Archive | September 12th, 2013

CIA Begins Delivering Weapons to al-Qaeda in Syria


Meanwhile, al-Nusra says it doesn’t want help from the CIA and the infidels

Kurt Nimmo

The United States has officially announced it is now delivering “lethal aid” to the “rebels” engaged in attacks against the Syrian government. In addition to sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical kits sent by the CIA, the State Department is sending vehicles and other munitions, according to the Washington Post.

Al-Nusra says it doesn’t want help from the CIA and the infidels.

The Post reports shipments were previously stalled due to “logistical challenges involved in delivering equipment in a war zone and officials’ fears that any assistance could wind up in the hands of jihadists.”

“We’ve come full circle from going after al-Qaeda to indirectly backing al-Qaeda,” Bill Gertz quoted a U.S. official as stating following a promise in June by the Obama administration to increase arm shipments.

In December, it was reported that al-Nusra, described as “the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force” that has affirmed its allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, is closely aligned with the so-called secular mercenaries supported by the United States.

Despite the fact the illegal war against the al-Assad regime is led by al-Qaeda and its al-Nusra affiliate with the direct support of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Obama administration took umbrage after Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said the U.S. doesn’t “have a dog in the fight” and “should be focused on defending the United States of America. That’s why young men and women sign up to join the military — not to, as you know, serve as al-Qaeda’s air force.”

Despite the CIA’s long history of directly supporting fanatical Islamic mujahideen groups since the early 1980s and working with Pakistani intelligence to create both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday he is outraged by Cruz’s remarks.

“I am outraged for somebody to suggest that our people would be serving as allies to al-Qaida, one,” McDonough said.

“Two, on this question about what this is and what this isn’t. What this is, George, is very clear. Targeted, consequential, limited attack against Assad forces and Assad capabilities so that he is deterred from carrying out these actions again.

“Here is what it is not. It is not boots on the ground. It is not an extended air campaign. It is not Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya. This is a very concerned, concentrated, limited effort that we can carry out and that can underscore and secure our interests.”



Posted in SyriaComments Off on CIA Begins Delivering Weapons to al-Qaeda in Syria

Chomsky: Instead of “Illegal” Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations

‘U.S. is a rogue state’

In a national address from the White House Tuesday night, President Obama announced he is delaying a plan to strike Syria while pursuing a diplomatic effort from Russia for international monitors to take over and destroy Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons. However, Obama still threatened to use force against Syria if the plan fails.

We get reaction to Obama’s speech from world-renowned political dissident and linguist, MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky. “The Russian plan is a godsend for Obama,” Chomsky says. “It saves him from what would look like a very serious defeat. He has not been able to obtain virtually any international support, and it looked as though Congress wasn’t going to support it either, which would leave him completely out on a limb. This leaves him a way out: He can maintain the threat of force, which incidentally is a crime under international law. We should bear in mind that the core principle of the United Nations Charter bars the threat or use of force. So all of this is criminal, to begin with, but he’ll continue with that.”

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Chomsky: Instead of “Illegal” Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations

Rania Masri and Chris Hedges On Obama’s Syria Address


Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science MonitorNational Public RadioThe Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Rania Masri is an Arab American human rights activist, environmental scientist, university professor, and writer. Since 2005, she has been an Chair of the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Balamand in Lebanon. Before then, Rania directed the Southern Peace Research And Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies in NC. She has been active against the wars on Iraq, Lebanon, and, now, Syria. Since May, she has been giving a series of talks about US involvement in Syria. She has been representing a growing coalition of NC social justice organizations against the war

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Rania Masri and Chris Hedges On Obama’s Syria Address

Venezuela Pulls Out of Rights Body It Calls ‘Tool’ of US Imperialsm

– Andrea Germanos

Venezuela left the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, a body President Nicolas Maduro decried as “a tool for U.S. geopolitical interests and for persecuting progressive goverments.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo: Sec. de Comunicación – Presidencia Uruguay/cc/flickr)The human rights court is affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS), a body other leftist-led nations in the region, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, have been critics of, Al Jazeera notes.

Venezuela’s decision to leave the body was originally made by Hugo Chavez last year, and on Monday Maduro said that it was the “best decision” that Chavez could have made.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Elías Jaua said the country wouldn’t rethink the decision unless the body undergoes a transformation, and called the court “Arms of the empire to attack Venezuela.”

