US going from Police State, To Military State

Every America needs to know this.

Make sure you give a copy to all your friends out there.

The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State

February 11, 2013 

On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.

The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”

Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.

Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.

Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”

The government attempted in court last week to smear Sami Al-Hajj, a journalist for the Al-Jazeera news network who was picked up by the U.S. military and imprisoned for nearly seven years in Guantanamo. This, for me, was one of the most chilling moments in the hearing.

“Just calling yourself a journalist doesn’t make you a journalist, like Al-Hajj,” Loeb told the court. “He used journalism as a cover. He was a member of al-Qaida and provided Stinger missiles to al-Qaida.”

Al-Hajj, despite Loeb’s assertions, was never charged with any crimes. And the slander by Loeb only highlighted the potential for misuse of this provision of the NDAA if it is not struck down.

The second central argument by the government was even more specious. Loeb claimed that Subsection 1021(e) of the NDAA exempts citizens from detention. Section 1021(e) states: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

Afran countered Loeb by saying that Subsection 1021(e) illustrated that the NDAA assumed that U.S. citizens would be detained by the military, overturning two centuries of domestic law that forbids the military to carry out domestic policing. And military detention of citizens, Afran noted, is not permitted under the Constitution.

Afran quoted the NDAA bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said on the floor of the Senate: “In the case where somebody is worried about being picked up by a rogue executive branch because they went to the wrong political rally, they don’t have to worry very long, because our federal courts have the right and the obligation to make sure the government proves their case that you are a member of al-Qaida and didn’t [just] go to a political rally.”

Afran told the court that Graham’s statement implicitly acknowledged that U.S. citizens could be detained by the military under 1021(b)(2). “There is no reason for the sponsor to make that statement if he does not realize that the statute causes that chilling fear,” Afran told the judges.

After the hearing Afran explained: “If the senator who sponsored and managed the bill believed people would be afraid of the law, then the plaintiffs obviously have a reasonably objective basis to fear the statute.”

In speaking to the court Afran said of 1021(e): “It says it is applied to people in the United States. It presumes that they are going to be detained under some law. The only law we know of is this law. What other laws, before this one, allowed the military to detain people in this country?”

This was a question Judge Lohier, at Afran’s urging, asked Loeb during the argument. Loeb concurred that the NDAA was the only law he knew of that permitted the military to detain and hold U.S. citizens.

Via Truth-Dig Source

Chris Hedges: NDAA Lawsuit Update

Bad enough Americans already have people being Entrapped.

Inside the FBI’s ‘Terror factory’

You could be sent to anyone of these Countries.

CIA used 54 countries for detaining prisoners for toture

The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen,

and Zimbabwe. Must not forget Cuba. Cuba did not help, but did have the US prison there. Guantánamo Bay. Source

Now the Military can help with all of this.

You can bet many of those countries still help the CIA.

Like many who were sent to prison from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries of course.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, administered by the United States Department of State offers monetary compensation for individuals who volunteer information that leads to the location, capture, and trial of suspected terrorists. The program also seeks information relevant to finances, assets, and plans of terrorist organizations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) work closely with the Department of State to investigate all information garnered through the Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In 1998, after the bombing of United States embassies in East Africa, the Department of State raised the maximum reward for information to $5 million.

The rewards program not only offers monetary rewards for information aiding anti-terrorism operations, but also promises confidentiality and anonymity for the informant. The United States government further promises to aid and relocate informants whose disclosure of information places themselves, and their family, in jeopardy.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program is now a part of a larger anti-terrorism operation, the Rewards for Justice Program. The program pays for information relevant to the arrest and capture of wanted terrorists, both domestic and foreign. As part of the Patriot Act of 2001, the secretary of state can pay rewards greater than $5 million for information leading to the arrest of suspected terrorists. To date, the program has paid $9.75 million to 24 individuals who aided government antiterror investigations.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, as part of Rewards for Justice, has had several key successes. Information received through the program led to the arrest and eventual conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef. The highest current priority of the rewards program is information leading to the capture of al-Qaeda front man, Usama bin Laden, and others with suspected involvement in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Source

Have a beef with one of your neighbours.
Turn them in and get a reward. They will of course be tortured until they confess, not to worry.
By the way how do your neighbours feel about you?  You could be sent to a black hole never to return.
If the NDAA is accepted you will have  no rights at all.
This is what a witch hunt looks like.
Rather reminds me of what is done to Palestinians in Gaza and especially the West Bank. They live under the same rules as the NDAA.
Here is a must read Article.

Max Blumenthal: How Israeli Occupation Forces, Bahraini Monarchy Guards Trained U.S. Police For Coordinated Crackdown On “Occupy” Protests

New York – In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Changing the way we do business

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz

Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”

Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.

The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

Fighting “crimiterror”

Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.

Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving at the time as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Demographic Unit

For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officerto Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.

Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”

Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”

The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

Shop ‘til you’re stopped

At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselvesfor five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.

Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

This article is cross-posted from with permission from the author Max Blumenthal.

You can read more of Max Blumenthal at He is the author of Republican Gomorrah, published by Nation Books.




The real terrorist was me

Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it’s profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us- Mike Prysner

I tried hard to be proud of my service
but all I can feel is shame
The racism you can not master the reality of the occupation
it's the people it's the human beings
I seem I claim by guilt every time I see
an elderly man like the one that couldn't walk
and we brought by the stretcher and we called the Iraq's Police to take him away
I feel guilt every time I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically
and screaming that we are worst than Saddam, as we forced her from her home.
I feel guilt anytime I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm, and dragged into the street.
We are told we are fighting terrorists;
the real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is in this occupation.
Racism within the military has long been an important tool
to justify the destruction and occupation of another country.
It's long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people.
Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government.
It's a more important weapon than a rifle, a tank, a bomber or a battleship.
It's more destructive than an artillery shell or a bunker buster, or a Tom Hawk Missile.
While all those weapons are created and owned by this government,
they are harmless without people willing to use them.
Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger, or lab a mortal round.
They don't have to fight the war, they merely have to sell the war.
They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers in the harms way.
They need soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed without question.
They can spend millions on a single bomb, but that bomb only becomes a weapon,
when the ranks of the military are willing to follow orders to use it.
They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth,
but there'll only be a war, as soldiers are willing to fight.
And the ruling class, the billionaires who profit from human suffering
care only about expending their wealth controlling the world economy.
Understand that their power lies only in their ability
to convince us that war, oppression and exploitation is in our interest.
They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability
to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country.
And, convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability
to make us think that we are somehow superior.
Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen,
have nothing to gain from this occupation.
The vast majority of people living in the U.S. have nothing to gain from this occupation.
In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain,
but we suffer more because of it.
We lose wings, and bear trauma and give our lives
Our families have to watch flag draped coffins rolling into the earth.
Millions in this country without health care, jobs or access to education,
just watch over this government squander of a $ 450 million a day in this occupation.
Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in other country and make the rich richer
without racism we realize that we have more common with the Iraq people than we have with billionaires that send us to war
We need to wake up and realize
that our real enemy is not the ones living in a distant land
the people whose names we don't know
and cultures we don't understand
The enemy is people we know very well and people we can identify
The real enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable
the enemy is the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable,
the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it's profitable,
the Banks who take away our homes when it's profitable.
Our enemies are not five thousands miles away
the are right here home
but if we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers
we can stop this war we can stop this government and we can create a better world
If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign ennemy...
The loss of Liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger
real or imagined from abroad..."
- James Madison -
Edité par Phaedrus
Racism not just in the Military but in America itself.
Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 3:55 am  Comments Off on The real terrorist was me  
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Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?

By Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy

July 28, 2010

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed? This is apparently considered a small matter to US leaders in the discussions about failed states, narco-states and the false claim that violence is spilling across the border.

President Calderón has stated repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are connected to drug organizations. The United States has silently endorsed this statement and is bankrolling it with $1.4 billion through Plan Mérida, the three-year assistance plan passed by the Bush administration in 2008. Yet the daily torrent of local press accounts from Ciudad Juárez makes it clear that most of the murder victims are ordinary Mexicans who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, pool halls and barrooms where they fall dead, riddled with bullets. Juárez is ground zero in this war: more than one-fourth of the 25,000 dead that the Mexican government admits to since December 2006 have occurred in this one border city of slightly over 1.5 million people, nearly 6,300 as of July 21, 2010. When three people attached to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in March this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the murders “the latest horrible reminder of how much work we have to do together.”

Just what is this work?

No one seems to know, but on the ground it is death. Calderón’s war, assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

We are told of a War on Drugs that has no observable effect on drug distribution, price or sales in the United States. We are told the Mexican Army is incorruptible, when the Mexican government’s own human rights office has collected thousands of complaints that the army robs, kidnaps, steals, tortures, rapes and kills innocent citizens. We are told repeatedly that it is a war between cartels or that it is a war by the Mexican government against cartels, yet no evidence is presented to back up these claims. The evidence we do have is that the killings are not investigated, that the military suffers almost no casualties and that thousands of Mexicans have filed affidavits claiming abuse, often lethal, by the Mexican army.

Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you.

A friend who is a Mexican reporter flees to the United States because the Mexican Army has come to his house and plans to kill him for writing a news story that displeases the generals. He is promptly thrown into prison by the Department of Homeland Security because he is considered a menace to American society.

On the Mexican side, a mother, stepfather and pregnant daughter are chased down on a highway in the Valle de Juárez, and shot in their car, while two toddlers watch. On the US side, a man receives a phone call and his father tells him, “I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dead.” He hears his sister pleading for her life, “Don’t kill me. No don’t kill me.” He thinks his niece and nephew are dead also, but they are taken to a hospital, sprayed with shattered glass. The little boy watched his mother die, her head blown apart by the bullets. A cousin waits in a parking lot surrounded by chainlink and razor-wire on the US side of the bridge for the bodies to be delivered so that he can bring them home. The next day, the family takes to the parking lots of two fast-food outlets in their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a carwash. Young girls in pink shorts and T-shirts wave hand-lettered signs. They will wash your car and accept donations to help bury their parents and sister, to buy clothes for two small orphans. “This was just a family,” says cousin Cristina, collecting donations in a zippered bag. She says they are in shock, the full impact of what happened has yet to sink in. So for now, they will raise the money they need to take care of the children. An American family.

Or, you visit the room where nine people were shot to death in August 2008 as they raised their arms to praise God during a prayer meeting. Forty hours later, flies buzz over what lingers in cracks in the tile floor and bloody handprints mark the wall. This was the scene of the first of several mass killings at drug rehab centers where at least fifty people have been massacred over the past two years in Juárez and Chihuahua City. An evangelical preacher who survived the slaughter that night said she saw a truckload of soldiers parked at the end of the street a hundred yards from the building and that the automatic rifle fire went on for fifteen minutes.

Or you talk with a former member of the Juárez cartel who is shocked to learn of a new cabinet appointment by President Calderón because he says he used to deliver suitcases of money to the man as payment from the Juárez cartel.

The claim that ninety percent of the dead are criminals seems at best to be self-delusion. In June 2010, El Universal, a major daily in Mexico City, noted that the federal government had investigated only 5 percent of the first 22,000 executions, according to confidential material turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Mexican Attorney General. What constituted an investigation was not explained.

On June 21, Cronica, another Mexico City paper, presented a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) study that examined more than 5,000 complaints filed by Mexican citizens against the army. Besides incidents of rape, murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery, the report described scenes like the following: “June 1, 2007, in the community of La Joya de los Martinez, Sinaloa de Leyva: Members of the Army were camped at the edge of the highway, drinking alcoholic beverages. Two of them were inebriated and probably under the influence of some drug. They opened fire against a truck that drove along the road carrying eight members of the Esparza Galaviz family. One adult and two minors died…The soldiers arranged sacks of decomposing marijuana on the vehicle that had been attacked and killed one of their own soldiers, whose body was arranged at the crime scene to indicate that the civilian drivers had been the aggressors and had killed the soldier.”

The CNDH also names the army as responsible for the shooting deaths of Martin and Brayan Almanza Salazar, aged 9 and 5, on April 3, 2010, as they traveled to the beach in Matamoros with their family. The only thing noteworthy about these cases is that they ever became public knowledge. Many more victims and survivors remain silent—afraid to report what has happened to them to any Mexican official or news reporter.

Such incidents pass unnoticed in the US press and apparently do not capture the attention of our government. Nor does the fact that in the midst of what is repeatedly called a war against drug cartels by both the American and Mexican governments and press, Mexican soldiers seem immune to bullets. With over 8,000 Mexicans killed in 2009 alone, the army reported losses of thirty-five that year. According to Reporters Without Borders, a total of sixty-seven journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while eleven others have gone missing since 2003. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be reporter. And possibly the safest place in the world to be a soldier.

When there is a noteworthy massacre, the Mexican government says it proves the drug industry is crumbling. When there is a period of relative peace, the Mexican government says it shows their policy is winning. On the night of July 15, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded in downtown Juárez, killing at least three people—a federal policeman, a kidnap victim dressed in a police uniform and used as a decoy and a physician who rushed to the scene from his private office to help dozens of people injured in the blast. A graffiti message attributed the blast to the Juárez cartel and claimed it as a warning to police who work for the Sinaloa cartel.

On July 20, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, minimized the Juárez bombing, saying that it was not aimed indiscriminately at civilians and that it did not indicate any escalation in violence. He parroted the declaration of Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez that the motivation for the bombing is economic, not ideological, and that “we have no evidence in the country of narco-terrorism.” US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual also indicated that this violence in Mexico, which also included a grenade attack on the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo a few months ago, “is disturbing but has not reached the level of terrorism.” We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism? This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that “armed commandos” dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico? Each year, the death toll rises, each year there is no evidence of any disruption in the delivery of drugs to American consumers, each year the United States asserts its renewed support for this war. And each year, the basic claims about the war go unquestioned.

Let us make this simple: no one knows how many are dying, no one knows who is killing them and no one knows what role the drug industry has in these killings. There has been no investigation of the dead and so no one really knows whether they were criminals or why they died. There have been no interviews with heads of drug organizations and so no one really knows what they are thinking or what they are trying to accomplish.

It is difficult to have a useful discussion without facts, but it seems to be very easy to make policy without facts. We can look forward to fewer facts and more unquestioned and unsubstantiated government claims. Such as the response by General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, to a 2008 report by El Diario de Juárez that one out of three Juárez citizens believed the army occupation of the city had accomplished little or nothing. “Those who feel this way, it is because their interests are affected or because they are paid by the narco-traffickers,” he said. “Who are these citizens?”

General Jorge Juárez Loera, the first commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, put it this way: “I would like to see reporters change their articles and instead of writing about one more murder victim, they should say, ‘one less criminal.’ ” Source

So who is behind the murder of these people the US and Mexican Governments. This is just a way to terrorize the Mexican people. There is no war on Drugs it is just a fabricated bunch of crap used to kill people.  If there was a real war on drugs do you think the US soldiers would be guarding the poppy field in Afghanistan.  People, drugs on the streets are good for governments, drugged up people are easier to manipulate. It also gives the governments scape goats to use to steal more tax dollars for scrupulous purposes.  The money is then used for well obviously the Military, in other words war. Profits are made from the sale of weapons etc etc.

The so called drug war is a scam. Always was and always will be. How much you want to bet a lot or all of the money used for the Mexican Military is spent in the US. Weapons manufacturers benefit from Mexico’s fake drug war.  US tax dollars again making Americas rich, richer.


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US House Vote on Afghan War Funding a Disgrace

Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

US occupation not for “liberation of Iraqis

Mental illness rising among US troops

Republicans in the US House of Representatives want Israel to attack Iran

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?  
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Philippines: Arrests, Torture, and the Presidential Election

By James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya

April 18th, 2010

The run-up to presidential elections is a time of heightened state-sponsored repression as Asia’s foremost ‘death squad democracy’ wages war on its progressive rural medical workers.

The notoriously violent and corrupt elections in the Philippines stand in sharp contrast with those in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia, where the ruling elites have secured their hegemony via economic prosperity, rising salaries, increased employment and extensive social services for their citizens. In these countries, the elite can abide by the results of a relatively ‘open’ election, whereas in the Philippines, any challenge to the closed, family-based ruling class is met with relentless terror.

In the Philippines, stagnation in the agricultural sector and a backward manufacturing sector, combined with electoral politics dominated by a coalition of landlords, warlords and oligarchic family clans, have led to mass poverty, deepening class inequalities and social polarization. The elites are unwilling to tolerate any challenge or movement for change. Since they have not been able to establish their legitimacy or hegemony via programs and policies which create rising prosperity for the Filipino masses, the Philippine political elite rely on the military and paramilitary to repress popular social movements, while their allies among the local warlords and clan leaders ‘deliver’ the votes.

Elections in the Philippines are violent contests between rival ‘oligarchic’ families – a pattern frozen in 19th century style rivalries – where guns and assassinations, as well as ballots, decide which ‘faction’ will rule. Political elites actually enlist the help of the local police, military, paramilitary and death squads to kill leading rival contenders, in order to ensure a ‘win’ for their candidates. The recent massacre of 57 civilians (including 30 journalists), on their way to register a local candidate by a warlord ally of the president, has ensured that the coming election will be among the bloodiest.

The primary challenge to the politics of the oligarchs in the Philippines comes from the independent social organizations. These community-based, grass-roots movements are engaged in organizing health programs as well as environmental and women’s organizations and human rights groups defending workers, peasants and social activists, along with class-based trade unions and organizations of small farmers and rural workers.

The ‘battle for votes’ among the elites is narrowly focused but intense: The perks of office and unfettered access to the public treasury is what sustains Filipino crony capitalism, despite the rhetoric of ‘free market’ and ‘private enterprise’. The electoral ‘process’ ensures the right number of votes for the right candidate through a combination of bribes, threats, violence and outright fraud.

The 2004 Philippine presidential race was the template for election in the ‘death squad democracy’: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s ‘victory’ was secured through an assassination and terror campaign against candidates and political organizers belonging to the sectoral ‘party-list’ parties representing marginalized groups, like the urban poor, workers, farmers, women and students and guaranteed in an unforgettable taped conversation of the President ordering her election commissioner(“Hello Garci”) to deliver specific percentages of votes.

While elite candidates compete with each other, they work together to oppose any popular social movements that emerge within their social and political domain; hence the unprecedented increase in repression as the electoral process unfolds. For these war-lord politicians, all independent organized activities within their ‘territories’ directly threaten their clientelistic hold over the voters and must be violently stopped. This dynamic is key to understanding the thousands of instances of violence perpetrated against independent journalists, health care workers, legal aid workers, union organizers, teachers, church rural workers and many others.

Mass Arrest of Health Workers Accused of ‘Terrorism’

On February 6, 2010, 300 heavily armed soldiers and militarized police, with their faces masked, broke into the provincial home of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a distinguished infectious disease specialist and Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine, and arrested 43 rural health workers, physicians and nurses who had been holding a seminar on rural disaster preparedness in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Ketsana. The participants were blindfolded, tied and brought to a military camp where they underwent harsh interrogation and torture and were charged at first with terrorism and membership in the guerrilla movement, the New Peoples Army. The owner of the home where the ‘terrorist’ medical workers were meeting, Dr. Velmonte and her son, who were present during the arrests and protested the invasion of her property without a warrant, were not arrested.

The 43 medical detainees have been held in a military camp ever since without access to family and attorneys. Trumped-up weapons charges against the health workers were based on explosives, guns and ‘bomb-making’ manuals, obviously planted in their belongings. One nurse was accused of keeping a hand-grenade under her pillow. A parade of transparently phony charges, including participation in ‘communist assassination units’ were leveled at the physicians, especially a 62 year old public health specialist suffering from diabetes and hypertension, as well as the nurses and health workers. These preposterous charges, the bizarre commando-style ‘raid’ on Dr. Velmonte’s home and the prolonged isolation and abuse of the detainees were defended at the highest level of government with few complaints or calls for inquiry by the elite-led opposition. The Dean of the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine, issued a stern denunciation of the mass arrest, describing the military’s abuse of medical workers as part of a pattern of attacks on members of the health sector seeking to fulfill their mission of service to the underserved rural population.

The detainees have become known as the ‘Morong 43’ after the village in Rizal Province where the arrest took place. Mass protests and support groups have emerged among a wide range of professional associations, civil society organizations, and class-based popular movements in the Philippines and nurses groups and human rights organizations in North America and Europe. The incident was reported in the Lancet, Britain’s prestigious medical journal. The US press, which routinely covers ‘human rights’ abuses against independent professionals in China and Burma, has yet to mention the detention and torture of 43 medical workers in the Philippines, whose President Macapagal Arroyo is a staunch political ally of the Obama Administration.

The ‘Reasons’ behind the Repression

The Macapagal-Arroyo regime’s brutal assault and arrest of 43 health workers, engaged in providing accessible basic medical services and disaster aid and training to the rural poor, may appear irrational from an economic point of view: After all, in a country where over 70% of the rural population are born and die without ever seeing a physician, these health workers provide vital social services to marginalized populations at no cost to the government.

However, economic considerations are not what inform the politics of an unpopular regime deeply immersed in corruption scandals and electoral chicanery. The principle concern of the Macapagal-Arroyo regime is political: How can this regime retain control of a restless rural electorate deeply disenchanted with the local warlords, clan leaders and paramilitary thugs, who ‘round up’ their votes for the regime’s chosen candidate. In this context, local health clinics run by independent health workers under community control are a threat to the regime’s local chain of command, which runs the vast ‘patronage machine’ dictating who among the people vote and how. Whatever meager social services do exist in the rural areas must be totally under their control to underscore the electorate’s dependency on the local representative of the regime.

Grassroots community health centers, where health workers provide and teach preventative care, basic hygiene, disaster preparedness and many other services, empower small farmers, rural workers and their families to think and act independently of the local bosses. Volunteer health workers provide a micro-model of what a comprehensive rural health program should be like in contrast to the inaccessible, corrupt, privatized system of medical care promoted by the national government.

Under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, the pillage of the public treasury has impoverished the health system to the point that over 3,000 nurses and doctors are forced to leave the country every year. The private clinics and health insurance companies provide quality medical services to salaried employees of larger businesses, affluent middle class professionals and members of the upper class. In the public hospitals, especially the major teaching hospitals, like the huge Philippine General Hospital, young doctors, who provide critical services to tens of thousands of lower middle class and poor patients, go without salaries for months and even longer. Faculty and department staff are so poorly paid that they are forced to take additional sideline jobs in private clinics to survive.

With the upcoming presidential elections this May, the political elite have made a logical calculation: As a result of their pillage and brutality, promises of prosperity cannot ‘buy’ the support of the electorate whose ‘loyalty’ must then be ‘secured’ through the traditional double G’s of Philippine governance: Guns and goons.

Heavily funded and encouraged by the US in its ‘World-Wide War on Terror’, the regime of Macapagal Arroyo has drawn up its own list of threats: First on the ‘order of battle’ are the popular social movements, whose dedicated activists cannot be bought. This explains the widespread use of mass arrest and continued detention of the ‘Morong 43’ by the regime’s military and the ‘targeted assassination’ of independent, popular political candidates and independent community leaders.

The military has ignored the Philippine Supreme Court’s orders to transfer the 43 health workers to Manila where they would have access to their attorneys and to medical care. The regime’s continued detention and abuse of ‘the Morong 43’ is a gangster-style message to the Filipino civil society movement: “Stay out of poor communities or face a similar fate!” The tactic of the Macapagal Arroyo government and its supporters in the White House is to proceed with the electoral charade as if ‘nothing is wrong’.

What is urgently needed is an international campaign exposing the dark underside of Philippine elections and securing the freedom and safe return of the ‘Morong 43’ to their families and communities. What is at stake is not only the lives of the jailed health workers, but the lives and well-being of many thousands of poor farmers and their families who depend on their vital services. Source

Philippines: The Killing Fields of Asia
From May 2006 not much has changed, things just kept getting worse for the citizens..
Since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo joined the U.S. global “war on terrorism,” the Philippines has become the site of an ongoing undeclared war against peasant and union activists, progressive political dissidents and lawmakers, human rights lawyers and activists, women leaders, and a wide range of print and broadcast journalists. Because of the links between the Army, the regime, and the death squads, political assassinations take place in an atmosphere of absolute impunity. The vast majority of the attacks occur in the countryside and provincial towns. The reign of terror in the Philippines is of similar scope and depth as in Colombia. Unlike Colombia, the state terrorism has not drawn sufficient attention from international public opinion.

Between 2001 and 2006 hundreds of killings, disappearances, death threats, and cases of torture have been documented by the independent human rights center, KARAPATAN, and the church-linked Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research. Since Arroyo came to power in 2001, there have been 400 documented extrajudicial killings. In 2004 63 were killed and in 2005 179 were assassinated and another 46 disappeared and presumed dead. So far in the first two and a half months of 2006 there have been 26 documented political assassinations.

Among those arrested were 2 doctors, 1 registered nurse and 2 midwives and 38 volunteer community health workers.

