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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.

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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.

Damascus notes: Late night ‘town meetings’ before the American attack

(Syria-file photo)

by Franklin Lamb, Al Manar

Where was Professor Richard Falk when I Needed Him?

Damascus

The Persians, whose bright, articulate students are well known internationally, and with whom this observer has been honored to discuss international politics on several occasions, may well have met their intellectual match in the Syrian Arabs. I base this conclusion on what is happening among the public in Damascus, not just in the universities and schools, but during impromptu “marketplace of ideas” sessions increasingly taking place on the streets and in coffee houses and places of public gathering.

Franklin, FalkLast night was one example. Way past this observer’s bedtime, some friends dropped by, desiring to sit outside “for a few minutes” to discuss the latest news from Washington and St. Petersburg. We ended up perching ourselves on concrete slabs that divide Al Bahsa Street in front of my hotel—where no cars are allowed—for more than three hours! Miss Hiba, a wild and wonderful Palestinian journalist born in Yarmouk camp, interpreted for us. The congregation very quickly grew as a few soldiers, shabiha and national defense force types showed up to see what was going on. Some even joined in the fast moving, animated discussion.

There were several students and neighborhood residents assembling and at the start of the ‘seminar” it quickly became obvious that Syrians are carefully tracking developments in the run-up to the widely expected “9/12/13 black Friday” now less than one week away. It is this date when many Damascenes and foreign observers believe the American attack will begin.

Life appears on the surface fairly normal, but tensions are rising and people are alarmed at the prospects of an American attack. This observer was educated by these Syrians about a number of things, including the conflict raging here, and on how events locally and internationally are apt to unfold.

Very few here, if any, are inclined to believe that the American attack will be limited or short, this despite the fact that for the past few days the Obama team has made frequent use of the word “degrade” (as in demolish or destroy, one might note); nor do they believe its sole purpose is to send a message or to punish the Syrian leadership.

An elderly gentleman who owns a pharmacy around the corner explained, “It’s regime change here and in Tehran and nothing less! They will bomb anywhere at will because their top 75 listed targets have already been emptied and keep shifting. We are all working to provide Obama with no targets.”

This observer was dumbfounded by the sophistication of the comments made at the impromptu gathering. One Damascus University student preparing to return to classes later this month rattled off some likely or projected results of the upcoming Congressional vote, explaining to the growing assembly that in the House of Representatives the count, as of 9/4/13, could be viewed as 47 members firmly or inclined toward voting yes; 187 firmly or inclined to a no vote, with 220 unknown or undecided. Then she announced she was pretty certain the President will be forced to withdraw the resolution or postpone a vote in the House.

Another lady, who I have seen around my hotel garden, mentioned yesterday’s report in the Washington Post that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has linked with the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria. I had no idea about this, and wondered how she was so current with her information. She then explained, “So far, only 21 senators have said they support or are likely to support the Obama resolution, thirteen have said they oppose or are likely to oppose the resolution, while 66 votes are undecided or unknown.”

By early this morning, when our gathering had begun drawing to a close, the conversation had made its way around to the U.S. Constitution. One young man, presumably a law student, zeroed in on Article One, Section Eight, Clause 11, reciting for this observer not a summary, mind you, but word-for-word—from memory—“The Congress shall have Power To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.

He then explained that the particular passage provides no specific format for what form any legislation must have in order to be considered a “Declaration of War,” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Then came the zinger: “Sir can you compare and contrast this Article and Clause with the 1973 War Powers Act and share with us your interpretation of both with respect to what your President is threatening to do to my country.”

“Who is this guy?” I thought to myself, and I began to stutter, thinking to myself, somewhat in anguish, “Where is Professor Richard Falk when I need him. For sure he could answer this question perfectly.”

Not knowing where or how to begin to answer the gentleman, I mumbled something like “that’s an excellent question, can we meet later to discuss it because it’s very late now.”

But mercifully, just as I glanced at my watch, noticing it was 4:28 a.m., we all heard the Adhan, (Islamic call to prayer) called out by a muezzin from the nearby mosque. The somehow reassuring strains, even a bit eerie, wafted around us. The time had come for al fajr (Dawn) prayers. It was this observer’s good luck; I could duck the question.

The soldiers on the street fell silent, listening, becoming contemplative. One can only imagine their ruminations about next week’s likely American bombing campaign. Most everyone began now to disperse. I was saved. No thanks to Professor Falk.

The people of the Syrian Arab Republic are politically sophisticated and amazingly well informed as to the current crisis, even down to specifics on external players and their plans.

One can only wish them well and join with them and with all people of good will—as many Christians and reportedly even more Muslims plan to do—for the day of fasting and prayer called by his Holiness Pope Francis for September 7, 2013.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

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. []

Senate panel backs US strike on Syria amid deep reluctance & McCain caught playing poker on phone during hearing

Senate Panel Backs U.S. Strike on Syria amid Deep Reluctance

Al Manar

The Senate authorized on Wednesday a punitive strike on Syria amid deep reluctance in the House, where lawmakers questioned whether the U.S. was in danger of being drawn into another Middle East warKerry.

US President Barack Obama, who announced Saturday that he would seek legislative backing for military action in response to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, sought to raise the pressure on Congress as well as U.S. allies, warning that their reputations were at stake.

“My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility’s on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility’s on the line,” Obama said during a visit to Stockholm.

On a 10-7 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution to authorize U.S. missile strikes. The committee chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), said Congress should “make sure Assad understands he can’t just wait us out, use chemical weapons and face no consequences.”

Several senators from both parties, including opponents of the resolution, predicted the Senate would approve it next week. Yet the Senate’s conflicted views were clear in the vote, which saw Democrats and Republicans on each side.

Obama, meanwhile, insisted he was not alone in demanding a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus on Aug. 21, but was joined by nations that signed treaties banning chemical weapons and by Congress, which ratified them. “I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line” he said. “That wasn’t something I just kind of made up.”

The Senate committee’s resolution limits any U.S. mission to 90 days and prohibits the use of ground troops.

The resolution was amended to include language from McCain and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) directing that the strike be used to “change the momentum on the battlefield” away from the Syrian government, which has had the edge for much of this year. The amendment said that it was necessary to ‘pressure’ Assad to negotiate an end to the war.