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela Pulls Out of Rights Body It Calls ‘Tool’ of US Imperialsm

President Obama’s National Address on Syria


What follows is the text of President Barack Obama’s speech on Syria delivered on Tuesday, September 10 as provided by the Federal News Service:

My fellow Americans, tonight I want to talk to you about Syria, why it matters and where we go from here. Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over a hundred thousand people have been killed. Millions have fled the country. In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape a political settlement.

But I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The situation profoundly changed, though, on Aug. 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening, men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war.

This was not always the case. In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe. In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust. Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.

On Aug. 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity.

No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The world saw thousands of videos, cellphone pictures and social media accounts from the attack. And humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas.

Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to Aug. 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area they where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.

Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. We know senior figures in Assad’s military machine reviewed the results of the attack. And the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. We’ve also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin.

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.

The question now is what the United States of America and the international community is prepared to do about it, because what happened to those people, to those children, is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.

Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.

As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.

If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path.

This is not a world we should accept. This is what’s at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. That’s my judgment as commander in chief.

But I’m also the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. So even though I possessed the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress. I believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of Congress, and I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.

This is especially true after a decade that put more and more war-making power in the hands of the president, and more and more burdens on the shoulders of our troops, while sidelining the people’s representatives from the critical decisions about when we use force.

Now, I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. After all, I’ve spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them. Our troops are out of Iraq, our troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and I know Americans want all of us in Washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home, putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class. It’s no wonder, then, that you’re asking hard questions. So let me answer some of the most important questions that I’ve heard from members of Congress and that I’ve read in letters that you’ve sent to me.

First, many of you have asked: Won’t this put us on a slippery slope to another war? One man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in Iraq. A veteran put it more bluntly: This nation is sick and tired of war.

My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad’s capabilities.

Others have asked whether it’s worth acting if we don’t take out Assad. As some members of Congress have said, there’s no point in simply doing a pinprick strike in Syria.

Let me make something clear: The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.

Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver. I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force. We learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad or any other dictator think twice before using chemical weapons.

Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation. We don’t dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. Any other — any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise. And our ally Israel can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America.

Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights? It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But al-Qaida will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death. The majority of the Syrian people and the Syrian opposition we work with just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.

Finally, many of you have asked, why not leave this to other countries or seek solutions short of force?

And several people wrote to me, we should not be the world’s policeman. I agree. And I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. Over the last two years my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations. But chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime.

However, over the last few days we’ve seen some encouraging signs in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons and even said they’d join the chemical weapons convention, which prohibits their use.

It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.

I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom. And we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control.

We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on Aug. 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to the Middle East who agree on the need for action.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture, to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements. It has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.

And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.

To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way? Franklin Roosevelt once said our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.

Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.

With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on President Obama’s National Address on Syria

NSA Memo Shows US Gives I$raHell Access to ‘Raw’ Spy Data


Leaked document ‘contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration’

– Jacob Chamberlain

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 20.(Reuters/Nir Elias)The National Security Agency openly shares unfiltered intelligence files with the Israeli government, according to a classified document leaked to the Guardian newspaper by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As the Guardian reports Wednesday, the NSA memorandum details an “intelligence-sharing agreement” between the two countries and shows that the “US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens” to Israeli intelligence.

According to the Guardian, the agreement places “no legally binding limits” on how Israel could explore or handle the data.

“The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet,” writes Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill, the team of journalists behind the report. “The intelligence community calls this process ‘minimization,’ but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.”

The Guardian published the NSA memorandum in full here.

According to the document, raw files shared with Israel come from the NSA’s collection of “signals intelligence” or Sigint—which includes both electronic and telephonic metadata swept up in any number of NSA surveillance programs.

That data, according to the Guardian, includes, but is not limited to, “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” Much of this unfiltered data, the Guardian suggests, contains detailed information belonging to unsuspecting U.S. citizens whose communications have been caught up in the NSA’s extensive surveillance dragnet.

The reporting continues:

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.

Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

“This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

Responding to the new revelations on Twitter, the ACLU’s deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer thought these three questions should be among the first to be asked:

And commenting dryly on the fact Israel has seemingly been given more access to NSA surveillance data than even questioning members of Congress or the American people, Jaffer added:

When questioned by the Guardian, the Obama administration refused to discuss how many other countries the NSA shares raw data with or whether the FISA court, designed to act as a check on NSA overreach, approved the agreement.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on NSA Memo Shows US Gives I$raHell Access to ‘Raw’ Spy Data

The Silent Military Coup That Took Over Washington


This time it’s Syria, last time it was Iraq. Obama chose to accept the entire Pentagon of the Bush era: its wars and war crimes

Children, many of whose deformities are believed to be the results of the chemical dioxin that the US used in the Vietnam war, play outside a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)On my wall is the Daily Express front page of September 5 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.

Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again we are held hostage by the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity’s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.

John Kerry’s farce and Barack Obama’s pirouettes are temporary. Russia’s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.”

When the public is “psychologically scarred”, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people’s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, suppressing the truth is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the “rebels” used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US, not Syria, that is the world’s most prolific user of these terrible weapons.

In 1970 the Senate reported: “The US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of population.” This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand – the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a “cycle of foetal catastrophe”. I have seen generations of children with their familiar, monstrousdeformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorus, as did the Israelis in Gaza. No Obama “red line” for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.

The sterile repetitive debate about whether “we” should “take action” against selected dictators (ie cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and UN special rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. This “is so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

It is the biggest lie: the product of “liberal realists” in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and media who ordain themselves as the world’s crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark “failed”, “rogue” or “evil” states for “humanitarian intervention”.

An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US “demon” would draw on a fashionable variant,“Responsibility to Protect”, or R2P – whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a “global centre based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the “international community” to attack countries where “the security council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Evans has form. He appeared in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberra’s smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having signed a treaty to pirate the oil and gas of the stricken country where the tyrant Suharto killed or starved a third of the population.

Under the “weak” Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libya to a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned facade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.

The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism”: “For goose-steppers substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.” Every Tuesday the “humanitarian” Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that “bugsplat” people, their rescuers and mourners. In the west’s comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement – Obama’s singular achievement.

In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self-respect, deserve nothing less now.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Silent Military Coup That Took Over Washington

Thousands Attend Anti-War Vigils in 165 Cities, Urge Congress to Oppose Syria Strikes

WASHINGTON – September 10 – In advance of President Obama’s speech today, more than 165 candlelight vigils were held nationwide last night as part of a national day of action to oppose the President’s request for Authorization for Use of Military Force in Syria.

The vigils were hosted by Civic Action members, in collaboration with members of CREDO Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), USAction, and the Win Without War coalition and took place at 165 locations in 41 states. MoveOn’s campaign against the use of military force in Syria has been covered by over 1000 local and national news outlets in the last two days.


“MoveOn members have made very clear they want a peaceful resolution to the Syria crisis,” explained Anna Galland, executive director of Civic Action. “They do not support military intervention in Syria and oppose any Authorization of Force that grants the President the ability to bomb Syria.”

In Albany, New York, MoveOn members urged Representatives Paul Tonko, Bill Owens and Chris Gibson, as well as Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to avoid war and vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution that could be debated in Congress this week. The vigil was attended by reporters from local news stations WTEN, WRGB and WNYT.


In Atlanta, Georgia, the Associated Press reported that MoveOn members and activists rallied in Woodruff Park to urge Representative John Lewis to vote against authorizing military intervention in Syria. Local news stations WAGA and WSB reported extensively on the vigil in the evening and morning news reports.


In Boston, Massachusetts, more than 200 people gathered at the Boston Commons for a candlelight vigil against the authorization for use of military force in Syria. MoveOn event organizer Liz King was interviewed by WBZ-FM, and reporters from WHDH and WCVB news stations attended and covered the rally.


The vigils come on the heels of’s release of a new 30-second television ad, which is airing on MSNBC this week, urging Congress to reject the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Syria. Using images reminding viewers of Iraq and Afghanistan, the ad says, “Don’t lead us down this road again.”


For more information on the vigils, or for interviews with, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at

The MoveOn family of organizations brings real Americans back into the political process. With over 3.2 million members across America – from carpenters to stay-at-home moms to business leaders – we work together to realize the progressive promise of our country. MoveOn is a service – a way for busy but concerned citizens to find their political voice in a system dominated by big money and big media

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Thousands Attend Anti-War Vigils in 165 Cities, Urge Congress to Oppose Syria Strikes

Syria: An Unexpected Rabbit


When someone pulls a rabbit out of a hat, it’s natural to be suspicious. Magicians are professionals in deceit – and so are diplomats. But sometimes the rabbit is real.

