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Truth of US-Russia Confrontation

Aggression was over the Moment those Two Missiles were Fired

Al Manar

A well informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired, leaving inconsistent information, as Israel denied and Russia confirmed, until an Israeli statement was issued indicating they were fired in the context of an Israeli-US joint drill and fell in the sea, and that they were not related to the Syrian crisis.”

The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.”

In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

“This unannounced direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington increased the Obama Administration’s confusion and certainty that the Russian side was ready to move until the end with the Syrian cause, and that the US did not have a way out of its impasse except through a Russian initiative which would save America’s face…” he added.

From this point, the diplomatic source clarified that “in order to avoid further US confusion, and after Israel denied knowing anything about the rocket firing in its first statement, which is the truth, Washington demanded Tel Aviv to adopt the rocket firing to save its face in front of the International Community, especially since these two rockets were the beginning of the US aggression on Syria and the announcement of the beginning of military operations, after which US President Barack Obama was supposed to go to the G20 Summit in Russia to negotiate the destiny of Syrian President Bashr Al-Assad. However, he went to find a way out of the impasse he’s in.”

The source further indicated that “after the US-Russia rocket confrontation, Moscow intended to increase its number of military experts in Russia, and added to its military units and destroyers to enhance its military presence in the Mediterranean. It also set a time for announcing about its initiative on stopping the aggression on Syria after the G20 Summit, after drawing a side scene on the sidelines of the summit which was followed by two successive visits for Iranian Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdul Lahyan, and Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Al-Moallem, in which a way out was agreed on with the Russian side, and it included a Syrian announcement on approving the Russian initiative regarding putting Syrian chemical weapons under international supervision and preparing Syria for joining the non-proliferation treaty.

Finally, the source pointed out that “One of the first results of the US-Russian military confrontation was the British House of Commons’ rejection to participate in a war on Syria. This was followed by European stances, most significantly, the German stance announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

 

Translated by Sara Taha Moughnieh

Syria: Lavrov-Chance for Syria peace can’t be missed & Assad- We agreed at Russia’s request not US threats

VIDEOS: McCain Faces the Wrath of Americans Opposed to Syria War (click to read other videos)

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Lavrov: Chance for Syria Peace Can’t Be Missed

Al Manar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday there is a chance of peace in Syria which cannot be missed, calling for for maximum efforts in order to get out of the “storm” in reference to the recent escalation on the Syrian crisis.

“I’m positive there is a chance for peace in Syria, and it cannot be missed. Tomorrow we’ll discuss this issue with Secretary of State John Kerry,” Lavrov said after meeting his Kazakh counterpart in Astana.

Echoing sentiments previously expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said Russia’s active diplomatic efforts were intended “to prevent external military intervention in Syria, which would only lead to further destabilization in the country and throughout the entire region.”

Regarding the Russian initiative, which has “gathered widespread support,” Lavrov noted it was forwarded with “the understanding that it will waive the use of armed force against Syria.”

Lavrov further said a delegation of Russian and American chemical weapons experts who “have the necessary knowledge to identify relevant solutions to such issues” would be present in Geneva.

“It is necessary ensure Syria’s adherence to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which would entail a declaration of Syria’s chemical weapons storage sites and the disclosure of its chemical [weapons] program,” he said.

Lavrov also said that the Russian-US meeting in Geneva was not intended to “usurp” the preparatory process for resolving the Syrian question.

The top Russian minister is to meet with his US counterpart John Kerry in Geneva to hammer out the details of Russia’s initiative to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control.

During the meeting, Kerry and Lavrov will attempt to reach a deal on a UN Security Council resolution that would require Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, allowing for their further destruction. Syria would also be expected to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Russia remains opposed to elements of the French-drafted UN resolution, which included a timetable and the threat of force to facilitate Syria’s acquiescence to the plan.

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Assad: We Agreed to Put ’Chemicals’ under Int’l Control at Russia’s Request

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that Damascus agreed to hand over control of chemical weapons to the international supervision at the request of Russia, and not because of the U.S. threats.

During an interview with the channel “Russia 24″, the Syrian President made it clear that Damascus will send to the United Nations documents in order to prepare a convention on the matter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said in an article published by the New York Times daily that forces of the Syrian opposition – and not the Syrian army – had used chemical weapons to incite the U.S. intervention.

“No one doubts that poison gas was used, but there are all reasons to believe that poison gas was not used by the national military, but by the opposition forces in order to incite the intervention of foreign powers that support them,” Putin said.

