#BentBritain: #UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications!

UK admits unlawfully monitoring legally privileged communications ~ and , The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2015.

Intelligence agencies have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for past five years, government admits

Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al Saadi
The admission comes ahead of a legal challenge brought on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, over allegations that security services unlawfully intercepted their communications with lawyers.  Photograph: PA & AFP

The regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI5 and MI6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful, the British government has admitted.

The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply fully with human rights laws in a second major area – this time highly sensitive legally privileged communications – is a severe embarrassment for the government.

It follows hard on the heels of the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime surrounding the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and Britain’s GCHQ was unlawful for seven years.

The admission that the regime surrounding state snooping on legally privileged communications has also failed to comply with the European convention on human rights comes in advance of a legal challenge, to be heard early next month, in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients to provide the government with an advantage in court.

The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). It is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, who, along with their families, were abducted in a joint MI6-CIA operation and sent back to Tripoli to be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2004.

A government spokesman said: “The concession the government has made today relates to the agencies’ policies and procedures governing the handling of legally privileged communications and whether they are compatible with the European convention on human rights.

“In view of recent IPT judgments, we acknowledge that the policies adopted since [January] 2010 have not fully met the requirements of the ECHR, specifically article 8 (right to privacy). This includes a requirement that safeguards are made sufficiently public.

“It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on their part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligations to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously. Nor does it mean that any of the agencies’ activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings.”

He said that the intelligence agencies would now work with the interception of communications commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations.

Cori Crider, a director at Reprieve and one of the Belhaj family’s lawyers said: “By allowing the intelligence agencies free reign to spy on communications between lawyers and their clients, the government has endangered the fundamental British right to a fair trial.

“Reprieve has been warning for months that the security services’ policies on lawyer-client snooping have been shot through with loopholes big enough to drive a bus through.

“For too long, the security services have been allowed to snoop on those bringing cases against them when they speak to their lawyers. In doing so, they have violated a right that is centuries old in British common law. Today they have finally admitted they have been acting unlawfully for years.

“Worryingly, it looks very much like they have collected the private lawyer-client communications of two victims of rendition and torture, and possibly misused them. While the government says there was no ‘deliberate’ collection of material, it’s abundantly clear that private material was collected and may well have been passed on to lawyers or ministers involved in the civil case brought by Abdel hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were ‘rendered’ to Libya in 2004 by British intelligence.

“Only time will tell how badly their case was tainted. But right now, the government needs urgently to investigate how things went wrong and come clean about what it is doing to repair the damage.”

Government sources, in line with all such cases, refuse to confirm or deny whether the two Libyans were the subject of an interception operation. They insist the concession does not concern the allegation that actual interception took place and say it will be for the investigatory powers tribunal hearing to determine the issue.

An updated draft interception code of practice spelling out the the rules for the first time was quietly published at the same time as the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruling against GCHQ earlier this month in the case brought by Privacy International and Liberty.

The government spokesman said the draft code set out enhanced safeguards and provided more detail than previously on the protections that had to be applied in the security agencies handling of legally privileged communications.

The draft code makes clear that warrants for snooping on legally privileged conversations, emails and other communications between suspects and their lawyers can be granted if there are exceptional and compelling circumstances. They have to however ensure that they are not available to lawyers or policy officials who are conducting legal cases against those suspects.

Exchanges between lawyers and their clients enjoy a special protected status under UK law. Following exposure of widespread monitoring by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, Belhaj’s lawyers feared that their exchanges with their clients could have been compromised by GCHQ’s interception of phone conversations and emails.

To demonstrate that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required in advance of Wednesday’s concession to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.

The MI6 papers noted: “Undertaking interception in such circumstances would be extremely rare and would require strong justification and robust safeguards. It is essential that such intercepted material is not acquired or used for the purpose of conferring an unfair or improper advantage on SIS or HMG [Her Majesty’s government] in any such litigation, legal proceedings or criminal investigation.”

The internal documents also refer to a visit by the interception commissioner, Sir Anthony May, last summer to examine interception warrants, where it was discovered that regulations were not being observed. “In relation to one of the warrants,” the document explained, “the commissioner identified a number of concerns with regard to the handling of [legal professional privilege] material”.

Amnesty UK’s legal programme director, Rachel Logan, said: “We are talking about nothing less than the violation of a fundamental principle of the rule of law – that communications between a lawyer and their client must be confidential.

“The government has been caught red-handed. The security agencies have been illegally intercepting privileged material and are continuing to do so – this could mean they’ve been spying on the very people challenging them in court.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that government spies have been rumbled breaking the law.”


#Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the #West’s modern crimes!

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes ~ Ben White, The Nation, February 14, 2015.

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.

Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.

Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.

Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

The week after Mohammed’s death, on February 5, Mr Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and discussed the violence of ISIL.

“Lest we get on our high horses”, said the commander-in-chief, “remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

These comments prompted a (brief) media storm, with Mr Obama accused of insulting Christians, pandering to the terrorist enemy, or just bad history.

In fact, the president was simply repeating a point often made by liberals since September 11, namely, that all religions have blots on their copy book through the deeds of their followers.

One of the consequences, however, of this invocation of the Crusades – unintended, and all the more significant for it – is to seal away the West’s “sins”, particularly vis-à-vis its relationship to the Middle East, in events that took place a thousand years ago.

The Crusades were, in one sense, a demonstration of raw military power, and a collective trauma for the peoples of the regions they marched through and invaded.

In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099, a witness described how the Europeans ordered “all the Saracen dead to be cast outside because of the great stench, since the whole city was filled with their corpses”.

He added: “No one ever saw or heard of such slaughter of pagan people, for funeral pyres were formed from them like pyramids.”

Or take the Third Crusade, when, on August 20, 1191, England’s King Richard I oversaw the beheading of 3,000 Muslim prisoners at Acre in full view of Saladin’s army.

Just “ancient history”? In 1920, when the French had besieged and captured Damascus, their commander Henri Gourard reportedly went to the grave of Saladin, kicked it, and uttered: “Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”

But the US president need not cite the Crusades or even the colonial rule of the early 20th century: more relevant reference points would be Bagram and Fallujah.

Bagram base in Afghanistan is where US soldiers tortured prisoners to death – like 22-year-old taxi driver and farmer Dilawar. Before he was killed in custody, Dilawar was beaten by soldiers just to make him scream “Allah!”

Five months after September 11, The Guardian reported that US missiles had killed anywhere between 1,300 and 8,000 in Afghanistan. Months later, the paper suggested that “as many as 20,000 Afghans may have lost their lives as an indirect consequence of the US intervention”.

When it was Iraq’s turn, the people of Fallujah discovered that US forces gave them funerals, not democracy. On April 28, 2003, US soldiers massacred civilian protesters, shooting to death 17 during a demonstration.

When that city revolted against the occupation, the residents paid a price. As Marines tried to quell resistance in the city, wrote The New York Times on April 14, 2004, they had “orders to shoot any male of military age on the streets after dark, armed or not”.Months later, as the Marines launched their November assault on the city, CNN reported that “the sky…seems to explode”.

In their bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US and UK armed forces rained fiery death down on men, women and children. Prisoners were tortured and sexually abused. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. No one was held to account.

It is one thing to apologise for the brutality of western Crusaders a thousand years ago. It is quite another to look at the corpses of the victims of the imperialist present, or hear the screams of the bereaved.

In his excellent book The Muslims Are Coming, Arun Kundnani analysed the “politics of anti-extremism”, and describes the two approaches developed by policymakers and analysts during the “war on terror”.

The first approach, which he refers to as “culturalism”, emphasises “what adherents regard as inherent features of Islamic culture”. The second approach, “reformism”, is when “extremism is viewed as a perversion of Islam’s message”, rather than “a clash of civilisations between the West’s modern values and Islam’s fanaticism”.

Thus the American Right was angry with Mr Obama, because for them, it is about religion – or specifically, Islam. Liberals, meanwhile, want to locate the problem in terms of culture.

Both want to avoid a discussion about imperialism, massacres, coups, brutalities, disappearances, dictatorships – in other words, politics.

As Kundnani writes: when “the concept of ideology” is made central, whether understood as “Islam itself or as Islamist extremism”, then “the role of western states in co-producing the terror war is obscured”.

The problem with Mr Obama’s comments on the Crusades was not, as hysterical conservatives claimed, that he was making offensive and inaccurate analogies with ISIL; rather, that in the comfort of condemning the past, he could mask the violence of his own government in the present.

The echoes of collective trauma remain for a long time, and especially when new wounds are still being inflicted. Think it is farfetched that Muslims would still care about a 1,000-year-old European invasion? Then try asking them about Guantanamo and Camp Bucca instead.

Ben White is a journalist and author of Israeli Apartheid

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes
Pep Montserrat for The National

| 6 things about Mandela the mainstream media whitewashes!

Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About ~ AVIVA SHEN and  JUDD LEGUMThinkProgress.

In the desire to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life — an iconic figure who triumphed over South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime — it’s tempting to homogenize his views into something everyone can support. This is not, however, an accurate representation of the man.

Mandela was a political activist and agitator. He did not shy away from controversy and he did not seek — or obtain — universal approval. Before and after his release from prison, he embraced an unabashedly progressive and provocative platform. As one commentator put itshortly after the announcement of the freedom fighter’s death, “Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view.”

As the world remembers Mandela, here are some of the things he believed that many will gloss over.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. Mandela called Bush “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. Mandela even speculated that then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being undermined in the process because he was black. “They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said. He saw the Iraq War as a greater problem of American imperialism around the world. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.” Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process. On the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 himself, Mandela was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s war on terror. He warned against rushing to label terrorists without due process. While forcefully calling for Osama bin Laden to be brought to justice, Mandela remarked, “The labeling of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist responsible for those acts before he had been tried and convicted could also be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law.”

4. Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.” He reminded a larger crowd at Yankee Stadium that racism was not exclusively a South African phenomenon. “As we enter the last decade of the 20th century, it is intolerable, unacceptable, that the cancer of racism is still eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet,” he said. “All of us, black and white, should spare no effort in our struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”

5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies. Mandela incited shock and anger in many American communities for refusing to denounce Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had lent their support to Mandela against South African apartheid. “One of the mistakes the Western world makes is to think that their enemies should be our enemies,” he explained to an American TV audience. “We have our own struggle.” He added that those leaders “are placing resources at our disposal to win the struggle.” He also called the controversial Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “a comrade in arms.”

6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions. Mandela visited the Detroit auto workers union when touring the U.S., immediately claiming kinship with them. “Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here,” he said. “The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood.”

Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela

CREDIT: AP

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| Confessions of a Drone Warrior!

Confessions of a Drone Warrior ~ GQ.

He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ETHAN LEVITAS
October 23, 2013

From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.

