, colleagues, and relatives (including both her children), and combed through boxes of personal and professional papers, letters to friends, and photo albums, to uncover the full breadth of this woman’s inspiring and untraditional life, and to show the remarkable extent to which she shaped the man Obama is today.

Dunham’s story moves from Kansas and Washington state to Hawaii and Indonesia. It begins in a time when interracial marriage was still a felony in much of the United States, and culminates in the present, with her son as our president- something she never got to see. It is a poignant look at how character is passed from parent to child, and offers insight into how Obama’s destiny was created early, by his mother’s extraordinary faith in his gifts, and by her unconventional mothering. Finally, it is a heartbreaking story of a woman who died at age fifty-two, before her son would go on to his greatest accomplishments and reflections of what she taught him.

Purchase on Amazon.com: A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother (Hardcover) by Janny Scott


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Reviews

“Even Obama knew that he had not his extraordinary mother justice. Janny Scott . . . does. She portrays Dunham as a feminist, an utterly independent spirit, a cultural anthropologies, and an international development officer who surely helped shape the internationalist, post-Vietnam-era world view of her son. Scott’s book is tirelessly researched, and the sections covering Dunham’s life in Indonesia especially are new and valuable to the accumulating biography of Obama’s extended global family.”
The New Yorker

“An ambitious new biography. . . . Scott pursues a more perplexing and elusive figure than the one Obama pieced together in his own books.”
The New York Times Book Review

“The restrained, straight-ahead focus-rather in the spirit, it turns out, of Dunham herself-pays off. By recovering Obama’s mother from obscurity, A Singular Woman adds in a meaningful way to an understanding of a singular president.”
Slate “The key to understanding the disciplined and often impassive 44th president is his mother, as Janny Scott, a reporter for the New York Times, decisively demonstrates in her new biography A Singular Woman. . . . Scott [uses] meticulous reporting, archival research and extensive interviews with Dunham’s colleagues, friends and family, including the president and his sister. What emerges is a portrait of a woman who is both disciplined and disorganized, blunt-spoken and empathetic, driven and devoted to her children, even as she ruefully admits her failings and frets over her distance from them.”
The Washington Post

“The story of the ‘singular woman’ at the center of this book is told, and told well, by Scott.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“What emerges in this straightforward, deeply reported account is a complicated portrait of an outspoken, independent-minded woman with a life of unconventional choices.”
USA Today

“We get a much fuller story of Ms. Dunham’s life in A Singular Woman, Janny Scott’s richly researched, unsentimental book.”
The New York Times

“If you want to understand what shaped our president, don’t look to his father’s disappearance. It was his unconventional mother who made him. . . . [An] incisive biography.”
Newsweek

“A richly nuanced, decidedly sympathetic portrait of President Obama’s remarkably accomplished, spirited mother. . . . A biography of considerable depth and understanding.”
Kirkus

Posted in USAComments Off on A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother

Osama bin Laden: Closing the Case on an Innocent Man

NOVANEWS

A Bush Era Lie

They Made The Whole Thing Up

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor

The real Osama bin Laden was someone few Americans knew anything about.  He knew nothing of Al Qaeda, never planned 9/11, never advocated terrorism, not once, but he did make enemies.  Bin Laden, in 2001, believed Israel would push the US into a war across the Middle East, a war that would go on for years.

He believed that a powerful Israeli lobby controlled much of the US government and that the American people would suffer terribly because of this, beliefs recently overheard as stated by President Obama behind closed doors.

Bin Laden condemns terrorism and says that the US government, Israel and the press are using terrorism against the American people in order to frighten them into going to war, the endless war going on today.

This was before the first Patriot Act.  This was before the attack on Iraq.  This was before the revelations about 9/11 and Building 7, the categorical proof, continually denied, continually suppressed, that 9/11 was an “inside job.”

Our source for this real “bin Laden” is the Central Intelligence Agencies files.  Their bin Laden was no terrorist but rather someone with a deep and abiding affection for the American people and a view of events that would prove him uncanny in his foresight.

Many wild statements are attributed to Osama bin Laden.  These below are the truth, others are not.  Were bin Laden killed recently as claimed, one thing is clear.  His killing would have been murder.

BIN LADEN

The last proven official words of Osama bin Laden, a man dying of advanced kidney disease are on the official CIA transcript below, gotten through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  His last official words were on September 24, 2001, two weeks after 9/11.