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Russia’s ‘Carrier-Killer’ Moskva Enters Mediterranean

Al Manar

Russia’s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a “carrier-killer” by NATO, has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there.

The Russian Navy said in a statement that the Moskva cruiser passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10.

Interfax news agency added that the Moskva cruiser, “commanded by Sergey Tronev, Captain 1st Rank of the Guards… has enough room for maneuver now.”

“The Black Sea flagship entered the Russian Navy’s area of responsibility in the Mediterranean at 11:00 pm Moscow time yesterday,” the agency reported a military source as saying.

The missile-carrying cruiser is expected to join its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.

Upon arrival, the command of the Russian Navy unit in the Mediterranean, currently stationed onboard the Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship, will be relocated to the Moskva.

“The armaments and technical equipment of the missile cruiser are in working condition. The crew is ready to perform combat missions,” the source said.

Missile cruiser “Moskva” belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet firing anti-aircraft missiles during joint drills with other fleets.

The missile cruiser, initially known to Western naval intelligence as “Slava” (Glory), was launched in 1979 and entered service in 1983. It was later renamed the “Moskva” in 1995. Designed to be carrier-killers, the cruisers of Class 1164 are equipped with 16 anti-ship launchers P-1000 Vulkan, or Volcano (SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles, according to NATO classification).

Another two vessels, the landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov and the guard ship Smetlivy, will join the Russian naval unit later. They will be pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits by September 12-14 and will then head to the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the maneuvers are part of the “stage-by-stage rotation of warships and support ships of the standing naval force in the Mediterranean.”

The recent deployments are aimed at “complex monitoring” of the situation around Syria, military sources told Interfax earlier.

Russia’s standing naval force in the Mediterranean now involves landing craft carriers “Aleksandr Shabalin,” “Admiral Nevelskoy,” “Peresvet,” “Novocherkassk” and “Minsk” of Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as escort vessel “Neustrashimy,” and the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev.”

“Admiral Panteleyev” anti-submarine ship returning to Vladivostok from Japanese port Hakodate (Hokkaido island).

Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean come amid growing tension in the region, which sparked speculation that Russia was boosting its naval presence ahead of a possible US strike against Syria.

Previously, Russia’s defense officials cautioned against making connections between the relocation of warships and the Syrian crisis, saying the maneuvers do not depend on the situation and “will continue after it.”

NSA shares raw data about US citizens with ’Israel’

Al Ahed news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US military knew Syria militants had sarin gas: Document

Press TV

A newly leaked classified document has revealed the US military knew that foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government had sarin gas.

In a classified Secret/Noforn (not for foreign distribution) document obtained by WND, the US military has confirmed that militants from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria had sarin gas.

According to the document, which came from the US intelligence community’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), al-Qaeda elements in Iraq produced a “bench-scale” form of sarin and transferred it to Turkey for use by foreign-backed militants in Syria.

The lethal gas was provided to militants in Syria through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province with Turkey’s cooperation, reported WND.

The document also says that sarin gas was used by militants in an attack on civilians and Syrian government forces last March.

Yossef Bodansky, a former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has told WND that the US intelligence community’s describing the sarin gas in the hands of militants as “bench-scale” shows the alleged chemical attack of August 21 near capital Damascus was perpetrated by the militants to provoke a US military intervention in Syria.

Bodansky based his argument on a preliminary analysis of the sarin which showed it was of a “kitchen” variety and not military grade.

Washington has accused the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in an attack near capital Damascus on August 21.

Damascus has categorically rejected the accusations. In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, the Syrian president rejected the allegations that he was behind the deadly chemical attack in August.

US President Barack Obama has sent Congress a draft resolution for strike on Syria over the accusations.

However, he asked Congress on Tuesday to delay a vote, originally set for Wednesday, on his call for the use of military force against Syria in order to give a Russian diplomatic proposal a chance to play out.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government said it would accept a proposal offered a day earlier by Russia to put its chemical weapons under international control.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the CIA has begun delivering weapons to US-backed militants in Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that US lawmakers should keep “the threat” of attacking Syria “on the table.”

Britain is accused of uprooting families in Ascension Island

Press TV

A newly leaked classified document has revealed the US military knew that foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government had sarin gas.

In a classified Secret/Noforn (not for foreign distribution) document obtained by WND, the US military has confirmed that militants from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in Syria had sarin gas.

According to the document, which came from the US intelligence community’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), al-Qaeda elements in Iraq produced a “bench-scale” form of sarin and transferred it to Turkey for use by foreign-backed militants in Syria.