On Monday morning, the world was heading into the biggest crisis in years: a looming American attack on Syria, a Russian response that could set off the first major confrontation between Washington and Moscow since the Cold War, and the possible spread of the fighting from Syria to neighboring countries. Or alternatively, a Congressional rejection of President Barack Obama’s plans that would have left him a lame duck for the next three years.

By Tuesday morning all that had changed. A Russian proposal for Syria to get rid of all its chemical weapons was promptly accepted by the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, and the Senate vote on Obama’s planned strikes on Syria was postponed, probably for weeks. If Syria keeps its word, the vote may never be held. What a difference a day makes.

Now for the cavils. Nothing has been signed. Nothing has even been written up for signature. Maybe Syria is just playing for time. Perhaps Obama will want to pursue the Syrian regime legally for the poison gas attacks that he claims it has already carried out (though he sounded very relieved on hearing the news and didn’t mention any “red lines”).

The sequence of events, so far as can be made out, was as follows. At the Moscow G20 summit last week, Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin had a one-to-one chat on the side at which one of them broached the possibility of persuading Syria to give up its chemical weapons entirely. Which one isn’t clear, and the idea was not pursued by either of them.

Yet both men had reason to want such a thing, for the alternative was that Obama would lead the United States into another Middle Eastern war, not exactly what he was elected for – or that he would not get Congressional approval to do so and end up completely discredited. Putin would feel obliged to respond to a US attack on his Syrian ally, but that could end up with Russian missiles shooting down American planes.

There was then silence until Monday, when John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, gave an off-the-cuff reply in London to a question about whether Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad could avoid an American attack. “Sure. He could turn over every bit of his (chemical) weapons to the international community within the next week, without delay,” said Kerry with a shrug. “But he isn’t about to.”

Then Kerry got on a plane to fly home, and halfway across the Atlantic he got a call from the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, saying that he was about to announce that Russia would ask Syria to put all its chemical weapons storage facilities under international control, join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and finally destroy them all.

The Syrian foreign minister happened to be in Moscow, so within an hour he declared that Assad’s regime “welcomes Russia’s initiative, based on the Syrian government’s care about the lives of our people and security of our country.” By Monday evening Obama was saying that the Russian plan “could potentially be a significant breakthrough,” and the pot was off the boil.

The whole thing, therefore, was made up on the fly. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t work, but it is a proposal that comes without any of the usual preparation that precedes a major diplomatic initiative. The reason we don’t know the details is that there aren’t any. What we do know is that everybody – Obama, Putin and Assad – is clearly desperate to avoid going to war, and that gives us reason to hope.

Two things that have to happen fast, if this rabbit is really going to run. First, Syria has to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention and ratify the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention right away. That could be done within a week, and it would legally commit it to getting rid of all its chemical weapons and the factories that make them.

Secondly, the United Nations Security Council has to pass a resolution demanding that Syria reveal the size and location of its entire stock of chemical weapons and place them under international control. France has already put such a resolution on the Security Council’s agenda; the test will be whether Russia vetoes it. It probably won’t.

There is a great deal of suspicion in Washington that this is merely a delaying tactic meant to stall an American attack and sap the already weak popular support in the United States for military action. Moreover, it will be hard to send international troops in to secure Syria’s chemical weapons (at least forty storage sites, plus some weapons in the hands of military units) unless there is a ceasefire in the civil war now raging all over the country.

But the American military will be pleased, because they were really unhappy about the job that Obama was giving them, and Obama himself looks like a man who has been granted a new lease of life. There will be time to try to make this work.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria: An Unexpected Rabbit

Obama’s National Security Advisor Delivers Myth-Addled Speech on Waging War on Syria


National security advisor Susan E. Rice was sent by the administration of President Barack Obama to deliver a speech making the case for war on Syria at the New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington, DC.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice deliver speech on Syria. (Photo: Creative Commons-licensed photo by New America Foundation

The speech was part of a public relations operation engineered by former Obama administration staffers the president has consulted to help sell the American people, who are opposed to striking Syria, on the idea that it is necessary to strike in Syria. The operation has also included 13 videos authenticatedby the CIA, posted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s website and shownon CNN and various news programs. And, on Sunday, the administration had Chief of Staff Denis McDonough appear on five Sunday morning news programs ahead of a planned address by the president on Tuesday evening.

Rice’s speech came on the same day as news broke of a Pew Research Center poll indicating that American opposition to striking Syria has surged. It contained many myths the administration has been propagating—and apparently intends to continue propagating—in order to keep pressing its public relations offensive for war.

