Archive | October 1st, 2012

VIDEO – Turkey Istanbul- Protest against Terrorist country Saudi Arabia for the bloodshed in Syria

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SYRIAWATCH-National Pentagon Radio (NPR)

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Watch by John V. Walsh  http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/10/national-pentagon-radio-npr-watch/#more-45987 

Friday brought another report  of the civil war in Syria by Kelly McEvers of NPR’s Morning Edition.
The opening summary tells us that rebels “captured a third major border crossing between Syria and Turkey. The rebels are trying to restore services to a recently liberated town.”Let’s hold on right there. “Liberated town”? According to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, the first definition  of “liberate,” is to set at liberty: free.;specifically : to free (as a country) from domination by a foreign power.” (The phrase “domination by a foreign power” is more than a touch ironic, given the role of the U.S., Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council in bankrolling and supplying the rebels. )
One need not even probe into the connotations of “liberate” which by its very denotation tells us that liberation is the work of the “good guys.” Right there in a subtle, or not so subtle, way, National Pentagon Radio is taking sides. And it is not too far into the reportage before journalist ace Kelly McEvers repeats the formulation: “Inside the building, we sit down with Abu Azzam, one of the rebel commanders who helped liberate the border crossing (with Turkey, Jw) and the town beyond.”So what kind of “liberation” has come to this town of about 20,000 people called Tal Abyad? As we get deeper into the story, the “liberation” becomes ever stranger. McEvers reports:Once inside the town, the only civilians we see are a handful of people in a pickup truck, and they’re on their way out. The bakeries have reopened, but apparently just to make bread for the fighters.
One of two functioning stores clearly caters to the rebels, too. Otherwise, the town is almost completely empty….Our guide, Abu Yazen, shows us the blackened, pockmarked government buildings that were taken by the rebels. We ask Abu Yazen why the town is so empty. He says it’s because 80 percent of the people in town actually sided with the government, not with the rebels (emphasis, jw)….What happens when those 80 percent of the people come back and they want their houses back? What’s going to happen to them?….
The guide Yazen replies and McEvers offers the translation, “Those who have blood on their hands will be tried, he says. The others will come back and help us build a new country.” Hardly a reassuring invitation to those who have fled from the “liberation” of their town.McEvers hastily concludes her piece:Someone rushes in to tell us they’ve spotted a column of trucks with mounted machine guns that belong to the regime’s army. (Soundbite of truck motor) We have to hurry out of town before we know the end of the story.
The operative term this time is “regime.” The routine usage on NPR is that official enemies have “regimes,” so both Iran and Syria routinely have regimes but Israel, for example, has a “government.” Here we must look at the connotation of the word; and as Wikipedia informs us under  “modern usage,”: “While the word regime originates as a synomym for any form of government, modern usage often gives the term a negative connotation…” (There was a time when the antiwar movement referred to the “Bush regime,” but that usage has gone missing with the ascension of Obama, the candidate of the “progressive” Democrats.)This sort of vocabulary is not trivial as George Orwell long ago pointed out. It is usage which, repeated endlessly, reinforces the idea of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Such propaganda molds opinions and is preparation for war and conflict.
[ED NOTES;ITS A PENTAGON FRONT,ITS HER JOB TO SPIN AGAINST SYRIAS GOVT.. In April 2008, David Barstow from the New York Times revealed that in early 2002 the Pentagon military analyst program had been launched by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke. The idea was to recruit “key influentials” to help sell a wary public on “a possible Iraq invasion.”Former NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard called the effort “psyops on steroids.” Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

Posted in SyriaComments Off on SYRIAWATCH-National Pentagon Radio (NPR)

Doha Bank Funds FSA

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“Ad-Diyar” Lebanese daily revealed Monday that “it had received an email from the Director of one of the Doha Bank branches owned by one of the royal family members.”
“Through the nature of his work, Fahd bin Jabor bin Mohammed al-Thani unveiled details of how Qatar financed the terrorism in Syria,
particularly the so-called “Islamic wing of the Free Syrian Army”.”In details, the director doubted the transactions of the two Syrian bank customers Moataz al-Khayyat and Mohammed Moataz al-Khayyat.The two men possess a small contracting company in Doha, named UCC.”After they had usual small accounts of deposit, transactions, remittances, and credits, they recently started entering a large amount of weekly money remittances from various sources,” al-Thani informed “ad-Diyar.
He further mentioned that that the Emiri Diwan is the main source of funding as well as other Omani, Syrian and Qatari sources.”After checking and inspecting, I discovered that the bank information are free of any justification for the purpose of such transactions,” the bank official said and pointed out that ” this contradicts the rules of our Bank, as well as the international conventions related to money laundering.”Al-Thani highlighted that “once I asked for clarifications ,
I was stunned by the Head of Retail Banking Nabil Tabbar [Lebanese from Beirut] and the Director of the branch leadership Reem Yahya al-Hija’s [Lebanese from Tripoli] reaction.””They strongly opposed freezing the accounts without giving any further details,” he stated.After a while, the director discovered that large amounts of the money transferred to the accounts of al-Khayyat, are weekly converted to Mahasen al-Khayyat in Istanbul, through Garanti Bank.
Moreover, amounts are taken via checks deposited in the account of a Lebanese person named Ronnie Jean al-Ramadi in Koura, North Lebanon (according to his passport, which begins with 0777). Later, the money is transferred to a Turkish security officer in Ataturk Airport. The man, with the help of other Turkish and Syrian men, hands the money to a man named Abu Mamoun, who buys the arms and ammunition for the so-called “Free Syrian Army”. It was also uncovered that he had in August handed a large sum of money to a Lebanese Sheikh in Tripoli.The director also mentioned that “based on the credit cards payments of al-Khayyat, the two men travel weekly to Turkey after taking great amounts of money the day before their trip.”

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IsraHell strike on Iran without US would be a ‘disaster,’ World Jewish Congress president says

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by crescentandcross

Ron Lauder warns that a unilateral operation would isolate Jerusalem

Times of Israel

Israeli action against Iran without American assistance would be disastrous, World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder told Der Spiegel in an interview to be published on Sunday.

A unilateral Israeli operation against Iran would isolate Jerusalem from its allies worldwide, Israel Radio quoted Lauder as saying.