The difficulty of winning votes in the House — particularly among majority Republicans — was clear at the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced mostly skeptical questions about their confidence in the intelligence about the use of chemical weapons, the nature of the Syrian opposition and the consequences of a strike.

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McCain Caught Playing Poker on Smartphone During Syria Hearing: VIDEO

Al Ahed news

Senator John McCain, a longtime advocate for forceful military intervention in Syria, was caught playing poker on his smartphone Tuesday as top administration officials testified at one of the most pivotal congressional hearings of the year.

McCain is hardly the only US lawmaker ever to seek a diversion from what can be hours of legislative debate on Capitol Hill.

But the photographic evidence of McCain making poker bets on his iPhone during the hearing itself offered a startling counterweight to the seriousness in Washington as senators debated whether to sign on to President Barack Obama’s plan to bomb Syria for chemical weapons use.

“Scandal!” McCain tweeted sarcastically after an alert Washington Post photographer posted the photo that rapidly made the rounds on Twitter.
“Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!” he quipped.

McCain explained to the CNN why he was playing poker during the debate. Here is the video:

US planned Syrian civilian catastrophe since 2007

by Martin Rowson

by Tony Cartalucci, source

NBC News’ report, “‘The great tragedy of this century’: More than 2 million refugees forced out of Syria,” stated:

More than 2 million Syrians have poured into neighboring countries as refugees, the United Nations revealed on Tuesday.

Around 5,000 people per day are fleeing the three-year conflict, which the U.N. says has already claimed over 100,000 lives.

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said Antَnio Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner responsible for refugees.

But, while the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally “bleed” Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.

A Timeline: How the Syrian Conflict Really Unfolded

Western media networks have ensured that a singular narrative of “pro-democracy” uprisings turning violent in the face of brutal oppression by the Syrian government after the so-called “Arab Spring” is disseminated across the public. In reality, “pro-democracy” protesters served as a tenuous smokescreen behind which armed foreign-backed extremists took to the streets and countrysides of Syria to execute a sectarian bloodbath years in the making. Here is a timeline that illuminates the true cause of Syria’s current conflict and the foreign interests, not the Syrian government, responsible for the tens of thousands dead and millions displaced during the conflict.

1991: Paul Wolfowitz, then Undersecretary of Defense, tells US Army General Wesley Clark that the US has 5-10 years to “clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2001: A classified plot is revealed to US Army General Wesley Clark that the US plans to attack and destroy the governments of 7 nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2002: US Under Secretary of State John Bolton declares Syria a member of the “Axis of Evil” and warned that “the US would take action.” BBC: “US Expands ‘Axis of Evil'” May 6, 2002.

2005: US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy organizes and implements the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon directly aimed at undermining Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon in favor of Western-backed proxies, most notably Saad Hariri’s political faction. Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2005: Ziad Abdel Nour, an associate of Bush Administration advisers, policy makers, and media including Neo-Conservatives Paula Dobriansky, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Joseph Farah (World Net Daily), Clifford May, and Daniel Nassif of US State Department-funded Al Hurra and Radio Sawa, admits: “Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else… and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration.” Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2006: Israel attempts, and fails, to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon after a prolonged aerial bombard that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. CNN: “UN: Hezbollah and Israel agree on Monday cease-fire,” August 13, 2006.
2007: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker reveals that US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Hariri in Lebanon as well as the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood were assembling, arming, training, and heavily funding a sectarian extremists front, many of whom had direct ties to Al Qaeda, to unleash in both Lebanon and Syria. The goal was to create and exploit a sectarian divide between Sunni and Shi’ia Muslims. Hersh interviewed intelligence officers who expressed concerns over the “cataclysmic conflict” that would result, and the need to protect ethnic minorities from sectarian atrocities. The report indicated that extremists would be logistically staged in northern Lebanon where they would be able to cross back and forth into Syria. New Yorker: “The Redirection,” by Seymour Hersh, March 5, 2007.

2008: The US State Department begins training, funding, networking, and equipping “activists” through its “Alliance for Youth Movements” where the future protest leaders of the “Arab Spring,” including Egypt’s “April 6 Movement” were brought to New York, London, and Mexico, before being trained by US-funded CANVAS in Serbia, and then returning home to begin preparations for 2011. Land Destroyer: “2011 – Year of the Dupe,” December 24, 2011.

009: The Brookings Institution published a report titled, “Which Path to Persia?” which admits that the Bush Administration “evicted” Syria from Lebanon without building up a strong Lebanese government to replace it (p. 34), that Israel struck a “nascent” Syrian nuclear program, and states the importance of neutralizing Syrian influence before any attack on Iran can be carried out (p. 109). The report then goes on to describe in detail the use of listed terrorist organizations against the government of Iran, in particular the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) (p. 126) and Baluch insurgents in Pakistan (p.132). Brookings Institution: “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” June 2009.

2009-2010: In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to admit that the US (emphasis added) “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” AFP: “US Trains Activists to Evade Security Forces,” April 8, 2011.

2011: Posner’s US trained, funded, and equipped activists return to their respective countries across the Arab World to begin their “ripple effect.” Protests, vandalism , and arson sweep across Syria and “rooftop snipers” begin attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces, just as Western-backed movements were documented doing in Bangkok, Thailand one year earlier. With a similar gambit already unfolding in Libya, US senators begin threatening Syria with long planned and sought after military intervention. Land Destroyer: “Syria: Intervention Inevitable,” April 29, 2011.

2012: With NATO’s Libyan intervention resulting in a weak US-backed Tripoli client-regime, perpetual infighting, nationwide genocide, and the succession of Benghazi in the east, the NATO-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (listed #27) begins mobilizing weapons, cash, and fighters to begin destabilizing Syria. Headed by LIFG’s Abdul Hakim Belhaj, this would be the first confirmed presence of Al Qaeda in Syria, flush with NATO weapons and cash. The Washington Post would confirm, just as stated by Hersh in 2007, that the US and Saudi Arabia were arming the sectarian extremists, now labeled the “Free Syrian Army.” The Post also admits that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, as stated in Hersh’s 2007 report, was also involved in arming and backing extremist fighters. Land Destroyer: “US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria,” May 16, 2012.