1. Administration continues to use inflated casualty number, 1429. 

Doctors Without Borders has reported that 355 reportedly died from the August 21 chemical attack. The group also reported that “3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms over a period of “less than three hours” on the morning” of August 21.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights “confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and ‘tens’ of rebel fighters,” according to McClatchy. That is still far less than 1429. The organization demanded Secretary of State John Kerry “provide the names of the victims included in the US tally.”

2. “There is no doubt about who is responsible for the attack.” 

As the Associated Press reported on September 8, the American public has “yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence—no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications—connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people.”

A German newspaper also recently reported, according to German intelligence, “Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months.” However, “Permission had always been denied,” which raises questions about whether the August 21 attack was ordered by Assad or committed by rogue commanders.

3.  ”Only the Syrian regime has the capacity to deliver chemical weapons on a scale to cause the devastation we saw in Damascus.” 

The Hindu, a newspaper based in India, reported in January of this year that the Syrian opposition “has claimed it can counter the government’s chemical arsenal by assembling its own stocks of chemical weapons.” Bassam al-Dada, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) adviser, apparently told Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency “the opposition has the raw materials and know-how to produce chemical weapons.” Al-Dada “warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to threaten the opposition with chemical weapons as ‘we also possess them.” But Al-Dada said chemical weapons would not be used unless the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack the opposition.

4. “Every time chemical weapons are moved, unloaded, and used on the battlefield, it raises the likelihood that these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists active in Syria…” 

While this is certainly a valid concern, it masks a reality, which is that members of Congress do not even know if strikes would risk the spread of chemicals and more deaths. (See 67 questions the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent to the Obama administration to have answered.)

5.  ”This would not be the United States launching another ‘war.’” 

Not even host of “Face of the Nation,” Bob Schieffer, who voiced his support for striking Syria on September 8, endorses this newspeak. He said to guests, “You cannot say what Secretary of State Kerry said — and I say this with respect — that this is not an act of war. I mean, if the Chinese parked a submarine off Manhattan Island and decided to dump a couple of cruise missiles into there, I think we`d consider that an act of war.” Yet, the Obama administration continues to try and suggest they are not trying to start a “war.”

Kerry said, “I don’t believe that we’re going to war. I just don’t believe that.” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little refused to address the question on September 5, “If another country launched cruise missiles against the United States, would you consider that an act of war?”

Obviously, the administration doesn’t want to call it a war because the America people oppose starting another war. Not using the word, however, hasn’t helped the administration win support.

6. “There will be no American boots on the ground—period.” 

Probably not true. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has reported if military force was used, “During conflict, the intelligence community and Special Forces units would likely play a major role in locating and securing such weapons in a combat environment. The nature and recent course of the conflict in Syria suggests that rapid changes in control over critical military facilities may occur.” So, while it is understood the Obama administration cannot officially acknowledge there would be “boots on the ground,” some Americans’ boots are likely to be on Syrian soil.

 7. “What the President is proposing is fundamentally different.  Unlike Iraq, we are not betting on the existence of weapons of mass destruction.”

Rice stated, “In Syria, we have the undeniable proof that chemical weapons have already been unleashed with horrific results. The entire world can see the bodies.” Aside from the fact that, as noted above, “undeniable proof” hasn’t been shared with the American people yet, this statement represents a quite a strawman argument because no one has suggested it would be similar to the Iraq War because the administration is lying about WMDs. The public is opposed because it does not think the president is being forthright about how involved the US will be in the Syrian civil war and the commitments the country might make that could extend the conflict.

8. “There aren’t many non-partisan issues left in Washington.  This is one—or at least it should be.”

Hard to argue with Rice. There has always been non-partisan support for making war in Washington. She noted that House and Senate leaders support war, “foreign policy experts” (like the ones who hosted her speech) support war, and others from “both sides of the political aisle” support war. Yet, this obscures the fact that opposition to the war among the American people is non-partisan.

Republicans, according to the recent Pew Research Center poll, oppose strikes by “an overwhelming 70% to 21% margin, with 51% saying they are strongly opposed.” But that doesn’t mean the antiwar sentiment is purely partisan. “Opposition has grown among independents as well, with two-thirds (66%) now opposed, up from half (50%) last weekend.” And, surprisingly, despite the fact that the president is a Democrat, 53% of Democrats continue to oppose military airstrikes.

