Silver Lining

Food for thought

Category Archives: Iraq

Criminalize political lies to save planet Earth

Enough Death and Destruction

by CARMEN YARRUSSO, source

If we lie to our government it’s a serious crime. Why isn’t it an even more serious crime when our government lies to us? If crime is willful action that harms others, and we punish crime based on the extent of its harm, why aren’t we criminalizing and severely punishing political lies, which often result in great harm including massive death and suffering throughout the world?

Planet earth and all but a tiny fraction of her inhabitants are being systematically raped and plundered by a corporate power structure that virtually owns the U.S. government. If there’s an activity that can make money by destroying our planet or killing millions of our fellow human beings, you can bet the U.S. government is actively promoting that activity. This immense, continuing crime against humanity (and nature) is being justified and sustained with big, fat political lies. If we don’t start criminalizing political lies and severely punishing our lying politicians, we’ll get more inequality, we’ll get more destruction of our natural resources, we’ll get more wars, we’ll get even more extreme human suffering that will progress until the downtrodden of the world finally revolt in desperation.

The Extreme Depravity of Political Lies

This isn’t about benign lies or compassionate lies aimed at easing suffering. This is about egregious deception unambiguously intended to further political ends with blatant disregard for the lie’s harmful consequences and with little or no accounting by our lying politicians. Unfortunately this class of lies is the lifeblood of the U.S. political system, a system that is inexorably destroying life on earth.

Without lies, the U.S. political system would disintegrate. A system claiming to work for the people, but obviously working for special interests, must necessarily be based on lies. Corporations and lobbyists pay politicians big money to pass legislation that benefits them, not the American people. But since our politicians obviously can’t admit they frequently support special-interest legislation, they must lie. Our political system proudly rewards lying, with the best liars reaping the biggest rewards.

A lie is a betrayal of trust. Our personal lies might betray a spouse or a few friends, but the ramifications are usually quite limited. But when government representatives lie, for example to justify war, the betrayal could easily extend to all of humanity and even to the earth itself with severe, possibly irreversible, negative ramifications. Political lies kill big time (consider Afghanistan and Iraq). Political lies plunder. Political lies cause countless forms of extreme human suffering. Political lies are used to excuse the most heinous behavior. This class of lying, the very lifeblood of the U.S. political system, is clearly criminal by any just definition of the term. Yet this moral abomination continues, not only unpunished, but handsomely rewarded.

Imagine if political lies were criminalized prior to the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq

The invasion probably couldn’t have happened. Without the lies, there was no moral justification for war. Had members of the Bush administration been facing serious jail time if caught promoting political lies, those flimsy, deceptive arguments for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) wouldn’t have surfaced. If political lies were criminalized they wouldn’t have dared to try to pass off a sleazy character called Curveball as a reliable source, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off crude rocket bodies as aluminum tubes for centrifuges, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off a flatbed truck for inflating target balloons as a mobile weapons lab, they wouldn’t have tried to pass off obviously forged documents on Niger uranium as real, and Colin Powell wouldn’t have spouted out all those dramatic lies at the UN.

If he knew he faced certain jail time for lying, President Bush wouldn’t have said, ” The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” while conveniently ignoring the CIA and State Department reports questioning its veracity.

But with no consequences for lying to the American people, our politicians were able to cavalierly inflict vast death and destruction on millions of innocent Iraquis while billing U.S. taxpayers trillions. Billions in war profits poured into politically connected corporations. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. All the result of a pack of big, fat, legal political lies. Now Obama threatens to launch a sequel in Syria based (of course) on more political lies.

The Nature of Political Lies

Political lies aren’t limited to making false statements. There are political lies by omission when politicians fail to mention known facts and evidence that undermine their positions (as Bush did about African uranium). Perhaps the most harmful and ubiquitous political lie is evasion. Our politicians are almost never required to clearly explain and justify their positions. They’re free to spout out deceptive (often emotional) nonsense that many gullible Americans readily believe while they staunchly evade giving a clear explanation and justification for their positions. They staunchly evade answering cogent counterarguments. With the stakes as high as they are, this common, willful, and blatant form of intellectual dishonesty by politicians should be a very serious crime.

For example, our lying politicians are threatening war with Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but they staunchly evade explaining why they believe Iranian leaders would even think about using a nuclear weapon knowing full well their country would be utterly destroyed if they did. Our lying politicians staunchly evade discussing a much more likely reason for their dire concerns – Iran would have an effective deterrent should U.S. politicians contemplate stealing its oil using massive military might as they tried in Iraq.

Enough Death and Destruction – Actions We Must Take to Effectively Criminalize Political Lies

The people of the world must unite to criminalize the ruthless plague that’s devouring our precious planet earth. We can’t expect our lying politicians to voluntarily stop lying to us when they profit so much from their lies. We the people must unite and emphatically demand strict intellectual honesty from our politicians by making political lies a very serious crime with very serious penalties.

But criminalizing political lies won’t be effective if our politicians can simply avoid getting caught lying. If we are to effectively prosecute our lying politicians, we need a reliable way to not only quickly detect political lies, but also an efficient way to collect incriminating evidence of deceit. Thanks to the amazing power of the Internet, we already have a way (using the exact infrastructure used by Wikipedia) that would instantly detect political lies, including evasion, and document evidence of deceit for prosecuting lying politicians. […]

Conclusion

The U.S political system is a deeply corrupt, criminal enterprise largely sustained by ruthless political lies. Our political system handsomely rewards liars while severely punishing truth tellers (see Drake, Manning, Snowden). In the service of political lies, the U.S. government has flipped morality on its head.

We the people have every right to demand strict intellectual honesty from our politicians. Stop the lies, save planet earth.

Shout it from the streets, shout it from the rooftops, “Criminalize political lies, criminalize political lies, criminalize political lies…”

Syria: EU ministers call for “clear and firm” response & worldwide protests held against war

EU Ministers Call for “Clear and Firm” Response over Chemical Use in Syria

Al Manar

EU foreign ministers have called for a “clear and firm” response to the alleged Damascus chemical attack, the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton said at a security policy meeting in Vilnius attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for these attacks as it is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity,” Ashton said in a statement on the EU website.

But that call came with an appeal from the EU to the United States not to commence military operations against the Syrian regime until the publication of a UN report into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict, the Associated Press reported.

“We note the on-going UN investigation on the August 21 attack and further investigations on other chemical weapons attacks carried out in this conflict. It hopes a preliminary report of this first investigation can be released as soon as possible and welcomes [French] President Hollande‘s statement to wait for this report before any further action,” Ashton said.

The UN weapons inspectors’ report on chemical arms use in Syria is likely to be handed in at the end of next week, President Hollande said Saturday, Reuters reported.

“When the (US) Congress will have voted on Thursday or Friday and when we will have the inspectors’ report, likely at the end of the week, a decision will have to be made,” Hollande said.

Kerry expressed his gratitude to the EU ministers for their “strong position” on Syria, Reuters reported.

————————————————————————————-

Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif stressed that who will launch an aggression against Syria will not be able to set limits for it, noting that Obama was entrapped.

“Iran is worried about inflaming a regional war whose repercussions will reach the world,” Zarif said,” We call on the parties of the Syrian crisis to pursue the political track in order to reach a solution.”

Iran FM pointed out that Tehran will exert all possible efforts to prevent the US-led strike against Syria, adding that the role of Iraq and other states is basic to halt the war which harm the entire region.

“Iran and Iraq have the right to condemn the use of chemical weapons more than any other country as we were the victims of these weapons,” Zarif emphasized.

Iran FM had already met Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki ad Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to view Iraq’s attitude towards the war against Syria.