Bin Laden makes no mention of any terrorist organization, make no attempt to recruit anyone and appears to know nothing whatsoever of a group the US calls “Al Qaeda.”  He says he had nothing to do with 9/11.  Let’s see what the real Osama bin Laden had to

SEND IN THE CLONES

say.  Note that after this date, none of these proven positions were ever repeated again:

NO SUCH THING AS AL QAEDA

Bin Laden makes no mention of a terror organization.  When a BBC report debunks the existence of Al Qaeda and bin Laden’s imaginary role in that mythical organization, the story is suppressed and the issue is never brought up again.

As with the Fox News segments debunking 9/11, done by Judge Napolitano and Geraldo Rivera last year, this BBC report has disappeared as though it never existed except here it is:


YouTube – Veterans Today –

AFGHANISTAN – PAKISTAN

These are bin Laden’s statements on Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The group bin Laden is wishing success to, by current count, represents 97% of the population of Afghanistan.  His “wishes” include no language potentially construed as “leadership” or even the remotest “strategic suggestion.”  Any milder and it might be appropriate for a greeting card.

  • “We hope that these brothers would be the first martyrs in Islam’s battle in this age against the new Jewish crusade that is being led by the biggest crusader, Bush, under the banner of the cross. This battle is one of Islam’s immortal battles.”

  • “We beseech God to grant him victory against the forces of infidelity and arrogance, and to crush the new crusader-Jewish campaign on the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Here, bin Laden refers to the invasion of Afghanistan as a “Jewish crusade.”  Intelligence over the last 10 years has repeatedly proven that Mossad operations, coordinated with India’s RAW intelligence agency, have been responsible for training and supplying the Taliban inside Pakistan.  Pakistan places the number of agents involved in this at 2000.  I was briefed by their intelligence services on this in 2010.  The US Marine Corp War College places the number at 200.  Both agree with bin Laden.

Further, the invasion of Afghanistan and the attack on Iraq is now known to have been planned as part of the Project for a New American Century.  This “conservative” group was run by Israeli citizens inside the United States.  The “New American Century” they planned was one of bankruptcy, genocide and war. History has proven bin Laden correct on this also.

9/11 DENIAL

  • “I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States.”

  • “Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. . Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people. Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle.”

Note that bin Laden points out that this isn’t his first denial.  He is repeating an earlier one.  The dying Osama bin Laden denied any involvement in 9/11 but was being hunted by the United States for the crimes anyway.  Later, in 2005, after a different “bin Laden,” 6 inches shorter, different voice, in a video debunked by top forensic authorities, claimed responsibility, President Bush then told the American people he was “unconcerned” with bin Laden and no longer hunting him.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

The Bush we see in this video is arrogant, so overtaken by hubris, that he publicly mocks the American people.  His joke?  The phony bin Ladens are working for him.  This is why he is “unconcerned.”  5000 “post 9/11″ Americans had died, all after his memorable “Mission Accomplished” speech.  Why is he smirking?  The answer is simple.  Bush is a sociopath.

The new “tame” bin Laden no longer says Israel was involved in 9/11.  In fact, he seems to be an entirely different person.  No more talk about the lying press or Israel’s control over the US or Americans wars fought for Israel.  The new bin Laden is a simple ape, performing on command for the smirking chimp, conveniently time terror threats, always ready to help out for elections or to help pass unconstitutional legislation pushing forward that “police state” agenda.

GERALDO’S “MOMENT OF CLARITY”

Fox News, America’s largest news organization, clearly “mainstream” if there ever was such a term, goes even further, clearly implying that, not only was 9/11 “covered up” but that “controlled demolition” is not a conspiracy theory at all.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Bin Laden who denied responsibility was a criminal sought by the entire American war machine.  The other “bin Laden” who crowed “I did it” was no longer wanted.  Is this because this “bin Laden” was serving Bush?  Could President Bush have made it more clear, have done more to explain his own complicity in this massive campaign of deception?

WHO REALLY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR 9/11?

  • “Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed. According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US Government has stated.

  • “The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive.”

  • “They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia.”

  • “Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.”

  • “Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but 

    after that the budget of these (FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 180) agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taliban and then this incident happened.”