2012: The US policy think-tank Brookings Institution in its Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” admits that it does not seek any negotiated ceasefire under the UN’s “Kofi Annan peace plan” that leaves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and would rather arm militants, even with the knowledge they will never succeed, to “bleed” the government, “keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.” This reveals that US policy does not view US interference in Syria as a moral imperative predicated on defending human rights, but rather using this false predication to couch aspirations of regional hegemony. Land Destroyer: “US Brookings Wants to “Bleed” Syria to Death,” May 28, 2012.

And, just this year, it was revealed that despite the West’s feigned military and political paralysis regarding the Syrian conflict, the US and Great Britain have been covertly funding and arming sectarian extremists to the tune of billions of dollars and arming them with literally thousands of tons of weaponry. Despite claims of “carefully vetting” “moderate” militant factions, the prominence of Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups indicates that the majority of Western support, laundered through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is being purposefully put into the hands of the very sectarian extremists identified in Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

US Created and is Now Using Syrian Catastrophe to Justify Intervention

The non-debate taking place now to justify US military intervention in a conflict they themselves started and have intentionally perpetuated, is whether chemical weapons were used in Damascus on August 21, 2013 – not even “who” deployed them. The weakness of the US’ argument has seen an unprecedented backlash across both the world’s populations and the global diplomatic community. And despite only 9% of the American public supporting a military intervention in Syria, Congress appears poised to not only green-light “limited strikes,” but may approve of a wider military escalation.

In Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in Lebanon, warned of the sectarian bloodbath the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning to unleash. He stated:

“we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites”

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also featured in Hersh’s report, would in turn also warn of an imminent and spreading sectarian war purposefully stoked by the West:

Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war-there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.”

It would be difficult for anyone to look across the scarred landscape of today’s Syria and not see that this horrific conspiracy was realized in full. The Western media is now acquainting the public with the possibility of a partitioned Syria, echoing the warnings of Nasrallah years ago. The goals of a US military strike would be to “degrade” the capabilities of the Syrian government, while bolstering the terrorist legions still operating within and along Syria’s borders.

What we are witnessing in Syria today is the direct result of a documented conspiracy, not by a “brutal Syrian regime” “oppressing” its own people, but of a US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia radicalizing, arming, and unleashing a sectarian tidal wave they knew well ahead of time would cause atrocities, genocide, mass displacements and even the geopolitical partitioning of Syria and beyond. The intentional destabilization of the region is meant to weaken Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq – and even Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and others – to accomplish what the depleted, impotent US and Israeli forces could not achieve. Military intervention now seeks to tip the balance of an already teetering region.

The attacks on Syria are not humanitarian by any measure. They are simply the latest stage of a long-running plan to divide and destroy the region, leaving the West the sole regional hegemonic power.

Homeland Security Made in ‘Israel’

by Philip Giraldi, source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama’s “humanitarian hawk” and ‘Israel’s’ new gladiator at the UN

by Nima Shirazi , source

In her first appearance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Samantha Power, Obama’s pick for next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that she will spend her time in the role much as herpredecessor Susan Rice did: acting as Israel’s consummate defender, fear-mongering about Iran, and opposing any move to champion Palestinian human rights or self-determination.

Rice, who has been appointed as Obama’s National Security Adviser, has said repeatedly that the American delegation to the UN “often works in ‘lockstep’ with the Israeli delegation” and spends “an enormous amount of time defending Israel’s right to defend itself and defending Israel’s legitimacy.”

“It’s an issue of utmost and daily concern for the United States,” she declared last year.  A few months ago, she reiterated this point, insisting that her role as an apologist for the Israeli government is “a huge part of my work to the United Nations” and that the United States “will not rest in the crucial work of defending Israel’s security and legitimacy every day at the United Nations.”

Power has already proven herself a loyal replacement, disavowing anysemblance of past critical thinking when it comes to Israeli human rights abuses and abrogation of international law and opposing fear-mongering about Iran’s nuclear program. It is no surprise Washington hawksZionist ideologues and even the Israeli government are falling over themselves to sing her praises.

In her confirmation hearing yesterday, Power revealed her adherence to AIPAC talking points, essentially working her way down the tried and true list of boilerplate phrases.  ”The United States has no greater friend in the world than the State of Israel,” she said, adding, “Israel is a country with whom we share security interests and, even more fundamentally, with whom we share core values – the values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

“America has a special relationship with Israel,” she stated, to the surprise of no one and the consternation of George Washington‘s ghost. “I will stand up for Israel and work tirelessly to defend it,” she promised in her prepared statement.

She later reiterated her vow: “I commit to you wholeheartedly to go on offense as well as playing defense on the legitimization of Israel,” she declaredto the assembled U.S. Senators.

Perhaps her most disturbing comments, however, were about Iran.  Shamelessly exploiting the horror of the Holocaust to fear-monger about the Islamic Republic, she declared:

…within this organization built in the wake of the Holocaust – built in part in order to apply the lessons of the Holocaust – we also see unacceptable bias and attacks against the State of Israel. We see the absurdity of Iran chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament, despite the fact that its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat to international peace and security.

With this statement, Power, in her eagerness to check off all the buzzwords boxes prescribed by AIPAC, directly contradicts the consistent assessment of the United States’ own intelligence community, which has repeatedly concluded that Iran is, in fact, not pursuing a nuclear weapons as it has no nuclear weapons program.

Early last year, an unnamed U.S. intelligence official told the Washington Postthat Iran has not decided to pursue nuclear weapons, explaining, “Our belief is that they are reserving judgment on whether to continue with key steps they haven’t taken regarding nuclear weapons.”  At the time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta affirmed this position, admitting, ”Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”

Soon thereafter, the New York Times reported, ”Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier.” This, the paper noted, “remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”

Either Samantha Power is an idiot or she’s lying.

In fact, there was a time when Power wasn’t so confident in making such a declarative statement. In a 2008 interview with Miller-McCune, Power noted that she was “not an expert on Iran,” but condemned the “American sabre-rattling” of the George W. Bush administration. “The threats – implicit and explicit – of U.S. military action have united very diverse secular, Islamist and nationalist strands,” she said, adding that American “belligerence” had “backfired.”

When asked specifically about whether she thought “Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons,” Power replied, “It would surprise me if they weren’t, but I don’t know.”

Still, she disparaged the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate and simply assumed Iran “would see as in its interests to amass as much firepower as possible,” due to the foreign threats it faces. Nevertheless, she stated, “It does not seem as though the Iranian regime is close to possessing nuclear weapons” and said that “when U.S. leaders claim Iran poses an imminent threat, they are not currently heard as credible.”

