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NSA shares raw data about US citizens with ’Israel’

Al Ahed news

A top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed Thursday that the National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with “Israel” without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its “Israeli” counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the “Israelis”.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the “Israelis” would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and “Israeli” intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for “Israeli” intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that “Israel” is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

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

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

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

“Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights,” the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian published in full, allows Tel Aviv to retain “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the “Israelis” should consult the NSA’s special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The “Israelis” were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”.

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans’ emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world’s internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency’s surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons’ identities”. It also requests that the “Israelis” limit access only to personnel with a “strict need to know”.

“Israeli” intelligence is allowed “to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA” on condition that it does so “in a manner that does not identify the US person”. The agreement also allows “Israel” to release US person identities to “outside parties, including all INSU customers” with the NSA’s written permission.

“Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and “Israeli” needs has been a constant challenge,” states the report, titled ‘History of the US – “Israel” Sigint Relationship, Post-1992′. “In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.”

In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that “Israe”l aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the “Israelis” are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like “Israel”. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with “Israel”. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for “Israeli” personnel to protect US person information.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: “Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR [“Israel”] operations.

The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the “Israelis” or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with “Israel”.

In its statement, the NSA said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.”

WMD double standards: CIA documents reveal Israeli stockpile of chemical weapons

by Saed Bannoura, source

A newly-discovered document of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency revealed Monday by Foreign Policy magazine shows that the U.S. agency had decisive evidence dating back to at least the 1980s that Israel had a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The revelation comes in the midst of the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on August 21st.

The document revealed by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday shows that, in addition to building up a nuclear stockpile of an estimated three hundred nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 70s, the Israeli military also developed an extensive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The 1983 document stated that U.S. spy satellites had identified “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

“While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the document adds, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

The single page of a larger CIA report was discovered at the Ronald Reagan Library in California in its unredacted form – the report had been released several years ago to the National Archives, but was heavily censored.

According to the Foreign Policy report, “Israeli historian Avner Cohen, in his 1988 book Israel and the Bomb, wrote that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly ordered that a stockpile of chemical weapons be built at about the time of the 1956 war between Israel and Egypt. The CIA, on the other hand, believed that Israel did not begin work on chemical weapons until either the late 1960s or the early 1970s.

The article included the following assessment from the 1983 CIA report: “Israel, finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding CW [chemical weapons] capabilities, became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack. Its sensitivities were galvanized by the capture of large quantities of Soviet CW-related equipment during both the 1967 Arab-Israeli and the 1973 Yom Kippur wars. As a result, Israel undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas.”

The Israeli government has harshly criticized the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons three weeks ago, and has encouraged President Obama’s pledge to respond militarily.

Israel did sign the Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, but the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) never ratified the treaty. Israel has never opened its nuclear facility or its chemical weapons stockpile to international inspections.

Expert: Firing rockets message for military, Congress, Syria and allies & related news

Lebanese Expert: Firing Rockets Message for Military, Congress, Syria and Allies

Al Manar

The Lebanese military expert and strategist retired Brigadier General Amin Hoteit said Tuesday that the joint Israel-American military force that has been formed on the sidelines of the NATO Navy forces.

A Zionist navy piece was attached to these forces without being the so-called ‘Israel’ a member of NATO,” Hotiet told Al-Manar website.

“This new attached force has tested today the rocket systems (Tomahawk and cruise missiles, as well as interceptors platform for missiles),” he added.

As for the regional and international messages behind firing the rockets, Hoteit believed that the operation holds a certain message to the military force that it is mobilized for a serious and imminent war.

“There is also a message to the U.S. Congress that the forces are ready and wait for the war approval.”

“Another message to Syria and its allies in the framework of intimidation and psychological warfare to say that the war is coming, the threat is serious and that there is no retreat from aggression,” he added.

In the final evaluation, the Lebanese expert said the rockets will not change the landscape and the balance of power, but if the United States wants to attack, it must prepare with its agents in the region for an open war.

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Israeli Army Launched Med Missiles as Part of Joint US-Israeli Drill

Al Manar

Missiles that Russia reported were launched in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday were part of a joint American-Israeli military exercise, Israeli media said.

A missile launch early Tuesday in the Mediterranean Sea was part of joint American-Israeli military exercises, Israel’s defence ministry said.

“The Israeli defence ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defence Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” it said in a statement.

The Zionist army said it was “not familiar” with any missiles being fired in the Mediterranean. It said it didn’t detected signs missiles were launched into Syria or had exploded in Damascus.

Russia on Tuesday announced that its missile early warning system had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.

The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time (0616 GMT) and were detected by the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had already reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.

“The launch was detected by the early warning radar in Armavir,” the Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying. “The trajectory of the targets in question was from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline,” it added.

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Miqdad to al-Manar: Saudi Arabia Wants to Eliminate Syria by Every Means

Al Manar

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Miqdad stressed on Monday his country’s readiness to confront any aggression waged against it, underlying that any attack on Syria will set the whole region ablaze.

“We all know that the West cannot be trusted, because of this we are ready for confrontation and for anything that might happen,” Miqdad said.

“Any attack on Syria will set this region ablaze. When the first rocket got fired, no one can predict the resulted repercussions,” he added.

During an exclusive interview with Al-Manar TV, the Syrian deputy FM criticized Riyadh position of Syria, and pointed out that the Saudi regime wants to end Syria by every means, to serve the American and Zionist interests.

“The Saudi regime is fallen since long in its people’s eye, as well as in the Arab nation’s eye. They are facing now the battle of challenge and last downfall.”

Fielding a question about the Saudi hastening to attack Syria, Miqdad justified it as spite, hatred:
“This is the attitude of the salve who seeks to pacify his master and to present more services which have not been requested.”

Addressing the Lebanese file, the Syrian politician expressed beliefs that Lebanon is strong due to its will and diplomats.

“Lebanon is strong because it has the will and the foreign ministers who are able to be united and defend the Lebanese interest,” Miqdad stressed.

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Lawmakers Blast Obama’s Syria War Draft

Al Manar

American lawmakers have criticized the draft of President Barack Obama’s authorization for military action in Syria, saying it could open the door to attacks on other countries.US

Obama and other White House officials pressed lawmakers on Monday to approve military force against Syria.

However, there is deep disagreement on how to proceed, with some lawmakers saying the draft authorization is too broad in scope and duration.

The lawmakers are worried that the draft could let Obama attack other countries as well. They say although the authorization’s focus is on the use of chemicals in Syria, it has not set a time limit on military action, and has not confined it only to Syria.

The proposal authorizes the president to use the armed forces “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria,” Reuters reported.

The proposal also explicitly allows military action to deter or prevent the transfer of those weapons into or out of Syria.

Congressional hesitancy reflects the overall weariness of war among Americans who oppose getting involved in Syria.

“People have become, it’s more than just war-weary, they’ve become skeptical of the effectiveness of these military involvements,” said Rep. James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“The resolution that they are presenting right now is so open-ended, I think even people who are sympathetic to the administration might have trouble supporting it,” he added.

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Human Shields Campaign: To Protect Syria from Potential Attack

by Ali Abdallah, Syria, Al Ahed news

A group of Syrians from all walks of life, including young artists and athletes, participated in the campaign called “Over our Dead Bodies” on Monday, to help protect the country from potential foreign military action.

The participants are shielding key facilities in the capital, Damascus, pledging to stand their ground until the US military threats are stopped or they are killed. The organizers of the campaign said they have received calls from all over the world asking for permission to join the movement. The campaign comes as amid threats of foreign military intervention in Syria.

