Archive | November 6th, 2015

Syria, The War Started Four Years Ago in March 2011: Who Was Behind The Protest Movement?

NOVANEWS

Syria, The War Started Four Years Ago in March 2011: Who Was Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention”

Global Research
Map of Syria

Four Years Ago, March 17, 2011:

Was it a Protest movement or an Armed insurrection integrated by US-Israeli supported death squads?

This article first published in May 2011 recounts the events of March 17-18, 2011 in Daraa, a small border town with Jordan.

The Daraa “protest movement” on March 17-18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence.

Government sources pointed to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel).

In chorus, the Western media described the events in Daraa as a protest movement against Bashar Al Assad.

In a bitter irony, the deaths of policemen were higher than those of “demonstrators”.

In Daraa, roof top snipers were targeting both police and demonstrators.

Reading between the lines of Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths) a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18 had emerged. The Israel National News Report (which can not have be accused of being biased in favor of Bashar al Assad) confirmed that:

“Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday. … and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests,Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)

The Lebanese news report also acknowledged the killings of seven policemen in Daraa.

[They were killed] “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a”

The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a” (emphasis added)

These news reports of the events in Daraa confirmed that from the very outset this was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media. There was evidence of acts of arson directed government buildings as well sniper firing from rooftops, shooting at police and demonstrators, similar to what occurred in late February 2014 in Maidan square. Moreover, from an assessment of the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed.

This is significant because it suggests that the police force may have initially been outnumbered by a well organized armed gang of professional killers.

What was clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson.

The title of the Israeli news report summarized what happened: Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protest

The US-NATO-Israel agenda consisted in supporting an Al Qaeda affiliated insurgency integrated by death squads. President Bashar al Assad was then to be blamed for killing his own people.

Does it Sound familiar?

The same “false flag” strategy of killing innocent civilians was used during the Ukraine Maidan protest movement. 

A year ago, on February 20th, 2014, professional snipers were shooting at both demonstrators and policemen with a view to accusing president Viktor Yanukovych of “mass murder.”

It was subsequently revealed that these snipers were controlled by the opponents of president Yanukovych, who are now part of the coalition government. 

The “humanitarian mandate” of the US and its allies is sustained by diabolical “false flag” attacks which consist in killing civilians with a view to breaking the legitimacy of governments which refuse to abide by the diktats of Washington and its allies.

Michel Chossudovsky, March 15, 2015

SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, May 3, 2011

There is evidence of gross media manipulation and falsification from the outset of the protest movement in southern Syria on March 17th [2011].

The Western media has presented the events in Syria as part of the broader Arab pro-democracy protest movement, spreading spontaneously from Tunisia, to Egypt, and from Libya to Syria.

Media coverage has focussed on the Syrian police and armed forces, which are accused of indiscriminately shooting and killing unarmed “pro-democracy” demonstrators. While these police shootings did indeed occur, what the media failed to mention is that among the demonstrators there were armed gunmen as well as snipers who were shooting at both the security forces and the protesters.

The death figures presented in the reports are often unsubstantiated. Many of the reports are “according to witnesses”. The images and video footages aired on Al Jazeera and CNN do not always correspond to the events which are being covered by the news reports.

Alawite Map

There is certainly cause for social unrest and mass protest in Syria: unemployment has increased in recent year, social conditions have deteriorated, particularly since the adoption in 2006 of sweeping economic reforms under IMF guidance. The IMF’s “economic medicine” includes austerity measures, a freeze on wages, the deregulation of the financial system, trade reform and privatization. (See IMF  Syrian Arab Republic — IMF Article IV Consultation Mission’s Concluding Statement,http://www.imf.org/external/np/ms/2006/051406.htm, 2006)

With a government dominated by the minority Alawite (an offshoot of Shia Islam), Syria is no “model society” with regard to civil rights and freedom of expression. It nonetheless constitutes the only (remaining) independent secular state in the Arab world. Its populist, anti-Imperialist and secular base is inherited from the dominant Baath party, which integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze.

Moreover, in contrast to Egypt and Tunisia, in Syria there is considerable popular support for President Bashar Al Assad. The large rally in Damascus on March 29, “with tens of thousands of supporters” (Reuters) of President Al Assad is barely mentioned. Yet in an unusual twist, the images and video footage of several pro-government events were used by the Western media to convince international public opinion that the President was being confronted by mass anti-government rallies.

Tens of thousands of Syrians gather for a pro-government rally at the central
bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)

Syrians display a giant national flag with a picture of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad during a
pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)

The “Epicenter” of the Protest Movement. Daraa: A Small Border Town in southern Syria

What is the nature of the protest movement? From what sectors of Syrian society does it emanate? What triggered the violence?

What is the cause of the deaths?

The existence of an organized insurrection composed of armed gangs involved in acts of killing and arson has been dismissed by the Western media, despite evidence to the contrary.

The demonstrations  did not start in Damascus, the nation’s capital. At the outset, the protests were not integrated by a mass movement of citizens in Syria’s capital.

The demonstrations started in Daraa, a small border town of 75,000 inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border, rather than in Damascus or Aleppo, where the mainstay of organized political opposition and social movements are located. (Daraa is a small border town comparable e.g. to Plattsburgh, NY on the US-Canadian border).

The Associated Press report (quoting unnamed “witnesses” and “activists”) describes the early protests in Daraa as follows:

The violence in Daraa, a city of about 300,000 near the border with Jordan, was fast becoming a major challenge for President Bashar Assad, …. Syrian police launched a relentless assault Wednesday on a neighborhood sheltering anti-government protesters [Daraa], fatally shooting at least 15 in an operation that began before dawn, witnesses said.

At least six were killed in the early morning attack on the al-Omari mosque in the southern agricultural city of Daraa, where protesters have taken to the streets in calls for reforms and political freedoms, witnesses saidAn activist in contact with people in Daraa said police shot another three people protesting in its Roman-era city center after dusk. Six more bodies were found later in the day, the activist said.

As the casualties mounted, people from the nearby villages of Inkhil, Jasim, Khirbet Ghazaleh and al-Harrah tried to march on Daraa Wednesday night but security forces opened fire as they approached, the activist said. It was not immediately clear if there were more deaths or injuries. (AP, March 23, 2011, emphasis added)

The AP report inflates the numbers: Daraa is presented as a city of 300,000 when in fact its population is 75,000;  “protesters gathered by the thousands”, “casualties mounted”.

The report is silent on the death of policemen which in the West invariably makes the front page of the tabloids.

The deaths of the policemen are important in assessing what actually happened. When there are police casualties, this means that there is an exchange of gunfire between opposing sides, between policemen and “demonstrators”.

Who are these “demonstrators” including roof top snipers who were targeting the police.

Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths) provide a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18. The Israel National News Report (which cannot be accused of being biased in favor of Damascus) reviews these same events as follows:

Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.

…. On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others. According to one witness, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, “They used live ammunition immediately — no tear gas or anything else.”

…. In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in ProtestsIsrael National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)

The Lebanese news report, quoting various sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa: They were killed  “during clashes between the security forces and protesters… They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a” 

The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had “burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a”  (emphasis added)

These news reports of the events in Daraa confirm the following:

1. This was not a “peaceful protest” as claimed by the Western media. Several of the “demonstrators” had fire arms and were using them against the police:  “The police opened fire on armed protesters killing four”.

2. From the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed:  7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators. This is significant because it suggests that the police force might have been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which were shooting at both the police and the protesters.

What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson. The title of the Israeli news report summarizes what happened:  Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests

The Daraa “protest movement” on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel)

Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.

What has unfolded in Daraa in the weeks following the initial violent clashes on 17-18 March, is the confrontation between the police and the armed forces on the one hand and armed units of terrorists and snipers on the other which have infiltrated the protest movement.

Reports suggest that these terrorists are integrated by Islamists. There is no concrete evidence as to which Islamic organizations are behind the terrorists and the government has not released corroborating information as to who these groups are.

Both the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (whose leadership is in exile in the UK) and the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation), among others have paid lip service to the protest movement. Hizb ut Tahir (led in the 1980s by Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad) tends to “dominate the British Islamist scene” according to Foreign Affairs. Hizb ut Tahir is also considered to be of strategic importance to Britain’s Secret Service MI6. in the pursuit of Anglo-American interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. (Is Hizb-ut-Tahrir another project of British MI6? | State of Pakistan).

Supporters and members of Islamist party ''Hizb Ut-Tahrir'' wave their party's flags and chant slogans during a protest in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, to express solidarity with Syria's protesters, April 22, 2011. REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir

Hizb ut-Tahrir anti-Assad rally in Tripoli, Lebanon (40 km from Syrian border), April 22, 2011. Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Syria

Syria is a secular Arab country, a society of religious tolerance, where Muslims and Christians have for several centuries lived in peace. Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is a radical political movement committed to the creation of an Islamic caliphate. In Syria, its avowed objective is to destabilize the secular state.

