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Criminalize political lies to save planet Earth

Enough Death and Destruction

by CARMEN YARRUSSO, source

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

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

The Extreme Depravity of Political Lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nature of Political Lies

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

John Kerry and the Orwellian language of war

Rampant Dishonesty

by NATHAN GOODMAN, source

When is a war not a war? According to John Kerry, launching cruise missiles at Syria is not a war. Testifying before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said, “President Obama is not asking America to go to war.”
Kerry’s argument seems to hinge on the idea that no American ground troops will likely be deployed. Of the proposed strikes, Kerry said, “I just don’t consider that going to war in the classic sense of coming to Congress and asking for a declaration of war and training troops and sending people abroad and putting young Americans in harm’s way.”

Perhaps no Americans will be put in harm’s way, although claims of possible Iranian plans for retaliation cast doubt on that hope. But regardless, innocent Syrians will still be killed by American missiles. People’s homes and possessions will still be destroyed. Mass aggressive violence will still be waged by the US government in a foreign land. That’s a war.

And while Kerry is not currently proposing sending ground troops to Syria, he acknowledges that it’s a possibility. Kerry also told the Senate: “But in the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.”

But to be clear, Secretary Kerry and President Obama are not proposing a war. Yes, they will use cruise missiles to slaughter Syrians, and if they don’t like the Syrian government’s response they may even send ground troops. War profiteers like Raytheon will certainly profit. But the Secretary of State will insist it’s not a war.

So, why the Orwellian “War is Peace” attitude here? Partially because Kerry recognizes this war is not popular with the American public. Polls show substantial public opposition. When explaining that he would not consider American attacks on Syria a war, Kerry went a step further and said “when people are asked, do you want to go to war with Syria, of course not! Everybody, a hundred percent of Americans will say no.” When most Americans oppose war, the best solution apparently is to change the name to something else.

But this attitude makes sense for another reason: The state wants to conceal the truth about its wars. This is why it employs so many Newspeak terms when discussing war. Murdering civilians becomes “collateral damage.” Any military age male killed by an American drone strike is automatically labeled a “militant.” And a war against Syria becomes not war but “an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who’s been willing to kill his own people by breaking a nearly hundred-year- old prohibition.”

The U.S. government doesn’t want you to know the truth about their wars. This is why Chelsea Manning is in prison for blowing the whistle on war crimes, including an attack in which “U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence.” It’s why the military denied for years that they used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in Fallujah.

This rampant dishonesty is precisely why we should never trust them when they want to go to war. Especially when they refuse to call war by its name.

Obama’s case for Syria didn’t reflect intel consensus

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS – Contrary to the general impression in Congress and the news media, the Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, an IPS analysis and interviews with former intelligence officials reveals.

The evidence indicates that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper culled intelligence analyses from various agencies and by the White House itself, but that the White House itself had the final say in the contents of the document.

Leading members of Congress to believe that the document was an intelligence community assessment and thus represents a credible picture of the intelligence on the alleged chemical attack of August 21 has been a central element in the Obama administration’s case for war in Syria.

That part of the strategy, at least, has been successful. Despite strong opposition in Congress to the proposed military strike in Syria, no one in either chamber has yet challenged the administration’s characterisation of the intelligence. But the administration is vulnerable to the charge that it has put out an intelligence document that does not fully and accurately reflect the views of intelligence analysts.

Former intelligence officials told IPS that that the paper does not represent a genuine intelligence community assessment but rather one reflecting a predominantly Obama administration influence.

In essence, the White House selected those elements of the intelligence community assessments that supported the administration’s policy of planning a strike against the Syrian government force and omitted those that didn’t.

In a radical departure from normal practice involving summaries or excerpts of intelligence documents that are made public, the Syria chemical weapons intelligence summary document was not released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence but by the White House Office of the Press Secretary.

It was titled “Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013.” The first sentence begins, “The United States government assesses,” and the second sentence begins, “We assess”.

The introductory paragraph refers to the main body of the text as a summary of “the intelligence community’s analysis” of the issue, rather than as an “intelligence community assessment”, which would have been used had the entire intelligence community endorsed the document.

A former senior intelligence official who asked not to be identified told IPS in an e-mail Friday that the language used by the White House “means that this is not an intelligence community document”.

The former senior official, who held dozens of security classifications over a decades-long intelligence career, said he had “never seen a document about an international crisis at any classification described/slugged as a U.S. government assessment.”

The document further indicates that the administration “decided on a position and cherry-picked the intelligence to fit it,” he said. “The result is not a balanced assessment of the intelligence.”

Greg Thielmann, whose last position before retiring from the State Department was director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, told IPS he has never seen a government document labeled “Government Assessment” either.

“If it’s an intelligence assessment,” Thielmann said, “why didn’t they label it as such?”

Former National Intelligence Officer Paul Pillar, who has participated in drafting national intelligence estimates, said the intelligence assessment summary released by the White House “is evidently an administration document, and the working master copy may have been in someone’s computer at the White House or National Security Council.”

Pillar suggested that senior intelligence officials might have signed off on the administration paper, but that the White House may have drafted its own paper to “avoid attention to analytic differences within the intelligence community.”

Comparable intelligence community assessments in the past, he observed – including the 2002 Iraq WMD estimate – include indications of differences in assessment among elements of the community.

An unnamed “senior administration official” briefing the news media on the intelligence paper on August 30 said that the paper was “fully vetted within the intelligence community,” and that, ”All members of the intelligence community participated in its development.”

But that statement fell far short of asserting that all the elements of the intelligence community had approved the paper in question, or even that it had gone through anything resembling consultations between the primary drafters and other analysts, and opportunities for agencies to register dissent that typically accompany intelligence community assessments.

The same “senior administration official” indicated that DNI Clapper had “approved” submissions from various agencies for what the official called “the process”. The anonymous speaker did not explain further to journalists what that process preceding the issuance of the White House paper had involved.

However, an Associated Press story on August 29 referred to “a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence outlining the evidence against Syria”, citing two intelligence officials and two other administration officials as sources.

That article suggests that the administration had originally planned for the report on intelligence to be issued by Clapper rather than the White House, apparently after reaching agreement with the White House on the contents of the paper.

But Clapper’s name was not on the final document issued by the White House, and the document is nowhere to be found on the ODNI website. All previous intelligence community assessments were posted on that site.

The issuance of the document by the White House rather than by Clapper, as had been apparently planned, points to a refusal by Clapper to put his name on the document as revised by the White House.

