Archive | October 24th, 2014

Iran and the USA: A history of deceit


Seyed Hossein Mousavian - a frustrated pro-US Iranian diplomat

Seyed Hossein Mousavian – a frustrated pro-US Iranian diplomat

A review of Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace by Seyed Hossein Mousavian

by Kevin Barrett

While rushing off to the New Horizon Conference in Tehran last month, I needed something to read on the plane. The latest book on US-Iran relations, Mousavian’s Iran and the United States, jumped off the shelf, slapped me in the face and yelled “Take me! Take me!”

As a latecomer to Iran Studies – my Ph.D. is in Arabic with a focus on Morocco – I’ve been surveying the literature and learning some very interesting things. Mousavian’s book is the most illuminating yet. But before I explain why, consider the competition.

Gary Sick’s All Fall Down (2001) is a decent introduction from a mainstream US perspective. (Listen to my interview with Gary Sick.) In recent years, Sick has begun to understand how Israel and its treasonous American agents have been systematically sabotaging US-Iran relations – an amazing story which emerges from a close reading of Mousavian’s book.

David Crist’s The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran is another worthwhile US-mainstream account. Its descriptions of little-known Iran-vs.-US naval battles in the Persian Gulf are important contributions to history. But Crist naively accepts conventional American views of various incidents and issues, and those views are almost certainly wrong – as a reading of Mousavian makes clear.

The Zionist-propaganda cartoon version, written and published in hopes of brainwashing American morons, is Mossad psy-opper Ronan Bergman’s The Secret War With Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist Power. Reading this will help you understand just how stupid the Zionists think Americans are. The fact that books like this actually sell in America – and that the US has been so badly duped by Israel in its Iran and Middle East policies – proves the Zionists aren’t completely wrong.

An excellent revisionist (i.e., relatively accurate) contribution is Flynt and Hilary Leverett’s Going to Tehran. Like Gary Sick, the Leveretts seem to have woken up to the Zionist duplicity that has been wrecking US-Iran relations for more than two decades. But like Sick, they soft-pedal that awful truth in hopes of avoiding a career-lynching by the Zionist mob. Good luck with that.

The most recent entry in the US-Iran relations books, Mousavian’s Iran and the USA, may be the best. Though it is written from an Iranian perspective, the author is no fire-breathing radical. On the contrary, Mousavian is a hardcore pro-West reformist who loathes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and spent his entire career in the Iranian diplomatic corps trying to repair Iran-US relations and establish lasting friendship between the two countries…but was frustrated by apparent Zionist sabotage at every turn.

Indeed, Mousavian is the most pro-US Iranian you’re ever likely to meet. Many of my Iranian friends and acquaintances even take seriously Ahmadinejad’s allegations that Mousavian spied on Iran for the US – a charge Mousavian hotly denies from his present perch at Princeton University.

Mousavian’s thesis is that US-Iran relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 have been plagued by “mistrust, misperceptions and misanalysis.” But the details recounted in his book show that the misperceptions are mostly on the US side. Iran, he writes, simply wants its sovereign independence and has been pursuing that goal through generally reasonable and peaceful means; while the US has been deceived into believing that Iran is a hotbed of militant recklessness and terrorism.

Part of the problem, Mousavian explains, is that some Iranian leaders have taken a dim, even paranoid view of American actions and intentions, and expressed that view in fiery rhetoric. He explains that whenever Iranian moderates get more control over Iran’s foreign policy, “the traditional hawks in the United States in tandem with the pro-Israel lobby ward off any Iranian moves towards rapprochement…”

But Mousavian’s account as well as others suggests that the Iranian hardliners’ view that the US is controlled by the Zionist-militarists, and seeks regime change not accommodation, is correct. In other words, just because the Iranians are paranoid doesn’t mean the US isn’t out to get them.

The most interesting aspect of Mousavian’s book is his suggestion that most if not all of the “Iranian terrorist attacks” that have wrecked US-Iran relations at critical junctures have been false flag operations. While US or Iranian hard-liners may conceivably have played a role in some of these events, a reasonable inference would be that Mousavian knows the Israeli Mossad is the most likely suspect. (Now that we know the extent of Israeli false flag terrorism, from the Lavon Affair to the USS Liberty to the Achille Lauro to the Entebbe Hijacking to theBuenos Aires bombings to 9/11 and beyond, it isn’t hard to see the Zionist hand in all terror attacks attributed to Israel’s enemies that seem perfectly timed to benefit Israel.)

Mousavian’s skeptical take on the 1983 US Embassy and Marine Barracks bombings in Beirut and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia – as well as his well-founded suggestion that the US intentionally shot down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 killing all 290 passengers including 66 children – are a necessary corrective to the lies infesting even otherwise decent mainstream accounts such as Crist’s The Twilight War. (One must read between the lines to see Crist implicitly admitting that the US government’s refusal to apologize for the IR655 shootdown  – and the fact that Captain Rogers, who ordered the shootdown in what would have been unbelievable criminal negligence at best, was promoted and given a medal for murdering the 290 civilians – proves that the slaughter was obviously an intentional act of state terrorism by the US high command; its purpose was to terrorize Iran into ending the Iran-Iraq war on US terms, rather than continuing to Baghdad to overthrow American ally Saddam Hussein, who had been mass-murdering Iranians with US-supplied chemical weapons.)

Mousavian, read alongside the other books mentioned above, shows clearly that it has been the Zionist-dominated US – not Iran – that is the terrorist rogue state. The US and Israel (along with their puppet MKO and other terror groups) have murdered 17,000 Iranian civilians in terror attacks since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Adjusted for relative population, that would be the equivalent of the US losing 75,000 civilians to Iran-sponsored terrorism. (Needless to say, no such Iran-sponsored terrorism exists.)

Mousavian’s credible US-friendly Iranian-insider perspective should have a significant impact in America. Its timing is perfect. Even mainstream liberals and leftists, as well as realist foreign policy pros, are starting to recognize that the problems between the US and Iran are largely the creation of Israel. Gareth Porter’s new book Manufactured Crisis, for example, documents how the “Iran nuclear crisis” was created by the Mossad through a forgery of a “dodgy dossier” just like the one used to fabricate the WMD pretext for war on Iraq.

When will Americans realize it’s time to end their shameful treatment of Iran, and even more shameful enslavement to Zionism? Perhaps sooner rather than later, if enough of them decide to educate themselves. A good start, for those interested in the US-Iran file, would be Mousavian’s book.

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Avoidable Humanitarian Crisis at Lebanon


Border Crossing Sparks Anger in Syria

…by Franklin Lamb

Syrian Immigration HQ, Damascus neighborhood of Marjeh

Chest high metal crowd control barriers manned by armed guards—since late September they have stood outside the Arrivals Hall on the Lebanon side of the Masnaa border crossing with Syria. For Syrian and Palestinian refugees fleeing the continuing violence next door and trying to get into Lebanon the message is clear:


Don’t come within 40 meters of the Immigration building, and don’t even dream about coming to the staffed counter with any documents. None of you is welcome. Ninety eight percent of you will not be allowed in, and those who are better leave within 24 hours and have a valid airline ticket to prove your intention to depart.

Over the past few years, this observer has crossed at the Masnaa border crossing fairly frequently. Yet never have I seen such an avoidable humanitarian disaster for families seeking to get out of war-torn Syria. And it is reportedly much the same at the Jordanian border.

Many refugees have found themselves squatting here—first in the heat, and now in the cold autumnal nights that increasingly are seeing cold rainfall. No other option seems available to them than to try to enter Lebanon, this as they express the forlorn hope that God in his mercy will help them.

And so here they sit, bewildered, outside the Immigration building, exhausted, little if any money in their pockets or purses, with their children thirsty, hungry, and often crying. Nearby are the local offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but the staff are overwhelmed, and the fact that Lebanon hasn’t signed the 1951 Refugee Convention doesn’t make things any easier for them.

Extending humanitarian assistance to refugees has never been embraced by certain anti-Palestinian politicians in Lebanon, who apparently see no value in it for themselves, but that being said, it is a fact that the sheer numbers of refugees entering Lebanon now has added to pre-existing problems with respect to infrastructure, chronic water and electricity shortages, massive unemployment, exploding sectarian conflicts, and the like.

