Archive | August 13th, 2011

Syrians Call for Assad’s Execution

NOVANEWS

The Syrian uprising has become a contest of endurance between Assad and the people

antiwar.com

Tens of thousands of Syrian protesters shouted for President Bashar Assad’s death Friday in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying Syrian forces after months of brutal crackdowns. Eleven protesters were killed during the demonstrations, according to human rights groups.

After Friday prayers, Syrian forces shot and killed another 20 protesters. Yet anti-government demonstrators remained resistant.

The protest movement began in March asking for relatively minor reforms in the Syrian government. Now they are calling for his head, in various cities, chanting “The people want to execute the president!”

The current status of this conflict between the Assad regime and the Syrian people has become a test of endurance. While the Obama administration has imposed sanctions on the Syrian government, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday urging countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas or selling the regime weapons, they have stopped short of calling for Assad’s ouster.

U.S. diplomatic official told the New York Times the United States increasingly believed that Assad could not hold out indefinitely and that plans were being made for a post-Assad era, without endorsing any direct intervention. With the exception of the sanctions, Syria has stood out among Arab Spring countries as one of the few the Obama administration hasn’t yet directly intervened, whether in support of the regime of against it.

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IsraHell Approves 4,300 New Homes in East Jerusalem

NOVANEWS

New construction follows an already rapid increase in illegal Zionist settlement expansion

antiwar.com

IsraHell’s interior minister gave final authorization to build 1,600 apartments in Palestinian East Jerusalem and will approve 2,700 more in coming days. Adding further damage to the beleaguered “peace process,” the settlement authorization prompted senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat to accuse IsraHell of favoring settlements over peace.

These new settlements are in addition to the recently announced 930 new Israeli homes to be built in a separate neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

The move is probably an effort to placate the massive protests taking place in IsraHell over the high cost of housing and to admonish the Palestinian bid to seek U.N. recognition in September. But the aggressive decision is unlikely to resolve either issue for the Israeli government.

These additional illegal settlements come after a dramatic escalation in demolitions of Palestinian homes throughout the West Bank, described as “alarming” by a July report from the United Nations. The report said that 700 people had been displaced and 356 structures demolished so far this year, compared with 594 and 431, respectively, for the whole of 2010.

Rhetorically at least, the United States is opposed to continued expanding settlements in Palestinian territory. U.S. Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer said Jerusalem’s fate “needs to be negotiated between the two parties” and that “unilateral actions on either side that appear to prejudice the outcome of those negotiations we find counterproductive.”

But in deed, the U.S. fully supports Israeli actions in the occupied territories, while also continuing to provide enthusiastic diplomatic support for IsraHelli policies quashing Palestinian rights.

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An Explosive New 9/11 Charge

NOVANEWS

In a new documentary, ex-national security aide Richard Clarke suggests the CIA tried to recruit 9/11 hijackers—then covered it up.

By Philip Shenon

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only a month away, former CIA Director George Tenet and two former top aides are fighting back hard against allegations that they engaged in a massive cover-up in 2000 and 2001 to hide intelligence from the White House and the FBI that might have prevented the attacks.

The source of the explosive, unproved allegations is a man who once considered Tenet a close friend: former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who makes the charges against Tenet and the CIA in an interview for a radio documentary timed to the 10th anniversary next month. Portions of the Clarke interview were made available to The Daily Beast by the producers of the documentary.

In the interview for the documentary, Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil – terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.

Clarke speculates – and readily admits he cannot prove — that the CIA withheld the information because the agency had been trying to recruit the terrorists, while they were living in southern California under their own names, to work as CIA agents inside Al Qaeda. After the recruitment effort went sour, senior CIA officers continued to withhold the information from the White House for fear they would be accused of “malfeasance and misfeasance,” Clarke suggests.

Clarke says it is fair to conclude “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information.” Asked who would have made the order, Clarke replies, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet.

Clarke said that if his theory is correct, Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.”
Clarke’s theory addresses a central, enduring mystery about the 9/11 attacks – why the CIA failed for so long to tell the White House and senior officials at the FBI that the agency was aware that two Al Qaeda terrorists had arrived in the United States in January 2000, just days after attending a terrorist summit meeting in Malaysia that the CIA had secretly monitored.

In a written response prepared last week in advance of the broadcast, Tenet says that Clarke, who famously went public in 2004 to blow the whistle on the Bush White House over intelligence failures before 9/11, has “suddenly invented baseless allegations which are belied by the record and unworthy of serious consideration.”

The CIA insisted to the 9/11 Commission and other government investigations that the agency never knew the exact whereabouts of the two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, inside the U.S.—let alone try to recruit them as spies.