Lauder raised the issue of the 2003 Iraq War, when most governments worldwide were certain that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but afterwards it became evident that Iraq did not have such materiel.

If they erred then, it is possible everyone is erring now, Lauder posited.

Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit on Sunday also told Israel Radio that the Israeli government ought to let the Americans deal with the Iranian issue, because Israel is too small to address it properly.

He added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak had unnecessarily frightened the Israeli public over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Now, in his UN speech, Netanyahu said that at least a year will pass until the Iranians reach the point of endangering Israel. If so, then what purpose did the fervor serve?” Sheetrit said.

Lauder’s comments came days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly calling on the international community to establish “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program, such as development of a certain amount of weapons-grade uranium, after which international military action against the Islamic Republic would be agreed upon.

Netanyahu on Saturday remarked that he had strengthened coordination with the US on steps to prevent the Islamic Republic from further amassing highly enriched uranium, necessary for a nuclear weapon.

Lauder wrote an op-ed in the New York Post in January and argued that nuclear-armed Israeli submarines could provide a deterrent to a nuclear Iran.

“It’s time [the Israelis] took their submarine force and reinvented it as a strategic deterrent against a potentially nuclear-armed Iran and its terrorist surrogates seeking to literally wipe Israel off the map,” Lauder wrote.

A nuclear-armed submarine in the Indian Ocean “would recreate the kind of deterrence we saw during the Cold War, which kept enemies from attacking each other for some 40 years,” Lauder argued.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, IranComments Off on IsraHell strike on Iran without US would be a ‘disaster,’ World Jewish Congress president says

Gaddafi was killed by French secret serviceman on orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, sources claim

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dailymail.co.uk

A French secret serviceman acting on the express orders of Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected of murdering Colonel Gaddafi, it was sensationally claimed today.

He is said to have infiltrated a violent mob mutilating the captured Libyan dictator last year and shot him in the head.

The motive, according to well-placed sources in the North African country, was to stop Gaddafi being interrogated about his highly suspicious links with Sarkozy, who was President of France at the time.

There are still pockets of support for former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya, despite his death
Nicolas Sarkozy, France's former president
 

Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, allegedly ordered the murder of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi

Other former western leaders, including ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were also extremely close to Gaddafi, visiting him regularly and helping to facilitate multi-million pounds business deals.

Sarkozy, who once welcomed Gaddafi as a ‘brother leader’ during a state visit to Paris, was said to have received millions from the Libyan despot to fund his election campaign in 2007.

The conspiracy theory will be of huge concern to Britain which sent RAF jet to bomb Libya last year with the sole intention of ‘saving civilian lives’. 

A United Nations mandate which sanctioned the attack expressly stated that the western allies could not interfere in the internal politics of the country.

Instead the almost daily bombing runs ended with Gaddafi’s overthrow, while both French and British military ‘advisors’ were said to have assisted on the ground.

Now Mahmoud Jibril, who served as interim Prime Minister following Gaddafi’s overthrow, told Egyptian TV: ‘It was a foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Gaddafi.’ 

 
Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on videoGaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on video
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood, is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killedFormer Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood, is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed
Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last yearRevolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year

Diplomatic sources in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, meanwhile suggested to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra that a foreign assassin was likely to have been French.

The paper writes: ‘Since the beginning of NATO support for the revolution, strongly backed by the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi openly threatened to reveal details of his relationship with the former president of France, including the millions of dollars paid to finance his candidacy at the 2007 elections.’

One Tripoli source said: ‘Sarkozy had every reason to try to silence the Colonel and as quickly as possible.’

The view is supported by information gathered by investigaters in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the place where the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution against Gaddafi started in early 2011.

Rami El Obeidi, the former head of foreign relations for the Libyan transitional council, said he knew that Gaddafi had been tracked through his satellite telecommunications system as he talked to Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator.

Nato experts were able to trace the communicatiosn traffic between the two Arab leaders, and so pinpoint Gaddafi to the city of Sirte, where he was murdered on October 20 2011.

Nato jets shot up Gaddafi’s convoy, before rebels on the ground dragged Gaddafi from a drain where he was hiding and then subjected him to a violent attack which was videod.

In another sinister twist to the story, a 22-year-old who was among the group which attacked Gaddafi and who frequently brandished the gun said to have killed him, died in Paris last Monday.

Ben Omran Shaaban was said to have been beaten up himself by Gaddafi loyalists in July, before being shot twice.He was flown to France for treatment, but died of his injuries in hospital.

Sarkozy, who lost the presidential election in May, has continually denied receiving money from Gaddafi.

Today he was unavailable for comment, but is facing a number of enquiries into alleged financial irregularities.

Posted in France, LibyaComments Off on Gaddafi was killed by French secret serviceman on orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, sources claim

Chávez Faces Crime and Housing Shortage as Key Issues in Coming Venezuelan Elections

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Gregory Wilpert: Chávez dramatically reduced poverty and remains popular but must solve critical problems plaguing the country

Watch full multipart Chávez and the Venezuelan Elections

 

 Bio

Gregory Wilpert a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he taught at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded Venezuelanalysis.com, an english-langugage website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). He moved back to the U.S. in 2008 because his wife was named Consul General of Venezuela in New York. Since returning to the U.S. he has been working as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay.

 

The presidential elections in Venezuela are scheduled for October of this year. President Chávez is currently in Cuba getting medical treatment for cancer. We are told that the latest tumor has been removed. He says he’s feeling better and, after another round of chemotherapy, is ready to enter the election battle. 

Now joining us to unpack the consequences or significance of this on the election and the challenges that Chávez will be facing in this election campaign is Gregory Wilpert. Gregory is the founder of Venezuelanalysis.com. He’s the author of the book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power. He’s a adjunct professor of political science at Brooklyn College in New York. And for full transparency, his wife is the consul-general of Venezuela in New York. Thanks for joining us. 

GREGORY WILPERT, AUTHOR: Hi. Thanks for having me. 

JAY: So, Gregory, let’s just start with—well, first of all, what’s the latest that we know about Chávez’s health? And, you know, is he going to be able to campaign or not? That seems to be the big question at the moment. 

