Eid al adha-2013


While the world waits for its major super power to default and throw international economies into a tailspin, Muslims the world over are celebrating the festival for the annual pilgrimage, or Hajj. hajj Over two million Muslims participated this year, 2013 and to them and Muslims the world over, congratulations on the occasion of eid al-adha.

eid

Before we go any further, lets reflect on the past


WMDs & Saddam

We’ve been here before haven’t we.  In the lead up to the Iraqi war….both of them….we heard politicians we trusted come out and declare that the foe of the day was complicit in crimes against humanity or some such charge drastic enough to call for American intervention.  In both cases we found out later, after many lives were lost and a lot of damage inflicted on innocent people the charges were not true.  Before we embark on another potential mis-adventure let’s take time to rehash what happened to the last Middle East tyrant we both embraced and deposed

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen,Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

Chemical_weapon1According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly civilians.

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq’s chemical warfare campaign.

“As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings,” the CIA reported in a top secret document in November 1983. “Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international law.”

At the time, the military attaché’s office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attaché in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as “GA”) against Iranian forces in southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about Iraq’s chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. “If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the border,” the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent “could have a significant impact on Iran’s human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy.” Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March 1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had “begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall.”

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that parties “will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the” agreement. Iraq never ratified the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the production and use of such arms, wasn’t passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States wasn’t yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew about Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed Saddam Hussein as “anathema” and his officials as “thugs.”

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona’s shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report partially entitled “At The Gates of Basrah,” warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: “An Iranian victory is unacceptable.”

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized electronic intelligence. There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona described much of the information as “targeting packages” suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death. CIA analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between “hundreds” and “thousands” in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona, Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their offensive.

The level of insight into Iraq’s chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq’s program prior to the United States’ invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to treat sarin’s lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to Baghdad — proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

Syria_3In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam’s unconventional assaults. Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.

 

The Evil of historical revisionism


Quite frankly, I hate it, people with gilded tongue or pen who are able to change facts to present a narrative that is completely opposite to reality and what really took place.  Such revisionist work in the service of the “empire”, people of power who enlist the help of scribes to change, conceal, cover up historical facts and outcomes in order to preserve power.  A very good example of that in these morst recent times is what happened vis-a-vis the Iraq war and the media’s implication in propelling a frightened Nation into that war.  We’ve posted several pieces on how media played a willing hand in inciting racial animus towards a non-existent enemy and resulting carnage it caused for all involved.  In keeping with being unrelenting, here’s another article written by Greg Mitchell that details media’s complicity in the Iraqi war and particularly again the WashPost

The Washington Post killed my assigned piece for its Outlook section this weekend which mainly covered media failures re: Iraq and the current refusal to come to grips with that (the subject of my latest book)–yet they ran this misleading, cherry-picking, piece by Paul Farhi claiming the media “didn’t fail.”  I love the line about the Post in March 2003 carrying some skeptical pieces just days before the war started: “Perhaps it was too late by then. But this doesn’t sound like failure.”

Here’s my rejected piece.  I see that the Post is now defending killing the article because it didn’t offer sufficient “broader analytical points or insights.”  I’ll let you consider if that’s true and why they might have rejected it.

Now let’s revisit my recent posts here on when probe in the Post itself by Howard Kurtz in 2004 showed that it failed big time.  For one thing, Kurtz tallied more than 140 front-page Post stories “that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq”–with all but a few of those questioning the evidence buried inside.  Editors there killed, delayed or buried key pieces by Ricks, Walter Pincus, Dana Priest and others.  The Post‘s David Ignatius went so far as offering an apology to readers this week for his own failures.  Also consider Bob Woodward’s reflections here and here.   He admitted he had become a willing part of the the “groupthink” that accepted faulty intelligence on the WMDs.

Woodward, shaming himself and his paper, once said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if WMD were ultimately found in Iraq.  Rather than look silly, they greased the path to war.   “There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all the contrary stuff?” admitted the Post’s Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks in 2004.  And this classic from a top reporter, Karen DeYoung:  “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.“  See my review, at the time, of how the Post fell (hook, line, and sinker) for Colin Powell’s fateful U.N. speech–and mocked critics.  Not a “fail”?