All of which can make for some harrowing scenes at the border checkpoint. During this observer’s most recent crossing, a Syrian gentleman sat on the roadside with his wife, five children, and one grandchild, explaining to me how the family had lost everything in Homs. No other choice had they than to try and seek safety in Lebanon, since Egypt and Jordan are refusing entry to Syrian refugees.

His oldest child, a lovely girl named ‘Rasha,’ who appeared to be in her mid-20s, sat nursing her infant son as we talked. Rasha’s husband, he informed me, had been killed by a mortar last spring on a day he had gone out shopping for food near the old city of Homs. In desperation, the gentleman suggested that I purchase his daughter and her baby, because he saw no future for them and he could no longer provide a home for them. Plus the baby appeared ill.

During the winter these temporary refugee camps are a nightmare

During the winter these temporary refugee camps are a nightmare

After my long explanation of why, for several reasons, this was not possible, he stated his belief that my being an American meant that the Lebanese guards would allow me to enter with Rasha and her baby; they in turn could live with me until the crisis ended, and on second thought, I did not even have to pay him anything.

Just save her and her baby. With respect to the Lebanese border guards, his idea was unrealistic.

Most Americans do tend to be liked around these parts, and most of us try to be goodwill ambassadors because we love our country and her ideals. But it is not the case that Americans can bend immigration regulations, nor should it be. Before the crisis, Syrians and Lebanese could simply take a road not patrolled, avoiding border crossings and formalities altogether, but these days that is very dangerous.

I gave the gentleman my card and a little money in case his family and he were somehow able to get over the border, and promised him that if they were successful I and friends would try to help. I have heard nothing more from him. But I have learned, from a couple of NGOs, that encounters such as I experienced are not all that uncommon these days, with women and children stuck at the Syrian-Lebanese border being bought and sold—and with bribes sometimes offered, and occasionally paid.

The frequency of this is difficult to assess, and the reality may be exaggerated, but certainly not exaggerated are the facts of the increasingly inhumane conditions that Syrian and Palestinian refugees face in Lebanon—a country in which they are denied some of the most basic, elementary rights by the government, and where they also run the risk of harmful brushes with various militias and hooligans.

Discussions I have had—with staff at the central Immigration office in Damascus as well as Syrian human rights associations and Syria-based Arab journalists who have researched and written about this subject—reveal not only a bleak picture of the humanitarian situation, but also a growing level of disgust in Syria over what is happening to their countrymen in Lebanon.

Cases of Lebanese discrimination and harassment targeting Syrian refugees, including violations of international customary law and the 1951 Refugee Convention, have become commonplace. In addition, Syrians increasingly are falling prey to violence. Human Rights Watch said it had documented a string of attacks by Lebanese residents against Syrian refugees in August and September.

Those interviewed described being stabbed, shot and beaten, and several claimed that they were either too afraid to report the crimes, or that they had and their stories had been dismissed by security forces when they did. HRW said that attacks it documented were most often carried out by private citizens, but in several cases they appeared to have “the tacit support” of authorities, and the international organization has urged security forces and local authorities to step up protection of Syrian refugees.

“Lebanon’s security forces should protect everyone on Lebanese soil, not turn a blind eye to vigilante groups who are terrorizing refugees,” said HRW Deputy Middle East Director Nadim Houry.


On 10/10/2014, Lebanon’s Social affairs minister Rashid Derbas told the Lebanese Parliament that “Lebanon is no longer officially receiving any Syrian refugees,” unless they have a “humanitarian reason for their entry”. Exactly what constitutes a humanitarian reason “will be decided by the interior and social affairs ministries”, Mr Derbas added without elaborating.

One especially taxing problem is the financial cost exacted by Lebanon for Syrian refugees to register a baby. In Syria, anyone from Lebanon, or from any country for that matter, can register a newborn for the equivalent of 1,000 Lebanese lire (around 66 US cents). The process takes around fifteen minutes. But not so in Lebanon.

According to a report by the Taanayel General Hospital in central Bekaa, the number of new babies born to Syrian refugees, since March 2011 when the crisis began, has exceeded 15,000, just in the Bekaa Valley alone. In North Lebanon, the UNHCR estimates more than 5,000 births, and the Syrian Embassy in Beirut says there are now approximately 6,000 births per year among displaced Syrians in Lebanon. But for many of these parents, the registration process is nearly impossible.

First they must obtain a certificate from the hospital or midwife indicating the date of birth—generally not a big problem, but then the baby must be registered at the office of the local Muktar. That is if they can prove legal residence, and if the local Muktar is willing to help, which is not always the case. Sometimes he wants a fee, and in some reported cases a bribe, in order to forward the paperwork to the Directorate of Personal Status.

If the parents are lucky, their application might then be sent to the Exterior Ministry for another approval, and finally may reach the Syrian Embassy to complete the process of registering the newborn. But the process can be delayed or scuttled along the tortuous procedural path for any number of reasons, including escalating anti-Syrian sentiment in government offices and among certain confessions and political parties.

According to one Syrian refugee, the minimal fees charged by Lebanon, plus the traveling back and forth to different offices and locations so as to follow up on the procedures, can cost close to $500, with no success guaranteed. The amount is a fortune for most refugees, but an even greater concern for Syrian parents is having no nationality for their children. Says Joelle Eid, of the UNHCR press office, the offspring risk being added to “the stateless Kurds of Syria, since 1960, whose number of births in Lebanon is currently around 840 children.”

One chilling reason that the Kafkaesque procedures violate basic humanitarian principles is that they are forcing Syrian refugees to smuggle their babies into Syria in bags, since of course the infants would not be allowed to cross the border from Lebanon without full documentation. It is estimated that over the past 24 months more than 50 Syrian newborns, passing through Masnaa, have died from suffocation or drug overdose while being hidden from immigration officials.

Parents usually are not sure how much of what drug to give their babies in order to keep them quiet and sleeping as they sneak them through the border, and too many are not waking up—all so that the parents can make it back over the border, back into their perilous, war-torn homeland, so that they may register their children’s births—in Syria, since it’s practically impossible to do so in Lebanon.

It is but one of the current abuses that are causing outrage in Syria and among advocates of human rights everywhere but it is not the only one. Both the UNHCR and HRW are accusing the Lebanese Army of committing “serious” violations against refugees, including in Ersal, where more than 200 Syrian refugees, including minors, were arrested without charge. The arrests took place September 19-24.

Other reports accuse the Army of evicting, without any pretense of due process, a large number of refugees living in private homes. Then on September 25, the retaliatory measures reached a peak with a crackdown in the area of Ras al-Jafar, affecting nine informal communities with a total population of around 5000. One report states that during the raids, tents were burned in one of the random communities, completely destroying 96 tents.

The raids were coupled with a large campaign of arrests targeting especially males. Some 300-500 people were detained, and while most, though not all, have been released, reports have emerged of physical and verbal assault, intimidation, and humiliation—claims that are corroborated by UNHCR photographs, including of shackled Syrian refugees laying on the ground exposed to the elements.

An Army spokesperson has dismissed as “lies” another allegation about the torching of tents in Ersal last week, yet random raids are becoming commonplace at scores of these “informal tent settlements,” as UNHCR refers to the fetid, sewage-soaked camps—camps which soon will be covered in snow and ice. Often in these camps more than 20 people will live in a tent that is intended for one family. Most of the tents are covered with nothing more than nylon, and more than 50,000 Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley are now living in these kinds of settlements—that’s 50,000 out of a registered total 275,000 in the area.

In addition to these calamities, more than 45 municipalities have imposed curfews on Syrian nationals, a move widely seen as a racist practice and one also in violation of international humanitarian law and the 1951 Convention. HRW comments that the curfews “contribute to a climate of discriminatory and retaliatory practices against” the refugees. Curfew violators are reportedly given a warning or, in some cases, are “taken to the municipality for questioning” where they may be detained for hours.