The lethal gas was provided to militants in Syria through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province with Turkey’s cooperation, reported WND.

The document also says that sarin gas was used by militants in an attack on civilians and Syrian government forces last March.

Yossef Bodansky, a former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has told WND that the US intelligence community’s describing the sarin gas in the hands of militants as “bench-scale” shows the alleged chemical attack of August 21 near capital Damascus was perpetrated by the militants to provoke a US military intervention in Syria.

Bodansky based his argument on a preliminary analysis of the sarin which showed it was of a “kitchen” variety and not military grade.

Washington has accused the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons in an attack near capital Damascus on August 21.

Damascus has categorically rejected the accusations. In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, the Syrian president rejected the allegations that he was behind the deadly chemical attack in August.

US President Barack Obama has sent Congress a draft resolution for strike on Syria over the accusations.

However, he asked Congress on Tuesday to delay a vote, originally set for Wednesday, on his call for the use of military force against Syria in order to give a Russian diplomatic proposal a chance to play out.

On Tuesday, the Syrian government said it would accept a proposal offered a day earlier by Russia to put its chemical weapons under international control.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the CIA has begun delivering weapons to US-backed militants in Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that US lawmakers should keep “the threat” of attacking Syria “on the table.”

From Hiroshima to Syria, the enemy whose name we dare not speak

(Iraq-file photo)

by John Pilger

On my wall is the front page of Daily Express of September 5, 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.

Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again, we are held hostage to the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity’s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.

John Kerry’s farce and Barack Obama’s pirouettes are temporary. Russia’s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With Al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.”

When the public is “psychologically scarred”, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people’s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, reinforcing the unmentionable is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the “rebels” used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US not Syria that is the world’s most prolific user of these terrible weapons. In 1970, the Senate reported, “The US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of population”. This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Rand Hand: the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a “cycle of foetal catastrophe”. I have seen generations of young children with their familiar, monstrous deformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq, too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorous, as did the Israelis in Gaza, raining it down on UN schools and hospitals. No Obama “red line” for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.

The repetitive debate about whether “we” should “take action” against selected dictators (i.e. cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, emeritus professor of international law and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. This “is so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

It is the biggest lie: the product of “liberal realists” in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and the media who ordain themselves as the world’s crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark “failed”, “rogue” or “evil” states for “humanitarian intervention”.

An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US “demon” would draw on a fashionable variant, “Responsibility to Protect”, or R2P, whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a “Global Centre”, based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the “international community” to attack countries where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Evans has form. He appears in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberra’s smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having just signed a treaty that pirated the oil and gas of the stricken country below where Indonesia’s tyrant, Suharto, killed or starved a third of the population.

Under the “weak” Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, and piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libyato a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned façade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year, 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.

The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism”. “For goose-steppers,” he wrote, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.” Every Tuesday, the “humanitarian” Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that “bugsplat” people, their rescuers and mourners. In the west’s comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement: Obama’s singular achievement.

In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self respect, deserve nothing less now.

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

by Saed Bannoura, source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSA documents show spy agency violated privacy rules

Al Ahed news

US intelligence officials declassified documents Tuesday revealing the National Security Agency violated privacy rules for three years when it sifted phone records of Americans with no suspected links to terrorists.

The revelations raised fresh questions about the NSA’s ability to manage the massive amount of data it collects and whether the US government is able to safeguard the privacy of its citizens.

The government was forced to disclose the documents by a judge’s order after a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group promoting digital privacy rights and free speech.

The foundation called the release of the documents a “victory” for transparency but intelligence officials said the papers illustrated how the spy service had made unintentional “mistakes” that were rectified under strict judicial oversight.

The government “didn’t release these new NSA docs out of the goodness of their heart,” the foundation wrote in a tweet. “They were compelled to by @EFF’s lawsuit.”

The documents, including hundreds of pages of court orders, reveal privacy violations from 2006 to 2009 in NSA’s collection of phone records or “metadata,” as part of the agency’s effort to track potential terror plots.

The release came after the scale of NSA spying was exposed in a series of bombshell media leaks in recent months by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has sought asylum in Russia.

Earlier, the documents divulged by Snowden have shown the NSA conducts a massive electronic dragnet, including trawling through phone records and online traffic, that has sometimes flouted privacy laws.

According to papers released Tuesday, the NSA reported its privacy violations to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which found that the spy service was scooping up data “from United States persons not under investigation by the FBI,” according to one court ruling.