In Farhi’s piece, Len Downie, the longtime Post editor, is still claiming, with a shrug, hey, we couldn’t have slowed or halted the war anyway.  Farhi agrees with this.  Nothing to see here, move along.

Kurtz last week called the media failure on Iraq the most egregious in “modern times,” which echoes my book.  This week neither the Post nor The New York Times published an editorial admitting any shortcomings in their Iraq coverage.   Back in 2003, the Times at least called for caution in invading Iraq, in editorials.  On the other hand, as Bill Moyers pointed out, in the six months leading up to the U.S. attack on the Iraq, the Post “editorialized in favor of the war at least 27 times.”

 

Let’s hope none of the respondents were Americans


 

tentAli Abunimah ran the above photograph and chronicled the response of some Israelis and to read what they wrote was quite disturbing.  Look at some of them and tell me whether their suggestions don’t remind you of something that has already happened

Run the tent over with a truck/Merkava tank/a bus/ whatever it takes to crush and kill these children (Rachael Corrie)….

I’d have thrown nerve gas into the tent and closed it and made them breath it until the end…… (Saddam Hussein)

Put a couple of bullets in their heads and we’re done (Adam Lanza)

My point is these people are suggesting things be done that have been done to or by people that we acknowledge as social psychopaths, deviants who have been killed by us or whose death we cheered.  If you read Abunimah’s article you’ll find who some of the people who responded are and its scary because many of them have the means and opportunity to do what it is they are suggesting be done.

The Washington Post gets pwned


I’m not a fan of corporate media because it tends to make unsettling alliances with people of power to insure its profitability through devious journalistic and financial practices but I have a special enmity for corporate media that didn’t do its job during the time of the crisis with Iraq and misled the country with the help of dubious politicians into one of the greatest crimes against humanity that we’ve seen in our lives.  Here is another brilliant piece from Robert Parry about the culpability of the Washington Post

Four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, the Washington Post published an editorial about the disastrous war of choice, a conflict which the Post’s neocon editors promoted with falsehoods and distortions both before the invasion and for years afterwards.

However, if you thought there would be some admission of the newspaper’s long litany of mistakes or some apology to the war’s critics who were routinely maligned in Post editorials and op-eds, you would be sorely disappointed. There was not even a mention of the nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died.

President Barack Obama remains a target of the Washington Post’s outrage over his supposed failure to complete the neocon agenda in the Middle East. Obama is shown here touring the crypt containing the reputed birthplace of Jesus during the President’s visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the West Bank, March 22, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After a brief acknowledgement that the war’s tenth anniversary “generated plenty of commentary about the lessons of that war,” the Post’s editors said nothing about what, if anything, they had learned. Instead, they remained in positive spin mode, citing one supposed accomplishment from the invasion.

“For the first time in decades, contemporary Iraq poses no threat to its neighbors,” the Post declared. However, even that is a lie on two fronts.

First, Iraq under Saddam Hussein had not been a threat to its neighbors since the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, unless the Post’s editors were having a flashback to the glory days of 2002-03 when they were disseminating President George W. Bush’s bogus WMD propaganda. Do they still believe that nonsense?

Second, today’s Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a threat to its neighbors because al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremists from western Iraq have crossed the border to Syria where they have assumed a major role in the violent opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But the Post’s editors want you to believe that the Bush-neocon expedition to Iraq was on the cusp of some great success until President Barack Obama showed up to squander the victory – by not insisting on a continuation of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

“Iran’s influence over Mr. Maliki’s government is mounting, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s failure to agree with Baghdad on a stay-on force of U.S. troops,” the Post wrote, making it seem as if it were Obama’s petulance that prevented the continued U.S. military presence, not the insistence by Maliki’s government of terms in a “status of forces agreement” unacceptable to the Americans.

Lost Influence

In the Post’s frame of reality, however, this failure to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has led to other terrible consequences: “According to U.S. officials, Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly weapons through its airspace to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Repeated appeals from Washington to stop the traffic have gone unheeded.”