He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons. He switched from the visible spectrum—the muted grays and browns of “day-TV”—to the sharp contrast of infrared, and the insurgents’ heat signatures stood out ghostly white against the cool black earth. A safety observer loomed behind him to make sure the “weapon release” was by the book. A long verbal checklist, his targeting laser locked on the two men walking in front. A countdown—three…two…one…—then the flat delivery of the phrase “missile off the rail.” Seventy-five hundred miles away, a Hellfire flared to life, detached from its mount, and reached supersonic speed in seconds.

It was quiet in the dark, cold box in the desert, except for the low hum of machines.

He kept the targeting laser trained on the two lead men and stared so intently that each individual pixel stood out, a glowing pointillist dot abstracted from the image it was meant to form. Time became almost ductile, the seconds stretched and slowed in a strange electronic limbo. As he watched the men walk, the one who had fallen behind seemed to hear something and broke into a run to catch up with the other two. Then, bright and silent as a camera flash, the screen lit up with white flame.

Airman First Class Brandon Bryant stared at the scene, unblinking in the white-hot clarity of infrared. He recalls it even now, years later, burned into his memory like a photo negative: “The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”

···

That was Brandon Bryant’s first shot. It was early 2007, a few weeks after his twenty-first birthday, and Bryant was a remotely-piloted-aircraft sensor operator—a “sensor” for short—part of a U.S. Air Force squadron that flew Predator drones in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan. Beginning in 2006, he worked in the windowless metal box of a Ground Control Station (GCS) at Nellis Air Force Base, a vast sprawl of tarmac and maintenance hangars at the edge of Las Vegas.

The airmen kept the control station dark so they could focus on controlling their MQ-1B Predators circling two miles above the Afghan countryside. Bryant sat in a padded cockpit chair. He had a wrestler’s compact build, a smooth-shaved head, and a piercing ice blue gaze frequently offset by a dimpled grin. As a sensor, his job was to work in tandem with the drone’s pilot, who sat in the chair next to him. While the pilot controlled the drone’s flight maneuvers, Bryant acted as the Predator’s eyes, focusing its array of cameras and aiming its targeting laser. When a Hellfire was launched, it was a joint operation: the pilot pulled a trigger, and Bryant was responsible for the missile’s “terminal guidance,” directing the high-explosive warhead by laser to its desired objective. Both men wore regulation green flight suits, an unironic Air Force nod to the continuity of military decorum in the age of drone warfare.


The Air Force’s go-to drone: The MQ-1 Predator.

Since its inception, the drone program has been largely hidden, its operational details gathered piecemeal from heavily redacted classified reports or stage-managed media tours by military public-affairs flacks. Bryant is one of very few people with firsthand experience as an operator who has been willing to talk openly, to describe his experience from the inside. While Bryant considers leakers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden heroes willing to sacrifice themselves for their principles, he’s cautious about discussing some of the details to which his top-secret clearance gave him access. Still, he is a curtain drawn back on the program that has killed thousands on our behalf.

Despite President Obama’s avowal earlier this year that he will curtail their use, drone strikes have continued apace in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. With enormous potential growth and expenditures, drones will be a center of our policy for the foreseeable future. (By 2025, drones will be an $82 billion business, employing an additional 100,000 workers.) Most Americans—61 percent in the latest Pew survey—support the idea of military drones, a projection of American power that won’t risk American lives.

And yet the very idea of drones unsettles. They’re too easy a placeholder or avatar for all of our technological anxieties—the creeping sense that screens and cameras have taken some piece of our souls, that we’ve slipped into a dystopia of disconnection. Maybe it’s too soon to know what drones mean, what unconsidered moral and ethical burdens they carry. Even their shape is sinister: the blunt and featureless nose cone, like some eyeless creature that has evolved in darkness.

For Bryant, talking about them has become a sort of confessional catharsis, a means of processing the things he saw and did during his six years in the Air Force as an experimental test subject in an utterly new form of warfare.

···

Looking back, it was really little more than happenstance that had led him to that box in the desert. He’d been raised poor by his single mom, a public-school teacher in Missoula, Montana, and he struggled to afford tuition at the University of Montana. In the summer of 2005, after tagging along with a buddy to the Army recruiting office, he wandered into the Air Force office next door. His friend got a bad feeling and bailed at the last minute, but Bryant had already signed his papers. In short order he was running around at Lackland Air Force Base during Warrior Week in the swelter of a Texas summer. He wasn’t much for military hierarchy, but he scored high on his aptitude tests and was shunted into intelligence, training to be an imagery analyst. He was told he would be like “the guys that give James Bond all the information that he needs to get the mission done.”

Most of the airmen in his intel class were funneled into the drone program, training at Creech Air Force Base in the sagebrush desert an hour north of Las Vegas. Bryant was told it was the largest group ever inducted. His sensor-operator course took ten weeks and led into “green flag” exercises, during which airmen piloted Predators and launched dummy Hellfires at a cardboard town mocked up in the middle of the desert. The missiles, packed with concrete, would punch through the derelict tanks and wrecked cars placed around the set. “It’s like playing Dungeons & Dragons,” says Bryant. “Roll a d20 to see if you hit your target.” His training inspector, watching over his shoulder, would count down to impact and say, “Splash! You killed everyone.”

Within a few months he “went off” to war, flying missions over Iraq at the height of the conflict’s deadliest period, even though he never left Nevada.

His opening day on the job was also his worst. The drone took off from Balad Air Base, fifty miles outside Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle. Bryant’s orders, delivered during a pre-shift mission briefing, were straightforward: a force-protection mission, acting as a “guardian angel” over a convoy of Humvees. He would search out IEDs, insurgent activity, and other threats. It was night in the U.S. and already daylight in Iraq when the convoy rolled out.

From 10,000 feet, Bryant scanned the road with infrared. Traffic was quiet. Everything normal. Then he spotted a strange circle, glowing faintly on the surface of the road. A common insurgent’s technique for laying IEDs is to douse a tire with gasoline, set it afire on a roadway, and dig up the softened tar beneath. The technique leaves a telltale heat signature, visible in infrared. Bryant, a fan of The Lord of the Rings,joked that it looked like the glowing Eye of Sauron.


Flying a drone can feel like a deadly two-person video game—with a pilot (left) and sensor (right).

Bryant pointed the spot out to the pilot, who agreed it looked like trouble. But when they tried to warn the convoy, they realized they couldn’t. The Humvees had activated their radio jammers to disrupt the cell-phone signals used to remotely detonate IEDs. The drone crew’s attempts at radio contact were as useless as shouting at the monitor. Brandon and his pilot patched in their flight supervisor to brainstorm a new way to reach them. They typed frantically back and forth in a group chat, a string of messages that soon included a cast of superiors in the U.S. and Iraq. Minutes passed, and the convoy rolled slowly toward the glowing circle. Bryant stared at the screen, heart pounding, scarcely breathing. The lead Humvee rolled across the eye. “Nothing happens,” says Bryant. “And we’re kind of like, maybe it was a mistake. Everyone’s like Whew, good on you for spotting it, but we’re glad that it wasn’t what you thought it was.” He remembers exhaling, feeling the nervous tension flow out of him.

“And the second vehicle comes along and boom.…”

A white flash of flame blossomed on the screen. Bryant was zoomed in as close as he could get, toggling his view between infrared and day-TV, watching in unblinking horror as the shredded Humvee burned. His headset exploded with panicked chatter from the ground in Iraq: What the fuck happened? We’ve got guys down over here! Frantic soldiers milled around, trying to pull people out of the smoldering wreckage. The IED had been tripped by either a pressure plate or manual detonation; the radio jammers would have done nothing to prevent it. Three soldiers were severely wounded, and two were killed.

“I kind of finished the night numb,” Bryant says. “Then you just go home. No one talked about it. No one talked about how they felt after anything. It was like an unspoken agreement that you wouldn’t talk about your experiences.”

···

The pace of work in the box unraveled Bryant’s sense of time. He worked twelve-hour shifts, often overnight, six days a week. Both wars were going badly at the time, and the Air Force leaned heavily on its new drone fleet. A loaded Predator drone can stay aloft for eighteen hours, and the pilots and sensors were pushed to be as tireless as the technology they controlled. (Bryant claims he didn’t get to take leave for the first four years he served.)

Even the smell of that little shed in the desert got to Bryant. The hermetically sealed control center was almost constantly occupied—you couldn’t take a bathroom break without getting swapped out—and the atmosphere was suffused with traces of cigarette smoke and rank sweat that no amount of Febreze could mask. One bored pilot even calculated the number of farts each cockpit seat was likely to have absorbed.

Mostly the drone crews’ work was an endless loop of watching: scanning roads, circling compounds, tracking suspicious activity. If there was a “troops-in-contact” situation—a firefight, ground troops who call in a strike—Bryant’s Predator could be called to the scene in minutes with its deadly payload. But usually time passed in a haze of banal images of rooftops, walled courtyards, or traffic-snarled intersections.

Sitting in the darkness of the control station, Bryant watched people on the other side of the world go about their daily lives, completely unaware of his all-seeing presence wheeling in the sky above. If his mission was to monitor a high-value target, he might linger above a single house for weeks. It was a voyeuristic intimacy. He watched the targets drink tea with friends, play with their children, have sex with their wives on rooftops, writhing under blankets. There were soccer matches, and weddings too. He once watched a man walk out into a field and take a crap, which glowed white in infrared.

Bryant came up with little subterfuges to pass the long hours at the console: sneaking in junk food, mending his uniforms, swapping off twenty-minute naps with the pilot. He mastered reading novels while still monitoring the seven screens of his station, glancing up every minute or two before returning to the page. He constructed a darkly appropriate syllabus for his occupation. He read the dystopian sci-fi classicEnder’s Game, about children whose violent simulated games turn out to be actual warfare. Then came Asimov, Bryant pondering his Three Laws of Robotics in an age of Predators and Hellfires. A robot may not injure a human being….

Bryant took five shots in his first nine months on the job. After a strike he was tasked with lingering over a site for several haunting hours, conducting surveillance for an “after-action report.” He might watch people gather up the remains of those killed and carry them to the local cemetery or scrub the scene by dumping weapons into a river. Over Iraq he followed an insurgent commander as he drove through a crowded marketplace. The man parked in the middle of the street, opened his trunk, and pulled two girls out. “They were bound and gagged,” says Bryant. “He put them down on their knees, executed them in the middle of the street, and left them there. People just watched it and didn’t do anything.” Another time, Bryant watched as a local official groveled in his own grave before being executed by two Taliban insurgents.


Keepsakes from Bryant’s service are proudly displayed in his mother’s classroom.