Clapper’s refusal to endorse it – presumably because it was too obviously an exercise in “cherry picking” intelligence to support a decision for war – would explain why the document had to be issued by the White House.

Efforts by IPS to get a comment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence suggest strongly that Clapper is embarrassed by the way the Obama White House misrepresented the August 30 document.

An e-mail query by IPS to the media relations staff of ODNI requesting clarification of the status of the August 30 document in relation to the intelligence community was never answered.

In follow-up phone calls, ODNI personnel said someone would respond to the query. After failing to respond for two days, despite promising that someone would call back, however, ODNI’s media relations office apparently decided to refuse any further contact with IPS on the subject.

A clear indication that the White House, rather than Clapper, had the final say on the content of the document is that it includes a statement that a “preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children.”

That figure, for which no source was indicated, was several times larger than the estimates given by British and French intelligence.

The document issued by the White House cites intelligence that is either obviously ambiguous at best or is of doubtful authenticity, or both, as firm evidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack.

It claims that Syrian chemical weapons specialists were preparing for such an attack merely on the basis of signals intelligence indicating the presence of one or more individuals in a particular location. The same intelligence had been regarded prior to August 21 as indicating nothing out of the ordinary, as was reported by CBS news August 23.

The paper also cites a purported intercept by U.S intelligence of conversations between Syrian officials in which a “senior official” supposedly “confirmed” that the government had carried out the chemical weapons attack.

But the evidence appears to indicate that the alleged intercept was actually passed on to the United States by Israeli intelligence. U.S. intelligence officials have long been doubtful about intelligence from Israeli sources that is clearly in line with Israeli interests.

Opponents of the proposed U.S. strike against Syria could argue that the Obama administration’s presentation of the intelligence supporting war is far more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W. Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Obama’s war model

by Guy Billout

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

by B.J. Sabri, source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Ahed news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Russia sends missile cruiser to Eastern Mediterranean

Press TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US Polls: Public Opposes Syria Strike

Al Ahed news

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

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

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

The polls found opposition across the political spectrum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debunking Obama’s chemical weapons case against the Syrian government

Fact and Fiction

by ERIC DRAITSER, source

The document entitled “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013”, released in tandem with public statements made by Secretary of State John Kerry, is merely a summary of a manufactured narrative designed to lead the US into yet another criminal and disastrous war in the Middle East. Having been released prior to even preliminary reports from UN chemical weapons investigators on the ground in Syria, the document is as much a work of fiction as it is fact.

It begins with the conclusion that “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.” Naturally, one would immediately wonder how such a conclusion was reached when even the expert investigators on the ground have yet to conclude their own study. If these experts with years of training in the field of chemical weapons, toxicology, and other related disciplines, have yet to make such a determination, it would seem more than convenient that the US has already reached their own assessment.

Moreover, based on its own admissions as to the sources of this so-called “intelligence”, very serious doubt should be cast on such a dubious government report. The document explains that:

These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open-source reporting…In addition to US intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible non-governmental organizations.

First and foremost, any critical reading of this document must begin with the notions of “human intelligence” and “witness accounts”. Such terminology indicates that the US is simply basing pre-conceived conclusions on rebel sources and the much touted “activists” who seem to always be the sources quoted in Western media reports. Secondly, it is obvious that US officials have cherry-picked their eyewitness accounts as there are many, from both sides of the conflict, which directly contradict this so-called high-confidence assessment.

As reported in the Mint Press News by Associated Press reporter Dale Gavlak, Syrians from the town of Ghouta – the site of the chemical attack – tell a very different story from the one being told by the US government. Residents provide very credible testimony that “certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.” What makes such testimony even more compelling is that it comes from anti-Assad Syrians, many of whom have seen their children die fighting Assad’s forces. One of the Ghouta residents described his conversations with his son, a fighter tasked with carrying the chemical weapons for the Nusra Front jihadi group, who spoke of Saudi-supplied weapons being unloaded and transported. His son later was killed, along with 12 other rebels, inside a tunnel used to store weapons.

It is essential to also dispute the very notion that “social media reports” constitute credible evidence to be used in making a case for war. It is a long-established fact that US and other intelligence agencies are able to manipulate twitter, Facebook and other social media in whatever way they see fit. As the Guardian reported back in 2011:

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda…each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history, and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations ‘without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.’

It seems as if the United States is now using social media, a system over which they have control, to justify their pre-fabricated war narrative. Additionally, the idea that videos constitute a shred of evidence is laughable. As any investigator can tell you, videos are easily manipulated and, even if they are untouched, they cannot be used to assess the culprit of a crime. Videos merely show what is visible, not the underlying motives, means, and opportunity – all part of genuine investigation.

Finally, one must feel serious apprehension at the idea of journalist reports as being part of this pastiche called a “high confidence assessment,” for the simple reason that Western coverage of the conflict in Syria is mostly coming from journalists outside the country or those already sympathetic to the rebel cause. Whether they are paid propagandists or simply convenient tools used as mouthpieces of the corporate media, their reports are highly suspect, and certainly should have no role in shaping war-making policy.

It is critical to examine the “intelligence information” referred to in the assessment. It would seem that, according to the document itself, much of the case for war is based on human intelligence. Many news outlets have reported that the entire case against Assad is being based on an intercepted phone call provided to US intelligence by none other than the Israelis. Israel, with its long track record of fabricating intelligence for the purposes of war-making, is not exactly a neutral observer. As one of the principal actors in the region calling for the overthrow of the Assad government, Tel Aviv has a vested interest in ensuring a US intervention in Syria.

The ardently pro-Israel FOX News reported that:

The initial confirmation that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack Aug. 21 came from a tip from the Israeli intelligence service…a special unit of the Israeli Defense Force – an intelligence unit that goes by the number 8200…helped provide the intelligence intercepts that allowed the White House to conclude that the Assad regime was behind the attack.

It would seem rather convenient that one of the primary beneficiaries of a war to topple Assad would be the primary source of the sole piece of evidence purportedly linking Assad to the attack. If this strikes you as at best a flimsy pretext for war, you would be correct.

The report also outlines the way in which Washington arrived at its conclusion that Assad carried out the attacks. The document states:

We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition.

In analyzing the above excerpt, it should be immediately clear to anyone who has been following events in Syria closely, that this conclusion is based on faulty premises and outright lies. First, the idea that it is “highly unlikely” that the chemical attack was carried out by the opposition is an impossible assertion to make given that there is abundant evidence that the “rebels” carried out chemical attacks previously. As the widely circulated video showing rebels mounting chemical weapons onto artillery shells demonstrates, not only do they have the capability and delivery system, they have a significant supply of chemicals, certainly enough to have carried out the attack. Moreover, the multiple massacres carried out by Nusra Front and other extremist rebel factions demonstrates that such groups have no compunction whatsoever about killing innocent civilians en masse.