But an objective observer might have noted that it was the Bush-neocon hubris, rushing into a war to oust Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime that led inevitably to the expanded influence of Shiite-ruled Iran within the new Shiite-controlled regime in Iraq. Yet, the Post instead placed the blame squarely on Obama.

The Post’s editorial then returned to its current campaign to pressure the Obama administration into entering a new military conflict in Syria, accusing the President of unmanly softness.

“The civil war in Syria, and the passivity with which the Obama administration has responded to it, have reinforced these negative trends. Mr. Maliki fears that the downfall of the Assad regime could lead to a Sunni-dominated government that would back insurrection in Sunni parts of Iraq.

“As with leaders across the Middle East, he perceives that the United States is unwilling to defend its interests in the region, either by stopping the Syrian bloodbath or countering Iran’s interventions. The risk of greater turmoil or even a return to civil war in Iraq is one of several compelling reasons for more aggressive U.S. action to end the war in Syria.”

The Post then summed up its case by suggesting that Obama has betrayed the great victory that the neocons supposedly had won in Iraq.

“President Obama has often given the impression that he has turned his back on Iraq, and many Americans understandably sympathize with him. But a failure to engage with the fragile state U.S. troops left behind would endanger U.S. interests and break faith with the many Americans who made sacrifices there.”

What is particularly startling about the Post’s editorial, which curiously appears four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, is that the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital continues to live in a neocon fantasy world or at least refuses to acknowledge key Middle East realities.

In Neocon-land, the big U.S. mistake in Iraq was not forcing the Iraqis to accept an indefinite U.S. military occupation, compounded by the Obama administration’s hesitancy to join Israel in bombing Iran and to jump into another bloody quagmire in Syria – in other words to continue the neocon grand plan of “regime change” across the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Not only did the Post editorial, entitled “Iraq, 10 years later,” offer no self-reflection on the Post’s many factual errors about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, no apology for its bullying of war skeptics, and no recognition of its complicity in a criminal invasion, but the newspaper’s editors appear to have absorbed not a single lesson from what happened a decade ago.

That inability to utter even the most obvious and necessary mea culpa is disturbing in itself. Indeed, if the Post were still a serious news organization committed to the principles of honest journalism, it would have undertaken a major overhaul of its editorial-page staff rather than keeping in place the same leadership and punditry that was so embarrassingly wrong on Iraq.

But, even worse, the Post’s editors continue to pontificate with an arrogance resistant to the undeniable reality of their own misjudgments, incompetence and immorality. In that sense, the Washington Post has become a threat to the Republic and to the world.

What Happened to the US Press Corps?


U.S. President George W. Bush meets with troop...

U.S. President George W. Bush meets with troops and serves Thanksgiving Day Dinner at the Bob Hope Dining Facility, Baghdad International Airport, Iraq

Beautiful article written by Robert Parry asks the rhetorical question about the ineptness of the American media and then brilliantly answers it and it’s not a pretty answer, but it’s real and honest. Below is an excerpt to remind everyone while we talk about the ten year anniversary of the Iraq invasion of the how complicit media was in that war crime.

Why this history is relevant today, as the United States commemorates the tenth anniversary of the disastrous Iraq War, is that it was the Reagan administration’s success in housebreaking the Washington press corps that guaranteed that only a handful of mainstream journalists would ask tough questions about President George W. Bush’s case for invading Iraq.

Put yourself in the shoes of an aspiring Washington correspondent in 2002-2003. Your immediate editors and bureau chiefs were people who succeeded professionally during the 1980s and 1990s. They climbed the ladder by not reaching out for the difficult stories that challenged Republican presidents and earned the wrath of right-wing attack groups. They kept their eyes firmly on the backsides of those above them.

The journalists who did the hard work during that era suffered devastating career damage, again and again. Indeed, they had been made into object lessons for others. Even progressive publications, which wanted some “credibility” with the mainstream, turned away.

In other words, a decade ago – as in the 1980s and 1990s – there was little or no reward in challenging the Bush administration over its claims about Iraq’s WMD, while there was a very big danger. After all, what if you had written a tough story questioning Bush’s case for war and had managed somehow to pressure your editors to run it prominently – and then what if some WMD stockpiles were discovered in Iraq?