Most importantly, there is non-partisan opposition to authorizing the use of force in the House of Representatives that may be insurmountable for the administration. One hundred and fifteen representatives are currently “firm nays” and one hundred and thirty-three representatives “lean nay.”

9. “America’s ability to rally coalitions and lead internationally could be undermined.” – if the US doesn’t strike Syria 

At this stage, it is beginning to seem far more likely that this would be the case if the US launched strikes on Syria. The administration argues the statement by G20 countries condemning Assad’s regime constitutes implicit support for military action but the statement does not explicitly call for military action in response to the apparent chemical attack.

McDonough, when pressed on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley, could not give any examples of any countries willing to provide military assistance or support if the US were to launch strikes.

10. “The Arab League foreign ministers have called for ‘deterrent and necessary measures.’” 

None have publicly called for the US to take military action. Only Saudi Arabia, despite the efforts of Kerry, has been willing to recommend military force be used.

11. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has said the regime’s attack ‘requires a decisive action.’”

That “decisive action” urged was not US military strikes. It was a call for action by the United Nations Security Council. It was a call to “hold the Syrian government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime and to bring its perpetrators to justice.”

The speech also featured the typical jingoism or advocacy for warlike foreign policy that one would expect in a speech designed to sell war.

Rice declared, “Rejecting the limited military action that President Obama strongly supports would raise questions around the world as to whether the United States is truly prepared to employ the full range of its power to defend our national interests.”

“We do not assess that limited military strikes will unleash a spiral of unintended, escalatory reactions in the region.  Assad and his allies would be more than foolish to take on the forces of the United States or our allies,” she proudly stated. “They know that President Obama, throughout his presidency, has amply demonstrated he will not hesitate to defend our nation, our citizens, and our allies against direct threats to our security.”

There was also exploitation of the images of innocent civilians sprawled out and squirming around as they were feeling the effects of the attack on August 21.

“We’ve been shocked by the videos from Ghouta and other neighborhoods near Damascus.  As a parent, I cannot look at those pictures—those little children laying on the ground, their eyes glassy, their bodies twitching—and not think of my own two kids.  I can only imagine the agony of those parents in Damascus,” Rice said.

Later in her speech, Rice concluded:

Every adult American, every Member of Congress, should watch those videos for themselves.  See that suffering.  Look at the eyes of those men and women, those babies—and dare to turn away and forsake them.  Watch those videos, and imagine the months and years ahead where an emboldened Assad and those who follow his example carry out more attacks, forcing us to witness more and more such depravity.  I believe you will come to the same conclusion as the President and so many countries around the world:  that this cannot stand.  Not in the 21st century.  Not given the values and principles that we as Americans hold dear.  As the one indispensable leader in the world, the United States of America can and must take action—carefully, responsibly, purposefully—to reduce the chances of such an outrage happening again.

Perhaps, the only thing missing from this statement was a suggestion that we should not wait for the next civilian victims to be engulfed in a mushroom cloud.

The impetus of Rice’s statement, of course, is that any “adult American” who opposes striking Syria is indifferent and lacks compassion for the humans attacked by Assad’s regime. But one could say not striking is actually more compassionate. That decision recognizes it is impossible to know what dangerous or foolish outcomes could occur if targets are bombed because, at the moment, the public does not know if it would bring about additional horror that would be as ghastly to watch as the videos of the victims hit on August 21.

It is the arrogance of American power that the Obama administration has not only pressed for war but sinisterly mounted a public relations offensive aimed at intimidating and manipulating the population into supporting its agenda. That arrogance is further compounded by the fact that what the administration is advocating for is a humanitarian bombing campaign, which it accepts will probably be in violation of the law.

Not a word is said about the nonviolent opposition’s concerns about US military strikes. As the founder of Building the Syrian State Current, a nonviolent opposition group in Syria,recently argued, according to journalist Rania Khalek, “A US military strike will exacerbate the bloodshed, emboldening more extreme elements of the armed rebellions and hampering the civil society resistance she sees as the vital foundation of a future democratic Syria.

“This is not a regime that you can remove with military confrontation from the air without killing millions,” she declared. “We want to force the regime through a political solution to start sharing power to put the country on the path to democracy.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Obama’s National Security Advisor Delivers Myth-Addled Speech on Waging War on Syria

Shoah’s pages


September 2013
« Aug   Oct »