The NSA had been permitted by the court to only search phone numbers that had “reasonable articulable suspicion” of having links to terrorism.

But out of more than 17,000 numbers on a NSA list in 2009, the agency only had reasonable suspicion for about 1,800 of the numbers, two senior intelligence officials told reporters on Tuesday.

The declassified documents shed light on friction between the NSA and the court, with judges castigating the agency for failing to abide by their orders and misrepresenting the nature of their data collection.

The documents released “show that the NSA repeatedly violated court-imposed limits on its surveillance powers, and they confirm that the agency simply cannot be trusted with such sweeping authority,” said Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The rights group has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the NSA’s collection of phone records.

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.

‘Israel’s’ lobbyists pushing hard for another war in the Middle East

by Jeremy Salt – Ankara, source

Two million refugees out of Syria, some of them Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and some Iraqi refugees from 2004.  They are the consequences of war and yet the raging beast that is devouring the Middle East is still not satiated. Another war looms. Another country already devastated is to be shattered by missile attacks. Who wants this war: who could want it?  Who could even think of avenging the dead by calling for more killing?

It is not the people of the world.  All polls show they are against it.  Not just the people of Latin America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and China but the American people, the British people, the French people and the Turkish people. It is only the politicians who want this war: Obama, Kerry, Hagel, McCain and others in the US; Cameron and Hague in Britain; Hollande in France; and Erdogan in Turkey. None of them has any proof of their accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons around Damascus, but proof is beside the point. Their Muslim contras have failed to destroy the government in Damascus and now in the chemical weapons attack they have their pretext for doing the job themselves.

The US administration is now deciding how long this attack should last. Should it be a few days, or a few months? Should it be aimed at just punishing the ‘regime’ or should it be aimed at destroying it altogether, which seems to be the emerging consensus? They are talking this over confidently, almost nonchalantly, McCain playing poker on his mobile phone because he is so bored, as though  their  missile attacks on other countries have lulled them into thinking that their military power is so great  they could not possibly be hurt themselves.

Erdogan wants a ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial campaign.  In 1999, NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 ‘sorties’ over Yugoslavia, of which number 10,484 were strike attacks. Operation Allied Force lasted for 78 days, not the 30 days claimed by Kerry when being questioned by the Senate committee which finally voted for war on Syria. In 2011 NATO launched Operation Unified Protector against Libya ‘to protect the people from attack or threat of attack.’ This particular  ‘operation’ lasted for seven months, during which 26,500 ‘sorties’ were flown, 9700 of them strike sorties.  Even the National Transitional Council, the incoming government after the destruction of the government in Tripoli, said 25,000 people had been killed. A similar operation over Syria, a country much better able to defend itself, and with powerful allies besides, would cause enormous further destruction and the death of many thousands of people. This is the meaning of ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial warfare.  In fact, what is shaping up is even worse, an air war that will have more in common with Iraq than the bombing of Yugoslavia. The targets and objectives are being expanded all the time.

Saudi Arabia has no politicians and no public opinion polls which would tell us what the Saudi people think of their government and its role in the destruction of Syria. The only country in which the government and the people are clearly united in their support for an attack on Syria is Israel. Polls show that nearly 70 per cent of  Jewish Israelis – Palestinians are fully against it – are in favor of the US striking Syria, while thinking that Israel should stay out unless Syria or Hezbollah retaliate with strikes against Israeli targets. The British vote against war and Obama’s hesitation forced Israel and its lobbyists in the US to break cover, ending the silly pretense that Israel is not involved in Syria and does not really care who wins. David Horowitz, the former editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote an infuriated piece about  ‘how a perfect storm of British ineptitude and gutlessness sent the wrong message to the butcher of Damascus and left Israel more certain than ever that it can rely only on itself.’ The novelist Noah Beck accused Obama of being spineless. Others in the media called him weak and unreliable.  By ‘blinking’, he had sent a dangerous message to ‘cruel regimes’ and terrorists everywhere. Debkafile, an outlet for disinformation and other scrapings from the floor of Israeli intelligence, echoed this line. Obama’s   ‘about turn’ had let Iran, Syria and Hezbollah ‘off the hook ’, creating a ‘military nightmare’ for Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