————————————————————————————–

Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

The nine Latin American states (ALBA) condemned any possible aggression against Syria and announced dispatching humanitarian aids to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“The Bolivarian alliance council in American denounces any possible strike against Syria,” ALBA Secretary General said in a statement from Venezuela.

“ALBA asks the U.S. to refrain from launching a military aggression against the Syrian people and government,” he added, accusing the US administration of resorting to the same strategies that it used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

ALBA further decided to dispatch humanitarian aidss, including foodstuffs, to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

AlBA includes most of the Latin American states, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.

————————————————————————————

Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

People across the world have once again held anti-war demonstrations, protesting at possible US-led military intervention in Syria.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered outside the US Embassy for the second consecutive day.

The demonstrators condemned Washington’s efforts to gain domestic and international approval for a strike on Syria.

In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, – Muslims demonstrated against threats of war on Damascus.

Similar protests were also held in the Philippines capital, Manila, where anti-war demonstrators took to the streets.

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

Anti-war rallies were also held across the United States including in the US states of California, Washington, New York, Louisiana, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday slammed a possible war on Syria led by the US as a “commercial war to sell arms.”

—————————————————————————————-

Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to the US-led strike against Syria and denounced the “trade war” phenomenon which has recently pervaded, calling on the leaders to pursue a political solution for the crisis.

“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Francis addressed the Christians in St Peter’s Square.

“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!” said Francis.

Francis, who two days ago branded a military solution in Syria “a futile pursuit,” led a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.

Obama’s war model

by Guy Billout

“U.S. decision-making [on Syria] will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.”

by B.J. Sabri, source

In the American culture of permanent war, time and circumstance change but never the method — pretext as an alibi for war. Obama’s plan to strike Syria under the pretext that its government used chemical weapons against civilians is in line with that culture. Pertinently, it follows the precedent set by his predecessor when he invaded Iraq under the pretext that it was hiding weapons of mass destruction. This emulated three precedents set by Bill Clinton. When he bombed Serbia over Kosovo, when he bombed Iraq under the pretext that it was not cooperating with weapons inspectors, and when he bombed Iraq before that under the pretext that Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate President George H.W. Bush. And so on.

Currently, America’s global agenda is specific and has for a target the imperialistic control of all Arab states still outside of its domain. Up to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, arming Israel with advanced weapons to keep its regional military superiority was the prominent aspect of the agenda. The Carter Doctrine consequent to that invasion expanded on the agenda when it declared the Persian Gulf a zone of vital interests to the United States. Three consecutive world events: the Iran-Iraq war, the crumbling of Soviet and Eastern European socialist systems, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, allowed the United States, using it self-serving “vital interests”, to deeply entrench itself in heart of the Arab world.

Phased control of strong Arab states opposing Israel is the keyword to understand the American strategy of imperialist conquest. First, it was Iraq, then Libya, then the partition of Sudan, and now it’s the turn of Syria. As for Egypt, the last among the strongest Arab states, voices are still circulating about its eventual partition. With Palestine taken by Zionists, with Iraq taken by the U.S., with Libya under Euro-American control, with Jordan and the Gulf countries already under soft military occupation, the U.S. is materially controlling most Arab nations except Algeria, Sudan, and Syria.

Of interest is Obama’s White House statement that U.S. decision-making on Syria, “Will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.”1This is a trite stratagem that most American presidents repeatedly used to justify actions already deliberated and decided. Is the “best interest” idea a political philosophy or pragmatic model of action? Whatever the answer may be, debiting to it the referee role for going to war is a handy mechanism to facilitate the adoption of war decisions without explaining their validity or necessity.

American interventionist premises and subtexts are unequivocal: War is a function of our self-interest; we can wage it at any time by choice or by pretext. Antony Blinken, national security advisor to Joseph Biden simplifies the interventionist model with his arrogant “maxim”: “A Superpower does not bluff.” American pretexts for war, therefore, belie U.S. pretension that wars are imposed on them to defend humanity from “evildoers”. Yet, when confronted on rigorous debating grounds, ideological models aiming at rationalizing war through convoluted conceptualization instantly lose their purported definiteness and expose their raw essence: procedures to implement agendas.

What is preposterous about the U.S. war-making mentality is that every time the U.S. attacks a nation, it declares morality as a guiding principle. Take for example the current “morality” model for possible war with Syria — should the Congress approve, but it would certainly approve with the Israeli lobby working around the clock to make it happen. Who established that such model is the exclusive responsibility of the U.S. Britain, and France? How ludicrous it is that three colonialist-imperialist states, whose long history of genocidal atrocities is a permanent stigma on the conscious of humanity, act as moral speakers for the world? Is Sweden, Malta, Nicaragua, Spain, Russia, Belize, Belarus, Vietnam, Greece, Venezuela, South Africa, China, Ghana, or any other country lacking morality so the United States volunteers to be the standard-bearer for all? Who decides on the meaning, degree, and substance of morality: American ideologues of empire, British colonialists, French megalomaniacs, or Israeli Zionists?

Pointedly, it is one thing that the U.S. has succeeded through intimidations and aggressions at obliterating accepted international norms; it is another when it goes around sermonizing on its exceptionalism in morality and values. What a sham without compare: the U.S. cries against death by chemical weapons but not for death by terrifying conventional weapons. On the hypocrisy side, the U.S. has no rivals: the news of over 100,000 killed by bullets, knives, explosions, artillery, and jets did not make the U.S. cringe; but a few hundreds die by an alleged gas attack whose perpetrators are still unknown, and the U.S. readies its fleets and Tomahawk missiles to a hit an entire country. Since violent death is one and the same, why the obscene hypocrisy differentiating between types and methods of death?

Caveat! There is a difference: death by unconventional weapons offers alibis for military interventions based on conventions that the imperialist West created to safeguard their monopoly of these weapons and to punish those who attempt possessing or making them. The American use of radioactive uranium (which the U.S. cynically calls “depleted” to conceal its lethal consequences of slow death by thyroid, prostate, and cervical cancers, not to mention genetic mutation) proves this point.

Besides, who consistently rejected a political solution to the Syrian situation if not the United States with the hope that the armed rebellion and defections could finish off the Assad regime? Who could be the principal organizer of the death and destruction that has been enveloping Syria for the past two and a half years if not the United States through its regional lackeys? Does morality motivate the U.S. Syrian policy? Based on history, the answer is no. Where was U.S. morality hiding when it destroyed millions of human beings during 235 years of its existence as an independent state? (In a solidly argued article, “What Is America’s Code of Morality?,” Canadian writer Kim Petersen eloquently answers the question from multiple perspectives.2

Moreover, with suspicion of the attack involving many entities, why accuse only the Syrian regime for perpetrating it? Why the determination to strike Syria for alleged but not verified chemical attack by its government? What is the nonsense that the U.S. wants to punish the regime but not Syria? Much more insidious is the British posturing. In its 6 September issue, the Economistpublishes the photo of Bashar Assad on the cover with the caption: Hit him hard. How could the U.S. (and its British poodle) punish a regime — assuming it is responsible — or a man by destroying the country first? Did not the U.S. invasion of Iraq prove the utter mendacity of such punishment?

To drive home the point on U.S. claimed “morality”, it suffices to cite just one example: Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq and the use of radioactive “depleted” uranium, vacuum bombs, electronic bombs, suspected neutron bombs, and igniting confessional fights among Iraqis resulted in over two million Iraqis dead.3 Up to now, Iraqis are still dying at the hands of America’s appointed Iraqi government, American security companies, and other mercenaries at the payroll of the United States. Based on this fact alone, the U.S. is NOT AUTHORIZED to give any lecture on morality and use it as a rationale for its new wars. While Obama justifies his planned attack not on “humanitarian grounds”, but as enforcement of the Chemical Weapons Convention, media commentators of the empire jump to his aid by citing U.S. war against Serbia to “save” Kosovo. How odd though, a U.S. war of aggression in the recent past becomes a “rationalized” prototype for a new aggression in the present.