Bin Laden is clear.  He states he would never support or condone, much less organize a terror attack against America.  These were his final words.  Where did all those wild statements, those threats bought up at election time by Bush and friends, come from?  If bin Laden were alive, wouldn’t he have pointed out that they were wrong?

If they were actually bin Laden, wouldn’t the press have pointed out that they were inconsistent with his earlier statements?  Even the Islamic press, even Iran has failed to mention these glaring inconsistencies.

There is only one explanation.  Osama bin Laden died in 2001, as inferred by the highest military and intelligence sources in the US and Pakistan, and that one or more “clones” were created to manipulate world events with phony terror scares time to advance the agenda of Israel and the Bush Administration, listed by the real Osama bin Laden among those he believed were actually responsible for 9/11.

There is nothing more clear, more clear historically, than the fact that the Bush administration dedicated itself toward conflict between Islam and Christianity.  Bin Laden is certainly correct on that.

With even Fox News declaring the 9/11 Commission report a “whitewash,” subsequent evidence supports both controlled demolition of the World Trade Center and Israeli involvement in both the planning and execution of that crime as stated by Osama bin Laden.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Here, I interview Dimitri Khalezov, former Soviet/Russian nuclear intelligence officer.  Khalezov tells of his direct knowledge of Israeli involvement in the planning and execution of 9/11 and how he attended a “celebration party” with Mossad operations chief, Mike Harari on 9/12/2001.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

The history of the falsified intelligence about Iraq, the endless war in Afghanistan, the continual attempts to misrepresent Iran’s nuclear program, the continual vilification of Pakistan, all prove bin Laden correct, all prove bin Laden innocent of everything but being correct.

Being correct in a world of liars is a crime.  Only when “bin Laden” began playing along, perhaps after his death, was he allowed to live, or perhaps remain dead, in peace.

Do note that the bin Laden Bush though of “no concern” was still said to be running thousands of terror cells in over 50 countries.  Is there some inconsistencies, not in bin Laden’s behavior but Bush’s?  When examined by history, which of the two will be considered the real terrorist leader?

PREDICTING THE AFGHANISTAN DRUG EMPIRE

“Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement

Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat.”

On September 24, 2001, Osama bin Laden predicted the future.  At that time, opium production in Afghanistan had been almost totally eliminated.  A decade later, while 150,000 American troops supported by 145,000 contractors and an Afghan army of 500,000 supposedly rule the country, Afghanistan now produced 92% of the world’s heroin, valued this year at $80 billion.

As bin Laden states regarding General Noriega, the US attempts to blame the Taliban for this massive endeavor, an endeavor requiring use of long range jets, access to banking centers in Zurich and Tel Aviv, simple mythology.  The Taliban have little money other than that paid them by the United States for allowing 300 trucks a day to travel through their lines to supply US forces, forces they obviously don’t take very seriously.

With as few as 5000 full time fighters, according to American statements, each must have personal wealth well beyond either the Saudi princes of Wall Street’s most corrupt hedge fund managers.  Why smuggle weapons into Afghanistan, a nation drowning in weapons.  Shouldn’t they be buying Ferrari’s instead?

AIPAC AND THE ARAB SPRING

  • “President Bush or any other US President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.”

  • “Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan.”

  • “This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel.”

Did Osama bin Laden reach out from the grave, his “watery grave” of 2011, the shallow pit at Tora Bora dug by his 6 followers who fled into Pakistan on foot, or as CIA bin Laden handler Wanta claims, a Navy freezer at a “sand box” American base in a nation now beleaguered by democratic protesters.

Did bin Laden see Prime Minister Netanyahu address congress after President Obama proposed that Israel return to its 1967 borders?  What should well informed Americans know about AIPAC and Israeli operationsagainst America? Read what Phil Giraldi, former CIA analyst says about this:

“The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States.” That was the conclusion of a Pentagon administrative judge in 2006. One very good reason why Israel should not receive billions of dollars in military assistance annually is its espionage against the United States.

Israel, a Socialist country where government and business work hand in hand, has obtained significant advantage by systematically stealing American technology with both military and civilian applications.

US-developed technology is then reverse engineered and used by the Israelis to support their own exports with considerably reduced research and development costs, giving them a huge advantage against foreign competitors.