As for the claim that the US has based their conclusions at least in part on “the regime’s preparations for this attack”, this too is a dubious assertion simply because there has been no evidence provided whatsoever to support it. Ostensibly, the United States would like international observers to “take their word for it” that they have such evidence, but the fragile public simply cannot be allowed to see it. More echoes of Bush’s lies before the Iraq War.

And the so-called “post-attack observations” are again suspect because, as I have previously noted, the US has not bothered to wait for the results of the UN chemical weapons investigation. Therefore, these observations could only come from anti-Assad sources on the ground or international observers not present at the site who merely repeat the same information fed to them from those same anti-regime sources.

As if intended as a cruel joke to the reader, the document points out that, despite the claim that this is an irrefutable, evidence-based conclusion, it is in fact based on nothing but hearsay and rumor. Buried at the end of the first page is the most important quote of all:

Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation[emphasis added].

So, the US is supposed to wage war on a country that has not attacked it or any of its allies based on admittedly unconfirmed evidence? This would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly outrageous and criminal.

The “U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013” is a poorly constructed attempt to justify the politically, militarily, and morally unjustifiable war against Syria. It relies on lies, distortions, and obvious propaganda to create the myth that Assad is the devil incarnate and that the US, with its clear moral high-ground, must take it upon itself to once again wage war for the sake of peace. Nothing could be more dishonest. Nothing could be more disgusting. Nothing could be more American. Let’s hope Congress shuts it down.

Implicating Syrian government in a chemical attack, false flag…related news

Materials Implicating Syrian Government in Chemical Attack Prepared Before Incident – Russia

RT

Materials implicating the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad in chemical weapons use near Damascus were prepared prior to the alleged incident on August 21, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Moscow continues to monitor closely the event surrounding the“alleged” chemical attack near Damascus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said in a statement.

“We’re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature,” he stressed. “In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.”

The Damascus chemical attack accusations indicate the launch of “another anti-Syrian propaganda wave” and, in this context, the calls on the UN Security Council to immediately use force in Syria “heard from some EU capitals” are “unacceptable”, Lukashevich said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Assad’s government has demonstrated a “constructive approach” to the chemical weapons issue by allowing UN experts into the country.

But it’s alarming that the “same signals” aren’t coming from the Syrian opposition, which so far hasn’t displayed willingness to ensure the safety and efficient operations of UN investigators on the territory it controls, he said.

“This directly impedes the objective investigation of allegations of possible cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, which is called for by a number of countries and which the Russian side supports,”Lukashevich noted.

The Russian foreign ministry “strongly appeals to those who should put pressure on the opposition, making it take the necessary steps in order to ensure the full realization of the objectives of the international expert mission,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the UK has put the blame for the Damascus chemical attack on Assad’s forces, saying it thought the Syrian government had “something to hide.”

“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria,” William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, is cited as saying by Reuters. “I think the chances of that are vanishingly small and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”

The reports of a chemical weapons use in the suburbs of the Ghouta region on the outskirts Damascus appeared in the pro-opposition media on Wednesday, August 21, coinciding with the arrival of the UN investigators to the Syrian capital.

The – rebels claimed that over a 1,000 people, including many children, were killed in the attack, with the government saying that the accusations were fabricated in order to cover up the opposition’s battle losses and undermine the work of the UN mission.

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Syrian army finds chemicals in militants tunnels

Press TV

Syrian army soldiers have found chemical agents in tunnels dug by the foreign-backed militants in a northeastern suburb of the capital, Damascus, Syrian TV says.

The discovery came after the government forces surrounded a sector of militant-held district of Jobar on Saturday.

“Army heroes are entering the tunnels of the terrorists and saw chemical agents,” Syria television said, adding, “In some cases, soldiers are suffocating while entering Jobar.”

It added that ambulances arrived in the region to rescue the people who were suffocating in Jobar and the area is now controlled by Syrian army forces.

The Syrian government also stated that the foreign-backed militants had carried out the recent chemical attack in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

On Wednesday, Syria’s opposition claimed that hundreds were killed in a government chemical attack on militants strongholds in Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar before dawn.

The Syrian army has vehemently denied allegations that it used chemical weapons against militants in the suburbs of the Ghouta region, saying the accusations were fabricated to distract the visiting team of UN chemical weapons experts and to cover up militants losses…

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Lebanon Thwarts Attempt to Smuggle Captagon to Syria

Al Manar

Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau thwarted on Saturday an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of Captagon into the neighboring country Syria, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Six trailer trucks, heading to Syria, in the Bekaa town of Saadnayel, east of Lebanon, were seized by the intelligence bureau.

The trailer trucks were accompanied by a Nissan Sunny with license plate number 104982/T.

Three Syrian men were aboard the Nissan vehicle identified as 51-year-old Yehia Mahmoud al-Mkahal, Sabei Adnan Srour, 27, and Abdul Rahman Khaled Srour, 21.

On March 12, security forces seized more than one million Captagon pills in a valley in the Bekaa region, reportedly worth millions of U.S. dollars, Naharnet website said.

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US considers air war in Kosovo as precedent for Syria strikes: Report

Press TV

In an effort to bypass the United Nations, national security aides to President Barack Obama are looking at the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s as a possible blueprint for military action against Syria.

Faced with the possibility of a Russian veto at the UN Security Council, President Obama is considering whether to order military strikes against Syria without a UN mandate, according to The New York Times.

In 1999, former president Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the pretext of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes against Kosovo without seeking approval from the UN.

Obama indicated on Friday that doing so in Syria would require a robust international coalition.

“If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama said in an interview with CNN.

In ongoing White House meetings, President Obama and senior officials from the Pentagon and the State Department are discussing a range of options, including airstrikes, for Syria after allegations emerged that the Syrian government was behind a recent chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs.

The Syrian government and the army categorically denied any role in Wednesday’s alleged chemical attack.

A senior administration official told the Times on condition of anonymity that the Kosovo precedent was one of many options being discussed in White House meetings on Syria.

“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said the official. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria and that naval forces were being positioned closer to Syria in anticipation of a possible order by the president.

Meanwhile, in a statement released on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry said evidence was mounting that the chemical attack was “clearly provocative in nature” and that footage posted online seeking to incriminate the Syrian government had been posted before the chemical attack actually took place.