Here is one effective way to test the best interest paradigm: Was it in the best interest of the Syrian regime, which was fighting with teeth and nails to fend off a long-standing arbitrary accusation that it used chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, to launch a chemical attack on the same day weapon inspectors were scheduled to arrive? Since the answer is no, then who framed Syria? To speculate in a logical manner, there are only three possible culprits each of which benefits from accusing the Syrian regime: Either the American “al-Qaida” in Syria — this leads back to the United States; or Israeli Syrian agents — which leads back to Israel —, or Israelis or Americans themselves since Syria’s borders are open to all. About the American “al-Qaida”: isn’t it curious that U.S. drones are roaming the skies from Pakistan to Yemen and to Somalia killing any one suspected for being Qaida-ist, while no drone has ever attacked all these black banners of “al-Qaida” flying, in broad daylight, over many parts of Syria?

Now to the unavoidable question: In whose best interest is it that the United States attacks Syria? Mali? No. Portugal? Slovenia? No. Argentina? No. China? No. Cambodia? No. Finland? No. Israel? Yes. With a U.S. attack on Syria, Israel would finally achieve its long-standing objective of defeating all Arab states combined through the American power. Besides Israel, U.S. imperialism is the other primary beneficiary. Geological research indicates that Syria is sitting on sea of oil.

Is Israel complicit in the planned attack against Syria? Here are two pieces of news:

“Over the weekend, telephone calls to coordinate a possible attack were made between the U.S. and Israel, including a call by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Israeli counterpart Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.”4

“Senior Israeli team in Washington as U.S. prepares for possible Syria attack: High-level Israeli delegation prepares for scenarios in wake of chemical attack; talks with U.S. officials will also focus on Iran’s nuclear program, Hezbollah and Iran’s role in the Syria crisis.”5

It is a public knowledge that Israel provided ample intelligence on targets to be hit by the U.S. in its wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003. It can be deduced from the two sources I just cited, and based on the history of U.S-Israeli relations, that Israel, in 2013, is providing intelligence about the targets it wants the U.S. to destroy in Syria — mainly missile and jetfighter depots. Nonetheless, while Israel, through its supporters in Congress and control of the White House, is the planner of the U.S. Arab policy and an instigator of its military interventions, it constantly plays the card of innocent victim. Fearing potential Syrian retaliatory strikes because of Israel’s involvement in the U.S. decision-making, American Zionist groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center went as far as asking the United States to declare that any attack against Israel is attack against the United States.6

It has been said that Obama is uncertain whether to strike Syria or not because of potential consequences that could go out of hand, and that his seeking of Congressional authorization is meant to share the blame if something goes wrong. This is rubbish. Decisions coming from higher quarters had been already made for Obama. He is only waiting for the go-ahead — should it come.

  1. “US to act in its ‘best interests’ over Syria crisis,” BBC, August 30, 2013 []
  2. Kim Petersen, “What Is America’s Code of Morality?” Dissident Voice, August 29, 2013. []
  3. “Baghdad’s Neutron Bomb and America’s Nuclear Obama,” Veterans Today, Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri Interview Captain Eric H. May, Ghost Troop CO. []
  4. “Report: U.S. To Warn Israel in Advance of Syria Attack,” Algemeiner, August 25, 2013. []
  5. “Senior Israeli team in Washington as U.S. prepares for possible Syria attack,” Barak Ravid. Haaretz, August 26, 20013. Subscription required. []
  6. “Jewish Leaders: ‘US should say, Attack on Israel is Attack on US’,” Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, August 3o, 2013. []

Putin warned west over Syria: Did we forget about Iraq?

Putin Warned West over Syria: Did We Forget about Iraq?

Al Ahed news

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Putin said Moscow has provided some components of the S-300 air defense missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He suggested that Russia may sell the potent missile systems elsewhere if Western nations attack Syria without UN Security Council backing.

The interview Tuesday night at Putin’s country residence outside the Russian capital was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday. The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over Syria.

Putin said he felt sorry that President Barack Obama canceled a one-on-one meeting in Moscow that was supposed to have happened before the summit. But he expressed hope the two would have serious discussions about Syria and other issues in St. Petersburg.

“President Obama hasn’t been elected by the American people in order to be pleasant to Russia. And your humble servant hasn’t been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to someone either,” he said of their relationship.

In parallel, Putin said: “We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed. But I would like to repeat once again that global mutual interests form a good basis for finding a joint solution to our problems.”

Putin said it was “ludicrous” that the Syrian regime would use chemical weapons at a time when it was holding sway against the rebels.

“From our viewpoint, it seems absolutely absurd that the armed forces, the regular armed forces, which are on the offensive today and in some areas have encircled the so-called rebels and are finishing them off, that in these conditions they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force,” he said.

“If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the UN Security Council,” added Putin, and conditioned : “It ought to be convincing. It shouldn’t be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that.”

He noted that even in the US, “there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the administration doesn’t look convincing, and they don’t exclude the possibility that the opposition conducted a premeditated provocative action trying to give their sponsors a pretext for military intervention.”

He compared the evidence presented by Washington to false data used by the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the US called a mistake. Did we forget about that?” Putin said.

He said he “doesn’t exclude” backing the use of force against Syria at the United Nations if there is objective evidence proving that regime used chemical weapons against its people. But he strongly warned Washington against launching military action without UN approval, saying it would represent an aggression.

Putin reinforced his demand that before taking action, Obama needed approval from the UN Security Council. Russia can veto resolutions in the council and has protected Syria from punitive actions there before.

Asked what kind of evidence on chemical weapons use would convince Russia, Putin said “it should be a deep and specific probe containing evidence that would be obvious and prove beyond doubt who did it and what means were used.”
Putin said it was “too early” to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria.

“We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise,” he said. “We have our plans.”

Putin called the S-300 air defense missile system “a very efficient weapon” and said that Russia had a contract for its delivery of the S-300s to Syria. “We have supplied some of the components, but the delivery hasn’t been completed. We have suspended it for now,” he said.

“But if we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world,” he said.

On another level, Putin also accused US intelligence agencies of bungling efforts to apprehend Snowden, the National Security Agency leader, who is wanted in the US on espionage charges. He said the United States could have allowed Snowden to go to a country where his security would not be guaranteed or intercepted him along the way, but instead pressured other countries not to accept him or even to allow a plane carrying him to cross their airspace. Russia has granted him temporary asylum.

————————————————————————————–

Syria Says Will Not Give in ’Even If There Is WWIII’

Al Manar

Syria’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday the state would miqdadnot give in to threats of a US-led military strike against the country, even if a third world war erupts.

Faisal Muqdad said the government had taken “every measure” to counter a potential intervention aimed at punishing Syria over a suspected deadly poison gas strike and was mobilizing its allies.

“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country,” he said.

“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against… an aggression,” he added, refusing to provide any clue as to what that might mean.

Muqdad said Syria was mobilizing its allies ahead of a possible strike, as US President Barack Obama lobbies Congress to back intervention and the French parliament debates the issue.

The Syrian official added two of America’s top allies in the region, Jordan and Turkey, should think twice before participating.

“Once the attack against Syria starts from Jordan and Turkey then they will both suffer,” said Mr. Mekdad.

————————————————————————————–

Russia sends missile cruiser to Eastern Mediterranean

Press TV

Russian military officials say Moscow is sending three more naval ships, including a missile cruiser, to the Eastern Mediterranean, as the United States is preparing for a possible strike on Syria.

The missile cruiser, Moskva, will take over the navy’s operations in the region, a move which Russia says is needed to protect its national interests, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.