The campaign was launched at Damascus’s Sheraton hotel through a press conference, in which Syrian artist Laura abu Asaad, Journalist Ogarit Dandash, and Swimmer Firas Maala took part. The campaign was welcomed by a vast audience, and the number of volunteers increased after a facebook page was established for the campaign.

Ghassan Najjar, the media coordinator of the campaign said “The goal of this campaign is to deliver a message to the world that says: The Syrians will not stand still before the US possible attack to be launched against their country. They will rather stand in face [of this attack] to protect Syria and its facilities with their bare bodies.”

In a statement to al-Ahed news, Najjar stated “The initiative started in Qasyoun Mount in Damascus, as it stands symbol to the capital Damascus and to all Syria. Tens of young men, women, and even children gathered in the tents that were set up for the campaign, while more volunteers arrive day after day.”

For her part, well-known Lebanese journalist Ogarit Dandash accentuated “Syrian expatriates, also some Arabs [Egyptians, Jordanians, Morrocan] and Westerners from Germany and the US have a strong desire to participate in the campaign, therefore they contact the organizers and ask about how they can support the movement, and what to do to contribute in prevent a military strike.”

According to the organizers, some young Syrians who do not belong to any party or political side have already started to execute the idea of human shields in other Syrian provinces. Also, striking it is that the campaign is not funded by any group or party.

The idea of human shields, according to Dandash, is not a similar to protests and rallies. Being a human shield means presenting oneself as armor to protect the civil and military facilities, and risk their safety.
On August 21, terrorist militants and the foreign-backed opposition in Syria claimed that 1,300 people had been killed in a chemical attack the Syrian government launched on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

A number of Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK, were quick to adopt the rhetoric of war against Syria despite the fact that Damascus categorically rejected having had any role in the chemical attack.

The Syrian government announced later that the chemical attack had actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false flag operation.

On August 29, the British parliament voted against participation by Britain, the United States’ closest ally, in any potential military intervention in Syria. While the British government had primarily sought a second vote in the parliament as well, it ruled out any such vote on September 2, saying that the parliament “has spoken,” and that the government “has absolutely no plans to go back to parliament.”

On Friday, August 30, NATO also distanced itself from participating in any military intervention in Syria, with the chief of the Western military coalition, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying he did not “foresee any NATO role” in a war on Syria.

Syrian armed groups in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In a report published on Friday, the armed groups revealed that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by militants mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack,” wrote Gavlak.

Despite warnings from the UN, as well as Iran, Russia, and China against war, Washington has remained defiant, saying that it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria without the approval of the United Nations or even the support of its allies. However, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday, August 31 that his administration will first seek authorization from the Congress.

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Vatican renews calls against Syria strike

Source

A top Vatican official on Monday warned the war in Syria could escalate into a global conflict, a day after Pope Francis made an impassioned call for peace.

“The Syria conflict has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions,” Monsignor Mario Toso, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican radio.

“The solution to Syria’s problems is not in armed intervention. Violence will not decrease and there is a risk of a conflagration that extends to other countries,” he said…

Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday for peace in Syria, calling on Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers to take part.

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Two Thirds of British People Oppose Strikes on Syria

Al Ahed news

A poll published by The Independent British daily showed that “the Iraq War has turned the British public against any military intervention in the Middle East.”

According to a ComRes survey for the daily, “By a margin of two-to-one, the British people oppose President Barack Obama’s plan for military strikes against Syria and say that the UK should keep out of all conflicts in the region for the foreseeable future.”

The ComRes survey suggests that MPs were right, at least according to public opinion, to veto air strikes by Britain last Thursday.

It found that only 29 per cent of people agree that the US, without Britain, should launch air strikes against the Syrian regime, while 57 per cent disagree.

Four out of five people believe that any military strikes against Syria should first be sanctioned by the United Nations, while 15 per cent disagree with this statement.

Asked whether the experience of the 2003 Iraq war means that Britain should keep out of military conflicts in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, 62 per cent agree and 31 per cent disagree.

A majority of supporters of every party agree with this statement, with Labor and UK Independence Party voters more likely to believe Britain should “keep out” than Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters.

After his Commons rebuff, a majority of people 54 per cent agree that David Cameron showed he is “out of touch with Britain” in his handling of the Syria crisis, while 34 per cent disagree. Worryingly for the Prime Minister, a third of current Tory supporters (33 per cent) and almost half of voters overall (42 per cent) believe Cameron showed he is out of touch, as do 76 per cent of Ukip supporters.

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory former International Development Secretary, said: “It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, [the US] Congress affirms its support for the President’s plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further.”

But Cameron’s spokesman said: “Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament.”

Downing Street indicated that Britain does not expect its military bases – such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria – to be used in any air strikes.

Treaty obligations, war crimes, and accountability: A study in American hypocrisy

by Martin Rowson

by Nima Shirazi, source

“I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a “napalm” bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama’s predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is “one of the most toxic compounds known to human,” and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimatedthat “as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange.”

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, “America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.” Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, “U.S. 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,” and that “Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence.”

More:

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America’s best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Vietnam, and Myanmar – to refuse to abide by the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community — even by non-signatories to such treaties – should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a “multilateral disarmament agreement” that “provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.” As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, “clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions.”

Harf added, “There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here.”

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:

[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The United Statesvoted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, “in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000.”  While the Obama administration has walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel – along with only three other countries on Earth – is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT — including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel – the only nuclear-armed state in the region – and promised to “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, “The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own ‘credibility,’ its position as a hegemonic power.”

Even taking the U.S. government at its word – a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences – presents problems of its own, namely that anypurportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007:  “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:

The Obama administration has already confirmed that itsprimary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, thesemight include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concernsabout such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.

As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that – unlike the rest of the world – when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.

*****UPDATE:

MSNBC‘s resident loudmouth Chris Matthews – who fancies himself somewhat of an historian – is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military’s past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.

Let alone Matthews’ ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that “Hitler didn’t use them.” Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in themainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad’s alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, “It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.”

Well, first off, Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn’t even made a decision to do so. It has alsoroutinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic Armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history of promoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignoranceabout the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on a civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, “[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

McNamara wondered, “Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?”

Homeland Security Made in ‘Israel’

by Philip Giraldi, source

If there should happen to be an al-Qaeda attack in Calhoun County Alabama, Sheriff Larry Amerson will presumably know what to do. That is because he and a number of colleagues in law enforcement have received paid trips to Israel to learn how to deal with the terrorist threat.

The Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) sponsors a Law Enforcement Exchange Program “in order to learn how to better protect the U.S. communities from terrorist attacks.” The program takes law enforcement officials from the United States and sends them to Israel for training in the “strategies and techniques perfected by Israeli law enforcement.” Amerson, past president of the National Sheriff’s Association, made his trip in 2012. Along the way, he reportedly benefited from a “greater understanding of the situation in Israel as it relates to terrorist threats.” JINSA also hosts conferences in the U.S. where Israeli officers are brought over to brief American law enforcement officials.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is also involved in the effort to indoctrinate the U.S. law enforcement community. Its website’s Homeland Security Monitor chronicles numerous meetings between Israeli intelligence and police officials and their U.S. counterparts, to include numerous trips to Israel to learn from the masters of the craft about various aspects of security, including controlling borders and airports. Even firemen have made the journey, presumably to learn how a fire in Israel differs from a fire in the United States.