They are :

1. Merry Clamor y Mia, 33 y/o, medical doctor, CHD staff
2. Alexis Montes y Sulinap, 62 y/o, medical doctor, Commed volunteer
3. Gary Liberal y Apuhin, 43 y/o, registered nurse, AHW
4. Ma. Teresa Quinawayan y Roncales, 26 y/o midwife, CHD staff
5. Lydia “Del” Ayo Obera, 61 y/o, AHW staff & health educator
6. Reynaldo Macabenta y Torres, 30 y/o, CHD staff
7. Angela Doloricon y Manogon, 50 y/o, health educator
8. Delia Ocasla y Medrano, 46 y/o, community health worker
9. Janice Javier y Quiatchon, 22 y/o, community health worker
10. Franco Remoroso y Bilugan, 28 y/o community health worker
11. Linda Racel Otanez community health worker
12. Pearl Irene Martinez y de los Reyes, 25 y/o community health worker
13. Eleonor Carandang y Orgena, 30 y/o community health worker
14. Danny Piñero, community health worker
15. Ray-om Among, community health worker
16. Emily Marquez y Manguba, 23 y/ocommunity health worker
17. Emilia Marquez y Manguba,20 y/o, community health worker
18. Jane Balleta y Beltran 27 y/o, community health worker
19. Glenda Murillo y Cervantes, 26 y/o, community health worker
20. Eulogio “Ely” Castillo, community health worker
21. Jovy Ortiz y Quidor, 23 y/o, community health worker
22. Samson Castillo y Mayuga, 42 y/o, community health worker
23. Miann Oseo y Edjao, 31 y/o, community health worker
24. Sylvia Labrador y Pajanustan, 43 y/o, community health worker
25. Lilibeth Donasco, 24 y/o, community health worker
26. Jenilyn Vatar y Pizarro, 19 y/o, community health worker
27. Ramon de la Cruz y Santos, 21 y/o, community health worker
28. Jaqueline Gonzales, community health worker
29. Maria Elena Serato y Edeo, 35 y/o, community health worker
30. Ma. Mercedes Castro y Icban, 27 y/o, community health worker
31. Leah de Luna y Bautista, 28 y/o, community health worker
32. Judilyn Oliveros Y Abuyan, 26 y/o, community health worker
33. Yolanda Yaun y Bellesa, 51 y/o, registered midwife
34. Edwin Dematera y Bustamante, 37 y/o, community health worker
35. Cherielyn Riocasa Tawagon, 31 y/o, community health worker
36. John Mark Barrientos y Roldan, 20 y/o, community health worker
37. Mark Escartin y Esperida, 20 y/o, community health worker
38. Julius Duano, 30 y/o, community health worker
39. Ronilo Espera, 31 y/o, community health worker
40.Romeo de la Cruz, 53 y/o, community health worker
41. Valentino Paulino y Abale, 35 y/o, community health worker
42. Ace Millena, community health worker
43. Lorelyn Saligumba, community health worker



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US violates UN law by threatening Iran

IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm  Comments Off on Philippines: Arrests, Torture, and the Presidential Election  
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Thailand protesters defy government decree

April 8  2010

Anti-government protesters remained camped out Thursday in the central streets of Bangkok, defying the state of emergency declared by the government after a group of them stormed Parliament.

But the number of protesters, who are mostly rural farmers from the country’s impoverished provincial regions, dwindled to 2,000 or 3,000, compared to the tens of thousands in recent days.

The protesters, who are known as the Red Shirts and characterize their movement as a class war against Bangkok’s elite, continued to call for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and for new elections.

Residents of Bangkok were already under the strict Internal Security Act. But under the state of emergency declaration, the military authority has more sweeping powers to restore order and security forces can suspend certain civil liberties and ban public gatherings of more than five people.

Most analysts doubt the government will use force to crack down on protesters.

The demonstrations forced Abhisit to cancel a trip to Vietnam for a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders on Thursday. He has also nixed plans to attend a global nuclear summit in Washington on Monday.

Some of the protesters stormed parliament on Wednesday to press their demand that Abhisit dissolve parliament within 15 days and call new elections. He has offered to do so by the end of the year.

Demonstrators have been camped in Bangkok since March 12 and have ignored previous decrees that they end their protests, which over the weekend forced at least six upscale shopping malls to close in Bangkok’s downtown commercial district.

The Red Shirts support ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allies won elections in December 2007. Two resulting governments were forced out by court rulings.

A parliamentary vote brought Abhisit’s party to power in December 2008. The Red Shirts say his rule is undemocratic and that only new elections can restore integrity to Thai democracy. Source

Anti-government protests continue in Thailand

By John Roberts
April 7 2010

The three-week standoff between the Thai government and red-shirted protesters demanding new elections is continuing in Bangkok. The focus of the demonstrations shifted over the weekend to the Ratchaprasong shopping and business area of the capital where many five-star hotels, banks and shopping malls are located. At least 10,000 people took part in Saturday’s rally and thousands have maintained the protest.

The protesters, organised by United Front Against Dictatorship for Democracy (UDD), have defied government efforts to force them to leave. On Monday, they stormed the offices of the country’s Election Commission, demanding it decide on whether to prosecute the ruling Democrat Party for electoral irregularities. The demonstrators left the commission after it agreed to release its decision on April 20—a week earlier than scheduled.

The situation is tense. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invoked the Internal Security Act in Bangkok and mobilised 50,000 police and troops in response to the protests. On Sunday, the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), a joint security force set up under the state of emergency, declared the vicinity surrounding the protest as a controlled area under the Internal Security Act and banned demonstrators from moving to other areas of the city. Yesterday CAPO approved arrest warrants for 10 UDD leaders.

UDD leaders insist that the protests will not end until Abhisit steps down and fresh elections are called. The protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006. Many are from poorer rural areas in the north and north east where the right-wing populist billionaire Thaksin built up a base of support on the basis of limited social reforms.

The government is backed by Thailand’s traditional ruling elites—the military, the monarchy, the state bureaucracy and the judiciary. The army formally relinquished power in 2007 after drawing up a new constitution. However, Thaksin’s supporters won the election and formed the government, resulting in a protracted standoff with the mainly middle class, anti-Thaksin protests. In 2008, the courts removed two prime ministers over alleged corruption and electoral fraud, paving the way for the installation of Abhisit at the head of a shaky coalition.

The latest round of anti-government protests began last month after a Supreme Court decision on February 26 stripped Thaksin of $US1.4 billion of his $2.3 billion in personal assets. The government initiated the case, in which Thaksin was accused of abusing his office to benefit his private business dealings.

As many as 150,000 protesters have taken part in continuous rallies. On March 28, UDD supporters forced unarmed soldiers to leave temples and a government building near their protest site, which up until last weekend was centred at the Phan Fah Bridge. The following day, thousands of demonstrators tried to enter a military base in northern Bangkok where the prime minister had been holed up for two weeks.

In an unprecedented bid to end the standoff, Abhisit met with three UDD leaders in nationally televised negotiations on March 28 and 29. The two lengthy sessions, which were widely watched, produced no resolution. Both sides played to the cameras. The prime minister offered to call elections, not due until December 2011, before the end of year. The UDD negotiators insisted that an election be held within 15 days.

On the face of it, the Abhisit government is in a strong position. The economy is expanding, with industrial production increasing by just over 30 percent in both January and February compared with a year earlier. As a result, it has the support of the media and business groups that have praised its economic management during the global economic crisis. However, the fact that the televised talks took place indicates that the government is aware of its weakness and lack of legitimacy.

The Democrat Party lost the 2001 election to Thaksin amid widespread hostility to its imposition of the IMF’s pro-market agenda that devastated significant sections of the Thai economy. The party subsequently lost elections in 2005 and 2006—a snap poll called by Thaksin to try to resolve the standoff with opposition protests. The Democrats also lost the 2007 election and have only 167 seats in the 480-seat national assembly. Abhisit only came to power in December 2008 after a court ruling dissolved the ruling pro-Thaksin party, and the military pressured its allies to join the Democrats.

The bias of courts, military and police toward the Democrats has only fuelled the anger of anti-government protesters. The police and military, who stood by while anti-Thaksin protesters occupied Bangkok’s two main airports for more than a week, are now preparing to crack down on the current pro-Thaksin rally. The election commission and courts, which helped oust two pro-Thaksin governments in 2008, have been dragging their feet on allegations of Democrat election misconduct that could potentially result in the deregistration of that party.

Behind these political grievances are sharpening social tensions. While the economy is expanding, the social divide between rich and poor is also deepening. Farmers in the rural north east have been hit by falling prices and growing debts. The average family in the region is in debt to 100,000 baht ($3,000).

Abhisit has tried to woo farmers through a program under the Farmers Reconstruction and Development Fund, designed to help 510,000 farmers with a collective debt of 80 billion baht. Under the scheme, if farmers agree to pay back half their debt, they will be entitled to a moratorium on the remainder. But like Abhisit’s other pro-poor measures, the fund provides only limited assistance and has had little political impact.

Thaksin and the UDD leadership are seeking to exploit the widespread social discontent to bolster their own political position in what has been five years of bitter infighting in the ruling elites. Less competitive layers of Thai business, particularly small and medium companies, turned on Thaksin after he continued to open up the country to foreign capital. Neither of the rival factions is capable of addressing the pressing social needs of ordinary working people.

Both the government and its opponents are deeply anti-democratic. As prime minister, Thaksin was notorious for threatening opposition media and for his anti-drug campaign, during which hundreds of alleged dealers were killed by police.

While the UDD leaders are keeping the protests confined to the demand for an election, anti-government protesters are motivated by broader issues. The New York Times noted last week: “The main target of the protestors’ ire seems to be the system: the perception that the bureaucrats and the military serve the elite at the expense of the poor.” Time magazine cited one small businessman in Bangkok as saying: “I don’t even like Thaksin. It’s not about one person. It’s about how the government doesn’t care about people who aren’t rich.”

The UDD leadership is just as concerned as the government that protesters do not begin to voice their own social demands and take more militant action. Last April, large anti-government protests in Bangkok boiled over into violent clashes with the police and military in which several people were killed. The Bangkok Post noted last week that “quite a few” pro-Thaksin politicians were concerned at the economic impact of the ongoing rallies and “how it will all end”, leading to a desire “to wrap up the protest as soon as possible”. Source

March 13 2010: A million Thaksin supporters across Thailand head for Bangkok protest

April 8 2010: Thai protesters defy emergency, opposition media blocked

Thai protesters scuffled with riot police outside a satellite broadcaster on Thursday after the government blocked opposition websites and TV channels on the second day of a state of emergency to quell mass protests.

The protesters see the urbane, British-born, Oxford-educated Abhisit as a front man for an unelected elite and military intervening in politics with impunity.

Internal Security Act. November 2007

Thailand’s revised Internal Security Act October 2007

In view of the protests the Internal Security Act has been extended.

Video April 8 2010

A Small bit of History.

The  United States used Thailand as a major point to wage war in Vietnam.
The Thai Government is till backed by the US.
I guess the people in Thailand are also fed up with corruption as the people in Kyrgustan are.

Kyrgyzstan: Thousands of protesters furious over corruption 40 deaths over 400 injured

Published in: on April 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm  Comments Off on Thailand protesters defy government decree  
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Japan Tokunoshima islanders reject US Marines base

April 3 2010

The Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture Yuichiro Ito

The governor of Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture has expressed his strong opposition against the proposed relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to Tokunoshima Island.

Yuichiro Ito told reporters on Friday that he will oppose the relocation along with the residents of the island and the Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly.

He added that the government has not contacted the prefecture about the relocation. He also stressed that Tokunoshima residents do not want to accept a US military base.

The reaction comes as thousands of residents on Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture held a protest rally on Saturday after the island was reported to be a candidate site for hosting the contentious Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

“The government has never consulted with any of the three mayors about the issue, even though it advocates the decentralization of authority,” said Tokunoshima Mayor Hideki Takaoka, as he criticized Tokyo’s disrespect for municipal governments.

The protest was organized by the municipalities and an organizing committee consisting of over 60 groups from Kagoshima’s Amami Islands.

“We cannot expose our children to noise and crime. We don’t need a base here on this island of children, longevity and mutual cooperation,” said a 39-year-old housewife.

Farmer Tokuhiro Motoda, 80, saw the matter as a threat to his way of life. “Tokunoshima is an island with rich nature and farming. Our living would be destroyed by the base,” he said.

A new survey conducted by the Sankei newspaper showed that more than 73 percent of respondents were unhappy with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s management of the issue.

Nearly half of the voters believe Hatoyama should resign if he fails to resolve the problem by the end of May as he himself announced the May deadline.


“US forces cause outrage in Okinawa – again”

Okinawa base at centre of US-Japan dispute

U.S. military bases cast shadow across Japan

March 5 2010

ATAMI, Japan – Muneyoshi Furugen has lived in the shadow of the U.S. bases on Okinawa all of his life. He speaks in a calm and deliberate manner with a small smile. Yet underneath, when he speaks of the impact of the bases on his family and on the Okinawan people, you glimpse anger and pain.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Furugen at the 23rd Congress of the Japanese Communist Party held in the Party’s beautiful convention center here, in January. It is located about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Furugen is the leader of the Japanese Communist Party in Okinawa. I was impressed with the passion and militancy of his speech to the congress. We had a chance to talk during a break.

Furugen speaks to Americans

Furugen’s first vivid memory of the U.S. bases was when he was five or six years old. It was during the Korean War. The bases on Okinawa were used as staging areas for military strikes against North Korea. Thus security was a big concern and the U.S. military demanded a total blackout at night in all the neighborhoods surrounding the bases.

One night, Furugen remembers, his family forgot to turn out all the lights. The climate of fear was such that he remembers angry neighbors descending on his house to demand that the lights be turned off. “There was constant talk of enemy planes attacking us,” said Furugen. “For a young child it was a very scary thing.”

During the interview Furugen told me that he had felt compelled to bring the issue of the bases on Okinawa into sharp relief at the congress because of the presence of U.S. and other foreign guests. (Guests at the JCP Congress from the U.S. included Chris Townsend, political action director of the United Electrical Workers union; Erwin Marquit, editor of the journal, “Nature, Society and Thought”; and myself, representing the Communist Party USA.)

“I made my speech to make you aware,” Furugen said. “The people of Okinawa want me to explain the situation to you and the American people,” he said. “They want you to see the suffering of the people.”

Some background

Okinawa is the site of most of the U.S. bases in Japan. There are 38 U.S. military facilities on Okinawa. They account for 78 percent of the bases in Japan and use up 30 percent of the land mass of the island.

The U.S. military bases on Okinawa also cover over 40 percent of the arable soil, once some of the best agricultural land in Japan. Some, like Kadena Air Base, take up huge slices of the land in the middle of densely populated areas. Kadena Air Base takes up 83 percent of Kadena City and then sprawls across portions of Okinawa City and Chatan Town.

After World War II, Okinawa was administered by the United States. Self-administration didn’t revert back to Japan until 1972. Records through 1999 report 136 military aircraft accidents involving injury or death. Thirty-eight of these were airplane crashes, many in neighborhoods surrounding the bases.

Perhaps the worst such disaster was in 1959 when a U.S. jet plane from Kadena Air Base crashed into an elementary school and burst into a giant ball of flame. Eleven children were killed inside the school and six people in the neighborhood around the school died; 210 were injured. The crash also destroyed 17 houses and a community center.

Crimes against the Okinawan people by U.S. military personnel are also a big issue. Figures up to 1998 show that since 1972, 4,905 crimes were committed against Japanese people by U.S. military personnel, their dependents and U.S. civilian contractors and employees. More than 10 percent of these crimes involved serious crimes of murder, robbery or rape. In most cases the Japanese authorities were not allowed to arrest or question the alleged perpetrators.

Possibly the most famous case in recent times was in 1995, when three U.S. soldiers abducted and raped a young schoolgirl. This provoked massive protests. One demonstration drew a crowd of over 92,000, demanding the bases be removed and that the soldiers be turned over to the Japanese authorities for trial. This was never done.

Environmental fallout

Several Japanese and international environmental impact studies have raised the alarm about damage to the land, water and air caused by the U.S. military presence. For example, the constant live fire exercises conducted at Camp Hansen have caused major soil erosion and degradation.

The practice of firing live ammunition at the surrounding mountains has meant the destruction of topsoil protection. Not only has the erosion caused damage to the land, but drainage and refuse from the live fire exercises have led to the pollution of nearby Kin Bay. There are also serious issues of oil and toxic waste pollution from the bases.

At one facility, the Onna Communications Center, returned to the Japanese in 1995, serious high levels of PCBs and mercury have prevented use of the returned land.

Related to this is the severe problems of noise pollution caused by the military. Because the air bases, in particular, are located in heavily populated neighborhoods, the ongoing roar of jets and helicopters taking off and landing is a constant irritant.

A recent study at a primary school located just a half-mile from the runways at Kadena Air Base showed that classes were interrupted on average 10 times an hour, with deafening noise that lasted at least five seconds each time. This kind of noise is continuous, including throughout the night, making it difficult, if not impossible, for people to sleep.

Another major problem is that the bases hamper normal economic and infrastructure development. A case in point is the Futenma Marine Corps Air Base. It is located right smack in the middle of Ginowan City. The base takes up one-quarter of the city. Roads, sewer systems, power grids and water works have to be detoured around the base at great extra expense to the local government.

The airspace around and over the bases are controlled by the U.S. military and are closed to Japanese aircraft. Building codes around the bases are determined by the U.S. military. In one case a new apartment building had to be torn down because it was deemed too high and a hindrance to U.S. aircraft.

Many Americans also do not realize that the Japanese government bears most of the cost of maintaining the U.S. bases in Japan. This is a huge economic burden also on local governments.

Lastly, the U.S. bases have had an anti-democratic affect on the political life of Okinawa. The Okinawa People’s Party (the Japanese Communist Party in Okinawa) has gained great influence over the years because of its steadfast opposition to the U.S. bases and because of its support for sovereignty. The CIA has grossly interfered in the political process and undermined democracy by pouring large amounts of money into conservative candidacies and bankrolling efforts against the Party. It has also used money and influence, such as promises of economic aid, to try to change public opinion about construction of new bases.

Back to the interview

Furugen said that the U.S. war against Iraq has only made the situation with the bases on Okinawa more intense. After the horror of World War II, and the incredible terror of having suffered atomic bombs exploding on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese Constitution was written to include Article 9. This says that Japan and the Japanese people renounce “war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.”

Even though the U.S. has constantly put pressure on Japanese governments to violate Article 9, an overwhelming majority of the Japanese people continue to support it. There is also a massive peace movement in Japan. Yet the last year has seen the U.S. bases on Okinawa used as a staging area for the U.S. war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Furugen named, in particular, the use of Kadena Air Base as a major refueling point for the air war in Iraq. He said that residents were aware and angry that the base was also used to stage the infamous “daisy cutter” superbomb and to deploy ordnance using depleted uranium.

Even as we sat in the interview, Furugen told me of protests going on across Okinawa and Japan against the deployment of Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq.

“First the U.S. made us violate our own constitution years ago by creating the SDF, now they’ve put tremendous pressure on the government to actually deploy troops on foreign soil,” he said. “This is making people very angry.” Indeed many of the speakers at the JCP Congress expressed outrage at the deployment of SDF troops and reported on public protests.

Furugen said a big issue right now is U.S. plans to build a new state-of-the-art military base around Nago City. Under pressure to close bases and to return land to its rightful Japanese owners, the U.S. military has come up with a plan to shut a few obsolete facilities, while building a new, much larger single facility.

Unfortunately, the peace movement and the people there are also having to fight their own government on the project. The Liberal Democratic Party government is offering billions of dollars in economic assistance to try to bribe the people into allowing the new base. But so far the people and the peace movement have prevented construction since the proposal was first made in 1997.

I pressed Furugen for more about how the bases had affected him and his family. He told me another story from his youth that illustrates the dreadfulness of living with U.S. bases used for aggression and war.

When he was in high school one of his best friends was looking for work. They saw a local notice that a nearby base was hiring. The jobs advertised were offering exceptionally good pay. So they discussed it and his friend decided to apply. His friend came back in a state of shock. The job offered was to clean and wash the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam, before returning them home to the United States.

Ending on a note of friendship

Furugen made it clear during our talk that he holds the U.S. government, the U.S. military, and some in the Japanese government responsible for the tragedy of the bases – not the American people.

“We have hope in the American people,” he said. He spoke proudly of all the exchanges and conferences between U.S. and Japanese peace groups. He said that many American Vietnam veterans came to Okinawa and participated in anti-war activities, including talking to current GIs about what’s wrong with keeping the bases.

Ending our talk with a warm handshake, Furugen said that Okinawa is a small island, a small part of Japan. But, he said, it is proud of its big role in fighting to make the country a center of peace and independence.

“I hope you will show our reality to the American people,” he said.

Scott Marshall is a national vice chair of the CPUSA and chair of its Labor Commission. He can be reached at

U.S. military bases cast shadow across Japan

For entire story go Source

Major bases in Japan.

Air Force Japan Kadena AB
Air Force Japan Misawa AB
Air Force Japan Yokota AB
Marine Corps Japan Camp S D Butler
Marine Corps Japan MCAS Iwakuni
Navy Japan FLTACT Sasebo
Navy Japan NAF Atsugi
Navy Japan Yokosuka

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes

There are many countries that do not want US Military Bases.

They have the same problems at all of them.

Who needs the aggravation, pollution and  crime. They also take up a lot of land.

They also do not protect civilians in any way.

Military Bases are used for war and if anything threaten the civilians near them.  Lets face it where would you attack? The Military bases of course.

They are more dangerous then helpful.


Statistics on Crimes Committed  by US Troops in south Korea Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea

Report from June 23, 2001

Over 100,000 Cases of Crimes, Over 100,000 Victims

Major bases in Korea

Air Force South Korea Kunsan AB
Air Force South Korea Osan Air Base
Army South Korea Camp Casey
Army South Korea Camp Henry-Taegu
Army South Korea Camp Hialeah-Pusan
Army South Korea Camp Humphreys
Army South Korea Yongsan
Navy South Korea COMFLEACTS Chinhae

Major Military Bases World-Wide

This is an older list and hasn’t been updated as there are numerous ones missing. There are about a 1000 bases world wide.

Another list which has a lot more/ MILITARY BASES DIRECTORY

No other country in the world does this. They are taking over the world. The bases in other countries should all be shut down.

Japan Report: Private Agreements Allowed US to Bring Nukes


Aafia Siddiqui: Victimized by American Depravity

Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalised, Study Finds

Israel bombards Gaza – and threatens worse

Israel Gags News on Extra-Judicial Killings

Update April 2 2010: Disease Threatens Haitian Children

Foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula obtained through fraud and Israeli involvement

Canada and the European Union: Advancing the Transatlantic Agenda

Israel Gags News on Extra-Judicial Killings

April 3 2010

Written by Mel Frykberg

Anat Kam, 23, who used to work for the Israeli news site ‘Walla’, was arrested last December for allegedly copying secret Israeli Defence Force (IDF) documents during her compulsory military service.

These documents outlined how Israeli assassination squads would plan the killing of Palestinian political leaders and fighters months beforehand and then pass their deaths off as ”mishaps” during ”failed” attempts to arrest them.

Uri Blau, a reporter from the daily ‘Haaretz’, then wrote a piece on the copied documents and is refusing to return to Israel from Britain fearing that Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, will arrest him if he does.

Due to a military gag order the news has remained suppressed even as Israeli journalists fight the suppression order in court.

The news was broken several days ago by Donald McIntyre from Britain’s ‘Independent’.

The controversy has highlighted Israel’s extra-judicial killings which violate international law and have caused death and injury to thousands of Palestinian civilian bystanders despite the country having no death penalty.

Israel’s judiciary has approved ”targeted killings” but only of militants who were allegedly involved in carrying out or planning armed attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians both within the Palestinian occupied territories and in Israel proper.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza says that during the period September 2000 to March 2008, 500 Palestinians suspected of being involved in military resistance to the Israeli occupation were executed.

However, the ”collateral damage” during the assassinations included another 228 civilian bystanders – 77 of them children. Eleven Palestinians have been assassinated in the last two years.

”Israel is using disproportionate force. Civilians are paying the price. In the overwhelming majority of cases the targeted individuals could have been arrested and brought to trial without being killed. Many of them have been killed in cold blood,” Jaber Wishah from PCHR told IPS.

”International law’s right to life says that state authorities are obliged to follow due process when they are in a position to arrest individuals,” says Michael Kerney from the Ramallah-based rights organisation Al Haq which researched and documented many of the killings.

”Everybody is entitled to a fair trial and no state can dismiss this,” Kerney told IPS.

Some of those targeted have included individuals who were ”pardoned” by the Israelis after having agreed to give up armed resistance to the occupation.

Last December three pardoned members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a military offshoot of the Palestinian Authority (PA)-affiliated Fatah movement, were shot dead in Nablus in the northern West Bank following the death of an Israeli settler.

According to their families and the subsequent investigations of human rights organisations they had already surrendered and were unarmed despite Israeli claims that they had refused to surrender.

”By failing to produce any evidence linking the targeted individuals to attacks allegedly committed by members of the Palestinian resistance, as well as failing to utilise peaceful means in order to arrest and detain suspects, the soldiers assumed the role of both judge and executioner,” reported Al Haq.

Furthermore, unarmed Palestinians, who have not been involved either politically or militarily in resisting the occupation, also continue to die in what some have called deliberate premeditated murder.