Agency officials said the CIA’s delay in sharing information about the two terrorists was a grave failure, but maintained there was no suggestion of deception by CIA brass. Tenet has said he was not informed before 9/11 about Hazmi and Mihdhar’s travel to the U.S., although the intelligence was widely shared at lower levels of the CIA.

The 9/11 Commission investigated widespread rumors in the intelligence community that the CIA tried to recruit the two terrorists—Clarke was not the first to suggest it—but the investigation revealed no evidence to support the rumors. The commission said in its final report that “it appears that no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA” about the two terrorists.

But in his interview, Clarke said his seemingly unlikely, even wild scenario – a bungled CIA terrorist-recruitment effort and a subsequent cover-up – was “the only conceivable reason that I’ve been able to come up with” to explain why he and others at the White House were told nothing about the two terrorists until the day of the attacks.

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Clarke says in the interview, which was conducted in October 2009. He said it was fair to conclude “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information.” Asked who would have made the order, Clarke replies, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet.

Clarke, now a security consultant and bestselling author, has hinted in his writings in the past that there may have been a CIA cover-up involving Hazmi and Mihdhar, although he has never made such direct attacks on Tenet and others at the CIA by name.

He did not reply to requests from The Daily Beast to expand on his comments or to explain why he has not repeated them publicly since the 2009 interview. The documentary’s producers, FF4 Films, said they had been in contact with Clarke this month and that he stood by his remarks in the broadcast.

The producers, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, had previously made a well-reviewed film documentary, “Press for Truth,” (www.911pressfortruth.com), on the struggle of a group of 9/11 victims’ families to force the government to investigate the attacks.

In finishing the radio documentary, they recently supplied a copy of Clarke’s comments to Tenet, who joined with two of former top CIA deputies — Cofer Black, who was head of the agency’s counterterrorism center, and Richard Blee, former head of the agency’s Osama Bin Laden unit — in a statement denouncing Clarke.

“Richard Clarke was an able public servant who served his country well for many years,” the statement says. “But his recently released comments about the run-up to 9/11 are reckless and profoundly wrong.”

“Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000. It was not.”

The statement continued. “Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate – which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination – that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents. This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation.”

Clarke, who led government-wide counterterrorism efforts from the White House during the Bush and Clinton administration, has said in the past that he was astonished to learn after 9/11 that the CIA had long known about the presence of Hazmi and Mihdhar inside the United States.

“To this day, it is inexplicable why, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me,” Clarke said in the interview for the documentary, referring to Tenet and Cofer Black. “They told us everything – except this.”

He said that if he had known anything about Hazmi and Mihdhar even days before 9/11, he would have ordered an immediate manhunt to find them – and that it would have succeeded, possibly disrupting the 9/11 plot.

“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” he said. “We would have conducted it publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind, even with only a week left. They were using credit cards in their own names. They were staying in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, for heaven’s sake.” He said that “those guys would have been arrested within 24 hours.”

Former Counterterrorism Czar Accuses Tenet, Other CIA Officials of Cover-Up

Jason Leopold, Truthout

Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, speaks to filmmakers John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski about crucial intelligence involving two 9/11 hijackers he believes ex-CIA Director George Tenet and others concealed.

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11 just a month away, the intelligence failures leading up to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have started to attract fresh scrutiny from former counterterrorism officials, who have called into question the veracity of the various government probes that concluded who knew what and when.

Indeed, an exclusive report recently published by Truthout based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and an interview with a former high-ranking counterterrorism official showed how a little-known military intelligence unit, unbeknownst to the various investigative bodies probing the terrorist attacks, was ordered by senior government officials to stop tracking Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s movements prior to 9/11.

And now, in a stunning new interview scheduled to air on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado tonight, former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, for the first time, levels explosive allegations against three former top CIA officials – George Tenet, Cofer Black and Richard Blee – accusing them of knowingly withholding intelligence from the Bush and Clinton White House, the FBI, Immigration and the State and Defense Departments about two of the 9/11 hijackers who had entered the United States more than a year before the attacks.

Clarke also accused the former CIA officials of engaging in a cover-up failing to disclose to Congress and the 9/11 Commission key details about the two hijackers.

Tenet, Black and Blee have “been able to get through a joint House investigation committee and get through the 9/11 Commission and this has never come out,” Clarke said in the interview, an advance copy of which was provided to Truthout. “They got away with it.”

Clarke, who now runs the security firm Good Harbor Consulting, was the chief counterterrorism adviser for the Clinton and Bush administrations. He famously testified before the 9/11 Commission probing the terrorist attacks that “your government failed you.”