“The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Strait of Gibraltar. In approximately 10 days it will enter the East Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force,” said the unnamed military source.

The missile cruiser is to be joined by two other vessels, a destroyer from Russia’s Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, which are to arrive in the region until Friday.

Russia has recently deployed other warships to the Eastern Mediterranean. On September 1, Moscow sent its Priazovye reconnaissance ship to the region tasked with collecting information in the tense region, which will be operating separately from the naval unit.

Last week, Russian Defense Ministry reported that additional warships, including the Moskva, were being sent to the Mediterranean on routine mission…

————————————————————————————

US Polls: Public Opposes Syria Strike

Al Ahed news

Two new polls out Tuesday have found strong opposition to US military intervention in Syria among a war-weary American public.

A survey carried out by the Pew Research Center over the weekend found that 48 percent of Americans oppose “conducting military airstrikes” against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons compared to 29 percent who support such action.

A Washington Post-ABC news poll found a similar margin, with nearly six in 10 Americans opposed to missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The polls found opposition across the political spectrum.

The Pew poll found that just 29 percent of Democrats support US airstrikes compared to 48 percent who are opposed.

Republicans are slightly more supportive of military action, with 35 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed, the Pew poll said.

The Post-ABC poll, however, found a nearly identical level of opposition among Democrats and Republicans, and Independents even more opposed to military action, with just 30 percent in favor and 66 percent opposed.

The Pew poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe a US strike would likely spark a backlash against Washington and its allies in the region, and 61 percent think it would lead to a long-term US military commitment there.
The low levels of support for military action could complicate US President Barack Obama’s efforts to rally congressional support for punitive strikes against Syria.

Obama won support Tuesday from key Republican leaders in the House, but faces an uphill battle convincing critics on the left and right to endorse another military campaign in the Middle East after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pew poll was conducted August 29-September 1 among 1,000 respondents. The Post-ABC poll was carried out August 28-September 1 among 1,012 respondents and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

CIA files: US knew about Saadam chemical attacks, gave him a hand

RB comment: This information was already known but how ironic, the US wants to launch a war on Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons yet they helped Saddam with them and then invaded Iraq for having them. We live in a world were the law and human rights mean nothing to governments who just use them for their own ends.

Al Ahed news

Afresh declassified CIA documents show that the United States had a hand in Iraq’s chemical attacks on Iran during the 1980-1988 war against the Islamic Republic.

America’s military and intelligence communities knew about Saddam’s deadly attacks and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks.

A new report revealed that during the war, the Iraqi military attacked Iran several times using mustard gas and sarin with the help of satellite imagery, maps and other intelligence provided by the US government, the Foreign Policy magazine said, citing CIA documents and interviews with former US intelligence officials.

The CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior US officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.
US officials have long denied having knowledge of the US involvement but retired Air Force Colonel Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, said the American officials knew of Iraq’s intention.
“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.
According to the newly declassified documents, in 1983, the Iraqi military carried out a chemical attack on Iranian forces and the Islamic Republic tried to take the issue to the United Nations.

Much of the evidence implicating Iraq was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. However, the US concealed the facts to block Iran’s bid at the UN.
“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the UN and charge US complicity in violating international law.”

The FP wrote that earlier in 1988, “during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. US intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.”

According to the documents, the satellite images, provided to Iraq in 1988, showed that Iran was going to gain a strategic advantage by using a hole in Iraqi defenses. CIA agents provided the Iraqi military with information on the movements of the Iranian troops and the location of the country’s logistics facilities as well as details about Iranian air defenses.

WHO is delaying release of Iraqi birth defect data?

(Iraq-file photo)

by Kelley B. Vlahos, source

Observers say they are on the cusp of getting the hard evidence needed to prove Iraqis are suffering from a disproportionate rate of birth defects and cancers, likely due to massive pollution caused by the war.

So what’s the problem? Or should we say, WHO is the problem?

As in the World Health Organization (WHO) is the public health arm of the United Nations and is tasked with “providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.” Currently, WHO is “providing technical assistance” to the Iraq Ministry of Health (MOH) in a much anticipated study of congenital health defects in 18 Iraqi districts, including Fallujah and Basra – places that have reported high rates of babies born with horrifying maladies since the war began. Basra, consequently, has reported higher incidents of cancer, too, since the first Persian Gulf War. See some of Antiwar’s previous coverage here.

The problem is, the results of the study, which began in May 2012, were expected in early 2013. Both medical and human rights advocates are wondering why they have been delayed – as of today, indefinitely. They want answers now.

“It is incredibly important for the Iraqi people that these data are published, and published in a swift and transparent manner,” said Doug Weir, Coordinator of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. “No more delays, independent peer review is the only way to ensure public confidence in the process.”

When contacted by Antiwar, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevik said the release of the data was in the Iraqis’ hands at MOH. When we reached out Dr. Mohamed Jaber, who is listed as an advisor to the Ministry of Health and deputy chair of the steering committee in charge of the study in Iraq, he said it was up to WHO to determine the release date. Upon further inquiry, Jasarevik said if MOH “ask(s) us to release it on their behalf, WHO would do it.”

That could be as early as September, Jasarevik told Antiwar.

A lengthy explanation on the WHO website offers one clue to the report’s delay so far. After a peek at the preliminary data in June, “it was established that this large data set has a great deal of potentially valuable information and that additional analyses not originally conceived of should be done.” It will also be peer reviewed. “A team of independent scientists is now being recruited,” and key findings will be released by the government of Iraq once “these steps are completed.”

Critics say that time is of the essence (Fallujah, which was the scene of two massive U.S military offensives in 2004 is reporting defects in 144 of all 1,000 babies born; Basra is reporting a 60 percent increase in defects among their own live births), and suspect the delays are politically motivated.

“I believe the Iraqi government is responding to pressure from the US to keep the issue under the radar,” charged Donna Mulhearn, an Australian antiwar activist who has traveled repeatedly to Fallujah and interviewed doctors as well as Iraq families affected. The degree of the physical horrors she and others have reported over the last several years is staggering: babies born with parts of their skulls missing, various tumors, missing genitalia, limbs and eyes, severe brain damage, unusual rates of paralyzing spina bifida (marked by the gruesome holes found in the tiny infants’ backs), Encephalocele (a neural tube defect marked by swollen sac-like protrusions from the head), and more.

Doctors have been crying out for help since at least 2010, when the BBC’s John Simpson was handed a photograph of a baby born in Fallujah with two heads. Women there were being told to stop getting pregnant. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health declared that some kind of congenital malformation was found in 15 percent of all births in Fallujah – heart defects being the most common, followed by neural tube defects.

In 2011, Fallujah doctors were reporting two birth defects a day, compared to two every two weeks in 2008. More recently in front of BBC cameras, Dr. Mushin Sabbak who works at Basra Maternity Hospital, said he believed that “mercury, lead, uranium” from the war are responsible for what his hospital is claiming to be a 60 percent increase in birth defects there. “We have no other explanation than this,” he said.

When Mulhearn visited Iraq this year, too, she said the situation remained unchanged. If anything it was worse. “There were about five babies born that we met – two of them died. It’s ongoing,” she told us in April.

“When I was in Iraq earlier this year there was a definite feeling of fear and intimidation among Doctors who felt pressure from the Government to stay quiet about increasing levels of cancer and birth defects,” Mulhearn recalled Antiwar last week in an email exchange.