Now, five years later, Power sounds exactly like Bush’s own UN Ambassador, perennial Iran hawk John Bolton, who in 2006, insisted to the UN Security Council that “Iran had defied the international community by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons” and that this “pursuit of nuclear weapons constituted a direct threat to international peace and security.”

Furthermore, Power’s incredulity regarding what she deems the “absurdity of Iran chairing the UN Conference on Disarmament,” betrays her ownignorance on Iran’s constantly repeated stance regarding nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Iran has long championed a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East and is a party to all disarmament treaties on weapons of mass destruction, including the Biological Weapons ConventionChemical Weapons Convention, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Israel, however, is notmember of any of them.Last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehistated that Iran fully supports the establishment of a NWFZ, but that Israel, and its American backerspresented the ”only obstacle to the creation of such a zone…due to its persistent refusal to join the NPT and to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards system.”

Earlier this month, at the “International Conference on Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts” held in Vienna, Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh reiterated his nation’s commitment to universal nuclear disarmament. “The best guarantee for nuclear security is definitely a world free from nuclear weapons,” he said, “as a result of which nuclear disarmament process could reinforce nuclear security efforts.”

The United States consistently blocks crucial international conferences dedicated to nuclear non-proliferation for the sole purpose of protecting Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal from scrutiny.

Samantha Power has surely embraced her new role in Turtle Bay as Israel’s stalwart apologist, going to so far as to promise her Congressional interlocutors that she will push for Israel to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council as a representative of – get this – the Western European bloc of nations, despite being located in the Levant, which is indisputably in the continent of Asia and far to the East of even Eastern Europe from which it is separated by hundreds of miles of water.

Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s hasbarist-in-chief, once called Susan Rice a “gladiator” fighting in the United Nations on behalf of Israel.  There is no question Samantha Power will, for the sake of our “special relationship” and “shared values” with an aggressive, nuclear-armed, settler-colonial apartheid state, similarly take up the sword and continue to unleash hell on the entire Middle East.

The entire globe is a battlefield for Pentagon

by Pepe Escobar, source

RT — Forget it; the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is not becoming more “democratic” – or even transparent.

US President Barack Obama now pledges to transfer the responsibility of the shadow Drone Wars from the CIA to the Pentagon – so the US Congress is able to monitor it.

Until virtually yesterday the Obama administration did not even recognize in public the existence of the shadow ‘Drone Wars’.

The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at the Pentagon – which would then be in charge of the ‘Drone Wars’ – is bound to remain secret.

And the Pentagon is not exactly yearning to retouch its definition of a “militant”, a prime candidate to be ‘target-assassinated’; “any military-aged male in a strike zone”. “Muslim” male, it goes without saying.

Obama’s rhetoric is one thing. His administration’s ‘Drone Wars’ are another thing entirely. The President now insists GWOT is no longer a “boundless global war”. That’s rhetoric. For the Pentagon, the “entire globe is a battlefield”.

That is the operative concept since the beginning of GWOT, and inbuilt in the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine.

And if the entire globe is a battlefield, all its causes and consequences are interconnected.

The rules of the game

What’s the difference between a British soldier (the UK is attached to GWOT via the “special relationship”), stationed at an army barracks, gruesomely hacked to death with a meat cleaver in a London street and a Syrian soldier beheaded/disemboweled/cannibalized in “rebel”-held territory by a mercenary [armed group]?

The difference is that the Nigerian-British killer in London is a terrorist, and the [mercenary] in Syria is a freedom fighter.

What’s the difference between an alleged – never conclusively – proven Chechen-American principally responsible for the Boston bombing and a little Pashtun girl killed by a US drone in Waziristan?

The difference is that the Chechen-American is a terrorist, and the Pashtun girl is not even acknowledged by the Pentagon (and even if she was, she’d go down as “collateral damage”.)

And what if the “collateral damage” is a US citizen, as in Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, ‘target-assassinated’ by a US drone in Yemen in October 2011?

It will take 19 months for the administration to admit he was “terminated” – but still with no justification attached.

GWOT’s rules of the game won’t change – no matter how soaring Obama’s rhetoric.

When the US – or “the West” – kills or ‘target-assassinates’ Muslim civilians, that’s never terrorism. When [armed groups] supported by “the West” kill – Muslim civilians – as in Syria – they are not terrorists; they are Reaganesque “freedom fighters”.

When Muslims kill Western soldiers – as in London – they’re terrorists. When Muslims happen to come from regime-changeable Iran and Syria’s government, not to mention Hezbollah, they are by definition terrorists.

And when Muslims are lingering in Guantanamo just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the US invaded a Muslim country, they remain terrorists – the umpteenth Obama promise to close Guantanamo notwithstanding.

Pick your favorite blowback

Take a look at the trailer of Dirty Wars featuring Jeremy Scahill’s investigation of Washington’s shadow war. Pay attention to what a Pashtun peasant says: “If the Americans do this again, we are ready to shed our blood fighting them”.

That’s blowback. And not only Pashtuns are ready – but pan-Arabs and Muslims born and bred in “the West”. The new “lone wolf” catchphrase/hysteria barely identifies the future proliferation of Muslim individuals whose anger finally explodes.

They may not be affiliated with any al-Qaeda-style franchise or copycat. What they do embody is the notion that if “the West” can get away with killing Muslim civilians, there will be a price to pay.

That’s 1, 2, 3, one thousand blowbacks.

And reasons for a thousand blowbacks are piling up.

The Bush administration’s Shock and Awe over Baghdad 10 years ago was Western terrorism inflicted on Iraq’s civilian population.

The ‘Drone Wars’ are Western terrorism inflicted on civilian populations from Yemen to Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The sanctions packages imposed for years on Iraq and later on Iran are slow-motion Western terrorism inflicted on civilian populations to “prepare” them for regime change.

Meanwhile “the West” simply won’t quit its ability to fabricate more blowbacks.

NATO’s war “liberated” Libya and turned it into a failed state. The result is Sahelistan; northern and western Africa on fire.

Suicide bombers in Niger have just attacked a military camp and a uranium mine operated by French company Areva.

Responsibility was claimed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who late last year formed the splinter group Signatories in Blood, then led the attack on a natural gas plant in Ain Amenas in Algeria last January, and later may – or rather may not – have been killed.