Ironically, American law enforcement and emergency services are every bit as capable as those in Israel and really have nothing to learn. The difference in practice is that Israel uses extensive profiling to identify threats, which means Arabs are regularly stopped and questioned. Exposure to that dubious technique is often paid for by the U.S. taxpayer as much of the travel to Israel is funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which provides billions of dollars in training grants to cover the expenses. Marc Kahlberg of International Security Consulting offers a package that is called “Eye of the Storm.” He promises “an exclusive learning tour into the heart of Hebron. You will have the opportunity to see first-hand how the police there are dealing with a daily volatile situation. You will feel the adrenalin, but be completely safe and will be the guests of the Israeli Police Commander.” As Hebron is the largest Arab city on the West Bank with a population of 250,000 that against its will hosts an illegal Israeli settlement of 1,000 protected by the police and army, it promises to be an interesting experience.

It has been reported that when the United States was attacked on 9/11 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pleased because he understood that Washington and Tel Aviv would now be joined at the hip in their mutual response to what Israel has been defining as terrorism. When Netanyahu spoke before congress shortly afterwards he said “We are all targets” before engaging in a number of meetings instructing Washington regarding what must be done. Netanyahu’s Israel succeeded beyond its wildest dreams, exploiting the incident to such an extent that the United States has adopted wholesale Israeli perceptions of Middle Eastern politics. As Scott McConnell has observed, there exists “a transmission belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent, a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and their country’s role in it through Israel’s eyes.”

Beyond that political assessment, the Israel-terrorism nexus operates on a number of levels. It has been sometimes noted that the United States has adopted the Israeli model to deal with terrorism, so much so that American politicians sometimes consider Israel a component of U.S. national security. Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s website included “Israel” under the category “Homeland Security.”

The federal bureaucracy has also been changed to accommodate the new reality. Since the Clinton Administration, every senior diplomat or official dealing with the Middle East region has had to pass through a vetting process to ensure full support of and deference to Israeli interests, which include its view of the terrorist threat. Non-compliance is career ending. Chas Freeman, who was named to head the National Security Council in 2009, was quickly forced to step down when it was determined that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel.

Since 2001, many senior appointees throughout the federal government have gone one step farther, no longer making any effort to hide their strongly pro-Israel sentiments. Witness the ascendancy of Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, William Boykin, and Eric Edelman at the Defense Department under George W. Bush. Given the openly expressed identification with Israel at the Pentagon and National Security Council it is no surprise that Washington and Tel Aviv appear to align completely on how to combat terrorism. Both claim the right to engage in preemptive warfare and to assassinate people in other countries without any transparent legal process. Both operate lethal drones to kill suspected militants on the ground, both have engaged in torture, and both operate high security prisons containing numerous suspects who are described as terrorists but who have never been and quite likely never will be tried. Many of the detainees have been confined for years and will undoubtedly die in prison without ever being charged with a crime. Some of them are surely innocent.

The Israeli-American model for dealing with terrorism is itself unusual. Historically speaking, countries that have been plagued with a terrorism problem have focused on countering that specific threat without seeking to expand the conflict. But that has not been the case for post 9/11 America, with George W. Bush grandiloquently proclaiming a global war on terror which was later euphemized into a “global freedom mission” under Bush and as “overseas contingency operations” under Barack Obama. Bush set the United States up as an international policeman with the rest of the world relegated to being either “with us or against us.”

Israel meanwhile set the framework for the program, defining the terrorist threat against itself and Washington as “radical Islam,” a phrase that has been readily picked up by American politicians and the media. Radical Islam implies a worldwide struggle that is frequently conflated into a complete rejection of political Islam and suspicion regarding the intentions of anyone who is a practicing Muslim, a predisposition that is playing out currently vis-a-vis Egypt.

Israel has also done much to name the players and define the playing field. The hypocrisy of the process is evident when groups like Hezbollah and Hamas are thereby identified by Washington as “terrorists” even though they do not threaten the United States and see themselves as national liberation movements for the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Meanwhile, groups like the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), which have actually killed Americans, have been removed from the State Department list because they are perceived as enemies of the regime in Iran and are therefore by extension friends of Israel and its allies in Congress and the media.

Less visible is Israel’s hand in shaping and profiting from the domestic agenda against terrorism, which is where Sheriff Amerson comes in. The Lobby and its friends are intent on projecting a positive image of Israel as a bulwark against terrorism and the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

The disparate groups that make up The Lobby are active in creating the tie that binds regarding the perception of terrorism on the ground and they do it through exchange programs and the actual involvement of Israeli security companies and contractors in the lucrative homeland security marketplace. Israel is a militarized state and the United States over the past twelve years has also moved in the same direction vis-a-vis its own police forces, a development that again reflects the priorities of national and local governments and the predilection to deal with the perceived terrorism threat through the use of overwhelming force and intimidation.

New York City’s unconstitutional “stop and frisk” police activity is a preemptive doctrine modeled on Israeli counter-terrorism practice and it should be no surprise that the New York Police Department has an overseas office in Tel Aviv.

It has been noted that the terrorism threat itself is greatly exaggerated, with more Americans killed by falling television sets than by terrorist action, but this has not stopped the proliferation of state level departments of homeland security, fusion centers for sharing information, and the introduction of consultants and security service providers at all levels. Much of the activity is either wasteful, redundant, or completely unnecessary. America’s seventy-two fusion centers, where many of the Israeli contractors and advisers wind up, have been denounced in a Senate report as useless, ineffective, and frequently engaged in spying on American citizens, particularly Arabs, but also including anti-abortionists and Ron Paul supporters.

This effort to turn a buck from the woefully mismanaged Department of Homeland Security is multifaceted. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that fully 97% of DHS discretionary grants are given to Jewish organizations even though Janet Napolitano has admitted that there is no “specific, credible threat” against Jewish targets. And the flow of money is combined with similar efforts being undertaken by other elements in the Israel Lobby to influence opinion and create an American national consensus unshakably favorable to Israel.

The Israeli arms and security industry, which is partially “covert” so it can sell to countries and rulers on arms embargo lists, is a partner to the process. It is now the fourth largest weapons exporter in the world, behind only the U.S., Russia, and France. It has 6,800 licensed arms and security services providers, making it the largest industry in Israel. Israeli companies can and do bid on federal and local government contracts in the U.S. and they are also able to export their products freely to America thanks to the Israel-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1985 and the Counterterrorism Cooperation Accord Between the Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the United States of America of 1996. This direct involvement of Israel in American security has been recently expanded through passage of 2012’s United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act.

Israeli companies dominate the international airline security industry, frequently doing double duty as the covert, local Mossad station, but their failures are better known than their successes, including the case of the Nigerian underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who was ultimately detected by an alert passenger. Israeli technology companies also produce many of the devices used by police departments and the FBI to tap telephone conversations and record call data. And the employment of their high tech telecommunications equipment comes at a national security price as, for example, they exploited a back door in the technology to listen in to White House phone conversations during the Clinton Administration.

Israeli contractors and companies dot the homeland security landscape but only rarely attract any attention. One notable exception to that rule was the 2002 attempt by New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey to appoint an Israeli Golan Cipel, who was also his lover, as his Homeland Security adviser. The companies sometimes boast about their role in the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. They claim to provide what they describe as “real” experience and expertise based on their recurring conflict with their Arab neighbors. They often combine that narrative with proselytizing their point of view about the politics of the Middle East. The Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) is currently offering an October “Israeli Adventure of a Lifetime – the Ultimate Mission to Israel,” which includes meetings with Mossad officials, observing a trial of a Hamas terrorist, riding an ATV on the Golan Heights, and a briefing by Israeli soldier heroes, all experienced while residing in five star accommodations. It is something like Disneyland with guns and real live Arabs to shoot at.