In the early months Bryant had found himself swept up by the Big Game excitement when someone in his squadron made “mind-blowingly awesome shots, situations where these guys were bad guys and needed to be taken out.” But a deep ambivalence about his work crept in. Often he’d think about what life must be like in those towns and villages his Predators glided over, like buzzards riding updrafts. How would he feel, living beneath the shadow of robotic surveillance? “Horrible,” he says now. But at first, he believed that the mission was vital, that drones were capable of limiting the suffering of war, of saving lives. When this notion conflicted with the things he witnessed in high resolution from two miles above, he tried to put it out of his mind. Over time he found that the job made him numb: a “zombie mode” he slipped into as easily as his flight suit.

···

Bryant’s second shot came a few weeks after targeting the three men on that dirt road in Kunar. He was paired with a pilot he didn’t much like, instructed to monitor a compound that intel told them contained a high-value individual—maybe a Taliban commander or Al Qaeda affiliate, nobody briefed him on the specifics. It was a typical Afghan mud-brick home, goats and cows milling around a central courtyard. They watched a corner of the compound’s main building, bored senseless for hours. They assumed the target was asleep.

Then the quiet ended. “We get this word that we’re gonna fire,” he says. “We’re gonna shoot and collapse the building. They’ve gotten intel that the guy is inside.” The drone crew received no further information, no details of who the target was or why he needed a Hellfire dropped on his roof.

Bryant’s laser hovered on the corner of the building. “Missile off the rail.” Nothing moved inside the compound but the eerily glowing cows and goats. Bryant zoned out at the pixels. Then, about six seconds before impact, he saw a hurried movement in the compound. “This figure runs around the corner, the outside, toward the front of the building. And it looked like a little kid to me. Like a little human person.”

Bryant stared at the screen, frozen. “There’s this giant flash, and all of a sudden there’s no person there.” He looked over at the pilot and asked, “Did that look like a child to you?” They typed a chat message to their screener, an intelligence observer who was watching the shot from “somewhere in the world”—maybe Bagram, maybe the Pentagon, Bryant had no idea—asking if a child had just run directly into the path of their shot.

“And he says, ‘Per the review, it’s a dog.’ ”

Bryant and the pilot replayed the shot, recorded on eight-millimeter tape. They watched it over and over, the figure darting around the corner. Bryant was certain it wasn’t a dog.

If they’d had a few more seconds’ warning, they could have aborted the shot, guided it by laser away from the compound. Bryant wouldn’t have cared about wasting a $95,000 Hellfire to avoid what he believed had happened. But as far as the official military version of events was concerned, nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The pilot “was the type of guy to not argue with command,” says Bryant. So the pilot’s after-action report stated that the building had been destroyed, the high-value target eliminated. The report made no mention of a dog or any other living thing. The child, if there had been a child, was an infrared ghost.

···

The closest Bryant ever got to “real” combat—the roadside bombs and mortar fire experienced by combat troops—was after volunteering to deploy to Iraq. He spent the scorching summer and fall of 2007 stationed at the airfield in Balad, flying Predators on base-defense missions—scanning the area for insurgents. Some troops thanked the drone crews for being “angels in the sky,” but more often they were the butt of jokes, mocked as “chair-borne rangers” who would “only earn a Purple Heart for burning themselves on a Hot Pocket.”

Bryant struggled to square the jokes with the scenes that unfolded on his monitors. On one shift, he was told by command that they needed coordinates on an insurgent training compound and asked him to spot it. There was a firing range, and he watched as a group of fighters all entered the same building. One of the issues with targeting insurgents was that they often traveled with their families, and there was no way to tell who exactly was in any given building. Bryant lasered the building as he was ordered. Moments later, smoke mushroomed high into the air, a blast wave leveling the entire compound. An F-16, using Bryant’s laser coordinates as guidance, had dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on the building—ten times the size of a Hellfire. “They didn’t actually tell us that they were gonna blow it up,” says Bryant. “We’re like, ‘Wow, that was nice of you to inform us of that.’ ”

In 2008, Bryant was transferred to a new post in “the shittiest place in the world,” a drone squadron out of Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, where, Bryant says, “the air is not oxygen, it’s basically cow shit.” He continued as an operator for several more years, but his directive had changed. He was now mainly tracking high-value targets for the Joint Special Operations Command—the same secret-shrouded branch of the service that spearheaded the hunt for Osama bin Laden. “We were going after top dudes. They started showing us PowerPoint presentations on who these people are,” he says. “Why we’re after him, and what he did. I liked that. I liked being able to know shit like that.”

Bryant has never been philosophically opposed to the use of drones—he sees them as a tool, like any other, that can be used for good ends, citing their potential use to fight poachers, or to monitor forest fires. For him it’s about who controls them, and toward what ends. “It can’t be a small group of people deciding how they’re used,” he says. “There’s got to be transparency. People have to know how they’re being used so they’re used responsibly.”

Transparency has not been the defining feature of U.S. drone policy over the last decade. Even as Bryant was being trained to operate drones in our very public wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a parallel and clandestine drone war was being waged in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Since 2004, the CIA has carried out hundreds of strikes in Pakistani territory, cutting secret deals with Pakistani intelligence to operate a covert assassination program. Another covert CIA drone base was operated from Saudi Arabia, launching strikes against militants in the lawless and mountainous interior of Yemen. While Bryant never flew for the CIA itself, their drone operators were drawn directly from the Air Force ranks.

While stationed in Clovis, among the highest-value targets Bryant’s squadron hunted was Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born Yemeni imam and Al Qaeda recruiter. Al-Awlaki was ultimately killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 (as was his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a few weeks later). But Bryant claims his Air Force squadron “did most of the legwork” to pinpoint his location.

By 2011, Bryant had logged nearly 6,000 hours of flight time, flown hundreds of missions, targeted hundreds of enemies. He was in what he describes as “a fugue state of mind.” At the entrance to his flight headquarters in Clovis, in front of a large bulletin board, plastered with photographs of targets like al-Awlaki, he looked up at the faces and asked: “What motherfucker’s gonna die today?”

It seemed like someone else’s voice was speaking, some dark alter ego. “I knew I had to get out.”

By the spring of 2011, almost six years after he’d signed on, Senior Airman Brandon Bryant left the Air Force, turning down a $109,000 bonus to keep flying. He was presented with a sort of scorecard covering his squadron’s missions. “They gave me a list of achievements,” he says. “Enemies killed, enemies captured, high-value targets killed or captured, stuff like that.” He called it his diploma. He hadn’t lased the target or pulled the trigger on all of the deaths tallied, but by flying in the missions he felt he had enabled them. “The number,” he says, “made me sick to my stomach.”

Total enemies killed in action: 1,626.

···


Since speaking out about drones, Bryant has been a target.

“After that first missile hit, I didn’t really talk to anyone for a couple weeks.” Bryant spoke to me while driving his beat-up black Dodge Neon in looping cursive circles around his hometown of Missoula. A yellow support-the-troops sticker on his bumper was obscured by a haze of road salt. The car’s interior was festooned with patches from the different units he’d served with; in the back seat was a military pack stuffed with equal parts dirty laundry and bug-out gear. The gray midwinter sky weighed on a procession of strip malls and big-box stores; the snowy crenellations of the Bitterroot Range stretched far away to the south. He stared ahead as though watching the scene of his shot on an endless loop. “I didn’t know what it meant to kill someone. And watching the aftermath, watching someone bleed out, because of something that I did?”

That night, on the drive home, he’d started sobbing. He pulled over and called his mother. “She just was like, ‘Everything will be okay,’ and I told her I killed someone, I killed people, and I don’t feel good about it. And she’s like, ‘Good, that’s how it should feel, you should never not feel that way.’ ”

Other members of his squadron had different reactions to their work. One sensor operator, whenever he made a kill, went home and chugged an entire bottle of whiskey. A female operator, after her first shot, refused to fire again even under the threat of court martial. Another pilot had nightmares after watching two headless bodies float down the Tigris. Bryant himself would have bizarre dreams where the characters from his favorite game, World of Warcraft, appeared in infrared.

By mid-2011, Bryant was back in Missoula, only now he felt angry, isolated, depressed. While getting a video game at a Best Buy, he showed his military ID with his credit card, and a teenage kid behind him in line spoke up. “He’s like, ‘Oh, you’re in the military; my brother, he’s a Marine, he’s killed like thirty-six dudes, and he tells me about it all the time.’ And I turn around and say, ‘If you fucking ever talk like this to me again, I will stab you. Don’t ever disrespect people’s deaths like that ever again.’ ” The kid went pale, and Bryant took his game and left.

At the urging of a Vietnam veteran he met at the local VA office, Bryant finally went to see a therapist. After a few sessions, he just broke down: “I told her I wanted to be a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero. I wanted to do something good, but I feel like I just wasted the last six years of my life.” She diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It was an unexpected diagnosis. For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.” It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he’s failed to do for them. The concept is attributed to the clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who in his book Achilles in Vietnam traces the idea back as far as the Trojan War. The mechanisms of death may change—as intimate as a bayonet or as removed as a Hellfire—but the bloody facts, and their weight on the human conscience, remain the same. Bryant’s diagnosis of PTSD fits neatly into this new understanding. It certainly made sense to Bryant. “I really have no fear,” he says now. “It’s more like I’ve had a soul-crushing experience. An experience that I thought I’d never have. I was never prepared to take a life.”

In 2011, Air Force psychologists completed a mental-health survey of 600 combat drone operators. Forty-two percent of drone crews reported moderate to high stress, and 20 percent reported emotional exhaustion or burnout. The study’s authors attributed their dire results, in part, to “existential conflict.” A later study found that drone operators suffered from the same levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol abuse, and suicidal ideation as traditional combat aircrews. These effects appeared to spike at the exact time of Bryant’s deployment, during the surge in Iraq. (Chillingly, to mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed.)

In the summer of 2012, Bryant rejoined the Air Force as a reservist, hoping to get into the famed SERE program (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape), where he would help train downed pilots to survive behind enemy lines. After so much killing, he wanted to save people. But after a severe concussion in a training accident, he dropped out and returned once more to Missoula. He walked with a cane, had headaches and memory lapses, and fell into a black depression.

During the worst of it, Bryant would make the rounds of Missoula’s dozens of roughneck bars and drink himself to blackout on whiskey and cokes, vanishing for days or weeks on end. Many of those nights he would take his government-issued minus-forty-degree sleeping bag and pull into a parking lot in the middle of town next to the Clark Fork river. There’s a small park with a wooden play structure there, built to look like a dragon with slides and ladders descending from it. He would climb to the little lookout deck at the top, blind drunk, and sleep there, night after night.

He doesn’t remember much of that hazy period last summer, but his mother, LanAnn, does. Several times he had left a strange locked case sitting out on the kitchen table at her house, and she had put it back in the closet. The third day she woke to find the case open, with a loaded Sig Sauer P226 semi-automatic pistol lying out. Terrified that he might kill himself, she gave it to a friend with a locked gun safe. She’d only told her son about it a week earlier. He had no memory of any of it.