In October 2009, Clarke spoke to John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, who have been working on a documentary about Blee and the secrecy surrounding his role in the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, which is set to air on the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Duffy and  Nowosielski, whose previous film, “Press For Truth,” followed four 9/11 widows as they lobbied the Bush White House to convene an independent commission to probe the attacks, have also launched a new transparency web site, SecrecyKills.com, set to go live this evening with a campaign aimed at further unmasking Blee.

Clarke acknowledges that he does not have any evidence to back up his claims about the former CIA officials. He did not respond to questions about whether he still stood behind the comments he made about Tenet, Black, and Blee nearly two years ago. But Nowosielski told Truthout he spoke to Clarke last week to inform him that Tenet, Black and Blee had issued a joint statement that was harshly critical of his charges, and Clarke told  Nowosielski he has not changed his position.

Clarke asserts in the 13-minute interview that Tenet, the former CIA director; Black, who headed the agency’s Counterterrorist Center; and Blee, a top aide to Tenet who led the CIA’s Bin Laden Issues Station, also known as Alec Station, whose true identity was revealed for the first time two years ago, are responsible for the government’s failure to capture Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 with three other terrorists and flew the jetliner directly into the Pentagon killing 189 people.

“George Tenet followed all of the information about al-Qaeda in microscopic detail,” Clarke told Duffy and  Nowosielski. “He read raw intelligence reports before analysts in the counterterrorism center did and he would pick up the phone and call me at 7:30 in the morning and talk about them.”

But Tenet, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2004, did not share what Clarke says he knew about the al-Hazmi and the al-Mihdhar case.

In early January 2000, CIA analysts were informed by the National Security Agency that al-Hamzi and al-Mihdhar were heading to a meeting of other al-Qaeda associates in Malaysia, their travel arranged by Osama bin Laden’s Yemen operations center. The CIA surveilled the meeting and took photographs of the men.

From Malaysia, al-Hazmi, al-Mihdhar and Walid bin Attash, the alleged mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing, traveled to Thailand, which the CIA reported in a cable sent to Alec Station. The CIA had claimed, according to the 9/11 Commission report, that they lost track of all three men after they arrived at an airport in Thailand.

Al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar then boarded a flight bound for Los Angeles, arriving in the city on January 15, 2000, where they met up with a Saudi national named Omar al-Bayoumi, who was secretly working as an FBI informant.

Still, despite being aware that one of the terrorists had already obtained a US visa, the CIA failed to notify the FBI and State Department for inclusion on the latter’s terrorist watch list. Remarkably, Mihdhar left Southern California for Yemen in June 2000 and, using a new passport, returned to the US undetected on July 4, 2001.

Clarke suggests that if the CIA had shared intelligence about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with him, the FBI, and others, then perhaps the attack on the Pentagon could have been thwarted.

As he noted in his book, “Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters,” the 9/11 Commission never fleshed out the rationale behind the CIA’s failure to share crucial intelligence information about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with other officials and government agencies.

“As jaded and cynical as I am about government failures, I still find this one mind-boggling and inexplicable,” Clarke wrote. “The 9/11 Commission report does not tell us very much about how or why it happened and their explanations, while they could be correct, strain credulity and leave many questions unanswered.”

But the FBI also bears some responsibility. For example, Al-Bayoumi’s FBI case agent was aware that two men had moved into his San Diego apartment in January 2000, but never bothered to inquire about the identities of the individuals. Had the case agent done so, he would have discovered that his informant’s houseguests were al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.

“Failure to Communicate”

One of the CIA officials who had been monitoring the Malaysia meeting was a young al-Qaeda analyst named Jennifer Matthews, who had been working with the Bin Laden Issues Station since its inception in 1996. Another analyst, who worked closely with Matthews, was a red-headed woman who, in recent years, has been at the center of a scandal involving the torture and wrongful rendition of at least one detainee. She has since been promoted and continues to work for the CIA on al-Qaeda-related issues. An agency spokesman requested that Truthout not print her name because her identity is classified.

In his recently published book, “Triple Agent,” Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick wrote that former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson probed “CIA missteps that had allowed” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar “to enter the United States undetected.”

“Helgerson concluded that the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center had failed to respond to a series of cabled warnings in 2000 about” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar “who later became part of the September 11 plot …,” Warrick wrote. “The cables were seen by as many as sixty CIA employees, yet the two operatives’ names were never passed along to the FBI, which might have assigned agents to track them down or shared with the State Department, which could have flagged their named on its watch list. In theory, the arrest of the either man could have led investigators to the other hijackers and the eventual unraveling of the 9/11 plot.