Sometimes, when the technology is military in nature and winds up in the hands of a US adversary, the consequences can be serious. Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that incorporated technology developed by American companies—including the Python-3 air-to-air missile and the Delilah cruise missile.

There is evidence that Tel Aviv has also stolen Patriot missile avionics to incorporate into its own Arrow system and that it used US technology obtained in its Lavi fighter development program—which was funded by the US taxpayer to the tune of $1.5 billion—to help the Bejing government develop their own J-10 fighter.

What Giraldi is telling us in 2011, bin Laden warned us of in 2001. 

Another mainstream media news report, this one from Fox News, seen after 9/11 but not censored and suppressed, proves how right Osama bin Laden was.  The report is now gone, hidden, no longer allowed to be seen in America but we have it here:


YouTube – Veterans Today –

When bin Laden examines the Muslim countries whose repressive governments are now under attack by their own people, pointing out their complicity of silence when they should have spoken out about the attack on Afghanistan and, later, Iraq, the Arab Spring wasn’t even a dream.  However, what has happened across the Middle East does fit a model, bin Laden’s model, not ours.

AMERICA’S CENSORED PRESS

Below, bin Laden’s true nature is seen.  If only America’s elected leaders showed the loyalty to the American people we see in bin Laden.

  • ”The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves.”

  • “Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the 

    enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.”

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

END OF OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT

THE MAN

Sources willing to testify in court, sources silenced because of phony concerns for “national security,” sources who have held positions of trust and/or authority, tell me Osama bin Laden always worked for the CIA until his death.  Most confirm his death in December, 2001.

Seemingly, bin Laden’s only crime?  Bin Laden told the truth, not as it was known in 2001 but a truth known by many in 2011.  Those who see themselves as enlightened as to:

  • Extremist groups in Israel and their anti-American agenda

  • Bush administration war crimes and corruption

  • the 9/11 coverup

  • America’s complicity in drug trafficking in Afghanistan

  • A globalist agenda to destroy Pakistan using American, Israeli and Indian security agencies

  • The agenda to bring about permanent war between Christianity and Islam as a replacement for the defunct “Cold War” and its profiteering

The real bin Laden may well have been a member of the independent progressive press.  His statements, his real statements, are by 2011 standards, mainstream and controversial but express beliefs shared by millions of Americans.

Those Americans would be shocked if they knew how much they say what bin Laden said, if they knew they believe what bin Laden believed.

As I watch the news, oh so painfully, seeing the “talking heads” read from the Stalinesque “partyline”

  • bin Laden the terrorist

  • bin Laden the mass murderer

  • bin Laden, “the worst person in the world”

I am appalled by their ignorance.  Read the final words of Osama bin Laden.  Look for a single word that could indict him for a crime.

You will not find one.

——————————————–

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY FOREIGN BROADCASTING INTERNATIONAL SERVICE:

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Website of Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic [FBIS Report] Website of Doha Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic,independent television station financed by the Qatari Government, which can be accessedat URL: http://www.aljazeera.net, carries at 2001 GMT on 24 September the text of the following letter by Usama Bin Ladin “to the Pakistani people.”

  • “We hope that these brothers would be the first martyrs in Islam’s battle in this age against the new Jewish crusade that is being led by the biggest crusader, Bush, under the banner of the cross. This battle is one of Islam’s immortal battles.”

  • “We beseech God to grant him victory against the forces of infidelity and arrogance, and to crush the new crusader-Jewish campaign on the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

  • “I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States.”

  • “Neither I had any knowledge of these attacks nor I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. . Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people. Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle.”

  • “All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.”

  • “Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed. According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US Government has stated.

  • “The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive.”

  • “They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia.”

  • “Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.”

  • “Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these (FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 180) agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taliban and then this incident happened.”

  • “Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat.”

  • “President Bush or any other US President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.”

  • “Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan.”

  • “I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom.”

  • “This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel.”

  • ”The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves.”

  • “Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.”

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY END OF OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT

Posted in USAComments Off on Osama bin Laden: Closing the Case on an Innocent Man

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On literary boycotts, Palestine, Sri Lanka and the politics of dissent

Posted: 15 Jun 2011

My following essay appears in the latest edition of literary journal Overland (a shorter version is published on ABC online):

‘For thirty years the country [Sri Lanka] went through a kind of hell and endured untold economic and cultural deprivation. Now, with things looking up, we need all the friendly input we can get from well-meaning outsiders. Let the writers and the artists and the goodwill ambassadors come here and brighten up our lives, for Heaven’s sake. We have had enough dark days as it is.’