“I really thought we were going to lose him,” LanAnn Bryant says now.

Something needed to change. Bryant hoped that by going to the press, people would understand drone crews’ experience of war, that it was “more than just a video game” to them. In the fall, he spoke to a reporter for the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. The story was translated into English, and the British tabloid Daily Mail picked it up, posting it with the wildly inaccurate headline drone operator followed orders to shoot a child…and decided he had to quit. The story went viral.

The backlash from the drone community was immediate and fierce. Within days, 157 people on Bryant’s Facebook page had de-friended him. “You are a piece of shit liar. Rot in hell,” wrote a former Air Force comrade. In a sort of exercise in digital self-flagellation, Bryant read thousands of Reddit comments about himself, many filled with blistering vitriol and recrimination. “I read every single one of them,” he says. “I was trying to just get used to the negative feelings.” The spectrum of critics ranged from those who considered drone warfare a crime against humanity to combat veterans who thought Bryant was a whiner. He’d had death threats as well—none he took seriously—and other people said he should be charged with treason and executed for speaking to the media. On the day of one of our interviews, The New York Times ran an article about the military’s research into PTSD among drone operators. I watched as he scanned a barrage of Facebook comments mocking the very idea that drone operators could suffer trauma:

>I broke a fucking nail on that last mission!
>Maybe they should wear seatbelts
>they can claim PTSD when they have to do “Body Collection & Identification”

And then Bryant waded in:

>I’m ashamed to have called any of you assholes brothers in arms.
>Combat is combat. Killing is killing. This isn’t a video game. How many of you have killed a group of people, watched as their bodies are picked up, watched the funeral, then killed them too?
>Yeah, it’s not the same as being on the ground. So fucking what? Until you know what it is like and can make an intelligent meaningful assessment, shut your goddamn fucking mouths before somebody shuts them for you.

Bryant’s defense—a virtual battle over an actual war—left him seething at his keyboard. He says that when flying missions, he sometimes felt himself merging with the technology, imagining himself as a robot, a zombie, a drone itself. Such abstractions don’t possess conscience or consciousness; drones don’t care what they mean, but Bryant most certainly does. Now he plans to study to be an EMT, maybe get work on an ambulance, finally be able to save people like he always wanted. He no longer has infrared dreams, no longer closes his eyes and sees those strange polarized shadows flit across them.

Bryant closed his laptop and went out into the yard, tossing a tennis ball to his enormous bounding Japanese mastiff. Fingers of snow extended down through the dark forests of the Bitterroot, and high white contrails in the big sky caught the late-afternoon sunlight. The landscape of western Montana, Bryant observed, bears a striking resemblance to the Hindu Kush of eastern Afghanistan—a place he’s seen only pixelated on a monitor. It was a cognitive dissonance he had often felt flying missions, as he tried to remind himself that the world was just as real when seen in a grainy image as with the naked eye, that despite being filtered through distance and technology, cause and effect still applied. This is the uncanny valley over which our drones circle. We look through them at the world, and ultimately stare back at ourselves.

________________________________________________________________________

Inflamed·

Sniveling cowards, the drone operators. Worse cowards are their commanders, and worse yet is the so-called O’commander-in-chief.

| Former CIA officer tells security committee: “I’d dump the Israelis tomorrow!”

Former CIA officer tells security committee: “I’d dump the Israelis tomorrow” ~ MEMO.

Scheuer worries about the continued preaching of American politicians that the US relationship with Israel does not “cause us to have dead Americans.” Michael Scheuer - once senior advisor for the Osama Bin Laden department

VIDEO

On October 10 former CIA officer Michael Scheuer – once senior advisor for the Osama Bin Laden department – testified in front of a House Homeland Security Committee hearing about westerners joining jihadist groups.

When asked what he thought the primary motivators for Islamic jihadists were, Scheuer listed among his answers American support for the Israelis, military presence in countries in the Arab world, and the willingness to identify as terrorists any Muslim country US allies do not like.

Scheuer also said that it was time to tell people that costs came with US support for Israel: “If it was up to me I’d dump the Israelis tomorrow,” he said, stating that he worries about the continued preaching of American politicians that the US relationship with Israel does not “cause us to have dead Americans.”

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler told Buzzfeed that Scheuer being invited to the House Homeland Security Committee “is inexcusable” given that he is an outspoken anti-Israeli activist. He also stated that a “strong US-Israel relationship is absolutely vital to the national security interests of the US.”

________________________________________________________________________

 

| The Illegality and Evil of the War on Afganistan!

The Illegality and Evil of the War on Afganistan ~ Prof. Francis Boyle, War is a Crime.org.

Introduction

           Thank you.  I’m very happy to be here this evening once again at the Illinois Disciples Foundation, which has always been a center for organizing for peace, justice and human rights in this area ever since I first came to this community from Boston in July of 1978, and especially under its former minister, my friend Jim Holiman. I also want to thank Joe Miller and Jeff Machotta of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War for inviting me to speak here this evening.  People of my generation still remember how important it was for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to be organized and to speak out against the Vietnam War. They continue to serve as a voice for peace in the world for the past generation.

I want to start out with my basic thesis that the Bush administration’s war against Afghanistan cannot be justified on the facts or the law. It is clearly illegal. It constitutes armed aggression. It is creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Afghanistan.

It is creating terrible regional instability.  Right now today we are having artillery barrages across the border between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars before over Kashmir and yet today are nuclear armed.  The longer this war goes on the worse it is going to be not only for the millions of people in Afghanistan but also in the estimation of the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world and the 58 Muslim states in the world. None of them believe the Bush administration’s propaganda that this is not a war against Islam.

Facts

Now let me start first with the facts.  As you recall, Secretary of State Colin Powell said publicly they were going to produce a “white paper” documenting their case against Osama bin Laden and their organization Al Qaeda. Well of course those of us in the peace movement are familiar with “white papers” from before. They’re always laden with propaganda, half-truths, dissimulations, etc. that are usually very easily refuted after a little bit of analysis. What happened here? We never got a “white paper” produced by the United States government. Zip, zero, nothing.

What did we get instead? The only “statement of facts” that we got from an official of the United States government was mentioned in the October 3 edition of the New Speak Times [a.k.a.: New York Times] that described the briefings by the U.S. Ambassador who went over to brief our NATO allies about the Bush administration’s case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda as follows: “One Western official at NATO said the briefings, which were oral, without slides or documents, did not report any direct order from Mr. bin Laden, nor did they indicate that the Taliban knew about the attacks before they happened.  A senior diplomat for one closely allied nation characterized the briefing as containing ‘nothing particularly new or surprising,’ adding: ‘It was rather descriptive and narrative rather then forensic.  There was no attempt to build a legal case.’”  That’s someone who was at the briefing!

What we did get was a “white paper” from Tony Blair. Did anyone in this room vote for Tony Blair?  No! That “white paper” is in that hallowed tradition of a “white paper,” based on insinuation, allegation, rumors, etc.  Even the British government admitted Blair’s case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would not stand up in court.  As a matter of fact it was routinely derided in the British press. There was nothing there.

Now I don’t know myself who was behind the terrorist attacks on September 11.  It appears we are never going to find out.  Why? Because Congress in its “wisdom” has decided not to empanel a joint committee of both Houses of Congress with subpoena power, giving them access to whatever documents they want throughout any agency of the United States government, including F.B.I., C.I.A., N.S.A., D.I.A.. To put these people under oath and testify as to what happened under penalty of perjury. We are not going to get that investigation.

Law

Now let’s look at the law.  Immediately after the attacks President Bush’s first statement that he made in Florida was to call these attacks an act of terrorism.  Now under United States domestic law we have a definition of terrorism and clearly this would qualify as an act or acts of terrorism.  For reasons I can get into later if you want, under international law and practice there is no generally accepted definition of terrorism.  But certainly under United States domestic law this qualified as an act of terrorism. What happened?

Well again according to the New Speak Times, President Bush consulted with Secretary Powell and all of a sudden they changed the rhetoric and characterization of what happened here. They now called it an act of war. Clearly this was not an act of war.

There are enormous differences in how you treat an act of terrorism and how you treat an act of war. We have dealt with acts of terrorism before. Normally acts of terrorism are dealt with as a matter of international and domestic law enforcement.

In my opinion that is how this bombing, these incidents, should have been dealt with:  international and domestic law enforcement.  Indeed there is a treaty directly on point. Although the United Nations was unable to agree on a formal definition of terrorism, they decided to break down terrorism into its constituent units and deal with them piece-wise: Let’s criminalize specific aspects of criminal behavior that we want to stop.

The Montreal Sabotage Convention is directly on point. It criminalizes the destruction of civilian aircraft while in service.  The United States is a party. Afghanistan is a party. It has an entire legal regime to deal with this dispute. The Bush administration just ignored the Montreal Sabotage Convention.

There was also the U.N. Terrorist Bombing Convention that is also directly on point.  Eventually the Bush administration just did say, well yes our Senate should ratify this convention. It’s been sitting in the Senate for quite some time, lingering because of the Senate’s opposition to international cooperation by means of treaties on a whole series of issues.

Indeed, there are a good 12 to13 treaties out there that deal with various components and aspects of what people generally call international terrorism that could have been used and relied upon by the Bush administration to deal with this issue. But they rejected that entire approach and called it an act of war. They invoked the rhetoric deliberately of Pearl Harbor — December 7, 1941.  It was a conscious decision to escalate the stakes, to escalate the perception of the American people as to what is going on here.

Of course the implication here is that if this is an act of war then you don’t deal with it by means of international treaties and agreements.  You deal with it by means of military force. You go to war. So a decision was made very early in the process. We were going to abandon, junk, ignore the entire framework of international treaties and agreements that had been established for 25 years to deal with these types of problems and basically go to war.

An act of war has a formal meaning. It means an attack by one state against another state, which of course is what happened on December 7, 1941. But not on September 11, 2001.

The U.N. Security Council

The next day September 12, the Bush administration went into the United Nations Security Council to get a resolution authorizing the use of military force and they failed. It’s very clear if you read the resolution, they tried to get the authority to use force and they failed.  Indeed the September 12 resolution, instead of calling this an armed attack by one state against another state, called it a terrorist attack. And again there is a magnitude of difference between an armed attack by one state against another state — an act of war — and a terrorist attack. Terrorists are dealt with as criminals.  They are not treated like nation states.