If one starts looking, scores or even hundreds of Israeli companies and consultants pop up nearly everywhere in U.S. national security while a search of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce website did not identify even a single American security company operating in Israel attempting to obtain Israeli government and private sector contracts. Israel’s Security Solutions International offers U.S. taxpayer funded training courses using “Israeli veterans” as instructors. Defense contractor Elbit Systems is providing spy towers on the Arizona border with Mexico. Magal Security Systems, which has four subsidiary companies in the U.S., has a contract for security at American nuclear power plants. Rozin Security Consulting provides security at Mall of America, using its trademarked Suspicion Indicators Recognition and Assessment System, which is basically profiling. Global Security International, with offices in New York City, offers consulting services relating to counter-terrorism operations.

The broader question American taxpayers should be asking themselves is whether the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on national security is money well spent. Israel has a vested interest in making the terrorist threat appear more real than it actually is and also to present itself as the only reliable partner of the United States in the war against global terror. It also profits substantially as its companies and former security officers have exploited their “real experience” credentials to entrench themselves in U.S. homeland security at all levels. With the aid of the domestic Israel Lobby, Tel Aviv has become adept at selling a product, which includes the false depiction of Israel as the victim in the Middle East.

This victimhood has apparently obtained traction in the United States, where politicians and the mainstream media persist in describing the nation with the world’s largest economy and most powerful military and security forces as somehow threatened. As a result, as Professor Steven Walt has described it, Washington is “chasing spooks and ghosts all over the world,” convinced that it is “very, very vulnerable.” Israel has certainly done its best to encourage that mindset.

Zionist warplanes raid Popular front for Liberation of Palestine Naameh site

Al Manar

Israeli warplanes raided Friday at dawn the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine military site in Naameh, south of Beirut, according to the National news Agency.

For his part, the Front’s chief in Lebanon, Ramez Moustafa, confirmed the news and clarified that the Zionist warplanes fired one rocket onto Naameh valley and that no losses or damages were recorded.

“We will not respond to this assault in the way that serves the Zionist plan to lure us, yet in the proper place and at the proper time,” Moustafa pointed out.

The spokesman of the Israeli army asserted that the assault responds to the rockets that were fired Thursday from the Lebanese territories into Nahariya and Akka, north of occupied Palestine.

An ambassador of the Syrian opposition coalition partakes in a conference with Zionists

By the order of Qatar, Najib al-Ghadban Partakes in Jewish Conference

Paris – by Nidal Hamade, Al Ahed news

Between August 15 and 19, an annual conference special for the Middle East was held in the Czech capital, Prague, titled “Middle East Regional Security and Cooperation Dialogues,” with the participation of a panel of “Israeli” and pro “Israel” Jewish figures from around the world.

Yet the conference has nothing to do with the Middle East, except for its name perhaps. Nonetheless, this time conferees celebrated the attendance of a new guest and an ally that is dear to “Israel.” It is the ambassador of the Syrian Opposition Coalition in Washington, Najib al-Ghadban!

Al-Ghadban partook in the conference in his capacity as the official representative of the Coalition, as presented by the organizing committee. There, al-Ghadban sat next to tens of “Israeli” officials like diplomat Dore Gold, “Israel” ambassador to the United Nations during the 1982 “Israeli” invasion of Lebanon, and other generals from the “Israeli” army!

There as well, sat Bassma Kodmani, vice Head of the Syrian National Council in 2012. She has already attended this conference’s 2012 February round in USA.
It seems that the Syrian opposition has become the sole Arab member entitled to attend the conference’s meetings, which remain behind closed doors.
Sources from the Syrian opposition said that al-Ghadban attended the meeting as commanded by the state of Qatar through Mustafa Sabbagh, Qatar’s man inside the Coalition. Sabbagh, a Syrian businessman residing in Doha, was Qatar’s candidate to chair the Coalition. He lost the bet before Ahmad Jarba, Bandar Bin Sultan’s candidate, and Michel Kilo, after Washington has handed the Syrian dossier management to KSA after Qatar.

Another opposition source also said that al-Ghadban’s attendance was part of the conflict game over earning the Jews’ affability many members of the Coalition are playing.

It seems that Qatar sought to annoy KSA, and this was just what made the Coalition’s Head Ahmad Jarba deny previous knowledge of al-Ghadban’s presence.
Jabra was so irate that he even denied any relation between the Coalition and al-Ghadban.
This annual international conference also hosts a similar meeting every year on key economic topics in the Middle East, simultaneously with the Doha International Forum.

What is the “Middle East Regional Security and Cooperation Dialogues?”

- It is a conference organized twice a year by the Center for Middle East Development (CMED) at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).

- The Greek government used to host the conference, but it was moved to Prague due to the financial crises in Greece.

- This secret conference is held without any ads or publicities and under strict security guard, whereby participants work in specialized groups to engage in topics relevant to the regional security, the security of the Gulf, the promotion of the culture of democracy, economy and business, Palestinian-“Israeli” peace, Arab-“Israeli” peace, and others.

- During the conference, secret meetings are held between elected groups of experts, advisors, and academics, to discuss affairs related to peace, human rights, political normalization initiatives, security challenges, the risks of terrorism, joint economic projects between “Israel,” Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, and Gulf states, especially Bahrain, Kuwait and KSA. For the past two years, light was shone on the repercussions and reverberations of the Arab Spring uprisings.

- USA, “Israel,” and European governments such as Greece, Switzerland, France, Czech, and Germany, fund this conference.

- Around 500 to 700 experts and researchers from the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, and Europe participate in the conference. 50% of participants are “Israelis”. Scores of Zionists also partake herein, namely Dore Gold, General Amram Mitza, General Danny Yatom, General Ami Ayalon, Colonel Itamar Yaar, General Natan Sharoni, General Yuri Saghe, General Alec Ron, Shaul Shimoni, Dalia Rabin, Shlomo Gore, General Dov Tamari, Yuri Dore, Yoram Mittal, and too many others.

- This conference is attended by Syrian figures carrying different nationalities, such as Omar al-Adm, Murhaf Joueijati, Najib al-Ghadban, Salam Kawakbi, Farah Atassi, Wael Mirza, Bassma Kodmani, and others…

“Israel’s” White Phosphorous Smokescreen?

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(Gaza, Palestine-file photo)

by Zarah Louis, source

On 26th April 2013, the BBC reported on its website that Israel was going to stop using white phosphorous in its shells and replace it with a gas.  This important declaration was largely ignored by the British media as the timing of Israel’s announcement came whilst they and the public were fixated on the conflicting reports concerning the authenticity of the ‘evidence’ that Syria had been using illegal weapons. The British newspaper, The Telegraph in fact presented this news as the introduction into an article reporting on the shooting down of a drone by Israel that had been flying over Lebanon.

Israel’s position on accusations that it had used white phosphorous in its shells has considerably shifted over the years, in a similar pattern of denials to that used by the USA. Israel initially denied that white phosphorous had been used at all, to eventually admitting that, yes they had used white phosphorous but only to create a smokescreen. Israel’s welcome April 2013 declaration that shells containing white phosphorous were going to be  ‘removed from active duty soon’ is not apparently due to its illegality or because of the terrible injuries it inflicts but because, ‘according to a senior officer, white phosphorous “does not look good, as we saw in Operation Cast Lead.”