Since the Soviet-Afghan war, Western intelligence agencies as well as Israel’s Mossad have consistently used various Islamic terrorist organizations as “intelligence assets”. Both Washington and its indefectible British ally have provided covert support to “Islamic terrorists” in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, etc. as a means to triggering ethnic strife, sectarian violence and political instability.

The staged protest movement in Syria is modelled on Libya. The insurrection in Eastern Libya is integrated by the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which is supported by MI6 and the CIA. The ultimate objective of the Syria protest movement, through media lies and fabrications, is to create divisions within Syrian society as well as justify an eventual “humanitarian intervention”.

Armed Insurrection in Syria

An armed insurrection integrated by Islamists and supported covertly by Western intelligence is central to an understanding of what is occurring on the ground.

The existence of an armed insurrection is not mentioned by the Western media. If it were to be acknowledged and analysed, our understanding of unfolding events would be entirely different.

What is mentioned profusely is that the armed forces and the police are involved in the indiscriminate killing of protesters.

The deployment of the armed forces including tanks in Daraa is directed against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.

Casualties are being reported which also include the death of policemen and soldiers.

In a bitter irony, the Western media acknowledges the police/soldier deaths while denying the existence of an armed insurrection.

The key question is how does the media explain these deaths of soldiers and police?

Without evidence, the reports suggest authoritatively that the police is shooting at the soldiers and vice versa the soldiers are shooting on the police. In a April 29 Al Jazeera report, Daraa is described as “a city under siege”.

“Tanks and troops control all roads in and out. Inside the city, shops are shuttered and nobody dare walk the once bustling market streets, today transformed into the kill zone of rooftop snipers.

Unable to crush the people who first dared rise up against him – neither with the secret police,  paid thugs or the special forces of his brother’s military division – President Bashar al-Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Deraa for an operation the regime wants nobody in the world to see.

Though almost all communication channels with Deraa have been cut, including the Jordanian mobile service that reaches into the city from just across the border, Al Jazeera has gathered firsthand accounts of life inside the city from residents who just left or from eyewitnesses inside who were able to get outside the blackout area.

The picture that emerges is of a dark and deadly security arena, one driven by the actions of the secret police and their rooftop snipers, in which soldiers and protestors alike are being killed or wounded, in which cracks are emerging in the military itself, and in which is created the very chaos which the regime uses to justify its escalating crackdown. (Daraa, a City under Siege, IPS / Al Jazeera, April 29, 2011)

The Al Jazeera report borders on the absurd. Read carefully.

“Tanks and troops control all roads in and out”,  “thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Daraa”

This situation has prevailed for several weeks. This means that bona fide protesters who are not already inside Daraa cannot enter Daraa.

People who live in the city are in their homes: “nobody dares walk … the streets”. If nobody dares walk the streets where are the protesters?

Who is in the streets? According to Al Jazeera, the protesters are in the streets together with the soldiers, and both the protesters and the soldiers are being shot at by “plain clothes secret police”, by “paid thugs” and government sponsored snipers.

The impression conveyed in the report is that these casualties are attributed to infighting between the police and the military.

But the report also says that the soldiers (in the “thousands”) control all roads in and out of the city, but they are being shot upon by the plain clothed secret police.

The purpose of this web of media deceit, namely outright fabrications  –where soldiers are being killed by police and  “government snipers”– is to deny the existence of armed terrorist groups. The later are integrated by snipers and “plain clothed terrorists” who are shooting at the police, the Syrian armed forces and local residents.

These are not spontaneous acts of terror; they are carefully planned and coordinated attacks. In recent developments, according to a Xinhua report (April 30, 2011), armed “terrorist groups” “attacked the housing areas for servicemen” in Daraa province, “killing a sergeant and wounding two”.

While the government bears heavy responsibility for its mishandling of the military-police operation, including the deaths of civilians, the reports confirm that the armed terrorist groups had also opened fire on protesters and local residents. The casualties are then blamed on the armed forces and the police and the Bashar Al Assad government is portrayed by “the international community” as having ordered countless atrocities.

The fact of the matter is that foreign journalists are banned from reporting inside Syria, to the extent that much of the information including the number of casualties is obtained from the unverified accounts of “witnesses”.

It is in the interest of the US-NATO alliance to portray the events in Syria as a peaceful protest movement which is being brutally repressed by a “dictatorial regime”.

The Syrian government may be autocratic. It is certainly not a model of democracy but neither is the US administration, which is characterized by rampant corruption, the derogation of civil liberties under the Patriot legislation, the legalisation of torture, not to mention its “bloodless” “humanitarian wars”:

“The U.S. and its NATO allies have, in addition to U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO Active Endeavor military assets permanently deployed in the Mediterranean, warplanes, warships and submarines engaged in the assault against Libya that can be used against Syria at a moment’s notice.

On April 27 Russia and China evidently prevented the U.S. and its NATO allies from pushing through an equivalent of Resolution 1973 against Syria in the Security Council, with Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin stating that the current situation in Syria “does not present a threat to international peace and security.” Syria is Russia’s last true partner in the Mediterranean and the Arab world and hosts one of only two Russian overseas naval bases, that at Tartus. (The other being in Ukraine’s Crimea.)” (Rick Rozoff,   Libyan Scenario For Syria: Towards A US-NATO “Humanitarian Intervention” directed against Syria? Global Research, April 30, 2011)

The ultimate purpose is to trigger sectarian violence and political chaos within Syria by covertly supporting Islamic terrorist organizations.

What lies ahead?

The longer term US foreign policy perspective is “regime change” and the destabilization of Syria as an independent nation-state, through a covert process of “democratization” or through military means.

Syria is on the list of “rogue states”, which are targeted for a US military intervention. As confirmed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark the “[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]… a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark).

The objective is to weaken the structures of the secular State while justifying an eventual  UN sponsored “humanitarian intervention”. The latter, in the first instance, could take the form of a reinforced embargo on the country (including sanctions) as well as the freezing of Syrian bank assets in overseas foreign financial institutions.

While a US-NATO military intervention in the immediate future seems highly unlikely, Syria is nonetheless on the Pentagon’s military roadmap, namely an eventual war on Syria has been contemplated both by Washington and Tel Aviv.

If it were to occur, at some future date, it would lead to escalation. Israel would inevitably be involved. The entire Middle East Central Asian region from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese-Afghan border would flare up.

Related Video

VIDEO: Humanitarian Intervention in Syria and Libya
– by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-05-01

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Editor of globalresearch.ca. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.  He spent a month in Syria in early 2011.

Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller

America’s “War on Terrorism”

by Michel
Chossudovsky
also available in pdf format

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Naziyahu’s New Spokesman Accused Obama of anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS

Ran Baratz’s harsh comments come to light days before Naziyahu is slated to meet with Obama for the first time in over a year.

President Barack Obama bows to applause at the end of his remarks on Jewish American History Month at the Adas Israel Congregation synagogue in Washington, May 22, 2015.Reuters

Barak Ravid

President Rivlin demands answers from Netanyahu over new hasbara chief’s comments
The incoming head of Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate has previously accused U.S. President Barack Obama of anti-Semitism. Dr. Ran Baratz posted the remarks on Facebook a few hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress on March 3.

Baratz’s harsh comments come to light days before Netanyahu is slated to meet with Obama at the White House. The two will convene on Monday for the first time in over a year, in the aftermath of the showdown between the White House and the prime minister’s bureau over the nuclear deal with Iran. Netanyahu seeks to reach an agreement with Obama over a defense aid package worth tens of billions of dollars that the U.S. would transfer to Israel over the course of the next decade.

“Allow me to be harsh, contrary to my moderate habits,” Baratz wrote in the March 3 post. “Obama’s reference to Netanyahu’s speech – this is what modern anti-Semitism looks like in Western and liberal countries. And it comes, of course, alongside much tolerance and understanding toward Islamic anti-Semitism. So much tolerance and understanding that they are willing to give [Iran] an atom[ic bomb].”

A slew of controversial comments made by Baratz in recent years have emerged over the past 24 hours, some addressing hot button issues vis-à-vis politics and security. In 2004, Baratz published an opinion piece on the NRG news site calling for the construction of the third temple on the Temple Mount, and to allow Muslims to pray there only if they recognize the mount as a Jewish holy site.

Only last week, Netanyahu had to release a series of statements in Hebrew and English, as part of the understandings reached with Jordan and the U.S., with regard to maintaining the status quo on Temple Mount. The prime minister even reprimanded Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely over a far more moderate remark, in which she said seeing the Israel flag on Temple Mount is her dream.

Ran Baratz – head of Public Diplomacy and Media at the Prime Minister’s Office, founder of Mida website. June 18, 2013. Olivier Fitoussi

Baratz’s appointment as the head of the public diplomacy agency caused tension between the prime minister’s bureau and the President’s Residence on Wednesday, after it emerged that he said President Reuven Rivlin “such a marginal figure that there is no concern” that he would be the target of an assassination. Baratz made the comment in a Facebook post less than two weeks ago, while in talks over the appointment.