The bottom line is that the entire globe will remain a battlefield – a self-fulfilling Pentagon prophecy.

So many Belmokhtars to fight, so many Syrian [mercenaries] to support, so many “al-Qaeda” to target-assassinate, so many Muslim lone wolves to track.

Obama’s rhetoric is just a show. GWOT is bound to remain a serpent biting its own tail, eagerly feeding itself till the end of time.

Boston, Brazil and Islam: Irrational rhetoric, illegal wars

by Ramzy Baroud, source

During his talk sponsored by the New American Foundation in March 2008, author Parag Khanna addressed the rising challenges facing the US’s global hegemony. According to Khanna, China and the European Union are the new contenders with the battlefield being a global ‘geopolitical marketplace.’

Aside from Khanna’s insight, one statement particularly puzzled me greatly. “Why am I talking about Europe, China, and the United States? What about Russia, what about India, what about Islam ..what about all those other powers?” Initially, I thought it must have been an error. The speaker must surely realize that Islam is a religion, not a political entity with a definable ‘geopolitical marketplace.’ But it was not an error, or more accurately, it was a deliberate error. Khanna went on to explain that Islam doesn’t have ‘that kind of coherence’ that allows it to spread its power and influence, unlike the dominant other powers which he highlighted. According to that odd logic, Islam and Brazil were discussed in a similar context.

This sort of twisted reasoning has flourished as an academic discipline-turned-industry since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sure, it existed prior to this date, but its ‘experts’ and their then few think-tanks were largely placed within a decidedly pro-Israel, Zionist and right-wing political orthodoxy. In the last decade or so, the relatively specialized business multiplied and became mainstream wisdom. Its numerous ‘experts’ – who are more like intellectual purveyors – became well-known faces in American news networks. Their once ‘politically incorrect’ depiction of Arabs, Muslims and the non-western world at large, became acceptable views which were then translated into actual policies used for invading countries, torturing prisoners and flushing Holy Korans down toilets.

It is impracticable to rationally argue with those who are essentially irrational. Many of us have tirelessly tried to wrangle with those who want to ‘kill all Muslims’ whenever someone claiming to be a Muslim is accused of carrying out or planning to carry out an attack somewhere in the world. The ‘debate’ rages on, not because of the power of its logic, but because of the heavy price of blood and gore that continues to be paid due to the deliberate misinformation, utter lies and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) intellectual racism that defines much of the American media and academic discourses.

Numbers are of no relevance in such discussions because absurd media pundits are not swayed by facts. In the United States, there have been nearly 900,000 gun fatalities in the last 30 years or so (1980 to present) compared to around 3,400 terrorism-related fatalities in the last 40 years or so (1970 to present). These figures include victims of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This unsurprising fact was recently referenced by MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes and raises some critical points.

If the US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen (plus numerous other lesser acts of violence committed in the name of ‘fighting terror’) were indeed compelled by the preciousness of American lives, then the least US Congress should do is tighten gun control laws in their own country. But respected members of Congress are fighting the good fight to keep things as they are, in the name of protecting the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – “..the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

But rights are infringed at will whenever it suits US foreign policy makers and their intellectual peddlers. Despite the fact that the war on Iraq was illegal and that torture of prisoners is a loud violation of the US’s own Constitution and the Bill of Rights, America’s war rages on and the Guantanamo gulag is thriving. One cannot help but think that the US’s legal, political and even moral blind spots must always somehow involve Muslims.

But of course it’s more complicated than this. Muslims are not targeted because they are Muslim. Yes, of course, religion and skin color are important layers in the massive ‘crusade’ – a George W. Bush term, not mine – in America’s so-called war on terror. But ‘hating Islam’ is also a convenient pretense to achieve foreign policy objectives that are centered around imperial domination, thus natural resources. Neither American foreign policy makers, nor their media cheerleaders who hardly take a day off from smearing everything Muslim, are not interested in Islamic theology, history, spirituality or values that are meant to espouse uprightness in the individual and righteousness in the collective. But there is an army of dishonest people who would rather comb through every shred of Islamic text to highlight passages out of context just to prove that Islam is fundamentally flawed, teaches hate or ‘anti-Semitism’ and that it celebrates a supposed ‘culture of death.’ These very men and women would have done the same, as their predecessors have, to demonize any other culture, religion or community that sat on large deposits of oil or dare exist in an area of strategic importance to the United States or within an alarming proximity to Israel.

The anti-Islam tirade received another boost following the Boston Marathon Bombings of April 15, 2013, which were blamed on two American-Chechen brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The anti-Muslim circus was back in town, as political jugglers, along with media acrobats seemed to reach the ever predicable conclusion: hate all Muslims and do whatever possible to exploit any tragedy to further US hegemonic interest in the Middle East. Eric Rush, a Fox News pundit, summed up that sentiment when he called for the killing of all Muslims following the bombings and then later claimed that his tweets were meant to be sarcastic. Ann Coulter, on the other hand, called for women to be put in jail for ‘wearing a Hijab.’

This type of hate-mongering is of course not random, no matter how palpably ‘crazy’ the people behind it are. It is an essential component of ensuring that a largely uninformed public is always on board whenever the US is ready for yet another military adventure involving Muslim countries.

All of this rhetoric must also be juxtaposed with what is happening in the Middle East. There, yet a new war is brewing, one that is largely aimed at ensuring that the current chaos underway in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ countries will yield favorable results from the view points of Israel, America and the west. The new push for military intervention started with Israeli allegations that the Syrian regime is using chemical weapons against opposition forces, followed by British-French allegations, and finally, despite brief hesitation, concurred by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Over 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the Syrian – war. In the last two years it has become a hub for unprecedented regional and international rivalry, a Great Game of sorts. The US, Israel and their allies have watched as Syria, once considered a ‘threat’ to Israeli security, descended into inconceivable brutality involving the Syrian army, various factions and bands of fighters from near and far. It was a matter of time before the US and its allies made their move to seal Syria’s fate and to ensure quiet at the Israeli northeastern frontier.

For that to happen, Muslims must be hated and dehumanized in ways that would make war a tad less ugly and future violence, in some odd way, ‘justifiable.’

The official purpose of Hagel’s recent visit to Israel was to finalize US arms sales to Israel and other countries which total about $10 billion. Knowing how such weapons have been used in the past, one can hardly appreciate the ‘sarcasm’ in Eric Rush’s tweet of wanting to ‘kill them all.’ Per the history of US foreign policy, violent words often translate into violent action and here lies the real danger of the supposedly crazy bunch who equate Islam to Brazil and wish to incarcerate women for wearing scarves.