“Helgerson’s report named individual managers who it said bore the greatest responsibility for failing to ensure that vital information was passed to the FBI. The report, never released in full, also recommended that some of the managers be reviewed for possible disciplinary action … Jennifer Matthews was on that list.”

Matthews, who Warrick also says led the agency’s search for the first high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and who was also present at the CIA black site prison in Thailand when Zubaydah was waterboarded after he was captured in March 2002, was among seven CIA officers killed in Khost, Afghanistan, in a December 2009 suicide bombing  at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan, which Matthews was chief of.

“A High-Level Decision”

Although Helgerson’s report recommended Matthews be disciplined, Clarke does not believe she or the dozens of other CIA analysts bear the ultimate responsibility for failing to inform the US government for 18 months that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the US.

“It’s not as I originally thought, which was that one lonely CIA analyst got this information and didn’t somehow recognize the significance of it,” Clarke said during the interview. “No, fifty, 5-0, CIA personnel knew about this. Among the fifty people in CIA who knew these guys were in the country was the CIA director.”

Still, Clarke said his position as National Coordinator for Security and Information meant he should have received a briefing from CIA about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, explaining “unless somebody intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution I would automatically get it.”

“For me to this day, it is inexplicable why when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counterterrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months … We therefore conclude that there was a high-level decision inside CIA ordering people not to share that information,” Clarke said.

How high level?

“I would think it would have to be made by the director,” Clarke said. “You gotta understand my relationship with [Tenet], we were close friends, he called me several times a day, we shared the most trivial of information with each other, there was not a lack of information sharing, [CIA] told us everything except this.”

CIA Tried to Recruit Hijackers?

So, what happened? Why did the CIA fail to share its intelligence about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar with Clarke and other government officials? Clarke believes the CIA may have attempted to “flip” al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, but ultimately failed.

That’s an allegation that surfaced in Lawrence Wright’s groundbreaking book, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9/11.” Wright, who interviewed Clarke for his book, said a team of FBI investigators and federal prosecutors known as Squad I-49 came to believe that the CIA “was shielding Mihdhar and Hazmi because it hoped to recruit them”

“The CIA was desperate for a source inside al-Qaeda; it had completely failed to penetrate the inner circle or even to place a willing partner in the training camps, which were largely open to anyone who showed up,” Wright wrote. “Mihdhar and Hazmi must have seemed like attractive opportunities however, once they entered the United States they were the province of the FBI. The CIA had no legal authority to operate inside the country … It is also possible, as some FBI investigators suspect, the CIA was running a joint venture with Saudi intelligence in order to get around that restriction … These are only theories about the CIA’s failures to communicate vital information to the bureau … Perhaps the agency decided that Saudi intelligence would have a better chance of recruiting these men than the Americans. That would leave no CIA fingerprints on the operation as well.”

“This is the view of some very bitter FBI investigators, who wonder why they were never informed of the existence of al-Qaeda operatives inside America. Mihdhar and Hazmi arrived nineteen months before 9/11. The FBI had all the authority it needed to investigate these men and learn what they were up to, but because the CIA had failed to divulge the presence of two active members of al-Qaeda, the hijackers were free to develop their plot until it was too late to stop them.”

The 9/11 Commission was unable to substantiate claims that the CIA tried to recruit al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar and Clarke never disclosed this theory to the panel during his testimony as it was a conclusion he said he reached years later.

“Reckless and Profoundly Wrong”

In response to Clarke’s charges, Tenet, Black and Blee issued a joint statement to Duffy and Nowosielski last week upon learning that Clarke’s interview was scheduled for broadcast. The former CIA officials admonished their former colleague, stating his comments were “reckless and profoundly wrong.” Blee’s inclusion in the joint statement marks the first time he has spoken publicly about the events leading up to 9/11.

“Clarke starts with the presumption that important information on the travel of future hijackers to the United States was intentionally withheld from him in early 2000,” the former CIA officials said. “It was not. He wildly speculates that it must have been the CIA Director who could have ordered the information withheld. There was no such order. In fact, the record shows that the Director and other senior CIA officials were unaware of the information until after 9/11.”

“In early 2000, a number of more junior personnel (including FBI agents on detail to CIA) did see travel information on individuals who later became hijackers but the significance of the data was not adequately recognized at the time … Building on his false notion that information was intentionally withheld, Mr. Clarke went on to speculate – which he admits is based on nothing other than his imagination – that the CIA might have been trying to recruit these two future hijackers as agents. This, like much of what Mr. Clarke said in his interview, is utterly without foundation. We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.”