The reports have fueled anger among lawyers in Damascus, at the Lawyers Syndicate across from the Cham Palace Hotel, where seminars have discussed the legal problems facing Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In addition, the Faculty of Law at Damascus University is considering setting up a legal defense team to help Syrians in Lebanon challenge arbitrary and discriminatory applications of Lebanese laws.

“Syria helped them (the Lebanese) many times during their 15-year civil war and during the 2006 July war!” commented a teacher at a government primary school visited by this observer last week. “We gave them everything they needed. Our government buildings, social services, free medical care, free education, schools, hygienic conditions, peace and quiet, food and sometimes cash stipends. What about us? Is this the Lebanese way of saying ‘thanks’ to the people of Syria?”

She then exclaimed, “Someone must stop these attacks on our families.”

A savvy graduate student in Damascus by the name of “Ahmad” commented to this observer and to his Palestinian friend from Yarmouk camp, who having lost her own home due to shelling, now volunteers helping Syrian refugees forced to live in some of the parks in Damascus, that ISIS (Da’ish) and al-Nusra will almost assuredly be cognizant of these problems, and poised to capitalize on them, as they prepare to extend their caliphate into Lebanon—and he probably has a point.

Among the many reasons Lebanon should immediately desist in the targeting of Syrian and Palestinian refugees is that they are pushing many toward supporting those that the Lebanese government claims to be opposing.

Posted in Middle East, Lebanon, SyriaComments Off on Avoidable Humanitarian Crisis at Lebanon

America’s Chechen Proxy Terrorists


America’s Chechen Proxy Fighters

… the big picture that everyone has missed

by  Henry Kamens

The isolated Pansiki Gorge is perfect as a permanent Western terrorist staging base

The isolated Pansiki Gorge is perfect as a permanent Western terrorist staging base

Editor’s note: We get a major peek behind the curtain from Henry Kamens today, a trip to one of the headwaters of modern terrorism where unknowing American taxpayers have been footing the bill.

We have all heard about Chechen terrorists showing up among Jihadi movements and have assumed they were recruited and operated by the well-known Gulf terrorist states, the Saudis and Qatar.

And while we were aware this was done with the full knowledge and complicity of the US and NATO, great efforts have been made to keep America’s terror training base in the Republic of Georgia out of the news.

The dwindling pool of real investigative journalists has been culled down a little more when sticking their noses into this den of thieves in the Pankisi Gorge. While most democratic state publics seem to be in a constant state of semi-hypnosis on world affairs, one thing would wake them up quickly…

…And that is to learn their taxes are going not only to fight the staged Wars on Terror, but have been used to fund the creation, operations and target selection of many of those groups.

One of the things so many never picked up on regarding Syria was, with the constant mentioning of the West’s problem of organizing and controlling 1000 different militia groups fighting the Syrian Army, no one seem interested in the next obvious question.

"Yes, these are some rough and tough dudes."

“Yes, these are some rough and tough dudes.”

If “they” know that 1000 opposition groups are there, then they should know more about who they are, where they came from, how they got started, and who their main support comes from.

You will learn below in Henry’s article that “they” don’t like to see questions like this even being asked in the media, much less answered… and they aren’t.

As for Congressional oversight… forget about that. They are among some of the most compromised people on the planet, and will remain that way for some time… and the same goes for most of corporate media. It has “gone over” as VT readers know, and with no boycotting from advertisers either.

And yes, while their market share has been dwindling, they aren’t going anywhere, as that decline has pushed them into the web; and their Intel buddies have flooded the web with controlled asset sites to use as needed to attack whom they want and seed bogus stories.

Alternative media is under attack, with Prison Planet being the compromised star of that show. But Net readers are generally savvy. Although they can’t always see through the smoke and mirrors quickly, they eventually figure it out.

VT has had its share of knocks but “they” have not been able to get their hooks into us. They hate us…and we love every minute of that… Jim W. Dean]

“I’m not here for a long time… I’m here for a good time” — George Strait

Pankisi Gorge

Pankisi Gorge

The media is awash with expert commentary on the various world trouble spots. Many of the reports you see make similar claims about the presence of ethnic Chechens amongst the various fighting forces in Iraq, Syria, Kenya, Ukraine and other war-torn states that the US has vested interests in. However there is one point all these authors have missed.

On September 1, Iraqi News reported that “Iraq’s counter-terrorism office announced the killing of 23 fighters of Chechen nationality who belong to the organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in Sulaiman Bek district, east of Tikrit.”(1)

Whether these people were really Chechens has not been established, as “Chechen” has been equated with “terrorist” for a long time; so if you don’t know where a dead terrorist comes from he is called a Chechen. But there is a reason this state of affairs came to be, and it does not derive from Russian propaganda, as sources such as Arab News try and make out.

On June 23, The Barefoot Strategist drew attention to the fact that “While most of the world is focused on the battle between Assad and the Syrian rebels, Chechens are becoming known as some of the best fighters in Syria. Their prominence is growing, and it is alarming.”(2) This article detailed how the Chechens had split into different groups, some pro- and some anti-ISIL, based on their original allegiances. However it did not say why these Chechens were interested in Syria and how they got there, or how they became such good fighters.

On July 22, Cristina Maza, writing in The Balkanist, stated that “according to Murad Batal al-Shishani, a London-based expert on Islamic groups and a specialist on Islamic movements in Chechnya, the majority(3) of the Chechen fighters in Syria right now are from the Pankisi Gorge.”(4)

The article also pointed out that “the number of residents in the region — Pankisi — has doubled over the past decade due to an influx of refugees from Chechnya.” It described how they are “volunteering” to fight in Syria, encouraged by “radicals” and lack of opportunity in the gorge.

Once again however the article failed to mention why the Chechens and — even some Saudi nationals — suddenly took such an interest in this part of Georgia, if there are so few opportunities there.

The point everyone is missing is what I have been saying for more than 10 years is being proven true every day. The Chechens being recruited in the Pankisi Gorge did not end up there by accident — they were inserted by the CIA and funded and trained in terrorist warfare by the CIA in order to destabilise other countries the US was interested in. Those same Chechens are not volunteering for service, but are being sent there by the US, as part of a coordinated plan, to serve US interests, and being moved around to wherever they are needed.

Roddy Scott, a young British journalist and filmmaker, was killed for knowing and saying this — and that was no accident either. He was following the money and weapons — the NGO mechanism used to fund the freedom fighters and provide fake passports to people who, based on the American definition, were terrorists. So let us consider the facts.

Safe haven for chosen terrorists

Train and Equip Programme 2003 -- Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld

Train and Equip Program, 2003 — Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld

From 2001 onwards, an extensive media campaign was conducted by international outlets which claimed that Pankisi, which none of those reporters had previously seen, was a “terrorist haven”.

No actual evidence was provided to support this, but it made people feel better to think all the terrorists came from one place and it had been identified.

These reports were used as the justification for sending US military advisers to Pankisi in April 2002, purportedly on a mission to contain al-Qaeda loyalists who might have been operating there. It is only after this, however, that most of the Chechens, who were later branded as terrorists, actually moved to this isolated valley, as Cristina Maza’s article(4)implies.

The US intervention there would therefore seem to have been an utter failure, which would cause heads to roll. However, the sudden influx of terrorists was used as the excuse for the establishment of the $64-million Train and Equip Program. This provided precious few weapons to the Georgian Armed Forces and their “training” was exposed for what it was during the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

It has, however, led to a succession of fearsome Chechen warriors, highly-trained, well-armed and successful, emerging from the gorge and appearing in US-backed wars all over the region, as the articles cited state.

This activity was not hidden. Within weeks reports about what was really going on there, dismissed as rumour at the time, started appearing. Nikolaus von Twickel of the Moscow Times soon reported that Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officials had confirmed that Ramzan Turkoshvili, 34, a Russian citizen born in Georgia, had been coordinating the activities of illegal armed groups in the Northern Caucasus by order of Tbilisi.

He told Itar-Tass that the Pankisi Gorge, “despite repeated statements of the Georgian leadership and their Western allies, is still used as a base of terrorists acting in the North Caucasus and by various terrorist and extremist organisations.