Palestine: Palestinian youth interrupts Obama’s speech & Obama refuses to meet delegation of prisoners’ families

Obama refuses to meet delegation of prisoners’ families

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Director of Palestinian Prisoners Society Qaddoura Fares confirmed that U.S. President Barack Obama has refused to meet a delegation from families of prisoners in Israeli jails.

Fares pointed out in a press statement that there is a talk about the release of a number of prisoners at Obama’s visit to the region, but he denied that the PA has received any formal promises for that.

Dozens of Palestinians have organized a march from Manara roundabout in the center of Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank toward the Muqata’a headquarters, after the arrival of the helicopter carrying U.S. President Barack Obama.

The demonstrators raised slogans supporting Palestinian prisoners and accusing Obama of bias toward Israel.

A youth activist said that the city of Ramallah is witnessing intensified security measures for Obama’s visit. The Palestinian Presidential Guard and security services announced a security square surroundings the presidential headquarters, in order to prevent the citizens from approaching it.

He pointed out that hundreds of elements of the security apparatuses have formed a human barriers to suppress the demonstrators and prevent them from reaching the areas near the presidential headquarters.

The activist reported that the city of Ramallah is experiencing traffic problems due to the security measures which have prevented many employees and students from reaching their work place and schools.

A state of anger and dissatisfaction prevail in all areas of the West Bank, in rejection of Obama’s visit and resumption of negotiations.

The student Ahmed Hussein from Ramallah opined that Obama’s visit does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, and that all his statements are falsification of history and reality.

Another student from Birzeit University Haya Nizar, who is also one of the protesters against the visit, says that Obama is not a guest, but rather an enemy who came to give his orders to the weak side.

The citizen Mahmoud Salem from Ein Misbah district calls for a real Palestinian unity, and a halt for the security cooperation between the Authority and the occupation.

Obama arrived on Thursday before noon to the city of Ramallah in his first visit as president of the United States of America. Obama’s helicopter landed in the presidential headquarters, and he was received by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and a number of PA officials.

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Palestinian youth interrupts Obama’s speech

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Israeli forces detained Rabee’ Eid, 24, a student at Haifa University after he interrupted US president Obama while speaking to hundreds of Israeli students and academics in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday.

Did you come here for peace? Or to give ‘Israel’ more weapons to kill the Palestinian people?? Rabee’ asked. “Who killed Rachel Corrie? Rachel Corrie was killed with your money and your weapons,” he said in reference to the American peace activist who was killed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza during her attempt to stop an Israeli Bulldozer from demolishing Palestinian home.

Rabee’s statements came despite the Israeli strict measures, where they selected a number of students to attend the speech by making them sign an obligation not to cause any inconvenience in the hall during the speech.

“The state must be a state for all its citizens, not a state for the Jewish people, he continued, “Have you seen the apartheid wall on your way?, There are in this room Palestinians, this state must be for all its citizens, not state of the Jewish people,” he said in response to Obama’s statements on a Jewish state.

Israeli security forces have immediately attacked Eid and took him violently outside the hall, while Obama commented by saying “You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that because it made me feel at home,” Obama said, laughing. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler,” he added.

Rabee Eid is a Palestinian student from one of a Galilee village.

Former insiders criticize Iran policy as US hegemony

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS — Going to Tehran arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett tackle not only U.S. policy toward Iran but the broader context of Middle East policy with a systematic analytical perspective informed by personal experience, as well as very extensive documentation.

More importantly, however, their exposé required a degree of courage that may be unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security officials about issues on which they worked. They have chosen not just to criticise U.S. policy toward Iran but to analyse that policy as a problem of U.S. hegemony.

Their national security state credentials are impeccable. They both served at different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on the National Security Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one of the few U.S. officials who have been authorised to negotiate with Iranian officials.

Both wrote memoranda in 2003 urging the George W. Bush administration to take the Iranian “roadmap” proposal for bilateral negotiations seriously but found policymakers either uninterested or powerless to influence the decision. Hillary Mann Leverett even has a connection with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), having interned with that lobby group as a youth.

After leaving the U.S. government in disagreement with U.S. policy toward Iran, the Leveretts did not follow the normal pattern of settling into the jobs where they would support the broad outlines of the U.S. role in world politics in return for comfortable incomes and continued access to power.

Instead, they have chosen to take a firm stand in opposition to U.S. policy toward Iran, criticising the policy of the Barack Obama administration as far more aggressive than is generally recognised. They went even farther, however, contesting the consensus view in Washington among policy wonks, news media and Iran human rights activists that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in June 2009 was fraudulent.

The Leveretts’ uncompromising posture toward the policymaking system and those outside the government who support U.S. policy has made them extremely unpopular in Washington foreign policy elite circles. After talking to some of their antagonists, The New Republic even passed on the rumor that the Leveretts had become shills for oil companies and others who wanted to do business with Iran.

The problem for the establishment, however, is that they turned out to be immune to the blandishments that normally keep former officials either safely supportive or quiet on national security issues that call for heated debate.

In Going to Tehran, the Leveretts elaborate on the contrarian analysis they have been making on their blog (formerly “The Race for Iran” and now “Going to Tehran”) They take to task those supporting U.S. systematic pressures on Iran for substituting wishful thinking that most Iranians long for secular democracy, and offer a hard analysis of the history of the Iranian revolution.

In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime, they point to evidence that the single most important factor that swept the Khomeini movement into power in 1979 was “the Shah’s indifference to the religious sensibilities of Iranians”. That point, which conflicts with just about everything that has appeared in the mass media on Iran for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical significance.

The Leveretts’ 56-page review of the evidence regarding the legitimacy of the 2009 election emphasises polls done by U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow and World Public Opinon and Canadian-based Globe Scan and 10 surveys by the University of Tehran. All of the polls were consistent with one another and with official election data on both a wide margin of victory by Ahmadinejad and turnout rates.

The Leveretts also point out that the leading opposition candidate, Hossein Mir Mousavi, did not produce “a single one of his 40,676 observers to claim that the count at his or her station had been incorrect, and none came forward independently”.