Richard Prins, The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), 30 January 2011

A desire for normality is not unusual in a country that has experienced civil conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Tamils and Sinhalese have been killed or maimed in Sri Lanka over the past decades. What better way to celebrate the end of war than the Galle Literary Festival, an annual event that brings local and international artists and writers together for five days of debate?

But cultural events don’t take place in a vacuum. This year, the festival became the centre of a global effort to highlight human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in an episode that highlights the complicated politics of literary boycotts.

In January, Reporters Without Borders and a network of exiled Sri Lankan journalists, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, issued an appeal signed by a number of prominent figures, including Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Ken Loach, Tariq Ali and me. It called on participants in the festival to consider the message their attendance sent:

“We believe this is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country … We ask you in the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, to stand with your brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are not allowed to speak out. We ask that by your actions you send a clear message that, unless and until the disappearance of [cartoonist] Prageeth [Eknaligoda] is investigated and there is a real improvement in the climate for free expression in Sri Lanka, you cannot celebrate writing and the arts in Galle.”

The statement did not directly ask writers to boycott the event but instead urged them to reconsider their participation. The hope was that moral pressure would provoke serious thought about the situation in Sri Lanka. The war’s official end had not brought liberation for the Tamil minority; President Mahinda Rajapaksa still rules over an authoritarian state. Colombo recently tried to ban the Tamil version of the Sri Lankan national anthem, and in late December 2010 an education officer in Tamil-majority Jaffna was murdered by Sinhalese thugs for refusing to instruct students to sing the Sinhalese version. Corruption is also rife throughout the health, university and entertainment industries. Independent journalists are routinely snatched from the streets in white vans and often never seen again. Thousands of Tamils remain incommunicado in concentration camps in the north and there has been no war crimes investigation into the many serious allegations against senior members of the government.

For me, the Galle statement was part of an ongoing struggle to insert human rights into a world that I now inhabit: the literary and cultural festival scene. It is too easy to simply visit a city and event, to enjoy the luxurious hospitality and not consider the wider context. Who is excluded and why? Is my presence condoning the actions of organisers or the state (that often partly funds such events)?

I was particularly concerned about Galle after reading reports by Australian journalist Eric Ellis that the founder of the festival, Geoffrey Dobbs, had not fully accounted for money he had gathered after the devastating 2004 tsunami. Ellis expressed scepticism that the ‘Condé Nast Traveller crowd’ who came to the literary extravaganza would see the event as nothing other than ‘marrying the yuppie fervour for exotic foods with a neo-colonial languor and the presumed intellectual glamour of being in close quarters with famous wordsmiths’.

The festival responded with outrage. Curator Shyam Selvadurai told Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader that he ‘disagreed with the method of using the festival as a platform to voice disapproval’. When asked why a proposed panel on media freedom had been cancelled, he responded that it was simply too difficult ‘because it has to be fair and balanced. You have to give voice to both sides … We stand above all this partisan politics.’

I wondered if he believed that victims of war crimes should be given equal standing to those who commit them?

Selvadurai released a major statement in late January in which he claimed his voice had been ignored by the Reporters Without Borders:

“I am Tamil and the festival takes place in Galle, the deep Sinhala south, which has seen some of the worst violence committed against the Tamils [in fact, the worst massacres occurred in the east of the country in 2009, with tens of thousands murdered]. I am, in addition, openly gay, and in fact was the first person to come out publicly in Sri Lanka. This, in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.”

His call for dialogue was moving and forced me to seriously consider the purpose of the statement.

I felt comfortable with applying pressure on a festival that was backed by Colombo, an event used as a symbol of the postwar recovery advertised in tourist brochures across the world. Tourism is a massive industry in Sri Lanka. It helps normalise the international image of the nation if people return from the island to talk only about its beauty. When a writer explained in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times that the ‘infectiously feel-good, let’s-have-a-party character’ of Galle was sufficient enough reason for its success, it became clear that many Sinhalese and white visitors resented having their enjoyment interrupted with the inconvenient question of war crimes.