The same lines of attack and support were duplicated by Israel’s formal and informal lobbyists in the US.  Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post sneered at Obama for hesitating: ‘Perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus’. Wrote William Kristol in the Weekly Standard: ‘Is President Obama going wobbly on Syria? No. He’s always been wobbly on Syria – and on pretty much everything else … the worst outcome would be for Obama not to call Congress back or not to act at all but to falter and retreat. For his retreat would be America’s retreat and his humiliation America’s humiliation.’ Kristol’s stablemate, Thomas Donnelly, thought Obama content ‘‘to see Assad kill his own people – which he has done in the tens if not hundreds of thousands – as long as Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons’. Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that the most likely option for Syria was partition, ‘with the pro-Assad, predominantly Alawite Syrians controlling one region and the Sunni and Kurdish Syrians controlling the rest.’ The fragmentation of Syria on ethno-religious lines, of course, has been a Zionist objective for decades. No mention by Friedman of the Druze,  but never mind that:  in the interim,  America’s best option is not the launching of Cruise missiles ‘but an increase in the training and arming of the Free Syrian Army – including the antitank and antiaircraft weapons it’s long sought.’ Friedman thought this might increase the influence on the ground of the ‘more moderate groups over the jihadist ones.’

At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the entire stable was off and running. ‘Forget the red line and engage in Syria,’ wrote David Schenker, as if the US has not been intensely engaged in Syria for the past three years, fomenting the violence which has built up to the present catastrophic situation.  Wrote Robert Satloff: ‘Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria which touches [sic.] on every key American interest in the region, the wiser course of action is to take the opportunity of the Assad regime’s flagrant violation of global norms to take action that hastens the end of Assad’s regime … this will also enhance the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.’ Michael Herzog thought the US could learn from Israeli air attacks on Syria: ‘In Israel’s experience Assad has proven to be a rational (if ruthless) actor. He was deterred from responding to recent and past strikes because he did not want to invite the consequences of Israeli military might. Therefore, the United States has a good chance of deterring him as well.’

In Commentary, Max Boot called on the US to use air power in cooperation with ground action by ‘vetted’ rebel forces to ‘cripple and ultimately bring down Assad’s regime, making impossible further atrocities such as the use of chemical weapons.’ How these forces are to be ‘vetted’ and how they, rather than the Islamist groups who are doing most of the fighting, could bring down the ‘regime’  Boot does not say, most probably because he doesn’t know. Daniel Pipes, the long-term advocate of Israeli violence in the Middle East, writing in National Review online, wanted not a ‘limited’ strike but something that would do real damage and brings the ‘regime’ down.

Outside these journals and the think tanks, former ‘government advisers’ and ‘foreign policy experts’  signed a petition calling for ‘direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime’.  Many of the names will be familiar from the Project for the New American Century and plans laid long ago for a series of wars in the Middle East: Elliott Abrams, Fouad Ajami, Gary Bauer, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Thomas Donnelly, Douglas Feith, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Bernard-Henri Levy, Michael Makovsky, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Leon Wieseltier and Radwan Ziadeh.

AIPAC and the Jewish organizations piled the pressure on Congress and the White House. AIPAC’s statement on Syria stressed the sending of a ‘forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hizbullah’ at a time ‘Iran is racing towards obtaining nuclear capability.’ The Politico website quoted unnamed AIPAC officials as saying that ‘some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon … they are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress’. Their ‘stepped-up involvement’ comes at a welcome time for the White House, wrote the Politico correspondent, given its difficulty in securing support for the resolution. The two top Republican leaders in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell and minority whip John Comyn, had already been urged ‘by top Jewish donors and AIPAC allies’ to back the war resolution.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations called for an attack that would demonstrate ‘accountability’ to ‘those who possess weapons of mass destruction, particularly Iran and Hezbollah.’ Morris Amitay of the pro-Israel Washington Political Action Committee thought that ‘for our [United States] credibility we have to do something.’ Bloomberg reported the Republican Jewish Coalition as sending an ‘action alert’ to its 45,000 members ‘directing them to tell Congress to authorize force.’ The same message of support for an attack was sent out by the National Jewish Democratic Council and   Abe Foxman of the so-called Anti-Defamation League, who stressed that while ‘he’s not doing this for Israel,’ the attack may have  serious consequences for Israel.

With the exception of the Foxman statement, these organizations carefully kept any mention of Israel out of their public statements. In off the record discussions, however, it was the central concern. On August 30 Obama had a conference call with 1000 rabbis, with Syria, ‘at the White House’s request,’ according to Bloomberg, being the first question asked. Iran was not mentioned either but, said a leading rabbi from New York, ‘we have a strong stake in the world taking seriously our insistence that weapons of mass destruction should not proliferate’. Bloomberg quoted Obama as ‘arguing’ that ‘a military response is necessary to uphold a longstanding international ban on the use of chemical weapons use and to deter Assad from using them again on his own people or such neighbors as Israel and Jordan.’ Of course, this was not an argument at all but Obama telling the rabbis what they wanted to hear. In a separate approach, 17 leading rabbis ‘covering the religious and political spectrum’, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, sent a letter to Congress calling on it to authorize force against Syria. The language could scarcely be more Orwellian: ‘Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save   thousands of lives.’