Your career would end in ignominy. You would forever be “the Saddam Hussein apologist” who doubted the Great War President, George W. Bush. You would probably be expected to resign to spare your news organization further embarrassment. If not, your editors would likely compel you to leave in disgrace.

People may forget now but it took guts to challenge Bush back then. Remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks, a popular music group, when they dared to express disagreement with Bush’s war of choice. They faced boycotts and death threats.

At Consortiumnews.com in 2002-2003, we ran a number of stories questioning Bush’s WMD claims and his other arguments for war – and even though we were only an Internet site, I got angry e-mails every time the U.S. invading forces found a 55-gallon drum of chemicals. The e-mails demanded that I admit I was wrong and telling me that I owed Bush an apology. [For details on the wartime reporting, see Neck Deep.]

When I would read those comments, I would flash back to the stomach-turning angst that I felt as a correspondent for AP and Newsweek when I published a story that I knew would open me to a new round of attacks. At those moments, all I had was confidence in my tradecraft, the belief that I had followed the rules of journalism in carefully assessing and presenting the evidence.

Still, there is no certainty in journalism. Even the most careful reporting can contain imprecision or errors. But that imperfection becomes a major problem when the rewards and punishments are skewed too widely, when the slightest problem on one side leads to loss of your livelihood while gross mistakes on the other carry no punishment at all.

That was the core failure of the U.S. news media on the Iraq War. By 2002-2003, a generation or more of American journalists had absorbed this career reality. There was grave danger to question Bush’s claims while there was little risk in going with the flow.

And, if you made that assessment a decade ago, you were right. Even though you were wrong journalistically in promoting or staying silent on Bush’s assertions about Iraq’s WMD, you almost surely continued your career climb. If questioned about why you got the WMD question wrong, you could simply say that “everyone got it wrong” – or at least everyone who mattered – so it would be unfair to single anyone out for blame.

But most likely, no one who mattered would even ask the question because those folks had been traveling in the same pack, spouting the same groupthink. So, if it seems odd to some Americans that today they are reading and watching the same pundits who misled them into a catastrophic war a decade ago, it shouldn’t.

The phony war on terror just got phonier


We are now in the middle of a campaign season where President Obama is seeking a second term and the horror of George Bush’s war on terror is quickly becoming a distant memory.  Unfortunately, the illegal legacy of that war and what it has done to the fabric of America is still being revealed and this latest revelation casts a negative light on how terror suspects were interrogated and the nature of the information gained from their interrogation.

Reports have been circulating for years that US officials, and because of the very nature of these allegations accountability will be difficult if not impossible to pinpoint who they are, have been using drugs during the interrogation of people captured on various military theaters where American forces have been engaged. The very use of drugs during questioning is considered torture according to laws and conventions that we, America, used to subscribe.  Torture under these circumstances is defined as

the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.

Detainees captured by or sold to US forces and their allies were given drugs against their will, not told what the drugs were or what their effects would be and then questioned and the legal system put in place under these circumstances presumed that any information obtained from such an interrogation was accurate.  It didn’t matter to those in charge that powerful antipsychotic drugs’  side effects included lethargy, tremors, anxiety, mood changes and an inability to remain motionless, the idea that any information gathered as a result of this type of medical intervention was acceptable as a legitimate source of intelligence. This then became another rung on the torture ladder that the government hung their treatment and handling of people during the war on terror.  What happened to our country is it engaged in illegal torture, saying it was necessary to protect America and during the course of that illegal behaviour further exacerbated it by employing drugs meant to alter a captive’s perception of reality, and skew the information passed on to officials, who then trumpeted that before we the people to justify continuing  illegal activity.  The war on terror and the information we supposedly gathered fighting that war, and even the enemy itself was all a sham a ruse, made up to justify invading countries with an expanded, bloated military.    In other words, we cooked the books…we made things up, we frightened ourselves with lies obtained through drugs from people  who were sold to us in most cases or who had nothing to do with the attacks on our country .  This is the legacy Bush’s war on terror has left us.

An American casualty to ‘endless war’


This is what happens when you drink the kool-aid, believe the lies that were made to start America down the path of endless warfare that only enriches the coffers of the military complex but sucks the life out of the people who put their lives  on the line to operate it.