Rivlin’s bureau sent a request to the Netanyahu’s bureau asking for explanations regarding remarks. Netanyahu’s aides released a statement early on Thursday, saying that the prime minister “wasn’t aware of the remarks Ran Baratz wrote against Rivlin, and views them as inappropriate.” It further said that Baratz has assured Netanyahu that he understands that his public position requires him to act in an official manner and with restraint, a requirement that didn’t apply to him as a private citizen.

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US in Syria: Stopping the “Arsonist-Firefighter”, “Openly Arming, Funding and Training Terrorists”

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Obama talks about bombing Syria (this time to fight the insurgents that the US created)

Imagine an arsonist lighting a building ablaze, then turning around, changing into a firefighter’s uniform, and running back toward it, not with a fire hose but instead, rolling a drum of gasoline in front of him. Would anyone believe that his intentions are to extinguish the blaze? Or would it be obvious that the goal is to compound the fire, so that no matter how much effort is organized against it, it can never be put out – not until everything is destroyed first?

Meet the Arsonists 

The United States has been illegally plying the airspace above Syria for over a year. It has been openly arming, funding, and training terrorists along Syria’s borders in Turkey and Jordan, admittedly, for much longer. And before the conflict began in 2011, the United States had conspired as early as 2007, revealed in interviews conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 9-page report “The Redirection,” to destabilize and overthrow the government of Syria through the use of sectarian extremists – more specifically, Al Qaeda – with arms and funds laundered through America’s oldest and stanchest regional ally, Saudi Arabia.

The rise of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL) itself, turns out also to be part of this premeditated “deconstruction” of Syria. A Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) report drafted in 2012 (.pdf) admitted:

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

To clarify just who these “supporting powers” were that sought the creation of a “Salafist principality,” the DIA report explains:

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

It is clear who the arsonists are.

Rolling in Drums of Gasoline to “Fight the Fire” 

Nothing about the US’ recent moves have been honest. US policymakers have openly conspired to commit to strategies not aimed at actually fighting ISIS or ending the destructive conflict in Syria they themselves have started, but instead to counter Russia’s attempts to do so, merely under the guise of fighting ISIS, or helping refugees, or virtually any excuse they believe the public might support.

The truth has begun to emerge even in the West’s own newspapers. The Washington Post in an article titled, Obama has strategy for Syria, but it faces major obstacles.” states explicitly that:

[The US] will increase air operations in northern Syria, particularly in the Turkish border area to cut the flow of foreign fighters, money and materiel coming in to support the Islamic State.

Here, the Washington Post openly admits that support for the Islamic State is flowing out of NATO-member Turkey. It is clear that to stop this “flow,” efforts should be concentrated on the Turkish-Syrian border before supplies and reinforcements reach Syria. It is clear that ISIS is intentionally being allowed to resupply and reinforce its fighting capacity within Syria from NATO territory, specifically to serve as a pretext for wider and more direct Western intervention in Syria itself as was noted in June of 2014 when ISIS first appeared in Iraq.

ISIS represents the drums of gasoline, rolled in by the US intentionally not to extinguish the flames, but to compound them into an inferno greater still.

The Arsonists Seek an Inferno Greater Still 

The same Washington Post article would reveal the true intentions of the US and its “boots on the ground” in Syria. While they claim they seek to “fight ISIS,” the truth is far more sinister. Under the pretext of fighting ISIS, these US forces, backing militants armed, trained, and funded by the US and its regional allies, will take and hold territory, effectively fulfilling US policy papers that have long-expressed the desire to “deconstruct” Syria as a secondary means of destroying it as a functioning nation-state if direct regime change was unachievable.

The Washington Post states specifically:

Defeating the Islamic State in Syria, under Obama’s strategy, rests on enabling local Syrian forces not only to beat back Islamic State fighters but to hold freed territory until a new central government, established in Damascus, can take over.

Since there is already an established central government in Damascus, it is safe to assume these regions carved out by US-backed militants will never be relinquished until Damascus falls. If successful, it will mean the Balkanization of Syria, and its cessation as a unified nation.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/11/06/us-in-syria-stopping-the-arsonist-firefighter/

Comparing this recent admission by the Washington Post, predicated on “fighting ISIS,” with plans laid out before the rise of ISIS, reveals that ISIS itself is only one of many in a long line of pretexts used to implement US objectives that were laid out, clearly, before the first shot was even fired during the Syrian crisis.

In the March 2012 Brookings Institution”Middle East Memo #21″Assessing Options for Regime Change it is stated specifically that (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

The plan to use US special forces to take and hold Syrian territory was also specifically laid out  in a June 2015 Brookings document literally titled, Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war.” In it, it stated that (emphasis added):

The idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would act in support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the presence of special forces as well. The approach would benefit from Syria’s open desert terrain which could allow creation of buffer zones that could be monitored for possible signs of enemy attack through a combination of technologies, patrols, and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal of the outside special forces, he would be likely to lose his air power in ensuing retaliatory strikes by outside forces, depriving his military of one of its few advantages over ISIL. Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

 It is clear that America’s most recent scheme is simply a continuation of its long-standing criminal conspiracy arrayed against Syria and exposed as early as 2007 by Seymour Hersh.

To Stop Arsonists, Call Them Arsonists 

2423432

The United States clearly can stop ISIS, and without setting a single boot down on Syrian soil, or flying a single sortie in Syria’s skies.

For Russia, it only has the authorization of Syria’s legitimate government to operate within Syrian territory to confront ISIS. Ideally, Russia would want to interdict ISIS supplies and reinforcements before they reached Syrian territory, however, Moscow does not have the cooperation of nations harboring, aiding, and abetting the terrorist organization – namely Turkey and Jordan.

Additionally, Russia has limited leverage over other sponsors of ISIS, including Saudi Arabia whose entire existence is owed to billions in weapons sales from the United States, a ring of US military bases built around it throughout the Persian Gulf to protect it from its ever-increasing number of well-earned regional enemies, and the constant political legitimacy granted to it by the West’s diplomatic and media circles.

The United States however, is based in Turkey. It is based at Incirlik Air Base, and has for several years now, operated along the Turkish-Syrian border – its Central Intelligence Agency providing weapons to terrorists, its special forces carrying out cross-border operations, and its military’s administration of training camps to prepare terrorists before they enter Syrian territory, thus perpetuating the conflict. The United States also holds significant leverage over Saudi Arabia, its political and military support being essential for the regime in Riyadh’s continued existence.

At any moment, should the US truly be interested in extinguishing this fire, it can shut down the Turkish-Syrian border, end Saudi aid to terrorist groups operating in Syria, and end the conflict in weeks, if not days. That it refuses to do so, illustrates the key role it plays in creating and perpetuating it, and more specifically, the creation and perpetuation of the “Islamic State” itself.

Syria and its allies must recognize this fact and formulate a realistic strategy to counter it. Negotiating with state-sponsors of the most appalling terrorist organization to have walked the Earth in recent memory does not seem like a viable option. Instead, Syria and Russia should seek the expansion of their coalition inside Syria, and in particular, in the regions the US seeks to carve out. An initial and overwhelming sized commitment of “peacekeeping troops” from various nations placed along the Turkish-Syrian border would effectively block all efforts by the US to perpetuate this conflict further.

If that is not possible, Syria and Russia must attempt to expand their operations across all of Syria faster than the US can spread chaos.

For now, the US has a handful of special forces serving as tenuous “human shields” for terrorists targeted by Russian and Syrian military operations. These are still vulnerable, and still capable of being turned back. The US, however, will undoubtedly continue to expand its presence in Syria, to a point where it may not be possible to turn them back.

Calling the arsonists out, and removing them before the fire irreversibly takes over the entire structure that is the current nation-state of Syria, may be the only way to prevent Syria from becoming the Levant’s “Libya.” It will also stop a dangerous geopolitical “blitzkrieg” clearly aimed at Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing next.

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‘The Drone Papers’ Revelations Are a Cry for Ending the Slaughter

NOVANEWS
Global Research
drone papers

A new whistleblower has joined the ranks of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou and other courageous individuals. The unnamed person, who chose to remain anonymous because of the Obama administration’s vigorous prosecution of whistleblowers, is a member of the intelligence community.

In the belief that the American public has the right to know about the “fundamentally” and “morally” flawed U.S. drone program, this source provided The Intercept with a treasure trove of secret military documents and slides that shine a critical light on the country’s killer drone program. These files confirm that the Obama administration’s policy and practice of assassination using armed drones and other methods violate the law.

The documents reveal the “kill chain” that decides who will be targeted. As the source said, “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences, without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong.”

These secret documents demonstrate that the administration kills innumerable civilians due to its reliance on “signals intelligence” in undeclared war zones, following cellphones or computers that may or may not be carried by suspected terrorists. The documents show that more than half the intelligence used to locate potential targets in Somalia and Yemen was based on this method.

“It isn’t a surefire method,” the source observed. “You’re relying on the fact that you do have all these powerful machines, capable of collecting extraordinary amounts of data and intelligence,” which can cause those involved to think they possess “godlike powers.”

It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people,” the source noted, characterizing a missile fired at a target in a group of people as a “leap of faith.