“We Would Have Found Those Assholes”

But Clarke says even as early as July 2001 – two months before the terrorist attacks – when Tenet and Blee called an urgent meeting with President Bush at the White House, they had an opportunity to disclose the fact that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were somewhere in the US, but failed to disclose what they knew.

The CIA waited until late August to inform lower-level FBI agents that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar were in the US and were likely planning an attack inside the US. Yet, the CIA continued to conceal the intelligence from senior FBI and Bush administration officials a week prior to the attacks.

Clarke said there’s a “very obvious answer” as to why the CIA continued, as early as September 4, 2001, in a meeting attended by Clarke and other senior Bush administration officials, to withhold intelligence about the two hijackers: to protect the agency from scrutiny.

“I know how all this stuff works I’ve been working it for 30 years,” Clarke said. “You can’t snowball me on this stuff. If they announce on September 4 in the Principals meeting that these guys are in the United States and they told the FBI a few weeks ago I’m going to say ‘wait, time out. How long have you known this? Why haven’t you reported it at the daily threat meetings? Why isn’t it in the daily threat matrix?’ We would have begun an investigation that day into CIA malfeasance and misfeasance that’s why we’re not informed.”

Clarke added that even if the CIA had disclosed what it knew about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar as late as September 4, 2001, he believes the FBI could have captured the men and dismantled their plans to attack the Pentagon.

“We would have conducted a massive sweep,” Clarke said. “We would have conducted publicly. We would have found those assholes. There’s no doubt in my mind. Even with only a week left.”

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Middle Eastern vultures circle over a wounded Syria

NOVANEWS

 

Rami G. Khouri

The Daily Star

The sudden heightened rhetoric on the events in Syria by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League is unlikely to change how the situation in the country unfolds. However, it marks an important shift in the place and wider role of Syria and other states in the wider Middle East.

The most significant of trends is probably the more aggressive or assertive role of regional actors, as international players find that they have very limited means of influencing Syrian government actions. This is linked to the slow transformation of Syria from a leading actor that often defined key political realities around the Middle East, into a more passive player whose domestic troubles have suddenly clipped its regional wings.

The third big change is Syria’s sudden vulnerability at home, causing other regional powers to start working more diligently to either protect their interests or to make sure they are well positioned to take advantage of any forthcoming changes in Syria.

All of this has happened in just over four months. However, it is in fact the delayed and inevitable consequence of four decades of autocratic rule where the extended Assad family, security services and business interests badly gutted and corrupted Syria’s governance institutions. This helped expose the hollowness and weaknesses of the ruling edifice once a domestic challenge erupted. Syria’s ruling establishment remains strong and broadly unified for now, but its end is certain if it uses no other means than military force to respond to the populist national uprising that challenges it.

Three major regional players – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran – are now actively working in different ways to secure their strategic interests by trying to influence events in Syria. Israel presumably also is keeping an eye on things there, but its capacity to intervene is much smaller for now. This extraordinary spectacle of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran focusing on Syria is not yet a bevy of vultures hovering over the wounded Syrian body – but it is the first step toward that. All the countries see trends signaling change, and for different reasons they want to influence these to suit their preferences.

Iran wants to keep the Syrian system in place, because its close relationship with Syria (as well as Iran’s links to Hezbollah in Lebanon) represents the one and only foreign policy achievement of the Iranian Islamic revolution. This is presumably why Saudi Arabia and the GCC, who fear more Iranian influence in the Arab world, have spoken out against Syrian government policy and asked President Bashar Assad to pursue political reforms – however lacking in credibility or sincerity is such a message from Gulf monarchies.

Saudi Arabia has been leading the Arab official tide to hold back the wave of populist democratization propelling the street revolts across the Middle East. It must calculate that it has more to lose from continued Iranian influence in the Arab world than it has to lose from Arab democratic reforms; so it works diplomatically (and presumably behind the scenes by assisting some Islamist anti-Assad forces) to weaken both Syria and Iran’s regional conduit via Damascus.

Last summer, Saudi Arabia was working closely with Syria on several issues, including stabilizing conditions inside Lebanon. Today, Saudi Arabia seems to have decided to pressure the Damascus regime, if not also to actively change it. Arab politics, like politics everywhere, can be a fickle and tempestuous beast.