Several weeks ago four Palestinian teenagers were shot dead amidst dubious circumstances in two separate incidents in the villages of Awarta and Iraq Burin near Nablus.

According to medical reports they were shot at close range with live ammunition after clashes between Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers had broken out.

However, the individuals concerned had not been involved in the clashes according to several investigations carried out by Al Haq, PCHR and Israeli rights group B’tselem.

One was shot in the back and another had a bullet lodged in the back of his skull despite Israeli soldiers saying they had only used non-lethal ammunition.

The Israeli military police declared they would investigate the incidents following contradictory testimony given by the soldiers involved.

However, when IPS visited one of the sites a week later with family members, approximately 20 spent cartridge cases, bloodied gloves, a saline solution kit and other bits of evidence lay on the ground undisturbed.

None of this is new. Israel has a history of assassinating political opponents predating its official establishment.

In 1944, the Israeli terrorist group, the Stern gang, assassinated Britain’s Lord Moyne, the military governor of Egypt, accusing him of interfering with Jewish migration to Palestine.

In 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte – a Swedish diplomat who had secured the release of 15,000 inmates from Nazi concentration camps while he was vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross  was also murdered by the Stern gang.

Stern gang members believed Bernadotte, as the U.N.’s Palestine mediator, to be too sympathetic to the Arabs. Yitzhak Shamir, later to become an Israeli prime minister, was one of the Stern gang’s leaders.

”Since the outbreak of the second Intifada, Israel has increasingly avoided accountability for the serious violations of the human rights of residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for which it is responsible,” says B’tselem.

”This avoidance is seen, in part, in its policy not to open criminal investigations in cases of killing or wounding of Palestinians who were not taking part in the hostilities, except in exceptional cases, and in its enactment of legislation denying, almost completely, the right of Palestinians who were harmed as a result of illegal acts by Israeli security forces to sue for compensation for the damages they suffered.”


Journalist on the run from Israel is hiding in Britain

‘Haaretz’ writer fled to London fearing charges over exposé on Palestinian’s killing

April 2 2010

By Kim Sengupta

An Israeli journalist is in hiding in Britain, The Independent can reveal, over fears that he may face charges in the Jewish state in connection with his investigation into the killing of a Palestinian in the West Bank.

Uri Blau, a reporter at Israel’s liberal newspaper, Haaretz, left town three months ago for Asia and is now in London. Haaretz is understood to be negotiating the terms of his return to Israel with prosecutors, according to an Israeli source, who declined to be identified, because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The news of Mr Blau’s extended absence comes just days after it emerged that another Israeli journalist, Anat Kam, has been held under house arrest for the last three months on charges that she leaked classified documents to the press while completing her military service.

Although no media outlet or journalist has been specifically named as the recipient of the classified information, there is speculation on Israeli blogs that Ms Kam gave documents to Mr Blau that formed the basis of a story he wrote in November 2008.

In his article for Haaretz, Mr Blau reported that one of two Islamic Jihad militants killed in Jenin in June 2007 had been targeted for assassination in apparent violation of a ruling issued six months earlier by Israel’s supreme court. While not outlawing assassinations in the West Bank altogether, the ruling heavily restricted the circumstances in which they were permissible, effectively saying that they should not take place if arrest was possible.

In an unusual move, Israel has placed a gagging order on national media, preventing them from reporting any aspect of the Kam case. Israel’s Channel Ten and Haaretz are expected to challenge this order on 12 April.

According to the court order, Ms Kam, 23, is being held on “espionage” charges. It alleges that she passed classified documents to a male journalist while working as a clerk in the Israel Defence Forces Central Command during her military service.

She was arrested more than a year after Mr Blau’s report, which was cleared by military censors at the time of publication, when she was working for the news service Walla, until recently owned by Haaretz.

Ms Kam denies all the charges. Her trial has reportedly been set for 14 April and she could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. Mr Blau did not respond to requests for comment; his friends and colleagues refused to discuss the case in detail.

Dov Alfon, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief, said in an emailed statement: “Haaretz has a 90-year-long tradition of protecting its reporters from government pressures, and Uri Blau is getting all the help we can provide him with.”

The move to gag Israel-based media has sparked fevered debate on Jewish blogs, which have freely reported the story. Bloggers have railed against the blackout, saying it represents a critical challenge to the freedom of the press.

“I do not believe that a citizen can be arrested and tried for suspected security offences right under our noses without anyone knowing anything about it,” wrote former Haaretz editor Hanoch Marmari in an eloquent cri de coeur on the Seventh Eye website.

“Trials do not take place here in darkened dungeons, nor do we have show trials behind glass or chicken wire. I have no doubt that such a strange, terrible and baseless scenario cannot take place in such a sophisticated democracy as our own.” Source

Well Israel never really does an investigation even when settlers kill a Palestinian.  They say they do, but in actuality they do not. That is not new at all. That is standard proceedure.

Israel kills anyone they feel like killing anyone no matter if it is a child or and adult. They kill people quit often.

As a matter of fact they have been killing for years so again this is not new. It is old hat.

As we well know they even go to other countries and kill people. They as we all know use fake passports. That to is standard procedure.

There is no real justice for Palestinians under Israeli law.

Even reporters or others who have been killed in Gaza or the West Bank, do not get a real investigation into their deaths by Israel.  They never have.

Deaths of Palestinians or outsiders are usually swept under the carpet.

Some Democracy. More like no Democracy.


License to kill

By Uri Blau

December 4 2008
The announcement made by the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesman on June 20, 2007 was standard: “Two armed terrorists belonging to the Islamic Jihad terror organization were killed last night during the course of a joint activity of the IDF and a special force of the Border Police in Kafr Dan, northwest of Jenin. The two terrorists, Ziad Subahi Mahmad Malaisha and Ibrahim Ahmed Abd al-Latif Abed, opened fire at the force during its activity. In response the force fired at them, killing the terrorists. On their bodies two M-16 rifles, a pistol and ammunition were found. It was also discovered that the terrorists were involved in planning suicide attacks against the Israeli home front, including the attempt in Rishon Letzion last February.”

The laconic announcement ignores one important detail: Malaisha was a target for assassination. His fate had been decided several months earlier, in the office of then head of Central Command, Yair Naveh. As far as the public was concerned, on the other hand, the last declared assassination carried out by the IDF in the West Bank took place in August 2006; at the end of that year the High Court of Justice set strict criteria regarding the policy of assassinations in the territories.

A Haaretz Magazine investigation reveals for the first time operational discussions in which the fate of wanted men and innocent people was decided, in apparent disregard of the High Court decision. Thus it was revealed that the IDF approved assassination plans in the West Bank even when it would probably have been possible to arrest the wanted men – in contradiction to the State’s statement to the High Court – and that in cold military terminology the most senior IDF echelons approve, in advance and in writing, the harming of innocent Palestinians during the course of assassination operations. Moreover, it turns out that the assassination of a target the defense establishment called part of a “ticking infrastructure” was postponed, because it had been scheduled to take place during the visit of a senior U.S. official.

Leading legal experts who were asked to react to the documents say that the IDF is operating in contradiction to a High Court ruling. “Morality is a very difficult issue,” Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer of Hebrew Univeristy said. “The thought that there are people who sit behind a desk and determine that someone is fated to die is a frightening thought.”

Another two killings

(at most)

The IDF spokesman refuses to provide precise figures about the number of targeted assassinations carried out since the start of the intifada in 2000: “The subject of preventive strikes is concentrated in the hands of the Shin Bet [security service].” A spokesman for the Shin Bet stated that the organization “does not publish data of this kind.” According to the human-rights organization B’Tselem, the IDF assassinated 232 Palestinians between the start of the intifada and the end of October 2008, in operations that also killed 154 non-targeted civilians.

The most common code names for assassination operations are the acronyms Pa’amon (peula mona’at – preventive action) and Sakum (sikul mimukad – targeted assassination). During the past two and a half years the IDF has not announced the carrying out of assassinations in the West Bank, and when wanted men were killed there, the official reports stated that these were “arrest operations” or “exchanges of fire.” This was also reported in regard to the killing of Abed and Malaisha – who has now been revealed as a previous target for assassination.

On March 28, 2007 a representative of the Shin Bet, a representative of the Special Police Unit Yamam and several officers from Central Command convened in Naveh’s office. On the agenda was the Two Towers operation (the strike at Malaisha). “The mission” said the head of the command, “is arrest,” but “in case identification is made of one of the leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Walid Obeidi, Ziad Malaisha, Adham Yunis, there is permission for the force to intercept them, and that is according to the situation assessment in the course of carrying out the mission.” Naveh did not allow an assassination if there were women or children near the wanted man, and explained that, “in the event that there are women and children in the vehicle, the method is arrest.”

On April 12 Naveh convened another meeting about Malaisha. This time he decided that permission would be granted to carry out the assassination of the target and “another two people at most.” On the day of the meeting in Naveh’s office another discussion took place, chaired by the head of the Operations Directorate, Brig. Gen. Sami Turjeman. At the meeting, the plans for a preventive operation against Malaisha were presented, and the head of the Operations Directorate explained that “a preventive strike in Ayush [Judea and Samaria] is an exceptional sight … It could be seen as an attempt to damage the attempts to stabilize, which means that it requires sensitivity to causing a minimum of collateral damage. Everything possible must be done to prevent harm to those who are uninvolved.” The target of the operation, he added “leads a ‘ticking’ infrastructure and meets the required criteria for a preventive strike.”

At this point Turjeman spelled out the conditions of Malaisha’s incrimination, and ruled that only if they existed would the targeted assassination get a green light. He added that no more than five people (including the driver) should be assassinated in the operation. Turjeman approved the operation even if there should be one unidentified person in the car. Regarding the matter of timing, he said that “in light of the anticipated diplomatic events, the prime minister’s meeting with Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the visit of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, I recommend … implementation afterward.” In the discussion Turjeman also referred to the High Court ruling about appointing a committee whose job would be to examine targeted assassinations after the fact, and said that in light of the High Court instructions on the matter, the operation should be documented.

The next day the operation was brought up for the approval of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. A limited number of senior officers convened in his office, including his deputy, the head of the Operations Directorate, the head of the Operations Brigade, the chief military prosecutor, a representative of Central Command and a representative of the Shin Bet. The paper summing up the meeting says that Ashkenazi “emphasized that due to the High Court orders regarding the establishment of a professional committee on targeted assassinations, the composition of the committee should be agreed on with the Shin Bet as soon as possible.”

Although Malaisha was defined as part of a “ticking infrastructure,” Ashkenazi too was disturbed by the timing of the action and said that “in light of the diplomatic meetings anticipated during the course of the week, the date of implementation should be reconsidered.” Ashkenazi prohibited attacking the vehicle in which Malaisha was traveling if it was discovered that there was “more than one unidentified passenger” in it.

Two months after the Two Towers plan was approved, and long after the diplomatic visits and meetings that took place in the second week of April 2007, came the operation in which Malaisha was killed in the Jenin area.

Legal approval

At the beginning of 2002, attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard petitioned the High Court of Justice against the policy of targeted assassinations on behalf of the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the Al-Haq organization. Almost five years later, on December 14, 2006, the president of the Supreme Court at the time, Justice Aharon Barak, issued his decision. Barak, with the concurrence of Justices Dorit Beinisch (now the president of the Supreme Court) and Eliezer Rivlin, rejected the petition and did not rule out the legality of targeted assassinations in the territories.

“We cannot determine that every targeted preemption strike is forbidden under international law, just as we cannot determine that every targeted preemption is permissible under international law,” Barak wrote in the last judgment he published in his 28 years on the Supreme Court.

According to the High Court ruling, well-founded and convincing information is necessary in order to classify a civilian as being part of a group of civilians who are carrying out hostile acts; a person should not be assassinated if it is possible to use less damaging methods against him; and he should not be harmed more than necessary for security needs. In other words, a person should not be assassinated if it is possible to arrest him, interrogate him and indict him. However, if the arrest involves serious danger to the lives of the soldiers, there is no need to use this means; after every assassination a thorough and independent examination must be conducted regarding the degree of precision, the identity of the man as a terror activist, and in the case of mistaken identity, the payment of compensation should be considered; harm to innocent civilians should be avoided as much as possible during an assassination, and “harm to innocent civilians will be legal only if it meets the demands of proportionality,” ruled Barak.

In this context, Barak gave an example according to which “it is possible to fire at a terrorist who is firing from the balcony of his home at soldiers or civilians, even if as a result an innocent bystander is liable to be hit. Such a strike at an innocent civilian will meet the demands of proportionality. That is not the case if the house is bombed from the air and dozens of its residents and bystanders are hit.”

Barak stated that, “The struggle against terror has turned our democracy into a ‘defensive democracy’ or a ‘fighting democracy.’ However, this struggle must not overturn the democratic nature of our regime.”

According to B’Tselem, since the ruling regarding targeted assassinations was handed down, 19 Palestinians who were targets of assassination have been killed in the territories, and 36 Palestinians who were close to the targets were hit in the course of IDF operations, all of them in the Gaza Strip.

“It turns out that in total contradiction to the High Court ruling, there are cases in which there is an order to assassinate someone when it is possible to arrest him,” says David Kretchmer, a professor of international law. “Advance approval to kill civilians who do not take part in hostile activities makes things even worse. The principle of proportionality, to the effect that if one strikes at a military target an accompanying strike against civilians will not be illegal, does not apply in a case when the attack itself is illegal – for example, in a case where there is an obligation, according to the High Court ruling, to arrest the suspect.”

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer: “According to the High Court ruling it is clear that where it is possible to carry out an arrest, we must carry out an arrest and avoid what is called a ‘targeted assassination’ and which I call ‘preventive killing.’ A substantial part of Judea and Samaria is under the effective rule of the IDF, and in my opinion, in such an area preventive killing must be ruled out. The limited interpretation that I am suggesting for the international law is that an attack must take place in the course of that person’s participation in a dangerous action, because then you are in effect acting in self-defense based on the situation taking place.”

Legal commentator Moshe Negbi: “‘Unidentified people’ can also be totally innocent and you are ostensibly giving a license to kill here. The problem is previous knowledge, because usually when we refer to collateral damage we are referring to ‘after the fact,’ but here this is almost certain foreknowledge. It is very problematic that permission is given to execute an innocent man deliberately. The question is whether it is proportional. I think that the High Court was referring to a situation where perhaps among a mass of people there is one who is innocent, but here it is one on one. It is very grave to grant permission when you know ahead of time that 50 percent of those you are hitting are innocent. Such a thing must certainly be discussed at the level of the attorney general and it certainly must be known to the public and undergo public criticism, if only so that anyone who thinks it is patently illegal can turn to the High Court.”

Regarding the fact that assassinations can wait until the conclusion of diplomatic meetings, Kretchmer says: “Postponing an operation for diplomatic reasons is unequivocal proof of the fact that this is not a ‘ticking bomb’ situation.” Kremnitzer adds: “According to my legal understanding, these cases [targeted assassinations] must be cases in which you must act immediately, and if it is not a matter of an immediate need, in my opinion it is against the law.”

Although almost two years have passed since the High Court ruling, a committee to examine the assassinations after the fact has yet to be appointed. Last week Aviad Glickman published on Ynet (the website of the mass circulation paper Yedioth Ahronoth) that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz had turned to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanding the establishment of such a committee as soon as possible. “This step must be completed without further delay,” wrote Mazuz, “for fear that a continued delay is liable to constitute contempt of court.”

The bad guys

Yair Naveh, who served as head of Central Command from 2005 to 2007, confirms that occasionally, there is no genuine attempt to arrest wanted men. “If the guy doesn’t put his hands up we don’t get into stories, we immediately establish contact. I don’t want to have people hurt for no reason. If I know that the guy is armed and is a ticking bomb, then I want him to be hit immediately without fooling around. It’s not the preventive action procedure, it’s an entirely different story.

“In my time there were no targeted assassinations. Not a single one, as far as I recall. In principle, there were no targeted assassinations in Central Command and none were approved. What I did have was an ability to reach all of [the wanted men]; therefore there is no reason for a targeted assassination. It is relevant only when you can’t reach someone, but if you can reach him and arrest him at night or have an exchange of fire with him, then it is not a targeted assassination.”

Is it possible that programs were approved and in the end were not carried out?

“No. In principle there was no such thing during my time, because in every operation there were special forces that had to arrive and arrest the guy. To tell the truth, in some places we knew a priori that there would be firing. If you know that you are operating against Islamic Jihad or against Hamasniks or even against some of the jokers who were in the Casbah, then it was clear to me that there would be engagement.”

In the approval of the March 2007 plan regarding Ziad Malaisha you said the mission was arrest, but if one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad was identified, the force had permission to carry out interception. What is that if not targeted assassination?

“Those are guys for whom we received basic confirmation that they are ticking bombs. Those are guys that if we had contact with them, because we knew in advance that they were armed, the default choice was not to start calling on them to halt and then to see whether or not they fled, but right from the start, if they didn’t put up their hands and throw away their weapons, then we engaged with them. That’s not because they had to be killed. It’s also because they are both ticking bombs and armed. That’s the assumption.”

That is semantics. You gave permission to fire at them from the moment they were identified.

“If they don’t put up their hands right at the start. You arrive, shout ‘IDF, hands up!’ You surround them. If the guys don’t put up their hands, then you don’t wait to close in on them, to make a declaration. If you receive confirmation that the guys have received all the relevant approvals, then we say, ‘Friends, I don’t want you to get into a pressure cooker here’ [methods used by the IDF to make someone give himself up]. If they don’t surrender immediately then you immediately engage them, so that you won’t be hurt. That’s the story. It’s not a targeted assassination, where you are approving their execution even if they put up their hands.”

The approval you gave the forces states that if there are women and children, there is to be an arrest. In other words, it would have been possible to arrest them.

“That means that if there are women and children we assume another risk and tell the guys that if they fire at you and begin to flee you don’t begin to exchange fire, but you try to stop the vehicle by shooting at the tires.”

The Operations Directorate approval in the case of Malaisha states that this is a preventive action operation.

“If it was approved as preventive action, that is, as a target for assassination, it’s a different story.”

But then it contradicts the High Court orders to the effect that Israel controls the area and approval of the plan includes the option of arrest.

“Don’t bother me with the High Court orders, I don’t know when there were High Court orders and when there weren’t. I know that a targeted assassination is approved and there is a preventive action procedure and I receive instructions from the Operations Directorate.”

What is the difference between the preventive action procedure and people that you give permission to fire at if they are identified?

“The difference is language. You say ‘Hands up. If not, I’m opening fire,’ and here I don’t say anything and drop a bomb from a plane.”

In the instructions there is no mention of the arrest option, and permission is given to fire if there is identification of a wanted man.

“I’m not familiar with such a document.”

Why in the approvals for targeted assassination is permission given in advance to harm unidentified people?

“Weren’t there people in the Shahadeh case? [Fatah leader Mohammed Shahadeh was assassinated by Hamas in October 2006]. But those aren’t questions that you should ask me. What is approved as preventive action goes through approvals all the way to the prime minister, and what is decided is decided. Usually these guys hung around with bad guys, not good guys.”

Linguistic innovations

In the State’s reply to the High Court, prior to its ruling, it was claimed that carrying out a targeted assassination is “an exceptional step” that is taken “only when there is no other, less severe way of implementing it … In the context of these strict instructions it was decided that when there are realistic alternatives to the action, such as arrest, these alternatives should be used.”

But the most noticeable thing the High Court ruling changed regarding the assassinations is the language used by the IDF in planning them. On December 13, 2006, a day before the High Court ruling was handed down, wanted man Muhammed Ramaha was killed in the Ein Beit Ilma refugee camp in the Nablus area. According to the IDF spokesman’s report to the media at the time, Ramaha was killed in the course of a joint “arrest operation” of the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Yamam police unit.

Now it turns out that Ramaha’s fate had been sealed a month earlier, when the Central Command conducted a discussion on an operation planned by the IDF’s Maglan special operations unit in the Nablus area. Those in attendance were presented with orders from Maj. Gen. Naveh, who ruled that the armed men walking around the area were connected to Mohammed Ramaha’s unit and “should be attacked.” There was no option offered of trying to arrest the members of the squad, and conditions for opening fire were the identification of two armed men, “conspiratorial” activity involving at least one armed man, or “when an indication is given” of the presence of Ramaha in the squad. As mentioned, a month after the discussion Ramaha was killed.

The Maglan soldiers were also the ones who carried out an operation on November 8, 2006 that ended in the killing of five Palestinians, two of them unarmed. The IDF, as usual, did not present it as an assassination mission, but it turns out that the force’s assignment was “to sneak into the center of the village, up to the observation point overlooking the killing area that had been designated in advance, to lie in ambush for armed terrorists and to hit them at short range.”

Another example: At the end of September 2006 the then head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (today GOC Northern Command), conducted a discussion in which approval was given to assassinate a Fatah member – an expert on the production of explosives belts – in the Nablus area. “The Time For Chaos Has Arrived” was the name of this operation, in which the major general approved attacking the man “in the context of the procedure of targeted assassination of important figures in light of the fact that he is a ‘ticking bomb.'” As opposed to operations planned after the High Court ruling, where there are specific instructions regarding conditions in which the action should not be carried out, in this case the only instructions were “to try to refrain insofar as possible from harming innocent people.”

“Apparently what happened in the wake of the High Court ruling is mainly ‘word laundering,'” says Kretchmer. “In other words, the use of words referring to arrest when in fact there is no real intention of carrying out an arrest, but the reference is to assassination.” Sfard says that, “whoever gave the IDF a permit to execute civilians without trial should not be surprised when the death squads it has created do not adhere to the few restrictions imposed on this policy. It’s a natural, logical and inevitable process of moral deterioration involved in assassinations.”

A military source said that the first years of the intifada were “a period lacking order. They fired at just about anything that moved.” He says that in recent years, especially after the High Court ruling, the procedure in Central Command and the Operations Directorate is somewhat different, one reason being that representatives of the Military Prosecutor’s Office “are breathing down their necks.” As for the importance attributed by the army to the country’s image and to the timing of its activity, the source said, not without a degree of cynicism, that “the criteria for a ‘ticking bomb’ change if Condoleezza Rice is in the country.”

An investigation by Haaretz indicates that IDF operations that are defined in advance as arrest operations rather than assassination operations do for the most part end in arrest. However, there is something disturbing about the fact that when it comes to the plan to arrest a Palestinian, the commander in charge of the operation sometimes feels a need to explain that this is not an assassination assignment and that the wanted man should be brought back alive. For example, in an operation planned last May for the arrest of a Fatah activist in Bethlehem, the GOC Central Command explained to the commander of the Duvdevan undercover commando unit that “the mission is arrest rather than killing.” And in fact, that activist was arrested alive. In the same operation, incidentally, it was explained to the forces that “there is no permission to behave aggressively toward foreign media crews.”

When Naveh was asked why he occasionally told the forces that the wanted men be brought back alive, which should ostensibly be obvious, he explained: “That means that I am exposing our forces to additional risk, and even if he opens fire, they do not kill him immediately but try nevertheless to arrest him.” It also turns out that the presence of children is not always an excuse to cancel military operations. At the end of March 2007, the chief of staff allowed Duvdevan to carry out the arrest of a wanted man during the birthday party of one of his children. The name chosen by the IDF for this action was Kindergarten Party.


Israeli journalists on ice for report on Israeli assassinations

Other Israeli crimes . There are many.

Fake Al Qaeda, Fake Passports, Fake planes

Dubai police chief to seek Netanyahu arrest as well as the Mossad agents


Israel bombards Gaza – and threatens worse

Update April 2 2010: Disease Threatens Haitian Children

Canada and the European Union: Advancing theTransatlantic Agenda

Foreign control of large swathes of the Sinai Peninsula obtained through fraud and Israeli involvement

Mossad using Spanish passport Arrested in Algeria

British MPs call for review of arms export to Israel

Australia: Fraser calls for expulsion of Israeli diplomats

Israel to Allow Shoes into Gaza Strip After Three Year Ban

UK warns of Israel travel amid passport scandal

Tony Blair’s attempt to keep his Iraqi Oil Profits a secret

Women in Iraq Miss Saddam

Israel condemned at Arab summit over Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land

Soldiers, Mental illness, Drugs and Suicide

Dallas Contact Crisis Line forum to raise awareness of military suicides
March 25, 2010

After eight years of war marked by repeated deployments, military families have endured great sacrifices – but few as much as Maj. Gen. Mark Graham.

In June 2003, his 21-year-old son, Kevin, a promising ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky, killed himself. He had been diagnosed with depression. Eight months later, the general’s oldest son, Jeff, died in Iraq when a bomb exploded while he led a foot patrol.

Graham and his wife, Carol, mourned privately for several years. But as the military struggled with an increase in suicides, the Army couple began telling their story to raise awareness about depression.

“All I knew was that Kevin’s death did not need to be in vain,” Graham said in a telephone interview joined by his wife. “Carol and I both would never want this ever to happen to anyone else.”

Graham is scheduled to speak about military suicides at a luncheon today in Dallas. Contact Crisis Line, the nonprofit 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, is sponsoring the forum at the Hilton Anatole. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, is also scheduled to speak.