Ringleaders of terrorist groups from the Georgian territory provide financial support to bandit groups, coordinate activities for the preparation of terrorist acts, as well as recruiting Muslim youth of the Akhmed districts of Georgia and involving them in extremist activities.”

One of the Chechens who appeared in Pankisi Gorge at that time was Imran Akhmadov. When journalists such as Jeffrey Silverman — who was then working as an editor-and-chief of the Georgian Times — followed up on his Chechen and intelligence connections, they were told that he had been killed by the FSB. Not only is Akhmadov still alive, he is one of the leaders of ISIL.

He had in fact been provided with a fake Georgian passport under the name Kavtarashvili, and shipped to Turkey by the US Embassy when people started enquiring about him. The snipers in Maidan Square, who shot at everyone indiscriminately and were also described as Chechens, were similarly removed from the scene and sent to Syria on fake Georgian passports, after it was reported that they were neither protesters nor Ukrainian security services personnel.

Akhmadov’s brother was also reported killed by the FSB, as if to provide support for the claim that Imran had died. Not only is the brother still alive, he is a senior Georgian intelligence operative. As official investigations are now revealing, he was involved in the planning of the prospective murder of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili — obviously not a matter for low level operatives.

Knowing too much

Roddy Scott

Roddy Scott

It was in October 2002 that Roddy Scott, while making a documentary, accompanied the Chechens as they crossed from Georgia into the Russian republic of Ingushetia.

The 31-year-old journalist was killed while filming a firefight between Chechen fighters and the Russian army in the village of Galashka in the Ingush region of the Russian Federation. No stranger to hot spots, Scott worked for the British company Frontline TV, and knew how to protect himself.

Scott had made no secret of the fact that he felt the wrong information about Pankisi was being reported in the West. He had written to a friend shortly before he left:

“I personally think it’s a great story. It’s about the first time I have ever seen the possibility for someone to really lift the lid on everything, rather than the usual ‘journo-grasping-at-straws-with-no-good-sources’, which seems to emanate from the region. And what really gives it the boost is that it is tied into US policy, which gives it the international rather than local/parochial flavor. 

As you saw, there are plenty of boyeviks — terrorists/fighters — in Pankisi, and pretty much they operate openly; but the story has never really come out because most journals don’t have access. And there is a real danger of kidnapping if you are there too long without the protection of a Chechen commander.

Equally, the Chechens have a vested interest in making sure the full story never comes out (in print, photos or TV). It’s the kind of thing that might just provoke the Russians to do something — or give them excuse, I guess.”

Investigative journalist Jeffrey Silverman

Investigative journalist Jeffrey Silverman

After the rebels were driven back, Russian Federal Forces found Scott’s body. Any such death is generally investigated. When Jeffrey Silverman, who had been one of Scott’s sources in Georgia, started asking deep questions, he was warned by a former employee of the BBC (and possibly MI6, the British intelligence service) as follows:

“Your digging around Roddy has no such safety net, be careful. His mother’s appetite for information will never be satisfied, make sure you know where the limits are – and when to stop digging.

I do it because I am a hired gun; I always have a focus, and a programme to deliver at the end of the day. Don’t get too carried away chasing shadows without a clear aim. Didn’t mean for this to turn into a lecture – just be careful, and know why you are taking risks.”

Nor was Scott’s an isolated case. As a Moscow-based US journalist later reported, “I would not take any of the stories about Pankisi seriously – Roddy Scott and I worked on what was going on there some years ago, and it got him killed.”

The dime was dropped on Roddy by an American working for OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), who intentionally shared information with GRU, Russian Military Intelligence about the mass movement of Chechens.

The result was that Scott ended up dead and Silverman was beaten up – even arrested getting off an airplane in the United States and held in total isolation while a secret court hearing took place, in an effort to try to strip him of his US passport and ability to work as a journalist.

Why would such action be taken against anyone? Clearly, the American OSCE Operative was not seeking to prevent acts of terrorism being carried out, by monitoring the Georgian-Russian international border during this period, as his mandate would have obliged him to do.

He, and the compromised Danish General who controlled him, wanted to make sure that the story Scott was working on would never be told in the West and that his treasure trove of information on what was happening in Pankisi would go to the grave with him.

First hand

Georgian military

Georgian military in front of Georgia Parliament’s giant eyeball

I have been to Pankisi Gorge and lived with the locals for weeks on end. I have seen the Georgian military supposedly cracking down on terrorists by patrolling with no bullets in their weapons.

I have seen the newcomers — the Chechen terrorists, Arab nationals — the cars they drive, their clothes, and their flats in Tbilisi. None of them work, and they can not live like that on remittances from relatives abroad or herding sheep.

I have also further investigated the Akhmadov brothers. They were involved in the kidnapping of two Polish journalists who might have stumbled on the story — Zofis Fischer and Ewa Marchwinska-Wyrwal — the kidnapping of two Spanish businessmen; and in the faked abduction of British banker Peter Shaw, who staged it himself.

The murder of Anthony Russo, an Italian journalist, also remains unresolved, and has never been properly investigated, like all the other cases linked with the Akhmadov brothers.

None of this is coincidence. The appearance of Chechens from the Pankisi Gorge, who moved there after the US sent people to root out terrorists used in all the wars the US is involved in… is not coincidence. America has put those people in those places to conduct whatever terrorist operations serve its interests, even if it means sacrificing those same terrorists.

All we are seeing now is part of a long lasting, coordinated programme of state-sponsored terrorism conducted by the guardians of freedom and democracy, using people it labels as terrorists whom it has armed and trained to do all these things. Iraq, Syria, Ukraine — all the conflicts we are seeing are part of the same programme.

I’ve been saying all this for a very long time. A lot of people have a vested interest in proving me wrong, and will give anyone trying to do so all possible assistance. Go ahead, the world is waiting — Make my day!



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Watch: Eastern Libya’s top terrorist group, 17 February Brigade, routed by national army



The Libyan National Army, led by Brigadier-General Khalifa Haftar, has overran the main base of the jihadist “17 February Martyrs Brigade”, based in the university district of Garyunis on the south-eastern outskirts of Benghazi, Libya’s second city.The brigade is considered to be the largest and best armed militia in eastern Libya. It reputedly consists of between 1,500 and 3,500 terrorists and has a large collection of light and heavy weapons.

Together with at least two other jihadist groups, Ansar al-Sharia and the Rafallah al-Sahhati Brigade – an offshoot of the 17 February group – it is responsible for much of the terrorist activities in Benghazi, including assassinations of members of the armed forces, policemen, government officials and human rights and civil society activists. Some of its members are also believed to be fighting alongside Islamist cutthroats in Syria.

A video posted on Facebook on 24 October (see above) shows the militia’s base – positively identified by Nuruddin Sabir, the editor of Redress Information & Analysis, as the 17 February Brigade’s headquarters – destroyed. The brigade’s jihadist black flag can be seen at the entrance to the base.

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Canadian Fear Campaign: Islamic Extremists and the Dubious Role of Intelligence Agencies


Global Research

With the killing of a Canadian soldier in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on October 20, and the shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 22, the Canadian authorities and the mainstream media have already decided. Without evidence, they are blaming Islamic extremism for both incidents, even though we know practically nothing about the two men who acted alone.

No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but we are told that the two young men had converted to Islam and one of them, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who hit a soldier with his car in Saint-Jean, had “self-radicalized over the internet”. The Edmonton Sun said that family and law enforcement try to find out why he followed ISIS kill commands. Is there any evidence that he was following ISIS Kill commands?

We were told that both were known by the authorities who had confiscated their passports for fear that they would join terrorist organizations abroad. If the authorities went as far as confiscating their passports for fear they would commit terrorist attacks abroad, didnt they fear that they would commit attacks here?

At this point we can only speculate about the motives of these two men. And one question that the media should ask, is whether the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had anything to do with these attacks, since it has a known history of using informants to infiltrate Muslim organizations and issue violent threats against Canadian citizens. Moreover, known and documented ISIS has been supported covertly by the US and its Persian Gulf allies since the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011.

But since the first killing on October 20, rather than being suspicious of the authorities, who have been warning us of the homegrown terrorist threat for months, the media relies almost exclusively on security and terrorism experts and law enforcement officials to provide “authoritative commentary” and they all agree on the Islamic extremist theory and self-radicalization on the internet.