WILPERT: Well, it seems that Chávez went through a successful operation to have a small tumor removed that’s not as big as the one he had last year, and it seems like no other neighboring cells were affected. So he’s going to be having localized radiation therapy for the next couple of weeks, and maybe another round of chemotherapy after that. Once that’s over, I’m pretty sure that he’ll return to full campaigning mode, assuming that there’s no other return of the cancer. So my guess is that, yes, he’ll be, in a couple—maybe in a month or so he’ll be in full campaigning mode once again and the campaign would continue. Of course, it’s continuing for the opposition all along. 

JAY: And you would think, if that wasn’t the case, they would have to start positioning someone else to front all of this now. So it’s likely that is the situation. 

WILPERT: Yes, I think so. I mean, Chávez was on television a couple of days ago, and he seemed to be in very good spirits and very good health, actually, although you never know with cancer, of course. But he seemed to be alright. 

JAY: Okay. So let’s talk about the main opposition candidate to start with, and then we’ll get into the issues that are going to be facing Chávez in this election. So who is he and what do we know about him? And if I understand correctly, he’s sort of positioning himself as a kind of Lula type of politics, which is somewhat new for the opposition. So who is he? 

WILPERT: His name is Capriles Radonski, or Henrique Capriles Radonski. And he actually belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, although he himself might not be quite that wealthy. But his family certainly is, since they also own the largest-circulation newspaper in Venezuela. 

But Capriles Radonski himself, he started out as a very, very young politician—actually, still very young. He’s only 39 years old. When he—he was actually one of the youngest politicians to be elected to the National Assembly 13 years ago and was a member of a basically neoliberal-to-right conservative party known as Primero Justicia, or Justice First. And since then he’s at least rhetorically moved more and more towards the center. And he’s really trying to present himself—and he said that he is a progressive, and he’s really emphasized that, in other words. And he’s also expressed admiration for President Lula of Brazil, former president Lula of Brazil. And so there seems to be a really conscious effort to move towards the left on his part. But I think part of the reason for that is that in Venezuela the whole political discourse, because of Chávez, has moved towards the left. So he’s clearly trying to position himself that way because the right wing has been so discredited in Venezuela. 

JAY: And there is some tradition in or history in Venezuela coming in terms of elite politics that there has been a section that’s a little more center, center-left. I mean, for example, the Venezuelan national oil company was created before Chávez came to power. Is that right? 

WILPERT: Yes. I mean, politics in Venezuela has always been a little bit more towards the center-left, especially since it was for a long time governed by a social democratic party, and the state sector in Venezuela has always been very strong. So the right wing in Venezuela, although it’s always been present, has—at least if you look at the broad political spectrum from the right wing, for example, in the United States to the left wing in Venezuela—has always tended towards the left-of-center part of the spectrum. 

JAY: Now, if we look at the big issues that are facing Chávez in this election, people—let’s start with things that people are dissatisfied with, and then we’ll move to things people are satisfied with. And just I should preface that there seems to be more things people are satisfied with, ’cause he’s still running 55, 65 percent positive in the polls. But certainly number one, I would think, on the list must be crime. Caracas—and Venezuela generally—has one of the highest murder rates in the world. And, you know, this many years into Chávez’s power, there doesn’t seem to have been that much improvement in the crime situation. So is this the big issue? And what’s he going to do about it? 

WILPERT: Yes, and the opposition has certainly succeeded in making crime the number-one issue for this election campaign, and, of course, with reason, because crime is indeed one of the main problems in Venezuela. That is, so many other problems have been addressed by the Chávez government, but this one problem hasn’t. And the big question that many people ask, of course, who are observing Venezuela as well: why has that one issue gone unresolved? And I think the main answer is that the government kind of assumed that if you reduce poverty and reduce a lot of the problems, the other problems, then crime would go down by itself. But that [crosstalk] 

JAY: And let me just interrupt for a sec is that poverty numbers really have come down. Right? There has been some movement on that. 

WILPERT: Yes, poverty definitely has gone down. General poverty has been halved during the Chávez presidency, and extreme poverty has gone down by two-thirds, from something like 20 percent to 7 percent. So that’s a dramatic improvement. But in the meantime the crime issue haven’t been addressed. Mainly (so I think) one of the reasons that that didn’t go down is because the police force itself has been completely involved in the crime problem itself, is part and parcel of the problem, because it’s so corrupt. 

JAY: I know when I was in Venezuela, there was—I heard this joke, which I guess you can hear in other countries, too, but the joke was be careful when you get robbed not to scream, because the police might come. 

WILPERT: Right. Exactly. And so this is the—of course Chávez has noticed this or has become aware that this is a problem that hasn’t been resolved on its own because of the reduction in poverty. And so only recently have they started addressing the police problem. That is, in the past two years, they’ve decided they’ve had to completely reform the police. And this is a very long, very complicated process, because they’re literally replacing every single police officer in Venezuela with newly trained people, and it’s a long process. It’s going to take several years to implement. And it’s going to be a national police force instead of one that’s based on municipalities. In other words, right now the municipalities are held hostage by their own police forces because they don’t have the power to reform them. And so that’s why a national police force has to be implemented. 

JAY: And why haven’t—at least as a transitional measure, why don’t they use the army to enforce some kind of security at night on the streets? 

WILPERT: I think the main reason, really, is that there is some concern that the army just isn’t trained for police work. As a matter of fact, Venezuelans have a long history of being afraid of the military, because of its history in 1989 of repressing riots and shooting to kill on a regular basis back then. And so there’s a lot of mistrust towards the military, although Chávez has gone a long way, of course, towards regaining the trust that the population has for the military. But I still think that the combination of distrust and lack of actual police training is probably the main reason. 

JAY: And I suppose it would feel, look—and who knows the reality, but it would feel like martial law if there’s soldiers all over the street corners. 

WILPERT: Absolutely. Chávez is always being accused of being a militarist, and so this would just make that image all the stronger. 

JAY: So what are the other big issues? I mean, inflation is higher than—if I have it correctly, higher than average in terms of Latin America. Is that going to be the—is that the next big issue? 

WILPERT: I don’t think inflation is—. Many people, outside economists, see that as a big issue, but actually for Venezuelans themselves, they’ve gotten used to it, because even before Chávez, actually, inflation averaged something like 50 percent per year. That is, for the two presidents before Chávez, the average was 50 percent per year. Chávez brought it down to 22 percent per year, which is still one of the highest averages in Latin America, but it’s far lower than it used to be. 