The Obama administration has never provided accurate civilian casualty counts. In fact, CIA director and former counterterrorism adviser John Brennan falsely claimed in 2011 that no civilians had been killed in drone strikes in nearly a year. In actuality, many people who are not the intended targets of the strikes are killed. “The Drone Papers” tell us the administration labels unidentified persons who are killed in a drone attack “enemies killed in action,” unless there is evidence posthumously proving them innocent. That “is insane,” the source said. “But [the intelligence community has] made ourselves comfortable with that.” The source added, “They made the numbers themselves so they can get away with writing off most of the kills as legitimate.”

The administration’s practice of minimizing the civilian casualties is “exaggerating at best, if not outright lies,” according to the source.

Since the U.S. is involved in armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, international humanitarian law—namely, the Geneva Conventions—must be applied to assess the legality of targeted killing. The Geneva Conventions provide that only combatants may be targeted.

From January 2012 to February 2013, a campaign dubbed Operation Haymaker was carried out in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. According to “The Drone Papers,” during a five-month period almost 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. This campaign paralleled an increase in drone attacks and civilian casualties throughout Afghanistan. What’s more, the campaign did not significantly degrade al-Qaida’s operations there.

The U.S. is violating the right to life enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Because the U.S. ratified this treaty, it constitutes binding domestic law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which states, “Treaties shall be the supreme law of the land.”

Under international humanitarian law, an “armed conflict” requires the existence of organized armed groups engaged in fighting of certain intensity. The groups must have a command structure, be governed by rules, provide military training and have organized acquisition of weapons, as well as communications infrastructure. Legal scholars, including University of Cambridge professor Christine Gray, have concluded that “the ‘war against Al-Qaeda’ does not meet the threshold of intensity of a non-international armed conflict, and Al-Qaeda does not meet the threshold of an organized armed group.”

The U.S. is not involved in “armed conflict” in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Thus, the law enforcement model must be applied to assess the legality of actions in those countries. This model limits the use of lethal force to situations where there is an imminent threat to life and nonlethal measures would be inadequate.

In 2013, as President Obama gave a speech at the National Defense University, the administration released a fact sheet that said the target must pose a “continuing, imminent threat to US persons” before lethal force may be used. But Obama has waived the imminence requirement in Pakistan.

Although a spokesperson for the National Security Council told The Intercept that “those guidelines remain in effect today,” “The Drone Papers” state that the target need only present “a threat to US interest or personnel.” This is a far cry from an imminence requirement. And once the president signs off on a target, U.S. forces have 60 days to execute the strike. A 60-day period flies in the face of the imminence mandate for the use of lethal force off the battlefield.

Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, affirms that a targeted killing is lawful only if required to protect life and no other means—such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation—is available to protect life.

Besides being illegal, Obama’s preference for killing instead of apprehension prevents the administration from gathering crucial intelligence. Obama stated in 2013, “America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists; our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute.” But Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Intercept, “We don’t capture people anymore.” Slides provided by “The Drone Papers” source cite a 2013 study by the Pentagon’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force that said “kill operations significantly reduce the intelligence available from detainees and captured material.” The task force recommended capture and interrogation rather than killing in drone strikes.

The American public is largely unaware of the high number of civilian casualties from drone strikes. A study conducted by American University professor Jeff Bachman concluded that both The New York Times and The Washington Post “substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law.”

Gregory McNeal, an expert on national security and drones at Pepperdine School of Law, wrote that in Afghanistan and Iraq, “when collateral damage [civilian casualties] did occur, 70 percent of the time it was attributable to failed—that is, mistaken—identification.”

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” “The Drone Papers” source notes. If “a drone attack kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. … So it’s a phenomenal gamble.”

Drones are Obama’s weapon of choice because they don’t result in U.S. casualties. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do—low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” according to former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Part of the damage, as Flynn pointed out, is that drones make the fallen into martyrs. They create “a new reason to fight us even harder,” he said.

The United Nations charter’s mandate for peaceful resolution of disputes and prohibition of military force except in self-defense is not a pipe dream. A study by the Rand Corp.concluded that between 1968 and 2006, 43 percent of incidents involving terrorist groups ended by a “peaceful political resolution with their government,” 40 percent “were penetrated and eliminated by local police and intelligence agencies,” and only 7 percent were ended by the use of military force.

Nevertheless, The Wall Street Journal reported that the military plans to increase drone flights by 50 percent by 2019.

In describing how the special operations community views the prospective targets for assassination by drone, “The Drone Papers” source said, “They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They’re just a ‘selector’ to an analyst. You eventually get to a point in the target’s life cycle that you are following them, you don’t even refer to them by their actual name.” This results in “dehumanizing the people before you’ve even encountered the moral question of ‘is this a legitimate kill or not?’ ”

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed three lawsuits seeking information about the government’s use of lethal drones. Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is calling for increased transparency and congressional oversight of the drone program. “The report makes it clear,” he noted, that “the U.S. drone program operates on highly questionable legal ground and offends our principles of justice.”

Drone pilots operate thousands of miles from their targets. But many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Some are refusing to fly the drones. In September, the Air Force Times ran a historic ad—paid for by 54 U.S. veterans and vets’ organizations—urging Air Force drone operators and other military personnel to refuse orders to fly drone surveillance and attack missions.

“The Drone Papers” source implores us to take action to stop this travesty. “We’re allowing this to happen,” the source said. “And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

The newly released documents are a clarion call to us all to demand that our government stop the killing. It is illegal, it is immoral, and it makes us more vulnerable to terrorism.

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The 2013 East Ghouta Chemical Weapons Attack

NOVANEWS

Turkey’s Alleged Role in Supplying Toxic Sarin Gas to Syrian Terrorists

CHP deputies: Government rejects probe into Turkey’s role in Syrian chemical attack

Global Research

Two deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have claimed that the government is against investigating Turkey’s role in sending toxic sarin gas which was used in an attack on civilians in Syria in 2013 and in which over 1,300 Syrians were killed.

CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali Şeker held a press conference in İstanbul on Wednesday in which they claimed the investigation into allegations regarding Turkey’s involvement in the procurement of sarin gas which was used in the chemical attack on a civil population and delivered to the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to enable the attack was derailed.

Taking the floor first, Erdem stated that the Adana Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into allegations that sarin was sent to Syria from Turkey via several businessmen. An indictment followed regarding the accusations targeting the government.

“The MKE [Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation] is also an actor that is mentioned in the investigation file. Here is the indictment. All the details about how sarin was procured in Turkey and delivered to the terrorists, along with audio recordings, are inside the file,” Erdem said while waving the file.

Erdem also noted that the prosecutor’s office conducted detailed technical surveillance and found that an al-Qaeda militant, Hayyam Kasap, acquired sarin, adding: “Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism,” Erdem noted.

Over 1,300 people were killed in the sarin gas attack in Ghouta and several other neighborhoods near the Syrian capital of Damascus, with the West quickly blaming the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Russia claiming it was a “false flag” operation aimed at making US military intervention in Syria possible.

Suburbs near Damascus were struck by rockets containing the toxic sarin gas in August 2013.

The purpose of the attack was allegedly to provoke a US military operation in Syria which would topple the Assad regime in line with the political agenda of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government.

CHP deputy Şeker spoke after Erdem, pointing out that the government misled the public on the issue by asserting that sarin was provided by Russia. The purpose was to create the perception that, according to Şeker, “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a US military intervention in Syria.”

He also underlined that all of the files and evidence from the investigation show a war crime was committed within the borders of the Turkish Republic.

“The investigation clearly indicates that those people who smuggled the chemicals required to procure sarin faced no difficulties, proving that Turkish intelligence was aware of their activities. While these people had to be in prison for their illegal acts, not a single person is in jail. Former prime ministers and the interior minister should be held accountable for their negligence in the incident,” Şeker further commented.

Erdem also added that he will launch a criminal complaint against those responsible, including those who issued a verdict of non-prosecution in the case, those who did not prevent the transfer of chemicals and those who first ordered the arrest of the suspects who were later released.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced in late August that an inquiry had been launched into the gas attacks allegedly perpetuated by both Assad’s Syrian regime and rebel groups fighting in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011.

However, Erdem is not the only figure who has accused Turkey of possible involvement in the gas attack. Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist, Seymour M. Hersh, argued in an article published in 2014 that MİT was involved with extremist Syrian groups fighting against the Assad regime.

In his article, Hersh said Assad was not behind the attack, as claimed by the US and Europe, but that Turkish-Syrian opposition collaboration was trying to provoke a US intervention in Syria in order to bring down the Assad regime.

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No Moderate Syrian Rebels Exist

Libyan_Terrorists_In_Syria

All anti-Assad forces are US-trained, armed, funded, and directed terrorists, taught the fine art of killing, committing atrocities and using chemical weapons – including ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and various splinter groups.

The so-called Free Syrian Army and other alleged “moderates” exist only in US and go-along media propaganda reports, willful misinformation to deceive an uninformed public.

Wars depend on lies to gain popular support, or at least no significant opposition. ISIS et al represent proxy US foot soldiers, imported abroad from scores of countries.