Turkey’s involvement in Syria is the most intriguing. Turkey has several direct economic, security, humanitarian and diplomatic interests in its bilateral ties with Syria, and has proved willing in the past to throw its weight around in the region, including militarily, to secure its national interests. Turkey’s economic and political development in the past several decades has been one of the few regional success stories, and now Ankara is being tested on its diplomatic prowess. It says it has not ruled out joining the Western, and now increasingly Arab, trend toward imposing greater sanctions on Syria to push it to use political rather than military tools to respond to its domestic challenges. The trouble with everyone’s approach is that Syria, like Iran, has proved to be stubbornly resistant to external diplomatic or economic pressures ever since the U.S. unilaterally initiated sanctions almost a decade ago.

For now, the most interesting and historically important aspect of the situation in Syria is less the behavior of the top-heavy, security-based Assad regime – an endangered global species – and more the continued awakening of regional powers intervening in Syrian affairs more openly, as major global powers watch the people and regimes of the Middle East (still two different phenomena in most countries) retake control of their destinies.

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Rick Perry, ‘Hawk Internationalist’

NOVANEWS

Or is that “internationalist hawk”?

Justin Raimundo

The idea that the Republican party Establishment was going to tolerate a takeover of their party by a rag-tag bunch of insurgent “tea partiers” was never very convincing, and Rick Perry’s entrance into the race as the “Teastablishment” candidate – to the hosannas of the neocons — should put that delusion to rest. 

For months, the media and the Republican mandarins have been anointing one candidate after another as the chief competitor to Mitt Romney, presumed by many to be the frontrunner. First it was Tim Pawlenty, and after he went nowhere fast it was Jon Huntsman, who has about as much chance as Gary Johnson of winning the race. Now it’s Texas Governor Perry who’s going to unite the various Republican factions around a post-Reaganite, post-Bush conservative consensus. The only problem with that is Perry has aroused the ire of Texas conservatives, who noted the Governor’s Texas Transit Corridor highway project made liberal – if you’ll pardon the expression – use of eminent domain.

The TTC proposal put him on the other side of the barricades from most Texas conservatives – and also put him at odds with Rep. Ron Paul, another fast-rising GOP presidential contender, who introduced legislationto block federal money for the scheme. I’ll leave it to others to expose Perry’s RINO credentials ondomestic issues, and focus instead on his hostility to the Tea Party when it comes to foreign policy.

At its inception, the Tea Party, as an inchoate movement with no real national leaders, and a ferventlysingle-issue focus, had no foreign policy agenda. As time went on, however – that is, as the bills continued to stream in for our wars in the Middle East – that began to change. It changed because no one can address the fiscal crisis at the core of our problems without facing the question of how to cut the misnamed “defense” budget. It soon became apparent to the tea partiers that a military tasked with policing the world – instead of actually defending this country – accounted for a good chunk of change. Under the all-inclusive rubric of “defense” we spend more than a trillion dollars a year, as much as for so-called entitlements. The rest is “discretionary” spending – you know, like running the actual government.

In any case, the tea partiers, confronted with a bloated Leviathan, soon discovered that the military budget is among the holiest of the federal budget’s sacred cows, and that this reverence is bipartisan: neither the GOP Establishment nor the Democrats would sign on to any real cuts in this sector. The result: a budget deal that relegated possible cuts in the military and overseas budget to the final “tranches” of the budget-reduction process, to go into effect only if the “Super-Congress” fails to reach an agreement. 

In short, they’ll yank your grandmother off her life support system, and cut your Social Security – which you’ve been “paying into” all these years – just as you reach retirement age, long before they’ll touch a penny of the trillions being funneled overseas to our far-flung outposts of empire.

The tea partiers, most of them, find this galling, to say the least, and the rumbles of discontent with this Americans-come-last policy provoked a response from the Establishment: the tea partiers, the neocons cried, are a modern manifestation of the dreaded “isolationists,” and the Obama cultists joined in the hand-wringing, defending the Dear Leader’s Libyan adventure against Republican “isolationists” like Michelle BachmannRon Paul, and George Will

Undeterred, tea party activists are pushing ahead with their campaign to cut back Big Government on alllevels – including the international level. As The Hill reports, tea partiers are putting pressure on Republicans appointed to the “Super-Committee” to wield the budget knife unsparingly:

“’Nothing should be sacred, and everything needs to be evaluated and cut as much as it can be,’ said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.

“Tea Party activists say defense programs should come under the same knife as any other taxpayer-funded programs, and that massive national security budgets were not exempt from their definition of ‘big government.’

“’The liberty movement is about the fundamental limitation of government, and that doesn’t have departmental boundaries with regards to this principle,’ said Chris Littleton, co-founder of the Ohio Liberty Council.”