Going to Tehran has chapters analysing Iran’s “Grand Strategy” and on the role of negotiating with the United States that debunk much of which passes for expert opinion in Washington’s think tank world. They view Iran’s nuclear programme as aimed at achieving the same status as Japan, Canada and other “threshold nuclear states” which have the capability to become nuclear powers but forego that option.

The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not forbidden by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty – much to the chagrin of the United States and its anti-Iran allies.

In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the best-kept secret about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iranian foreign policy: the Iranian leadership’s calculation that the enrichment programme is the only incentive the United States has to reach a strategic accommodation with Tehran. That one fact helps to explain most of the twists and turns in Iran’s nuclear programme and its nuclear diplomacy over the past decade.

One of the propaganda themes most popular inside the Washington beltway is that the Islamic regime in Iran cannot negotiate seriously with the United States because the survival of the regime depends on hostility toward the United States.

The Leveretts debunk that notion by detailing a series of episodes beginning with President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s effort to improve relations in 1991 and again in 1995 and Iran’s offer to cooperate against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more generally after 9/11, about which Hillary Mann Leverett had personal experience.

Finally, they provide the most detailed analysis available on the 2003 Iranian proposal for a “roadmap” for negotiations with the United States, which the Bush administration gave the back of its hand.

The central message of  Going to Tehran is that the United States has been unwilling to let go of the demand for Iran’s subordination to dominant U.S. power in the region. The Leveretts identify the decisive turning point in the U.S. “quest for dominance in the Middle East” as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say “liberated the United States from balance of power constraints”.

They cite the recollection of senior advisers to Secretary of State James Baker that the George H. W. Bush administration considered engagement with Iran as part of a post-Gulf War strategy but decided in the aftermath of the Soviet adversary’s disappearance that “it didn’t need to”.

Subsequent U.S. policy in the region, including what former national security adviser Bent Scowcroft called “the nutty idea” of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, they argue, has flowed from the new incentive for Washington to maintain and enhance its dominance in the Middle East.

The authors offer a succinct analysis of the Clinton administration’s regional and Iran policies as precursors to Bush’s Iraq War and Iran regime change policy. Their account suggests that the role of Republican neoconservatives in those policies should not be exaggerated, and that more fundamental political-institutional interests were already pushing the U.S. national security state in that direction before 2001.

They analyse the Bush administration’s flirtation with regime change and the Obama administration’s less-than-half-hearted diplomatic engagement with Iran as both motivated by a refusal to budge from a stance of maintaining the status quo of U.S.-Israeli hegemony.

Consistent with, but going beyond the Leveretts’ analysis is the Bush conviction that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had shaken the Iranians, and that there was no need to make the slightest concession to the regime. The Obama administration has apparently fallen into the same conceptual trap, believing that the United States and its allies have Iran by the throat because of its “crippling sanctions”.

Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively.

US: The police state is real

It Has Happened Here

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, source

The Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document.

Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11 or not, the result is the same: 9/11 was used to create an open-ended “war on terror” and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that “it can’t happen here” when it already has.

We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state:

the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the initiation of wars of aggression–war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard–based on intentional lies, the Justice Department’s concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch’s violation of domestic and international laws against torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus and due process, the use of secret evidence and secret “expert witnesses” who cannot be cross-examined against defendants in trials, the creation of military tribunals in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regime’s murder of US citizens without evidence or due process.

As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos and not in acts of Congress. Congress? We don’t need no stinking Congress.

Despite laws protecting whistleblowers and the media and the US Military Code which requires soldiers to report war crimes, whistleblowers such as CIA agent John Kiriakou, media such as Julian Assange, and soldiers such as Bradley Manning are persecuted and prosecuted for revealing US government crimes. The criminals go free, and those who report the crimes are punished.

The justification for the American police state is the “war on terror,” a hoax kept alive by the FBI’s “sting operations.” Normally speaking, a sting operation is when a policewoman poses as a prostitute in order to ensnare a “John,” or a police officer poses as a drug dealer or user in order to ensnare drug users or dealers. The FBI’s “sting operation” goes beyond these victimless crimes that fill up US prisons.

The FBI’s sting operations are different. They are just as victimless as no plot ever happens, but the FBI doesn’t pose as bomb makers for terrorists who have a plot but lack the weapon. Instead, the FBI has the plot and looks for a hapless or demented person or group, or for a Muslim enraged over the latest Washington insult to him and/or his religion. When the FBI locates its victim, its agents approach the selected perpetrator pretending to be Al-Qaeda or some such and ply the selected perpetrator with money, the promise of fame, or threats until the victim signs on to the FBI’s plot and is arrested.

Trevor Aaronson in his book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s War on Terrorism, documents that the FBI has so far concocted 150 “terrorist plots” and that almost all of the other “terrorist cases” are cases unrelated to terrorism, such as immigration, with a terror charge tacked on. The presstitute American media doesn’t ask why, if there is so much real terrorism requiring an American war against it, the FBI has to invent and solicit terrorist plots.

Neither does the media inquire how the Taliban, which resists the US invasion and attempted occupation of Afghanistan, fighting the US superpower to a standstill after 11 years, came to be designated as terrorists. Nor does the US presstitute media want to know how tribesmen in remote regions of Pakistan came to be designated as “terrorists” deserving of US drone attacks on the citizens, schools and medical clinics of a country with which the US is not at war.

Instead the media protects and perpetrates the hoax that has given America the police state. The American media has become Leni Riefenstahl, as has Hollywood with the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty. This propaganda film is a hate crime that spreads Islamophobia. Nevertheless, the film is likely to win awards and to sink Americans into both tyranny and a hundred-year war in the name of fighting the Muslim threat.

What I learned many years ago as a professor is that movies are important molders of Americans‘ attitudes. Once, after giving a thorough explanation of the Russian Revolution that led to communist rule, a student raised his hand and said: “That’s not the way it happened in the movie.”

At first I thought he was making a witty joke, but then I realized that he thought that the truth resided in the movie, not in the professor who was well versed in the subject. Ever since I have been puzzled how the US has survived for so long, considering the ignorance of its population. Americans have lived in the power of the US economy. Now that this power is waning, sooner or later Americans will have to come to terms with reality.

It is a reality that will be unfamiliar to them.