It is very disturbing to say the least that security and terrorism experts are unaware that the root cause of terrorism, as demonstrated by studies, is not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology, but foreign occupation, not to mention the fact that Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

Based on research from the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, and funded in part by the US Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Agency, Professor Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman wrote a book in 2010 called “Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali summarized the books conclusions in 2010:

In 2000, before the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 20 suicide attacks around the world, and only one (against the USS Cole) was directed against Americans. In the last 12 months, by comparison, 300 suicide attacks have occurred, and over 270 were anti-American. We simply must face the reality that, no matter how well-intentioned, the current war on terror is not serving U.S. interests.”

The authors examined more than 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90-percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90-percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.

In Cutting the Fuse, the authors pointed out: “Prior to 9/11, the expert debate on the causes of suicide terrorism was divided largely between two explanations — religious fanaticism and mental illness. In the years after 9/11, new research on who becomes a suicide terrorist showed that virtually none could be diagnosed as mentally ill, while many were religious and, most striking,nearly all emerged from communities resisting foreign military occupation.” (Abdus Sattar Ghazali,The root cause of suicide terrorism is occupation: New study, OpEd News, September 29, 2010)

Back in 2007, Alexandre Popovic wrote extensively about how CSIS informants infiltrated the Canadian Muslim community and contributed to portray Islam in a negative way and fuel the stereotypes that Muslims are essentially dangerous extremists. (Alexandre Popovic, Les manipulations médiatiques du SCRS, September 1, 2007)

One of the informants, Youssef Muammar, became the leader of several organizations such as the International Islamic Foundation of Canada, Petro Action, the International Institute of Islamic Research, the Communauté de la nation musulmane du Grand Montréal, the Grand Mosque, Info-Islam and the magazine Le Monde islamique. (André Noël, «Un drôle d’espion», La Presse, December 14, 2001, p. A7, cited in Alexandre Popovic, Les manipulations médiatiques du SCRS, September 1, 2007)

In other words, through its high-profile informants, CSIS was squarely in position to shape the public perception of the Canadian Muslim community.

Both informants in question are Gilles Joseph Breault, aka “Dr. Youssef Muammar” and “Abu Jihad” from Montreal, and Mubin Shaikh from Toronto. Note that we are not dealing here with mere speculation or an umpteenth conspiracy theory. First, both individuals publicly admitted working under the orders of CSIS. On the other hand, their multiple media interventions are largely documented in the archives of print media, which have gone so far as to portray the two informants as spokespersons of the Canadian Muslim community, even as their “leaders”.

From 1989 to 1994, Youssef Muammar seems to have been involved in all the controversies, be they large or small and associated directly or indirectly with radical Islam, such as the attempted coup in Trinidad and Tobago or the spread of heinous anti-Jewish propaganda […]

After openly supporting anti-Israel terrorism and appealing to murder opponents of the Islamic Salvation Front, an Algerian Islamist party now dissolved, Muammar sent messages threatening of biochemical weapons attacks in the Montreal metro. (Ibid.)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and CSIS have been warning Canadians about the very real terrorist threat for months but, say they were caught by surprise by the two recent attacks committed by individuals they were monitoring close enough to confiscate their passports.

We were told that in Montreal people who are working in areas with a dense Muslim and immigrant population met with police and imams and were asked to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity because they were expecting something to happen.

This method of relying on civilians to spy on their fellow citizens is reminiscent of the East German Stasi, the Ministry of State Security. One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents.

Canadians need to keep in mind that the attacks are being used as a pretext for increased police state security measures and an integration of border security with the United States. The Ottawa shooter was actually identified by US sources even before the Canadian police had identified him. This raises serious questions on the extent to which the US and Canadian intelligence services are integrated. The Week reported:

Canadian police are yet to officially identify the suspect but US sources told Reuters he is Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian who recently converted to Islam. He was reportedly born and raised in Quebec, and later spent time in Libya and various regions of Canada as a labourer. His father is believed to be Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chair of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. (Michael Zehaf-Bibeau: the gunman behind the Ottawa shootings, The Week, October 23, 2014)

Knowing that most terrorist plots in the US are orchestrated by the FBI, as the extensive Mother Jones research showed, this integration between the two countries is far from reassuring.

We should also remember that NATO has a history of false flag terrorism. Operation Gladio, NATOs secret army, was a clandestine operation to prevent the rise of communism in Europe and was used to commit terrorist attacks against the population, which were blamed on the Communists. The ultimate goal was to have people turn to the state for more security and reject communism. (See also Tony Cartalucci: Canadian Terror Wave: a Modern-Day Gladio)

In the past two days, in addition to calls for increased security measures, we are clearly seeing the glorification of the Canadian military, which has taken part in illegal bombings in the Middle East for many years in the name of democracy and other false humanitarian pretexts. Far from being a solution to terrorism, the Canadian Forces are part of the problem. The bombing of Libya, to cite the most recent example, helped fuel terrorism in the region.

And last but not least, why is it so easy for extremists to use Facebook and other social media to issue death threats and apparently radicalize young fragile minds when until recently Facebook moderators were told to ban images of breastfeeding if the nipples were exposed?

But most importantly, the Canadian media should be questioning Canadas foreign policy and Ottawa’s military involvement in America’s wars instead of focusing on self-radicalized individuals.

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Occupy the Synagogue


By Michael Lesher

Well before the Jewish New Year had arrived last September, it was already clear that American rabbis across the denominational spectrum were going to use their pulpits, for the most heavily-attended sermons of 2014, to endorse one of the bloodiest massacres of Palestinians in Israel’s history.

Rabbi Rachel Ain of the (Conservative) Sutton Place Synagogue in New York told the New York Jewish Week’s Steve Lipman that “the wider effects of the war” – “war” was her word for the virtually one-sided slaughter in which more than 2,100 Palestinians died (including over 500 children), six Gaza hospitals were attacked, over 150 mosques were leveled, and some 10,000 Palestinian homes destroyed – had prompted her congregation to “reaffirm its strong commitment to the people, state and land of Israel.” War fever ran just as high at the “left” end of mainstream rabbinic opinion, with Rabbi Richard Block, president of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, insisting that what’s at stake is “Israel’s very existence, which Hamas seeks to eradicate, and Jews everywhere, whom Hamas aspires to exterminate.” (How Hamas plans to do all this without armor, a navy, an air force or any heavy weaponry remains unexplained.)

And what about the Orthodox – who, after all, represent the very sort of Judaism that early Zionists explicitly repudiated? Rabbi Zvi Romm, spiritual leader of the Lower East Side’s Bialystoker Synagogue, spoke of “soul-searching” in response to the devastation of Gaza; but the “soul-searching” he had in mind for Orthodox Jews “needs to include our asking ourselves how we can do more for Israel.”

And so it went.

Activists for justice in Palestine often stress that their campaign is aimed at Israel, not at Jews – an understandable position, particularly in light of Israeli propaganda’s manic insistence that every criticism of Israel is, by definition, an expression of anti-Semitism. But as a religious Jew myself, I cannot shrug off Israel’s “Jewish connection” so easily. Jews claim pride in a religious tradition that, as the dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe once wrote, has been “the bedrock for cosmopolitanism, socialism and universalism.” But when such a tradition is conscripted by warmongers – as it clearly has been – how can other religious Jews escape the sin of complicity if we allow their abuse of our shared religion to pass without protest?

The hypocrisy of ignoring our clergy’s role in Israel’s derelictions seems particularly acute, at least to me, after Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest hallucinatory address to the United Nations, in which he suggested that every child blown to bits in Gaza was really a blow struck on the Syrian battlefield against ISIS. Since the only possible “link” between the two is that most Gazans are Muslims, and since Netanyahu’s assignment of religion-based collective guilt passed with little comment in the West, it’s hard to see how religious Jews can claim immunity when their leadership (unlike most Gazans) actually endorses large-scale war crimes.