Another conference call was held between representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and White House deputy national security advisors Tony Blinken and Ben Rhodes. The representatives waited until Blinken and Rhodes were ‘off the call’ before advising constituent organizations ‘not to make their statements ‘Israel-centric’,’ according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A powerful figure wheeled out by the lobby is Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who funds settlement in Jerusalem and on the West Bank and spent (along with his wife) $93 million trying to see Obama defeated in the presidential election last year. Adelson is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and supports the pressure it is putting on Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria.

The carefully crafted outlines of this deceitful campaign are very evident:

1. This is not about Israel
2. This is about America’s national interest.
3. This is about punishing a government which has used chemical weapons on its own people.
4. This is about saving lives
5. This is about a government that has no respect for international law and norms.
6. This is about sending a ‘forceful message of resolve to Hezbollah and Iran.’
7. This is about showing that Obama’s red lines are not empty threats.

Obama’s own ‘full court press strategy’ includes interviews with six television anchors ahead of the congressional vote. The moment Obama said everything AIPAC wanted to hear during the primaries was the moment he took the first step into the tight corner in which he now finds himself. This is now a global confrontation with a lot at stake besides Israel’s interests, but it is pushing as hard as it can to make sure this war goes ahead.  Like David Cameron, a congressional vote against war will allow Obama to back out of the corner by saying that the American people have spoken and he cannot take them into war against their wishes. Will he do that, or is really going to plunge his country into war irrespective of what Congress or the American people think? By the end of the coming week we should have the answer.

Syria: ‘No “irrefutable” evidence of use of chemical weapons, but a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence”‘???

Syria agrees to put chemical weapons under international control

Press TV

Syria has welcomed Russia’s initiative to put its chemical weapons stockpile under international control in a bid to avert US military intervention.

The offer was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday during talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

Muallem said he welcomed the proposal, which calls on Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community and then have them destroyed.

“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” Muallem said through an interpreter.

The Russian initiative came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in London that the only way for Syria to avoid military action is to hand over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week.

But, US officials later said that Kerry was making a “rhetorical argument” rather than a serious offer.

Washington is struggling to secure support for military action against Syria over the accusation that the Syrian government was involved in a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

The White House, however, has admitted it has no “irrefutable” evidence of Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, but said a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence” suggested the Syrian army was responsible for the August poison gas attack.

The US Senate will vote on authorizing military intervention in Syria later this week.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of massive retaliation if the United States launches a military strike against his country.

Assad told CBS Television on Monday that Washington should “expect everything” if US forces attack his country.

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Lavrov, Al-Moallem Urge Political Solution for Syria Crisis: US Strike to Outburst Terrorism in ME

Al Ahed news

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed Monday that “more states share Russia’s belief that military action in Syria will only enable terrorism.”

Speaking at a press conference along with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, Lavrov highlighted that Moscow fully supports calls by the UN Security Council to bring chemical experts back to Syria to complete their mission.
“UN inspectors should return to Syria to investigate the alleged use of chemical arms,” he said, and pointed out that his country is keen on adhering to international agreements.

He further called for an investigation to be carried out over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria in a professional and objective manner. “The findings of the investigation should then be referred to the UN Security Council.”

In parallel, Lavrov warned that “strikes on Syria would cause the outburst of terrorism in the region.”

“We are very concerned with the future of the Middle East,” the head of Moscow’s diplomacy mentioned , and emphasized that Damascus has reacted positively to Moscow’s urging for the opposition and the government to unite their efforts in expelling terrorists from Syria.

Moreover, the Russian FM added: “Both countries are certain that a political settlement is still possible, although the situation is very serious.”

Lavrov also stressed that “there is more than enough evidence to support the claim that the rebels are behind the chemical attack.”

“We plan to ask the Syrian opposition to agree clearly on “Geneva 2″ conference without preconditions,” he declared, as he urged the US to concentrate on the political solutions to Syria crisis instead of setting war scenarios
For his part, the Syrian FM questioned the real intentions behind the US strike on Syria: “We ask about the motivation of US to launch a strike against us.”