Putin is effectively contesting Obama’s dirty game. Washington has no effective counter-strategy, increasingly transparent propaganda and dubious military moves alone, along with continued Russia bashing and fear-mongering.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, two State Department officials repeated tired old Big Lies.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson and her European and Eurasian Affairs counterpart Victoria Nuland committed perjury – claiming Russian air strikes hit 85 to 90% “moderate” rebels and civilians in areas with no ISIS presence.

“Russia’s military intervention has dangerously exacerbated an already complex environment,” Patterson blustered.

“(T)his has not been a Russian fight against terrorism so much as an effort to preserve the Assad regime,” she duplicitously claimed.

Nuland remains infamous for orchestrating the coup against Ukraine’s sitting government.  Her testimony was a litany of Big Lies, saying Assad “continues to barrel bomb its own citizens with impunity, perhaps even emboldened by Moscow’s help.”

“The vast majority of Russian air strikes are targeted in areas where the Assad regime has lost territory to forces led by the moderate opposition.”

“We are accelerating the work we are doing to support the moderate Syrian opposition and to protect Syria’s neighbors” – code language of US supporting ISIS and other takfiri terrorists.

“(W)e are awaiting further evidence that Russia is sincere in its claims to want to fight ISIL and save Syria for the Syrian people, rather than simply protecting the dictator who bears direct responsibility for the country’s destruction…The quality of our cooperation with Russia in Syria depends on the choices Moscow makes.”

It’s hard imagining anyone believes Nuland’s utter disregard for the truth.

“What would positive cooperation by Russia look like,” she asked? Cease its military campaign, “insist” Assad pull back, work with Washington and its (rogue) partners for resolving things diplomatically.

Who are the so-called “moderate” rebels Washington consistently touts? Where are they? Last month, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia can’t identify them. Washington provides no information.

“From the very beginning of the operation in Syria, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have expressed the readiness to interact with the so-called moderate opposition,” Peskov explained.

“At the same time, it had to be stated that attempts to identify the so-called moderate opposition remained unsuccessful all the way.”

“(N)o moderate forces can be spotted in the patchy mass of terrorist and extremist organizations that pose a threat to Syria’s territorial and political integrity.”

“Regrettably, neither the US nor European partners, nor somebody else has been able to help us with this identification. Other countries are unable to point to some moderate forces capable of taking care of a settlement in Syria. Regrettably, there have been no tangible results.”

State Department spokesman Admiral John Kirby claims some (nonexistent) “moderate” rebels switched sides. Hot war success depends heavily on winning the propaganda one.

Putin’s effective war on terrorism shows America is losing on both fronts. He’s the preeminent leader for world peace and stability.

 

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Blood Media: Many of CNN, FOX News ‘Experts’ Cashing In On Wars They’re Hyping

NOVANEWS
Global Research
western media

Here’s a key story we [21st Century Wire] ran previously, and it’s even more relevant today.

Back in late 2013, an independent investigation revealed that at least 22 defense industry stakeholders were used by the likes of CNN, FOX News and others – as ‘experts’ and ‘correspondents’ in order to help sell another war in Syria (or anywhere else for that matter).

Just remember the following when you see the usual corporate media operatives on TV trying to sell you another next war…

Before the White House’s Syrian War flop, networks like CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV wheeled out at least 22 different men who they claimed were “pundits” and “commentators”, but in actuality were merely bomb and missile salesmen – who held director, board and shareholding positions with military giants like Raytheon, DC Capital Partners and BAE Systems.

Yes, you heard that right.

Watchdog organisation, the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit research group, details this and many more disclosures in its recent and damning report on US media coverage to hype a war in Syria.

Should CNN, MSNBC, FOX lose their broadcasting licenses in the US for this gross breach of ethics, particularly when it’s used to sell something as violent and abhorrent as war? We say YES. Will that happen in the US? Well, no, because the media in the US is far from bias and is tightly linked in ownership and sponsorship to the war industry. Start with General Electric and work your way around the table from there.

Add to this, another long line of “experts” deployed by Rupert Murdoch’s perennially pro-war media shop FOX, and now the Wall Street Journal. Most notably here is John Kerry and John McCain’s belle de jour,pro-war spokesmodel, Elizabeth O’Bagy, who aside from being a key operative in helping to pad Washington and Israel’s militarised policy regarding Syria by constructing the “moderate rebel” myth, was dumped by Kimberly Kagan and William Kristol’s neoconservative and pro-Israeli think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) after it was discovered O’Bagy had claimed a nonexistent PhD from Georgetown University. In addition to this media darling and ‘Syria expert’ O’Bagy is policy director for a suspected CIA operation front and money-raising machine called the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).

Below is a rather educational map, showing the relationships and the pay lines of the ISW crowd, which, in addition to the disgraced O’Bagy, it features war ‘expert’ and director at Raytheon, Stephen Hadley:


Once again, remember all of this each time they media come with a full court press of “experts” – who are nothing less than military salesman hyping their stock portfolios.

RT reports…

US media failed to cite pundits’ ties to defense industry in Syria strike debate.

Nearly two dozen of the commentators who appeared on major media outlets to discuss a possible US military strike on Syria had relationships with contractors and other organizations with a vested interest in the conflict, according to a new report.

The Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit research group dedicated to “investigating power and corruption at the heights of business and government,” determined that 22 of the pundits who spoke to the media during the public debate over whether the US should bomb Syria appeared to have conflicts of interest. Seven think tanks with murky affiliations were also involved in the debate.

Some analysts held board positions or held stock in companies that produce weapons for the US military, while others conducted work for private firms with the relationships not disclosed to the public.

Perhaps the most notable example is that of [Raytheon director] Stephen Hadley(pictured right), a former national security advisor to President George Bush who argued in favor of striking Syria in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. He also wrote an editorial in The Washington Post with the headline, “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”

Nowhere in those appearances was it disclosed, according to the report, that Hadley is a director with Raytheon, a weapons manufacturer that produces the Tomahawk cruise missiles the US almost certainly would have used had it intervened in Syria. Hadley earns an annual salary of $128,5000 from Raytheon and owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock. His holdings were worth $891,189 as of August 23.

We found lots of industry ties. Some of them are stronger than others. Some really rise to the level of clear conflicts of interest,” Kevin Connor, co-author of the report, told The Washington Post. “These networks and these commentators should err on the side of disclosure.”

The report found that, out of 37 appearances of the pundits named, CNN attempted to disclose that individual’s ties a mere seven times. In 23 appearances on Fox News there was not a single attempt to disclose industry ties. And in 16 appearances on NBC or its umbrella networks, attempts at disclosure were made five times.

Retired General Anthony Zinni, former Commander-in-Chief of US Central Command, made multiple appearances on CNN and CBS. He is an outside director at BAE Systems, which is among the largest military service companies in the world and one that received $6.1 billion in federal contracts in 2012, serves on the Advisory Board of DC Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in defense contractors, and a Distinguished Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Zinni advocated a strike not just on Syria, but told CNN’s Candy Crowley that American hesitation in the Middle East has pushed US adversaries to act.

Knowing the Iranians, they see everything as a potential opportunity to exploit,” he said. “And I’m sure they are calculating much how they could take advantage of this and maybe push the edge of the envelope.”

The retired general, speaking to the Post via email, said his membership is publicly available online.

The media who contact me for comment should post any relevant info re my background including my board positions if they desire,” he wrote.

This report comes after Syria researcher Elizabeth O’Bagy was fired from the Institute for the Study of War think-tank for lying about her credentials. Multiple US lawmakers, most notably Secretary of State John Kerry [and Senator John McCain], cited an opinion piece O’Bagy wrote in the Wall Street Journal when calling for a military intervention. It was soon revealed that O’Bagy did not disclose her ties to a lobby group advocating for Syrian opposition forces when penning the column for the Journal.

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The Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

NOVANEWS
Global Research
tpp1

Source: The full text was published on the website of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)

The text of the Agreement was released by TPP Parties on 5 November 2015 and can be accessed by chapter below.

The text will continue to undergo legal review and will be translated into French and Spanish language versions prior to signature.

Zip file of all 30 Chapters (excluding Annexes) [ZIP, 3.15MB]

The original source of this article is New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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America’s Chalabi Legacy of Lies

NOVANEWS

Exclusive: The passing of Iraqi fabricator Ahmed Chalabi, one of the “heroes in error” who duped the American people into the Iraq invasion, is a good time to remember how the corrupted intelligence/media process worked back then – and how it continues to operate today, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Government officials who pushed the Iraq War in 2002-2003 are fond of claiming that they were simply deceived by “bad intelligence,” but the process was not that simple. In reality, there was a mutually reinforcing scheme to flood the U.S. intelligence community with false data and then to pressure the analysts not to show professional skepticism.

In other words, in the capital of the most powerful nation on earth, a system had evolved that was immune to the normal rules of evidence and respect for reality. Propaganda had become the name of the game, a dangerous process that remains in force to this day.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

Regarding the Iraq War case, one of the principal culprits fueling this disinformation machine was Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, who died on Nov. 3 at the age of 71 from a heart attack. Chalabi, head of the U.S./neocon-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC), not only pumped intentionally false data into this process but later congratulated his organization as “heroes in error” for rationalizing the invasion of Iraq.