It also accused the insurgents of “directly impeding an objective investigation” of the incident.

UN Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane arrived in Damascus on Saturday for talks aimed at establishing an investigation into Wednesday’s attack.

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Iran Warns of Military Intervention in Syria

Al Manar

Iran stated on Saturday that there is “proof” that Syrian militants used chemical weapons in their war against the Syrian government, reassuring that “we are very concerned about information regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and we strongly condemn the use of such weapons.”

Iran and Syria flagsIranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Abbas Araqchi, was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying that there is proof terrorist groups carried out this action,’ Araqchi said in reference to Wednesday’s allegedly deadly attacks in the Damascus area.

Iran also warned against any Western military intervention in the Syrian conflict, after the United States suggested it was weighing up such a possibility.

“There is no international authorization for a military intervention in Syria. We warn against any actions or statements that could create more tension in the region. I hope that White House officials show enough wisdom not to enter into such dangerous tumult,” Araqchi added.

He further considered that “the provocative words of American officials or sending warships do not help to solve the problem in any way, but make the situation in the region more dangerous.”

“Iran has declared on several occasions that the crisis in Syria did not have a military solution,” Araqchi was quoted as saying.

Deadly Theater-of-the-Absurd

by William Manson, source

Absurd—“wildly illogical; nonsensical, preposterous”—Oxford Desk Dictionary

The individual human mind, with its inherent capacity for critical analysis of received “truths,” remains the final, not yet entirely colonized, frontier. I remain convinced that this capacity, if resistant to the flood of unremitting propaganda, can still find its way to real understanding of perplexing, camouflaged governmental policies and crimes. It is not that the average U.S. citizen is incapable of critical thinking, but that there is little incentive to exercise it. Everywhere she turns, she feels boxed-in, blocked from the free exercise of her principles and values. From the perspective of the authoritarian “managers” of mass society, it is “most efficient” for 300 million people to exhibit merely “one” mind—credulous, tranquilized, acquiescent—shaped by mass media and government “mis-information.” (And it is “most efficient” to monitor the communications, not just of “suspected terrorists,” but of the entire citizenry.) Students suppress their awareness of their teachers’ intermittent ignorance, and learn the “lesson” of accommodation and conformity (test-taking, GPA, degree, “job search,” etc.). Employees learn to suppress their justifiable grievances and perform in the required manner—in order to keep the jobs necessary for their survival.

Such ingrained habits of passive-acceptance are readily transferred to an uncritical, overly receptive attitude toward the intrusive, unremitting flow of “messages” which flood our brains on a daily basis. The result is a dependence upon, or even addiction to, the media– which, by definition, intercepts the raw data of “reality” and then “processes” it into a form more palatable to the docile consumer-citizen. Language itself—at one time used sparingly to share and exchange thoughts–has been degraded into the “art of persuasion” (i.e., marketing and political propaganda). The individual mind, so overwhelmed and flooded with misleading messages, thus abrogates its human obligation of critical thought and skeptical analysis. Just consider a few (obvious) examples:

Up until mid-2002, the American citizenry was not aware of any alleged military “threat” coming from Iraq. But by August, as Cheney gave his brazenly duplicitous VFW speech, a “fall marketing campaign” was underway—as Bush’s chief-of-staff (and p.r. expert) Andrew Card casually admitted. A flood of illogical assertions and conclusions quickly descended upon the hapless American citizens as they glanced at TV news or perused newspapers. Sinister schemes regarding WMDs were suddenly a “grave and gathering danger.” Smoking guns, mushroom clouds, aluminum tubes, shady terrorist networks, uranium yellowcake—ad nauseam.

But shockingly, citizens overwhelmingly failed to exercise their capacity for critical evaluation of the alleged evidence or rationality–failing to ask even the most obvious (and urgent) questions. We can put aside the absurd disproportionality and illogic of the U.S. “War on ‘Terror’”–as well as the now-familiar questions regarding the (successful) UN inspections, NIE reports on (lack of) WMDs, etc., etc. Yet any thinking U.S. citizens could still have easily perceived the grotesque illogic, hypocrisy, and fear-mongering of the whole criminal enterprise. For instance: why did the U.S. even bother to pretend, as a signatory of the UN Charter, to seek the required unanimous authorization of the Security Council (Powell’s disgraceful, phony speech)—but then, failing that, launch its invasion of Iraq anyway? Surely, skeptical, concerned Americans would have seen the contradiction—as the camouflage of diplomacy fell away, revealing an aggressive nation bent on war?

And—even if Americans allowed themselves to be duped about alleged Iraqi possession of WMD—how could an (illegal) invasion have been a solution? After all—at the risk of restating the obvious– has does starting a war constitute a prevention of war—the possibility of which otherwise being hypothetical? Even if such WMD had actually existed, a rational person would only conclude that they were for possible “defense” (from Iran and/or Israel); or, as a remote possibility, for a possible attack on such a neighboring country at a future time. Of course, Bush at al. shamelessly used the “Big Lie” technique, insinuating that the “mushroom cloud” could occur in the U.S. itself. Any inquiring sixth-grader might have asked why such a dictator, however supposedly “mad,” would risk to make such an attack—only to incur the reprisal of several thousand nuclear-armed missiles?

Another (obvious?) example: after bin Laden was assassinated, in Pakistan(!), by a SWAT-style police action, one would have expected a chorus of disillusioned, thinking American citizens to demand certain explanations. After all, if such a secret “special operation’ could successfully “take-out” bin Laden, why the full-scale, military invasion of the entire country of Afghanistan in the first place (with its consequent, bloody trail of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims and refugees)? And of course: was the Taliban really any kind of a threat to the security of U.S. citizens back in the “Homeland”?

Or: let’s take the (depressing) example of the U.S. medical industry. Whereas the annual number of “terror-related” deaths of U.S. citizens is indeed minimal, recognized studies indicate that (at least) 225,000-300,000 Americans are killed, each year–because of medical errors, faulty hospital procedures, adverse drug effects. U.S. Health “Care”?: “the third leading cause of death,” according to the Institute of Medicine, WHO, HealthGrades, Inc., and other sources. And yet, allegedly thoughtful, liberal-minded Americans insist that such “health care” is urgently needed for all citizens—and that those who refuse to buy Obamacare “insurance” should indeed be financially penalized. Even common folk-wisdom—“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”—has been forgotten as Americans fervently believe that doctors (and their magic, TV-promoted remedies) are essential to maintaining “health” (another common-sense concept which has been obfuscated).