Defense Department figures show that 160 active-duty Army personnel committed suicide in 2009 – up from 140 in 2008 and more than double the 77 suicides reported in 2003. The Army suicide rate is now higher than that of civilians. There is no single explanation, Pentagon officials say, but the wear and tear of repeated deployments appears to be a major factor.

“Soldiers are hurting, families are hurting, and it’s a tough time in the Army,” said Graham, deputy chief of staff of Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Ga. “Being in a war eight-plus years – it’s tough.”

Young veterans leaving military service remain at risk. The Veterans Affairs Department said recently that suicides among 18- to 29-year-old veterans have increased considerably – up 26 percent from 2005 to 2007.

In 2005, the suicide rate per 100,000 veterans among men ages 18 to 29 was 44.99, compared with 56.77 in 2007, the VA said.

“Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said at a suicide prevention conference in January. “That means on average, 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA.”

Graham said: “People need to know that you can die from depression. You can die from untreated depression.”

The VA has expanded mental health services to veterans and added 6,000 new mental health professionals since 2005. A 24-hour suicide prevention hotline that started in July 2007 has received 225,000 calls from veterans, active-duty personnel and family members.

But too many soldiers are reluctant to seek help for depression and anxiety because of the stigma attached to mental illness, Graham said. “One of the things we’ve tried to do is to make it clear that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to come forward and ask for help.”

In 2003, Kevin Graham was attending school while sharing an apartment with his siblings, Jeff and Melanie. His parents were living in South Korea, where the general was assigned.

Kevin was a “tender-hearted” child who wanted to be a doctor, said Carol Graham. At his older brother’s graduation from the University of Kentucky in May, Kevin looked in great physical condition, she said. He was exercising and getting ready for an advanced ROTC camp.

But at some point around then, he stopped taking his medication, apparently too embarrassed to admit to the military that he needed it. “He had told no one in ROTC” that he was taking Prozac, his mother said.

The Grahams feel guilt-ridden over Kevin’s death to this day. “I knew Kevin had been having problems,” Mark Graham said. “But it never even entered my mind that he could die from [depression].”

Painful as it is, the Grahams plan to continue to tell their story.

“It’s hard. It’d be easier to just curl up in a corner and do nothing,” Graham said. “But if it helps just one person not die by suicide, then it’s worth it.”


Medicating the military

Use of psychiatric drugs has spiked; concerns surface about suicide, other dangers
By Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry
March 17, 2010

At least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug.

And many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily “cocktails” — for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches — despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations.

The drugs come with serious side effects: They can impair motor skills, reduce reaction times and generally make a war fighter less effective. Some double the risk for suicide, prompting doctors — and Congress — to question whether these drugs are connected to the rising rate of military suicides.

“It’s really a large-scale experiment. We are experimenting with changing people’s cognition and behavior,” said Dr. Grace Jackson, a former Navy psychiatrist.

A Military Times investigation of electronic records obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency shows DLA spent $1.1 billion on common psychiatric and pain medications from 2001 to 2009. It also shows that use of psychiatric medications has increased dramatically — about 76 percent overall, with some drug types more than doubling — since the start of the current wars.


Could meds be responsible for suicides?

Downrange: ‘Any soldier can deploy on anything’

How drugs enter the war zone

Troops and military health care providers also told Military Times that these medications are being prescribed, consumed, shared and traded in combat zones — despite some restrictions on the deployment of troops using those drugs.

The investigation also shows that drugs originally developed to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are now commonly used to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as headaches, nightmares, nervousness and fits of anger.

Such “off-label” use — prescribing medications to treat conditions for which the drugs were not formally approved by the FDA — is legal and even common. But experts say the lack of proof that these treatments work for other purposes, without fully understanding side effects, raises serious concerns about whether the treatments are safe and effective.

The DLA records detail the range of drugs being prescribed to the military community and the spending on them:

• Antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel and Risperdal, spiked most dramatically — orders jumped by more than 200 percent, and annual spending more than quadrupled, from $4 million to $16 million.

• Use of anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives such as Valium and Ambien also rose substantially; orders increased 170 percent, while spending nearly tripled, from $6 million to about $17 million.

• Antiepileptic drugs, also known as anticonvulsants, were among the most commonly used psychiatric medications. Annual orders for these drugs increased about 70 percent, while spending more than doubled, from $16 million to $35 million.

• Antidepressants had a comparatively modest 40 percent gain in orders, but it was the only drug group to show an overall decrease in spending, from $49 million in 2001 to $41 million in 2009, a drop of 16 percent. The debut in recent years of cheaper generic versions of these drugs is likely responsible for driving down costs.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are the most common mental health medications prescribed to service members. Seventeen percent of the active-duty force, and as much as 6 percent of deployed troops, are on antidepressants, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist, told Congress on Feb. 24.

In contrast, about 10 percent of all Americans take antidepressants, according to a 2009 Columbia University study.

Suicide risks

Many of the newest psychiatric drugs come with strong warnings about an increased risk for suicide, suicidal behavior and suicidal thoughts.

Doctors — and, more recently, lawmakers — are questioning whether the drugs could be responsible for the spike in military suicides during the past several years, an upward trend that roughly parallels the rise in psychiatric drug use.

From 2001 to 2009, the Army’s suicide rate increased more than 150 percent, from 9 per 100,000 soldiers to 23 per 100,000. The Marine Corps suicide rate is up about 50 percent, from 16.7 per 100,000 Marines in 2001 to 24 per 100,000 last year. Orders for psychiatric drugs in the analysis rose 76 percent over the same period.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the newer antidepressants commonly prescribed by the military can cause or worsen suicidal tendancys, aggression and other dangerous mental states,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who testified at the same Feb. 24 congressional hearing at which Sutton appeared.

Other side effects — increased irritability, aggressiveness and hostility — also could pose a risk.

“Imagine causing that in men and women who are heavily armed and under a great deal of stress,” Breggin said.

He cited dozens of clinical studies conducted by drug companies and submitted to federal regulators, including one among veterans that showed “completed suicide rates were approximately twice the base rate following antidepressant starts in VA clinical settings.”

But many military doctors say the risks are overstated and argue that the greater risk would be to fail to fully treat depressed troops.

For suicide, “depression is a big risk factor,” too, said Army Reserve Col. (Dr.) Thomas Hicklin, who teaches clinical psychiatry at the University of Southern California. “To withhold the medications can be a huge problem.”

Nevertheless, Hicklin said the risks demand strict oversight. “The access to weapons is a very big concern with someone who is feeling suicidal,” he said. “It has to be monitored very carefully because side effects can occur.”

Defense officials repeatedly have denied requests by Military Times for copies of autopsy reports that would show the prevalence of such drugs in suicide toxicology reports.

‘Then it’s over’

Spc. Mike Kern enlisted in 2006 and spent a year deployed in 2008 with the 4th Infantry Division as an armor crewman, running patrols out of southwest Baghdad.

Kern went to the mental health clinic suffering from nervousness, sleep problems and depression. He was given Paxil, an antidepressant that carries a warning label about increased risk for suicide.

A few days later, while patrolling the streets in the gunner’s turret of a Humvee, he said he began having serious thoughts of suicide for the first time in his life.

“I had three weapons: a pistol, my rifle and a machine gun,” Kern said. “I started to think, ‘I could just do this and then it’s over.’ That’s where my brain was: ‘I can just put this gun right here and pull the trigger and I’m done. All my problems will be gone.’”

Kern said the incident scared him, and he did not take any more drugs during that deployment. But since his return, he has been diagnosed with PTSD and currently takes a variety of psychotropic medications.

Other side effects cited by troops who used such drugs in the war zones include slowed reaction times, impaired motor skills, and attention and memory problems.

One 35-year-old Army sergeant first class said he was prescribed the anticonvulsant Topamax to prevent the onset of debilitating migraines. But the drug left him feeling mentally sluggish, and he stopped taking it.

“Some people call it ‘Stupamax’ because it makes you stupid,” said the sergeant, who asked not to be identified because he said using such medication carries a social stigma in the military.

Being slow — or even “stupid” — might not be a critical problem for some civilians. But it can be deadly for troops working with weapons or patrolling dangerous areas in a war zone, said Dr. John Newcomer, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a former fellow at the American Psychiatric Association.

“A drug that is really effective and it makes you feel happy and calm and sleepy … might be a great medication for the general population,” Newcomer said, “but that might not make sense for an infantryman in a combat arena.

“If it turns out that people on a certain combo are getting shot twice as often, you would start to worry if they were as ‘heads up’ as they should have been,” Newcomer said. “There is so much on the line, you’d really like to have more specific military data to inform the prescribing.”

Military doctors say they take a service member’s mission into consideration before prescribing.

“Obviously, one would be concerned about what the person does,” said Col. C.J. Diebold, chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. “If they have a desk job, that may factor in what medication you may be recommending for the patient [compared with] if they are out there and they have to be moving around and reacting fairly quickly.”

Off-label use

Little hard research has been done on such unique aspects of psychiatric drug usage in the military, particularly off-label usage.

A 2009 VA study found that 60 percent of veterans receiving antipsychotics were taking them for problems for which the drugs are not officially approved. For example, only two are approved for treating PTSD — Paxil and Zoloft, according to the Food and Drug Administration. But in actuality, doctors prescribe a range of drugs to treat PTSD symptoms.

To win FDA approval, drug makers must prove efficacy through rigorous and costly clinical trials. But approval determines only how a drug can be marketed; once a drug is approved for sale, doctors legally can prescribe it for any reason they feel appropriate.

Such off-label use comes with some risk, experts say.

“Patients may be exposed to drugs that have problematic side effects without deriving any benefit,” said Dr. Robert Rosenheck, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University who studied off-label drug use among veterans. “We just don’t know. There haven’t been very many studies.”

Some military psychiatrists are reluctant to prescribe off-label.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said Hicklin, the Army psychiatrist. “Medication can be overused. We need to use medication when indicated and we hope that we are all on the same page … with that.”

Combination’s of drugs pose another risk. Doctors note that most drugs are tested as a single treatment, not as one ingredient in a mixture of medications.

“In the case of poly-drug use – the ‘cocktail’ — where you are combining an antidepressant, an anticonvulsant, an antipsychotic, and maybe a stimulant to keep this guy awake — that has never been tested,” Breggin said.

Newcomer agreed. “When we go to the literature and try to find support for these complex cocktails, we’re not going to find it,” he said. “As the number of medications goes up, the probability of adverse events like hospitalization or death goes up exponentially.”

Looking for answers

Pinpointing the reasons for broad shifts in the military’s drug use today is difficult. Each doctor prescribes medications for the patient’s individual needs.

Nevertheless, many doctors in and outside the military point to several variables — some unique to the military, some not.

A close look at the data shows that use of the antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs, also known as “mood stabilizers,” are growing much faster than antidepressants. That may correlate to the challenges that deployed troops face when they arrive back home and begin to readjust to civilian social norms and family life.

“The ultimate effect of both of these drugs is to take the heightened arousal — the hypervigilance and all the emotions that served you once you were deployed — and help to turn that back down,” said Dr. Frank Ochberg, former associate director for the National Institute of Mental Health and a psychiatry professor at Michigan State University who reviewed the Military Times analysis.

Dr. Harry Holloway, a retired Army colonel and a psychiatry professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., said the increased use of these medications is simply another sign of deployment stress on the force.

“For a long time, the ops tempo has been completely unrelieved and unrestrained,” Holloway said. “When you have an increased ops tempo, and you have certain scheduling that will make it hard for everyone, you will produce a more symptomatic force. Most commanders understand that and they understand the tradeoffs.” Source

This is a long list. It is an accumulations of things that happen to ordinary people on drugs. Soldiers would have many of the same problems.

There are over 2,000 entries. They include

Suicides, Murders, Robberies, Hostage situations And other health related side affects.

4.8 Million Person Increase in Bipolar Disorder in Last 11 Years: Majority Due to SSRI Use

200,000 a Year Enter Hospital Due to Antidepressant- Induced Mania/ Psychosis: FDA Testimony

A few thousand reasons not to take Drugs

After you read it you may think twice about taking  meds.

Don’t Let the DEA Ban Recommending Medical Marijuana for Veterans

The DEA is preventing doctors at veteran’s hospitals from recommending medical marijuana to patients — even in the 14 states where medical marijuana is legal.

The Veterans Administration is taking advice from the DEA based on the federal government’s assertion that marijuana has no medicinal value. This especially tragic because of the widespread evidence that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder which is all too common among our veterans.

In fact, in New Mexico for example, PTSD is the most common affliction for patients enrolled in the state’s strictly regulated medical marijuana program.

But veterans who could benefit from medical marijuana, regardless of the legality in their own states, have to go outside the VA system and find new doctors just to learn about and try a potentially helpful medicine.

Sign this petition and tell the Obama administration that our veterans deserve better. They deserve to have doctors who practice medicine, not politics. Source

Give them Medical marijuana, it is much safer then pharmaceutical drugs.

Govt Knew Since 1974 Pot Could Cure Cancer

Pot Shows Promise Cure For Cancer

Who profits from WAR?

How Criminals Profit From War

Erroneous Reports Deny our Veterans Benefits

Another Gulf War Syndrome? Burn Pits


Destroying Educational Institutions or Using Them For Military Purposes Is A War Crime

Cheap Food Imports destroyed Haitian agriculture

Warning Facebook Strikes again, this time a Virus

American Civil Rights Org Fights Against Israeli Desecration of Ancient Cemetery

Britain expelled Israeli diplomat over fake passports used in Dubai

Canada: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Democracy

Attempted Citizen’s Arrest of Alleged War Criminal George W. Bush in a Canadian Court

‘Shocking the World believes same Iraq-style lies about Iran’

RT interviews German journalist Jurgen Elsaesser, author of the book “Iran: facts against Western propaganda”. He thinks Tehran has every right to produce nuclear energy. And fears that “extremist Israeli government could provoke war with Iran at any time”.

Seems Germany also does not have freedom of the press either.

Israeli Lobby is a problem even in Britian

Are we all going to sit Idily by and allow this to happen in Iran.

Pictures included. This is what the US has in mind for Iran,  with Israel pushing for war all the way. Be sure to check it out. These are the things the US does not want you to know. The horror of war is real.

Iran has done nothing wrong.  The comply with International Laws.

The US and Israel do not.

Both countries have committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

Iraq: I Should have called the link below ” Iraq a Picture is worth a Thousand words”.

Doctors report “unprecedented” rise in deformities, cancers in Iraq

The propeganda machine is hard at  work. The media is spewing out the same type of things used against Iraq. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction but they do have a lot of oil as does Iran.

Gaza (4): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Israel is a terrorist state. They cannot be trusted.

Why do people around the world believe anything the US or Israel says?

Both have a long history of lieing.

Why is everyone so gullible?

Why do we tolerate it?

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 8:43 pm  Comments Off on ‘Shocking the World believes same Iraq-style lies about Iran’  
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Traumatised British troops get payout pittance after Afghanistan and Iraq

November 15 2009

Soldiers whose lives have been shattered by the trauma of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are being given as little as £3,000 compensation after their medical discharge.

One victim, who saw his friend’s throat ripped out by a bomb blast, said he would have been better off if he was unemployed and on benefits. Another accused ministers of washing their hands of mentally ill servicemen and women.

Since November 2005 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid 155 mentally traumatised soldiers, who experience delusions, hallucinations, flashbacks and severe depression, an average of just under £6,000, according to official figures. Four others received payments above £9,075.

Sir John Major, the former prime minister, is so concerned by the low payouts that he has written to Gordon Brown to object in what aides describe as “the strongest possible terms”.

Charities, senior military and legal figures last week demanded changes to the compensation system in submissions to a government review.

The review was launched in August after disclosures by The Sunday Times that Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, was trying to cut compensation payouts through the courts.

Brigadier Ed Butler, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: “We have got one hell of a problem brewing up. Post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] needs to be fully recognised and adequately compensated. When you’re talking about £3,000 for someone who has got PTSD it’s not enough.”

In the past two years 4,916 cases of mental disorder have been identified in British troops who toured Afghanistan and Iraq, while 67 who served in the two war zones have committed suicide since 2003.

The true toll of mental illness is likely to be far higher. In the United States, commanders have stated that 30% of all troops deployed suffer from some form of PTSD.

Captain Neil Christie, a Royal Marine, developed PTSD after being posted to Afghanistan in 2006. In one instance he was asked to identify a friend who had been killed by friendly fire. He said: “His face was all gnarled, his back had been ripped apart and mutilated . He was just a distorted carcass.”

A convoy of his comrades were hit by a suicide bomber and Christie said: “One of my friends had his throat ripped out. We had to wash the blood from their vehicles and equipment afterwards.”

His abiding memory was of Afghan children treated at Camp Bastion after sustaining injuries by walking into mines: “I can never forget their faces, some of them were as young as five or six who had lost limbs. ”

On his return home in 2007 he struggled to adjust and was diagnosed with PTSD in January 2008. He received a £5,000 lump sum, £180 a month and no other benefits. If he was unemployed he would get £260 a month in income support.

Christie, 28, said: “I was disgusted, I felt like the army had washed their hands of me, they just didn’t care. I’d have been better off being unemployed. I would be out on a walk down in Devon by the sea cliffs and think about just jumping off.

“I had been to hell and couldn’t process all the mental and emotional shit that went with that.” Christie received intensive counselling from Talking2minds, a charity for traumatised soldiers. He now works for it as a counsellor.

Sean Chance, 21, was diagnosed with PTSD after serving as a trooper with the Queen’s Royal Hussars in Iraq. He lost half his left foot when a rocket pierced the armour of his Challenger 2 tank. He received just £6,000 for his post-traumatic stress, which was increased on appeal to £11,000. He now earns £90 a week mowing lawns.

He said: “We were under constant attack, you couldn’t sleep for the mortar bombing. These people hated us. I remember once standing next to a sergeant and he was shot in the chin. His face was this red, lumpy mess.

“The compensation was a massive insult. I feel like they have just paid me off and abandoned me. I can’t sleep, I feel depressed and angry.

“The MoD sent me to a counsellor who just wanted me to relive the trauma, which is the last thing I want to be doing. It did nothing for me.”

Peter Doolan, 28, was diagnosed with PTSD in 1999, after serving in Kosovo. Despite his illness he went on to serve in Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland and did two tours of Iraq.

Doolan, a father of three, was medically discharged in 2007. Under the old war pensions compensation system he receives just £60 a week. “I saw horrific stuff in Kosovo. We arrived in villages where everyone was dead. We had to dig bloody graves,” he said.

“In Iraq it was full throttle. Every time we went out we were attacked. Out of my company we lost six. I got to a point in Iraq where my battle partner was shot through the throat [and] I didn’t give a shit.”

Doolan has struggled to adapt to civilian life in Dereham, Norfolk. He sleeps alone in his son’s bed because he fears he will hit out at his wife in his sleep. He has suffered severe depression and also become prone to violence.

“If I get nervous or upset I can’t control the shaking. I will physically start throwing up. When I have nightmares, even though I know it’s a dream, I can’t wake myself up. I start kicking out and screaming.

“I have hallucinations. I see people, animals, mostly cats. I’ve even seen flowers grow out of my carpet. I’ve not been to a pub in 11 months. The last time, in January, at my granny’s funeral, I beat up three of my brothers.”

Doolan is furious with the level of compensation for PTSD: “They have no bloody idea what it’s like for us. I think they must hate soldiers.”

David Hill, chief of Combat Stress, the charity, said: “These are hidden wounds and the compensation scheme discriminates quite unjustly against people suffering from mental disorders.”

The MoD said veterans requiring mental health care receive “excellent support” from the National Health Service. Ainsworth pledged that the review into the compensation system would be “thorough and wide-ranging”.


Brown and companay will not take care of those who are injured or mentally ill but more then willing to send more to Afghanistan.

Brown: Britain Will Send More Troops to Afghanistan

By Sonja Pace
November 13 2009

Britain’s prime minister says the UK will send more troops to Afghanistan if other allies do the same. Speaking on British radio, BBC’s Radio Four, Gordon Brown said he’s confident of that support.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said British envoys are being sent out to talk with coalition partners and NATO allies to make the case for sending more troops to Afghanistan. For the rest go  here.

The  Treatment of Soldiers is appalling.

Wars for Oil,  Gas and pipelines.

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(Afghanistan 8) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

NATO bombings: Aftermath takes toll on Serbia, now left with DU Poisoning

Why: War in Iraq and Afghanistan

Published in: on November 15, 2009 at 7:31 am  Comments Off on Traumatised British troops get payout pittance after Afghanistan and Iraq  
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South Africans who fought for Israel in war on Gaza can be prosecuted for War Crimes

November 1, 2009

The Goldstone report on last winter’s Gaza war has become something of a fixture in the media since its publication in September.

But for South Africans, it is another investigation carried out by the distinguished judge Richard Goldstone – a commission that exposed the brutality of Apartheid security forces in the early 1990s – that looms large in their minds.

That investigation, which came as South Africa moved towards democracy, gave Goldstone hero status in the country.

Now a group of South African lawyers are confident that his recent Gaza report has paved the way for a legal case that could see uncomfortable questions about the conflict asked much closer to home.

They want to investigate South African citizens who may have fought for the Israeli army during the war on Gaza in December and January, with a view to prosecuting them on South African soil for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The lawyers are representing two civic organisations, The Media Review Network and the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance. Working from a Johannesburg office, they are building a case known as the Gaza docket which seeks to bring the South African soldiers to justice for their role in the Gaza war.

The lawyers are all Muslims, but deny they are only taking on the case to defend their co-religionists.

“This is not a Muslim-Jew thing. No religion condones the killing of innocents. No religion condones the killing of 1,400 people, or the use of white phosphorus on a civilian population,” says Feroze Boda, the group’s spokesman.

More than rumours

Boda is well-versed in all 3,500 pages of the Gaza docket and says he has presented the evidence to South Africa’s police and National Prosecution Authority.

“There’s always been rumours within the community in South Africa that local South African citizens fight in the IDF, and you would attend mass meetings for example and you would have spokespersons who would say they were interrogated at a border point or in Jerusalem by Israeli soldiers and that soldier spoke Afrikaans,” he said.

But legal cases, especially ones containing such explosive allegations, need to be based on more than hearsay to succeed.

The docket relies heavily on the testimony of UN workers, human rights groups, journalists, and doctors who treated the wounded. The information was gathered by the lawyers on a fact-finding mission to Egypt and Gaza earlier this year.

It features hundreds of pages that detail the aftermath of the use of white phosphorus in urban areas, eyewitness accounts of civilian casualties, and evidence of UN schools hit by Israel during the war. Crucially, the lawyers say the docket also contains evidence that South Africans took part in the fighting.

“We’ve identified about 75 South Africans who we believe served in the IDF at one point or the other,” Boda says.

“We believe that there is prima facae evidence against all of them. We have informants from South African police stations, whose identity we are currently protecting for their safety, who have pinpointed which of their fellow South African police force reservists went to Gaza to fight in the war. We have pictorial evidence as well.”

Evidence online

The lawyers say some of their evidence can be found on public profiles on social networking sites like Facebook.

Al Jazeera logged on to Facebook and quickly found photographs of South Africans proudly showing off their stints fighting for the Israeli army.

Pictures on Facebook show South Africans in GazaPictures on Facebook show South Africans in Gaza

One 23-year-old man from Johannesburg had posted photographs that made it clear he had fought in the Gaza war. And he is not alone.

There is a dizzying array of similar photographs on the website, featuring smiling young men striking gladiatorial poses with weapons that, according to Goldstone, belonged to an army committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Beneath the pictures are captions such as: “These are the presents we sent the Gaza residents daily.”

As a signatory to the Rome Statute, South Africa could theoretically arrest and prosecute these individuals for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity – which is why lawyers like Boda are confident they can set up a war crimes court in South Africa.

They have the backing of another South African legal heavyweight, John Dugard, the former UN special rapporteur for human rights, who is acting as legal counsel to the Gaza docket team.

One of the high profile targets for the lawyers is South African-born Lieutenant Colonel David Benjamin, who served as a legal advisor in the Israeli Military Advocates Corps during the war.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, has signaled that he too is keen to investigate Benjamin, who gave statements to the media in January hinting that he was one of the legal masterminds behind “Operation Cast Lead”. He has since distanced himself from those remarks.

Alternative charges

Even if war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be proven, there is another more obvious charge for South Africans who fought for Israel. A South African law, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, bars any citizen from fighting for a foreign force without express government permission.

South Africa’s most influential Jewish organisation, the Jewish Board of Deputies, strongly condemned the Goldstone report and has been quick to dismiss the Gaza docket.

They gave Al Jazeera a brief statement, insisting that they need time to talk to their lawyers. “While we believe that the ‘Gaza docket’ has no merit, we are investigating this further, and will provide more comment as soon as we have done so,” the statement said.

The war on Gaza may have taken place on a tiny, densely populated strip of land thousands of kilometres away, but Goldstone’s involvement in the subsequent investigations has meant that South Africa has already been touched by its repercussions.

If Feroze Boda and the other lawyers have their way, the next act in the drama of the war’s aftermath will be played out in South Africa’s courtrooms – and the Gaza docket will join the Goldstone commission as a landmark case that South Africans will remember for years to come.