And the situation is really worse than that. Mainstream Jewish publications have been virtually unanimous in endorsing religious jingoism. Just for example, the Jewish Press – the most widely read English-language Orthodox Jewish periodical in the United States – recently offered fulsome praise for an “inspirational” letter written by the commander of Israel’s Givati Brigade on the eve of his troops’ invasion of Palestinian territory. The Jewish Press was delighted that Colonel Ofer Winter, the same officer whose orders would later cause the slaughter of more than 150 victims on a single day (after the fighting was supposed to have stopped), informed the soldiers about to enter Gaza that its people “dare to curse, blaspheme and scorn the God of Israel.” This sort of thing would be bad enough if the Jewish Press took a favorable line towards all jihadis, but in fact it frequently condemns them – the Muslim variety, that is. Only when a Jewish commander called the civilians his soldiers were about to massacre the enemies of God, and urged his troops to take appropriate vengeance, did the newspaper approve. How many Jews noticed this hypocrisy, let alone condemned it?

I would like to dismiss the Jewish Press as an aberration, but my experience tells a different tale. During the assault on Gaza, traditional Jews observed an annual fast commemorating the destruction of the Holy Land thousands of years ago. I took that opportunity to post a brief comment to an on-line news site lamenting “the horror of watching Jews slaughter the innocent and hearing other Jews cheer them on.” In response, one Jewish blogger lectured me that the fast is actually meant to mourn “the destruction of the Temple whose site has been stolen by Muslims” – though of course there were no Muslims when Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple in 70 CE. Another commented that I had “unbridled chutzpah” even to raise the subject. “[E]ither you are a messianic jew,” he wrote, “in which case you are no jew at all or you’re just a misguided fool…who knows zero about his religion.” It’s hard to know how many religious Jews were reading this exchange, but I do know that not one posted a criticism of the bloggers who denounced me.

If that example seems too personal, perhaps you will remember how, about fourteen years ago, Israel’s prominent Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called Palestinians “snakes despised by God.” Actually, if you get your information from Jewish media, you may not remember those words at all – Jewish sources scarcely mentioned them. But another phrase in the same sermon, implying that Jews killed by the Nazis were atoning for sins committed in an earlier life, prompted what the New York Jewish Week’s Eric J. Greenberg called “a firestorm of negative reaction” from the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the president of something called the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. So the problem wasn’t that Jewish organizations didn’t value “Holocaust memory.” The problem was that Jewish “memory,” under the auspices of supposedly religious authority, was being appropriated for the benefit of Jews alone. Can one belong to the same religion and let that sort of swindle pass in silence?

Obviously, the answer is no. For me, as a religious Jew, it is simply impossible to avoid a critique of Jewish attitudes that affect the oppression of Palestine. The corollary of that proposition is that justice for Palestine requires, among other things, questioning both the leadership and the shortcomings of my own religion.

Where to begin? Well, Jews need to ask, for instance, why we have allowed the genuinely humanitarian strands of our tradition to be obscured by chauvinism and paranoia. We need to admit that while Jews have demanded (rightly) that Christians jettison their religion’s anti-Semitic heritage, we have so far been remarkably complacent about the bigotry toward non-Jews contained in our own religious history. We need to confront how the double standard built into too many aspects of Talmudic law-making – one ethical rule for Jews, a different rule for others – has induced religious Jews to accept the sinister double standard Israelis apply to Palestinians.

These are not easy questions, and I do mean to be glib in summarizing them. But we owe it to ourselves, as well as to Palestinians, to tackle them. “No one could ignore anymore,” wrote Ilan Pappe in 2008, retrospectively, about the groundbreaking work of Israeli dissident Israel Shahak, “the fundamental role the Jewish religion plays in the making of Israel’s criminal policies.” But if the role of religion in supporting “criminal policies” is “fundamental,” then it isn’t enough for Jews concerned about Palestine to criticize the Israeli government. As long as Jewish leaders join in the chorus of Israeli propaganda, we have to speak out against them, too – and we have to challenge the religious ideology that has made that unholy alliance possible.

In the end, in fact, we have to do more than that. Those of us who care about Judaism have to reclaim it from the manques who have corrupted it. We must occupy the synagogue, so to speak, until the synagogue truly becomes ours – and what it should be. Only then can we truly speak for humanity elsewhere.

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Will the US Go to “War” Against Ebola?


Will the failed ‘War on Terror’ be the template for addressing the Ebola crisis?

Military personnel supporting Operation United Assistance enter a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey to depart Cesco City, Liberia on Friday, October 17, 2014. (Photo: U.S. Army Africa photo by Pfc. Craig Philbrick)

These days, two “wars” are in the headlines: one against the marauding Islamic State and its new caliphate of terror carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the other against a marauding disease and potential pandemic, Ebola, spreading across West Africa, with the first cases already reaching the United States and Europe.  Both wars seemed to come out of the blue; both were unpredicted by our vast national security apparatus; both have induced fears bordering on hysteria and, in both cases, those fears have been quickly stirred into the political stew of an American election year.

The pundits and experts are already pontificating about the threat of 9/11-like attacks on the homeland, fretting about how they might be countered, and in the case of Ebola,raising analogies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. As the medical authorities weigh in, the precedent of 9/11 seems not far from their minds. Meanwhile, Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has tried to calm the country down while openly welcoming “new ideas” in the struggle against the disease.  Given the almost instinctive way references and comparisons to terrorism are arising, it’s hard not to worry that any new ideas will turn out to be eerily similar to those that, in the post-9/11 period, defined the war on terror.


The differences between the two “wars” may seem too obvious to belabor, since Ebola is a disease with a medical etiology and scientific remedies, while ISIS is a sentient enemy.  Nevertheless, Ebola does seem to mimic some of the characteristics experts long ago assigned to al-Qaeda and its various wannabe and successor outfits. It lurks in the shadows until it strikes. It threatens the safety of civilians across the United States.  Its root causeslie in the poverty and squalor of distant countries.  Its spread must be stopped at its region of origin — in this case, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa — just as both the Bush and Obama administrations were convinced that the fight against al-Qaeda had to be taken militarily to the backlands of the planet from Pakistan’s tribal borderlands to Yemen’s rural areas.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised then that, while President Obama was sending at least1,600 military personnel (and the drones and bombers) to fight ISIS, his first response to the Ebola crisis was also to send 3,000 troops into Liberia in what the media has been calling an “Ebola surge” (a reflexive nod to the American troop “surge” in Iraq in 2007). The Obama administration’s second act: to beef up border protections for the screening of people entering the United States (a move whose efficacy has been questioned by some medical experts), just as the authorities moved swiftly in the wake of 9/11 to turn airports and borders into massive security zones. The third act was to begin to trace points of contact for those with Ebola, which, while logical and necessary, eerily mimics the way the national security state began to build a picture of terror networks, establish watch lists, and the like.

The next step under consideration for those who might have been exposed to Ebola,quarantine (that is, detention), is controversial among medical experts, but should similarly remind us of where the war on terror went after 9/11: to Guantanamo.  As if the playbook for the post-9/11 response to terrorism were indeed the playbook for Ebola, Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, questioning Dr. Frieden, noted that, without putting policies of surveillance, containment, and quarantine in place, “we still have a risk.”

While any of these steps individually may prove sensible, the ease with which non-medical authorities seem to be falling into a familiar war on terror-style response to the disease should be examined — and quickly. If it becomes the default template for Ebola and the country ends up marching down the road to “war” against a disease, matters could be made so much worse.

So perhaps it’s time to refresh our memories about that war on terror template and offer four cautionary lessons about a road that should never be taken again, not in developing a policy against the latest non-state actors, nor in pursuit of the containment of a disease.

Lesson One: Don’t turn the “war” on Ebola into another set of programs that reflect the national security establishment’s well-developed reliance on intelligence, surveillance, and the military.  Looking, for instance, for people complaining about Ebola-like symptoms in private or searching the metadata of citizens for calls to doctors would be a fool’s errand, the equivalent of finding needles in a field full of haystacks.