“One cancer specialist in Basra was removed from his senior position in a hospital because he has been outspoken on the issue of radiation caused by depleted uranium pollution and what he believes is it’s terrible impact of the health of Iraqis in the Basra region. He was nervous about giving us an on-camera interview because of possible ramifications.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a Michigan-based environmental toxicologist who has been doggedly studying and speaking out about what she believes are defects caused by the pollution of war, wrote this in an August 11 op-ed for Al Jazeera:

In Iraq, war debris continues to wear away and erode populated cities. Such debris includes the wreckage of tanks and armoured vehicles, trucks and abandoned military ammunitions, as well as the remains of bombs and bullets. Left unabated, the debris will act as dangerous toxic reservoirs; releasing harmful chemicals into the environment and poisoning people who live nearby.

Today, increasing numbers of birth defects are surfacing in many Iraqi cities, including Mosul, Najaf, Fallujah, Basra, Hawijah, Nineveh, and Baghdad. In some provinces, the rate of cancers is also increasing. Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects – some never described in any medical books – are weighing heavily on Iraqi families.

Savabieasfahani questions the delay of the WHO study as well:

Everyone knows that large-scale epidemiological studies are expensive to fund and highly competitive proposals are elicited. It is a matter of routine practice to include a detailed study time-line in such proposals from the beginning – not at the end. The timeline routinely includes an estimation of time for data analysis and re-analysis, followed by publication of findings (i.e. peer-review). This normally means there is a clear and defined timeframe in which the data is expected to be published. The originally reported release date, November 2012, is now long gone.

The repeated delays, and fresh excuses for more delays, have left many observers puzzled, anddeeper concerns are being articulated. Critical faults in the design of the WHO study have now entered the spotlight, principally the study’s avoidance of any inquiry into causation.

This comes to the crux of things, for sure. While it will examine the prevalence of congenital birth defects in the 18 districts identified, it “is not aiming to establishing cause-effect associations between [congenital birth defects] prevalence and environmental risk factors.” In other words, the results might very well tell us there is a disproportionate rate of abnormalities in babies born to mothers after the war in Fallujah and Basra, but it will not say whether there is a direct correlation to heavy metals – including depleted uranium – in the air or groundwater there.

This “continues to alarm many scientists and public health professionals,” wrote Savabieasfahani.

She and others note that there have been a series of studies, independent and peer reviewed, that have already made the connections. However, the authority of the World Health Organization, working directly with the Iraqi government, would give similar findings an official urgency the previous studies could not offer. These institutions’ ostensible hesitancy is fueling theories that there is some greater pressure – from the US government, perhaps – at hand here.

Example: the aforementioned BBC story in March interviewed two MOH officials – on camera – saying the MOH/WHO report will show escalated numbers of birth defects in the cities that bore heavy fighting in the war. They women (unnamed) appear to say they believe that exploded munitions were linked to the rise in birth defects in these areas. When we asked about this on Aug. 15, Dr. Jaber flatly denied any of his people said any such thing.

When the BBC asked about the womens’ claims in that March story, the Pentagon did not respond. British officials said they were waiting for the official results of the study before commenting at all.

This is in line with the way the US military has dealt with these questions from the beginning. They either reject the claims outright or ignore reporters’ calls for comment. The consideration that depleted uranium leftover by both the first and second Gulf Wars might have a role to play (we know it was used – as I explain in my earlier Antiwar and American Conservative articles on the subject – but not how much) is a big one among advocates and critics. The Pentagon has strongly asserted that “no studies to date” have indicated a link between war munitions and “specific health issues” relating to what is happening in places like Fallujah today.

This isn’t true of course. There is this examination, which shows an increase in cancer and child mortality rates in Fallujah (2010). Meanwhile, Savabieasfahani has been working on her own studies like this one, which indicate higher levels of lead and mercury in children in Basra, where a staggering level of cancer and defects are noted (2012). But the emphasis is always on “official,” and where Pentagon spokespersons might have completely ignored this growing body of findings before, they might not be able to brush away more authoritative data from the WHO and MOH in the same way.

Maybe this is what they are afraid of.

The demand for action is growing, however. Samira Al’aani, a doctor in Fallujah who has been working “in Fallujah as a Pediatrician since 1997 but began to notice something was wrong in 2006 and began logging the cases” of birth defects, has started a petition on Change.org asking for the WHO and MOH to release the data as soon as possible. As of Aug. 16, it had reached 6,000 signatures, one of them being Hans von Sponeck, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, who wrote on the website last month:

The congenital defects research carried out in Fallujah is a crucial part of research in Iraq of the effects of foreign munitions illegally used against Iraq’s civilian population. WHO must be told it can not again evade its responsibilities to publish the data it has. Protection of impunity can not be the answer given by an important United Nations Agency to crimes committed.

Al’aani told Weir in a recent interview that the MOH was about to launch a similar study with the WHO in 2001 because of concerns that remnants of the first Gulf War had been causing a spike in cancer rates and deformities among Iraqi infants.

“Depleted uranium from US and UK munitions was among the environmental risk factors to be investigated,” Al’anni told Weir in the interview.

“After six months, the plans were in disarray. While Baghdad had initiated the project, after consultation the WHO had announced that any costs associated with the projects would need to be borne by Iraq itself,” she said. “The Iraqi government, convinced that the health problems had been caused by the 1991 Gulf War and were thus the fault of the US and its allies, refused to cooperate. Political concerns had trumped the needs of the Iraqi people.”

There is so much pollution in Iraq right now that those who do not want to believe that US and U.K war machines are directly responsible for the health effects can certainly suggest other culprits. The country’s infrastructure is wrecked and the Iraqi government has hardly been the model of urgency where reconstruction and environmental safety regarding clean drinking water and sewage are concerned. We can find stories dating back prewar of raw industrial sewage being dumped into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the main source of water, transport and recreation for millions of Iraqis. But after the war, especially, we recognize the extent of pollution is far beyond local communities’ ability to fix.

It’s lucky not everyone is sick, but realistically, we really don’t know how many are, and when the heartbreaking manifestations will occur over the course of a generation – or two, possibly more. That’s where the public health institutions like WHO and the MOH and the babies come in. We not only need to know the extent of birth defects, but why.

In that regard, they hold the future of Iraq in their hands.

Iraqi lawmaker says US covers up Saudi plots against Iraq

by Guy Billout

Press TV

A member of Iraq’s Free Iraqiya Party says the United States covers up the Saudi efforts to destabilize Iraq, Press TV reports.

Aliya Nassif told Press TV that Washington is not serious in its claim of intention to provide security for the Iraqi nation.

The Iraqi lawmaker also stated that Saudi Arabia triggers violence and insecurity in the region, particularly in Iraq, by supporting Takfiri terrorists.

Recently, cables were released about a secret memo by Christopher Hill, former US ambassador to Iraq, sent to the US Department of State in September 2009, in which it was mentioned, “Saudi Arabia constitutes the biggest challenge and the problem is more complex in relation to the Iraqi politicians who are trying to form a stable and independent government.”

Hill also said “intelligence sources reported that Saudi Arabia is based in the effort to destabilize the government of [Iraqi] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

The former US envoy added that Riyadh funds attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Iraq has seen a surge in violence since the beginning of this year. More than 4,000 people have died in terrorist attacks so far in 2013, with Baghdad province being the worst hit.

The United Nations said on August 1 that over 1,000 Iraqis were killed and more than 2,300 people were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in the month of July, making it the deadliest month in Iraq since 2008.

Abu Ghraib torture victims sued by ‘torturers’

Press TV

American defense contractor CACI International has sued four former detainees in Abu Ghraib prison to compensate the legal expenses it paid over their dismissed lawsuit regarding the company’s role in torturing the plaintiffs in the notorious jail in Iraq.

The four Iraqi nationals had earlier filed a lawsuit in a District Court in Alexandria against the company accusing it of torturing, humiliating and dehumanizing them when they served time in the prison.

But in July, the judge dismissed the case, saying the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit because the incidents happened overseas.