And what about: the relative “affordability” of government programs and initiatives. Citizens on the whole were acquiescent when the U.S could evidently “afford” to spend (up to) three trillion dollars in Iraq—destroying an entire nation, killing hundreds of thousands of its citizens, and sacrificing thousands of U.S. soldiers to death or lifelong disability. Likewise, most citizens grudgingly accepted that the U.S. could “afford” to bail-out the “Too-Big-to-Fail”—banks which had recklessly and illegally sold worthless securities, forged mortgage and repossession documents, etc. U.S. taxpayers could “afford” to give trillions of dollars to these “needy” cases, either as outright subsidies or as essentially interest-free loans. (Only the most skeptical, inquiring citizens and journalists have doggedly uncovered how much was actually involved.) The thoughtful citizen—evidently an endangered species—might also ask: how did such banks become “too big”? (Mergers, facilitated by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and the failure of antitrust enforcement—which in turn also drastically reduced competition, limited customer choices, and dramatically raised fees).

According to Immanuel Kant, the liberating, progressive spirit of the 18th century Enlightenment could be summed up in the phrase Sapere aude: Dare—to Know. Today, for those whose “pleasant dreams” are seldom disrupted by disturbing thoughts, one may also offer the timeless caveat of Plato’s Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

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.

Beware of Cold War thinking

Terror Alert

by JP SOTTILE, source

Timing is everything.

For the embattled national security state, the fortuitous timing of “pre-9/11-like” chatter portending a large-scale, “potential” terror threat was downright impeccable.

Warnings were given and embassies closed.

Terrifying terror thwarted.

The media dutifully regurgitated andthe conversation changed.

Justifications made.

Mission accomplished?

Frankly, when it comes to justifying the national security state, “potential terror” is almost as good as actual terror. In some ways, it’s better. It keeps Americans on their toes and critics on their heels, but without any unpleasant details. And that detail-free approach has worked quite effectively for well over a decade.

Put bluntly, the War on Terror has been predicated blind trust.

If you don’t want to re-live the terror of 9/11, you will just have to trust us. If you want to preserve “The Homeland” and your family, you will just have to trust us. And if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have no reason not to trust us.

Therein lies the rub.

The national security state relies upon the willingness of the public to trust them without question. Don’t worry about the facts and details—just let us handle the truth. But the public airing of facts and details is also imperative tothe constitutional system the national security state is tasked to preserve.

However, some troublesome facts have disrupted that once-reliable Catch-22.

It’s not just Edward Snowden’s revelatory details about the NSA’s massive, extra-constitutional surveillance infrastructure. And it’s not just that DNI James Clapper lied to Congress. Or that the President and key members of Congresskeep lying to the public. Now newly-released documents show the NSA went so far as to violate orders issued by the ultra-secret rubber-stamping FISA court. Even worse, other governmental agencies covet the NSA’s epic haul of data and, if the DEA’s “Special Operations Division” is any indication, the collection of everything possible can easily metastasize into a massive, classified law enforcement crackdown on the beleaguered denizens of “The Homeland.”

So, after decades of acting with impunity under a veil of relative obscurity, the beating heart of the national security state—the NSA—is enduring an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. Now the “just trust us” phase of the War on Terror is in real jeopardy.

Questions about the veracity and timing of seemingly convenient terror alerts reflect this new reality. Americans know the NSA never “met-a-data” it didn’t like to collect. And their Homeland Security “partners” in the ever-vigilant FBI not only seem to be forcing a merger with the telecom industry, but they’ve also employed hackers who could easily turn your snazzy new TV into a two-way observation mirror.

However, the national security state is so much more than just the data hounds in the NSA, the FBI and the DEA. It is the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the CIA, self-interested members of Congress, military contractors, defense lobbyists, oil executives, public intellectuals and the smarmy think tanks that harbor them.

They are the purveyors of perpetual war, and they have been ever since Senator Arthur Vandenberg infamously told a myopic, compliant haberdasher from Missouri that he’d have to “scare the hell out of the American people” if he wanted to engage in a multi-generational conflict with former allies in the Soviet Union.

On March 12, 1947, “Give ’em Hell Harry” did just that. He gave the “Truman Doctrine” speech that set in motion decades of proxy wars, the scourge of McCarthyism and the still-resonant debacle of Vietnam. In it he warned of an enemy that relied “upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.”

It worked. Three years later, on April 14, 1950, the National Security Council codified the multi-generational conflict in a top-secret, innocuously-named “NSC-68” report outlining the strategy of “containment.” That document was the exclamation point at the end of the Cold War sentence written by Truman and the nascent national security state when they dropped the atomic bombs on Japanese civilians.

Then as now, timing is everything.

Although the Japanese signaled their willingness to surrender, Truman and Co. knew the Soviets were coming—ready to turn their victorious army toward their long-standing Japanese competitors in East Asia. Wary of a Soviet presence in America’s growing sphere of influence, the national security state used the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a well-timed demonstration of force to the Soviets and the world. They certainly did nothing to keep the Emperor off the throne, which had been the supposed sticking point keeping the Allies from accepting Japan’s surrender before its civilians were summarily incinerated.

Ironically, it’s been 68 years since the US became the first and only nation to ever use nuclear weapons. Not ironically, it is still the national security state and the mantra of “national security” that trumps everything in American life and politics and business.

That one phrase classifies anything and justifies everything. It answers all questions and ends all discussions. It is the top secret that keeps the secrets of those at the top. That’s what “national security” is and has been—the fail-safe redoubt for a profitable shadow government of elite bureaucrats, military contractors, political salespeople and intelligence interlopers.

“National security” is also why al-Qaeda will never die.

Like the Soviet Union and communism before it, al-Qaeda is the perfect foil as “terror” incarnate. It is the nefarious leader of an international network of terrorists bent on destroying America simply because it hates the American Way of life.

Unlike the Soviet Union, it will be virtually impossible to trust or verify its demise. No matter how many “suspects” are killed or top leaders are felled, these non-state actors will never leave the stage. The mere presence of American power on their soil, hovering in their skies or simply operating behind their scenes will create an endless supply of individual enemies, ad hocorganizations and insurgencies against US-backed regimes.

And now that Osama bin Laden is gone, the national security state fightsenemies it refuses to name. It deploys “suspected drones” to kill “suspected militants” and “suspected al-Qaeda” in Yemen, Pakistan or anywhere “affiliates” and “associates” and “al-Qaeda-linked” groups may pop up. Since drone strikes kill ten times as many civilians than do piloted airstrikes, they will pop up in perpetuity. And America’s global empire of bases, clients and far-flung “national” interests will forever expose Americans to potential harm and inspire domestic fear.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that this latest cocktail of fear and trust is being served at the same time the President criticizes Russia for “slipping back” into Cold War thinking.