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Gaza (1): A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

Israel: True Cost to U.S. Taxpayers

A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 8:26 pm  Comments Off on South Africans who fought for Israel in war on Gaza can be prosecuted for War Crimes  
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A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza

October 30, 2009

Palestinian’s involuntary return is the sixth in 10 days, says human rights group

By Ben Lynfield

A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza Strip by Israeli troops just two months before she was due to graduate from university.

Berlanty Azzam, 21, who was studying for a business degree at Bethlehem University, said she was coming home in a shared taxi from a job interview in Ramallah on Wednesday when soldiers at the “Container” checkpoint took her identity card and that of another passenger with a Gaza address.

After six hours of waiting, soldiers told her she would be taken to a detention centre in the southern West Bank, and she was handcuffed and blindfolded, she said.

“The driving took longer than it should have and I started to think something was wrong. I started to wonder, what are they doing to me?” After the car stopped and the blindfold was lifted, Ms Azzam saw she was at the Erez crossing to Gaza.

It was the sixth known forced return to Gaza of Palestinians stopped at the “Container” checkpoint – which is between Bethlehem and Abu Dis – in 10 days, according to the Israeli human rights group Gisha. Israel has also been preventing family reunifications in the West Bank for Palestinians with relatives living in Gaza, in effect forcing people to relocate to the Strip.

The steps are part of an Israeli policy of treating Gaza and the West Bank as two separate entities, thereby undermining the coherence of Palestinian claims for a state encompassing both territories. The 1993 Oslo agreement stipulates that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are to be treated as one territorial unit.

Major Guy Inbar, an Israeli defense ministry official, said the reason for Ms Azzam’s deportation was that she was “staying illegally” in the West Bank.

“We are talking about a Gaza citizen who requested permission to study in the area of Judea and Samaria and received a negative answer,” he said.

“In 2005, she was given a permit to visit Jerusalem for four days and she remained afterwards [in the West Bank] without any permit. Her entire period as a student was based on deceit and was against the law.”

Sari Bashi, head of the Israeli Gisha human rights group, who tried to intervene on Ms Azzam’s behalf, said she was assured by military lawyers on Wednesday that the student would not be deported to Gaza and that the rights group could seek a judicial review in the morning.

“The military misled us,” Ms Bashi said. “There is a violation here of the right to access education, the right to freedom of movement and the right to choose one’s place of residence within one’s own territory.”

The army did not respond to a request for comment.

Brother Jack Curran, vice president for development of Bethlehem University, termed the expulsion “a disgrace”. “This is not about politics. It’s about a young person finishing her degree. Since 2005 she has been studying as a good student. No one is a winner from this.”


Another innocent victim of Israels raciest policies towards Palestinians.

When is comes to  Human Rights Israel is a complete failure.

The only crime this young woman did was wanting an eduction. Other then that she did nothing wrong.

Berlanty Azzam, 21,was handcuffed and blindfoldedBerlanty Azzam, 21,was handcuffed and blindfolded

Now explain to this young woman why the rest of the world complacently stands by and allows this to happen.

She works all those years to get an education and two months short of graduating it is stolen from her by a Racist Government namely Israel.

Berlanty deserves the same right to an education, as do all young people

Foreign Government have no problem selling Weapons to Israel to kill murder and maim but never take into account Israels disregard for UN Resolution or Human Rights.  I guess it must be the profiteering factor. They certainly do not consider of the lives of Palestinians.

Imagine if this was done to your child. How would you feel?

The only thing Israel stands for is hate. Israel is consumed by hate.

That becomes more obvious every day. In over 61 years there has been nothing but hate, fear mongering and war come out of Israel.  On a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being the lowest on the scale of positive contributions to the world as a whole they get a minus 1 billion.  That is actually giving them the benefit if the doubt.  They have not contributed one positive attribute, what so ever. They are self indulgent bigot’s filled with hate towards others.

Even their treatment of other Jew’s is appalling.

Anyone who supports Zionist Israel should hang their heads in complete shame.  If anyone is a terrorist state it is Israel.

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Their treatment of migrant workers is also raciest,  no doubt in my mind whatsoever. They are treated more like slaves then employees.

New report highlights Israeli exploitation of migrant workers

Published in: on November 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm  Comments Off on A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza  
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(Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Afghanistan HungaryHungarian ISAF medics treat a wounded Afghan policeman at the Hungarian military base in Pul-e-Khumri, Baghlan province of Afghanistan, Saturday, July 11, 2009. Afghan police clashed with pro-Taliban fighters in the near by Baghlan Jalid Friday night. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)







AfghanistanA U.S. soldier stands guard as a snuffer dog checks following a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009.  A suicide car bomb attack on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

AfghanistanAn injured U.S. soldier is helped getting out following a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. A suicide car bomb attack Saturday on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

AfghanistanA U.S. soldier stands guard following a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009.  A suicide car bomb attack on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base . (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)


AFGHAN-VIOLENCE/EMBASSYVictims of a blast at the German embassy are driven to a hospital in the back of a truck in Kabul January 17, 2009. A suicide car bomb exploded outside the embassy and a U.S. base in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing three civilians, witnesses said. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

AfghanistanA wounded U.S. soldier is carried following a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009.  A suicide car bomb attack on a heavily guarded road between the German Embassy and a U.S. military base set the embassy on fire Saturday, killing an Afghan child and wounding 21 people, including five U.S. troops. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

AFGHAN-VIOLENCE/BLASTPeople carry a wounded U.S. soldier after a blast outside the German embassy in Kabul January 17, 2009. A suicide car bomb exploded outside the embassy and a U.S. base in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday, killing three civilians, witnesses said.    REUTERS/Omar Sobhani


AfghanistanAn Afghan officer walks towards a damaged U.S. Humvee armored vehicle after a car bomb suicide attack in Basoud district of Ningarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. The blast left no causalities, said Afghan police officials. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 8) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

AfghanistanIn this handout image released by U.S. army, Infantry Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team carry a wounded Stryker Soldier on a litter to be medically evacuated (MEDEVAC) after rolling over an anti-tank mine in Zabul  Province, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug 21, 2009. The MEDEVAC support team based near the same province is from Company C “DUSTOFF”, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The team was able to respond to the evacuation of the Soldier within 15 minutes of the incident. The Soldier suffered minor injuries to his back.(AP Photo/US Army)

AfghanistanCanadian soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) stand outside the provincial council office following suicide attacks in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, April 1, 2009. Three Taliban suicide bombers disguised in army uniforms stormed a government office in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday after a fourth detonated a car bomb, officials said. At least 17 people, including the four assailants, died. (AP Photo)

Fallen British SoldierBritish Soldiers grieving their fallen comrade




Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 6:04 pm  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 8) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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(Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

84577858_PB0013BLAST.JPGKABUL, AFGHANISTAN -February 01:  Afghan and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops examine the scene after a suicide car bomber hit a convoy of foreign troops on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, wounding two Afghan civilians and a French soldier, according to Afghan officials, February 1, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Independent Election Commission has postponed the country’s presidential election until August 20th, from late April, for security reasons.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

AfghanistanThe wrapped body parts of a lawmaker Dad Mohammad Khan and others who were with him are seen in a blanket on the back of a police vehicle following a roadside bomb in Helmand province south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, March 19, 2009. The lawmaker who was a vocal Taliban critic in Afghanistan’s insurgency-plagued south was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb, family and officials said. (AP Photo)

AFGHANISTAN ISAF Canadian soldiers of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) inspect the wreckage of a vehicle used in a suicide car bomb attack targeting a Canadian military convoy in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, 12 March 2008. A suicide attacker detonated his explosives-filled vehicle targeted at a Canadian military convoy killing an Afghan civilian and wounding four others, including a Canadian soldier, officials said. Around 2, 500 Canadian forces are stationed in the southern province of Kandahar, a strong-hold for Taliban militants, whose government was toppled in late 2001.  EPA/HUMAYOUN SHIAB


U.S. soldiers inspect near the wrecker of a car used by a suicide bomber in Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, March 21, 2009. A suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at a police checkpoint in Chaparhar district of eastern Nangarhar province where officers were searching cars, killing six people, including five civilians and one policeman, said police spokesman Gafor Khan. The blast also wounded four civilians and a policeman, he said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)









Rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks are seen at the Portward Logistic Terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008. Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Armed Forces, Police

(Afghanistan 9) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 8 ) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 7) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words


(Afghanistan 5) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 4) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 3) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 2) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

(Afghanistan 1) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm  Comments Off on (Afghanistan 6) A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words  
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“Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

“Exterminate all the Brutes”: Gaza 2009

January 20, 2009
By Noam Chomsky

On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

In his retrospective “Parsing Gains of Gaza War,” New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most significant of the gains. Israel calculated that it would be advantageous to appear to “go crazy,” causing vastly disproportionate terror, a doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. “The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day,” Bronner wrote, “when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza.” The tactic of “going crazy” appears to have been successful, Bronner concluded: there are “limited indications that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas,” the elected government. That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror. I don’t, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective “Parsing Gains of Chechnya War,” though the gains were great.

The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. To honor the holy day, Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine, while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted little if any notice. That makes sense. In the annals of US-Israeli criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a footnote. They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June 1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli “Defense” Forces). The bombing hit the local hospital – the Gaza hospital — and killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American Middle East academic specialist. The massacre was the opening act in an invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and diplomatic support. That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.

All of this is normal, and quite openly discussed by high Israeli officials. Thirty years ago Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur observed that since 1948, “we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities.” As Israel’s most prominent military analyst, Zeev Schiff, summarized his remarks, “the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously…the Army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets…[but] purposely attacked civilian targets.” The reasons were explained by the distinguished statesman Abba Eban: “there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.” The effect, as Eban well understood, would be to allow Israel to implement, undisturbed, its programs of illegal expansion and harsh repression. Eban was commenting on a review of Labor government attacks against civilians by Prime Minister Begin, presenting a picture, Eban said, “of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr.Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.” Eban did not contest the facts that Begin reviewed, but criticized him for stating them publicly. Nor did it concern Eban, or his admirers, that his advocacy of massive state terror is also reminiscent of regimes he would not dare to mention by name.

Eban’s justification for state terror is regarded as persuasive by respected authorities. As the current US-Israel assault raged, Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained that Israel’s tactics both in the current attack and in its invasion of Lebanon in 2006 are based on the sound principle of “trying to `educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population.” That makes sense on pragmatic grounds, as it did in Lebanon, where “the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.” And by similar logic, bin Laden’s effort to “educate” Americans on 9/11 was highly praiseworthy, as were the Nazi attacks on Lidice and Oradour, Putin’s destruction of Grozny, and other notable attempts at “education.”

Israel has taken pains to make clear its dedication to these guiding principles. NYT correspondent Stephen Erlanger reports that Israeli human rights groups are “troubled by Israel’s strikes on buildings they believe should be classified as civilian, like the parliament, police stations and the presidential palace” – and, we may add, villages, homes, densely populated refugee camps, water and sewage systems, hospitals, schools and universities, mosques, UN relief facilities, ambulances, and indeed anything that might relieve the pain of the unworthy victims. A senior Israeli intelligence officer explained that the IDF attacked “both aspects of Hamas — its resistance or military wing and its dawa, or social wing,” the latter a euphemism for the civilian society. “He argued that Hamas was all of a piece,” Erlanger continues, “and in a war, its instruments of political and social control were as legitimate a target as its rocket caches.” Erlanger and his editors add no comment about the open advocacy, and practice, of massive terrorism targeting civilians, though correspondents and columnists signal their tolerance or even explicit advocacy of war crimes, as noted. But keeping to the norm, Erlanger does not fail to stress that Hamas rocketing is “an obvious violation of the principle of discrimination and fits the classic definition of terrorism.”

Like others familiar with the region, Middle East specialist Fawwaz Gerges observes that “What Israeli officials and their American allies do not appreciate is that Hamas is not merely an armed militia but a social movement with a large popular base that is deeply entrenched in society.” Hence when they carry out their plans to destroy Hamas’s “social wing,” they are aiming to destroy Palestinian society.

Gerges may be too kind. It is highly unlikely that Israeli and American officials – or the media and other commentators – do not appreciate these facts. Rather, they implicitly adopt the traditional perspective of those who monopolize means of violence: our mailed fist can crush any opposition, and if our furious assault has a heavy civilian toll, that’s all to the good: perhaps the remnants will be properly educated.

IDF officers clearly understand that they are crushing the civilian society. Ethan Bronner quotes an Israeli Colonel who says that he and his men are not much “impressed with the Hamas fighters.” “They are villagers with guns,” said a gunner on an armored personnel carrier. They resemble the victims of the murderous IDF “iron fist” operations in occupied southern Lebanon in 1985, directed by Shimon Peres, one of the great terrorist commanders of the era of Reagan’s “War on Terror.” During these operations, Israeli commanders and strategic analysts explained that the victims were “terrorist villagers,” difficult to eradicate because “these terrorists operate with the support of most of the local population.” An Israeli commander complained that “the terrorist…has many eyes here, because he lives here,” while the military correspondent of the Jerusalem Post described the problems Israeli forces faced in combating the “terrorist mercenary,” “fanatics, all of whom are sufficiently dedicated to their causes to go on running the risk of being killed while operating against the IDF,” which must “maintain order and security” in occupied southern Lebanon despite “the price the inhabitants will have to pay.” The problem has been familiar to Americans in South Vietnam, Russians in Afghanistan, Germans in occupied Europe, and other aggressors that find themselves implementing the Gur-Eban-Friedman doctrine.

Gerges believes that US-Israeli state terror will fail: Hamas, he writes, “cannot be wiped out without massacring half a million Palestinians. If Israel succeeds in killing Hamas’s senior leaders, a new generation, more radical than the present, will swiftly replace them. Hamas is a fact of life. It is not going away, and it will not raise the white flag regardless of how many casualties it suffers.”

Perhaps, but there is often a tendency to underestimate the efficacy of violence. It is particularly odd that such a belief should be held in the United States. Why are we here?

Hamas is regularly described as “Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.” One will be hard put to find something like “democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus” — blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel, which flatly and explicitly reject the right of Palestinians to self-determination. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.

Such details as those mentioned earlier, though minor, nevertheless teach us something about ourselves and our clients. So do others. To mention another one, as the latest US-Israeli assault on Gaza began, a small boat, the Dignity, was on its way from Cyprus to Gaza. The doctors and human rights activists aboard intended to violate Israel’s criminal blockade and to bring medical supplies to the trapped population. The ship was intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval vessels, which rammed it severely, almost sinking it, though it managed to limp to Lebanon. Israel issued the routine lies, refuted by the journalists and passengers aboard, including CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul and former US representative and Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. That is a serious crime — much worse, for example, than hijacking boats off the coast of Somalia. It passed with little notice. The tacit acceptance of such crimes reflects the understanding that Gaza is occupied territory, and that Israel is entitled to maintain its siege, even authorized by the guardians of international order to carry out crimes on the high seas to implement its programs of punishing the civilian population for disobedience to its commands – under pretexts to which we return, almost universally accepted but clearly untenable.

The lack of attention again makes sense. For decades, Israel had been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel, including secret prison/torture chambers, to hold as hostages for many years. Since the practices are routine, why treat the new crime with more than a yawn? Cyprus and Lebanon reacted quite differently, but who are they in the scheme of things?

Who cares, for example, if the editors of Lebanon’s Daily Star, generally pro-Western, write that “Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being subjected to the murderous ministrations of one of the world’s most technologically advanced but morally regressive military machines. It is often suggested that the Palestinians have become to the Arab world what the Jews were to pre-World War II Europe, and there is some truth to this interpretation. How sickeningly appropriate, then, that just as Europeans and North Americans looked the other way when the Nazis were perpetrating the Holocaust, the Arabs are finding a way to do nothing as the Israelis slaughter Palestinian children.” Perhaps the most shameful of the Arab regimes is the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the beneficiary of most US military aid, apart from Israel.

According to the Lebanese press, Israel still “routinely abducts Lebanese civilians from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line [the international border], most recently in December 2008.” And of course “Israeli planes violate Lebanese airspace on a daily basis in violation of UN Resolution 1701” (Lebanese scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, Daily Star, Jan. 13). That too has been happening for a long time. In condemning Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the prominent Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz wrote in the Israeli press that “Israel has violated Lebanese airspace by carrying out aerial reconnaissance missions virtually every day since its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon six years ago. True, these aerial overflights did not cause any Lebanese casualties, but a border violation is a border violation. Here too, Israel does not hold a higher moral ground.” And in general, there is no basis for the “wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that the war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a just and moral war,” a consensus “based on selective and short-term memory, on an introvert world view, and on double standards. This is not a just war, the use of force is excessive and indiscriminate, and its ultimate aim is extortion.”

As Maoz also reminds his Israeli readers, overflights with sonic booms to terrorize Lebanese are the least of Israeli crimes in Lebanon, even apart from its five invasions since 1978: “On July 28, 1988 Israeli Special Forces abducted Sheikh Obeid, and on May 21, 1994 Israel abducted Mustafa Dirani, who was responsible for capturing the Israeli pilot Ron Arad [when he was bombing Lebanon in 1986]. Israel held these and other 20 Lebanese who were captured under undisclosed circumstances in prison for prolonged periods without trial. They were held as human `bargaining chips.’ Apparently, abduction of Israelis for the purpose of prisoners’ exchange is morally reprehensible, and militarily punishable when it is the Hezbollah who does the abducting, but not if Israel is doing the very same thing,” and on a far grander scale and over many years.

Israel’s regular practices are significant even apart from what they reveal about Israeli criminality and Western support for it. As Maoz indicates, these practices underscore the utter hypocrisy of the standard claim that Israel had the right to invade Lebanon once again in 2006 when soldiers were captured at the border, the first cross-border action by Hezbollah in the six years since Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which it occupied in violation of Security Council orders going back 22 years, while during these six years Israel violated the border almost daily with impunity, and silence here.

The hypocrisy is, again, routine. Thus Thomas Friedman, while explaining how the lesser breeds are to be “educated” by terrorist violence, writes that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, once again destroying much of southern Lebanon and Beirut while killing another 1000 civilians, was a just act of self-defense, responding to Hezbollah’s crime of “launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon.” Putting aside the deceit, by the same logic, terrorist attacks against Israelis that are far more destructive and murderous than any that have taken place would be fully justified in response to Israel’s criminal practices in Lebanon and on the high seas, which vastly exceed Hezbollah’s crime of capturing two soldiers at the border. The veteran Middle East specialist of the New York Times surely knows about these crimes, at least if he reads his own newspaper: for example, the 18th paragraph of a story on prisoner exchange in November 1983 which observes, casually, that 37 of the Arab prisoners “had been seized recently by the Israeli Navy as they tried to make their way from Cyprus to Tripoli,” north of Beirut.

Of course all such conclusions about appropriate actions against the rich and powerful are based on a fundamental flaw: This is us, and that is them. This crucial principle, deeply embedded in Western culture, suffices to undermine even the most precise analogy and the most impeccable reasoning.

As I write, another boat is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, “carrying urgently needed medical supplies in sealed boxes, cleared by customs at the Larnaca International Airport and the Port of Larnaca,” the organizers report. Passengers include members of European Parliaments and physicians. Israel has been notified of their humanitarian intent. With sufficient popular pressure, they might achieve their mission in peace.

The new crimes that the US and Israel have been committing in Gaza in the past weeks do not fit easily into any standard category – except for the category of familiarity; I’ve just given several examples, and will return to others. Literally, the crimes fall under the official US government definition of “terrorism,” but that designation does not capture their enormity. They cannot be called “aggression,” because they are being conducted in occupied territory, as the US tacitly concedes. In their comprehensive scholarly history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Lords of the Land, Idit Zertal and Akiva Eldar point out that after Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in August 2005, the ruined territory was not released “for even a single day from Israel’s military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day… Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future. The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might” – exercised with extreme savagery, thanks to firm US support and participation.

The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the Master, who continues to prate of his “yearning for democracy,” without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.

Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology – used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality. Also a minor technicality is the fact that on December 31, while terrorized Gazans were desperately seeking shelter from the ruthless assault, Washington hired a German merchant ship to transport from Greece to Israel a huge shipment, 3000 tons, of unidentified “ammunition.” The new shipment “follows the hiring of a commercial ship to carry a much larger consignment of ordnance in December from the United States to Israel ahead of air strikes in the Gaza Strip,” Reuters reported. All of this is separate from the more than $21 billion in U.S. military aid provided by the Bush administration to Israel, almost all grants. “Israel’s intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars,” said a briefing by the New America Foundation, which monitors the arms trade. The new shipment was hampered by the decision of the Greek government to bar the use of any port in Greece “for the supplying of the Israeli army.”

Greece’s response to US-backed Israeli crimes is rather different from the craven performance of the leaders of most of Europe. The distinction reveals that Washington may have been quite realistic in regarding Greece as part of the Near East, not Europe, until the overthrow of its US-backed fascist dictatorship in 1974. Perhaps Greece is just too civilized to be part of Europe.

Were anyone to find the timing of the arms deliveries to Israel curious, and inquire further, the Pentagon has an answer: the shipment would arrive too late to escalate the Gaza attack, and the military equipment, whatever it may be, is to be pre-positioned in Israel for eventual use by the US military. That may be accurate. One of the many services that Israel performs for its patron is to provide it with a valuable military base at the periphery of the world’s major energy resources. It can therefore serve as a forward base for US aggression – or to use the technical terms, to “defend the Gulf” and “ensure stability.”

The huge flow of arms to Israel serves many subsidiary purposes. Middle East policy analyst Mouin Rabbani observes that Israel can test newly developed weapons systems against defenseless targets. This is of value to Israel and the US “twice over, in fact, because less effective versions of these same weapons systems are subsequently sold at hugely inflated prices to Arab states, which effectively subsidizes the U.S. weapons industry and U.S. military grants to Israel.” These are additional functions of Israel in the US-dominated Middle East system, and among the reasons why Israel is so favored by the state authorities, along with a wide range of US high-tech corporations, and of course military industry and intelligence.

Israel apart, the US is by far the world’s major arms supplier. The recent New America Foundation report concludes that “U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world’s 27 major wars in 2007,” earning the US $23 billion in receipts, increasing to $32 billion in 2008. Small wonder that among the numerous UN resolutions that the US opposed in the December 2008 UN session was one calling for regulation of the arms trade. In 2006, the US was alone in voting against the treaty, but in November 2008 it was joined by a partner: Zimbabwe.

There were other notable votes at the December UN session. A resolution on “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” was adopted by 173 to 5 (US, Israel, Pacific island dependencies). The vote strongly reaffirms US-Israeli rejectionism, in international isolation. Similarly a resolution on “universal freedom of travel and the vital importance of family reunification” was adopted with US, Israel, and Pacific dependencies opposed, presumably with Palestinians in mind.

In voting against the right to development the US lost Israel but gained Ukraine. In voting against the “right to food,” the US was alone, a particular striking fact in the face of the enormous global food crisis, dwarfing the financial crisis that threatens western economies.

There are good reasons why the voting record is consistently unreported and dispatched deep into the memory hole by the media and conformist intellectuals. It would not be wise to reveal to the public what the record implies about their elected representatives. In the present case it would plainly be unhelpful to let the public know that US-Israeli rejectionism, barring the peaceful settlement long advocated by the world, reaches such an extreme as to deny Palestinians even the abstract right to self-determination.

One of the heroic volunteers in Gaza, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, described the scene of horror as an “All out war against the civilian population of Gaza.” He estimated that half the casualties are women and children. The men are almost all civilians as well, by civilized standards. Gilbert reports that he had scarcely seen a military casualty among the 100s of bodies. The IDF concurs. Hamas “made a point of fighting at a distance — or not at all,” Ethan Bronner reports while “parsing the gains” of the US-Israeli assault. So Hamas’s manpower remains intact, and it was mostly civilians who suffered pain: a positive outcome, according to widely-held doctrine.

These estimates were confirmed by UN humanitarian chief John Holmes, who informed reporters that it is “a fair presumption” that most of the civilians killed were women and children in a humanitarian crisis that is “worsening day by day as the violence continues.” But we could be comforted by the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the leading dove in the current electoral campaign, who assured the world that there is no “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, thanks to Israeli benevolence.

Like others who care about human beings and their fate, Gilbert and Holmes pleaded for a ceasefire. But not yet. “At the United Nations, the United States prevented the Security Council from issuing a formal statement on Saturday night calling for an immediate ceasefire,” the New York Times mentioned in passing. The official reason was that “there was no indication Hamas would abide by any agreement.” In the annals of justifications for delighting in slaughter, this must rank among the most cynical. That of course was Bush and Rice, soon to be displaced by Obama who compassionately repeats that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He is referring to Israeli children, not the many hundreds being torn to shreds in Gaza by US arms. Beyond that Obama maintained his silence.

A few days later, under intense international pressure, the US backed a Security Council resolution calling for a “durable ceasefire.” It passed 14-0, US abstaining. Israel and US hawks were angered that the US did not veto it, as usual. The abstention, however, sufficed to give Israel if not a green at least a yellow light to escalate the violence, as it did right up to virtually the moment of the inauguration, as had been predicted.