Now what the Bush administration tried to do on September 12 was to get a resolution along the lines of what Bush Sr. got in the run up to the Gulf War in late November of 1990.  I think it is a fair comparison: Bush Jr. versus Bush Sr.  Bush Sr. got a resolution from the Security Council authorizing member states to use “all necessary means” to expel Iraq from Kuwait. They originally wanted language in there expressly authorizing the use of military force. The Chinese objected – so they used the euphemism “all necessary means.”  But everyone knew what that meant. If you take a look at the resolution of September 12 that language is not in there.  There was no authority to use military force at all. They never got any.

The U.S. Congress

Having failed to do that the Bush Jr. administration then went to the United States Congress and using the emotions of the moment tried to ram through some authorization to go to war under the circumstances. We do not know exactly what their original proposal was at that time.  According to a statement made by Senator Byrd in the New Speak Times, however, if you read between the lines it appears that they wanted a formal declaration of war along the lines of what President Roosevelt got on December 8, 1941 after Pearl Harbor.

Congress refused to give them that, and for a very good reason. If a formal declaration of war had been given it would have made the President a constitutional dictator.[i][1]  We would now all be living basically under marshal law. Congress might have just as well picked up and gone home as the House did today, which, by the way, was encouraged by President Bush.  It was his recommendation [in response to the anthrax attacks].[ii][2]

You’ll recall as a result of that declaration of war on December 8, 1941, we had the infamous Korematsu case where Japanese American citizens were rounded up and put in concentration camps on the basis of nothing more than a military order that later on turned out to be a gross misrepresentation of the factual allegation that Japanese Americans constituted some type of security threat.[iii][3]  If Bush had gotten a declaration of war, we would have been on the same footing today.  The Korematsu case has never been overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

Instead Congress gave President Bush Jr. what is called a War Powers Resolution Authorization — under the War Powers Resolution of 1973 that was passed over President Nixon’s veto, namely by a 2/3rds majority in both Houses of Congress, and was designed to prevent another Tonkin Gulf Resolution and another Vietnam War.  Only one courageous member of Congress, Barbara Lee, an African American representative from Oakland, voted against it as a matter of principle.

This resolution, although it is not as bad as a formal declaration of war, is even worse than the Tonkin Gulf Resolution.  It basically gives President Bush a blank check to use military force against any individual, organization, or state that he alleges — notice his ipse dixit — was somehow involved in the attacks on September 11 or else sheltered, harbored, or assisted individuals involved in the attacks on September 11.  In other words, Bush now has a blank check pretty much to wage war against any state he wants to from the United States Congress.  It was then followed up by Congress with a $40 billion appropriation as a down payment for waging this de facto war.

Very dangerous, this War Powers Resolution Authorization. No real way it can be attacked in court at this point in time. In the heat of the moment, Congress gave him this authority. It is still there on the books.

Again let’s compare and contrast this resolution with the one gotten by Bush Sr. in the Gulf Crisis.  Bush Sr. got his U.N. Security Council resolution. He then took it to Congress for authorization under the War Powers Resolution and they gave him a very precise authorization to use military force for the purpose of carrying out the Security Council resolution — that was, only for the purpose of expelling Iraq from Kuwait.  Indeed that is what Bush Sr. did. He expelled Iraq from Kuwait. He did not move north to Baghdad. He stopped short south of Basra, saying “that’s all the authority I have.”  I’m not here to approve what Bush Sr. did in that war but simply to compare it to Bush Jr.

Now Bush Sr. has been criticized, with people saying that he should have marched all the way to Bagdad. But he had no authority by the U.N. Security Council to do that and he had no authority from the U.S. Congress to do that either.  Again, compare that to Bush Jr.’s resolution of September 14 that basically gave him a blank check to wage war against anyone he wants to with no more than his ipse dixit. It’s astounding to believe.  Even worse than Tonkin Gulf.

NATO

In addition Bush Jr. then went over to NATO to get a resolution from NATO and he convinced NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Pact. Article 5 of the NATO Pact is only intended to deal with the armed attack by one state against another state. It is not, and has never been, intended to deal with a terrorist attack. The NATO Pact was supposed to deal in theory with an attack on a NATO member state by a member of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.

With the collapse of both the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, there was no real justification or pretext anymore for the continued existence of NATO.  Bush Sr. then in an effort to keep NATO around, tried to transform its very nature to serve two additional purposes:  (1) policing Eastern Europe, and we saw that with the illegal war against Serbia by President Clinton; and (2) intervention in the Middle East to “secure” the oil fields.  The NATO Council approved this proposal. The problem is that the NATO Pact, the treaty setting up NATO, provides no authorization to do this at all.  Indeed the NATO Pact would have to be amended by the parliaments of the NATO member states to justify either policing Eastern Europe or as an interventionary force in the Middle East.

The invocation of NATO Article 5 then was completely bogus.   The Bush Jr. administration was attempting to get some type of multilateral justification for what it was doing when it had failed at the United Nations Security Council to get authorization. The Bush Jr. administration tried again to get more authority from the Security Council, but all they got was a presidential statement that legally means nothing. They tried yet a third time, September 29, before they started the war, to get that authorization to use military force and they got stronger language. But still they failed to get any authorization from the Security Council to use military force for any reason.

Self-judging Self-defense

Then what happened? The new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, sent a letter to the Security Council asserting Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  Now some of us are familiar with Negroponte. He was U.S. Ambassador in Honduras during the contra war against Nicaragua. He has the blood of 35,000 Nicaraguan civilians on his hands.  The only way Bush could get him confirmed by the Senate was that he rammed him through the Senate right after the 9/11 bombings. So whenever you see Negroponte on the television talking to you, remember this man has the blood of 35,000 people on his hands. That’s eleven times anything that happened in New York. Eleven times.

The letter by Negroponte was astounding. It said that the United States reserves its right to use force in self-defense against any state that we feel is necessary in order to fight our war against international terrorism.  So in other words, they failed on three separate occasions to get formal authority from the Security Council and now the best they could do was fall back on some alleged right of self-defense as determined by themselves.  Very consistent with the War Powers Resolution authorization that Bush did indeed get from Congress on September 14.

I was giving an interview the other day to the San Francisco Chronicle and the reporter asked if there was any precedent for the position here being asserted by Negroponte that we are reserving the right to go to war in self-defense against a large number of other states as determined by ourselves. I said yes, there is one very unfortunate precedent: That’s the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1946.  There the lawyers for the Nazi defendants took the position that they had reserved the right of self-defense under the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928 [a predecessor to the U.N. Charter]; and self-defense as determined by themselves.  In other words, no one could tell them to the contrary.

So at Nuremberg they had the chutzpah to argue that the entire Second World War was a war of self-defense as determined by themselves, and no one had standing to disagree with that self-judging provision. Well of course the Nuremberg Tribunal rejected that argument and said no, what is self-defense can only be determined by reference to international law; and that has to be determined by an international tribunal. No state has a right to decide this for themselves.

Aggression

Clearly what is going on now in Afghanistan is not self-defense.  Let’s be honest. We all know it. At best this is reprisal, retaliation, vengeance, catharsis.  Call it what you want, but it is not self-defense.  And retaliation is never self-defense.

Indeed that was the official position of the United States government even during the darkest days of the Vietnam War.  Then former Undersecretary of State Eugene V. Rostow tried to get the State Department to switch their position.  They refused and continued to maintain their position that retaliation is not self-defense. This is not self-defense what we are doing in Afghanistan.

Since none of these justifications and pretexts hold up as a matter of law, then what the United States government today is doing against Afghanistan constitutes

armed aggression. It is illegal. There is no authority for this.  Indeed if you read on the internet, certainly not in the mainstream U.S. news media, you will see that is the position being taken by almost every Islamic country in the world.

Where are the facts?  Where is the law? They aren’t there. This is apparent to the entire world.  It’s apparent in Europe. It’s apparent in the Middle East. It is obvious to the 1.2 billion Muslims of the world. Are any Muslim leaders involved in military action against Afghanistan? Unlike what happened with Iraq?   No!  Have any of them volunteered military forces to get involved here? A deafening silence. They all know it is wrong.

[See more recently Richard A. ClarkAgainst All Enemies 24 (2004): “When, later in the discussion {on the evening of Sept. 11, with Bush and his crisis advisors}, Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off.   ‘No,’ the President yelled in the narrow conference room, ‘I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.’” F.A.B.]

Violent Settlement Of International Disputes

Now the government of Afghanistan made repeated offers even as of yesterday to negotiate a solution to this dispute. Even before the events of September 11, negotiations were going on between the United States and the government of Afghanistan over the disposition of Bin Laden. They had offered to have him tried in a neutral Islamic court by Muslim judges applying the law of Sharia. This was before the latest incidents. We rejected that proposal. After September 11 they renewed the offer.

What did President Bush say?  No negotiations!  There’s nothing to negotiate! Here is my ultimatum! Well the problem is again the United Nations Charter, which requires the peaceful resolution of disputes. It requires expressly by name “negotiation.”

Likewise that Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact I mentioned, under which Nazis were prosecuted at Nuremberg, to which Afghanistan and the United States are both parties, requires peaceful resolution of all disputes and prohibits war as an instrument of national policy.  Yet that’s exactly what we are doing today, waging war as an instrument of national policy.

Then again on Sunday as he came back from Camp David with the latest offer again by the government of Afghanistan – they were willing to negotiate over the disposition of Mr. Bin Laden. I don’t know how many of you saw the President get off the helicopter.  It was surreal. He went ballistic: There’ll be no negotiations!  I told them what to do! They better do it! Again, those are not the requirements of the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact.

If you read the ultimatum that President Bush gave to the government of Afghanistan in his speech before Congress you will see it was clearly designed so that it could not be complied with by the government of Afghanistan. No government in the world could have complied with that ultimatum.  Indeed, there were striking similarities with the ultimatum given by the Bush Sr. administration to Tariq Aziz in Geneva on the eve of the Gulf War that was deliberately designed so as not to be accepted, which it was not.  Why?  The decision had already been made to go to war.

Humanitarian Catastrophe

Now that being said, what then really is going on here? If there is no basis in fact and there is no basis in law for this war against Afghanistan, why are we doing this? Why are we creating this humanitarian catastrophe for the Afghan people? Recall it was Bush’s threat to bomb Afghanistan that put millions of people on the move without food, clothing, housing, water, or medical facilities and that has created this humanitarian catastrophe now for anywhere from 5 to 7 million Afghans. All the humanitarian relief organizations have said quite clearly that the so-called humanitarian “food drop” — as Doctors Without Borders a Nobel Peace Prize organization put it — is a military propaganda operation. which it clearly is.

Bush calling for the children of America to send $1 to the White House for the Afghani children is also propaganda. This is not serious. And the winter is coming in Afghanistan. Latest estimate that I’ve seen is that maybe 100,000 or more are going to die if we don’t stop this war.

U.S. Military Bases in Central Asia

So what’s really going on here? Why are we bombing Afghanistan? Why are we doing this? Is it retaliation? Is it vengeance? Is it bloodlust? No, it isn’t!