And that has to do something with Venezuela’s dependence on oil revenues. Lots of oil dollars come flowing into the economy, and domestic production just cannot keep up. And so everything gets more and more expensive with the flooding of dollars into the local domestic economy. And imports, of course, could alleviate that, but they don’t want to import absolutely everything. And so it’s a real problem for the economy that’s haunted Venezuela for long before Chávez. 

JAY: But are wages keeping up with inflation? ‘Cause 22 percent is a big hit to take on your wages. 

WILPERT: Yes. Generally, wages do keep up with inflation. The minimum wage is raised regularly to adjust for inflation, and so are regular wages. So in that sense the economy—actually, that’s why inequality in Venezuela has actually gone down, precisely because incomes have been going up, especially for the lower segments or the poorer segments of the population. 

JAY: So if crime is sort of one of the big, if you want, weaknesses or failures so far of the Chávez government, what are some of the successes? He’s running 55, 60 percent positive, so there must be a lot of things that are going right. 

WILPERT: Employment and poverty is certainly one of the biggest successes, I would say. Unemployment has reached, also, dramatic lows. It’s been more than halved since Chávez came into office. 

And then of course there’s the decreasing inequality. Venezuela used to be one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, and now it is—except for Cuba, it is the most equal country in terms of income in Latin America. So that’s a tremendous achievement in that sense, and a lot of people are very grateful to Chávez for that. 

Although you mentioned, well, what’s the—you were asking earlier also, what’s the other main problem. The other main problem, I think, is housing. And this is something else that the Chávez government has recognized for a long time but only now is really starting to do something about it, because there are still a lot of people living in shanty towns. And so there’s a massive campaign to build homes. Chávez’s government used to build something like around thirty to forty thousand homes per year, but they actually need to increase it to 150,000 per year minimum, and that’s what they’re aiming for. Last year they actually achieved that, and this year and the next couple of years. 

JAY: And one of the big knocks on Chávez’s government has been that the—many of the aims, objectives, and policies are good, but the execution hasn’t been very good in various areas. I mean, I don’t—how true is that? And if there is some truth to it, then what are they doing about it? 

WILPERT: Yes, I mean, certainly public administration is a perennial problem, and the government is often accused of being too bureaucratic and too corrupt, and this is a common problem. And it’s another problem that—I think this is one of the few problems that the government has recognized but hasn’t really figured out how to deal with it. That is, there are some institutions that have certainly become a lot more efficient, a lot better, but many others haven’t. And how to address that problem, there’s no clear vision, I think, within the government as to how to do that. And it’s of course one of the great weaknesses and the areas where the opposition has the best chances of criticizing the government. 

JAY: Well, were pre-Chávez administrations—whatever their politics and interests were, were they any more efficient? 

WILPERT: No, actually not. And that’s actually one of the reasons why I don’t think it has affected Chávez’s popularity that much. 

JAY: What, people just see that there’s a long-term culture of government not being so efficient? 

WILPERT: Yes, exactly. 

JAY: Well, let’s—we’ll do another segment where we’ll drill into more of this. So just keep tuned, watch in the next few days for part two of our interview with Gregory Wilpert, who will join us again on The Real News Network.

End

 

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Chávez Faces Crime and Housing Shortage as Key Issues in Coming Venezuelan Elections

The Chávez Model and the Coming Elections

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Gregory Wilpert: Nationalizations and reforms are popular but perceptions of government mismanagement are widespread

Watch full multipart Chávez and the Venezuelan Elections

 

Bio

Gregory Wilpert a German-American sociologist who earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994. Between 2000 and 2008 he lived in Venezuela, where he taught at the Central University of Venezuela and then worked as a freelance journalist, writing on Venezuelan politics for a wide range of publications and also founded Venezuelanalysis.com, an english-langugage website about Venezuela. In 2007 he published the book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government (Verso Books). He moved back to the U.S. in 2008 because his wife was named Consul General of Venezuela in New York. Since returning to the U.S. he has been working as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay.

 

Now joining us again to discuss the coming elections in Venezuela is Gregory Wilpert. Gregory is the founder of Venezuelanalysis.com. He’s the author of the book Changing Venezuela by Taking Power. He’s adjunct professor of political science at Brooklyn College in New York and longtime resident of Venezuela. And his wife is the consul-general of Venezuela in New York. Thanks for joining us, Gregory. 

GREGORY WILPERT, AUTHOR: Hi. Thanks for having me. 

JAY: So when we look at the sort of Chávez model as compared to the Lula model—which is generally the debate that seems to take place in Latin America—one of the big differences has been the willingness of Chávez, especially recently, to nationalize certain sectors of the natural resource industries. He’s nationalized gold mines, some other sectors of the economy. How is that fitting or sitting in the election campaign? Are people in favor of that? And what so far seems to be the success or failures of that kind of policy? 

WILPERT: Well, in terms of how people are seeing it, generally I think it’s been viewed relatively favorably because in some cases it’s actually led to lower prices. For example, the telephone company has lower telephone rates. The electricity company has lowered electricity rates. So in that sense people have generally favored it. And, of course, the full nationalization of the oil industry (that is, it was already nationalized, but they nationalized other aspects of it) has led to greater oil revenues. So in that case, in those cases, the public has generally favored it. As a matter of fact, it’s favored so much that even the opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has said that if he were elected president, he would have to review every nationalization and to see whether or not to reverse them. That is, he’s not said that they will automatically reverse all of the nationalizations or anything like that. 

But there are many problems still with the state-run enterprises, especially with some of the old ones, which run into problems. They’re larger macro economic problems that—for example, the steel industry and the aluminum processing industry, which have really declined in their production—to a large extent also because they’re having a hard time exporting, and partly because of management problems. And so that’s been a bit of a problem for the government that it’s been struggling to deal with. 

JAY: We talked about that a little bit in our previous interview, the weakness of the culture of administration in government and a lot of—in these state enterprises. What’s your thinking on the sort of underpinning reasons for this? I mean, it would somehow—and to some extent it kind of beefs or strengthens the argument of the government should get out of this stuff if it can’t manage it. 