The Arlington-based company has now demanded the plaintiffs pay over $15,000 for travel allowances, deposition transcripts and witness fees, Common Dreams reported.

The lawyers for former Abu Ghraib prisoners in a federal court filing rejected the request.

Our clients “have very limited financial means, even by non-US standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in this case,” according to the filing.

“At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult – and only recently arguable – grounds.”

“Given the wealth disparities between this multi-billion dollar entity and four torture victims, given what they went through, it’s surprising and appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their rights to sue in US courts,” said Baher Azny, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights and the attorney for the plaintiffs.

“Our case is based on reports and investigations by high-level US military investigators, recognizing CACI’s role in conspiracy to torture detainees,” Azny added

“Once we get past legal obstacles and present the case to a jury, we are hopeful justice will come to these Iraqi victims.”

The lawyers who are planning to appeal the case to the US Court of Appeals in fall argue that US law should apply to CACI International as it is an American-based company that operated in a US military prison.

US pick as ambassador to Egypt ran Iraq ‘death squads’

Press TV

Egyptians are furious over reports about the designation of the US former ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford as the next American envoy as he allegedly ran “death squads” in Iraq.

Global Research, a Canadian website has claimed that Ford ran “death squads” in Iraq when he was political counselor at the embassy there from 2004-2006. The story has gone on Twitter and been reported by Egyptian media, irritating Egyptian authorities and people about the move to appoint Ford to the job.

Hashtags such as #NoToRobertFord in English and in Arabic, “We refuse the American ambassador to Egypt,” appeared on the microblogging site after media reports said Ford has been considered by the White House as the next US envoy in Egypt.

“The new sponsor of terrorism in Egypt,” tweeted one user, referring to the US career diplomat. Another warned, “Watch out Ford, if you come to Cairo .. You won’t be an ambassador .. You will b a target”.

Ford was appointed US Ambassador to Syria in late January 2011, more than a month before the crisis started in the Arab country.

Wayne Madsen, an American investigative journalist said in September 2011 that Ford “has been responsible for recruiting Arab “death squads” from Al Qaeda-affiliated units in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Chechnya to fight against Syrian military and police forces in embattled Syria.”

With growing anti-American sentiments in Egypt, the US would face huge obstacles in rebuilding its lost reputation, an analyst says.

“It is a very difficult task,” Mohamed Elmenshawy, director at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told FoxNews.com. “Given the level of anti-American sentiment from all Egyptian political players, Ford has serious challenges ahead of him. It will take serious initiatives by the U.S. to recover its reputation in Egypt in order to make the mission of the new ambassador easier.

Rise of cancers and birth defects in Iraq: World Health Organization refuses to release data

(Iraqi cancer patient-file photo)

by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, source

To the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi Ministry of Health: (New signatures added)

The back-breaking burden of cancers and birth defects continues to weigh heavily on the Iraqi people.

The joint WHO and Iraqi Ministry of Health Report on cancers and birth defect in Iraq was originally due to be released in November 2012. It has been delayed repeatedly and now has no release date whatsoever.

By March 2013, staff from the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced that this report will show an increase in cancers and birth defects due to the explosions of war. This was broadcasted repeatedly on the BBC.

Therefore we are baffled and alarmed at the WHO’s inability to release any of its findings, despite our urgent request of May 2013, for the WHO to release its report.

The Iraqi birth defects epidemic, by itself, would outrage anyone with the simplest understanding of population health and disease. Who could justify blocking the release of information from a long-completed investigation of that epidemic?

Why have our inquiries failed to break the WHO’s apparent filibuster against releasing that data? WHO has a staff of thousands, including medical doctors, public health specialists, scientists, and sophisticated epidemiologists. They are certainly capable of presenting that data to the public by now.

The need for a timely response to public health emergencies (such as the one unfolding in Iraq) is at the heart of all epidemiological studies. Delivering adequate and timely population relief should be the focal point of this WHO report — but where is the report? Where is the data which was clearly summarized (without numbers) on the BBC in March 2013?

We are now told that some new decisions were taken during a June 25th 2013 meeting http://www.emro.who.int/irq/iraq-infocus/faq-congenital-birth-defect-study.html between WHO and high level authorities of the Iraqi Ministry. They decided that not even a few bits of that birth-defects report can be released before WHO jumps these new hurdles:

(1) “additional analyses not originally conceived”,

(2) “in addition to further analyses, it was determined the work should also undergo the scientific standard of peer review”.

(3) recruitment of a “team of independent scientists… to review the planned analyses”.

(4) “preparation for that meeting”,

(5) “a summary report of that meeting”

(6) “key findings from the analysis” to be released following steps 1-5 above.

To an untrained ear, these might sound like reasonable explanations.  We are certainly not opposed to additional steps like analyses, peer review, etc.

Yet none of those steps should be interposed as excuses for further delay in releasing the data which is already known. If it was known in March 2013, when the BBC broadcasted the Iraqi Ministry’s comments on that data, then surely now that information can be released. Why is it still treated like a state secret?

However, large-scale epidemiological studies, such as the WHO report on Iraq birth defects, are expensive to fund. Hence, highly competitive proposals are elicited for such studies. It is a matter of routine practice to include a detailed study time-line in such proposals from the beginning — not at the end. The time-line routinely includes an estimation of time for data analysis and reanalysis, followed by publication of findings (i.e. peer-review). This normally means there is a clear and defined timeframe in which the data is expected to be published.  The originally reported release date (November 2012) is now long gone. So yes, the continuing delay, augmented by fresh excuses for more delay, concerns us.

The past record of the WHO when dealing with related findings from the region are also a source of serious concern.

The British Medical Journal published an article entitled” WHO suppressed evidence on effects of depleted uranium, expert says” in November 2006. It suggested that earlier WHO reports were compromised by the omission of a full account of depleted uranium genotoxicity.

Additionally, recent revelations by Hans von Sponeck, the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, suggest that WHO may be susceptible to pressure from its member states. Mr. von Sponeck has saidthat “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”

Given the urgent public health crisis in Iraq, we the undersigned encourage the WHO and the Iraqi Health Ministry to release all available data from their completed study on birth defects and cancers immediately.

The Iraqi people’s health will be further harmed if you continue to delay that release. Allowing the public to examine that data cannot possibly hamper the WHO’s own expanded analysis.

Affiliations are listed only for identification purposes, unless otherwise indicated.

1) Muhsin Al-Sabbak , Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Al Basrah Maternity Hospital, Basrah, Iraq.

2) Susan Sadik Ali, Professor of Dentistry, Al Basrah Maternity Hospital, Basrah, Iraq.

3) Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, Researcher, Environmental Toxicologist, Tehran, Iran.

4) Saeed Dastgiri, Professor of Epidemiology, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

5) Azadeh Shahshahani, National Lawyers Guild, Atlanta, Georgia U.S.A.

6) As`ad AbuKhalil, Professor, Dept. of Politics, California State University, Stanislaus; U.S.A.

7) Maged Agour MD, Consultant Psychiatrist, U.K.

8) A Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair of the Department of International Development Studies Trent University, Canada.

9) Izzeldin Abuelaish, Associate Professor of Global Health, University of Toronto, Canada.

10) Michael Albert, American activist, economist, speaker, and writer.

11) Riad Bacho, Associate Professor, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon.

12) Haim Bresheeth, Professor of film studies, filmmaker, photographer, University of East London, U.K.

13) David O. Carpenter, M.D. Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, N.Y.

14) Noam Chomsky, Professor of linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A.

15) Blaine Coleman, Human rights activist and attorney, U.S.A.

16) Michael Collins, Professor, UCLA School of Public Health, Department of Molecular Toxicology, Environmental Health Sciences, Los Angeles U.S.A.

17) David Cromwell Co-Editor, Media Lens, U.K.