And keep in mind that, as far as we can tell, from 9/11 on, despite the overblown claims of its adherents, the surveillance system they constructed has regularly failed to work as promised. It did not, for instance, stop the Shoe Bomber, the Times Square bomber, or the Boston Marathon bombers. Nor did the intelligence authorities, despite all the money invested since 9/11, prevent the Benghazi attack or the killing of seven CIA agents by a suicide bomber believed to be an American double agent in Khost, Afghanistan, in December 2009, or predict the rise of ISIS for that matter. Similarly, it is hard to imagine how the usual military might, from drones and special ops teams to those much-discussed boots on the ground, will help solve the problem of Ebola.

In the post-9/11 era, military solutions have often prevailed, no matter the problem at hand.  Yet, at the end of the day, from the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to the air operation in Libya to the CIA’s drone campaigns across tribal backlands, just about no militarized solution has led to anything approximating victory — and the new war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is already following the same dismal pattern.  Against a virus, the U.S. military is likely to be even less successful at anything more than aiding health workers and officials in disease-ridden areas.

The tools that the national security state has relied on in its war on terror not only didn’t work then (and are highly unlikely to work when it comes to the present Middle Eastern conflict either), but applied to Ebola would undoubtedly prove catastrophic. And yet — count on it — they will also prove irresistible in the face of fear of that disease.  They are what the government knows how to do even if, in the war on terror itself, they created a vulnerability so much greater than the sum of its parts, helped foster the growth of jihadist movements globally, and eroded the sense of trust that existed between the government and the American people.

Lesson Two: Keep public health professionals in charge of what needs to be done. All too often in the war on terror, professionals with areas of expertise were cast aside by the security establishment.  The judicial system, for instance, was left in the lurch when it came to dealing with accused al-Qaeda operatives, while the expertise of those who found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003 was ignored.

Only by trusting our medical professionals will we avoid turning the campaign against Ebola over to the influence of the security state. And only by refusing to militarize the potential crisis, as so many others were in the post-9/11 era, will we avoid the usual set of ensuing disasters.  The key thing here is to keep the Ebola struggle a primarily civilian one.  The more it is left in the hands of doctors and public health experts who know the disease and understand what it means practically to commit the government to keeping people as safe as possible from the spread of the virus, the better.

Lesson Three: Don’t cloak the response to Ebola in secrecy.  The architects of the war on terror invoked secrecy as one of the prime pillars of their new state of being.  From the beginning, the Bush administration cavalierly hid its policies under a shroud of secrecy, claiming that national security demanded that information about what the government was doing should be kept from the American people for their own “safety.”  Although Barack Obama entered the Oval Office proclaiming a “sunshine” presidency, his administration has acted ever more fiercely to keep the actions of both the White House and the national security state under wraps, including, to mention just two examples, itsjustifications for policies surrounding its drone assassination campaigns and the extent of its warrantless surveillance programs.

As it happened, that wall of secrecy proved endlessly breachable, as leaks came floodingout of that world.  Nonetheless, the urge to recreate such a state of secrecy elsewhere may be all too tempting.  Don’t be surprised if the war on Ebola heads into the shadows, too — and that’s the last thing the country needs or deserves when it comes to a public health crisis. To date, with medical professionals still at the forefront of those dealing publicly with Ebola, this impulse has yet to truly rise to the surface.  Under their aegis, information about the first Ebola cases to reach this country and the problems involved hasn’t disappeared behind a cloak of secrecy, but don’t count on transparency lasting if things get worse.  Yet keeping important facts about a potential pandemic under wraps is guaranteed to lead to panic and a rapid deterioration of trust between Americans and their government, a relationship already sorely tested in the war on terror years.

Realistically, secrecy and allied tools of the trade would represent a particularly inauspicious starting point for launching a counter-Ebola strategy at a time when it would be crucial for Americans to know about failures as well as successes.  Outbreaks of panic enveloped in hysteria wrapped in ignorance are no way to stop a disease from spreading.

Lesson Four: Don’t apply the “black site” approach to Ebola.  The war on terror was marked by the creation of special prisons or “black sites” beyond the reach of the U.S. justice system for the detention (in the case of Ebola think: isolation and quarantine) of terrorist suspects, places where anything went.  There can, of course, be no question that Ebola patients, once diagnosed with the disease, need to be isolated. Protective gear and isolation units are already being used in treating cases here.

The larger issue of quarantine, however, looms as potentially the first major public policy debate of the Ebola era. Keep an eye on this.  After all, quarantine-style thinking is already imprinted in the government’s way of life, thanks to the war on terror, so moving toward quarantines will seem natural to its officials.

Quarantine is a phenomenon feared by civil libertarians and others as an overreaction that will prove ineffective when it comes to the spread of the disease.  It stands to punish individuals for their associations, however inadvertent, rather than dealing with them when they actually display signs of the disease. To many, though, it will seem like a quick-fix solution, the Ebola counterpart to Guantanamo, a facility for those who were deemed potential carriers of the disease of terrorism.

The fears a threat of massive quarantines can raise will only make things harder for health officials. So, too, will increasing calls for travel bans for those coming from West African countries, a suggestion reminiscent of sweeping police profiling policies that target groups rather than individuals. Avoiding such bans is not just a matter of preserving civil liberties, but a safety issue as well. Fears of broad quarantines and blanket travel bans could potentially lead affected individuals to become far more secretive about sharing information on the disease and far more deceptive in their travel planning.  It could, that is, spread, not halt the dissemination of Ebola. As Thomas Frieden of the CDC argues, “Right now we know who’s coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places, and we don’t know that they’re coming in will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things. We won’t be able to check them for fever when they leave. We won’t be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won’t be able, as we do currently, to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed when they arrive.”  In other words, an overly aggressive reaction could actually make medical deterrence exponentially more difficult.

The United States is about to be tested by a disease in ways that could dovetail remarkably well with the war on terror.  In this context, think of Ebola as the universe’s unfair challenge to everything that war bred in our governmental system. As it happens, those things that the U.S. did, often ineffectively and counterproductively, to thwart its enemies, potential enemies, and even its own citizenry will not be an antidote to this “enemy” either. It, too, may be transnational, originate in fragile states, and affect those who come in contact with it, but it cannot be stopped by the methods of the national security state.

Countering Ebola will require a whole new set of protections and priorities, which should emerge from the medical and public health communities. The now sadly underfunded National Institutes of Health and other such organizations have been looking at possible pandemic situations for years. It is imperative that our officials heed the lessons of their research as they have failed to do many times over with their counterparts in public policy in the war on terror years. To once again invoke the powers of the state to address fantasies and fears rather than the realities of a spreading disease would be to recklessly taunt the fates.

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Water Shutoffs Robbing Detroit Residents of ‘Dignified’ Life: UN Investigators


Following two-day inquiry, UN experts release strongly worded warning condemning city’s human rights violations

Detroit residents have organized direct actions, mass marches, and creative emergency responses to confront the water shut-off crisis. (Photo: Detroit Water Brigade)Detroit residents have organized direct actions, mass marches, and creative emergency responses to confront the water shut-off crisis. (Photo: Detroit Water Brigade)Detroit’s “unprecedented” shutoff of water utilities to city homes condemns residents to “lives without dignity,” violates human rights on a large scale, and disproportionately impacts African-Americans, United Nations investigators declared Monday following a two-day inquiry.

“Denial of access to sufficient quantity of water threatens the rights to adequate housing, life, health, adequate food, integrity of the family,” wrote UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Leilani Farha and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, in a joint statement. “It exacerbates inequalities, stigmatizes people and renders the most vulnerable even more helpless. Lack of access to water and hygiene is also a real threat to public health as certain diseases could widely spread.”

The officials visited the city following appeals in June from organizations concerned with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s (DWSD) escalation of water shut-offs to accounts that have fallen behind on their bills, amounting to up to 3,000 disconnections a week. The increase touched off organizing efforts by residents who charge they’re part of a larger plan, in keeping with Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s bankruptcy push, to displace African-Americans and privatize water and public services.

During their investigation, the UN experts held interviews and meetings with local residents, as well as with city officials. On Sunday, hundreds of people crowded into a town hall meeting with the officials. “Once again, the international spotlight was on Detroiters trying to carve out dignified lives while being denied basic necessities of life,” said Maureen Taylor, spokesperson for the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and the Detroit People’s Water Board, at the town hall meeting.