WILPERT: Well, just because it’s in private hands doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be better managed, necessarily. So that’s not, I don’t think, the real litmus test or the real solution for these issues. The real problem is trying to get rid of kind of the cronyism that often exists within the management culture in these kinds of industries. 

So that’s—and then also there’s the constant effort, for example, for the—some of the industries are being turned over to workers, but many of the workers themselves aren’t very clear on how to manage, in the sense that there’s a lot of internal struggles of whether—to what extent they should take care of societal interests versus their own interest as workers and so on. And so there’s—it ends up being a lot of conflicts within the industry. And so the key, I think, is, really, trying to install, perhaps, a more kind of—well, for lack of a better term, a more professional management culture. But that’s far easier said than done, of course. 

JAY: Right. And one of the big issues other than crime that has always been the accusation, at least, is the idea that there’s corruption in government, in the army, as well as throughout the private sector as well. And there’s been a lot of talk about campaigns being waged to root out corruption. How successful have they been? And what’s happening on that front? 

WILPERT: Well, I mean, on the one hand, corruption’s certainly perceived to be a major problem in Venezuela. But there’s an interesting—some interesting studies have been conducted over the past couple of years comparing Venezuela to other countries in Latin America. And we should make those comparisons (even though the perception of corruption—and, actually, the same goes for crime—is a lot higher than in most of other Latin American countries) to actual incidents of corruption. That is, if you ask people if they personally have experienced or know of experiences of corruption, the people don’t answer more frequently that they’ve been—had experience with these problems than they do in other countries. So in other words, the actual incidence seems to be comparable, but the perception is much higher. 

So, having said that, the government, of course, is trying to address it in various ways, usually through—by installing people who are professional managers or better managers. But, you know, there’s as many successes as there are failures, so it’s a constant struggle. And like I said, there’s—doesn’t seem to be a clear concept as to how to address this problem coherently. 

JAY: And how successful has it been in terms of collecting taxes? ‘Cause that was going to be one of the big issues is that there was going to be real tax collection and cracking down on elites that didn’t pay taxes. How successful has that been?

WILPERT: Well, that actually is one of the institutions that has been better managed, the tax collection agency, and that’s one of the shining examples, actually. It’s been very efficient and very methodical in cracking down. As a matter of fact, hardly a day passes in Venezuela where you don’t see some stores that have been closed for tax evasion. And so this is one of the main success stories for an institution that has been thoroughly reformed and made into a very efficient institution.
JAY: To what extent is foreign policy an issue in the election? Chávez’s foreign policy has been very openly and overtly what he calls anti-imperialist, anti-U.S.-imperialist. You know, he’s maintained friendly relations with a lot of countries that United States considers enemies. I guess they consider Chávez’s Venezuela kind of a—more or less an enemy, even though they buy a big whack of their oil from it. Is foreign policy at all an issue?

 

WILPERT: It is to some extent, but it’s really a minor issue. That is, usually when foreign policy comes up, it’s mostly in terms of the oil that Venezuela sends to Cuba or to other countries in Latin America at very low financing rates. And people question that, and that’s one issue that the government might be vulnerable on. But in terms of the actual kind of strategic alliances that Venezuela has with governments such as Iran or Syria or others, that—even though as many people might feel uncomfortable with it, one has to keep in mind that Venezuela has a significant Arabic population. And so there’s—I don’t think it’s—plays that much of a role, those kinds of alliances, especially since Venezuela’s historically always been allied through OPEC to the Middle East. 

JAY: And just to touch on that a bit, it may not be much of a big issue in terms of the elections, but it’s an issue that is very, what you can say, confusing to a lot of people that consider themselves progressive about his relationship with regimes like the Iranians and the Syrians, not in terms of his support for their opposition to any kind of foreign interference or intervention, but in terms of his lack of support for any kind of struggles for democracy within those countries. 

WILPERT: Well, Chávez clearly favors the anti-imperialist position over any kind of anti-capitalist struggle on the international stage. I mean, this is an old debate within the left, and it’s, I think—personally, I think it’s unfortunate. But, I mean, he sees the anti-imperialist element as being more important. And therefore it’s not that he’s opposed to the democracy movements in these countries, but he has to some extent expressed some questions about to what extent they’re all completely homegrown. And like I said, he basically emphasizes his relationship with those leaders and has tended to ignore the actual movements on the ground. 

JAY: Like, in Iran, for example, we’ve interviewed representatives of the Iranian trade union movement who are, I would—in my opinion, are every bit as anti-imperialist as Chávez is. But they’re also fighting a theocracy and a dictatorship and for rights in Iran, and they feel very, in their words, betrayed by Chávez’s such close friendship with Ahmadinejad and kind of supporting this idea that all the opposition movement in Iran is essentially foreign-sponsored and all of that. 

WILPERT: Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me that they would feel betrayed. And Chávez himself, I think, has a very blinkered vision as to what’s going on in these countries. That is, he hears the negative press reports about these countries and generally feels that, well, since he’s received so much negative press, he’s very skeptical about the negative press the leaders of these countries are receiving, and therefore generally actually doesn’t believe a lot of what the press reports are about what’s happening within those countries. 

JAY: So much foreign interference in Venezuela and so much of the, quote-unquote, “democracy movement” in Venezuela has so many foreign-sponsored—I mean, U.S.-sponsored ties and U.S. money, I guess he assumes that’s the same thing that’s going on in the other countries. And to a large extent it is. It’s just the question is: is it the same weight as it might be in a place like Venezuela? 

WILPERT: Yeah, exactly. And it’s very difficult, I think, for somebody such as Chávez to really have a clear idea as [to] what’s going on, especially since his advisers on foreign policy tend to be people who—how should I say?—the people who generally don’t question his own views on these issues. 

JAY: So your prognosis for the elections: as long as things sort of stay the way they are, Chávez campaigns; given the polling, it looks like Chávez will have another term. And then I guess the real issue will be: can they execute, you know, more ably than they have in the past? 

WILPERT: Yes. That’s, of course, the issue that the opposition is campaigning on. They’re basically saying right now, essentially, that they’re going to implement Chávez’s program, only better. So that shows to some extent Chávez’s own success in his program, because it’s obviously very popular. And they’re just—their main emphasis has really been to bring more efficiency and more crime-fighting capability.