Some Americans claim that we have had police states during other wartimes and that once the war on terror is won, the police state will be dismantled. Others claim that government will be judicious in its use of the power and that if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

These are reassurances from the deluded. The Bush/Obama police state is far more comprehensive than Lincoln’s, Wilson’s, or Roosevelt’s, and the war on terror is open-ended and is already three times longer than World War II. The Police State is acquiring “squatter’s rights.”

Moreover, the government needs the police state in order to protect itself from accountability for its crimes, lies, and squandering of taxpayers‘ money. New precedents for executive power have been created in conjunction with the Federalist Society which, independent of the war on terror, advocates the “unitary executive” theory, which claims the president has powers not subject to check by Congress and the Judiciary. In other words, the president is a dictator if he prefers to be.

The Obama regime is taking advantage of this Republican theory. The regime has used the Republican desire for a strong executive outside the traditional checks and balances together with the fear factor to complete the creation of the Bush/Cheney police state.

As Lawrence M. Stratton and I documented in our book, The Tyranny Of Good Intentions, prior to 9/11 law as a shield of the people was already losing ground to law as a weapon in the hands of the government. If the government wanted to get you, there were few if any barriers to a defendant being framed and convicted, least of all a brainwashed jury fearful of crime.

I cannot say whether the US justice system has ever served justice better than it has served the ambition of prosecutors. Already in the 1930s and 1940s US Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and US Attorney General Robert Jackson were warning against prosecutors who sacrifice “fair dealing to build up statistics of success.” Certainly it is difficult to find in the ranks of federal prosecutors today Jackson’s “prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”

Just consider the wrongful conviction of Alabama’s Democratic governor, Don Siegelman by what apparently was a Karl Rove plot to rid the South of Democratic governors. The “Democratic” Obama regime has not investigated this false prosecution or given clemency to its innocent own. Remember how quickly Bush removed the prison sentence of Cheney’s operative who revealed the name of a CIA undercover agent? The Democrats are a cowed and cowardly political party, fearful of justice, and as much a part of the corrupt police state as the Republicans.

Today the purpose of a prosecution is to serve the prosecutor’s career and that of the party that appoints him or her. A prosecutor’s career is served by high conviction rates, which require plea bargains in which the evidence against a defendant is never tested in court or before a jury, and by high profile cases, which can launch a prosecutor into a political career, as Rudy Giuliana achieved with his frame-up of Michael Milken.

Glenn Greenwald explained how Internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz was driven to his death by the ambition of two federal prosecutors, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann, who had no aversion to destroying an innocent person with ridiculous and trumped-up charges in order to advance their careers.

It is rare for a prosecutor to suffer any consequence for bringing false charges, for consciously using and even paying for false evidence, and for lying to judge and jury.

As prosecutors are rarely held accountable, they employ illegal and unethical methods and routinely abuse their power. As judges are mainly concerned with clearing their court dockets, justice is rarely served in America, which explains why the US has not only a larger percentage of its citizens in prison than any other country on earth, but also the largestabsolute number of prisoners. The US actually has more of its citizens in prison than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. The US, possibly the greatest human rights abuser in history, is constantly bringing human rights charges against China. Where are the human rights charges against Washington?

In America the collapse of law has gone beyond corrupt prosecutors and their concocted false prosecutions. Unless it needs or desires a show trial, a police state does not need prosecutors and courts. By producing legal memos that the president can both throw people into prison without a trial and execute them without a trial simply by stating that some official in the executive branch thinks the person has a possible or potential connection to terrorism, tyranny’s friends in the Justice (sic) Department have dispensed with the need for courts, prosecutors and trials.The Bush/Obama regime has made the executive branch judge, juror, and executioner. All that is needed is an unproven assertion by some executive branch official. Here we have the epitome of evil.

Evidence is no longer required for the president of the US to imprison people for life or to deprive them of their life. A secret Justice Department memo has been leaked to NBC News that reveals the tyrannical reasoning that authorizes the executive branch to execute American citizens on the basis of belief alone without the requirement of evidence that they are terrorists or associated with terrorists.

In “freedom and democracy” America, innocent until proven guilty is no longer the operative legal principle. If the government says you are guilty, you are. Period. No evidence required for your termination. Even Stalin pretended to have evidence.

The United States government is working its way step by step toward the determination that any and every critic of the government is guilty of providing “aid and comfort” to Washington’s “terrorist enemies,” which includes the elected Hamas government in Gaza. The only critics exempted from this rule-in-the-making are the neoconservatives who criticize the US government for being too slow to throttle both its critics and “anti-semites,” such as former US President Jimmy Carter, who criticize the Israeli government’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands. Most of Palestine has been stolen by Israel with Washington acquiesce and aid. Therefore, nothing is left for a “two-state solution.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Israeli government’s theft of Palestine is illegal; yet, Washington, on which Israel is totally dependent, does nothing about law. Law, we don’t need no stinking law.” Washington has might. Might is right. Get used to it.

Not only for Palestinians has law ceased to exist, but also for Americans, and for Washington’s NATO puppets in the UK and Europe, pitiful remnants of once great nations now complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity. The Open Society Justice Initiative, a NGO based in New York, has issued a report that documents that 54 governments are involved in Washington’s rendition and torture program. Twenty-five of the governments that help Washington to kidnap, disappear, and torture people are European.

The opening decade of the 21st century has seen the destruction of all the law that was devised to protect the innocent and the vulnerable since the rise of the now defunct moral conscience of the West. The West’s moral conscience never applied outside of itself. What happened to people in Europe’s colonies and to native inhabitants of the US and Australia is a very different story.

Nevertheless, despite its lack of coverage to the powerless, the principle of the rule of law was a promising principle. Now America under Bush and Obama, two peas of the same pod, has abandoned the principle itself.

The Obama police state will be worse than the Bush/Cheney police state. Unlike conservatives who in times past were suspicious of government power, Obamabots believe that government power is a force for good if it is in the right hands. As Obama’s supporters see him as a member of an oppressed minority, they are confident that Obama will not misuse his power. This belief is akin to the belief that, as Jews suffered so much at the hands of Hitler, Israel would be fair to the Palestinians.

Glenn Greenwald writes that “the most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice.”

This is the power of a dictator. That Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were said to have this power was part of their demonization as “brutal dictators,” a justification for overthrowing their governments and murdering the dictators and their supporters.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the president of the United States now murders his political opponents just as Saddam Hussein murdered his. How long before critics move from the no-fly list to the extermination list?