The simple fact is that America’s national security state never stopped drinking the Cold War Kool-Aid.

‘Amnesty International, war propaganda, and human rights terrorism’

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin, source

In Jaramana on the outskirts of Damascus on 7 August, 18 civilians were blown to bits. Among the dead were children. The Russian government condemned the crime against humanity. The crime was hardly even reported in the Western press, not to mention the silence of Western governments who are supplying the terrorists with arms. Perhaps the babies murdered in the attack were supporters of Bashar al-Assad and were therefore guilty.

Meanwhile in the “land of human rights”, Parisians sipped coffee reading France’s “journal sérieux” Le monde. The French daily published a story from an organization internationally recognized for its role in defending ‘human rights’: Amnesty International.

Amnesty International was outraged at the violence against civilians in Syria. But there was no mention of the Jaramana massacre. Strangely, they had not heard the news. They were unaware that terrorists had planted a bomb in a crowded civilian area in Jaramana murdering civilians. Instead, the Le Monde article quoted statements made by Donatela Rovera, an Amnesty activist who had spent some time with similar groups to those who had planted the Jaramana bomb.

Rovera was outraged at the Syrian army’s determination to defeat the terrorists. “The regime is using banned weapons” she said. In Rovera’s twisted view, banned weapons would not include car bombs planted in crowded market squares. Banned weapons are the weapons that all national armies fighting to defend their nations use, such as ballistic missiles.

Rovera, our “human rights” activist was forced to admit that some crimes may have been committed by her beloved “rebels” but she, like a true professional, took great care to spin their crimes as collateral damage:

“The war crimes which they commit essentially target members of the government forces and their militia whom the rebels capture, but these groups have also become more visible among the civilian population, upon whom they force their viewpoint.”

Amnesty’s human rights militant doesn’t elaborate on just what that viewpoint is. She makes no mention that her beloved rebels are forcing women in occupied Aleppo to wear the burka, nor does she mention the fact that they are using food as a weapon against the people in an attempt to starve them into submission. No, the message is clear, the rebels are the good guys, although there are some rogues among them.

Is it not astonishing that a government that AIMS to kill as many as possible of its own people, a tyrannical monster that sadistically massacres scores of its own citizens day after day, could manage to stay in power, in spite of the fact that so many of those citizens support the heroic car bombers attacking that government, support the head-hackers opposing that government, cheer on the child soldiers wielding guns they can barely lift against that government, and that such a “popular uprising” could have the full logistical, propaganda, and military support of the most powerful nation the world has ever known, and still after two-and-a-half years of head hacking, cannibalism, and murdering mayhem, the Al-Qaeda “rebels” still can’t bring the “revolution” to a close?

For Amnesty International, the small babies in the Jaramana rubble are obviously “government forces”. If the opinion of Amnesty International were to the contrary, they would have published condemnations of such crimes. They didn’t and are therefore complicit in these crimes. This is what Amnesty International has been doing now for many years and since the start of this war against the Syrian people, Amnesty has been unwaveringly on the side of the aggressors. Their reports of the war have all been based on “activists say” and “according to activists”, “human rights militants” and yet they have condemned the Syrian government on the basis of all these wholly unsubstantiated claims by their so-called “reliable” sources, who have been caught committing crimes and blaming them on the government since unknown snipers opened fire on protestors and police in the town of Deraa in March 17, 2011.

Amnesty International is a war propaganda organization for imperialism. In fact, the majority of the most highly publicized human rights organisations in the West function as ideological indoctrination agencies for neo-colonialism and imperialism. In this respect, they have replaced the Christian missionaries of the 19th century who provided the justification for colonial subjugation on the pretext of spreading “Christian civilization”. Christian value-spreading colonialism has been superseded by human rights promotion.

During the terrorist campaign led by the CIA’s Mujahedeen against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan during the 1980s, Amnesty International published a report condemning alleged torture and human rights abuse against the Mujahedeen terrorists by the Afghan government, while ignoring the car bombings and atrocities against civilians being committed by Bin Laden and his hoards of drug-dealing thugs, racists, and misogynists.

The mastermind of the ‘Afghan Trap’, designed to provoke a Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, was US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. He is also a former director of Amnesty International. The current director of Amnesty International’s American section is Suzanne Nossel, former US State Department Assistant Secretary for International Organizations. It is time to question not only Amnesty International but the entire ideology of human rights.

Human Rights versus Social Rights

French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that man as an ‘empirico-transcendental doublet’ was essentially an invention of the 18th century, arguing that the notion of individuality conceived as transcendental ego separable from social and historical forces, first appears in Western philosophy during the Enlightenment. Foucault celebrated the “death of man” as human beings began to be conceptualized by structuralists and post-structuralists as decentered points in a vast matrix of power relations, a vision which ultimately deprived the human being of agency. The political consequence of this profoundly Nietzschean conception of man is relativism, nihilism and petty-bourgeois, reactionary leftism, which opposes everything and defends nothing. However, in spite of their rejection of man post-structuralists and postmodernists still defend human rights.

Marxists also reject the notion of human rights due to the fact that it represents a bourgeois conception of the human being. For Marxists, human rights are bourgeois categories that correspond to bourgeois class interests.

Many left-wing activists defend the notion of human rights. There are others, however, who contend that the concept of human rights should be critiqued and rejected; human beings as social entities are what we should be defending; human beings as socially and historically constituted actors, shaped by their environment but also capable of shaping and overcoming that environment; complex social, dialectical beings not abstract egos with rights.

It should not surprise us that human rights agencies would function as the propaganda departments of imperialism. The concept of the rights of man was born with the historical rise of the bourgeoisie and the capitalist mode of production. Therefore, human rights go hand in hand with the rights of property. Human rights are always property rights; the rights of exploiters; the rights of oppressors, of the terrorists.

Instead, we need to defend social rights. Man, as Aristotle argued, is a political animal, that is to say, an animal whose being is inseparable from the polis, the social fabric, the community. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and similar rights-based organizations are the call girls and rent boys of a new type of hyper-individualist imperialism that is threatening the future of human beings’ ability to empathize with the suffering of others. Human rights groups are more interested in “rights” than humans, with titles and deeds than emotions and passions, with being on the “right” side of political correctness than being truthful and honest; with the liberty of the market than the liberty of the human being.