The aim of the statement was to highlight the world’s silence since the official end of the civil war in May 2009. Reporters Without Borders chief editor Gilles Lordet acknowledged that a boycott was ‘never a constructive solution’ but ‘it is a way to focus attention on a country that has been forgotten … Galle is one of the main tourist towns and you could imagine that everything is fine in the country, but that’s not the reality’.

South African writer Damon Galgut was the most high-profile withdrawal from Galle, declaring his discomfort with Sri Lanka’s human rights record and support of our statement. He was already in the country when he pulled out. Galgut told me personally at the Perth Writers Festival in March that the statement had alerted him to the grim reality of life in today’s Sri Lanka, a country he presumed had returned to semi-normality. Once he discovered the truth, he felt he had no choice but to withdraw.

Sri Lanka-based British travel writer Juliet Coombe praised the petition campaign to Agence France Presse because ‘there is a self-induced fear; not only among journalists and writers … Sometimes negative campaigns like this work. I had people calling from abroad, asking about the festival, about media suppression.’

Sri Lankan-born Roma Tearne also refused to appear. The event would, she said, bring nothing to the ‘poor and the displaced, the bereft and the victims of Sri Lanka’s war’, and ‘celebrity-seeking writers’ should not delude themselves otherwise.

The withdrawal of Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk and his partner, writer Kiran Desai, was initially reported as a response to the petition but may have resulted from visa complications or other personal reasons. I’d approached them both at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India in late January and Pamuk arrogantly refused to talk about Galle.

Nonetheless, during the festival itself, the human rights situation was debated in ways that would arguably not have occurred without our intervention. A BBC South Asia report by Charles Haviland confirmed that ‘dozens of writers had to make a quick decision on whether to pull out’.

Sandhya Eknaligoda, the wife of disappeared cartoonist Prageeth, was not allowed to present at the festival but handed out flyers to participants about her missing Sinhalese husband. It read in part:

“I welcome you to a country where thousands of women and children weep silent tears for a nation of innocent civilians who have been killed or disappeared on account on their ethnicity. Welcome to Sri Lanka.”

She alleges that her partner was abducted because he exposed the use of chemical weapons by Colombo in its war against the Tamil Tigers.

A few weeks later, Sandhya Eknaligoda emailed me personally to thank me for signing. It made me feel the petition provided comfort to some people in Sri Lanka who needed it most.

Throughout the Galle controversy, I was a guest at the Jaipur Literature Festival where I spoke about Palestine, Wikileaks and the Middle East. Some of the sponsors were multinationals with dubious human rights records (such as Shell), while Merrill Lynch, a key player in the global financial crisis, sponsored one of my events with the New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson and the Washington Post’s David Finkel on ‘reporting occupation’.

A counter-statement issued by supporters of the Galle festival pointed out the supposed hypocrisy of people like me being selective in our outrage. What about Indian government abuses in Kashmir? they asked. Why wasn’t I boycotting Jaipur if I felt so strongly about human rights?

I asked festival director William Dalrymple about the sponsors and he honestly acknowledged that he simply hadn’t considered the issue but would for future events. I took comfort in a statement made by Naomi Klein when defending her backing of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel: ‘Boycott is not a dogma; it’s a tactic.’

When are boycotts appropriate? Who decides? And what gives an unelected group or individual the moral legitimacy to demand or ask a participant to not appear?

In my view, boycotts should not be a personal protest but a considered position with indigenous support from within the host country itself. Does the event receive government funding and if so, what actions are potentially worth protesting? Are there calls for a boycott – or at least a protest – from citizens of the particular country? How effective will a boycott be? If an individual simply doesn’t turn up at a festival or refuses an offer to attend, a private protest may be pointless. Will the decision receive media coverage, or can the news be broadcast to local media?

Today, the best example of a vigorous cultural and academic boycott movement is that directed at Israel for its ongoing violation of Palestinian human rights. In 2004, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a major call endorsed by the vast bulk of Palestinian civil society groups:

“Since Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled) and the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to maintaining, defending or otherwise justifying the above forms of oppression, or have been complicit in them through their silence … We, Palestinian academics and intellectuals, call upon our colleagues in the international community to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonisation and system of apartheid.”

Examples abound of Israel making cultural life for Palestinians a daily grind. For example, in May 2009, Israeli troops tried to close the Palestinian Festival of Literature in Jerusalem by shutting a theatre on spurious procedural grounds.