Robert Bales enlisted in the US military in response to 911, answering the call of patriotism to fight an enemy that was shadowy  and  elusive.  That’s a good thing………the people who asked for his help, the politicians who made him and us feel good about that service knew it was predicated on a lie, and was designed to make sure that a way of life, not threatened, would be even more enhanced with his and countless others’ sacrifice. The Bush administration didn’t care one iota what the effect would be of countless tours it would ask its service men and women to go through; it never crossed the minds of the planners of one of the biggest bold faced lies America would embark on in some time.  What mattered was the mission be accomplished.

Sgt. Bales served three tours in Iraq and a fourth in Afghanistan, the graveyard of Russia’s military.  It was irrelevant to most in US  policy circles that  after Russia withdrew from Afghanistan it would undergo a radical political transformation…some would say because of its reckless foray into Afghanistan in just a few short months.  America somehow thought its outcomes would be different and so Sgt. Bales was sent there on a 4th tour, injured and almost surely slightly insane.  Now he has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder; nothing done in defense of his country or even of his fellow troops on the battlefield but something he initiated on his own in the dead of night at which time he murdered men, women and children in their homes while they slept.

The US military, stretched to its limits in theaters all over the world fighting people who are not a threat to the American way of life, but called that because a politician or special interests says they are, is reassigning soldiers who are crippled (Sgt. Bates supposedly had part of his foot amputated because of injuries he received in Iraq) or suffering from debilitating emotional paralysis due to things they’ve experienced, seen or done in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These men and women simply are not getting the help they need to heal because the military has no time for their recuperation as it goes about the business of chasing ghosts.  So Bales and countless others are recycled endlessly within the military until they crack, die, retire or are replaced by others.  Bates cracked.

The American military is  desperately in need of being treated for this disease of endless war

Since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the rate of Suicide among U.S. Army soldiers has soared, according to a new study from the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

The study, an analysis of data from the Army Behavioral Health Integrated Data Environment, shows a striking 80 percent increase in suicides among Army personnel between 2004 and 2008. The rise parallels increasing rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions in soldiers, the study said…..

“This study does not show that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the U.S. Army Public Health Command. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

In other words we can expect more Bates in the near future…and if that’s not distressing enough, remember these men and women return to the shores of our country with the war parasite embedded into their being and if we’re lucky enough not to have them  act dishonorably, as Bates did, in Afghanistan or Iraq, that doesn’t spare us the possibility they might unleash their psychosis on us at home.

Sgt. Bales was doing what he was expected to do, not by the US military but by the people who  sent him there.  His job was to fill a slot and make it possible for US money to be funneled into it and into all the other slots occupied by American men and women who are manning military installations around the world.  The people who started this war and used as a rallying cry that it’s a war with no physical or time  boundaries are ultimately responsible for what happened the night Bates cracked and became homicidal. The truly tragic aspect to this all is, they’ve probably already replaced him with someone who is just as battered and bruised as he was.  It’s just a  matter of time before we will read about him or her.

Iran and corporate media’s jaundice eye/ An UPDATE


There are forces at work that really want to see a war with Iran and  many of those forces are being encouraged by the duplicitous way main stream media has reported on the story of Iran and its perceived nuclear program. Dave Lindorff talked about that in his most recent pieceGoebbels Would Stand in Awe: The US Corporate News Media are Rank Propagandists on Iran.  Media never tires from war even though the rest of the country most likely has, so it appears they want to wake us from our war stupor to fight another

The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.

The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran — Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.

Not once, in reporting on these threats of aggressive war by Israel and/or the United States, has any major U.S. news organization, in print or on the air, included any reference to the U.N. Charter or to the fact that what is being contemplated is an invasion by Israel or the United States of a country that has not even been shown to be producing or planning to produce a nuclear weapon, much less to be in possession of one. Not once, in any of these daily reports on the Iran “crisis,” has any report by these news organizations — including National Public Radio — interviewed a source who could point out that what is being discussed is the most serious of all war crimes: the crime against peace (the same crime that led to the hanging, after World War II, of several military leaders in Japan and Germany).