Peace activists should not only denounce, expose, and condemn their lies and manipulation but the very philosophy of human rights itself; for human beings cannot be conceptualized as entities born with inalienable rights but rather as social beings growing and evolving in dynamic communities that impose ineluctable duties, debts and obligations upon them towards their fellow toilers and labourers. Without such complex relations of interdependence there would be no society and consequently no human beings.

We should reject abstract human rights and proclaim concrete social rights; rights to free housing; the right to democratic ownership of means of production; the right to live in peace; the right to a job; the right to privacy; the right to free education, transport and health care; the right to healthy food and water; the right to freedom of expression.

We should not forget that most, if not all, the unspeakable crimes of this war have been committed by the so-called rebels. We should not forget the massacres of Houla, Banias, Hatleh, Aleppo University, among countless others less known, less publicized; and now the massacre of Jaramana. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others, have been complicit in covering up these crimes. They should be held to account. It is not because Amnesty International is a phony human rights organization that it is complicit in the war crimes being committed against the Syrian people; rather, Amnesty’s war propaganda on behalf of imperialism is simply a corollary of the bourgeois ideology adhered to by all human rights groups. The current “humanitarian” wars so zealously defended by human rights fanatics are symptomatic of a deep crisis of civilization.

In the 1960s, France’s Maoist film director Jean-Luc Godard attempted to show in his nightmarishly prescient film Le Weekend how French bourgeois ideology would turn civilized humans into blood-thirsty cannibals. This author has heard numerous commentaries in the French and international press playing down and explaining the cannibalism of some of the Syrian terrorists as a reaction to the unfathomable “brutality” of the “regime”. Cannibals and psychopaths have been converted into Montaigne’s noble savages. This is the ideology of a decadent consumer society where certain atavistic tendencies of hunter-gatherism are re-emerging in the chaos caused by the slow death of technocratic capitalism.

We must document crimes such as the massacre of Jaramana and expose those who attempt to cover for their perpetrators, not because they are violations of human rights but because they are violations of humanity and the social networks that sustain meaningful human relations. We must stand up for the human being and consign human rights to the dustbin of history.

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.

President Assad refutes rumors, performs Eid prayers in Damascus

Al Manar

Less than an hour after the so-called Free Syrian Army claimed it had targeted a convoy for President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, the Syrian leader refuted rumors as he appeared performing Eid al-Fitr prayers on Thursday morning.

Assad performing Eid prayers in DamascusAssad appeared in live footage on Syrian State TV as performing Eid prayers in Anas Bin Malek Mosque in the Syrian capital.
The country’s Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun appeared during prayers in front of Assad, along with other officials.

Earlier, the Saudi owned pan-Arab TV, al-Arabiya TV, reported that Assad’s convoy was targeted by mortar shells.

“Assad’s convoy, which was heading to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers in Anas bin Malik Mosque in Damascus, was targeted,” Arabiya said early on Thursday.

It quoted General Firas al-Bitar as saying that “17 mortars targeted Assad’s convoy after the opposition had secret information on his movements in al-Amaween Square located in the heart of the Syrian capital.”

However, Bitar didn’t verify whether Assad was wounded or not.

For his part, Information minister Omran al-Zoabi denied the attack, saying it was completely false.

“Regarding the information reported by Al-Arabiya, I can assure you that it is completely false,” Zoabi told state television.

“The president arrived at the mosque driving his own car, he attended the prayer and greeted everyone in the mosque as he does every day when he meets people,” the minister added.

“Hasbara” courses at Israeli universities exposed in new report

by Yara Sa’di, The Electronic Intifada

Various Israeli academic institutions have introduced courses and programs on hasbara — the Hebrew-language term used to describe Israel’s attempts to re-brand its image as its occupation and military aggression makes it increasingly unpopular worldwide.

A new report from the Academic Watch Project shows that instead of promoting critical thought and inquiry, these courses at academic institutions serve to promote the policies of the State of Israel and the whitewashing of its crimes. The Academic Watch Project is a group of Palestinian students at Israeli academic institutions dedicated to exposing discrimination within Israeli academia and its connection with Israel’s military occupation and apartheid policies.

“A Word on Hasbara” aims to uncover the content of these courses and programs and their funding. It also seeks to reveal their connections with the ministries of foreign affairs and public diplomacy and international Zionist groups.

“Unofficial ambassadors”

One such course — “Ambassadors Online” (or “Ambassadors on the Web”) — offered at Haifa University boasts the slogan “Volunteering, Zionism, Digital Diplomacy.”

The course’s webpage features the logos of two Israeli ministries as well as those of Birthright Israel and StandWithUs, groups which aim to promote Israel among US college students — and offers the synopsis: “[the] goal is to provide Israeli university students with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to become unofficial ambassadors of Israel. The cadets of the project receive training which prepares them to effectively challenge the de-legitimization claims, engage in a dialogue with anti-Israeli activists and improve Israel’s image abroad by expanding the positive knowledge about the country.”

Eli Avraham, a co-founder of the “Ambassadors on the Web” course, said in an interview with The Canadian Jewish news: “when false claims are made about Israel, such as labeling it an apartheid state, people need to be equipped with knowledge and tools to speak out against those claims.”

He added: “The main idea is that this is about how to use the new media to reclaim Israel’s narrative and promote Israel’s point of view” (“Haifa U course teaches web hasbara strategies,” 13 March 2012).

Year-long hasbara program

IDC Herzliya’s Ambassador Club is a year-long program for more than two hundred students from thirty countries run in partnership with StandWithUs. The program includes lectures on media, economy and history in order to “arm the students with the latest surveys and data and to teach them how to present the Israeli narrative” in North America and Europe. At the end of the course, each participant receives “an accreditation endorsed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” according to the StandWithUs website.

Student unions at Israeli universities also provide hasbara programs. The National Union of Israeli Students aims to fight “anti-Semitism” and “delegitimization of the State of Israel” by paying Israeli students $2,000 in return for writing comments and letters on social network sites promoting Israel and “refuting” criticism of the state’s policies for five hours per week.

These hasbara courses were put into practice last November, when Israel bombed Gaza for eight consecutive days. The student union at IDC Herzliya, in coordination with the ministries of media and public diplomacy, formed “a war center” to promote the Israeli army and its aggression. The “war center” received information directly from the Israeli army and the prime minister’s office.

Coexistence lie

Even more cynically, these programs are being used to promote a false narrative of coexistence, like the one boasted in a recent Times of Israel piece on the Ambassadors Online program at Haifa University. The article, titled “Muslim, Druze and Jewish students band together to improve Israel’s global image,” describes how students are trained to undermine the global boycott Israel movement.