The United Nations ‘Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects’ considers the usage of incendiary weapons to be illegal. Putting aside the irony of Israel being part of a coalition of nations concerned about Assad’s alleged use of illegal weapons, of the 115 state parties, 106 are signatories to the protocol. Israel, along with the Republic of Korea, Uganda and 6 other countries are not. Incendiary weapons do not however include:  ‘Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signaling systems’.

Whilst white phosphorous is an element that can be used in smoke shells and thus not covered by the above convention, it is used in incendiary devices, mortar and artillery shells which are.  White phosphorous burns fiercely and can inflict third degree burns and destroy bone. The Federation of American Scientist’s note that ‘White Phosphorous particles can burn combustible items upon contact until it has completed its reaction with oxygen, which can last up to 15 minutes depending on the munitions’.

Both the US administration, in the aftermath of their extensive usage of white phosphorous in Fallujah (operations nicknamed by their own soldiers as “shake and bake”) and Israel have tried to put their own spin as to how their own use of white phosphorous is acceptable. However, in a detailed 71 page report by Human Rights Watch, it was concluded that “Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its 2009 military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.” But at least, Israel have broadcast to the world their intention to stop using it, however, that could prove to be yet another smokescreen.

On 9th July 2013, the High Court of Justice in Israel heard a petition filed byAdvocates Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer on behalf of 117 petitioners to demand that the Israeli military cease all use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. The Court dismissed the petition after the state attorney announced that it would not use white phosphorous in populated areas ‘ “for the time being,”  but with two “very narrow exceptions” that it would not make public for unspecified security reasons.’ In addition, it was claimed that there were no legal impediments to the continued use of white phosphorous.

Obviously one can only surmise at which ‘built up areas’ Israel believes that the continued use of white phosphorous is not only permissible in law but is an actual military necessity. It would not be disingenuous to suggest that Gaza is one of them, even though as The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories NGO  B’Tselem points out, “under international humanitarian law the use of white phosphorous in the present setting of the Gaza Strip is unlawful”.

B’Tselem’s contention that the use of white phosphorous is indeed illegal is inadvertently supported by a representative of Israel itself. In 2012, two shells were allegedly fired from Gaza landed in Southern Israel apparently without causing any injuries but were alleged to contain white phosphorous. As a consequence the chairman of Eshkol regional council in Israel, Haim Jelin wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon.  “The Israel Defense Forces, charged with protecting the residents of the State of Israel, are criticized and judged due to their being the military of a U.N. member state. In contrast, Hamas, the ‘neighborhood bully,’ is not subject to international laws, and feels free to use illegal weaponry against an innocent civilian population — without being judged or criticized by any international body. I call upon you to put an end to this hypocrisy!” Quite!

The vocabulary of the ‘assurances’ given to the court by the state attorney on behalf of the military is worthy of some examination. Given the announcement in April that white phosphorous will be phased from use ‘soon’, promises that the Israeli military won’t use them ‘for the time being’ seems to be a strange turn of phrase.  Why ratify at court the possible future use of a weapon that should soon be obsolete?  Will these ‘very narrow ‘and secret exceptions also be exempt from the announcement made in April?

B’Tselem rightly identifies the very real concerns that “The current situation, whereby prohibition of use of the substance exists only as a pledge to the court, and is not backed by formal military orders, is unwelcome and leaves open a possibility of further use” vis à vis the Gaza Strip.  Yet a Court agreement, even one couched in vague terms with elements not known to the wider public, is binding, is it not? Certainly more so than a press release to the world’s media and perhaps as such this could help explain the obfuscation of the assurances given.

Unfortunately, it may yet transpire that the limited pledges quietly given to the Israeli court in July could carry far more weight than the apparently unambiguous promise given to the world by the Israeli military in April.

US foreign policy: The moral hazard of “relative evil” necessary to fight “absolute evil”

Lebanon: Nasrallah ready for Yaalon, Bandar war & resistance stronger than ever

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(Dahyeh, Lebanon-file photo)

Nasrallah Ready for Yaalon, Bandar War

by Nahed Hter- Al-Akhbar, source

“I, myself, will go to fight in Syria,” Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated.

Thus, it is the primary field of the resistance as well as for the top of the resistors, [Sayyed] Hassan Nasrallah.
This means that for all the this way supporters, the victory in Syria is a victory over “Israel”.

For its part, “Israel” has the same view. Its War Minister, Moshe Yaalon, publicly informed the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, that “it is not allowed that the axis of evil, from Tehran to Damascus passing through Beirut, wins the ongoing war in Syria.”

In comparison, Riyadh become closer to Tel Aviv than to Washington, which fears, that Syria turns to a new Afghanistan. It is, therefore, still hesitant.
Amid all this, the US suffers a lack of realism in accepting the new international balance of powers while Bandar bin Sultan succeeded in formulating an approach that unites Saudi and “Israeli” interests, and which is based on the Afghanization the whole Middle East.

However, this doesn’t absolve the United States of responsibility for the war in our region. It rather refers to the facts that must be acknowledged by the moderates, seeking to cooperate with Washington to reach the regional solutions.
The Americans have only Bandar, who in return has the only means of sectarian explosives, slaughters, and attacks.
This comes as the US is unable to strike Iran, “Israel” is incapable of breaking Hizbullah, and the Syrian armed “opposition” is ineffective in face of the Syrian regime.

In response, the Saudi- “Israeli” Coalition can do nothing but to destroy all the region through sectarian wars. They further seek to exhaust the Iranians and isolate them from the field of vital alliances as well as to stop the escalating Russian rising.
The terrorist bombing in the Dahyieh is of course painful and dangerous.
However, what the Dahyieh and Lebanon witnessed is merely an extension to the same criminal war Bandar is waging today against the Iraqis and Syrians.
In the same context, he works on agitating the Takfiri terrorist instincts of killing the Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Druze as well as the “ignorant” Sunnis, who refuse to bow to the logic of sectarian “Jihad”.

Nasrallah’s response came so clear: to prevent sedition at the level of civilians, which the Saudi Arabia seeks to achieve.

Based on the principles of national partnership and humanity, Sayyed Nasrallah urged the political isolation of the Takfiris , and the confrontation of terrorism.
However, the core of his words was accepting the challenge of the war with Ya’alon and Bandar.

The “Israelis” will not pass in the south, and the Takfiris will not pass in the North.

————————————————————————————–

Sayyed Nasrallah from Aita al-Shaab:Resistance stronger than ever,has equipment and fighters

by Nour Rida, Al Ahed news

Hizbullah held a central festival to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the Divine Victory, in celebrating the triumph of the Islamic Resistance in 2006 which defeated the vicious aggression “Israel” launched against Lebanon back then.

Hizbullah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appeared via video-link on a giant screen to deliver his speech on the occasion.

Addressing thousands of Lebanese who arrived at Aita al-Shaab town in South Lebanon, near Palestinian borders, who took part in the celebration, Sayyed Nasrallah thanked the people who arrived to Aita al-Shaab, amid such an atmosphere and circumstances, particularly in a town near the border with the usurping [Israeli] entity.

He expressed consolations to families of the martyrs and wished the injured soon recovery.

“We pray for the souls of the martyrs who were killed in the terrorist blast in the Dahiyeh to rest in peace, and wish the injured a soon recovery. We consolidate the families of the martyrs and all those who were harmed physically, emotionally and else. We highly appreciate the respect and patience of the Dahiyeh people, for bearing responsibility, being wise, and self-restrained,” His Eminence expressed.