As the ceasefire (theoretically) went into effect on January18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released its figures for the final day of the assault: 54 Palestinians killed including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children, while the IDF continued to bombard civilian homes and UN schools. The death toll, they estimated, mounted to 1,184, including 844 civilians, 281 of them children. The IDF continued to use incendiary bombs across the Gaza Strip, and to destroy houses and agricultural land, forcing civilians to flee their homes. A few hours later, Reuters reported more than 1,300 killed. The staff of the Al Mezan Center, which also carefully monitors casualties and destruction, visited areas that had previously been inaccessible because of incessant heavy bombardment. They discovered dozens of civilian corpses decomposing under the rubble of destroyed houses or removed by Israeli bulldozers. Entire urban blocks had disappeared.

The figures for killed and wounded are surely an underestimate. And it is unlikely that there will be any inquiry into these atrocities. Crimes of official enemies are subjected to rigorous investigation, but our own are systematically ignored. General practice, again, and understandable on the part of the masters.

The Security Council Resolution called for stopping the flow of arms into Gaza. The US and Israel (Rice-Livni) soon reached an agreement on measures to ensure this result, concentrating on Iranian arms. There is no need to stop smuggling of US arms into Israel, because there is no smuggling: the huge flow of arms is quite public, even when not reported, as in the case of the arms shipment announced as the slaughter in Gaza was proceeding.

The Resolution also called for “ensur[ing] the sustained re-opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel”; that Agreement determined that crossings to Gaza would be operated on a continuous basis and that Israel would also allow the crossing of goods and people between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Rice-Livni agreement had nothing to say about this aspect of the Security Council Resolution. The US and Israel had in fact already abandoned the 2005 Agreement as part of their punishment of Palestinians for voting the wrong way in a free election in January 2006. Rice’s press conference after the Rice-Livni agreement emphasized Washington’s continuing efforts to undermine the results of the one free election in the Arab world: “There is much that can be done,” she said, “to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas’s reign and into the light of the very good governance the Palestinian Authority can bring” – at least, can bring as long as it remains a loyal client, rife with corruption and willing to carry out harsh repression, but obedient.

Returning from a visit to the Arab world, Fawwaz Gerges strongly affirmed what others on the scene have reported. The effect of the US-Israeli offensive in Gaza has been to infuriate the populations and to arouse bitter hatred of the aggressors and their collaborators. “Suffice it to say that the so-called moderate Arab states [that is, those that take their orders from Washington] are on the defensive, and that the resistance front led by Iran and Syria is the main beneficiary. Once again, Israel and the Bush administration have handed the Iranian leadership a sweet victory.” Furthermore, “Hamas will likely emerge as a more powerful political force than before and will likely top Fatah, the ruling apparatus of President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority,” Rice’s favorites.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab world is not scrupulously protected from the only regular live TV coverage of what is happening in Gaza, namely the “calm and balanced analysis of the chaos and destruction” provided by the outstanding correspondents of al-Jazeera, offering “a stark alternative to terrestrial channels,” as reported by the London Financial Times. In the 105 countries lacking our efficient modalities of self-censorship, people can see what is happening hourly, and the impact is said to be very great. In the US, the New York Times reports, “the near-total blackout…is no doubt related to the sharp criticism Al Jazeera received from the United States government during the initial stages of the war in Iraq for its coverage of the American invasion.” Cheney and Rumsfeld objected, so, obviously, the independent media could only obey.

There is much sober debate about what the attackers hoped to achieve. Some of objectives are commonly discussed, among them, restoring what is called “the deterrent capacity” that Israel lost as a result of its failures in Lebanon in 2006 – that is, the capacity to terrorize any potential opponent into submission. There are, however, more fundamental objectives that tend be ignored, though they too seem fairly obvious when we take a look at recent history.

Israel abandoned Gaza in September 2005. Rational Israeli hardliners, like Ariel Sharon, the patron saint of the settlers movement, understood that it was senseless to subsidize a few thousand illegal Israeli settlers in the ruins of Gaza, protected by the IDF while they used much of the land and scarce resources. It made more sense to turn Gaza into the world’s largest prison and to transfer settlers to the West Bank, much more valuable territory, where Israel is quite explicit about its intentions, in word and more importantly in deed. One goal is to annex the arable land, water supplies, and pleasant suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that lie within the separation wall, irrelevantly declared illegal by the World Court. That includes a vastly expanded Jerusalem, in violation of Security Council orders that go back 40 years, also irrelevant. Israel has also been taking over the Jordan Valley, about one-third of the West Bank. What remains is therefore imprisoned, and, furthermore, broken into fragments by salients of Jewish settlement that trisect the territory: one to the east of Greater Jerusalem through the town of Ma’aleh Adumim, developed through the Clinton years to split the West Bank; and two to the north, through the towns of Ariel and Kedumim. What remains to Palestinians is segregated by hundreds of mostly arbitrary checkpoints.

The checkpoints have no relation to security of Israel, and if some are intended to safeguard settlers, they are flatly illegal, as the World Court ruled. In reality, their major goal is harass the Palestinian population and to fortify what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control,” designed to make life unbearable for the “two-legged beasts” who will be like “drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle” if they seek to remain in their homes and land. All of that is fair enough, because they are “like grasshoppers compared to us” so that their heads can be “smashed against the boulders and walls.” The terminology is from the highest Israeli political and military leaders, in this case the revered “princes.” And the attitudes shape policies.

The ravings of the political and military leaders are mild as compared to the preaching of rabbinical authorities. They are not marginal figures. On the contrary, they are highly influential in the army and in the settler movement, who Zertal and Eldar reveal to be “lords of the land,” with enormous impact on policy. Soldiers fighting in northern Gaza were afforded an “inspirational” visit from two leading rabbis, who explained to them that there are no “innocents” in Gaza, so everyone there is a legitimate target, quoting a famous passage from Psalms calling on the Lord to seize the infants of Israel’s oppressors and dash them against the rocks. The rabbis were breaking no new ground. A year earlier, the former chief Sephardic rabbi wrote to Prime Minister Olmert, informing him that all civilians in Gaza are collectively guilty for rocket attacks, so that there is “absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings,” as the Jerusalem Post reported his ruling. His son, chief rabbi of Safed, elaborated: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand, and if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Similar views are expressed by prominent American secular figures. When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz explained in the liberal online journal Huffington Post that all Lebanese are legitimate targets of Israeli violence. Lebanon’s citizens are “paying the price” for supporting “terrorism” – that is, for supporting resistance to Israel’s invasion. Accordingly, Lebanese civilians are no more immune to attack than Austrians who supported the Nazis. The fatwa of the Sephardic rabbi applies to them. In a video on the Jerusalem Post website, Dershowitz went on to ridicule talk of excessive kill ratios of Palestinians to Israelis: it should be increased to 1000-to-one, he said, or even 1000-to-zero, meaning the brutes should be completely exterminated. Of course, he is referring to “terrorists,” a broad category that includes the victims of Israeli power, since “Israel never targets civilians,” he emphatically declared. It follows that Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, in fact anyone who gets in the way of the ruthless armies of the Holy State is a terrorist, or an accidental victim of their just crimes.

It is not easy to find historical counterparts to these performances. It is perhaps of some interest that they are considered entirely appropriate in the reigning intellectual and moral culture – when they are produced on “our side,” that is; from the mouths of official enemies such words would elicit righteous outrage and calls for massive preemptive violence in revenge.

The claim that “our side” never targets civilians is familiar doctrine among those who monopolize the means of violence. And there is some truth to it. We do not generally try to kill particular civilians. Rather, we carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians, but without specific intent to kill particular ones. In law, the routine practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and doctrine. It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low that it just doesn’t matter. The same is true when Israel carries out actions that it knows will kill the “grasshoppers” and “two-legged beasts” who happen to infest the lands it “liberates.” There is no good term for this form of moral depravity, arguably worse than deliberate murder, and all too familiar.

In the former Palestine, the rightful owners (by divine decree, according to the “lords of the land”) may decide to grant the drugged roaches a few scattered parcels. Not by right, however: “I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land,” Prime Minister Olmert informed a joint session of Congress in May 2006 to rousing applause. At the same time he announced his “convergence” program for taking over what is valuable in the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians to rot in isolated cantons. He was not specific about the borders of the “entire land,” but then, the Zionist enterprise never has been, for good reasons: permanent expansion is a very important internal dynamic. If Olmert is still faithful to his origins in Likud, he may have meant both sides of the Jordan, including the current state of Jordan, at least valuable parts of it.

Our people’s “eternal and historic right to this entire land” contrasts dramatically with the lack of any right of self-determination for the temporary inhabitants, the Palestinians. As noted earlier, the latter stand was reiterated by Israel and its patron in Washington in December 2008, in their usual isolation and accompanied by resounding silence.

The plans that Olmert sketched in 2006 have since been abandoned as not sufficiently extreme. But what replaces the convergence program, and the actions that proceed daily to implement it, are approximately the same in general conception. They trace back to the earliest days of the occupation, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan explained poetically that “the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the girl he kidnaps against his will…You Palestinians, as a nation, don’t want us today, but we’ll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you.” You will “live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave,” while we take what we want.

That these programs are criminal has never been in doubt. Immediately after the 1967 war, the Israeli government was informed by its highest legal authority, Teodor Meron, that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the foundation of international humanitarian law. Israel’s Justice Minister concurred. The World Court unanimously endorsed the essential conclusion in 2004, and the Israeli High Court technically agreed while disagreeing in practice, in its usual style.

In the West Bank, Israel can pursue its criminal programs with US support and no disturbance, thanks to its effective military control and by now the cooperation of the collaborationist Palestinian security forces armed and trained by the US and allied dictatorships. It can also carry out regular assassinations and other crimes, while settlers rampage under IDF protection. But while the West Bank has been effectively subdued by terror, there is still resistance in the other half of Palestine, the Gaza Strip. That too must be quelled for the US-Israeli programs of annexation and destruction of Palestine to proceed undisturbed.

Hence the invasion of Gaza.

The timing of the invasion was presumably influenced by the coming Israeli election. Ehud Barak, who was lagging badly in the polls, gained one parliamentary seat for every 40 Arabs killed in the early days of the slaughter, Israeli commentator Ran HaCohen calculated.

That may change, however. As the crimes passed beyond what the carefully honed Israeli propaganda campaign was able to suppress, even confirmed Israeli hawks became concerned that the carnage is “Destroying [Israel’s] soul and its image. Destroying it on world television screens, in the living rooms of the international community and most importantly, in Obama’s America” (Ari Shavit). Shavit was particularly concerned about Israel’s “shelling a United Nations facility…on the day when the UN secretary general is visiting Jerusalem,” an act that is “beyond lunacy,” he felt.

Adding a few details, the “facility” was the UN compound in Gaza City, which contained the UNRWA warehouse. The shelling destroyed “hundreds of tons of emergency food and medicines set for distribution today to shelters, hospitals and feeding centres,” according to UNRWA director John Ging. Military strikes at the same time destroyed two floors of the al-Quds hospital, setting it ablaze, and also a second warehouse run by the Palestinian Red Crescent society. The hospital in the densely-populated Tal-Hawa neighbourhood was destroyed by Israeli tanks “after hundreds of frightened Gazans had taken shelter inside as Israeli ground forces pushed into the neighbourhood,” AP reported.

There was nothing left to salvage inside the smoldering ruins of the hospital. “They shelled the building, the hospital building. It caught fire. We tried to evacuate the sick people and the injured and the people who were there. Firefighters arrived and put out the fire, which burst into flames again and they put it out again and it came back for the third time,” paramedic Ahmad Al-Haz told AP. It was suspected that the blaze might have been set by white phosphorous, also suspected in numerous other fires and serious burn injuries.

The suspicions were confirmed by Amnesty International after the cessation of the intense bombardment made inquiry possible. Before, Israel had sensibly barred all journalists, even Israeli, while its crimes were proceeding in full fury. Israel’s use of white phosphorus against Gaza civilians is “clear and undeniable,” AI reported. Its repeated use in densely populated civilian areas “is a war crime,” AI concluded. They found white phosphorus edges scattered around residential buildings, still burning, “further endangering the residents and their property,” particularly children “drawn to the detritus of war and often unaware of the danger.” Primary targets, they report, were the UNRWA compound, where the Israeli “white phosphorus landed next to some fuel trucks and caused a large fire which destroyed tons of humanitarian aid” after Israeli authorities “had given assurance that no further strikes would be launched on the compound.” On the same day, “a white phosphorus shell landed in the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City also causing a fire which forced hospital staff to evacuate the patients… White phosphorus landing on skin can burn deep through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn unless deprived of oxygen.” Purposely intended or beyond depraved indifference, such crimes are inevitable when this weapon is used in attacks on civilians.

It is, however, a mistake to concentrate too much on Israel’s gross violations of jus in bello, the laws designed to bar practices that are too savage. The invasion itself is a far more serious crime. And if Israel had inflicted the horrendous damage by bows and arrows, it would still be a criminal act of extreme depravity.

Aggression always has a pretext: in this case, that Israel’s patience had “run out” in the face of Hamas rocket attacks, as Barak put it. The mantra that is endlessly repeated is that Israel has the right to use force to defend itself. The thesis is partially defensible. The rocketing is criminal, and it is true that a state has the right to defend itself against criminal attacks. But it does not follow that it has a right to defend itself by force. That goes far beyond any principle that we would or should accept. Nazi Germany had no right to use force to defend itself against the terrorism of the partisans. Kristallnacht is not justified by Herschel Grynszpan’s assassination of a German Embassy official in Paris. The British were not justified in using force to defend themselves against the (very real) terror of the American colonists seeking independence, or to terrorize Irish Catholics in response to IRA terror – and when they finally turned to the sensible policy of addressing legitimate grievances, the terror ended. It is not a matter of “proportionality,” but of choice of action in the first place: Is there an alternative to violence?

Any resort to force carries a heavy burden of proof, and we have to ask whether it can be met in the case of Israel’s effort to quell any resistance to its daily criminal actions in Gaza and in the West Bank, where they still continue relentlessly after more than 40 years. Perhaps I may quote myself in an interview in the Israeli press on Olmert’s announced convergence plans for the West Bank: “The US and Israel do not tolerate any resistance to these plans, preferring to pretend – falsely of course – that `there is no partner,’ as they proceed with programs that go back a long way. We may recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so if resistance to the US-Israeli annexation-cantonization programs is legitimate in the West Bank, it is in Gaza too.”

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah observed that “There are no rockets launched at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel’s extrajudicial killings, land theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never stopped for a day during the truce. The western-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has acceded to all Israel’s demands. Under the proud eye of United States military advisors, Abbas has assembled `security forces’ to fight the resistance on Israel’s behalf. None of that has spared a single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israel’s relentless colonization” – thanks to firm US backing. The respected Palestinian parliamentarian Dr. Mustapha Barghouti adds that after Bush’s Annapolis extravaganza in November 2007, with much uplifting rhetoric about dedication to peace and justice, Israeli attacks on Palestinians escalated sharply, with an almost 50% increase in the West Bank, along with a sharp increase in settlements and Israeli check points. Obviously these criminal actions are not a response to rockets from Gaza, though the converse may well be the case, Barghouti plausibly suggests.

The reactions to crimes of an occupying power can be condemned as criminal and politically foolish, but those who offer no alternative have no moral grounds to issue such judgments. The conclusion holds with particular force for those in the US who choose to be directly implicated in Israel’s ongoing crimes — by their words, their actions, or their silence. All the more so because there are very clear non-violent alternatives – which, however, have the disadvantage that they bar the programs of illegal expansion.

Israel has a straightforward means to defend itself: put an end to its criminal actions in occupied territories, and accept the long-standing international consensus on a two-state settlement that has been blocked by the US and Israel for over 30 years, since the US first vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a political settlement in these terms in 1976. I will not once again run through the inglorious record, but it is important to be aware that US-Israeli rejectionism today is even more blatant than in the past. The Arab League has gone even beyond the consensus, calling for full normalization of relations with Israel. Hamas has repeatedly called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus. Iran and Hezbollah have made it clear that they will abide by any agreement that Palestinians accept. That leaves the US-Israel in splendid isolation, not only in words.

The more detailed record is informative. The Palestinian National Council formally accepted the international consensus in 1988. The response of the Shamir-Peres coalition government, affirmed by James Baker’s State Department, was that there cannot be an “additional Palestinian state” between Israel and Jordan – the latter already a Palestinian state by US-Israeli dictate. The Oslo accords that followed put to the side potential Palestinian national rights, and the threat that they might be realized in some meaningful form was systematically undermined through the Oslo years by Israel’s steady expansion of illegal settlements. Settlement accelerated in 2000, President Clinton’s and Prime Minister Barak’s last year, when negotiations took place at Camp David against that background.

After blaming Yassir Arafat for the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations, Clinton backtracked, and recognized that the US-Israeli proposals were too extremist to be acceptable to any Palestinian. In December 2000, he presented his “parameters,” vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, while both expressed reservations. The two sides met in Taba Egypt in January 2001 and came very close to an agreement, and would have been able to do so in a few more days, they said in their final press conference. But the negotiations were cancelled prematurely by Ehud Barak. That week in Taba is the one break in over 30 years of US-Israeli rejectionism. There is no reason why that one break in the record cannot be resumed.

The preferred version, recently reiterated by Ethan Bronner, is that “Many abroad recall Mr. Barak as the prime minister who in 2000 went further than any Israeli leader in peace offers to the Palestinians, only to see the deal fail and explode in a violent Palestinian uprising that drove him from power.” It’s true that “many abroad” believe this deceitful fairy tale, thanks to what Bronner and too many of his colleagues call “journalism”.

It is commonly claimed that a two-state solution is now unattainable because if the IDF tried to remove settlers, it would lead to a civil war. That may be true, but much more argument is needed. Without resorting to force to expel illegal settlers, the IDF could simply withdraw to whatever boundaries are established by negotiations. The settlers beyond those boundaries would have the choice of leaving their subsidized homes to return to Israel, or to remain under Palestinian authority. The same was true of the carefully staged “national trauma” in Gaza in 2005, so transparently fraudulent that it was ridiculed by Israeli commentators. It would have sufficed for Israel to announce that the IDF would withdraw, and the settlers who were subsidized to enjoy their life in Gaza would have quietly climbed into the lorries provided to them and travelled to their new subsidized residences in the West Bank. But that would not have produced tragic photos of agonized children and passionate calls of “never again.”

To summarize, contrary to the claim that is constantly reiterated, Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against rockets from Gaza, even if they are regarded as terrorist crimes. Furthermore, the reasons are transparent. The pretext for launching the attack is without merit.

There is also a narrower question. Does Israel have peaceful short-term alternatives to the use of force in response to rockets from Gaza. One short-term alternative would be to accept a ceasefire. Sometimes Israel has done so, while instantly violating it. The most recent and currently relevant case is June 2008. The ceasefire called for opening the border crossings to “allow the transfer of all goods that were banned and restricted to go into Gaza.” Israel formally agreed, but immediately announced that it would not abide by the agreement and open the borders until Hamas released Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006.

The steady drumbeat of accusations about the capture of Shalit is, again, blatant hypocrisy, even putting aside Israel’s long history of kidnapping. In this case, the hypocrisy could not be more glaring. One day before Hamas captured Shalit, Israeli soldiers entered Gaza City and kidnapped two civilians, the Muammar brothers, bringing them to Israel to join the thousands of other prisoners held there, almost 1000 reportedly without charge. Kidnapping civilians is a far more serious crime than capturing a soldier of an attacking army, but it was barely reported in contrast to the furor over Shalit. And all that remains in memory, blocking peace, is the capture of Shalit, another reflection of the difference between humans and two-legged beasts. Shalit should be returned – in a fair prisoner exchange.

It was after the capture of Shalit that Israel’s unrelenting military attack against Gaza passed from merely vicious to truly sadistic. But it is well to recall that even before his capture, Israel had fired more than 7,700 shells at northern Gaza after its September withdrawal, eliciting virtually no comment.

After rejecting the June 2008 ceasefire it had formally accepted, Israel maintained its siege. We may recall that a siege is an act of war. In fact, Israel has always insisted on an even stronger principle: hampering access to the outside world, even well short of a siege, is an act of war, justifying massive violence in response. Interference with Israel’s passage through the Straits of Tiran was part of the pretext for Israel’s invasion of Egypt (with France and England) in 1956, and for its launching of the June 1967 war. The siege of Gaza is total, not partial, apart from occasional willingness of the occupiers to relax it slightly. And it is vastly more harmful to Gazans than closing the Straits of Tiran was to Israel. Supporters of Israeli doctrines and actions should therefore have no problem justifying rocket attacks on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip.

Of course, again we run into the nullifying principle: This is us, that is them.

Israel not only maintained the siege after June 2008, but did so with extreme rigor. It even prevented UNRWA from replenishing its stores, “so when the ceasefire broke down, we ran out of food for the 750,000 who depend on us,” UNRWA director John Ging informed the BBC.

Despite the Israeli siege, rocketing sharply reduced. The ceasefire broke down on November 4 with an Israeli raid into Gaza, leading to the death of 6 Palestinians, and a retaliatory barrage of rockets (with no injuries). The pretext for the raid was that Israel had detected a tunnel in Gaza that might have been intended for use to capture another Israeli soldier. The pretext is transparently absurd, as a number of commentators have noted. If such a tunnel existed, and reached the border, Israel could easily have barred it right there. But as usual, the ludicrous Israeli pretext was deemed credible.

What was the reason for the Israeli raid? We have no internal evidence about Israeli planning, but we do know that the raid came shortly before scheduled Hamas-Fatah talks in Cairo aimed at “reconciling their differences and creating a single, unified government,” British correspondent Rory McCarthy reported. That was to be the first Fatah-Hamas meeting since the June 2007 civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza, and would have been a significant step towards advancing diplomatic efforts. There is a long history of Israel provocations to deter the threat of diplomacy, some already mentioned. This may have been another one.

The civil war that left Hamas in control of Gaza is commonly described as a Hamas military coup, demonstrating again their evil nature. The real world is a little different. The civil war was incited by the US and Israel, in a crude attempt at a military coup to overturn the free elections that brought Hamas to power. That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose published in Vanity Fair a detailed and documented account of how Bush, Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” The account was recently corroborated once again in the Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 12, 2009) by Norman Olsen, who served for 26 years in the Foreign Service, including four years working in the Gaza Strip and four years at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and then moved on to become associate coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of State. Olson and his son detail the State Department shenanigans intended to ensure that their candidate, Abbas, would win in the January 2006 elections – in which case it would have been hailed as a triumph of democracy. After the election-fixing failed, they turned to punishment of the Palestinians and arming of a militia run by Fatah strong-man Muhammad Dahlan, but “Dahlan’s thugs moved too soon” and a Hamas pre-emptive strike undermined the coup attempt, leading to far harsher US-Israeli measures to punish the disobedient people of Gaza. The Party Line is more acceptable.

After Israel broke the June 2008 ceasefire (such as it was) in November, the siege was tightened further, with even more disastrous consequences for the population. According to Sara Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza, “On Nov. 5, Israel sealed all crossing points into Gaza, vastly reducing and at times denying food supplies, medicines, fuel, cooking gas, and parts for water and sanitation systems…” During November, an average of 4.6 trucks of food per day entered Gaza from Israel compared with an average of 123 trucks per day in October. Spare parts for the repair and maintenance of water-related equipment have been denied entry for over a year. The World Health Organization just reported that half of Gaza’s ambulances are now out of order” – and the rest soon became targets for Israeli attack. Gaza’s only power station was forced to suspend operation for lack of fuel, and could not be started up again because they needed spare parts, which had been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for 8 months. Shortage of electricity led to a 300% increase in burn cases at Shifaa’ hospital in the Gaza Strip, resulting from efforts to light wood fires. Israel barred shipment of Chlorine, so that by mid-December in Gaza City and the north access to water was limited to six hours every three days. The human consequences are not counted among Palestinian victims of Israeli terror.

After the November 4 Israeli attack, both sides escalated violence (all deaths were Palestinian) until the ceasefire formally ended on Dec. 19, and Prime Minister Olmert authorized the full-scale invasion.

A few days earlier Hamas had proposed to return to the original July ceasefire agreement, which Israel had not observed. Historian and former Carter administration high official Robert Pastor passed the proposal to a “senior official” in the IDF, but Israel did not respond. The head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, was quoted in Israeli sources on December 21 as saying that Hamas is interested in continuing the “calm” with Israel, while its military wing is continuing preparations for conflict.

“There clearly was an alternative to the military approach to stopping the rockets,” Pastor said, keeping to the narrow issue of Gaza. There was also a more far-reaching alternative, which is rarely discussed: namely, accepting a political settlement including all of the occupied territories.

Israel’s senior diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar reports that shortly before Israel launched its full-scale invasion on Saturday Dec. 27, “Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a `cessation of aggression’ – he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas,” and as noted earlier, called for opening of the crossings to desperately needed supplies.

A standard claim of the more vulgar apologists for Israeli violence is that in the case of the current assault, “as in so many instances in the past half century – the Lebanon War of 1982, the `Iron Fist’ response to the 1988 intifada, the Lebanon War of 2006 – the Israelis have reacted to intolerable acts of terror with a determination to inflict terrible pain, to teach the enemy a lesson” (New Yorker editor David Remnick). The 2006 invasion can be justified only on the grounds of appalling cynicism, as already discussed. The reference to the vicious response to the 1988 intifada is too depraved even to discuss; a sympathetic interpretation might be that it reflects astonishing ignorance. But Remnick’s claim about the 1982 invasion is quite common, a remarkable feat of incessant propaganda, which merits a few reminders.