But despite the hasbara lie of Israel being a bastion of peace and coexistence, as the Haifa University program trains students to promote, the reality for Palestinian students at Israeli universities is much different.

While the Ambassadors Online participants “monitored the media for biased coverage and took part in the shaping of positive public opinion towards Israel” during the bombing of Gaza last November, Palestinian students at Haifa University who protested the attacks were demonized by the city’s mayor as “terrorist supporters” and banned by the university from demonstrating on campus.

What these hasbara programs ultimately reveal is that Israel is losing the public relations battle and is desperately investing massive resources into improving its image. The role of Israeli academic institutions in these deceptive efforts reaffirm their role in serving the policies of the state, rather than promoting academic values and integrity.

Yara Sa’di, a postgraduate student and activist from Haifa, drafted the Academic Watch Project report.

*Links in original source

Fake WMD “intelligence” and Orwellian double-speak

Washington Is Insane

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, source

In the 21st century the two hundred year-old propaganda that the American people control their government has been completely shattered. Both the Bush and Obama regimes have made it unmistakenly clear that the American people don’t even influence, much less control, the government. As far as Washington is concerned, the people are nothing but chaff in the wind.

Polls demonstrate that 65% of the US population opposes US intervention in Syria. Despite this clear indication of the people’s will, the Obama regime is ramping up a propaganda case for more arming of Washington’s mercenaries sent to overthrow the secular Syrian government and for a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which, if Libya is the example, means US or NATO aircraft attacking the Syrian army on the ground, thus serving as the air force of Washington’s imported mercenaries, euphemistically called “the Syrian rebels.”

Washington declared some time ago that the “red line” that would bring Syria under Washington’s military attack was the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction against Washington’s mercenaries. Once this announcement was made, everyone with a brain immediately knew that Washington would fabricate false intelligence that Assad had used chemical weapons, just as Washington presented to the United Nations the intentional lie via Secretary of State Colin Powell that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

Remember National Security Advisor Condi Rice’s image of a “mushroom cloud over American cities?” Propagandistic lies were Washington’s orders of the day.

And they still are. Now Washington has fabricated the false intelligence, and president obama has announced it with a straight face, that Syria’s Assad has used sarin gas on several occasions and that between 100 and 150 “of his own people,” a euphemism for the US supplied foreign mercenaries, have been killed by the weapon of mass destruction.

Think about that for a minute. As unfortunate as is any death from war, is 100-150 deaths “mass destruction?” According to low-ball estimates, the US-sponsored foreign mercenary invasion of Syria has cost 93,000 lives, of which 150 deaths amounts to0.0016%. If we round up, Washington’s 150 deaths comes to two-thousands of one percent.

In other words, 99.998% of the deaths did not cross the “red line.” But the 0.002 (rounded up) percent did.

Yes, I know. Washington’s position makes no sense. But when has it ever made any sense?

Let’s stretch our minds just a tiny bit farther. Assad knows about Washington’s “red line.” It has been repeated over and over in order to create in the minds of the distracted American public that there is a real, valid reason for attacking Syria. Why would Assad use the proscribed weapons of mass destruction in order to kill a measly 100-150 mercenaries when his army is mopping up the US mercenaries without the use of gas and when Assad knows that the use of gas brings in the US military against him?

As the Russian government made clear, Washington’s accusation is not believable. No informed person could possibly believe it. No doubt, many Americans wearing patriotism on their sleeves will fall for Washington’s latest lie, but no one else in the world will. Even Washington’s NATO puppets calling for attacking Syria know that the justification for the attack is a lie. For the NATO puppets, Washington’s money overwhelms integrity, for which the rewards are low.

The Russians certainly know that Washington is lying. The Russian Foreign Minister Larov said:

“The [Assad] government, as the opposition is saying openly, is enjoying military success on the ground. The [Assad] regime isn’t driven to the wall. What sense is there for the regime to use chemical arms–especially in such small amounts.”

Larov is a relatively civilized person in the role of Russia’s main diplomat. However, other Russian officials can be more pointed in their dismissal of Washington’s latest blatant lies. Yury Ushakov, an aide to Russian President Putin said: “The Americans tried to present us with information on the use of chemical weapons by the [Assad] regime, but frankly we thought that it was not convincing. We wouldn’t like to invoke references to [the infamous lies o] Secretary of State Powell [at the UN alleging Iraqi WMD], but the facts don’t look convincing in our eyes.” Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the Russian Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, cut to the chase.

“The data about Assad’s use of chemical weapons is fabricated by the same facility that made up the lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Obama is walking George W. Bush’s path.”

Here in America no one will ever hear straight talk like this from the US presstitutes.

Orwellian double-speak is now the language of the United States government. Secretary of State john kerry condemned Assad for harming “peace talks” while the US arms its Syrian mercenaries.

Washington’s double-speak is now obvious to the world. Not only Assad, but also the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and every US puppet state which includes all of NATO and Japan, are fully aware that Washington is again lying through its teeth. The Russians, Chinese, and Iranians are trying to avoid confrontation with Washington, as war with the modern nuclear weapons would destroy all life on planet earth. What is striking is that despite 24/7 brainwashing by the presstitutes, a large majority of the American population opposes obama’s war on Syria.

This is good news. It means more Americans are developing the ability to think independently of the lies Washington feeds to them.

What the neocon[s], the bush/obama regime, and the presstitute media have made clear is that Washington is going to push its agenda of world hegemony to the point of starting World War III, which, of course, means the end of life on earth.

Russia and China, either one of which can destroy the United States, have learned that the US government is a liar and cannot be trusted. The Libyan “no-fly” policy to which Russia and China agreed turned out to be a NATO air attack on the Libyan army so that the CIA-sponsored mercenaries could prevail.

Russia and China, having learned their lesson, are protesting Washington’s assault on Syria that Washington pretends is a “civil war.” If Syria falls, Russia and China know that Iran is next.

Iran is Russia’s underbelly, and for China Iran is 20% of its energy imports. Both Russian and Chinese governments know that after Iran falls, they are next. There is no other explanation for Washington surrounding Russia with missile bases and surrounding China with naval and air bases.

Both Russia and China are now preparing for the war that they see as inevitable. Washington’s crazed, demented drive for world hegemony is bringing unsuspecting Americans up against two countries with hydrogen bombs whose combined population is five times the US population. In such a conflict everyone dies.

Considering the utterly insane government ruling in Washington, if human life exists in 2020, it will be a miracle. All the worry about future Medicare and Social Security deficits is meaningless. There will be no one here to collect the benefits.

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