On Thursday, a terrorist explosion rocked Roweis area of the southern Suburb of Beirut, resulting in the martyrdom of 25 citizens, the injury of around 300 others in addition to major damage in buildings and cars.

Thanking all those who supported the Resistance and showed consolidation, Sayyed Nasrallah vehemently condemned the malicious attack and countries that remained silent on such murder and terrorism, stating “We condemn the silence of some countries regarding the explosion and coming days will prove their possible support and involvement in it.”

Divine Victory Defeated “Israeli” Great Project

In the first part of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah tackled the July victory memory. He emphasized the importance of the ceremony location noting “We held the celebration in the town of Aita, which overlooks occupied Palestine and enjoys the same scent, the same atmosphere.”

The town of Aita, as expressed Sayyed Nasrallah, “stands as a symbol for all the towns in the south as well as the Dahiyeh. It is a symbol for all the towns that fought [the July 2006 aggression] for 33 days without withdrawing or being defeated. What happened in Aita during the July aggression represents the humane values and morals of the Resistance and its people.”

Recalling the August 14 2006 Victory, Sayyed Nasrallah accentuated “The divine victory defeated the great “Israeli” project, and was a school to be taught in military schools. Today, we assure our adherence to the Resistance until the liberation of the rest of our occupied land, and preserving its sovereignty, land and sea. We adhere to the golden formula [Army-Resistance-People] and assure our determination to protect our people and country.”

Sayyed Nasrallah reminded “During the war, we told the fighters in Aita they do not have to stay in the town as it is a bordering town [with Occupied Palestine] and no one would blame them for leaving it. But they refused and insisted on fighting until the last bullet and the last drop of blood.”

His Eminence went on to say “The Resistance today is stronger than ever, and has more equipment and fighters than ever. I tell “Israel” that the era of military tourism inside the Lebanese territory and its waters has ended and will never return. We will cut the legs and heads of “Israeli” soldiers who will enter our land.”

Sayyed Nasrallah proudly declared that the relation between the people and the Resistance is an emotional and moral relation.”

Takfiri Group Responsible for Attack, Members Identified

Regarding the Dahiyeh terrorist attack, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that as long as there is a side that refuses to surrender to the “Israeli” will and remains to resist, also embraces and supports the Resistance, it will remain to pay the price.

He pointed out “Targeting the Dahiyeh and the supporters of the resistance is not something new,” adding “The goal of the Roweis explosion was to kill civilians, it did not target a certain Hizbullah cadre, official, center or institution.”

The Resistance leader assured the assailant wanted to cause a major loss of lives among the civilians, with a bomb that weighs more than even 100 kilograms. Hizbullah Secretary General guaranteed the state as well as the Resistance will support the civilians who were harmed by the attack.

Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah stated that during the past months, rockets were launched towards the Hermel, Baalbeck and al-Nabi Sheet regions [in the Bekaa region] and it is known who is behind these attacks. “Also, bombings also took place in Hermel, and rockets were launched towards Dahieh, the Yarze region and the last attack was yesterday’s explosion. It is an armed group of Syria’s opposition,” he said.

Sayyed Nasrallah continued “The bombs targeted us in Hermel and Majdel Anjar, also rockets were launched against Dahiyeh and yesterday there was an explosion. Clearly the people are the target, but what did we do? We didn’t have any hasty reaction or accuse anyone.”

The Resistance leader underscored “You will not find anyone who loves the people of the Resistance more than Hizbullah.”

Takfiri Groups Have No Religion, Beware Sectarian Strife

Sayyed Nasrallah said there are two theories on the party behind the explosion: First one is “Israel” and the second is terrorist and takfiri groups. But there is a third hypothesis which stipulates that another group has interfered to escalate tension with “Israel” and to provoke internal strife.”

Launching an accusation based on information collected by the army’s intelligence and Hizbullah, Sayyed Nasrallah said “One member of the group responsible for the explosion in Hermel’s Majdal Anjar was arrested, and he revealed the names of the other members of the group and those who manage and finance them are very well known.”

Furthermore, he believed that those who targeted Dahiyeh with rockets and planted the bomb in Bir al-Abed have become renowned.

“Those are not spies for “Israel”, so far this has not been proved yet. What is proven for sure is that they belong to distinct Takfiri groups.”

More on the issue, Sayyed Nasrallah uncovered that “The takfiri and terrorist groups work for “Israel”, and that those who think the takfiri groups will only target Shiite areas are mistaken.”

“Those groups target Sunnis, Shiites and Christians. They send suicide attackers to Sunni mosques and to churches also. If these attacks continue, Lebanon will be on the edge of the abyss,” His Eminence warned.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that people are required to cooperate with the State apparatuses in order to stop these incidents. He declared that the state needs to work in two stages: Take precautionary measures [which are not enough] and more importantly work to reveal, arrest, and get rid of the groups that are committing these attacks.

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, those behind the attacks are not Sunnis. Those people are takfiris who have no religion and are murderers.

On this note, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that the people, especially who were affected on Thursday by the explosion, are requested to refrain from emotional and uncalculated reactions. “You must prevent dragging Lebanon into a civil war and stop sectarian incitement. The conflict should remain politically-oriented and should not become sectarian.”

His Eminence assured that the takfiris have a destructive project for the region, as their sole plan is to kill with no differentiation between sects.

“Killings and explosions will not affect our will-power and we will not fall in the strife trap. We are not a substitute for the state in defense or security, but if the state does not get you, we will.”

Sayyed Nasrallah added “If you are punishing Hizbullah for its interference in Syria I will tell you that Takfiri groups are far more evil towards the Syrian people, not only the supporters of the regime but also the opponents.”

Hence, on the Syrian level, Sayyed Nasrallah explained “We entered specific regions in Syria and when we fight, we fight with our values. We did not kill prisoners or civilians. Some of our fighters were martyred because we were avoiding killing civilians. On the contrary, the takfri groups kill and execute civilians and commit massacres.”

“We only fought against Takfiri groups,” Sayyed Nasrallah iterated.

Addressing the media role, Sayyed Nasrallah questioned the low standards adopted by Arab media such as al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera, as these fabricate and report false news.

Additionally, Sayyed Nasrallah declared “You idiots, you should read our 30-year experience with “Israel” well. If we want to respond to the Dahiyeh explosion, we would double the number of fighters in Syria, from 1000 to 2000, and if they were 5000 they would become 10,000. If one day came and required that Hizbullah and I go to Syria we will do so.”

Sayyed Nasrallah further said “No one should assume he would win a war if he starts it against us. We determine the battle, and just like we won all wars against “Israel”, I tell you all that we will triumph in our battle against terrorist takfirsm. True it is that the battle will be costly, but less costly than we be slaughtered like ewes and await the coming of murderers into our own homes.”

Israeli PM recruiting university students to engage in publicity war for Tel Aviv

Press TV

The Israeli regime has undertaken a new bid to recruit students to work at universities as “covert units,” posting messages on social networking websites on behalf of Tel Aviv.

The recruited students taking part in the clandestine propaganda project for the Zionist regime will be part of the “public diplomacy” arm of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, with leaders of the “covert units” receive full scholarships as compensation for their online pro-Israel publicity campaign, Israeli daily Haaretz reported .

“The main subjects that the campus-based [secretive]units will deal with are diplomatic- and security-related issues, efforts to combat boycotts of Israel, anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel,” the daily reports, citing sources in Netanyahu’s office.

The students, the report adds, will focus on the Zionist regime’s purported “democratic values, freedom of religion, pluralism and other subjects that give expression to the Israeli government’s public diplomacy policy.”