The people who run this country are cold, calculating people. They know exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And now since the bombing started in the last twelve days, it’s become very clear what the agenda is: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld flew to Uzbekistan and concluded an agreement with the dictator who runs that country, Karimov, accused of massive violations of human rights, that the United States government will “protect” Uzbekistan.

Now first, the Secretary of Defense has no constitutional authority to conclude such an agreement in the first place. Putting that issue aside, however, it’s very clear what’s going on here.  The Pentagon is now in the process of establishing a military base in Uzbekistan.

It’s been in the works for quite some time.  They admit, yes, U.S. Special Forces have been over there for several years training their people under “Partnership for Peace” with NATO.  Now it’s becoming apparent what is happening. We are making a long-term military arrangement with Uzbekistan. Indeed it has been reported, and you can get press from that region on the internet, that Uzbekistan now wants a status of forces agreement with the United States.

What’s a status of forces agreement? It’s an agreement that permits the long-term deployment of significant numbers of armed forces in another state.  We have status of forces agreements with Germany, Japan, and South Korea. We have had troops in all three of those countries since 1945.  And when we get our military presence, our base, that is right now being set up in Uzbekistan, it’s clear we’re not going to leave.  It’s clear that this unconstitutional agreement between Rumsfeld and Karimov is to set the basis to stay in Uzbekistan for the next 10-15-20 years, saying we have to defend it against Afghanistan, where we’ve created total chaos.

This is exactly the same argument that has been made to keep the United States military forces deployed in the Persian Gulf now for ten years after the Gulf War. We are still there. We still have 20,000 troops sitting on top of the oil in all these countries. We even established the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain to police this region. We never had any intention of leaving the Persian Gulf. We are there to stay.

Stealing Oil and Gas

Indeed planning for that goes back to the Carter administration — the so-called Rapid Deployment Force, renamed the U.S. Central Command that carried out the war against Iraq and occupied and still occupies these Persian Gulf countries and their oil fields and is today now executing the war against Afghanistan and deploying U.S. military forces to build this base in Uzbekistan. Why do we want to get in Uzbekistan?  Very simple. The oil and natural gas resources of Central Asia, reported to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf.

There has been an enormous amount of coverage of this in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, not the New Speak Times.  The movers and shakers.  They paid enormous attention to Central Asia and the oil resources there.  Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ascent to independence of those states in 1991, you saw all sorts of articles in the Wall Street Journal about how Central Asia and our presence in Central Asia have become a vital national security interest of the United States. We proceeded to establish relations with these states of Central Asia.  We sent over Special Forces. We were even parachuting the 82nd Airborne into Kazakhstan. All reported in the Wall Street Journal.

In addition then, since Central Asia is landlocked you have to get the oil and natural gas out, how do you do that? Well one way is to send it west, but we wish to avoid Iran and Russia – thus a highly circuitous route, costs a lot of money, very insecure.  The easiest way to do it is construct pipelines south through Afghanistan, into Pakistan and right out to the Arabian Sea. UNOCAL was negotiating to do this with the government of Afghanistan.  That’s all in the public record.

Just as the Persian Gulf War against Iraq was about oil and natural gas, I’m submitting this war is about oil and natural gas and also about outflanking China and getting a military base south of Russia. We are going to be there for a long time. At least until all that oil and gas has been sucked out and it’s of no more use to us.

Regional War

In my opinion that’s really what is going on here. We should not be spending a lot of time about who did what to whom on September 11. We need to be focusing on this war, on stopping this war. We need to be focusing on stopping the humanitarian tragedy against the millions of people of Afghanistan right now, today. And third, we need to be focusing on what could very easily become a regional war.

The Pentagon launched this thing. Obviously they felt they could keep it under control. That’s what the leaders in August of 1914 thought too, when you read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August.  Everyone figured the situation could be kept under control and it wasn’t, and there was a world war. Ten million people died.

We’re already seeing after President Bush started this war artillery duels between India and Pakistan.  Massive unrest in all of these Muslim countries.  The longer the war goes on I submit the worse it is going to become, the more dangerous it is going to become, the more unstable it is going to become.

American Police State

In addition, finally comes the Ashcroft Police State Bill [a.k.a.:  USA Patriot Act]. No other words to describe it. Bush failed to get that declaration of war which would have rendered him a constitutional dictator.  But it’s clear that Ashcroft and his Federalist Society lawyers took every piece of regressive legislation off the shelf, tied it all into this antiterrorism bill, and rammed it through Congress.

If you’re reading any of the papers yesterday and the day before, members of  Congress admit, yes, we didn’t even read this thing. Another Congressman said, right, but there’s nothing new with that. Except on this one they’re infringing the civil rights and civil liberties of all of us, moving us that much closer to a police state in the name of fighting a war on terrorism.  Security, this, that, and the other thing.

Notice the overwhelming message from the mainstream news media: we all have to be prepared to give up our civil rights and civil liberties.  Even so-called liberals like Alan Dershowitz: Oh, let’s now go along with the national identity card. Outrageous!  Larry Tribe, writing in the Wall Street Journal: well we’re all going to have to start making compromises on our civil rights and civil liberties.  That’s what’s in store in the future for us here at home the longer this war against Afghanistan goes on.

And Bush has threatened that it will expand to other countries. We don’t know how many countries they have in mind. At one point they’re saying Malaysia, Indonesia, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz talked about “ending states,” which is clearly genocidal. I could take that statement to the World Court and file it and prove it as genocidal intent by the United States government.

Scapegoats

So the longer we let this go on the more we are going to see our own civil rights and civil liberties taken away from us.  As you know aliens, foreigners, their rights are already gone. We now have 700 aliens who’ve just been picked up and disappeared by Ashcroft and the Department of Justice. We have no idea where these people are. They’re being held on the basis of immigration law, not criminal law. Indefinite detention.

What’s the one characteristic they all have in common, these foreigners?  They’re Muslims and Arabs, the scapegoats for 9/11. Everyone needs a scapegoat and it looks like we have one.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by saying that we still have our First Amendment rights despite Ashcroft’s best efforts. Despite the cowardice of both Houses of Congress where, interestingly enough, the so-called liberal Democrats were willing to give Bush and Ashcroft more than the conservative Republicans in the House. We still have our First

Amendment rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition our government for redress of grievances.

We are going to need to start to exercise those First Amendment rights now. For the good of the people of Afghanistan, for the good of the people of that region of the world, and for the future of ourselves and our nature as a democratic society with a

commitment to the Rule of Law and the Constitution.  Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Many of the civil rights you say we must give up…

A: I said we don’t have to give them up; I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear. It’s the people in the mainstream news media who have said we must give up those rights, including so-called liberal law professors like Alan Dershowitz and Larry Tribe of my alma mater, Harvard Law School, who should be ashamed of the positions they have taken. So I don’t believe we should be giving up any of these rights.

Our law enforcement authorities, F.B.I., C.I.A., N.S.A., they have all the powers they need. They certainly don’t need more powers than they already have.  Indeed under the currently existing laws Ashcroft has already picked up 700 Arabs and Muslims. They disappeared somewhere.  We have no idea where they are. Their families, and some have retained lawyers, are trying to find these people. Now they are not U.S. citizens. It would be much harder to do that with United States citizens.

So I’m not advocating we give up any rights. I regret to say, however, that is the message coming out of the mainstream news media and even by self-styled liberal law professors like Dershowitz and Tribe. So I’m not advocating that.

Many Middle Eastern countries harbor terrorists that pose a threat to the U.S. How would you suggest the U.S. deal with that threat to entice these countries to change their practices?

A: This gets back to the problem I had mentioned before about the fact that there is no generally accepted definition of international terrorism or terrorism as a matter of international law. The reason being is that most of the Third World, and when it did exist the Socialist World (there are still a few Socialist countries), took the position that people fighting colonial domination, alien occupation, or racists regimes were engaged in legitimate self-defense and not acts of terrorism. Therefore they refused to accept any definition that these people were terrorists. Now note the United States government was always on the other side.  And if you opposed us, you were terrorists.

I remember in the 1980s during the struggle against apartheid and divestment and disinvestment which was run on this campus, the Reagan administration for eight years

telling us the A.N.C. and Nelson Mandela were terrorists. How many of you remember that? They were terrorists. Black people fighting a white racist colonial regime for their basic human rights. Yet as far as the United States government was concerned, they were terrorists.

Same in all the other colonial struggles in Africa.  Typically we sided with white racist colonial settler regimes against the indigenous Black populations of these countries fighting for their freedom and independence, and we called them terrorists.  The same in the Middle East. Those who have resisted our will or the will of Israel, we have called terrorists.

The simple solution to deal with the problem of what’s going on in the Middle East is simply to change our policies. If you look at the policies we have pursued in the Middle East for the last 30 years, it has been to repress and dominate, kill, destroy and exploit the indigenous peoples of this region. What apparently the Bush administration seems to call for is now we’re going to wage war on anyone who disagrees with us. Well the alternative is to reevaluate our policies and to put our policies on a basis of international law which, I regret to say, we haven’t done in the Middle East.

Why?  Because our primary interest has always been oil and natural gas. We could not care less about peace, democracy, or human rights for anyone in the Middle East.  Remember Bush Sr. telling us that the war in the Persian Gulf was all about bringing democracy to Kuwait? Whom did we put back in power in Kuwait? The Emir and his kleptocracy who still deprive women of the vote. There has been no change.  We couldn’t care less about peace, justice, human rights and democracy anywhere in the Persian Gulf.

You saw the other day Secretary of State Powell appearing with the military dictator of Pakistan, Musharraf — who overthrew a democratically elected government — talking about bringing democracy to Afghanistan.  Wasn’t this truly brilliant? He’s there appearing with a military dictator and they’re talking about bringing democracy to Afghanistan.

Clearly we couldn’t care less about democracy, peace, justice, humanitarianism in Afghanistan. We care that Afghanistan has in its own right quantities of oil and gas and it has strategic location for oil and gas lines. That’s what we care about.

Look at our “guys” there, the Northern Alliance, left over from the war against the Soviet Union. These were people we armed, equipped, supplied and trained and by the way, are still massively engaged in the drug trade. This is all propaganda. In any event, as a matter of law, it’s not for the United States and the military dictator of Pakistan to determine what should or should not be the government of Afghanistan.

What should the U.S. government have done after 9/11?

As I said, we should have taken the position that President Bush did originally: This was an act of terrorism and we should have treated it as an act of terrorism which means the normal measures of international and domestic law enforcement that we applied, for example, after the bombings of the two U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and after the bombings of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie [and the Murrah Federal Building]. That is the way it should have been handled.  But a deliberate decision was taken by Bush in consultation with Powell, to reject that approach and to deal with it by means of war. Again, let me repeat Article 1 of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact made it very clear prohibiting war as an instrument of national policy. It’s very clear in my assessment of the situation that we decided to go to war right away.