The tea partiers aren’t “isolationists” – that smear word doesn’t really describe anyone in American politics outside of the labor unions and other advocates of economic protectionism. They’re nationalists, albeit not of the all-too-familiar militaristic variety, in that they want a foreign policy that puts America and American interests first, and last. As opposed to the traditional European conception of nationalism as warlike and expansionist, theirs is a distinctively American version that is inward looking and increasingly anti-imperialist. 

This is in radical juxtaposition to the views of Señor Perry, who has been characterized by one of his top aides as a “hawk internationalist.”  This is a good indication that the much-ballyhooed Perry bandwagon began going off the rails before it ever got started. Do the Perryites really believe they can sell their candidate to crusty conservative Republicans as an “internationalist”? Does Phyllis Schlafly know about this? 

Just look at who’s been giving him foreign policy advice: according to Josh Rogin, over at Foreignpolicy.com, he’s been in meetings “sometimes for hours” with the likes of former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, former NSC “strategy guru” William Luti, and a host of other neocons from the last administration, many of whom were instrumental in lying us into war in Iraq. Feith and Luti were the nexus of a disinformation network which fed false “intelligence” to the Congress, the White House, and the public to justify a disastrous invasion which we are still paying for in lives and treasure.

Oh, and what a surprise: it turns out the Perry-neocon lash-up was brokered by disgraced former Defense Secretary Donald “Known Unknowns” Rumsfeld. 

Another clueless Texas Governor surrounded by the same Praetorian Guard of conniving neocons who led us down the road to imperial overstretch and fiscal ruin last time around – isn’t that just what the GOP needs right now?

The neocons have anointed their candidate, and it’s clear they have some sense he’s swimming upstream:

“’He will distinguish himself from other Republicans as a hawk internationalist, embracing American exceptionalism and the unique role we must play in confronting the many threats we face,’ one foreign policy advisor with knowledge of Perry’s thinking told The Cable. ‘He has no sympathy for the neo-isolationist impulses emanating from some quarters of the Republican Party.’”

Perry is being sold as the one candidate who can bridge the gap between the tea partiers and the old line “mainstream” Republican Establishment, but those fault-lines are turning into a chasm, as Senator McCain’s anti-Tea Party eruption the other day confirms. When it comes to cutting “defense” – and, more broadly, redefining America’s proper role in the world – Perry and his neocon advisors are going to have to demonstrate how “American exceptionalism” means we’re an exception to the laws of economics. [.pdf] Empires are expensive: a foreign policy of perpetual war costs not only cash but lives.

Aside from the fiscal aspect, for most Americans the death of Osama bin Laden has drawn the curtain on the threat from al-Qaeda – especially for those increasing numbers who face the far more immediate threat of financial insolvency. At a time when the homes of so many Americans have gone into foreclosure, Perry’s neocon “experts” are going to have a hard time coming up with a convincing pitch for more military spending, more wars, and more “internationalism.”

In trying to sell this warmed-over Bush-ism, the Perry camp is setting itself on a collision course with the tea partiers. Having been sold out by the Republican congressional leadership and its too-little-too-late budget deal – which authorized over a trillion to feed the maw of the Welfare-Warfare State, and only cut the rate of spending growth – the libertarian-constitutionalist wing of the GOP is in no mood for compromise. In a primary season in which the Tea Party is widely seen as the kingmaker, Perry the “internationalist” may see his coronation delayed indefinitely. 

The Perry trial balloon was inflated with a lot of hot air when it was first floated in the media, but he may well turn out to be another Fred Thompson – remember him? – or, more precisely, another Rudy Giuliani. You’ll recall that Perry endorsed Giuliani in the last presidential go-round, and I have a sneaking suspicion – or is it a hope? – the Perry campaign is headed for a similar destiny. 

Posted in USAComments Off on Rick Perry, ‘Hawk Internationalist’

Polyester Prince-The Real Story of Dhirubhai Ambani(Banned in India)

NOVANEWS

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_FJWYgnVJJFk/TLCh8qEM7hI/AAAAAAAAA8s/D7ss4-XGHh8/s1600/Dheerubhai.jpg

 

Dheerubhai Ambani, the most popular name of modern Indian business, is still in the minds of Indians despite his physical demise. Hamish MC Donald has made a critical interpretation of Ambani’s transition of normal man into a Business Tycoon who allegedly influenced mainstream politicians for the commercial benefits of his business unethically. This book was written in 1998 and has been banned in India due to the heavy pressure from Ambanis.You can find this books at bombay streets for nominal cost which are smuggled. Maniratnam has been inspired by this book for making of “GURU” with Abishek Abhachan . Mani Ratnam also depicted numerous scenes from the source of this book.