Meanwhile, he suspected that the US strike aims at attacking the Syrian army in favor of al-Qaeda and its extremists, particularly al-Nusra Front.

“There is testimony of a Mother Agnes – a mother Superior at a monastery in Syria, suggesting that the whole affair with the chemical weapons was a staged frame-up operation,” al-Moallem clarified.

However, he emphasized that “diplomatic efforts have not been exhausted.”
Al-Moallem expressed his admiration with a large portion of the American public for voicing their outright disagreement with the proposed strike.

“A president who seeks peace is more powerful than one who seeks war,” he said, wondering: “How will Obama justify empowering al-Qaeda, especially we are close to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks?”

On the Russian position, al-Moallem praised the Russian administration for doing everything in its power to “prevent an act of aggression.”

He added that the Syrian side “holds in high regard the unflinching position of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”

He also stated that the impending foreign intervention will first and foremost affect the peaceful Syrian population. “As history shows, the first victims in any military conflict are women and children”, the FM said.

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Kerry: End to Syria War Must Be Political Not Military, Handover of Chemical arms to Prevent Attack

Al Ahed news

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the solution to the Syrian conflict must be political not military.

However, he claimed that air strikes were essential to stop “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime from killing its own people with chemical weapons.”

“Let me be clear, the United States, President Obama, myself, others are in full agreement that the end of the conflict in Syria requires a political solution. There is no military solution, we have no illusions about that,” he said after talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In parallel, he stated: “A resolution to this has to come about because the parties are prepared to come and negotiate that political solution.”

“A resolution will not be found on the battlefield, but at that negotiating table. But we have to get to that table,” Kerry said from London.

He further claimed that al-Assad could avoid a military strike by turning over all his chemical weapons within a week but immediately made clear he was sure that would never happen.

When asked by a reporter whether there was anything al-Assad’s government could do or offer to stop any attack, Kerry said:

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it) but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”

“If you want to send Iran and Hizbullah and al-Assad a congratulatory message: ‘You guys can do what you want,’ you’d say: ‘Don’t do anything.’

“We believe that is dangerous and we will face this down the road in some more significant way if we’re not prepared to take … a stand now,” Kerry said.

He also stressed the relationship between Britain and the United States was as strong as ever despite the British parliament having decided not to join military action against Syria.

“The relationship between the United States and the UK has often been described as special, essential and it has been described thus because it is,” Kerry said. “The bond .. is bigger than one vote.”

Kerry said while in London he had held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which were “productive and information” but did not give any further details.

For his part, Hague said that Washington had the “full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom” even though it will not take part in military action.

“They have the full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom,” said Hague, and pointed out that “the United Kingdom will continue to play an active role in addressing the Syria crisis and working with our closest ally in the coming weeks and months.”

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Assad: US Will ’Pay the Price’ If It Attacks Syria

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Washington on AssadMonday to brace for retaliation if US forces attacked his country, as he categorically rejected accusing the army of using chemical weapons in Damascus.

“You’re going to pay the price if you’re not wise. There are going to be repercussions,” President Assad told CBS television.

“It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”

Assad also warned of the risks of possible chemical attacks by rebels or “terrorists” if there was outside intervention in Syria.

“You should expect everything. The government’s not the only player in this region. You have different parties, different factions, different ideologies. You have everything in this decision now,” President Assad said.

Assad denied the army carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on August 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, as alleged by the United States and some of its allies.

“How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?” he asked in the interview, in which he spoke English.

“We’re not like the American administration, we’re not like the social media administration or government. We’re the government that deals with evidence.”
Assad noted that the Syrian army had themselves in fact been attacked by rebels using chemical arms.

“But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only have video and we only have pictures and allegations. We’re not there. Our forces, our police, our institutions don’t think this,” Assad said.

Asked whether the repercussions President Assad predicted could include the use of more chemical weapons, Assad replied: “That depends. If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.”

Striking Russia through Syria

(Putin-Obama, file photo)

by Linh Dinh, source

We’re witnessing the last grotesque convulsions of a dying empire. As it threatens humanity with annihilation, it’s also nauseating the still sane among us with an unending farce, as in the hypocrite Kerry declaring, “this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter,” but John, you lying cynic, the world has been asked to be a mute audience to American mass murder for how long now? But Johnny wants more, much more.

Feigning outrage, the former anti-war darling and Democratic Presidential candidate was talking about the Syria chemical attack, which was likely the work of America itself, through its crazed terrorists, though Washington is trying hard to convince incredulous listeners that Assad somehow did this just so the US of A could have the excuse to destroy him, along with thousands of innocent Syrians. Putin called this explanation nonsense, and even branded Kerry a liar, and the UN has even concluded that an earlier chemical attack, also blamed on Assad, was committed by the American-backed “rebels.”