JAY: Well, Chávez has always shown he knows how to execute during an election campaign. Thanks very much for joining us, Gregory. 

WILPERT: My pleasure. Thanks. 

 

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on The Chávez Model and the Coming Elections

Chavez Leads Polls as Opposition Fractures

NOVANEWS

October 7th election to decide future of Venezuela’s 21st Century Socialism

Watch full multipart Chávez and the Venezuelan Elections

 

TranscriptVOICEOVER: On October 7th, Venezuelans will return to the polls to decide whether they will continue down the path of president Hugo Chavez’s model of 21st century socialism, or change course by electing the first opposition candidate in more than a decade.

 

DAVID DOUGHERTY, CARACAS, VENEZUELA: Elections in Venezuela are less than a month away, and here in the capital city of Caracas, election campaigns are in full swing as they enter the final stretch of the campaign season. Most polling agencies indicate a solid lead for President Hugo Chavez, who will secure another 6-year term if re-elected.

VOICEOVER: Chavez’s base has a visibly larger campaign presence in the streets of the capital. They say they have mobilized to defend the government’s policies that have put an emphasis on investing a larger share of the nation’s vast oil reserve wealth in a variety of social programs called Bolivarian Missions that have worked to reduce poverty and inequality in the South American country. Poverty levels have been more than halved; with extreme poverty reduced by as much as 70 percent during Chavez’s tenure, and UNESCO has declared Venezuela an illiteracy free territory.

LINDA SISO, CHAVEZ SUPPORTER, PSUV, CARACAS: (subtitled) Every one of us here will defend the Bolivarian Missions, they must be defended, because here there used to be illiteracy, more than 1.5 million people were illiterate, today there is no illiteracy, everyone here is educated. Healthcare used to be inaccessible, if you weren’t insured you couldn’t get the medicine you needed, now it’s free. Before, all the people who lived higher up on the mountains that were displaced by landslides had to return to live in the same areas, not today, now we have decent housing.

VOICEOVER: The umbrella coalition of Venezuelan opposition parties known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, will be represented by presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky of the Primero Justicia Party. 39-year old Capriles comes from a family of wealthy business elites, and served as Governor of the Miranda State before resigning in June of this year in order to be eligible to run for president. In a break from previous opposition strategies, his campaign platform has not publically opposed a role for the state in social spending and the economy, instead proposing to follow a mixed model based on that of former Brazilian President Lula Da Silva, who himself has endorsed president Chavez in the upcoming elections. This opposition organizer from Capriles’s Primero Justicia party says that the Chavez government’s policies have not done enough to address important issues facing Venezuelans, and that they have sought to vilify the opposition.

ANTONY ROMERO, OPPOSITION SUPPORTER, PRIMERO JUSTICIA: (subtitled)¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬ He’s been president for 14 years and we haven’t had any tangible achievements or improvements in quality of life for Venezuelans, there is no program for employment, what is he going to do for youth employment? What is he going to do with the universities? What is he going to do about security? We have a government policy where what the president says is he is going to form a new geopolitical strategy in Latin America, or that he’s going to save the world or save the countries in South America, what we Venezuelans want is to solve our own problems, the final phase of this government’s campaign has been dedicated to seeking a dirty war against our political leaders, against Capriles Rodonski, Chavez’s presidential campaign has sought to tarnish his image and ruin his prestige.

VOICEOVER: The Venezuelan opposition has been racked by several political scandals in recent weeks that could prove to cost them dearly as both campaigns race to the finish. An alleged internal MUD document was leaked by a member of the opposition, highlighting their economic plan in the event of an electoral victory, which included privatizations, the deregulation of the financial sector, and a number of other neoliberal reforms seeking to cut back the roll of the state. 2 opposition members were expelled from the coalition after publically voicing their opposition to the plan and calling for a debate, and at least 4 participating political parties have announced their resignation from the MUD coalition. More recently, one of Capriles’ top aids was sacked after facing corruption accusations when a video emerged of him secretly accepting money to set up a meeting between Capriles and an unidentified businessman. Romain Migus is a French sociologist who recently released a book detailing an investigation into the MUD party platform, which he says in spite of their recent public discourse, is firmly grounded in a neoliberal program.

ROMAIN MIGUS, AUTHOR, EL PROGRAMA MUD: (subtitled) What have they said, what have they proposed? I think the real question is what have they not proposed, because they have a discourse in the media where they propose a lot of things, that are in contradiction to their own plan for government. What does their government plan say? It’s a plan set in the neoliberal ideology, a plan where private profit exceeds, is placed on top of, the collective wellbeing, it is oriented in the privatization of basic public services like food, health, and education, but also road infrastructure, environmental and cultural policy, and the provisioning of water and electricity.

VO5: Some of the hotbed election issues this year include housing: with Venezuela facing a chronic and severe housing shortage; crime, with Caracas and other Venezuelan cities said to be among the most violent in the world; and government inefficiency and corruption. President Chavez has also battled with cancer over the past year, and though he has announced a full recovery following a number of treatment sessions in Cuba, some have questioned whether he is healthy enough to occupy the post of presidency. In spite of the shortcomings and setbacks facing the incumbent government, several polls place Chavez’s electoral support at more than 50 percent, and one of Venezuela’s more credible polling agencies Datanalisis, who’s owner openly supports the opposition, puts Chavez electoral support at just over 43 percent, comfortably ahead of Capriles by 13 percentage points.

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Chavez Leads Polls as Opposition Fractures

Venezuelan Barrios Vote for Chavez and Participatory Democracy

Venezuelan Barrios Vote for Chavez and Participatory Democracy

Are Venezuela’s Communal Councils an extension of central power or an explosion of popular power?