The undercover student units will post messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on behalf of the Israeli regime without identifying themselves as Zionist agents, according to the report.

The Israeli PM office is further planning to have the regime’s “student union” recruit up to 550 students with foreign language skills from Israel’s seven universities.

The student union, the report adds, will then publicize the secret publicity project among “tens of thousands of students,” and will provide computers and work space for a project headquarters at all university campuses.

“With social media, you can’t wait,” said another unidentified Israeli official about the propaganda project as cited in a Jerusalem Post report.

“We will get authoritative information out and make sure it goes viral,” the official further added. “We won’t leave negative stories out there online without a response, and we will spread positive messages. What we are doing is revolutionary. We are putting public diplomacy in the hands of the public.”

According to the reports, the “covert units” will be set up and structured in ‘a semi-military fashion’ at each university.

“The national public diplomacy unit in the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) places an emphasis on social network activity,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “As part of this, a new pro-Israel public diplomacy infrastructure of students on Israeli campuses is being established that will assist in advancing and disseminating content on the social networks, particularly to international audiences.”

Moreover, according to details published in the Israeli media, a liaison officer for the Zionist regime will oversee the dissemination of “rapid responses” from Israeli officials to respond to news events, and coordinate with the regime’s other official bodies that deal with public diplomacy, including the Israeli military forces.

The Israeli publicity project, according to these reports, is the outcome of the regime’s eight-day ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,’ a military aggression launched against the besieged, Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, in which the Palestinian Islamic resistance group was widely regarded as victorious in the “war of words on online media.”

Haaretz further reported that following the Israeli military operation, the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack with 170,000 mentions easily surpassed Israel’s own #IsraelUnderFire, with a comparably meager 25,000 mentions.

“The perception dominating the online discourse was that the IDF had embarked on an unjustified attack,” said Israeli researcher Tomer Simon, who studied social networking activity during the eight-day aggression against Gaza.

The Israeli prime minister’s office plans to invest nearly 850,000 dollars “to recruit, organize and fund the activities of hundreds of university students” for the propaganda effort, the reports also state.

Lebanon-Labbouneh: A tactical operation with strategic goals

by Nasser Charara – Al-Akhbar newspaper, source

The fresh “Israeli” breach in the region of Labbouneh, in terms of the size and category of the partaking units, raised many questions about its goals, which are still as yet concealed. But what is in no doubt, is that it was a tactical operation with strategic goals, considering the aforementioned givens.

Reports set by concerned parties indicate that the “Israeli” military force that partook in the Labbouneh operation included an entire squad, comprising nearly a hundred soldiers. This enemy force is affiliated with the “Sayeret Mitkal” unit, which directly receive commands from the Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff. Its real name is Unit 269 or the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit that is responsible of special operations, like the elimination of Palestinian leader Khalil Wazir, AKA Abu Jihad. Information state that this squad is executing special operations in Syria, especially in tracking the Syrian chemical arsenal and quality weapons’ transferring operations.

The structure of the squadron which participated in the overall logistic operation is known in the military science as a “reinforced squadron.”

Indeed, the speedy mobilization of a support unit as bombs exploded in Labbouneh was quite remarkable.
The operation raised question about whether it included clashes between the Resistance and the “Israeli” soldiers or not; in fact, information confirmed that one of the two parties has fired nearly one hundred cartridges. Information also said it was likely that the enemy soldiers were behind the gunfire to secure the retreat of the violators, noting that nobody announced any fire.

Usually, it is the Resistance men who open fire first in similar cases, if they have the intention to catch “Israeli” soldiers. But the facts of the Labbouneh ambush were not sufficient to tell whether that was the case or not, even though it certainly entailed the “Israelis” to conclude that the Resistance is absolutely capable to do so if it wants to develop its targets during similar breaches.

The Region’s Characteristics

It is estimated that the ambush site in Labbouneh does not comply with the tactics of the Resistance, in terms of geography, to kick off a confrontation with the “Israeli” army. The nature of the widely stretched and flat prefecture makes it more suitable for the tactics of the “Israeli” army in its conflict with Hizbullah. Therefore, the importance of the military achievement scored by the Resistance in Labbouneh is almost limited to its capacity to make violators’ movement unsafe and hence to deprive the enemy from the chance to take advantage of the region’s military characteristic that is in its favor. And this is what exactly happened during Labbouneh ambush.

Moreover, the importance of this region for the enemy lies within “Israel’s” keen concern with it during Blue Line demarcation talks with Lebanon. At the time, “Israeli’ negotiators insisted for long on affiliating Labbnouneh with its borders’ scope, due to the region’s strategic operational salience, as it overlooks Tyre and Bass refugees’ camp from the north as well as UNIFIL’s key activity field. According to the “Israeli” army, Labbouneh is a region of defense guard.

Nonetheless, the goal the “Israeli” squadron got out to achieve in Labbouneh is still unearthed. Is it for reconnaissance, or for security reasons to hit a certain target? But this discretion cannot hide a very important truth that dealt “Israel” a blow: the secrets of the operation were previously known by the Resistance. Setting the ambush per se confirms that the Resistance knew about the operation since it was planned, and thus, it certainly knows the real goal behind it.

This goal is going to remain a secret for a long time in the hands of the Resistance, which alone would decide to keep it or uncover it amid the silent security war with “Israel.”

The Ambush and the Developments

Those concerned with the headway of developments between “Israel” and Hizbullah have remarks on Labbouneh operation, relevant to its upshot in the region, especially in Syria:

First of all, military-wise, the violation of the Blue Line by special “Israeli” units comes within a scope of operations the open military war between “Israel” and Hizbullah requires, entailing both parties on keeping to stage it, for reasons that are related to spying, information collect, and detection of preparations. It is within this frame that the planting of “Israeli’ spying devices in specific regions in South Lebanon comes. Besides, the Resistance does not always have the opportunity to catch enemy soldiers as planting the devices. It may not be farfetched that the Resistance is practicing the same without being discovered by the “Israeli” enemy.

Second, the implication of an entire squadron in Labbouneh operation makes the reconnaissance goal at best slim and hints an intention to aim at a special target. The question in what this target is.

The Resistance has the answer is sure, and it prefers to remain silent on it for the time being. But there are some related clarifications, on top of which “Israel’s” wish to sense the nerve of the Resistance’s readiness at a timing where it is preoccupied in a war in Syria, which makes it unable to show utmost vigilance on two fronts.

This kind of questions leads to define Labbouneh operation as an “‘Israeli’ tactical movement with major strategic goals.” This explains the nature of the confrontation the Resistance has designed against the enemy; the Resistance has actually proven vigilance in Syria and shown that its performance remains unanticipated for the enemy. Here lies a message for those seeking to change the content of the dialogue table in terms of the national defense strategy, considering the change of circumstances around us and in the country.

Nothing has changed, that is the message of the ambush indeed.

Indictment of Iran for ’94 terror bombing relied on MEK

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS — Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his 2006 warrant for the arrest of top Iranian officials in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 on the claims of representatives of the armed Iranian opposition Mujahedin E Khalq (MEK), the full text of the document reveals.

The central piece of evidence cited in Nisman’s original 900-page arrest warrant against seven senior Iranian leaders is an alleged Aug. 14, 1993 meeting of top Iranian leaders, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then president Hashemi Rafsanjani, at which Nisman claims the official decision was made to go ahead with the planning of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA).