‘We’re so taken aback. It is completely, completely independent,’ said Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who chaired the event. ‘I think it’s very telling. Our motto, which is taken from the late Edward Said, is to pit the power of culture against the culture of power.’

The campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a way to protest these violations.

PACBI has become highly effective in the past few years, applying moral force and practical, non-violent pressure on musicians, filmmakers, academics and writers either planning to visit Israel or receiving Israeli government funding. Musicians who have agreed to cancel appearances in Israel include Elvis Costello, Faithless, Santana, Gil Scott-Heron and Pete Seeger, while Canadian writer Naomi Klein only agreed to publish her best-selling The Shock Doctrine in Israel in 2009 with Andalus Publishing, a small imprint that specialises in Arabic literature. Her tour of the country and Palestine was specifically designed with publisher Yael Lerer to avoid backing any state-funded Israeli institutions.

Costello, arguably the most high-profile adherent to the PACBI call, explained his cancellation of dates in Tel Aviv in May 2010:

“I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security. Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static.”

BDS is now a relatively long-standing and global campaign, supported by those directly affected by Israeli occupation. It’s not something being imposed by outside forces to bully Westerners to comply. BDS against Israel is catching on across the world, including here in Australia, with unions and even a major local council in New South Wales signing up (until the decision was overturned).

It’s sometimes argued that cultural boycotts have little effect. But American journalist Max Blumenthal and Israeli activist Joseph Dana recently explained why BDS was so vital, because it:

“disrupt[ed] the apathy that pervades middle class, urban Israeli society. Apathy allows Israelis to live in comfort behind iron walls while remaining immune to the occupation and inoculated from its horrors.”

Other common arguments are that engagement with locals can only bring better understanding and that entertainment/sport/pleasure shouldn’t mix with politics. Elton John, for instance, refused to heed the PACBI call on this basis. During his concert in Tel Aviv in June 2010, he told the audience, ‘Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That’s what we do. We don’t cherry-pick our conscience.’

But precisely the same arguments were raised during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Back then, Elton John played (alongside other well-known acts such as Queen) in Sun City, located in Bophuthatswana, a nominally independent Bantustan. As South African critic Peter Feldman told the Brunei Times in 2008, ‘they [the musicians] used to say, “We’re doing it for our fans, we’re not politicians,” but the truth is they didn’t care. They were being paid millions to perform there.’

It is true that many public figures resent being placed under moral pressure. Novelist Margaret Atwood was asked by the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel to refuse the Dan David Prize for literature from Tel Aviv University. Before receiving the award, she said categorically, ‘We don’t do cultural boycotts. I would be throwing overboard the thousands of writers around the world who are in prison, censored, exiled and murdered for what they have published.’

But a short time later, perhaps feeling guilty about accepting the million-dollar prize, she wrote in Haaretz that Israeli society was becoming less democratic, more intolerant of difference and ‘the concept of Israel as a humane and democratic state is in serious trouble’.

British writer Ian McEwan faced similar criticisms in 2011 for accepting the Jerusalem Prize and attending a ceremony with Israeli President Shimon Peres. He refused to boycott and Palestinian writers refused to meet him during his stay. During his speech he condemned the ‘nihilism’ of both Israel and Palestinians, as if both sides were occupiers.

Closer to home, the case of the Melbourne International Film Festival illustrates how the growing BDS movement forces consideration of issues around Palestine. Festival director Richard Moore, whose son served in the IDF, received money from Israel in both 2009 and 2010 to pay for an Israeli director to visit Australia. In 2009, British filmmaker Ken Loach was outraged to find out his film would screen in a festival that received backing from a nation that brutalised Palestinians. In a letter to Moore, Loach mentioned the ‘illegal occupation of Palestinian land, destruction of homes and livelihoods’ and ‘the massacres in Gaza’ as reasons behind the boycott. Last year the makers of an Iraqi-set feature film Son of Babylon wrote to Moore after discovering the Israeli connection, demanding he not show their film.

Moore refused both requests but his decision led to pro-Palestinian pickets outside cinemas during the festival.