The law itself is crystal clear. Under the UN Charter it is the ultimate war crime for a nation to initiate an aggressive war against another country that has not attacked it or that does not pose an “imminent threat” of attack. And given that even Israeli and US intelligence officials concede that Iran is not at this time making a bomb, and thus cannot hope to have a working one even a year from now were they to begin a crash program, there is simply no imminent threat.

Even when a perfect opportunity arrived for making this point — a public statement Feb. 27 by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, at the United Nations, reminding UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that an attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be “contrary to international law,” and urging Ban to address the issue — this trenchant and news-worthy warning was totally blacked out by the U.S. corporate news media.

There was no news report on Patriota’s warning in the Washington Post, the New York Times or other major newspapers. There was no mention of it on CNN or other major news stations either.

As far as most Americans go, the statement by the foreign minister of one of the world’s biggest nations, and a leader among the developing nations of the world, never happened.

Instead, the American news media have been running article after article, often on page one above the fold, or as the lead item on the hour, debating when Israel might attack Iran, whether the U.S. would come to Israel’s aid if it did attack, or if after it attacked, Iran retaliated by firing missiles at Israel, the US would join Israel. Even worse, the media have been running and airing stories quoting Pentagon sources and retired military personnel (often still on the Pentagon payroll) describing how an Israeli or a US attack on Iran would likely be conducted. All this without mentioning the criminality of it all.

It’s as though we were siting in Germany in 1938, reading articles in the local newspapers speculating about how Germany’s future attack on Poland would be conducted, or when and how the Blitzkrieg against the Low Countries would play out.

What we are getting is not news. It is propaganda. The Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, had he not killed himself to avoid capture and execution for war crimes by the Allies at the end of the war, would surely marvel at how his methods are being aped and refined by the media in one of his leading democratic enemies some seven decades after he put the German media in service to the Third Reich.

At least the Los Angeles Times belatedly, on March 5, ran an op-ed article by Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman making the point that a US attack on Iran would be both a war crime and a violation of US law. As he explains, since the US is a signatory of the UN Charter–a treaty ratified by the Senate — its provisions banning aggressive wars have become, under Article II of the US Constitution, an integral part of US law.

Ackerman notes that in 1981, when Israel unilaterally bombed and destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the US voted for a unanimous UN Security Council Resolution condemning that attack, and he quoted then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose country also voted for the resolution, as saying, “Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law.”

But why is such information as Ackerman’s only appearing on the L.A. Times opinion page?

Ackerman is an authority on international law at one of the pre-eminent law schools in the country. He should be getting quoted as an authority in news articles where attacking Iran is being discussed. What he says about the U.N. Charter and about a war of aggression being flat-out illegal is not an opinion. It is a fact. He and this important fact belong on the news pages.

Bad enough that he is being relegated by the editors of the Los Angeles Times to the opinion page ghetto, but he is being totally ignored by the editors of other major news organizations. He is too dangerous even for their opinion pages.

When this kind of thing happens, it is clear that what passes for mainstream journalism in the US is not really journalism at all. It is propaganda–in this case pro-Israel, pro-war propaganda. That’s why we see calls in the US media for Iran to submit to UN inspection of its entire nuclear program, while no similar demand is made of Israel, which has some 300 nuclear weapons, and which has never allowed in any inspectors.

There is no difference between the war-mongering coverage by the mainstream media with respect to Iran today and the war-mongering coverage we experienced in 1982-1983 in the run-up to another criminal war of aggression, the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq — another country that posed no imminent threat to the United States.

Fortunately Americans willing to make the effort do have other sources of news. They could read the alternative US media, like this publication or perhaps look abroad, say at the Irish News Beacon online, where Patriota’s statement was reported properly as significant news. Unfortunately, most Americans are content to passively receive their “news” as it is vetted, twisted and spoon-fed to them from the corporate propaganda machine, though. This may explain why polls show more than 50 percent of Americans to be in support of a campaign to bomb Iran, while only 19 percent of Israelis, who still have real newspapers and real journalists at least, want to do the same thing.