The INC’s principal tactic was to deluge the U.S. intelligence community – and the mainstream media – with “defectors” who provided lurid accounts of the Iraqi government hiding WMD caches and concealing its ties to Al Qaeda terrorists. Because of the welcoming climate for these lies – which were trumpeted by neoconservatives and other influential Washington operatives – there was little or no pushback.

Only after the U.S. invasion and the failure to discover the alleged WMD stockpiles did the U.S. intelligence community reconstruct how the INC’s deceptions had worked. As the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee belatedly discovered, some “defectors” had been coached by the INC, which was fabricating a casus belli against Iraq.

In 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a little-noticed study on the role of phony “defectors.” The report revealed not only specific cases of coached Iraqi “defectors” lying to intelligence analysts but a stunning failure of the U.S. political/media system to challenge the lies. The intimidated U.S. intelligence process often worked like a reverse filter, letting the dross of disinformation pass through.

The Iraqi “defectors” and their stories also played into a sophisticated propaganda campaign by neocon pundits and pro-war officials who acted as intellectual shock troops to bully the few U.S. voices of skepticism. With President George W. Bush eager for war with Iraq – and Democrats in Congress fearful of being labeled “soft on terror” – the enforced “group think” led the United States to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003.

According to the Senate report, the official U.S. relationship with these Iraqi exiles dated back to 1991 after President George H.W. Bush had routed Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait and wanted to help Hussein’s domestic opponents.

Start of a Complicated Friendship

In May 1991, the CIA approached Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who had not lived in Iraq since 1956. Chalabi was far from a perfect opposition candidate, however. Beyond his long isolation from his homeland, Chalabi was a fugitive from bank fraud charges in Jordan. Still, in June 1992, the Iraqi exiles held an organizational meeting in Vienna, Austria, out of which came the Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi emerged as the group’s chairman and most visible spokesman.

But Chalabi soon began rubbing CIA officers the wrong way. They complained about the quality of his information, the excessive size of his security detail, his lobbying of Congress, and his resistance to working as a team player. For his part, the smooth-talking Chalabi bristled at the idea that he was a U.S. intelligence asset, preferring to see himself as an independent political leader. Nevertheless, he and his organization were not averse to accepting American money.

With U.S. financial backing, the INC waged a propaganda campaign against Hussein and arranged for “a steady stream of low-ranking walk-ins” to provide intelligence about the Iraqi military, the Senate Intelligence Committee report said.

The INC’s mix of duties – propaganda and intelligence – would create concerns within the CIA as would the issue of Chalabi’s “coziness” with the Shiite government of Iran. The CIA concluded that Chalabi was double-dealing both sides when he falsely informed Iran that the United States wanted Iran’s help in conducting anti-Hussein operations.

“Chalabi passed a fabricated message from the White House to” an Iranian intelligence officer in northern Iraq, the CIA reported. According to one CIA representative, Chalabi used National Security Council stationery for the fabricated letter, a charge that Chalabi denied.

In December 1996, Clinton administration officials decided to terminate the CIA’s relationship with the INC and Chalabi. “There was a breakdown in trust and we never wanted to have anything to do with him anymore,” CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

However, in 1998, with the congressional passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, the INC was again one of the exile organizations that qualified for U.S. funding. Starting in March 2000, the State Department agreed to grant an INC foundation almost $33 million for several programs, including more propaganda operations and collection of information about alleged war crimes committed by Hussein’s regime.

By March 2001, with George W. Bush in office and already focusing on Iraq, the INC was given greater leeway to pursue its projects, including an Information Collection Program. The INC’s blurred responsibilities on intelligence gathering and propaganda dissemination raised fresh concerns within the State Department. But Bush’s National Security Council intervened against State’s attempts to cut off funding.

The NSC shifted the INC operation to the control of the Defense Department, where neoconservatives wielded more influence. To little avail, CIA officials warned their counterparts at the Defense Intelligence Agency about suspicions that “the INC was penetrated by Iranian and possibly other intelligence services, and that the INC had its own agenda,” the Senate report said.

“You’ve got a real bucket full of worms with the INC and we hope you’re taking the appropriate steps,” the CIA told the DIA.

Media Hype

But the CIA’s warnings did little to stanch the flow of INC propaganda into America’s politics and media. Besides flooding the U.S. intelligence community with waves of propaganda, the INC funneled a steady stream of “defectors” to U.S. news outlets eager for anti-Hussein scoops.

The “defectors” also made the rounds of Congress where members saw a political advantage in citing the INC’s propaganda as a way to talk tough about the Middle East. In turn, conservative and neoconservative think tanks honed their reputations in Washington by staying at the cutting edge of the negative news about Hussein, with “human rights” groups ready to pile on, too, against the Iraqi dictator.

The INC’s information program served the institutional needs and biases of Official Washington. Saddam Hussein was a despised figure anyway, with no influential constituency that would challenge even the most outlandish accusations against him.

When Iraqi government officials were allowed onto American news programs, it was an opportunity for the interviewers to show their tough side, pounding the Iraqis with hostile questions and smirking at the Iraqi denials about WMDs and ties to Al Qaeda.

The rare journalist who tried to be evenhanded would have his or her professionalism questioned. An intelligence analyst who challenged the consensus view that Iraq possessed WMDs could expect to suffer career repercussions. So, it was a win-win for “investigative journalists,” macho pundits, members of Congress – and George W. Bush. A war fever was sweeping the United States and the INC was doing all it could to spread the infection.

Again and again, the INC’s “defectors” supplied primary or secondary intelligence on two key points, Iraq’s supposed rebuilding of its unconventional weapons and its alleged training of non-Iraqi terrorists. Sometimes, these “defectors” would even enter the cloistered world of U.S. intelligence with entrées provided by former U.S. government officials.

For instance, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey referred at least a couple of these Iraqi sources to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Woolsey, who was affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and other neocon think tanks, had been one of the Reagan administration’s favorite Democrats in the 1980s because he supported a hawkish foreign policy. After Bill Clinton won the White House, Woolsey parlayed his close ties to the neocons into an appointment as CIA director.

In early 1993, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Samuel “Sandy” Berger explained to one well-placed Democratic official that Woolsey was given the CIA job because the Clinton team felt it owed a favor to the neoconservative New Republic, which had lent Clinton some cachet with the insider crowd of Washington.

Amid that more relaxed post-Cold War mood, the Clinton team viewed the CIA directorship as a kind of a patronage plum that could be handed out as a favor to campaign supporters. But new international challenges soon emerged and Woolsey proved to be an ineffective leader of the intelligence community. After two years, he was replaced.

As the 1990s wore on, the spurned Woolsey grew closer to Washington’s fast-growing neocon movement, which was openly hostile to President Clinton for his perceived softness in asserting U.S. military power, especially against Arab regimes in the Middle East.

On Jan. 26, 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century sent a letter to Clinton urging the ouster of Saddam Hussein by force if necessary. Woolsey was one of the 18 signers. By early 2001, he also had grown close to the INC, having been hired as co-counsel to represent eight Iraqis, including INC members, who had been detained on immigration charges.

In other words, Woolsey was well-positioned to serve as a conduit for INC “defectors” trying to get their stories to U.S. officials and to the American public.

The ‘Sources’

DIA officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Woolsey introduced them to the first in a long line of INC “defectors” who then told the DIA about Hussein’s WMD and his supposed relationship with Islamic terrorists. For his part, Woolsey said he didn’t recall making that referral.

The debriefings of “Source One” – as he was called in the Senate Intelligence Committee report – generated more than 250 intelligence reports. Two of the reports described alleged terrorist training sites in Iraq, where Afghan, Pakistani and Palestinian nationals were allegedly taught military skills at the Salman Pak base, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

“Many Iraqis believe that Saddam Hussein had made an agreement with Usama bin Ladin in order to support his terrorist movement against the U.S.,” Source One claimed, according to the Senate report.

After the 9/11 attacks, information from Source One and other INC-connected “defectors” began surfacing in U.S. press accounts, not only in the right-wing news media, but many mainstream publications and news shows.

In an Oct. 12, 2001, column entitled “What About Iraq?” Washington Post chief foreign correspondent Jim Hoagland cited “accumulating evidence of Iraq’s role in sponsoring the development on its soil of weapons and techniques for international terrorism,” including training at Salman Pak. Hoagland’s sources included Iraqi army “defector” Sabah Khalifa Khodada and another unnamed Iraqi ex-intelligence officer in Turkey. Hoagland also criticized the CIA for not taking seriously a possible Iraqi link to 9/11.

Hoagland’s column was followed by a Page One article in The New York Times, which was headlined “Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism.” It relied on Khodada, the second source in Turkey (who was later identified as Abu Zeinab al-Qurairy, a former senior officer in Iraq’s intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat), and a lower-ranking member of Mukhabarat.