DeMeeko Williams, coordinator for the Detroit Water Brigade, told Common Dreams that it is absurd that people in the city have to appeal to the United Nations for support. “You can’t get help from the city government, the state government is the main culprit, and the U.S. government is not doing anything, so what else is there to do? Who do we turn to?” he asked.

Despite a grassroots push for the Water Affordability Plan, the city has increased water rates 8.7 percent at a time of massive unemployment and poverty. Detroit is effectively passing “the increased costs of leakages due to an aging infrastructure” onto residents who can’t afford it, the investigators charge.

The rapporteurs document the heavy toll the shut-offs have taken.

“We were deeply disturbed to observe the indignity people have faced and continue to live with in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and in a city that was a symbol of America’s prosperity,” they state. “Without water, people cannot live a life with dignity—they have no water for drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing toilets and keeping their clothes and houses clean. Despite the fact that water is essential for survival, the city has no data on how many people have been and are living without tap water, let alone information on age, disabilities, chronic illness, race or income level of the affected population.”

Despite the lack of data provided by the city, information obtained by the investigators suggests the city’s vulnerable and dispossessed are bearing the brunt of the crisis. “About 80 percent of the population of Detroit is African American. According to data from 2013, 40.7 percent of Detroit’s population lives below the poverty level, 99 percent of the poor are African American,” they write. “Twenty percent of the population is living on 800 USD or less per month, while the average monthly water bill is currently 70.67 USD.”

Furthermore, they note, “thousands of households are living in fear that their water may be shut off at any time without due notice, that they may have to leave their homes and that children may be taken by child protection services as houses without water are deemed uninhabitable for children. In many cases, unpaid water bills are being attached to property taxes increasing the risk of foreclosure.”

The investigators continue, “It was touching to witness mothers’ courage to strive to keep their children at home, and the support people were providing to each other to live in these unbearable circumstances. And it was heartbreaking to hear of the stigmatization associated with the shut-offs—in particular the public humiliation of having a blue mark imprinted on the sidewalk in front of homes when their water was shut off due to unpaid bills.”

Meanwhile, the shut-offs continue. “There is still a high number of people going without water,” said Williams. “The Detroit Water Brigade is on the front-lines trying to help people get back to self-sufficiency. We need more support. The situation is not just going to go away.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Water Shutoffs Robbing Detroit Residents of ‘Dignified’ Life: UN Investigators

$7 Billion US Eradication Effort Delivers Record High Poppy Crop in Afghanistan


Federal watchdog report “calls into question” US efforts to stamp out opium production

U.S. Marines walk through a poppy field in Helmand province, Afghanistan on April 17, 2012. (Photo: Marines)

Opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan are at a record high, though the U.S. government has spent over $7 billion to stop it, a federal watchdog states in a new report.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder and US AID head Rajiv Shah, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko writes: “Despite spending over $7 billion to combat opium poppy cultivation and to develop the Afghan government’s counternarcotics capacity, opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan hit an all-time high in 2013.”

“As of June 30, 2014, the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan,” the letter states.

“Despite the significant financial expenditure, opium poppy cultivation has far exceeded previous records,” he writes, adding that this “calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts.”

The value of opium and opium-made products in Afghanistan—the world’s largest producer of opium—rose 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, the report states, citing United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) figures.

Though the crop has funded extremist and criminal groups and contributed to a public health crisis, many Afghans see opium poppy cultivation as their only option. A UNODC report issued last year stated that Afghan farmers cited as among the top reasons for their cultivation of opium poppy its high sales price, high income from little land, improving their living conditions, and poverty.

A Defense Department response to the SIGAR findings, which is included in the report, states, in part: “In our opinion, the failure to reduce poppy cultivation and increase eradication is due to the lack of Afghan government support for the effort.” The Department also states that the rise in poppy cultivation “is a significant threat to U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan.”

But U.S. poppy eradication and interdiction efforts have been described as spectacular failures.  As the Drug Policy Alliance has noted, drug eradication efforts have not brought decreases in violence:

Just as alcohol prohibition allowed organized crime to flourish in the 1920s, drug prohibition empowers a dangerous underground market that breeds violent crime throughout the United States and the world. The illegality of drugs has inflated the price, and thus the profit, of drugs substantially. With it, the competition for drug markets has intensified, often through violence. Whether on street corners in U.S. cities, across the border in Mexico, or in the poppy fields of Afghanistan, drug trade-related violence continues, despite the billions of drug war dollars devoted annually to law enforcement and interdiction efforts.

As for the rising opium production in Afghanistan, author and TomDispatch editor Tom Engelhardt wrote last year that it could be seen as a legacy of the U.S. occupation:

Almost 12 years after it began, no one here, it seems, is considering how to assess American “success” on that distant battlefield.  But were we to do so, what possible gauge might we use?  Here’s a suggestion: how about opium production?  In 1979, the year America’s first Afghan war (against the Soviets) began, that country was producing just 250 tons of opium; by the early years of the post-9/11 American occupation of the country, that figure had hit 3,400 tons.  Between 2006 and the present, it’s ranged from a 2007 high of 8,200 tonsto a low of just under 5,000 tons.  Officials of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service now claim that 40,000 tons of illicit opiates have been stockpiled in Afghanistan, mostly to be marketed abroad.  As of 2012, it was the world’s leading supplier of opium, with 74% of the global market, a figure that was expected to hit 90% as U.S. combat troops leave (and foreign aid flees).  In other words, success in an endless war in that country has meant creating the world’s first true narco-state.  It’s a record to consider.  Not for nothing, it seems, were all those billons of dollars expended, not without accomplishments do we leave (if we are actually leaving).

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US-Backed Ukraine Army Used Cluster Bombs Against Its Own People: Reports


‘Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account,’ says rights group.

Remnants of a misfired Uragan cluster munition rocket lying in a field in territory controlled by the Ukrainian government near Novomykhailivka, Ukraine on October 14, 2014. (Photo: 2014 / Ole Solvang/Human Rights Watch)

The Ukraine Army, backed by both the U.S. and NATO throughout its military campaign against rebel factions in eastern regions of the country over recent months, appears to have fired cluster munitions on the city of Donetsk earlier this month, according to a Human Rights Watch investigation and independent reporting by the New York Times.

Citing the HRW report, physical evidence and its own interviews with both witnesses and victims, the Times reports:

Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army’s tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels.

“It is shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them.”

Human Rights Watch said it was “not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks,” but that the available evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk. The New York Timessaid it could not verify any claims that rebel forces had fired any such weapons.

Though more than a hundred nations have signed onto the global treaty to ban use of cluster munitions, neither Ukraine nor its most powerful ally in the conflict, the United States, have signed the agreement.  Ukraine Army’s use of the weapons, the Times notes, adds credibility to Russia’s long-held version of the conflict inside Ukraine, “which is that the [government in Kiev] is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens.”

According to the Human Rights Watch report, the evidence is particularly strong that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for the several confirmed cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October:

In addition to evidence at the impact site indicating that the cluster munitions came from the direction of government-controlled areas southwest of Donetsk, witnesses in that area said that they observed rockets being launched toward Donetsk on the times and days when cluster munitions struck the city. A New York Times journalist tracked down several rockets in that area, which appeared to have malfunctioned and fallen to the ground shortly after they were launched, clearly establishing the flight path of the rockets.

In the 12 incidents documented by Human Rights Watch, cluster munitions killed at least 6 people and injured dozens. The real casualty number from use of cluster munitions in the conflict is probably higher, Human Rights Watch said, since it has not investigated all allegations of cluster munition use. Also, in some cases, it was not possible to determine what weapon caused the death or injury because several types of explosive weapons were used at the same time in the same area.

Human Rights Watch identified the cluster munitions by the distinctive crater and fragmentation pattern that submunitions create when they explode, by remnants of the submunitions found at the impact sites, and by remnants of the rockets found in the vicinity. Several of these remnants included markings that allowed for positive identification of the weapon.

“Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account,” Hiznay said. “The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions.”

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on US-Backed Ukraine Army Used Cluster Bombs Against Its Own People: Reports

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