Uncontroversially, the Israel-Lebanon border was quiet for a year before the Israeli invasion, at least from Lebanon to Israel, north to south. Through the year, the PLO scrupulously observed a US-initiated ceasefire, despite constant Israeli provocations, including bombing with many civilian casualties, presumably intended to elicit some reaction that could be used to justify Israel’s carefully planned invasion. The best Israel could achieve was two light symbolic responses. It then invaded with a pretext too absurd to be taken seriously.

The invasion had precisely nothing to do with “intolerable acts of terror,” though it did have to do with intolerable acts: of diplomacy. That has never been obscure. Shortly after the US-backed invasion began, Israel’s leading academic specialist on the Palestinians, Yehoshua Porath – no dove — wrote that Arafat’s success in maintaining the ceasefire constituted “a veritable catastrophe in the eyes of the Israeli government,” since it opened the way to a political settlement. The government hoped that the PLO would resort to terrorism, undermining the threat that it would be “a legitimate negotiating partner for future political accommodations.”

The facts were well-understood in Israel, and not concealed. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated that Israel went to war because there was “a terrible danger… Not so much a military one as a political one,” prompting the fine Israeli satirist B. Michael to write that “the lame excuse of a military danger or a danger to the Galilee is dead.” We “have removed the political danger” by striking first, in time; now, “Thank God, there is no one to talk to.” Historian Benny Morris recognized that the PLO had observed the ceasefire, and explained that “the war’s inevitability rested on the PLO as a political threat to Israel and to Israel’s hold on the occupied territories.” Others have frankly acknowledged the unchallenged facts.

In a front-page think-piece on the latest Gaza invasion, NYT correspondent Steven Lee Meyers writes that “In some ways, the Gaza attacks were reminiscent of the gamble Israel took, and largely lost, in Lebanon in 1982 [when] it invaded to eliminate the threat of Yasir Arafat’s forces.” Correct, but not in the sense he has in mind. In 1982, as in 2008, it was necessary to eliminate the threat of political settlement.

The hope of Israeli propagandists has been that Western intellectuals and media would buy the tale that Israel reacted to rockets raining on the Galilee, “intolerable acts of terror.” And they have not been disappointed.

It is not that Israel does not want peace: everyone wants peace, even Hitler. The question is: on what terms? From its origins, the Zionist movement has understood that to achieve its goals, the best strategy would be to delay political settlement, meanwhile slowly building facts on the ground. Even the occasional agreements, as in 1947, were recognized by the leadership to be temporary steps towards further expansion. The 1982 Lebanon war was a dramatic example of the desperate fear of diplomacy. It was followed by Israeli support for Hamas so as to undermine the secular PLO and its irritating peace initiatives. Another case that should be familiar is Israeli provocations before the 1967 war designed to elicit a Syrian response that could be used as a pretext for violence and takeover of more land – at least 80% of the incidents, according to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

The story goes far back. The official history of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish military force, describes the assassination of the religious Jewish poet Jacob de Haan in 1924, accused of conspiring with the traditional Jewish community (the Old Yishuv) and the Arab Higher Committee against the new immigrants and their settlement enterprise. And there have been numerous examples since.

The effort to delay political accommodation has always made perfect sense, as do the accompanying lies about how “there is no partner for peace.” It is hard to think of another way to take over land where you are not wanted.

Similar reasons underlie Israel’s preference for expansion over security. Its violation of the ceasefire on November 4 2009 is one of many recent examples.

An Amnesty International chronology reports that the June 2008 ceasefire had “brought enormous improvements in the quality of life in Sderot and other Israeli villages near Gaza, where before the ceasefire residents lived in fear of the next Palestinian rocket strike. However, nearby in the Gaza Strip the Israeli blockade remains in place and the population has so far seen few dividends from the ceasefire.” But the gains in security for Israel towns near Gaza were evidently outweighed by the felt need to deter diplomatic moves that might impede West Bank expansion, and to crush any remaining resistance within Palestine.

The preference for expansion over security has been particularly evident since Israel’s fateful decision in 1971, backed by Henry Kissinger, to reject the offer of a full peace treaty by President Sadat of Egypt, offering nothing to the Palestinians – an agreement that the US and Israel were compelled to accept at Camp David eight years later, after a major war that was a near disaster for Israel. A peace treaty with Egypt would have ended any significant security threat, but there was an unacceptable quid pro quo: Israel would have had to abandon its extensive settlement programs in the northeastern Sinai. Security was a lower priority than expansion, as it still is. Substantial evidence for this basic conclusion is provided in a magisterial study of Israel’s security and foreign policy by Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land.

Today, Israel could have security, normalization of relations, and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict, and repeated exercise of violence, actions that are not only criminal, murderous and destructive but are also eroding its own long-term security. US military and Middle East specialist Andrew Cordesman writes that while Israel military force can surely crush defenseless Gaza, “neither Israel nor the US can gain from a war that produces [a bitter] reaction from one of the wisest and most moderate voices in the Arab world, Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who said on January 6 that `The Bush administration has left [Obama] a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza…Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza’.”

One of the wisest voices in Israel, Uri Avnery, writes that after an Israeli military victory, “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet. In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.”

There is good reason to believe that he is right. Israel is deliberately turning itself into perhaps the most hated country in the world, and is also losing the allegiance of the population of the West, including younger American Jews, who are unlikely to tolerate its persistent shocking crimes for long. Decades ago, I wrote that those who call themselves “supporters of Israel” are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction. Regrettably, that judgment looks more and more plausible.

Meanwhile we are quietly observing a rare event in history, what the late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called “politicide,” the murder of a nation — at our hands.


Shoot Then Ask, Israeli Soldiers Told

Gaza (6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Outcry over weapons used in Gaza

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?

The State of Israel: Since its Creation

Israel Navy ships turn back “Spirit of Humanity” carrying Gaza humanitarian aid

Israel ‘rammed’ medical aid boat Dignity headed to Gaza

79 % of the time: Israel caused conflicts not Hamas

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

Israel Used Internationally Banned Weaponry in Massive Airstrikes Across Gaza Strip

700 Israelis arrested for protesting against war

Israel’s ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Israel killing their own by Using Deadly Weapons of Mass Destuction against Gaza

Gaza Families Eat Grass as Israel Blocks Food Aid

There are more stories on Gaza in the Archives

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Recession Means Recruiting Boom For Army

In downtown Dallas Friday, new recruits pledged to protect and defend their country.

They’re just part of a growing number who found that in uncertain times, patriotism pays,

“Unemployment rates are [skyrocketing], and when you are looking at how bad unemployment rates are going, I think you find yourself going, ‘What do I do now?”‘ said Army recruit James Stabile.

The troubled economy has even become part of the recruiters’ arsenal. And the pitch may be paying off. The Army led all four branches of the military, exceeding recruiting goals.

And it’s not just new recruits. The Army also surpassed its goal for retaining men and women already serving by 14 percent.

Kevin Bonds signed his re-enlistment papers Friday. The Sgt. First Class could have retired tomorrow after 20 years in the Illinois National Guard.

“Until the economy changes and turns turn around, I’m in for the long run,” he said.

Sgt. Mathew Steen has also re-signed. He says patriotism means more than a paycheck, but admits the Army is a great place to prepare for any career.

“You’ve got good benefits, your medical, you’ve got your dental, and you’re getting the skills to lead people,” Steen said.

The military says the economic downturn is too recent to be the sole reason behind the recruiting surge – but acknowledges that it helps.

“What difficult economic times give us, I think, is an opening to make our case to people we might not otherwise have,” said Undersecretary of Defense David Chu. “And if we make our case, I think we can be successful.”

That success comes at a critical time for a military stretched between two wars, and for soldiers hoping to security their country – and their own economic futures.


Well that will keep the warmongering, profiteers thrilled I am sure.

The thought of it makes me rather sad.

Considering how many have died.

Many for all the wrong reasons.

Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm  Comments Off on Recession Means Recruiting Boom For Army  
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141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.


Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.


Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.


Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.


Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here


Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

November 14 2008
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
A U.N. official says Israel is holding up planned food aid shipments to Gaza.

Official Chris Gunness says this means the U.N. Relief and Works Agency won’t be able to deliver food to 750,000 Gaza residents beginning on Friday.

Israel has kept its crossings sealed with Gaza for nine days. The closure came in response to ongoing Palestinian rocket and mortar fire at Israel.

Israel said small quantities of food aid would be allowed in on Thursday. But Gunness says Israel told him the crossings would not be opened.

Military spokesman Peter Lerner said the crossings stayed shut because Palestinian militants fired mortars and rockets at Israel early Thursday.


This is one war that needs to be halted. The sooner the better.

Chart showing that approximately four times more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis.

American news reports repeatedly describe Israeli military attacks against the Palestinian population as “retaliation.” However, when one looks into the chronology of death in this conflict, the reality turns out to be quite different.


Of course this changes every day as more die.

Fatalities and more information

Occupied Territories
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces
2969 1791 4760 69
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians
4 41 45 2
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
39 198 237 490
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
97 148 245 90
Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians
10 7 17 37
Foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces
4 6 10
Palestinians killed by Palestinians
459 135 594
Additional data (included in previous table)
Occupied Territories
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
634 318 952 3
Israeli minors killed by Palestinians
4 35 39 84
Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing
Palestinians who were the object of a targeted killing
150 82 232
Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel
11 109 120
Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces
1198 467 1665 60
Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces ( not including the objects of targeted killings).
1382 840 2222 5
Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities
389 484 873 4
Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 6:42 am  Comments Off on U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza  
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British troops ‘cannot bear brunt of Barack Obama’s Afghanistan surge’

British troops must not be sent in support of US President-Elect Barack Obama’s planned “surge” in Afghanistan, the head of the armed forces has said.

By Rosa Prince

November 9 2008

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, warned that the British military was already over-stretched, and suggested that troops from other Nato countries should be sent to fight.

Mr Obama has spoken of his desire to see a surge in troop numbers in Afghanistan, similar to that which appears to have had success against extremists in Iraq, to finally quell the Taliban insurgency.

But Sir Jock said that British troops were already struggling to cope with fighting in the two theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan, and could not take on more demands.

His words were echoed by David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, who agreed that other Nato countries should take responsibility for any fresh surge in Afghanistan.

Both men also ruled out sending British troops to the Congo to bolster the United Nations force in central Africa.

There are currently 8,100 military personnel serving Afghanistan, with another 4,100 in Iraq due to withdraw by the middle of next year.

Sir Jock said that they should not be redeployed to Afghanistan once their mission in Iraq ended, adding: “I am a little nervous when people use the word ‘surge’ as if this were some sort of panacea.

“We welcome more military force being sent to Afghanistan. Everybody needs to do their share, we are very clear on that.

“In the context of what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are shouldering a burden which is more than we are able to shoulder in the long term, so we expect the others to take up their share of that burden.”

Appearing with Sir Jock on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Miliband was asked if Mr Obama’s proposed surge would require an increase in the size of Britain’s commitment there.

He said: “Not necessarily, no. As the second-largest contributor of troops in Afghanistan, the first thing we say is that we don’t want to bear an unfair share of the burden.”

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, also warned that Britain was already making a “disproportionate contribution” to the Nato effort in Afghanistan.

He told Sky News’ Sunday Live: “We do need the rest of Nato to play its part in Afghanistan and undoubtedly it seems that Barack Obama does intend to send larger US forces and that is part of what is necessary in Afghanistan.

“We would all take some persuading that there would have to be a much larger British contingent there – there’s already a very large British contingent.”

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that the Government should talk to Iranian and Taliban leaders in order to find lasting resolutions to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He added: “Negotiation with both the Taliban and Iran may be unpalatable, but it is the only route to success, and if it doesn’t happen now it will be too late.”


Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 4:38 am  Comments Off on British troops ‘cannot bear brunt of Barack Obama’s Afghanistan surge’  
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Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues

In recent presidential debates, Senator John McCain has said things like, “I know the veterans.  I know them well.  And, I know that they know that I’ll take care of them.”  It was stunning, because nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s something that our friend Charlie Fink even made an issue of in his new video at Lunatics and Liars.

A lot of you have asked to explain why Senator McCain gets consistently low ratings from veterans groups.   Below is a full list of votes, statements, and positions of Senator McCain’s, which shows that Senator McCain has consistently bailed on troops and veterans.

It’s a very long, but comprehensive list.  I encourage you to take a look and pass it around.  An even more robust list, complete with video, can be found at, as well.


Brandon Friedman
Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran
Vice Chairman,

Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues

· Veterans Groups Give McCain Failing Grades. In its most recent legislative ratings, the non-partisan Disabled American Veterans gave Sen. McCain a 20 percent rating for his voting record on veterans’ issues.  Similarly, the non-partisan Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a “D” grade for his poor voting record on veterans’ issues, including McCain’s votes against additional body armor for troops in combat and additional funding for PTSD and TBI screening and treatment.

· McCain Voted Against Increased Funding for Veterans’ Health Care. Although McCain told voters at a campaign rally that improving veterans’ health care was his top domestic priority, he voted against increasing funding for veterans’ health care in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. (Greenville News, 12/12/2007; S.Amdt. 2745 to S.C.R. 95, Vote 40, 3/10/04; Senate S.C.R. 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05; S.Amdt. 3007 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 41, 3/14/06; H.R. 1591, Vote 126, 3/29/07)

· McCain Voted At Least 28 Times Against Veterans’ Benefits, Including Healthcare. Since arriving in the U.S. Senate in 1987, McCain has voted at least 28 times against ensuring important benefits for America’s veterans, including providing adequate healthcare. (2006 Senate Vote #7, 41, 63, 67, 98, 222; 2005 Senate Votes #55, 89, 90, 251, 343; 2004 Senate Votes #40, 48, 145; 2003 Senate Votes #74, 81, 83; 1999 Senate Vote #328; 1998 Senate Vote #175; 1997 Senate Vote #168; 1996 Senate Votes #115, 275; 1995 Senate Votes #76, 226, 466; 1994 Senate Vote #306; 1992 Senate Vote #194; 1991 Senate Vote #259)

· McCain Voted Against Providing Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Veterans. McCain voted against providing automatic annual cost-of-living adjustments for certain veterans’ benefits. (S. 869, Vote 259, 11/20/91)

· McCain Voted to Underfund Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted for an appropriations bill that underfunded the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development by $8.9 billion. (H.R. 2099, Vote 470, 9/27/95)

· McCain Voted Against a $13 Billion Increase in Funding for Veterans Programs. McCain voted against an amendment to increase spending on veterans programs by $13 billion. (S.C.R. 57, Vote 115, 5/16/96)

· McCain Voted Against $44.3 Billion for Veterans Programs. McCain was one of five senators to vote against a bill providing $44.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, plus funding for other federal agencies. (H.R. 2684, Vote 328, 10/15/99)

· McCain Voted Against $47 Billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of eight senators to vote against a bill that provided $47 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (H.R. 4635, Vote 272, 10/12/00)

· McCain Voted Against $51 Billion in Veterans Funding. McCain was one of five senators to vote against the bill and seven to vote against the conference report that provided $51.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as funding for the federal housing, environmental and emergency management agencies and NASA. (H.R. 2620, Vote 334, 11/8/01; Vote 269, 8/2/01)

· McCain Voted Against $122.7 Billion for Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted against an appropriations bill that included $122.7 billion in fiscal 2004 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. (H.R. 2861, Vote 449, 11/12/03)

· McCain Opposed $500 Million for Counseling Services for Veterans with Mental Disorders. McCain voted against an amendment to appropriate $500 million annually from 2006-2010 for counseling, mental health and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, posttraumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. (S. 2020, S.Amdt. 2634, Vote 343, 11/17/05)

· McCain opposed an Assured Funding Stream for Veterans’ Health Care. McCain opposed providing an assured funding stream for veterans’ health care, taking into account annual changes in veterans’ population and inflation. (S.Amdt. 3141 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06)

· McCain Voted Against Adding More Than $400 Million for Veterans’ Care. McCain was one of 13 Republicans to vote against providing an additional $430 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for outpatient care and treatment for veterans. (S.Amdt. 3642 to H.R. 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06)

· McCain Supported Outsourcing VA Jobs. McCain opposed an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from outsourcing jobs, many held by blue-collar veterans, without first giving the workers a chance to compete. (S.Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642, Vote 315, 9/6/07)

· McCain Opposed the 21st Century GI Bill Because It Was Too Generous. McCain did not vote on the GI Bill that will provide better educational opportunities to veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, paying full tuition at in-state schools and living expenses for those who have served at least three years since the 9/11 attacks. McCain said he opposes the bill because he thinks the generous benefits would “encourage more people to leave the military.” (S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642, Vote 137, 5/22/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/2/08; Boston Globe, 5/23/08;, 5/26/08)

· Disabled American Veterans Legislative Director Said That McCain’s Proposal Would Increase Costs For Veterans Because His Plan Relies On Private Hospitals Which Are More Expensive and Which Could Also Lead To Further Rationing Of Care. “To help veterans who live far from VA hospitals or need specialized care the VA can’t provide, McCain proposed giving low-income veterans and those who incurred injury during their service a card they could use at private hospitals. The proposal is not an attempt to privatize the VA, as critics have alleged, but rather, an effort to improve care and access to it, he said. Joe Violanti, legislative director of the Disabled American Veterans, a nonpartisan organization, said the proposal would increase costs because private hospitals are more expensive. The increased cost could lead to further rationing of care, he said.” (Las Vegas Sun, 8/10/08)

Lack of Support for the Troops

· McCain co-sponsored the Use of Force Authorization. McCain supported the bill that gave President George W. Bush the green light–and a blank check–for going to war with Iraq. (SJ Res 46, 10/3/02)

· McCain Opposed Increasing Spending on TRICARE and Giving Greater Access to National Guard and Reservists. Although his campaign website devotes a large section to veterans issues, including expanding benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard, McCain voted against increasing spending on the TRICARE program by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy. (S.Amdt. 324 to S.C.R. 23, Vote 81, 3/25/03)

· McCain voted against holding Bush accountable for his actions in the war. McCain opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the development and use of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. (S.Amdt. 1275 to H.R. 2658, Vote 284, 7/16/03)

· McCain voted Against Establishing a $1 Billion Trust Fund for Military Health Facilities. McCain voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to improve military health facilities by refusing to repeal tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year. (S.Amdt. 2735 to S.Amdt. 2707 to H.R. 4297, Vote 7, 2/2/06)

· Senator McCain opposed efforts to end the overextension of the military–a policy that is having a devastating impact on our troops. McCain voted against requiring mandatory minimum downtime between tours of duty for troops serving in Iraq. (S.Amdt.. 2909 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 341, 9/19/07; S.Amdt. 2012 to S.Amdt. 2011 to HR 1585, Vote 241, 7/11/07)

· McCain announced his willingness to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for decades–a statement sure to inflame Iraqis and endanger American troops. McCain: “Make it a hundred” years in Iraq and “that would be fine with me.” (Derry, New Hampshire Town Hall meeting, 1/3/08)

· McCain voted against a ban on waterboarding–a form of torture–in a move that could eventually endanger American troops. According to ThinkProgress, “the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill to the floor, which contained a provision from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) establishing one interrogation standard across the government. The bill requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.”  McCain voted against the bill.  (H.R. 2082, Vote 22, 2/13/08)

· McCain Also Supported Outsourcing at Walter Reed. McCain opposed an amendment to prevent the outsourcing of 350 federal employee jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center–outsourcing that contributed to the scandalous treatment of veterans at Walter Reed that McCain called a “disgrace.” (S.Amdt. 4895 to H.R. 5631, Vote 234, 9/6/06; Speech to VFW in Kansas City, Mo., 4/4/08)

· Senator McCain has consistently opposed any plan to withdraw troops from Iraq–a policy that has directly weakened American efforts in Afghanistan. Senator McCain repeatedly voted against a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. (S.Amdt. 3876 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #438, 12/18/07; S.Amdt. 3875 to S.Amdt. 3874 to H.R. 2764, Vote #437, 12/18/07; S.Amdt.3164 to H.R. 3222, Vote #362, 10/3/07; S.Amdt. 2898 to S. Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #346, 9/21/07; S. Amdt. 2924 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R.1585, Vote #345, 9/21/07; S.Amdt.2 087 to S.Amdt. 2011 to H.R. 1585, Vote #252, 7/18/07; S.Amdt. 643 to H.R. 1591, Vote #116, 3/27/07; S.Amdt. 4320 to S. 2766, Vote #182, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766, Vote #181, 6/22/06; S.Amdt. 2519 to S.1042, Vote #322, 11/15/05)

· McCain said it’s “not too important” when U.S. troops leave Iraq. This exchange occurred on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer:

LAUER: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
McCAIN: No, but that’s not too important.

(NBC, Today Show, 6/11/08)

Cheerleading for War with Iraq–While Afghanistan was Unfinished

· McCain suggested that the war in Iraq could be won with a “smaller” force. “But the fact is I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past. But I don’t believe it’s going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.” (CBS News, Face the Nation, 9/15/02)

· McCain said winning the war would be “easy.” “I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women.” (CNN, 9/24/02)

· McCain also said the actual fighting in Iraq would be easy. “We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad.  We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” (CNN, 9/29/02)

· Continuing his pattern, McCain also said on MSNBC that we would win the war in Iraq “easily.” “But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” (MSNBC, 1/22/03)

· McCain argued Saddam was “a threat of the first order.” Senator McCain said that a policy of containing Iraq to blunt its weapons of mass destruction program is “unsustainable, ineffective, unworkable and dangerous.” McCain: “I believe Iraq is a threat of the first order, and only a change of regime will make Iraq a state that does not threaten us and others, and where liberated people assume the rights and responsibilities of freedom.” (Speech to the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2/13/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s rationale for going to war. McCain: “We’re going to win this victory. Tragically, we will lose American lives. But it will be brief.  We’re going to find massive evidence of weapons of mass destruction . . . It’s going to send the message throughout the Middle East that democracy can take hold in the Middle East.” (Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 2/21/03)

· “But I believe, Katie, that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.” (NBC, 3/20/03)

· March 2003: “I believe that this conflict is still going to be relatively short.” (NBC, Meet the Press, 3/30/03)

· McCain echoed Bush and Cheney’s talking points that the U.S. would only be in Iraq for a short time. McCain: “It’s clear that the end is very much in sight . . . It won’t be long . . . it’ll be a fairly short period of time.” (ABC, 4/9/03)

Staunch Defense of the Iraq Invasion

· McCain maintained that the war was a good idea and that George W. Bush deserved “admiration.” At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain, focusing on the war in Iraq, said that while weapons of mass destruction were not found, Saddam once had them and “he would have acquired them again.” McCain said the mission in Iraq “gave hope to people long oppressed” and it was “necessary, achievable and noble.” McCain: “For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration.” (Speech, Republican National Convention, 8/31/04)

· Senator McCain: “The war, the invasion was not a mistake. (Meet the Press, 1/6/08)

· McCain said the war in Iraq was “worth” it. Asked if the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, McCain: “It was worth getting rid of Saddam Hussein. He had used weapons of mass destruction, and it’s clear that he was hell-bent on acquiring them.” (Republican Debate, 1/24/08)

Dangerous Lack of Foreign Policy Knowledge

· When questioned about Osama bin Laden after the 1998 U.S. missile strikes in Afghanistan, McCain surmised that the terrorist leader wasn’t as “bad” as “depicted.” “You could say, Look, is this guy, Laden, really the bad guy that’s depicted?  Most of us have never heard of him before.” (Interview with Mother Jones magazine, 11/1998)

· McCain was unaware of previous Sunni-Shia violence before the Iraq War. “There’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shias. So I think they can probably get along.” (MSNBC, Hardball, 4/23/03)

· McCain said our military could just “muddle through” in Afghanistan. While giving a speech, McCain was asked about Afghanistan and replied, “I am concerned about it, but I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq today, obviously, or I’d be talking about Afghanistan.  But I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making, that in the long term, we may muddle through in Afghanistan.” (Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, 11/5/03)

· McCain stated that Sunni al Qaeda was “supported” by the Shia Iranians. (2/2008)

· McCain again confused Sunni Muslim al Qaeda operatives with Shi’a Muslim insurgents. The Washington Post reported of McCain: “He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

“Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives ‘taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.’

“Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was ‘common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.’” (Press conference, Amman, Jordan, 3/18/2008)

· Yet again, McCain demonstrated that he didn’t know whether al Qaeda was a Sunni or Shiite organization. While questioning General David Petraeus during a Senate hearing, the following exchange occurred:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?
PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.
MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?
MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else.

(Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 4/8/08)

· McCain incorrectly thought General David Petraeus was in charge of Afghanistan. The Army Times reported: “Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the Associated Press, McCain was asked whether he, if elected, would shift combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

‘I would not do that unless Gen. (David) Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that,’ McCain said, referring to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

“Petraeus, however, made clear last week that he has nothing to do with the decision. Testifying last week before four congressional committees, including the Senate Armed Services Committee on which McCain is the ranking Republican, Petraeus said the decision about whether troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan was not his responsibility because his portfolio is limited to the multi-national force in Iraq.” (Annual meeting of the Associated Press, 4/14/08)

· McCain credited the “surge” for the “Anbar Awakening”–even though the Anbar Awakening preceded the surge by nearly a year. (7/22/08)

· John McCain has also recently demonstrated either serious knowledge gaps in terms of foreign policy, or mounting confusion, when discussing an array of other countries:

Spain: McCain refused to commit to meeting with the president of Spain, a NATO ally, after becoming confused about America’s relationship with Spain, its leader, and, possibly, exactly where Spain is located. (9/17/08)

Czech Republic and Slovakia: McCain referred to the two countries using the name “Czechoslovakia” several times–despite the fact that Czechoslakia split apart and hasn’t existed since 1993. (
7/15/08; (7/14/08))

Venezuela: McCain said that Venezuela was a Middle Eastern country. (

This man it seems would not protect our men and women who risk their lives every day.

Know who your voting for.  I would never vote for this man. I love my troops too much to leave them in his hands. The majority of the money in 612 billion budget for defense goes to contractors etc. The majority goes to the profiteers of war and there are many.

Not for the troops or the veterans. Very little actually is used to take care of them.

One can decide what they will but, always consider the running record of any candidate.

McCain’s record in this area is rather bleak. One would think of all the people, he would understand, the needs of these ones the most. But he doesn’t.

If he can’t fathom the needs of troops and veterans, I am afraid he would never be able to lead the American people into a new and brighter future. But that’s just my opinion.

Would you want the lives of you children, brothers, sisters, uncle, aunts, families or friends left in his hands?

That is the ultimate question we all have to ask ourselves.

Anyone who has had an adversarial relationship with John McCain will tell you that there are few with less self-control than the senator from Arizona. Many have questioned his ability to maintain a clear head in a time of crisis. For those of us who have seen these sparks of insanity from McCain, we know all too well that what lies beneath is something dark, ominous and certainly not presidential. John McCain makes reference to his service to our great nation by almost daily reminding us of his five and a half year captivity in the Hanoi Hilton. Yet few have been able to look beyond McCain, the POW, to examine his political record, as if it were taboo somehow to be critical of a former prisoner of war. But what about this former prisoner of war and his criticism of the very same people who fought to bring him home from the dark dank cell he likes to remind us about so much? – The POW/MIA Families of those less fortunate than McCain, those who still have yet to be returned to the soil they gave their lives for.

Since his return from Hanoi, McCain has …

~Ignored pleas of POW/MIA Family Members for his political influence in the overall POW/MIA Issue as well as with their individual cases

~Verbally abused POW/MIA Family Members in public and private

~Attempted to negatively influence those who testified before the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

~Diminished legislation that gave oversight and protection to the families

~Dismantled protection to any future servicemen that go missing.


Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Comments Off on Senator John McCain’s Record on Troop and Veterans’ Issues  
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Exclusive: Storm over Big Brother database

By Robert Verkaik and Nigel Morris
October 15 2008

Early plans to create a giant “Big Brother” database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government’s own terrorism watchdog.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the “raw idea” of the database was “awful” and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public.

Today the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to signal the Government’s intention to press ahead with proposals to collect more details about people’s phone, email and web-browsing habits as she warns that the terrorist threat to Britain is growing.

The controversial measure will be included as a way of combating terrorism in the Data Communications Bill, which is to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in December. Ministers are known to be considering the creation of a single database holding all the information, which would include phone numbers dialled and addresses to which emails are sent but not details of phone conversations or the contents of emails.

An increasing number of influential figures from across the political spectrum have expressed growing alarm over the scale of the proposals that would give the state unprecedented access into the lives of its citizens.

Lord Carlile described the government’s recent track record on handling public data as an “unhappy one”, and said that searches of a new database should only be carried out with the authority of a court warrant.

He told The Independent: “As a raw idea it is awful. However it is a question of degrees and how it is developed. Searches should be made on a case-by-case basis with appropriate reviewing measures so that they can’t be done willy-nilly by government.”

Under the proposal, internet service providers and telecoms companies would hand over millions of phone and internet records to the Home Office, which would store them for at least 12 months so that the police and security services could access them. It is understood that more than £1bn has been earmarked for the database.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, has described the plans as “a step too far for the British way of life”. Yesterday his office added: “It is clear that more needs to be done to protect people’s personal information, but creating big databases… means you can never eliminate the risk that the data will fall into the wrong hands.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, said: “This is another example of the Government’s obsession with gathering as much information on each of us as possible in case it might prove useful in the future. Like the discredited ID card scheme this will have a massive impact on our privacy but will do nothing to make us safer.”

Lord Carlile acknowledged the value of using phone and internet intelligence in fighting crime, but he said it would be wrong to go as far as the US Patriot Acts. “[They] go much further so that they [US data searches] include everyone who has made contact with a terror suspect… There must be codes of practice… In counter-terrorism collation is everything but raw data only has a limited use.”

Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “The Government must justify the case for any such massive increase in state acquisition, sharing and retention of data, spell out the safeguards to prevent abuse and – given its appalling record – explain how it will protect the integrity of any database holding sensitive personal data.”

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “Ministers simply can’t be trusted with confidential data of this sort, as it has shown again and again.”

Plans for the giant database were first announced by the Prime Minister in February under the unprepossessing title of the Intercept Modernisation Programme. It is not clear where the database will be held but GCHQ, the government eavesdropping centre, may eventually be the home for the project.

The proposal emerged as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the 7 July bombings to bring uniformity to record-keeping. Since last October telecoms companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months. That requirement is to be extended to internet, email and voice-over-internet use and included in a Communications Data Bill.

* Lord West of Spithead, the Counter-terrorism minister, last night said “another great plot” was being investigated by police and security services.

How the Government wants to watch over us

What is the Communications Data Bill?

It will allow the authorities to collect and retain details of every phone number we have called or texted, as well as every address to which we have sent emails and internet site we have accessed. The Government is preparing to announce its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech legislative programme to be set out on 3 December.

What happens at the moment?

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), some 650 public bodies – including police and local authorities – can require internet service providers or mobile-phone companies to hand over details of their customers’ phone, email and internet habits. About 500,000 requests were made last year. The rules say public bodies can only access records if it is for a legitimate purpose and proportionate – criteria which critics complain are too vague. Under a voluntary agreement, the internet service providers and phone companies store such records for a year. But they have protested about the huge pressure they are under to store such vast amounts of material.

How does the Bill change this?

It puts the retention of data on a statutory – rather than voluntary – basis and, crucially, paves the way for the information being transferred to a giant government database. The Bill also turns into British law an EU directive requiring companies to keep communications data for up to two years.

How do ministers justify the plans?

They say police and security services need more up-to-date tools in tackling terrorist and criminal conspiracies that are more international in nature and rely on high-tech communications. It is in the security services’ interests to have a single point of access to track phone and internet records of suspects. It is harder to trace links between conspirators whose records are held by different companies.

Would contents of emails and phone calls be included?

No. Investigators can only intercept emails and tap phones under warrants approved by the Home Secretary. The aim is to monitor patterns of behaviour and establish links between conspirators.

What information might they recover?

Police or the security services could establish when a call was made and its length, as well as the number that was dialed. It is thought information could also be gathered as to the location of a mobile phone when a call was made. Information could be retrieved about when emails were sent and who the recipient was, as well as a full picture of internet sites visited.

How would access to such a database be governed?

The details are likely to be spelt out later this year by the Home Secretary. The Government promises there will be “strict safeguards” to “strike the proper balance between privacy and protecting the public”. The likelihood is that the RIPA rules requiring requests for information to be approved by senior officers within public bodies will continue to apply.

How much electronic communication is there?

About one trillion emails and more than 60 billion text messages will be sent in Britain this year. Most homes and offices now have a computer; there are an estimated 20 million broadband connections.

How does this information help solve crime?

Email and telephone data has proved vital in the fight against al-Qa’ida. Mobile-phone location data was used in January in the conviction of Colm Murphy for his part in the Omagh bombing. Telephone records helped to send the serial killer Harold Shipman to jail.


Well there is insanity and then there is insanity. How bloody American.

Are all countires foolish enough to follow the American Fear Mongering upon their citizens?

I sure hope not.

Elements of Fascism include:

* Powerful idea of nationalism
* Powerful executive control in government
* Lower human rights outlook
* Military reigns supreme
* Corporations wield great power
* Idea that National Security is at great risk to some threat
* Identifying of enemies/scapegoats that unifies citizens in Patriotism
* Mass media controlled by State and Corporations
* Fixed elections
* Rampant corruption
* Unlimited power held by police force

Fascism Anyone?

Fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for.

By Laurence W. Britt

The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent  displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was  usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on  xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a  means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame forfailures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional  national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and“terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even  when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were  under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass  media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating an disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

And then there is this little problem

MOD computer missing or could have been stolen, considering 658 have been stolen over the past 4 years.

October 13 2008

A missing Ministry of Defence computer hard drive may contain personal details of as many as 1.7 million people who have inquired about joining the armed forces, it was revealed today.

Opposition parties warned that the information contained on the drive represented “a potential goldmine for organised crime” and could even compromise national security.

When the loss of the disc from the premises of contractor EDS in Hook, Hampshire, was first announced last week, it was thought that it carried the names, addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, next-of-kin and driving licence details of up to 100,000 Army, Navy and RAF personnel.

But armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth today announced that further investigations had revealed it contained data relating to large numbers of people who asked for information about careers in the forces.

In a written statement to Parliament, he said: “Whilst conducting an audit of storage media, EDS found that it could not find a removable hard disc drive. Under the terms of its contract EDS is required to protect all personal information in its care.

“The hard drive had been used with the TAFMIS recruitment system and may, in the worst case, contain details relating to 1.7 million individuals who have enquired about joining the Armed Forces.”

Where people simply made casual inquiries, only their name and contact numbers are likely to have been recorded, said Mr Ainsworth.

But for those who went on to apply to join up, the drive could include more extensive data, including next of kin details, passport and National Insurance numbers, drivers’ licence and bank details and NHS numbers.

It was unlikely that the details on the hard drive were encrypted for security.

The minister said that the incident “illustrates the need continually to review and enhance our arrangements for personal data”.

An investigation has been launched by the MoD Police and a helpline has been set up for those who may have been affected, said Mr Ainsworth.

Where bank account details are involved, banks have been informed through the Apacs system of the need for scrutiny against unauthorised access.

And he added: “The MoD is clear about the crucial need to implement wholesale improvements in how we store, protect and manage the use of personal data.

“We are also clear that we need to effect a significant behavioural change among our people at all levels. We are currently engaged in a comprehensive programme to do all of this.

“The MoD is a large department operating many complex data systems world-wide, often at very short notice and under extreme conditions. This presents additional challenges and risks in the implementation of rapid change.

“However we are determined to ensure that we effect that change.”

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said: “This data loss is an absolute scandal and on a far larger scale than previously feared. It is shameful that the minister made the admission in writing and not in person to the House of Commons.

“This information is a potential goldmine for organised crime and could even compromise national security.

“In the past soldiers have been targeted by extremists. One dreads to think what might happen if this information were to fall into the wrong hands.

“It is yet another unwelcome burden for our servicemen and women to worry about, at a time when they are already under great pressure because of overstretch.

“It beggars belief that the Government cannot competently manage such a basic task. There must be an urgent inquiry into how this happened.”

EDS informed the MoD on October 8 that it had discovered the hard drive was missing during an audit conducted to comply with a data handling review ordered by the Cabinet Office.

It was only the latest information security breach to hit the MoD in recent years.

In July the Ministry admitted 658 of its laptops had been stolen over the past four years and 26 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or misplaced since January.


Stephen Harper hid the actual cost of the War

Stephen Harper hid the cost of the war

As you may have seen from reports in yesterday and today’s morning newspapers, the cost of the war in Afghanistan will reach $18 billion by the end of 2011, according to a new report released by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The report, by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, does not even include the salaries of the 2500 soldiers in Afghanistan, and is still much higher than the $8 billion estimated cost provided by the Conservative government, which included salaries.

I attended the press conference yesterday in Ottawa, and during the announcement of the investigation, Page noted that this study is incomplete because he did not receive full co-operation from government departments, including the military. Even worse, those departments may not realize how much they are spending on the war because of sloppy accounting.

This the first public costing of the war completed by a government office or department. The study was produced at the request of NDP MP for Ottawa Centre Paul Dewar.

Earlier this week, David Macdonald and I released our own costing of the war in Afghanistan called The Cost of the War and the End of Peacekeeping: The Impact of Extending the Afghanistan Mission.

Based on our calculations, the cost of the war to the government coffers, including the salaries of the troops, will be $21 billion. Add to that the financial loss felt by families and communities from so many young men and women injured or killed, and the impact reaches $28 billion.

I was astounded to see that the Parliamentary Budget Office’s findings, when adjusted to use comparable methodologies, are actually much higher than our own results. Therefore the real cost is higher than anyone imagines.

Our report went a step further to look at our military’s contribution to peacekeeping, and we learned that it has dropped by more than 80 per cent since the beginning of the Afghanistan war. This year the military will spend a paltry $15 million for the entire year on UN peacekeeping, the equivalent of what we spend on the war in just two or three days. We contribute only 63 soldiers for UN peacekeeping operations – they could all fit into a school bus!

Yesterday we were busy discussing the cost of the war to Canadians through the national news media, in both Quebec and the rest of Canada. Here you can watch interviews on CTV Newsnet, CBC Radio, CBC TV, GlobalTV, and Business News Network. We also received coverage in The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and elsewhere.

Our message was this:

• The $18 billion estimate for the cost of the Afghanistan war provided by the Parliamentary Budget Office is very large – the largest anyone has seen. It is welcome information and should serve as a basis for further reporting.

• The number is likely too low, because the office did not receive full co-operation from the departments involved, including the military. The Prime Minister should have instructed departments to co-operate fully.

• It is appalling that Conservative and Liberal MPs voted to extend the war by three years, to December 2011, without even knowing that they were approving the expenditure of an additional $7 billion over the $11 billion already spent.

• With financial storm clouds gathering on the horizon and no large budget surpluses to rely upon, will the government cut social programs to fund the war and avoid tax increases or a deficit?

I would like to hear from you. Do you think the Afghanistan war has been worth the cost?


Stephen Harper hid the cost of the war

Sparks fly over Afghan mission cost

Budget officer admits $18.1B estimate likely low

Mike Blanchfield , Canwest News Service

Published: Thursday, October 09, 2008

OTTAWA – Opposition leaders attacked Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday for hiding the full cost of the Afghanistan mission after the Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said a lack of “transparency” meant his projection of up to $18.1 billion was on the low side.

The eagerly awaited report of the cost of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan catapulted the mission back to the centre of the federal election with five days left in the campaign.

Page took pains to present his office’s analysis – sparked by a request from a frustrated NDP MP – as apolitical.

The cost of the war in Afghanistan, from the time it began until it is scheduled to end in 2011, will cost each and every Canadian household $1,500.

But Page’s criticism of a confused bureaucracy that didn’t have its numbers straight placed Harper on the defensive when the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois piled on criticism.

Page’s report cites a cost in the range of $13.9 billion to $18.1 billion to 2011. But several relevant departments – including Foreign Affairs and the Canadian International Agency, the military’s two main partners in Afghanistan – refused to give his office additional figures beyond what they had already posted on their websites.

Page’s estimate means each household is contributing $1,500 to support the deployment. But because of inconsistent government bookkeeping, that figure would be significantly higher because departments “have not met any appropriate standard or best practice,” said Page, who called on Treasury Board to implement a streamlined practice.

“Budget transparency for parliamentarians and Canadians needs to be improved,” Page said. “When compared with international experience, Canada appears to lag behind the best practices of other jurisdictions.”

Page did not spare the previous Liberal government, which first sent Canadian troops to Afghanistan, when he said: “Although Canada is in the seventh year of the mission, Parliament has not been provided with estimates by successive governments on the fiscal costs incurred by all relevant departments.”

Paul Dewar, the NDP MP for Ottawa Centre who requested Page’s investigation, said knowing the true cost of the mission would have radically changed the House of Commons debate earlier this year that extended the Afghanistan mission by two years to 2011.

“The reason I asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer for this study is because the government would not answer my questions in the House nor at committee nor through order paper question. So Canadians were never given the facts,” Dewar said. “This is the tip of the iceberg as you’ve heard today.”

Dewar argued Page’s finding showed Harper could not be trusted and he reiterated his party’s stand that Canada’s 2,500 troops should be withdrawn within months.

Page’s estimate is still significantly higher than the original $8 billion that has been publicly cited, said Dewar.

The Canwest News Service first reported that figure in April based on an Access to Information request made by the NDP.

“The debate is not that the numbers are wrong. It’s a debate about what to include and what not to include. This is something that governments of both stripes have been supporting for a decade,” the prime minister said.

“One can go back and debate, ‘Should we have made this commitment in 2002, should we have gone into Kandahar in 2005?’ These are interesting questions. But the fact is the commitment was made, and this government has no option but to respect its obligations.”

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion accused Harper failing to provide Canadians with an accurate year-to-year account of spending.

“It is the false transparency that is the problem,” said Dion.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the Conservatives were not being “transparent and honest” with Canadians.

“In presenting numbers that were grossly erroneous on the cost of the mission in Afghanistan, Harper wanted to mislead the population,” Duceppe said.

Page was supposed to report to Parliament last month, but it was dissolved when Harper called an election.

Page then said he would be willing to release his figures before Canadians went to the polls on Oct. 14 if all major party leaders agreed. They did.

The report said that CIDA’s departmental performance reports “do not provide annual spending in Afghanistan for individual projects.”

The Canadian government has earmarked $1.9 billion between 2001-2011 for development spending in Afghanistan.

“VAC (Veterans Affairs Canada) does not report basic financial data specific to the Afghanistan mission, although Canada’s involvement in the Afghanistan mission is a major project and the death, disability, medical and stress related payments are fiscally material,” the report said.

So far, 97 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan, while hundreds more have been injured.

The military also does not provide “mission specific details” to parliament, the report found.

“For example, it is impossible to determine how many reservists were deployed for each year of the mission; how much fuel was consumed; or the level of expenditure on equipment reset and betterment, for all Afghanistan related operations.”

Page backed away from publicly criticizing the various government departments after the report’s release, saying he wanted to build bridges with the bureaucracy.

His new oversight office was created this past spring, and is a largely unknown entity in Ottawa, he said, but is determined to bring better “fiscal transparency” to the federal government.

“It’s important for me to be diplomatic,” Page said, while also making clear he’s not worried about being kicked out of a job if he ruffles a few feathers.

“Do I look afraid? I promise you I’m not afraid.”


Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 2:29 am  Comments Off on Stephen Harper hid the actual cost of the War  
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NATO to consider talks with the Taliban?

An Afghan soldier holds his weapon at a check point in Arghandab district, recaptured from the Taliban militants, in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday June 22, 2008. (AP / Musadeq Sadeq)An Afghan soldier holds his weapon at a check point in Arghandab district, recaptured from the Taliban militants, in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday June 22, 2008. (AP / Musadeq Sadeq)

Oct. 8 2008

LONDON — When NATO defence ministers meet in Budapest on Thursday, they will face a worsening situation in Afghanistan and vexing questions about whether the war can be won.

Increasingly, military commanders and political leaders are asking: Is it time to talk to the Taliban?

With U.S. and NATO forces suffering their deadliest year so far in Afghanistan, a rising chorus of voices, including U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the incoming head of U.S. Central Command, have endorsed efforts to reach out to members of the Taliban considered willing to seek an accommodation with President Hamid Karzai’s government.

“That is one of the key long-term solutions in Afghanistan, just as it has been in Iraq,” Gates told reporters Monday. “Part of the solution is reconciliation with people who are willing to work with the Afghan government going forward.”

Gen. David Petraeus, who will become responsible for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan as head of U.S. Central Command on Oct. 31, agreed.

“I do think you have to talk to enemies,” Petraeus said Wednesday at an appearance at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, when asked about potential dialogue with the Taliban.

“You’ve got to set things up. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to. You’ve got to have your objectives straight,” he said. “But I mean, what we did do in Iraq ultimately was sit down with some of those that were shooting at us. What we tried to do was identify those who might be reconcilable.”

In terms of Afghanistan, he said: “The key there is making sure that all of that is done in complete co-ordination with complete support of the Afghan government — and with President Karzai.”

But entering negotiations with the Taliban raises difficult issues.

It is not clear whether there is a unified Taliban command structure that could engage in serious talks, and the group still embraces the hardline ideology that made them pariahs in the West until their ouster from power in 2001.

During its 1996-2001 rule, Afghan women and girls were barred from attending school or holding jobs, music and television were banned, men were compelled to wear beards, and artwork or statues deemed idolatrous or anti-Muslim were destroyed.

In an assault that provoked an international outcry, Taliban fighters blew up two giant statues of Buddha that had graced the ancient Silk Road town of Bamiyan for some 1,500 years.

Seven years after the U.S. invasion, what was originally considered a quick military success has turned into an increasingly violent counterinsurgency fight.

An unprecedented number of U.S. troops — about 32,000 — are in Afghanistan today, and the Pentagon plans to send several thousand more in the coming months. Gates is expected to press for additional troops and money for the fight in Afghanistan at this week’s NATO meeting.

At least 131 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this year, surpassing the previous annual high of 111 in 2007. An additional 100 troops from other NATO countries have died in 2008.

Canada, which has some 2,500 troops in southern Kandahar province, has lost 23 soldiers so far this year.

NATO commander says peacemaking up to Afghan gov’t

Speaking in London on Monday, U.S. Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s supreme operational commander, said he is open to talks with the Taliban as long as any peacemaking bid is led by the Afghan government, not western forces.

“I have said over and over again this is not going to be won by military means,” Craddock said, adding that NATO’s goal is to create a safe environment so responsibility for security can be transferred to Afghan authorities.

The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, added his voice to the rising chorus, saying Tuesday it was “desirable” to have direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and offering to host any such meeting.

The problem, say some analysts, is identifying who within the Taliban can be a reliable negotiating partner.

“The Taliban are no longer a monolithic force; with whom do you negotiate if you want to talk with the Taliban?” asked Eric Rosenbach, executive director of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Rather than high-level, high-profile negotiations, “the Afghan government should pursue talks with individual commanders and warlords” who have renounced violence, he said.

“This approach is much more likely to succeed, will further fracture the opposition, and will place the Afghan government in a position of strength for future negotiations.”

Charles Heyman, editor of Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, said there is widespread agreement that the original U.S. and British goal of building a liberal, western-style democracy in Afghanistan is not attainable because the Taliban never were routed or forced to disband.

“There is going to be an accommodation with the Taliban whether people like it or not,” he said. “Everyone knows this is going to be very, very difficult.”

He said the West’s long-term interest would be served by ensuring that al-Qaida doesn’t have a presence in Afghanistan. That would mean making sure any future Afghan leadership, even if it includes Taliban elements, understands that it will come under sustained attack if it allows al-Qaida to set up training camps there.

Ayesha Khan, an associate fellow at the Chatham House research group in London, said it is possible that clerics close to fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar could meet with Afghan government representatives.

“This desire to engage the Taliban started last year and has gained momentum,” she said. “The British government is involved in strategizing it. They are trying to separate the more moderate Taliban from the more extremist ones.”


US military admits killing 33 civilians in Afghanistan air strike

October 9. 2008

The US military has admitted killing 33 civilians in an air strike on a village in Afghanistan in August, far more than it has previously acknowledged.

Following the attack on August 22 on Azizabad, in Heart province, the Afghan government claimed that 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed, a figure backed by the UN.

Until now the US has estimated that that no more than seven civilians died in the attack. It launched an inquiry after it emerged that film recorded on mobile phones showed rows of bodies of children and babies in a makeshift morgue.

The inquiry found that of the 33 dead civilians, eight were men, three women and 12 children. The 10 others were undetermined. It also claimed that 22 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.

The inquiry dismissed the Afghan government’s estimate as over reliant on statements from villagers.

“Their reports lack independent evidence to support the allegations of higher numbers of civilian casualties,” the US report said. A spokesman for the Afghan government said it stood by its estimate.

The US expressed regret for the civilian losses but blamed the Taliban for having chosen to take up fighting positions near civilians.

“Unfortunately, and unknown to the US and Afghan forces, the (militants) chose fighting positions in close proximity to civilians,” the report said.

The acting commander of US forces in the Middle East, lieutenant general Martin Dempsey, said the attack was based on credible intelligence and was made in self defence.

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of innocent life in Azizabad. We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan in all our operations, but as we have seen all too often, this ruthless enemy routinely surround themselves with innocents,” he said.

US central command said its investigation was based on 28 interviews resulting in more than 20 hours of recorded testimony from Afghan government officials, Afghan village elders, officials from nongovernmental organisations, US and Afghan troops, 236 documents and 11 videos.

The issue of civilian deaths has outraged Afghans and strained relations with foreign forces in Afghanistan to help fight the insurgency. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has warned US and NATO for years that they must stop killing civilians on bombing runs against militants, saying the deaths undermine his government and the international mission.

Following the raid on Azizabad Nato’s commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, issued a revised tactics and procedures for air and ground assaults against insurgents.


Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 9:44 am  Comments Off on NATO to consider talks with the Taliban?  
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