 

 

 

Transcript

VOICEOVER: This is La Vega, one of the many barrios, or poor neighborhoods, positioned precariously on the sloping hills of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

 

DAVID DOUGHERTY, CARACAS, VENEZUELA: Like in many urban settlements in Latin America, barrios like La Vega were built from the ground up, mostly by the residents themselves, in the absence of the state. People are proud of the communities they have built, but often encounter problems with basic infrastructure that can make life difficult, and at times dangerous.
VOICEOVER: Areas like this section of La Vega called Carretera Negra, or Black Highway, are susceptible to frequent flooding and landslides during heavy rains. Residents had petitioned previous governments for decades to build a proper drainage system to address the problem, which often left homes flooded or inaccessible. Now community residents are almost done with the construction of a drainage system along the side of the road, one of the latest examples of a series of projects proposed and executed by their consejo comunal, or communal council. The communal councils are an initiative of president Hugo Chavez’s government that have grown in Venezuela, described as a new model of participatory democracy. They involve the formation of self-organized neighborhood organizations comprised of residents from the community who propose and vote on development projects and public policies, which they then execute themselves utilizing resources distributed by the state. Alexis Rojas is active in the Carretera Negra communal council and has helped in the construction of the new water drainage system.

ALEXIS ROJAS, COMMUNAL COUNCIL PARTICIPANT, LA VEGA: Here we have seen how not only does the area looks nicer but now there is also a system of water collection that runs the length of the road in the area of our communal council, this has improved our quality of life, water doesn’t leak into the houses now and it avoids the possibilities of landslides…today with this new popular organization we now rely on ourselves the citizens to make decisions in the public policies that do or don’t affect us… here we see behind me that the people from the community are the ones who do the work, and here we are exercising this form of community labor. 

VOICEOVER: President Hugo Chavez’s leadership style has been described by critics as authoritarian and top-down oriented, raising questions about who really makes decisions in the communal council model. But many participants like lifelong resident and community organizer of La Vega Freddy Mendoza say that the communal councils constitute a distinct development model that has helped to encourage Venezuela’s poor to lead development initiatives in their communities through processes of self-organization and participatory democracy, addressing decades of neglect from previous governments. 

FREDDY MENDOZA, COMMUNAL COUNCIL PARTICIPANT, LA VEGA: Any citizen from any social class can access and form a communal council or commune, they have the right and the duty to participate, this is what we are seeing in Venezuela, the boom of the communal councils in the barrios has come about because we, the poor, were previously not allowed to participate during the governments of the Fourth Republic…it would rain blows on us, from all directions, for us to get a stairwell built we had to endure the blows, for us to get a road built we had to endure the blows, for us to get a good work contract, we had to endure the blows, at the point of police batons, machetes, and teargas. Today we have the organizational instruments, we have empowering laws, like the laws of the communes and communal councils and others, 

VOICEOVER: Another example of a communal council project carried out in La Vega is the establishment of a public computer and technological information center in an extra room in the Mendoza family’s home as part of a state’s “infocentro” program, where people can access the Internet, attend computer education workshops, and produce documentaries and community news reports using video editing software. Women constitute the majority of participants in communal council assemblies and elected committee posts, standing at around 60 percent. Thais Rojas of Carretera Negra says the communal councils are empowering women to play a previously unheard of role in public decision-making processes. 

THAIS ROJAS, COMMUNAL COUNCIL PARTICIPANT, LA VEGA: Before the only ones who made decisions were the men, why the men? because of the same machista culture in the country that still exists today that said that men were the only ones capable of making decisions…the women see in the communal councils the opportunity to get to know everything they are capable of achieving, because of this the woman has come out of the house, out of the role of only taking care of the children, in order to integrate herself into the council and struggle against all the problems facing her community. 

VOICEOVER: The communal councils have been described as the popular motors of the Bolivarian Revolution and Venezuela’s 21st Century Socialism, but they have not grown without their tensions. Some commentators like Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander are critical of a relationship that has developed between the communal councils and the state that he describes as clientelistic.

EDGARDO LANDER, SOCIOLOGIST, CENTRAL UNIVERSITY OF VENEZUELA: We are talking about tensions and contradictions; I think the dominant tendency is a clientelistic relationship, where the state and party structures impose a certain type of uniform logic on the popular sectors, and that this undermines the possibility of autonomy. This is not to say that the struggle for autonomy and self-organization does not exist, and that it does not also exist in part as a consequence of the public policy of this government, because the public policy has gestated, driven, and promoted organizational forms and the people are taking these organizational forms and appropriating them and doing things with them, so it’s not a question of either/or, but it could be said that there does exist a strong tension. 

VOICEOVER: Carretera Negra resident and communal council member Freddy Mendoza says there have arisen cases of corruption in some of the councils, and that it is primarily up to community residents themselves, and not just the state, to resolve conflicts and contradictions as they continue developing their new model of participatory democracy.
FREDDY MENDOZA, COMMUNAL COUNCIL PARTICIPANT, LA VEGA: There are cases where the communal councils are taken over by one or two people, this is a continuation of a system based on representation, not participation, there have been communal councils where they are handed the resources and they simply disappear with the money and take the resources, or cases where they haven’t built the project that the resources were destined for… but these are cultural facts, ethical and moral facts, that have still not ceased to impose themselves on our political consciousness as the poor, this is a part of our political struggle, the process is not over after we vote for Chavez, the process is not over when we obtain the solution to a problem in the barrio, there must be a constant discussion and learning process, and reflection, on the role that each of us are playing within this process that must flow into a revolution, establishing a distinct system of production, organization and participation that is participatory democracy, and so on.

VOICEOVER: Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski has stated that the communal councils have become overly politicized, and has proposed legislation seeking decentralization. A leaked document allegedly outlining Capriles’ economic policy in the event of a victory in the October 7th elections includes a plan to gradually reduce the transfer of state resources to communal councils for development projects.
DAVID DOUGHERTY, CARACAS, VENEZUELA: With elections now less than 2 weeks away, campaigning efforts have heated up in Chavez stronghold barrios like La Vega, where community residents have pledged to defend the model of participatory democracy that is radically reshaping power relations and community development for the Venezuelan poor.

 

Posted in VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuelan Barrios Vote for Chavez and Participatory Democracy

Drones: Instruments of State Terror

NOVANEWS
Global Research
A new report jointly prepared by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (SU) and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic (NYU) is titled “Living Under Drones.”Part one discusses strikes on rescuers, funerals, and other civilian targets. Part two examines surveillance, the effects of drones overhead, and how their use creates fear and distrust. Part three considers the economic and impoverishment hardships families and communities sustain.

Overall SU/NYU examines key aspects of the CIA’s drone policy. It exposes facts political Washington and media scoundrels suppress.

The dominant narrative claims drone strikes are precise and effective. They involve “targeted killings.” Terrorists are assassinated with “minimal downsides or collateral impacts.” As a result, America is much safer.