This story described 40 to 50 Islamic militants getting training at Salman Pak at any one time, including lessons on how to hijack an airplane without weapons. There were also claims about a German scientist working on biological weapons.

In a Columbia Journalism Review retrospective on press coverage of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, writer Douglas McCollam asked Times correspondent Chris Hedges about the Times article, which he had written in coordination with a PBS Frontline documentary called “Gunning for Saddam,” with correspondent Lowell Bergman.

Explaining the difficulty of checking out defector accounts when they meshed with the interests of the U.S. government, Hedges said, “We tried to vet the defectors and we didn’t get anything out of Washington that said, ‘these guys are full of shit.’”

For his part, Bergman told CJR’s McCollam, “The people involved appeared credible and we had no way of getting into Iraq ourselves.”

The journalistic competition to break anti-Hussein scoops was building, too. Based in Paris, Hedges said he would get periodic calls from Times editors asking that he check out defector stories originating from Chalabi’s operation.

“I thought he was unreliable and corrupt, but just because someone is a sleazebag doesn’t mean he might not know something or that everything he says is wrong,” Hedges said. Hedges described Chalabi as having an “endless stable” of ready sources who could fill in American reporters on any number of Iraq-related topics.

The Salman Pak story would be one of many products from the INC’s propaganda mill that would prove influential in the run-up to the Iraq War but would be knocked down later by U.S. intelligence agencies.

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s post-mortem, the DIA stated in June 2006 that it found “no credible reports that non-Iraqis were trained to conduct or support transnational terrorist operations at Salman Pak after 1991.”

Explaining the origins for the bogus tales, the DIA concluded that Operation Desert Storm had brought attention to the training base at Salman Pak, so “fabricators and unestablished sources who reported hearsay or third-hand information created a large volume of human intelligence reporting. This type of reporting surged after September 2001.”

Going with the Flow

However, in the prelude to the Iraq War, U.S. intelligence agencies found it hard to resist the INC’s “defectors” when that would have meant bucking the White House and going against Washington’s conventional wisdom. Rather than take those career chances, many intelligence analysts found it easier to go with the flow.

Referring to the INC’s “Source One,” a U.S. intelligence memorandum in July 2002 hailed the information as “highly credible and includes reports on a wide range of subjects including conventional weapons facilities, denial and deception; communications security; suspected terrorist training locations; illicit trade and smuggling; Saddam’s palaces; the Iraqi prison system; and Iraqi petrochemical plants.”

Only analysts in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research were skeptical because they felt Source One was making unfounded assumptions, especially about possible nuclear research sites.

After the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence finally began to recognize the holes in Source One’s stories and spot examples of analysts extrapolating faulty conclusions from his limited first-hand knowledge.

“In early February 2004, in order to resolve … credibility issues with Source One, Intelligence Community elements brought Source One to Iraq,” the Senate Intelligence Committee report said. “When taken to the location Source One had described as the suspect [nuclear] facility, he was unable to identify it.

“According to one intelligence assessment, the ‘subject appeared stunned upon hearing that he was standing on the spot that he reported as the location of the facility, insisted that he had never been to that spot, and wanted to check a map’ …

“Intelligence Community officers confirmed that they were standing on the location he was identifying. … During questioning, Source One acknowledged contact with the INC’s Washington Director [name redacted], but denied that the Washington Director directed Source One to provide any false information. ”

The U.S. intelligence community had mixed reactions to other Iraqi “walk-ins” arranged by the INC. Some were caught in outright deceptions, such as “Source Two” who talked about Iraq supposedly building mobile biological weapons labs.

After catching Source Two in contradictions, the CIA issued a “fabrication notice” in May 2002, deeming him “a fabricator/provocateur” and asserting that he had “been coached by the Iraqi National Congress prior to his meeting with western intelligence services.”

However, the DIA never repudiated the specific reports that had been based on Source Two’s debriefings. So, Source Two continued to be cited in five CIA intelligence assessments and the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002, “as corroborating other source reporting about a mobile biological weapons program,” the Senate Intelligence Committee report said.

Source Two was one of four human sources referred to by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his United Nations speech on Feb. 5, 2003. When asked how a “fabricator” could have been used for such an important speech, a CIA analyst who worked on Powell’s speech said, “we lost the thread of concern … as time progressed I don’t think we remembered.”

A CIA supervisor added, “Clearly we had it at one point, we understood, we had concerns about the source, but over time it started getting used again and there really was a loss of corporate awareness that we had a problem with the source.”

Flooding Defectors

Part of the challenge facing U.S. intelligence agencies was the sheer volume of “defectors” shepherded into debriefing rooms by the INC and the appeal of their information to U.S. policymakers.

“Source Five,” for instance, claimed that Osama bin Laden had traveled to Baghdad for direct meetings with Saddam Hussein. “Source Six” claimed that the Iraqi population was “excited” about the prospects of a U.S. invasion to topple Hussein. Plus, the source said Iraqis recognized the need for post-invasion U.S. control.

By early February 2003, as the final invasion plans were underway, U.S. intelligence agencies had progressed up to “Source Eighteen,” who came to epitomize what some analysts still suspected – that the INC was coaching the sources.

As the CIA tried to set up a debriefing of Source Eighteen, another Iraqi exile passed on word to the agency that an INC representative had told Source Eighteen to “deliver the act of a lifetime.” CIA analysts weren’t sure what to make of that piece of news – since Iraqi exiles frequently badmouthed each other – but the value of the warning soon became clear.

U.S. intelligence officers debriefed Source Eighteen the next day and discovered that “Source Eighteen was supposed to have a nuclear engineering background, but was unable to discuss advanced mathematics or physics and described types of ‘nuclear’ reactors that do not exist,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

“Source Eighteen used the bathroom frequently, particularly when he appeared to be flustered by a line of questioning, suddenly remembering a new piece of information upon his return. During one such incident, Source Eighteen appeared to be reviewing notes,” the report said.

Not surprisingly, the CIA and DIA case officers concluded that Source Eighteen was a fabricator. But the sludge of INC-connected misinformation and disinformation continued to ooze through the U.S. intelligence community and to foul the American intelligence product – in part because there was little pressure from above demanding strict quality controls.

Curve Ball

Other Iraqi exile sources – not directly connected to the INC – also supplied dubious information, including a source for a foreign intelligence agency who earned the code name “Curve Ball.” He contributed important details about Iraq’s alleged mobile facilities for producing agents for biological warfare.

Tyler Drumheller, former chief of the CIA’s European Division, said his office had issued repeated warnings about Curve Ball’s accounts. “Everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening,” Drumheller said. [Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2005]

Despite those objections and the lack of direct U.S. contact with Curve Ball, he earned a rating as “credible” or “very credible,” and his information became a core element of the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Drawings of Curve Ball’s imaginary bio-weapons labs were a central feature of Secretary of State Powell’s presentation to the U.N.

Even after the invasion, U.S. officials continued to promote these claims, portraying the discovery of a couple of trailers used for inflating artillery balloons as “the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.” [CIA-DIA report, “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants,” May 16, 2003]

Finally, on May 26, 2004, a CIA assessment of Curve Ball said “investigations since the war in Iraq and debriefings of the key source indicate he lied about his access to a mobile BW production product.”

The U.S. intelligence community also learned that Curve Ball “had a close relative who had worked for the INC since 1992,” but the CIA could never resolve the question of whether the INC was involved in coaching Curve Ball. One CIA analyst said she doubted a direct INC role because the INC pattern was to “shop their good sources around town, but they weren’t known for sneaking people out of countries into some asylum system.”

Delayed Report

In September 2006, four years after the Bush administration seriously began fanning the flames for war against Iraq, a majority of Senate Intelligence Committee members overrode the objections of the panel’s senior Republicans and issued a report on the INC’s contribution to the U.S. intelligence failures.

The report concluded that the INC fed false information to the intelligence community to convince Washington that Iraq was flouting prohibitions on WMD production. The panel also found that the falsehoods had been “widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war” and did influence some American perceptions of the WMD threat in Iraq.

But INC disinformation was not solely to blame for the bogus intelligence that permeated the pre-war debate. In Washington, there had been a breakdown of the normal checks and balances that American democracy has traditionally relied on for challenging and eliminating the corrosive effects of false data.

By 2002, that self-correcting mechanism – a skeptical press, congressional oversight, and tough-minded analysts – had collapsed. With very few exceptions, prominent journalists refused to put their careers at risk; intelligence professionals played along with the powers that be; Democratic leaders succumbed to the political pressure to toe the President’s line; and Republicans marched in lockstep with Bush on his way to war.

Because of this systematic failure, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded four years later that nearly every key assessment of the U.S. intelligence community as expressed in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq’s WMD was wrong:

“Postwar findings do not support the [NIE] judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq’s acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was intended for an Iraqi nuclear program; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq was ‘vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake’ from Africa; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that ‘Iraq has biological weapons’ and that ‘all key aspects of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons program are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf war’; … do not support the [NIE] assessment that Iraq possessed, or ever developed, mobile facilities for producing biological warfare agents; … do not support the [NIE] assessments that Iraq ‘has chemical weapons’ or ‘is expanding its chemical industry to support chemical weapons production’; … do not support the [NIE] assessments that Iraq had a developmental program for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ‘probably intended to deliver biological agents’ or that an effort to procure U.S. mapping software ‘strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.’”

