Categorized | Middle East



Washington agrees that Wikileaks harmed nobody but US war-making16 Oct 2010

So after all the huffing and puffing and accusations,

Wikileaks is only “guilty” of harming US interests? Surely questioning the rationale

behind criminal American foreign policy is highly praise-worthy:

No U.S. intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the posting of

 secret Afghan war logs by the WikiLeaks website, the Pentagon has concluded,

but the military thinks the leaks could still cause significant damage to U.S.

security interests.

The assessment, outlined in a letter obtained Friday by The Associated Press,

suggests that some of the Obama administration’s worst fears about the July

disclosure of almost 77,000 secret U.S. war reports have so far failed to materialize.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates reported these conclusions in an Aug. 16 letter to Sen.

 Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who had requested a

Pentagon assessment.

WikiLeaks, a self-described whistle-blower website, is believed to be preparing to

release an even larger set of classified Pentagon documents on the Iraq war as

early as Sunday.

U.S. officials warned of dire consequences in the days following the July leak.

In his letter to Levin, Gates struck a more measured tone in describing the impact.

“Our initial review indicates most of the information contained in these documents

relates to tactical military operations,” Gates wrote, suggesting the materials did

not include the most sensitive kinds of information.

“The initial assessment in no way discounts the risk to national security; however,

the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods

compromised by this disclosure,” he added. 

16 Oct 2010

Post 9/11, finding nuance in the state view towards “terrorism” was rare, indeed.

But here is a challenging example, questioning the idea that every form of resistance

 is somehow connected to al-Qaeda:

More than three years after federal agents locked up a Sri Lankan immigrant

they say was the top U.S. representative of the Tamil Tigers, his fate may

hinge on a complex question: Was the rebel group a terrorist threat to Americans?

Federal prosecutors who charged Karunakaran Kandasamy with supporting

terrorism say the answer is yes. And they say he should get a stiff sentence

approaching 20 years for raising money for the separatist group, which fought

a 25-year war with the Sri Lankan government.

But a judge recently expressed his doubts.

The case against the jailed Kandasamy doesn’t neatly fit the definition of “a more

obvious or garden variety terrorism case, where … our security interests are

compromised and the safety of our citizenry is in jeopardy,” U.S. District Judge

Raymond Dearie said earlier this month at Kandasamy’s scheduled sentencing,

which was postponed.

“Do we simply wave the red flag of terrorism and impose the maximum sentence?”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox argued the Tamil Tigers had earned a State

 Department designation as a terrorist organization in part by putting U.S. citizens

 living in Sri Lanka in harm’s way. He also said the group’s supporters in the United

 States extorted cash from Sri Lankan immigrants.

The Tamil Tigers pioneered and perfected technology for suicide bombings,

Knox said. That technology “was borrowed and copied and sold on some

occasions to other terrorist organizations — organizations like al-Qaida, that

directly target the United States, organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and

others in the region,” he said.

Internal documents show the Tamil Tigers considered other terror groups as

fellow freedom fighters, and had a policy of “sharing black market arms

shipments and explosive shipments, the financial system, bank accounts,”

he said.

The judge put off sentencing after Kandasamy — who has battled a spinal

problem and other serious ailments since his arrest — asked for mercy.

“I love this country and its soil,” the 54-year-old former cab driver said through

an interpreter. “I’m sick and I’m afraid I’ll never live to be free with my family again.”

16 Oct 2010

Zionist propaganda on the Birthright trip is almost pathological. Arabs are ignored

but loathed. Everybody is an enemy. It’s militarism run riot. The occupation is

excused and defended (the soldiers manning the checkpoints have families, the young

 Jews are told, as if this excuses illegally brutalising an entire people). This is sad:

16 Oct 2010

After attending a Sydney event last night with Liberal Opposition leader

Tony Abbott and writer Bob Ellis (with actor Rhys Muldoon in my photo above),

 today’s ABC Radio AM reported on proceedings:

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Politics throws up some unlikely friendships.

Indeed it’s hard to imagine a more unusual friendship than the one

between the Labor Party stalwart and speech writer, Bob Ellis, and

the man who sued him for a million dollars – the Leader of the Opposition,

Tony Abbott.

But friends they are and last night they got together to help promote

Bob Ellis’s latest book.

It was enemy territory for Tony Abbott in inner-city Sydney but he braved

the hostile crowd for a wide-ranging public discussion.

Our reporter David Mark was there.

DAVID MARK: Friday night.

Gleebooks in Sydney – the place is packed.

This is a Labor crowd.

And there reading from the pulpit is a man steeped in the Labor Party,

the author and speechwriter for many a premier and prime minister,

Bob Ellis.

And the subject, the other man on the stage, conservative warrior and

Liberal leader, Tony Abbott.

BOB ELLIS (reading from book): Coffee with Quentin Dempster and a chat

 about things in Parliament House this afternoon. I put the case that our

problem with Abbott is he’s so good looking…


He has no bad angles and like Hawke he’ll win over women with his

handsome, husky looks and cheeky male manner.

“Good looking?” says Quentin “he’s as ugly as a hatful of arseholes”.


DAVID MARK: And does Tony Abbott smile? Not quite.

The crowd loves the joke at Tony Abbott’s expense. They’re not here to give

him an easy time.

He’s heckled repeatedly.

TONY ABBOTT: This is almost as bad as Parliament, Bob. We’ve got cheeky

 interjections. Where’s the Speaker to send someone out at the appropriate time?

DAVID MARK: Tony Abbott may not have won over the crowd, but at least he got

to show himself in a new light as he and Bob Ellis discussed issues ranging from

Afghanistan and asylum seekers to abortion and his religious beliefs.

TONY ABBOTT: Plainly, there are a lot of people in this audience who don’t share

my views but the dialogue is incredibly important. I mean, we are a civilised

polity because we can talk about things and argue about things, rather than

simply fight about them and ultimately shoot people over them.

DAVID MARK: And by the end there was at least some respect from audience

members like Antony Loewenstein.

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN: Abbott has a degree of nuance and I admire that, even

though I disagree with everything he says.

DAVID MARK: As for his host, Labor stalwart Bob Ellis, as unlikely as it seems,

there’s warm affection for the Opposition leader.

BOB ELLIS: Yes, I met him first about 15 years ago.

I’ve more or less liked him since, although he sued my publisher for a million

dollars and got it.

DAVID MARK: So what are the qualities, what are his qualities that you enjoy?

BOB ELLIS: Um, a lack of arrogance, a willingness to listen, a capacity to struggle

 with his own beliefs.

DAVID MARK: How would you, then, compare the leaders of the two major

parties in Australian politics at the moment? Tony Abbott, who you admire,

 and Julia Gillard.

BOB ELLIS: Gillard makes a mistake every three days and will not last – has

 five or 15 months in her. Nobody is speaking of the Gillard era. She should be

 there for 20 years logically, but she will not. She has a kind of political tone

deafness whereas Tony has a political acuteness. He hears, he listens; she doesn’t.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Author, speech writer and, believe it or not, all-round

Labor Party figure, Bob Ellis, ending that report from David Mark.


16 Oct 2010

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