But the document, recently available in English for the first time, shows that his only sources for the claim were representatives of the MEK or People’s Mujahideen of Iran. The MEK has an unsavoury history of terrorist bombings against civilian targets in Iran, as well as of serving as an Iraq-based mercenary army for Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

The organisation was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist groups last year after a campaign by prominent former U.S. officials who had gotten large payments from pro-MEK groups and individuals to call for its “delisting”.

Nisman’s rambling and repetitious report cites statements by four members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the MEK, as the sources for the charge that Iran decided on the AMIA bombing in August 1993.

The primary source is Reza Zakeri Kouchaksaraee, president of the Security and Intelligence Committee of the NCRI. The report quotes Kouchaksaraee as testifying to an Argentine Oral Court in 2003, “The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council at a meeting that was held on 14 August, 1993. This meeting lasted only two hours from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.”

Nisman also quotes Hadi Roshanravani, a member of the International Affairs Committee of the NCRI, who claimed to know the same exact starting time of the meeting – 4:30 pm – but gave the date as Aug. 12, 1993 rather than Aug. 14.

Roshanravani also claimed to know the precise agenda of the meeting. The NCRI official said that three subjects were discussed: “The progress and assessment of the Palestinian Council; the strategy of exporting fundamentalism throughout the world; and the future of Iraq.” Roshanravani said “the idea for an attack in Argentina” had been discussed “during the dialogue on the second point”.

The NCRI/MEK was claiming that the Rafsanjani government had decided on a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina as part of a policy of “exporting fundamentalism throughout the world”.

But that MEK propaganda line about the Iranian regime was contradicted by the U.S. intelligence assessment at the time. In its National Intelligence Estimate 34-91 on Iranian foreign policy, completed on Oct. 17, 1991, U.S. intelligence concluded that Rafsanjani had been “gradually turning away from the revolutionary excesses of the past decade…toward more conventional behavior” since taking over as president in 1989.

Ali Reza Ahmadi and Hamid Reza Eshagi, identified as “defectors” who were affiliated with NCRI, offered further corroboration of the testimony by the leading NCRI officials. Ahmadi was said by Nisman to have worked as an Iranian foreign service officer from 1981 to 1985. Eshagi is not otherwise identified.

Nisman quotes Ahmadi and Eshagi, who made only joint statements, as saying, “It was during a meeting held at 4:30 pm in August 1993 that the Supreme National Security Council decided to carry out activities in Argentina.”

Nisman does not cite any non-MEK source as claiming such a meeting took place. He cites court testimony by Abolghassem Mesbahi, a “defector” who had not worked for the Iranian intelligence agency since 1985, according to his own account, but only to the effect that the Iranian government made the decision on AMIA sometime in 1993. Mesbahi offered no evidence to support the claim.

Nisman repeatedly cites the same four NCRI members to document the alleged participation of each of the seven senior Iranians for whom he requested arrest warrants. A review of the entire document shows that Kouchaksaraee is cited by Nisman 29 times, Roshanravani 16 times and Ahmadi and Eshagi 16 times, always together making the same statement for a total of 61 references to their testimony.

Nisman cited no evidence or reason to believe that any of the MEK members were in a position to have known about such a high-level Iranian meeting. Although MEK propaganda has long claimed access to secrets, their information has been at best from low-level functionaries in the regime.

In using the testimony of the most violent opponents of the Iranian regime to accuse the most senior Iranian officials of having decided on the AMIA terrorist bombing, Nisman sought to deny the obvious political aim of all MEK information output of building support in the United States and Europe for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

“The fact that the individuals are opponents of the Iranian regime does not detract in the least from the significance of their statements,” Nisman declared.

In an effort to lend the group’s testimony credibility, Nisman described their statements as being made “with honesty and rigor in a manner that respects nuances and details while still maintaining a sense of the larger picture”.

The MEK witnesses, Nisman wrote, could be trusted as “completely truthful”.

The record of MEK officials over the years, however, has been one of putting out one communiqué after another that contained information about alleged covert Iranian work on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, nearly all of which turned out to be false when they were investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The only significant exception to the MEK’s overall record of false information on the Iranian nuclear programme was its discovery of Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility and its Arak heavy water facility in August 2002.

But even in that case, the MEK official who announced the Natanz discovery, U.S. representative Alireza Jafarzadeh, incorrectly identified it as a “fuel fabrication facility” rather than as an enrichment facility. He also said it was near completion, although it was actually several months from having the equipment necessary to begin enrichment.

Contrary to the MEK claims that it got the information on Natanz from sources in the Iranian government, moreover, the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh reported, a “senior IAEA official” told him in 2004 that Israeli intelligence had passed their satellite intelligence on Natanz to the MEK.

An adviser to Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the Shah, later told journalist Connie Bruck that the information about Natanz had come from “a friendly government”, which had provided it to both the Pahlavi organisation and the MEK.

Nisman has long been treated in pro-Israel, anti-Iran political circles as the authoritative source on the AMIA bombing case and the broader subject of Iran and terrorism. Last May, Nisman issued a new 500-page report accusing Iran of creating terrorist networks in the Western hemisphere that builds on his indictment of Iran for the 1994 bombing.

But Nisman’s readiness to base the crucial accusation against Iran in the AMIA case solely on MEK sources and his denial of their obvious unreliability highlights the fact that he has been playing a political role on behalf of certain powerful interests rather than uncovering the facts.

Israeli troops set ablaze Oak forests in South Lebanon

(Lebanon)

Al Manar

Zionist soldiers have set ablaze the oak forests in the Lebanese southern town of Hulla on Wednesday, Al-Manar Website correspondent reported.

The unit was deploying in the Abbad checkpoint on the border between Lebanon and Palestine.

Al-Manar correspondent stated that an occupation military unit were on a security mission in the Lebanese territories at dawn on Wednesday, when an IED exploded near the Labbouneh road, around 500 meters away from the blue line.

Israeli patrol violates Lebanese border at Naqoura: 4 IOF soldiers injured

Al Manar

Four Israeli soldiers were injured in an explosion during the night after they violated the Lebanese border at the southern town of Naqoura.Lebanese army soldiers inspecting the explosion site

Al-Manar correspondent reported that the occupation soldiers were on a security mission in the Lebanese territories when an IED exploded near the Labbouneh road, around 500 meters away from the blue line.

Our correspondent quoted a security source as saying that it’s not the first time in which the Israeli soldiers violate the border and go on this road.
The source added that when UNIFIL forces asked an Israeli officer about the explosion he said there were “fireworks”.

Blood seen at the site of the explosionThe correspondent added that the Israeli enemy didn’t fire a single shot after the explosion. However the soldiers only turned on their flashlights, in an indication that the occupation troops were on a security mission.

For its part the Lebanese army command reported the incident, saying “an Israeli patrol violated Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

“An infantry patrol of the Israeli army penetrated 400 meters inside Lebanon in the Labbouneh area at 00:24 local time,” the army said in a statement.

“An explosion took place and the soldiers were wounded, with blood found at the scene. A military committee has opened an investigation in coordination with UNIFIL,” the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, it said.

On the other hand, an Israeli army spokesman said the occupation troops “carrying out nocturnal activities in the Lebanese border area when the explosion occurred.Lebanese army soldiers inspecting the explosion site in Labbouneh

He did not specify the cause of the blast or say whether it was inside Lebanese or occupied territories, adding that the wounded had been hospitalized.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned the incident during a visit to the south of occupied territories but gave no details.

“Our soldiers defend us and our borders, which is what they were doing last night. We will continue to react to defend Israel’s borders,” he was quoted by military radio as justifying the occupation troops’ breaching of the Lebanese border.

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