Today, you can see a similar process as the Obama administration relies on strategic communications – a mix of psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. – to advance its strategic goals of “regime change” in Syria, maintenance of an anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, and escalation of hostilities with Russia.

When pivotal events occur – like the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus, the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper shootings in Kiev, or the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine – the propaganda machine clicks back into gear and the incidents are used to smear U.S. “adversaries” and strengthen U.S. “friends.”

Thus, truth has become the routine casualty of “info-war.” The American people are serially deceived in the name of “national security” and manipulated toward more conflict and military spending. Over the years, this process surely put a crooked smile on the face of Ahmed Chalabi, who proved himself one of its masters.

Posted in IraqComments Off on America’s Chalabi Legacy of Lies

Bibi Naziyahu Falsifies History–Once Again

 

NOVANEWS
by BARRY LANDO

President Reuven Rivlin (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) cast as Nazis by an online user (YouTube screenshot)

Israel Prime Minister Naziyahu has been obliged to back away from his claim that it was a Palestinian leader, rather than Adolph Hitler, who came up with the idea of exterminating the Jews. But Naziyahu’s historical chutzpah has always been breathtaking, as I learned years ago when reporting on Israel for 60 Minutes.

First, to finish with the current furor:

After a storm of outrage from experts on the Holocaust around the globe, Naziyahu used his Facebook page to deny he had ever charged that it was a Palestinian chief   who had convinced Hitler to undertake the Holocaust. Any such interpretation that the Israeli Prime Minister had said anything like that, wrote Netanyahu, was “absurd.”

That Facebook statement, however, was just another fabrication.

According to Haaretz,

“in his October 20th speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Hitler in November, 1941: ‘Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’ According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?’ and the mufti replied: ‘Burn them.’”

I had first-hand experience with Naziyahu’s rewriting of facts in 1990, when I was reporting on Israel with Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes. Our report was provoked by the killing of 17 Palestinians gunned down on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount by Israeli Border Police on October 8th, 1990. Known in Arabic as al-Ḥaram al-Šarīf, or the “Noble Sanctuary”, the Temple Mount is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.  The questions of access and control remain a flashpoint to this day.

Back in October 1990, the Israeli government’s immediate explanation for the bloody killings was that the police had shot down the Palestinians only after the Palestinians, egged on by their imams, began throwing rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall, which lay below the confines of the Temple Mount.

That was the message of Benjamin Netanyahu, then deputy minister of foreign affairs. He delivered it at a dramatic press conference, hefting a large lethal-looking boulder. He was outraged. Several Jews worshipping at the Wall had been hospitalized.

“The crowd that threw those projectiles wanted to slaughter the Jews,” Netanyahu seethed. “They were heralding their champion, Saddam Hussein, who wants to send a much bigger projectile—missiles—to burn half of Israel.”

The whole affair, said Netanyahu, “was a deliberate planned provocation aimed at deflecting world attention from the Gulf, from Saddam Hussein.”  (Saddam had invaded Kuwait several weeks before on August 2, 1990).

The press bought the story. Except for an excellent but lonely investigative piece in the Village Voice, it went virtually unchallenged by the international media.

Arriving in Jerusalem a few days later, intending to research a different subject, I was struck by the fact that all the Palestinians we spoke with were still vehement in depicting the killings as an Israeli atrocity. Those shot on the Temple Mount had been gunned down in cold blood by rampaging Israeli police, they said. And more: there was never any threat to Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall.

We decided to investigate further, with important input from Michael Emory of the Village Voice and many key eyewitnesses. Most critically, we also obtained the raw video tapes shot of the actual events by CBS and other U.S. networks, as well Israeli TV.

What we found was that the official Israeli version put out by Netanyahu was, as the Palestinians had charged, a total fabrication. There was no other way to describe it.                                                —

The tragedy had been precipitated by a radical Jewish group, the Temple Mount Faithful, which had long been advocating a complete Israeli takeover of the holy site.  In a pure grab for publicity, they announced they were going to march to the Mount in defiance of an Israeli court order. Determined to defend what they regarded as hallowed ground, a large crowd of Palestinians of all ages assembled on the Temple Mount. Some were armed with rocks. Attempting to control the extremely volatile situation were about 45 armed Israeli border police, who—unwisely–had been stationed on the grounds of the Mount itself.

Suddenly, there was as an explosion. Police had shot teargas into a group of Palestinian women in one corner of the site. In the ensuing uproar, some Palestinians thought the radical Jewish group was about to enter the Mount and began throwing rocks at the armed Israeli police.

Panicking, a few police fired live ammunition into the crowd. At least one Palestinian was killed; others were wounded. That sent the young people into even greater frenzy. They raced toward the wall, on which some of the Israeli police were standing, and continued throwing stones. As they later told us, they were throwing rocks at the Israeli police, not—and this is the key point–not at the Jewish worshippers completely out of sight on the other side of the wall in the Plaza below.

Indeed, when we looked at all the raw TV footage, we found there were no Jewish worshippers praying at the Wall when the rocks were hurled over. They had been evacuated—without any serious injury–when the disturbances first began.

In fact, despite repeated requests to the Government Press Office, the police, and the hospitals, we were unable to obtain the name of any Jews wounded at the Wall that day by rocks. On the other hand, the raw news tapes clearly demonstrated the use of excessive deadly force when the reinforced Israel border police stormed back onto the Temple Mount.

In one sequence captured by three different cameramen, Israeli police fired point-blank at an unarmed Palestinian man, shooting him in the head. They then fired teargas directly into the shocked crowd around the mortally wounded man.

Palestinians with private cars and ambulances dodged bullets and teargas in an attempt to treat the wounded. Three Palestinian health workers were shot that day. One of them, a nurse who we interviewed in her hospital bed, described how she was hit while treating the wounded INSIDE an ambulance that had been backed up to the door of the al-Aksa mosque. The police continued to fire at the ambulance even as it pulled away.

Other attempts by Israeli spokesmen to justify the killings also turned out to be totally false. The charge, for instance that Muslim firebrands used loudspeaker on the Temple Mount to exhort young Palestinians to violence, urging them to slaughter the Jews.

When we listened to the tape shot of the entire event, it turned out that Palestinian leaders were pleading with the young men to take shelter inside the mosque, not to expose themselves to death. At the same time, they were beseeching the Israelis to allow ambulances and doctors to approach the mosque to rescue the wounded.

Our report, which aired December 1990, was greeted with a storm of indignation from just about every major Jewish organization in the United States–the greatest outpouring of protest ever generated by a60 Minutes broadcast: We were whitewashing a plot by the Palestine Liberation Organization. We had lied. We had misrepresented. We were doing the work of the anti-Semites. And of course, we were self-hating Jews.

Larry Tisch, a major American backer of Israel who also happened to own CBS, summoned Mike Wallace and “60 Minutes” Executive Producer Don Hewitt (also Jewish) to a fraught breakfast meeting to defend our report, fact by fact.

The Palestinians were much less vocal in reaction to our revelations. One reason was that newspaper reports of the broadcast in the local Palestinian Press were censored by Israeli military authorities.

It was not until July 18th 1991, nine months after the tragic affair, that an Israeli Judge, Ezra Kama, released the results of an extensive independent inquiry. It was the police not the Palestinians, said the judge, who provoked the violence. Some of the shooting deaths, he said, were clearly unjustified and in those cases, he labeled the police explanation that they had opened fire out of fear for their lives “exaggerated and strange.”

Despite the deaths of 17 Palestinians and the wounding of at least 150 others, there was no call for anyone to be punished. And none was

A few days later, Abe Foxman, president of the anti-Defamation League, who had originally fired off a lengthy memo attacking our broadcast, sent a new memo to Don Hewitt:

“Judge Kama rejects some of the claims the officials made and came closer to some of the conclusions raised by 60 Minutes. On that basis, while I still have some problems with the methodology 60 Minutes used, I want to publicly apologize to you, Mike, and the staff of 60 Minutes”

In my view, the broadcast on the Temple Mount was the best investigative report I ever did with Mike Wallace. It received no awards. Nor, unlike many other reports we had done, was it ever run again in the summer repeat season. Abe Foxman’s generous letter, for which he received a good deal of flak from within his own organization, was never made public by CBS.

The tragic killings of those 17 Palestinians a quarter century ago was just a presage of horrors to come.

As for the Temple Mount, as the Palestinians see it their precarious status at the holy site is till very much under siege. Indeed, such fears were key in provoking the current outbreak of suicidal attacks by young knife-wielding Palestinians.

Netanyahu flatly denies any intention of changing the status quo on the Mount.  But the fact is that many increasingly radical Israelis —including three cabinet ministers–are pushing to do just that. As deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely put it, “my dream is to see the Israeli flag flying over the Temple Mount.”

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