A question about Middle East policy

A: There are many things we could do. We could bring home those 20,000 troops that occupy all those states right now in the Persian Gulf. Does anyone realistically think that we’re going to do that and forfeit our direct military control of 50% of the world’s oil supply in the Persian Gulf/Middle East region? Of course not.

We could dismantle the 5th Fleet which we set up in Bahrain to police, dominate, and control the entire Persian Gulf. Does anyone realistically think we’re going to do that? No! We could reevaluate the entire policy towards this region. I don’t see any evidence at all, no one in any of the major news media, or the government, is talking about it: why don’t we just pick up and go home?  Leave these people in the Middle East by themselves and support peace and development. That’s not even on the agenda. We are now talking about more warfare, bloodshed, and violence.

Today they said Somalia might be the next target. Well that’s interesting because yesterday the New York Times had a big article on how much oil they’ve now found in Somalia. And indeed back when Bush Sr. invaded Somalia, it was reported in the international news media that, yes Somalia had already been carved up by U.S. oil companies. We know for a fact the Bush family has enormous investments in oil and oil companies. Cheney too.

What can we do to prevent another September 11?

A: I’ve already made some suggestions about different things I think we could do.  But realistically speaking, I don’t believe we’re going to do them.

 

Notes

 


[i] [1]See Arthur S. Miller, Presidential Power (1977).

[ii] [2]See Francis A. Boyle, Biowarfare and Terrorism (2005).

[iii] [3]Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944).

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criminals-gone-wildA

CrimeBlood

| ‘One big LIE!’ Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media!

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media ~ theguardian.com.

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control.’

Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph: Wally McNamee/Corbis

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

 

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

 

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

 

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

 

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

 

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

 

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

 

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

 

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

 

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.

 

“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.

 

“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

 

“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.

 

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

 

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

 

“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”

 

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

 

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”

 

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”

 

 

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

 

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.

 

“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

 

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

 

“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.

 

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

 

“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.

 

“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

 

“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”

 

He says in some ways President George Bush‘s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.

 

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

 

“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.

 

 

 

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

 

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.

 

“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.

 

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

 

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.

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BrainwashMethod

| Kenya: The same old script – what ‘doing something’ really means!

The same old script: what ‘doing something’ really meansLindsey German, Stop the War Coalition

With US and French support, Kenya and Ethiopia have carried out full-scale military invasions of Somalia. The US launches drone strikes and runs cover operations in the country. The attack in Nairobi is the result of ‘doing something’.


Kenya shopping mall attackSmoke rises from the Westgate mall in Nairobi on September 23, 2013

The Hollywood film Black Hawk Down, directed by Ridley Scott, came out at around the same time as 9/11 in 2001. To many of its admirers, the tale of a beleaguered band of US Marines caught up in the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993 was one of heroism and personal sacrifice against the odds. To its detractors, it boosted the role of the US military, demeaned the Somalis, and tried to make a heroic episode out of a bungled military operation in a former colonial country.

The terrible attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi brought all this back. Most of the reporting is concentrating on the loss of human life, the nature of the Islamist group al-Shabaab, and whether US and British nationals were involved in the attack which saw nationals from many different countries, as well as Kenyans, killed.

Little mentioned are the reasons why al-Shabaab might launch such a deadly attack, other than the usual ‘explanation’ that they are ‘evil’ or that they ‘hate our way of life’. There have been calls for western intervention in Somalia in response to the killings. USA Today, for example, says ‘Somalia could be the new Afghanistan. A lawless, fundamentalist Somalia could incubate a Somali Osama bin Laden and new attacks on the USA, just as Afghanistan protected and nurtured bin Laden and al-Qaeda’.

It continues: ‘Leaving Somalia to al-Shabaab is not an option’.

It may come as news to USA Today, but far from the western powers and their African allies leaving Somalia alone, they have staged repeated interventions in the country, as they did in 1993, and continue to do so. Then, 18 US soldiers died, plus a Malaysian and Pakistani, but over 1,000 Somalis did.

Did no one notice the military invasion by Kenya two years ago, backed by the US and France? The US has also carried out repeated drone strikes in Somalia. Israeli forces have also been involved, as they were in the military operation at Westgate.

When the Islamic Courts government came to power in 2006 it was generally viewed as bringing some very limited stability to a country that had been fraught by war for decades. The US backed an Ethiopian invasion in 2009 to fight against the Islamic Courts. The ensuing chaos led to the rise of al-Shabaab.

European Union ships patrol the Somali coast looking for pirates. One of the main concerns of the western powers is the control of rich natural resources in the country including iron ore, uranium, copper, natural gas and crude oil.

Kenya is a leading ally of the US in the region, along with Ethiopia. A terrorist attack in its capital has been expected, and it is not accidental surely that the target was a shopping mall, symbol of ‘western values’ and neoliberalism, and magnet for rich westerners and Kenyans in Nairobi.

Everyone should condemn any such attack. But the loss of human life there is far less than the terrible catastrophe that has befallen so many Somalis in the past decades.

Perhaps the most frightening response to it, however, is the rush to demand, as we saw recently in Syria, that ‘something must be done’. There is a terrifying inability to acknowledge that US, British, French or Kenyan government actions have played any part in creating conditions for these attacks. Instead, the growing threat of terrorism is treated as a horror movie: the evil bin Laden is killed in Pakistan, but is now returning somewhere else – this time in Somalia. So more drone attacks, more special forces, more proxy wars carried out by US allies in Africa. And when they root out the new bin Laden, they will find yet another new bin Laden – in Libya, or Yemen, or Mali, or even in Syria.

Even the most frightening Hollywood films have to end some time. But this terrifying war to root out terror goes on and on. And as long as it does, there will be more terror attacks and a refusal to countenance political solutions.

Maybe they should tear up the script and start again.

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police state usaA

Frankenstein MonsterA

| Syria: Al-Qaeda as the black operations wing of the US!

Syria: Al-Qaeda as the black operations wing of the US ~ John RoblesVoice of Russia.

Plausible deniability, questionable “legal authority” cleverly inserted and obfuscated in appropriations bills and the like, lawmakers who are more interested in their own political well being, a terrified, disinterested, apolitical and pliable populace and a media that they fully control are just some of the things that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS) and the Black Operations Group under the Special Activities Division (SAD) of the CIA, the Psychological Operations Directorate (POD) and the Shadow Government controlling everything, count on to get away with everything they do.

At the end of July Saudi Prince Bandar met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with the full support of the United States of America first attempted to bribe President Putin to pull Russian support for Syria and President Bashar Al-Assad and then threatened the President and the Russian Federation with terrorist acts during the Sochi Olympic Games.

The fact Bandar admitted that the Saudis control Chechen terrorists and Al-Qaeda elements in Syria (ties between the Saudis and the US Black Operations Community have been suspected and known about for years, as President Putin stated to Bandar during the conversation) was a watershed moment, but the fact that he threatened Russia, a sovereign nation, with a terrorist attack was an event of such magnitude that it would have served as a legitimate self-defense pretext for leveling Saudi Arabia had President Putin so desired.

This admission I would argue is the key to unlocking the events of 9-11 and showing who was actually involved in the murder of 2,999 civilians on that autumn morning in September of 2001. Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, the Saudis, MOSSAD, the CIA, the NSA and the Shadow Government controlling the United States are all clearly aligned and working together in efficient unison to bring about their goals.

The well documented fact that Al-Qaeda is now, as it was during the war in Afghanistan, operating under the command of JSOC and the Black Operations Command and in unison with the US Government should be causing heads to roll and a public outcry in America, but with a subservient government controlled media, little is being heard and the story of Bandar and Saudi Arabia actually being revealed for the true terrorist state that it in fact is, have gotten little attention.

Since 9-11 the US Shadow Government has used the bogeyman of terrorism to strip away the rights and liberties of its citizens and create the largest police and security state in history, so to learn that the very same terrorist bogeyman is being armed, funded, trained, supported and instructed by the government should, as I said cause an outcry. It has not.

Like the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian “opposition” group known in the West as the M.E.K., Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria are doing the dirty work for the CIA, JSOC and the Shadow Government. However plausible deniability has kept them secure until now.

The fact that these animals, who are under the direction of the US and their staunch “special” ally the Suadis, killed 426 children in Damascus on the eve of the arrival of a United Nations chemical weapons inspection team, and the fact that Obama and the Shadow Government were ready carry through with a long planned attack of Syria, are crimes on an international scale as was the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The difference in Syria is that they are getting more and more obvious and their nefarious methods are becoming more and more well known.

According to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in an interview with American media yesterday 80-90% of the tens of thousands of “rebels” in Syria are Al-Qaeda linked affiliates and terrorists. These are the same “fighters” that the US is supporting with billions of taxpayer dollars and ready to send American Forces in to support, this fact alone should be making the American people scream and even revolt, but the reaction has been almost zero.

Fortunately for the Syrian people the US has been stopped from invading Syria for the time being, but just when the world thought it could rest for a minute from the fear of yet another US act of aggressive war, the greatest aggressor the world has seen since hitler (sic) has now set its gun sights on it next target, the Islamic Republic of Iran. As I have been saying for years, next the Arab Republic of Syria, then the Islamic Republic of Iran, then the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea with a couple South American countries thrown in when convenient, then the Russian Federation and final the People’s Republic of China, to cement complete and total global domination.

Syria did not work out so well for the Nobel-Peace-Prize-launcher-of-aggressive-wars-and-extra-judicial-terror-Tuesday-executioner-in-chief so with almost no pause he has moved on to the next target and the rhetoric, disinformation, lies and demonization has begun at a heightened rate against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

A website called tabletmag.com (Jewish News and Politics) is one of those on the cutting edge of beginning the propaganda campaign for the next US act of aggression against another country that follows an independent foreign policy line and is on good terms with Russia. In an article dated September the 18th and titled “How Iran Uses Terror Threats To Successfully Deter U.S. Military Action” the publication makes a good effort at starting the psychological operations against Iran and blames Iran for everything under the sun, from the war in Iraq to attacks in Beirut.

The Jewish News cites a “senior official at a Washington, D.C.-based pro-Israel organization” as saying: “The staffers left those briefings with the blood drained from their faces.” Regarding briefing on an attack on Syria. Could it be they understood that their government had just killed 426 children and was backing Al-Qaeda cannibals?

The recent seizure of a building in Manhattan also points to a government desperate for funds and on the verge of attacking the country. In an article on gawker.com, the US lays its case for the seizure of a skayscraper supposedly owned by Iran by saying the funds from its sale and liquidation will be used to provide funds for the “victims of Iranian terrorism”. What victims they are talking about is completely unclear and as the article does not list a single terrorist act carried out by Iran this is highly suspicious but then again they need their funding somehow and stealing it is one of the best ways to get it.