18) Tom Davis, Chief Program Officer, Food for the Hungry, U.S.A.

19) Peter Eglin, Department of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.

20) Christo El Morr, Assistant Professor of Health Informatics, York University, Canada.

21) Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s University, Canada.

22) Irene Gendzier, Professor, Dept of Political Science, Boston University, USA.

23) Jess Ghannam, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, and Global Health Sciences University of California, San Francisco, USA.

24) Prof. David Ingleby, Centre for Social Science and Global Health, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

25) Kazuko Ito, Secretary General, signing on behalf of Human Rights Now, Japan.

26) Ms. Nahoko Tahako, Human Rights Now, Japan.

27) Jon Jureidini Professor and Child Psychiatrist, Department of Psychological Medicine Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide, University of Adelaide and Senior Research Fellow Department of Philosophy, Flinders University, South Australia.

28) Ilan Kapoor, Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada.

29) Leili Kashani, Human rights activist, Center for constitutional rights, U.S.A.

30) Michael Keefer, Professor emeritus School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada.

31) Imad Khadduri, Iraqi nuclear scientist. U.K.

32) David Klein, Professor of Mathematics, California State University, Northridge, U.S.A.

33) Mustafa Koc, Professor, Department of Sociology and Centre for Studies in Food Security, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

34) Hans Koechler, Professor and Chair of Political Philosophy and Philosophical Anthropology University of Innsbruck, President of the International Progress Organization, Vienna, Austria.

35) Malcolm Levitt, School of Chemistry, University of Southampton, U.K.

36) Drake Logan Civilian-Soldier Alliance, Right to Heal Initiative Right to Heal/Operation Recovery Research Team New York, United States.

37) Rudy List, Professor Emeritus, Mathematics, University of Birmingham, U.K.

38) Ken Loach, television and film director. U.K.

39) Moshe Machover, Professor Emeritus of philosophy, King’s College, London, U.K.

40) Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, U.S.A.

41) Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH, Senior Mother & Child Health Advisor, on behalf of Health Alliance InternationalSeattle, U.S.A.

42) David Nicholl, MD, Consultant Neurologist, Birmingham, U.K.

43) David Ozonoff, Professor of Environmental Health, Boston University, Boston, U.S.A.

44) David Peterson, Chicago-based writer and researcher. U.S.A.

45) Mr. John Pilger, journalist and film director. U.K.

46) Elaine Power, Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University Kingston, Canada.

47) Hilary Rose, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bradford Emerita Professor of Genetics and Society, Gresham College, London, former consultant to the WHO Copenhagen, Denmark.

48) Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor of Biology (neuroscience) Department of Life Health and Chemical Sciences The Open University Milton Keynes, MK76AA Emeritus Professor of Physick (Genetics and Society) Gresham College London

49) Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Department of Management, London School of Economics.

50) Pamela Spees, Senior Staff Attorney, on behalf of Center for Constitutional Rights, United States.

51) Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill, Centre for Rural Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.

52) Susanne Soederberg, Professor of Global Development Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

53) John Tirman, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist, Center for International Studies, MIT, U.S.A.

54) Tahir Zaman, Center for Research on Migration and Belonging, University of East London, U.K.

Car bombings kill more across Iraq – dozens killed, over 200 injured

Press TV

Dozens of people have been killed and over 200 others wounded in a series of bomb attacks across Iraq, security and medical sources say.

On Monday, seventeen car bombs exploded in several neighborhoods of the capital, Baghdad. Most of the areas were mainly Shia neighborhoods.

Two more car bombs went off near a bus station in the city of Kut, 150 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of the capital. At least ten people died in that incident.

Four people were also killed in an explosion in the town of Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad. Two other blasts in Samawa, further south, killed two people.

The rest of the explosions occurred in the neighborhoods of Sadr City, Habibiya, Hurriya, Bayaa, Ur, Shurta, Kadhimiya, Risala, Tobchi and Abu Dsheer.

The Monday bombings come a day after 14 people, among them nine Kurdish police died in a car bomb attack in Iraq’s northern province of Salahuddin.

On July 25, over 40 people were killed and many others injured in bombings and shootings across Iraq.

Armed men launched an attack on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons on July 21, sparking clashes that lasted for some 10 hours. Half a thousand prisoners escaped, and at least 20 Iraqi soldiers and 21 inmates were killed.

The string of attacks across Iraq has left more than 4,000 people dead since the beginning of 2013, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

Bombings and shooting attacks have plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.

July has been the deadliest month so far in 2013, with the carnage killing more than 810 people.

Syria, Iraq and Depleted Uranium

by John Bart Gerald, source

As the U.S.considers expanding its war on Syria to overt military aggression, Iraq provides some warning of the human cost of accepting the policies of madmen. In Iraq military action starting with “Desert Storm” in 1991, caused the near total destruction of Iraq’s society, culture, environment and eventual losses of millions of innocent people. Health and mortality information risks heavy suppression and manipulation since it provides evidence concerning a crime. In Spain, theBrussells Tribunal‘s cogent case attempting to prosecute George Bush, Tony Blair and others for genocide inIraq was rejected by the court. Lack of legal recourse for the people of Iraq before a non-partisan international court marks the International Criminal Court’s failure to bend the major powers from illegal wars of aggression.

Primary alleged crimes of the U.S. and NATO coalition’s war on Iraq remain unaddressed:

1. aggression and the betrayal ofIraq’s sovereignty.

2. massive military bombardment of civilian areas.

3. intentional destruction of the civilian infrastructure and water supply.

4. use of depleted uranium weaponry to cause the slow death of civilian populations and render portions of the land unable to sustain health and life in the future.

While these points are neglected by the media, current information concerning use of depleted uranium is so notably missing there may be an attempt to remove the issue from the public’s awareness (1 and 2). While depleted uranium is a lethal radiological weapon, relevant public information is suppressed, excised, falsely countered and ignored.

Serbian sources claim that a UNEP 1999 Environmental Law report revealing the permanent damage to Yugoslavia was entirely suppressed, but with a portion leaked to an American journalist. In North America where the weapons are made, it’s not a welcome issue. Depleted uranium use indicates the intention of genocide against a people, their ability to reproduce, the health of theirchildren, and continuation as a people.

A year after its slated release date, a report by the United Nations World Health Organization on congenital birth defects in areas ofIraqsubjected to depleted uranium

weaponry, hasn’t appeared though it was completed in October 2012. This oversight is  brought to the public’s attention in articles by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani in Aljazeera, and  Sudeshna Chowdhury in Inter Press Service. The withholding of the WHO report suggests extreme pressure on the World Health Organization by nations which have something terrible to hide. It would be difficult for the report to sidestep epidemic rates of cancer in Iraq regions where depleted uranium was used. Chowdhury’s article, “WHO’s Iraq Birth Defect Study Omits Causation,” indicates the WHO report purposefully avoids considering the causes of the overwhelming birth defects, disease, and death rates. The report relies in part on Iraq’s Ministry of Health for information. The Health Ministry is part of a government set up under occupation by the United States. If the WHO report is allowed to appear, it may cover, dissimulate, mask, and avoid blaming the major powers.

The issue of depleted uranium’s effects however, will exist as long as there are Iraqis, Yugoslavs or Afghans, – and U.S. and Coalition veterans. And because of their knowledge, victim peoples are further endangered. The proof of the damage resulting from unjust wars of aggression stays in the memories of the victim parents, the lives of the children who survive despite deformities, in the statistics for deaths by cancer which don’t begin to translate the burden of suffering for entire families.