As in so many other wars, the US must save civilians by killing or maiming them, as well as poisoning their environments for centuries. Though the US routinely targets civilian infrastructures such as electrical stations and water treatment plants, and uses means of war that murder long after the last bullet is fired, as in cluster bombs and depleted uranium, for example, it is now acting livid over Assad’s alleged use of sarin.

But in his ketchup-bleeding heart, Kerry knows full well that America’s aggression against Syria is not over sarin but natural gas. First of, Syria’s biggest supporter, Russia, is the world’s leading exporter of this stuff, and supplies Europe with nearly 40% of its needs, so that’s a lot of leverage, Watson. If overly irked by America’s puppets in NATO, Russia can retaliate by turning off the gas, as has been done several times already.

To wiggle out of this dependence, another source of natural gas was needed, and Qatar proposed a pipeline to Europe by way of Syria, except Assad would not acquiesce. Russia is Assad’s main protector, after all, and Russian navy ships have docked in the Syrian port of Tartus since 1971. Rebuffed, the US, France, England, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others decided to back terrorists to unseat Assad. Aiming to destroy Syria, this charming group calls itself the Friends of Syria, naturally. A long time enemy of Syria, Israel also supports this hostility, though its escalation might just wipe a good chunk of this pariah state off the map.

Syria has agreed to a pipeline originating from Iran, however. A much less significant source of natural gas than Qatar, Iran will hardly dent Russia’s profits, and since it’s also a Russian ally, the gas flow to Europe will still be controlled by Moscow. So Russia has Europe by the balls, so to speak, especially in winter, when enough people freeze to death as is. Many countries are entirely dependent on Russian natural gas, while France only imports a manageable 14%, and the UK, none, so they can afford to kiss Uncle Sam’s withered ass a bit harder, though the Brits, interestingly this time, have opted out of the current madness.

A war on Syria, then, is an attack on Russia itself, and that’s why Russian warships are patrolling the Mediterranean. Countering the American menace, Russia will certainly be no silent spectator, and to show support for Russia and Syria, a Chinese warship has also shown up, with more coming. Though Washington talks of a “warning shot across the bow” or “tailored strike,” a quickie hit and run that won’t distract too much from the exhilarating start of football season, World War III might just erupt, for we haven’t been this close to universal calamity in half a century.

Two weeks ago, only 9% of Americans favored a military strike against Syria, but now, with such an onslaught of propaganda, up to 42% support it, but this figure might be exaggerated since it is reported by NBC News, a subsidiary of war profiteering General Electric.

Voices of dissent have surfaced even in the corporate media, however, for wiser heads can’t help but realize that a war against Syria and Russia will bring much grief and terror to us all, including those busy watching a missed tackle or punt return. The New York Times even showed on its front page a photo of Syrian “rebels” about to execute kneeling, shirtless prisoners, with their heads close to the ground. Much more damning images exist, and the Times has surely known about them, but it is choosing to feature this now, as if to put the kibosh on Obama and his war mongers. CNN televised war nut McCain being challenged by outraged citizens at a town meeting, though it did allow the old POW to have the last word in a live interview.

As America oscillates over its death wish, Obama is himself blinking, and we can only hope that Barack will just go on unleashing unnatural, gaseous nonsense, and not Tomahawk missiles towards Damascus. It’s hard to believe, but this man has turned out to be more preposterous than Bush, so if the trend holds, our next President will be a Mummer, some Lucha Libre guy or, why not, a real rodeo clown. In any case, it was quite a spectacle to see Obama fly to Russia to become Putin’s court jester, for he delivered one joke after another, most of them unintended.

En route to Saint Petersburg, Obama stopped in Sweden, and there, promised that he would bug Putin about Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who died in Soviet custody in 1945. The Nobel Peace laureate never wastes a chance to appear humanitarian and noble, and the Swedes had also done him a favor by prosecuting Assange over that CIA-staged threesome, but the real reason Obama dug up this man, one suspects, was to draw a parallel between Wallenberg’s protection of Jews in World War II with himself trying to “save” Syrians today. Brilliant! He’s evoking this famous saver of Jews to mass murder more Arabs. In the process, though, he will trigger the deaths of countless others, maybe even you.

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

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

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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

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Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

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

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

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

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

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

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

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

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

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Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

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

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

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

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

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