In my view, the BDS call against the Melbourne International Film Festival was wholly acceptable, a legitimate way to question the acceptance of money from a state that desperately wants to use culture and art as a distraction from its rapacious policies, just as the campaign around Galle was. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, ‘If you choose to be neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ It’s a responsibility that artists should feel, whether in Palestine or Sri Lanka.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney independent journalist and the author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

US “intelligence” acknowledge that Arab Spring has left them clueless

Posted: 14 Jun 2011

A rather startling Newsweek feature that shows just how shallow the US understanding of the Middle East has been for decades. Working with tyrants and torturers and murderers, in the name of fighting “terrorism”, has meant that the overthrow of such figures in the last six months has resulted in US eyes and ears becoming close to blind and deaf. Expect Washington to support any kind of reliable brutes in the months and years ahead:

Among American spies there’s more than a little nostalgia for the bad old days. You know, back before dictators started toppling in the Middle East; back when suspected bad guys could be snatched off a street somewhere and delivered to the not-so-tender mercies of interrogators in their home countries; back when thuggish tyrants, however ugly, were at least predictable.

It’s not a philosophical thing, just a practical one. Confronted by the cold realities of this year’s Arab Spring, many intelligence and counterterrorism professionals now see major dangers looming near at hand, while the good news—a freer, fairer, more equitable and stable Arab world—remains somewhere over the horizon. “All this celebration of democracy is just bullshit,” says one senior intelligence officer who’s spent decades fighting terrorism and finds his job getting harder, not easier, because of recent developments. “You take the lid off and you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think disaster is lurking.”

Which is why the Americans have once again turned to Riyadh as their discreet and indispensable ally. In Yemen particularly, the Saudis have their own operatives on the ground and many tribal leaders on their payroll. The kingdom’s main objective—to stabilize Yemen while eliminating Al Qaeda—is much the same as Washington’s. But can Saudi Arabia really resist the region’s seismic change? If the country is about to erupt as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria have done, would local intelligence services know? Would the Americans? The record is far from encouraging.

Sri Lanka is a heart of darkness where murder is encouraged

Posted: 14 Jun 2011

 

Today’s Guardian editorial is a powerful indictment against any government, journalist or official who views Colombo as a model when fighting “terrorism”. The UN is also complicit. The take-away message is that murdering civilians during wars (something many nations are very good at, including the US, Israel, Congo and a host of others) must be investigated and never forgotten:

The footage screened by Channel 4 last night ranks among the most horrific yet shown on British television. Naked prisoners shot in the head; the dead bodies of women who had been raped, dumped on a truck; the immediate aftermath of a shell landing on a hospital – images caught on mobile phones of the atrocities committed by government soldiers in the final months of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war. The story of what happened two years ago when government forces corralled hundreds of thousands of Tamils in horrific conditions into an ever-shrinking space, as they closed in the defeated Tigers, is well known. A UN panel last month found credible allegations of war crimes committed both by the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE. But the pictures of the shootings are new and Channel 4 has done what human rights organisations should have been doing in compiling and sifting through it.

The footage, shot either by escapers, or as trophy videos by soldiers committing the atrocities, is almost unwatchable. But on this occasion there are two reasons why it was right to dispense with the responsibility broadcasters have to avoid causing distress. First, the Sri Lankan government engineered a war without witness, which was why, in echoes of Srebrenica, they forced UN observers to leave first. This film atones, in small part, for the failure of the international community to make Sri Lanka accountable for these deaths. Second, the parallel with Srebrenica is only too real. As the UN panel reveals, the shelling of hospitals in the so-called no-fire zones was so systematic – there were 65 such attacks – that it is impossible to believe it was random. One shelling took place after a Red Cross official supplied the GPS co-ordinates to the Sri Lankan authorities, a procedure meant to avoid such shellings.

The targeting of civilians is a war crime. If proved, these charges go right up the chain of command of Sri Lanka’s military and government. If Iran stands condemned for killing hundreds in the wake of the June 2009 election, if Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic now face justice in The Hague, if Bashar al-Assad faces UN sanctions for an assault that has killed 1,300 Syrians, how it is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, escape all censure, after over 40,000 civilians were killed?

That the LTTE assassinated presidents and invented the suicide belt, that the Tigers used civilians as human shields, is no defence from the charge that Sri Lankan soldiers summarily executed prisoners in their custody. Sri Lanka is trying to pretend these events are history, as the economy and tourism pick up. They are not. This evidence has to be faced.

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