This book also highlighted the rivalry between Dheerubhai Ambani and Nusli Wadia(grandson of Mahamad Ali Khan Jinna) who were allegedly tried to assassinate each other. Their rivalry remained as a black spot of Indian corporate history. In the film Guru, Mithun Chakravarthy played Ramanth goenka role while Madhavan played Journalist Guru Murthi role. Interesting aspect is Guru Murthy was hugely suffered by Ambani on the various charges and even jailed unlike the ‘GURU” movie description where Abishak Bachan didn’t touch Madhavan.

Mani Ratnam must have been pampered by Ambanis. Though this book is mandatory for the people who aspiring a career in corporate sector and entrepreneurship,but special kind of fiction has been added by author to sensationalize the book and his name. Readers should be very cautious while reading the book and to make conclusions on Dheerubhai’s character.

The Polyester Prince is a balanced book on India’s own robber baron. Mr. McDonald pays tribute to Gujarati traders/ Banias in the first few chapters by acknowledging their exuberance of speech, inventiveness, and commercial drive. Dhirubhai first displayed his diplomatic and negotiating skills during the Junagadh freedom struggle. At Yemen, he exploits the fact that silver content in rial was higher than the pound. There he also learned the fundamentals of business by taking position in rice, sugar, and other commodities. At India, Dhirubhai progressed to trading in REP licenses and later textile manufacturing. One of Dhirubhai’s greatest attributes was that he networked and lobbied furiously.

He cultivated several journalists, politicians, and bureaucrats including Girilal Jain, Murli Deora, Yashpal Kapur, T.A. Pai, R.K. Dhawan, P.C. Sethi, Pramod Mahajan, and Pranab Mukherjee. Several policies such as the High Unit Value Scheme were introduced for the sole benefit of Reliance and tariffs mostly for the detriment of competitors like Kapal Mehra (Orkay Silk Mills) and Nusli Wadia (Bombay Dyeing). Reliance was the first to recognize the most important external environment- Government of India. Dhirubhai used the government to destroy Indian Express and Bombay Dyeing. Wadia, Mehra and the journalist Gurumurthy were arrested on fake charges. He is alleged to have tried to get Wadia assassinated through Kirti Ambani and contract killers.

Reliance also resorted to envelope journalism and later buying out a newspaper to unfairly cast DMT as inferior to PTA. Dhirubhai is rightly called father of Indian equity cult as he patronized convertible debentures. One out of every four investors in India is a Reliance shareholder. The Ambanis used loopholes, shell investment companies/ tax havens in Isle of Man, duplicate shares, insider trading, and financial engineering tricks to ensure that Reliance was the largest zero-tax company and a pure cash flow operation.

Though correctly described as ruthless and daring, Mr. McDonald overlooks that Dhirubhai was an innovative financier, brand builder (Only Vimal etc.), and an industrialist way ahead of his times (vertical integration, GDR etc.).Source: Prakash Shenoys Diary

Posted in IndiaComments Off on Polyester Prince-The Real Story of Dhirubhai Ambani(Banned in India)

Nazi Lieberman: IsraHell apology for Gaza flotilla raid would not improve Turkey ties

NOVANEWS

Nazi Liberman  says Turkish PM will not make do with an apology since he demands ending Gaza blockade; Army Radio reports U.S. secured an IsraHell-Turkey reconciliation deal but Netanyahu backed out at last minute.

Nazi Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that an IsraHell apology to Turkey will not improve the ties between the two countries.

“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep] Erdogan will not make do with just an apology… He also demands lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Nazi Lieberman told IsraHell Radio, insisting that Israel does not have to apologize for the 2010 Nazi Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Nazi Lieberman maintained that IsraHell acted as a moral state and said that even the UN report on the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla ruled that IsraHell acted according to international law.

Meanwhile, Army Radio reported on Thursday that the U.S. had already managed to secure an Zionist-Turkish reconciliation agreement two weeks ago, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed out of the deal at the last minute.

The reconciliation deal was reported to include an Israeli apology for tactical errors done during the Nazi army raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, part of last year’s Gaza flotilla, and agree to transfer of funds to a Turkish foundation for those killed in the raid. In turn, Turkey would commit to refrain from suing IsraHell or Nazi soldiers who took part in the raid.

According to the report, Netanyahu initially explained that IsraHell cannot apologize since Nazi Lieberman will respond by breaking up the coalition. The U.S. then pressured Nazi Lieberman to promise he will not do so, and the foreign minister went on to make a public statement that apology or not, he will not dismantle Netanyahu’s coalition.

However at the last moment, Netanyahu explained that due to IsraHell’s increasing social protests, he cannot allow himself to open another front when his popularity is at a low.

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