Not only in Iraq, but Yugoslavia,Kosovo,Afghanistan,Libya, the people are finding they do not have the value of sparrows, and their lives and their children’s lives are taken from them without cause, by policies and military planners who have set themselves apart from humanity. At its inception the Convention on Genocide foresaw complicity of those in power to cover each other’s crimes and so is applicable without statute of limitations. To hide crimes of power, the present is hidden from us. For the future then, whatever the WHO report reveals or hides about the deformed children of Fallujah for example, there are studies (several are alluded to in Ms. Chowdhury’s article) that address effects of depleted uranium from the perspective of people who care about people more than politics:

“Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview,” Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Aug. 2006, Brussells Tribunal.

“The perpetual death from America,” Mohammed Daud Miraki, 2002, reprinted, nightslantern.ca.

“The silent genocide from America,” Miraki,  2003, reprinted nightslantern.ca.

“In a state of uncertainty,” IKV Pax Christi, January 2013, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Crimes of the Century: Occupation & Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium,”  Al-Azzawi, June 24, 2005, Brussells Tribunal.

“Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering,” Fact Finding Mission on congenital birth defects in Fallujah Iraqin 2013, April 2013, Human Rights Now.

“Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq,” Samira Alaani, Muhammed Tafash, Christopher Busby, Malak Hamdan, Eleanore Blaurock-Busch, Sept. 2, 2011, Cell & Bioscience.

The people of Syria are already plunged into disaster with UN assessment of the number of refugees the largest since the Rwandan genocide. AsU.S.and NATO threats of direct military action against Syria continue, North Americans proceed with their lives as if there’s nothing wrong. As if the big lies reflect the common good. As if the murder of hundreds of thousands of distant people for the profits of a few, is somehow moral, legal, necessary, or safe to cooperate with the obvious terrible crimes of imperialism. It isn’t.

Partial sources online: “What’s delaying the WHO report on Iraqi birth defects?” Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, June 6, 2013,  Aljazeera; “UN health agency, Iraq studying birth defects,” AFP, Oct. 5, 2010, Google News; “Serbia: NATO’s Uranium Embrace,” Anna Filimonova, Jan. 29, 2013,Strategic Culture Foundation; “Depleted uranium ‘threatens Balkan cancer epidemic’ ,” Alex Kirby, July 30, 1999, BBC News; “The Responsibility of the US in Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium,” Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Nov. 9, 2009 (presented at the Kuala Lumpur International Conference to Criminalise War, October 2009), uruknet.info;  “WHO’s Iraq Birth Defect Study Omits Causation,” Sudeshna Chowdhury, July 17, 2013, IPS; “Iraqi  cities ‘hot’ with depleted uranium,” Sara Flounders, August 2003, International Action Center; “‘Merciful angel’ still killing,” March 6, 2013, International Radio Serbia; “‘Fallujan Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq,” Dahr Jamail, March 18, 2013, Al Jazeera; “The Balkan DU Cover-up: Washington is Pressuring NATO and the UN to Keep the Lid on Investigations,” Robert James Parsons, March 22, 2001, The Nation.

Series of deadly Iraq attacks claims 75 lives

Al Manar

The death toll from a series of deadly car bombings and shooting attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and other cities has risen to 75.

Twelve car bombs and a roadside bomb struck different commercial areas in Baghdad districts on Saturday. At least 65 people died and about 200 others were wounded as blasts went off after the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast or Iftar.

In the deadliest attacks, two car bombs claimed the lives of 12 people in Karrada, central Baghdad, while two car explosions and a roadside bomb hit Zafraniyah, southwest Baghdad.

Earlier in the day, gunmen shot and killed Bassem Mahmoud, a leader of the anti-al-Qaeda group Sahwa, and two of his bodyguards near the city of Baqouba, the capital of Diyala Province.

Meanwhile, a bomb blast in Madain, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of Baghdad, killed five people.

In the northern city of Mosul, an explosion killed one woman and wounded 25 others.

MKO committing rights violations: UN special envoy to Iraq

Press TV

Outgoing UN special envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler has slammed the leaders of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) for human rights violations in Camp Hurriya in Iraq.

Addressing the UN Security Council On Tuesday, Kobler said, “Of increasing concern are the human rights abuses in Camp Hurriya itself by the camp leadership. Hundreds of daily monitoring reports suggest that the lives of Camp Hurriya (formerly known as Camp Liberty) members are tightly controlled.”

“A significant number of residents have reported to UN monitors that they are not free to leave the camp, to participate in the resettlement process offered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to contact family members outside Iraq or to have contact with other relatives even within the camp itself,” the UN special envoy to Iraq added.

The UN envoy added that some MKO members had complained about being deprived of medical treatment by the group’s leaders.

The MKO – listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community – fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where it received the support of Iraq’s executed dictator Saddam Hussein, and set up a camp (Camp Ashraf) near the Iranian border.

In December 2011, the United Nations and Baghdad agreed to relocate some 3,000 MKO members from Camp New Iraq, formerly known as Camp Ashraf, in Diyala Province, to Camp Hurriya – a former US military base near Baghdad International Airport.

The UN seeks to relocate the MKO members to third countries as part of its agreement with Baghdad to facilitate the group’s complete exit from Iraq.

Kobler said in June that 71 members had been transferred to Albania, and Germany had also proposed to accept around 100 members.

The group is notorious for carrying out numerous terrorist acts against Iranian civilians and officials.

Tehran has repeatedly called on Baghdad to expel the terrorist group, but the US has been blocking the expulsion by pressuring the Iraqi government.

Rape of Iraqi women by US forces as weapon of war: Photos and data emerge

(File photo)

(Note: Out of respect to the victim and due to the graphic nature of the photos they will not be posted on the blog)

by Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune, Washington, D.C. 03 October (Asiantribune.com):

In March 2006 four US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division gang raped a 14 year old Iraqi girl and murdered her and her family —including a 5 year old child. An additional soldier was involved in the cover-up.

One of the killers, Steven Green, was found guilty on May 07, 2009 in the US District Court of Paducah and is now awaiting sentencing.

The leaked Public Affairs Guidance put the 101st media team into a “passive posture” — withholding information where possible. It conceals presence of both child victims, and describes the rape victim, who had just turned 14, as “a young woman”.

The US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division did not begin its investigation until three and a half months after the crime, news reports at that time commented.

This is not the only grim picture coming out of Iraq U.S. forces being accused of using rape as a war weapon.

The release, by CBS News, of the photographs showing the heinous sexual abuse and torture of Iraqi POW’s at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison opened a Pandora’s Box for the Bush regime wrote Ernesto Cienfuegos in La Voz de Aztlan on May 2, 2004.

Journalist Cienfuegos further states “Apparently, the suspended US commander of the prison where the worst abuses took place, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, has refused to take the fall by herself and has implicated the CIA, Military Intelligence and private US government contractors in the torturing of POW’s and in the raping of Iraqi women detainees as well.”

Brigadier General Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, described a high-pressure Military Intelligence and CIA command that prized successful interrogations. A month before the alleged abuses and rapes occurred, she said, a team of CIA, Military Intelligence officers and private consultants under the employ of the US government came to Abu Ghraib. “Their main and specific mission was to give the interrogators new techniques to get more information from detainees,” she said.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He later confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May 2009.

The London newspaper further noted “graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President Obama’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.”

Maj. Gen. Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

In April, Mr. Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr. Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

In May, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

In April 2004, new photographs were sent to La Voz de Aztlan from confidential sources depicting the shocking rapes of two Iraqi women by what are purported to be US Military Intelligence personnel and private US mercenaries in military fatigues. It is now known, Cienfuegos wrote in May 2004, that hundreds of these photographs had been in circulation among the troops in Iraq. The graphic photos were being swapped between the soldiers like baseball cards.

Asian Tribune carries here three of the ‘Rape’ photographs which have brought criticism that the U.S. forces in Iraq have used rape as a weapon of war.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 558 other followers