“This narrative is false.” It’s a bald-faced lie. Drone strikes are indiscriminate. Mostly noncombatant civilians are killed. The SU/NYU report followed nine months of intensive research.

They included two investigations in Pakistan. Over 130 interviews were conducted with victims, witnesses, and experts.

Thousands of pages of documentation and media reports were reviewed. This report “presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of” America’s drone-strike policy.

Firsthand evidence confirms it. So-called benefits don’t exist. Civilians sustain enormous harm. “Living Under Drones” exposes what official accounts won’t say.

Reevaluating Washington’s drone policy is urgently needed. Civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged. Significant evidence proves they’re commonplace.

US officials claim “no” or “single digit” civilian casualties alone. They lie. Coverup is policy.

At the same time, “it’s difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of US efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan.”

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) provides best available aggregate public data. Last February, TBIJ published a report titled “Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals,” saying:

Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Currently about one-third of US warplanes are drones. One day perhaps they’ll all be unmanned. Secrecy and accountability aren’t addressed. Aggressive killing is official policy. Little about it gets reported.

Civilian rescue parties, funerals, and weddings are targeted. Evidence disproves Obama saying drone killings are “targeted” and “focused.”

Obama’s a serial liar. Nothing he says is credible. Last winter he claimed drones haven’t “caused a huge number of civilian casualties. They’re targeted, focused at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans.”

BIJ research showed otherwise. Hundreds of civilians are killed, including dozens of children. On the ground investigative work proved it. Eyewitnesses provided damning testimonies. Legal experts condemned Washington’s tactics.

In 2004 or earlier, Bush began drone attacks. Obama continues them relentlessly. Predator drones reign death on civilians regularly. CIA operatives conduct them. Battlefield casualty figures are suppressed.

Administration officials claim covert attacks anywhere in the world are legal. International, constitutional, and US statute laws say otherwise. Chief US counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said:

”Because we are engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the United States takes the legal position that, in accordance with international law, we have the authority to take action against al-Qaeda and its associated forces.”

“The United States does not view our authority to use military force against al-Qaeda as being restricted solely to”hot” battlefields like Afghanistan.”

International law experts disagree. State-sanctioned extrajudicial killings are lawless. Harvard’s Naz Modirzadeh said:

“Not to mince words here, if it is not in a situation of armed conflict, unless it falls into the very narrow area of imminent threat then it is an extra-judicial execution.”

“We don’t even need to get to the nuance of who’s who, and are people there for rescue or not. Because each death is illegal. Each death is a murder in that case.”

Attorney for the charity Reprieve, Clive Stafford-Smith, said drone strikes targeting rescuers “are like attacking the Red Cross on the battlefield. It’s not legitimate to attack anyone who is not a combatant.”

Congress never debated or approved them. In the Af/Pak theater, America has about 7,000 drones operating. Another 12,000 stand ready on the the ground. They’re rapidly replacing manned aircraft. US aerospace companies have no ongoing research to develop new ones.

Privately some Pentagon commanders express unease about Obama’s drone policy. They’re extrajudicial. CIA enforces extreme secrecy. It won’t admit their operations exist.

Legal experts say drone killings outside war theaters set a dangerous precedent. Other countries may follow America’s lead. UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns said:

“Our concern is how far does it go? Will the whole world be a theatre of war?”

“Drones, in principle, allow collateral damage to be minimized but because they can be used without danger to a country’s own troops they tend to be used more widely.”

“One doesn’t want to use the term ticking bomb but it’s extremely seductive.”

TBIJ reported harrowing narratives of survivors, witnesses, and family members. It provided detailed information on specific strikes.

SU/NYU said:

“US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”

“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.”

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

“Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.”

Targeted areas are struck multiple times in quick succession. The practice is called “double tap.” It dissuades bystanders and professionals from helping. One group ordered staff to avoid struck sites for six hours before investigating.

People in targeted areas are on their own to help. What they find is horrifying. Strikes “incinerate” victims. They’re left in unidentifiable pieces. Traditional burials are impossible.

Firoz Ali Khan’s father-in-law’s home was struck. He graphically described what he saw, saying:

“These missiles are very powerful. They destroy human beings.”

“There is nobody left and small pieces left behind. Pieces. Whatever is left is just little pieces of bodies and cloth.”

A doctor who treated drone victims described how “skin is burned so that you can’t tell cattle from humans.” Another family survivor at the same site said his father was killed. “The entire place looked as if it was burned completely, so much so that even (the victims’) own clothes had burnt.”

“All the stones in the vicinity had become black.” Ahmed Jan lost his foot last March. He discussed challenges rescuers face in identifying bodies, saying:

“People were trying to find the body parts. We find the body parts of some people, but sometimes we do not find anything.” It’s incinerated and gone.

Rescuers, community and family members, and humanitarian workers are vulnerable. Parents keep children at home. With good reason, they’re traumatized. Fear grips everyone.

Families who lost loved ones or their homes now struggle to survive.

Official statements about drone killing keeping America safer are false.

At most, only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Evidence suggests that US strikes facilitate anti-American recruitment. The New York Times said drone attacks replaced Guantanamo as “the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”

The vast majority of Pakistanis consider America the enemy.

Targeted killings also undermine respect for international and US rule of law principles. They’re lawless and unconscionable. Secrecy is official policy. Transparency and accountability are absent.

In light of serious concerns, SU/NYU’s report said Washington must conduct “a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits.”

A “significant rethinking (is) long overdue.” Policy makers can’t ignore civilian harm and counterproductive impacts much longer.

Rule of law principles are fundamental. Violating them encourages others to replicate US practices. US lives become vulnerable. That alone is reason enough to rethink policy. Most important is state-sanctioned murder. Nothing justifies what’s clearly illegal.

Stanford’s James Cavallaro was one of the report’s authors. He said “real people are suffering real harm,” but they’re largely ignored by US officials and in media accounts.

Cavallaro added that the study was intended to challenge official notions of precise targeted killings with little fallout. Investigative work proved otherwise.

CIA officials and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment. Perhaps they fear anything they say can be used against them. Whatever they say is false.

Posted in USA, Human Rights, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Drones: Instruments of State Terror

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