The fact that Iran, Libya, Iraq and Syria all fought against and refused to work with Al-Qaeda is also important to note. If the US Government were really engaged in a war on terror they would be providing support for the government of Bashar Al-Assad and cutting all ties with the Saudis. But that would be against the true nature of those in control of the US Government including the ex-Islamic President Barrack Hussein Obama.

We saw after 9-11 how the US helped the Bin Laden family and the Saudis leave the country and how they have not prosecuted anyone for 9-11 and this is now obvious why. One would not prosecute oneself now would one? Nor would one prosecute ones doing ones dirty work.

In another article by Seymour Hersh detailing how the US supports terrorists in Iran Hersh wrote: “Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., notes that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror. Gerson said he would not comment on the alleged training in Nevada. But such training, if true, he said, would be “especially incongruent with the State Department’s decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K. on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?”

Did you know that Iran is not a nation but a terrorist organization according to the US Government in justifying their actions against the country. From a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Section 215 and the PRISM/702 programs I offer the following: “The Section 215 Business Records provision was created in 2001 in the PATRIOT for tangible things: hotel records, credit card statements, etcetera. Things that are not phone or email communications. The FBI uses that authority as part of its terrorism investigations. The NSA only uses Section 215 for phone call records — not for Google searches or other things. Under Section 215, NSA collects phone records pursuant to a court record. It can only look at that data after a showing that there is a reasonable, articulable that a specific individual is involved in terrorism, actually related to al Qaeda or Iran. At that point, the database can be searched.”

So while America is pointing the finger at the world for defending itself or having independent foreign policies or being allied with Russia and saying such things as everyone is ready to use violence against America, and all countries are terrorist, maybe they should start looking in the mirror and doing some soul searching, if in fact they have souls.

Their friends the Saudis just threatened the Russian Federation with terrorist acts and they are supporting Al-Qaeda while attacking every country that has been against Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and their violence and aggression is spreading with act after act of aggressive war. Are we getting the picture now?
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BrainwashMethod

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| What Happened to the “Global War on Terrorism”? The US is “Fighting for Al Qaeda” in Syria.

What Happened to the “Global War on Terrorism”? The U.S. is “Fighting for Al Qaeda” in Syria. ~  Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research.

Americans have been repeatedly told that Al Qaeda under the helm of the late Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Formulated in the wake of the tragic events of september 11, 2001, the U.S. and its allies launched a “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) directed against the numerous “jihadist” Al Qaeda affiliated terror formations in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and South East Asia. The first stage of the “Global War on Terrorism” was the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan.

In the wake of 9/11, the” Global War on Terrorism” served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the US-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Patriot legislation was implemented. The national security doctrine stated unequivocally that the American Homeland was to be protected against “Islamic terrorists”.

For the last 13 years, war on terrorism rhetoric has permeated political discourse at all levels of government. Al Qaeda related threats and occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks– under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda (“the outside enemy of America”) is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.

But somehow, in the last few months, this “Al Qaeda paradigm” has shifted. The American public has become increasingly skeptical regarding the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism”

In recent months, with the unfolding events in Syria, something rather unusual has occurred, which has had a profound impact on the public’s perception and understanding of Obama’s “Global War on Terrorism”.

The US government is actively and openly supporting Syria’s Al Nusrah, the main fighting force affiliated to al Qaeda, largely composed of foreign mercenaries.

Tax dollars are relentlessly channeled to the “rebels”. In turn, Secretary of State John Kerry meets with rebel commanders who oversee the Al Qaeda affiliated entity.

Is this part of a “new normal”: the unity of opposites whereby “terrorism” and “counter-terrorism” are merged into a single foreign policy focus?

Is it “politically correct” for a US Senator to mingle with leaders of a terrorist organization, while at the same time paying lip service to the “Global War on Terrorism”?

While this may be “business as usual” for the US Secretary of State, American servicemen and women are now “refusing to fight” a war in favor of terrorism under the emblem of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

Channeling money and weapons to Al Qaeda in Syria is carried out “in the open”, via the US State Department and the Pentagon rather than in the context of a covert CIA operation.

John McCain enters Syria illegally and poses for photo ops with Al Qaeda leaders.

Hawkish US Senator John McCain (C) poses with infamous kidnapper in Syria, Mohamed Nour (seen with his hand on his chest and holding a camera)

Hawkish US Senator John McCain (C) poses with infamous kidnapper in Syria, Mohamed Nour (seen with his hand on his chest and holding a camera)

The Movement within the US Armed Forces

Needless to say, this mingling of politicians and terrorists strikes at the very foundations of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

Despite the tide of media disinformation, people are increasingly aware that these US sponsored rebels are not “revolutionaries” and that US military aid is being channeled to the terror brigades.

A spontaneous movement on social media networks has emerged involving active members of the armed forces.

“I will not fight for al Qaeda”.

“Obama, I will not fight for your al Qaeda rebels in Syria.”

“Our government tells us that we are fighting a war on terrorism.” That is what is taught to new recruits in the Armed Forces. “We’re spreading democracy by combating terrorism”.

Yet in recent months, millions of Americans have become aware of the fact that the Obama administration is lying.

Supporting the Terrorists

Barack Obama and John Kerry are not fighting terrorism. Quite the opposite: They are actively supporting Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria, who are responsible for the most despicable crimes, killings and atrocities directed against the civilian population.

These crimes have been amply documented. Beheadings, executions of children. The most gruesome massacres.

The Al Nusrah brigades have performed thousands of executions. A recently released video reveals how two young boys are executed following the reading of a death sentence.”In the video can be seen a terrorist reading death sentence to the boys, gunfire is heard, boys fall dead.”

Screenshot YouTube

 

 

Are these the people who are being supported by the US government?

The terrorists are directly recruited by the Western military alliance. They are trained in Saudi Arabia and Qatar in liaison with the US and NATO.

These are the rebels who, according to CNN, have also been trained by Western special forces in the use of chemical weapons. And they have used chemical weapons against innocent Syrian civilians.

US servicemen and women are adamant. “I did not join the army to fight for al Qaeda.”

We were recruited to wage a “Global War on Terrorism” and now our government is collaborating with Al Qaeda.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich said “striking Syria would make the U.S. Military ‘Al-Qaeda’s Air Force’”.

The concept which is spreading across the land is that the Obama administration is supporting Al Qaeda.

It’s a bipartisan consensus: the Republican leadership in the US Congress and the Senate have endorsed support and financial aid to the al Nusrah brigades in Syria.

In the eyes of public opinion, the Global War on Terrorism has, so to speak, fallen flat.

Who is Supporting Whom? Who is Waging a War of Aggression?

The spontaneous movement in the armed forces is based on the notion that the “US government is supporting al Qaeda”.

The corporate media has failed to reveal the nature of the longstanding relationship between Al Qaeda and the US government, which goes back to the Soviet-Afghan war.

Al Qaeda –the “outside enemy of America” as well as the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks– is a creation of the CIA. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are often referred to as “intelligence assets”

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in the early 1980s, the US intelligence apparatus has supported the formation of “Islamic brigades”.

Propaganda purports to erase the history of Al Qaeda, drown the truth and “kill the evidence” on how this “outside enemy” was fabricated and transformed into “Enemy Number One”.

The Global War on Terrorism is not geared towards curbing the “Islamic jihad”. The significant development of “radical Islam” in the wake of the Cold War was consistent with Washington’s hidden agenda. The latter consists in sustaining rather than combating international terrorism, with a view to creating factional divisions within countries and destabilizing national societies.

The numerous al Qaeda affiliated entities are routinely used in CIA covert operations. They are recruited, trained and indoctrinated under the supervision of the CIA and its intelligence counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar and Israel. Unknown to the American public, the US has spread the teachings of the “Islamic jihad” in textbooks “Made in America”, developed at the University of Nebraska

Al Qaeda is an intelligence asset which serves the interests of the US administration.

With regard to Syria, the US government is not “supporting Al Qaeda” Quite the opposite, the Al Qaeda mercenaries in Syria, recruited and trained in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are “supporting the US government”. They are being used by the US military intelligence apparatus. They are paid killers.

Their actions are implemented as part of a military agenda; they are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance. The atrocities committed by the terrorists are the direct result of paramilitary training and indoctrination. The US government is behind this process. Obama is responsible for the crimes committed by the “rebels” against the Syrian people.

Concluding Remarks

We are at an important crossroads. The “Global War on Terrorism” constitutes the cornerstone of war propaganda. Yet at the same time the lies which uphold the GWOT are no longer credible and the thrust and effectiveness of the propaganda campaign are threatened.

No one can reasonably believe in a “war on terrorism” which consists in channeling money and weapons to the terrorists. Its a non sequitur.

“Support to terrorists”, portrayed as “revolutionaries” cannot be heralded as part of a foreign policy agenda which officially consists in “going after the terrorists”.

But Obama desperately needs to hold on to the “Global war on Terrorism”. It’s the cornerstone of US military doctrine. It’s a worldwide crusade.

Without the “Global War on Terrorism”, the Obama administration does not have a leg to stand on: its military doctrine collapses like a deck of cards.

Undermining the credibility of the “Global War on Terrorism” is a powerful instrument of counter-propaganda.

We call on people across the land: Mobilize against Obama’s war.

The war on Syria is illegal and criminal.

The President and Commander in Chief’s decision to support Al Qaeda in Syria is in violation of international law and US anti terrorism legislation .

US and coalition troops have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to fight in Obama’s “humanitarian war” on Syria, which consists in supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists.

The President and Commander in Chief has blatantly violated all tenets of domestic and international law. So that making an oath to “obey orders from the President” is tantamount to violating rather than defending the US Constitution.

“The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.” (Mosqueda, US troops have “A Duty To Disobey all Unlawful orders”.http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MOS303A.html )

“Refusing to fight” an illegal war implies a rejection of the legitimacy of the Commander in Chief. It denies the Obama administration the authority to conduct an illegal and criminal war on behalf of the American people.

And the American people must support the US servicemen and women who refuse to fight in an illegal war.

Obama is a war criminal. He is supporting terrorists, who are his paid killers. Amply documented Syria’s rebels have been trained in the use of chemical weapons and they have used chemical weapons against innocent civilians.

The Global War on Terrorism is a fabrication and a lie.

War is an illegal undertaking.

According to Nuremberg jurisprudence, the ultimate war crime consists in starting a war. Obama and his European counterparts including David Cameron and Francois Hollande are responsible for the supreme crime: “the crime against peace.” This war is illegal irrespective of a decision of the UN Security Council to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign state:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations… Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.” UN Charter – 1: Purposes and Principles

 

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