Here’s more reasoning that you won’t read in corporate media about Iran and the supposed nuclear threat

The assumption that a short war of limited strikes will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is flawed. Damage to Iran’s nuclear program from such a strike would be modest, likely requiring more strikes in another few years or a longer-term presence on the ground.

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back its nuclear program by one to two years. U.S. military action every few years is an unmanageable strategy.

Worse, attempts to stop Iran’s program militarily will bolster its resolve to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the military solution will make Iranians “absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” He continued, “… they will just go deeper and more covert.”

but what such a strike WILL do is plunge the area into further turmoil for another decade while depleting US military manpower, America’s financial coffers and her reputation throughout the world because of our inability to say no to a recalcitrant ally bent on the destruction of all those who say “no” to her.

 

The Israeli leaderships’ assault on the American military


It used to be in American politics if you hurled insults, character assassination and humiliating invective towards your opponent you could either get them to shut up or do what you want.  That worked because the victim of such verbal abuse dealt from a position of weakness or insecurity.  Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and others within the Israeli government are trying that with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey because of his stance towards Iran and the seeming confrontation Israel wants to have with the Iranians.  Let’s hope the tactic doesn’t work.  Dempsey is a decorated military officer who has served his time and his country in the United States military, at times fighting for the best interests  of the Israeli government to the detriment of America.  Our latest foray into Iraq is the most recent example of that….and now he seems to think along with others that a much more prudent path should be taken in dealing with the Iranians. He’s not alone in that assessment however. American men and women serving in the US military seem to have grown tired of endless wars that drain the national resources of their country, ask them to make sacrifices that are not in their best interests and ruin the reputation of their country and make it a target of the disillusioned.  They are making that discontent known by supporting financially and overwhelmingly  the non-interventionist candidacy of Ron Paul  more than all the other candidates running for office combined, including Obama!

Perhaps Dempsey has sampled that discontent; certainly he has observed the effects a decades old war on two fronts has had on the US military and understands the impact another confrontation could have.  Moreover, conclusive proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon or the means to obtain one shortly is far less than conclusive, much like the weapons of mass destruction meme we were so used to hearing leading up to the Iraqi war.  The Israelis have also decided to reach back into the WMD bag of insults bristling at Dempsey’s words of caution with personal attacks and innuendo, which ring all too much like the cries of traitor and impotent neo cons hurled at dissenters and doubters of the Iraqi war a decade ago.  The latter were proved too prescient, yet despite being discredited neo-cons and their Israeli supporters are still around to assail us with sophomoric insults that have no basis in fact.  Certainly not with the likes of General Dempsey who has nothing to prove to anyone about his loyalties or his competence.  Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment, lists Dempsey’s credentials thus

Dempsey served in the Gulf War and deployed twice to Iraq during the Iraq War. “General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.”

What’s unfortunate for America is that election years tend to make officials running for office weak kneed when it comes to standing up to lobbying interests, and especially those of Israel.  Even though America is perhaps the safest it has ever been, in spite of recent flare ups in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials who worship at the altar of political action committees like AIPAC, et.al cannot say “no” when it comes time to draw a line between American and Israeli interests, so this salvo directed at Dempsey is only the opening shot. There will be more to come, from the Israelis as well as their American surrogates who are running for office on both sides of the isle.  In an age where political donations have no limit and can be endlessly given to candidates who can run for office regardless of the electoral process’ outcome, one can expect such boorish behavior designed to publicly question and deride honorable public servants to continue.  Hang on to your hats America…..it’s gonna’ be a bumpy ride!

The terrorists that got away


We here like to highlight the terrorists that manage to escape mention at the hands of neo-cons and Islamophobes who like to always remind us of the Muslim terrorists in our midst.  Usually you find their terrorist committing all the crimes of murder, plunder and violence on the homeland so much so that they account for not a single U.S. civilian being killed by a Muslim terrorists looking to take his place among the 72 virgins since 9/11…not one.   However, fourteen soldiers have been killed, thirteen of those during the Fort Hood Shooting.  And did you know for the 25 years between 1980 and 2005, only 6% of all acts of terror were committed by those fanatical jihadists Muslims, yet the phobes would have you believe that all terrorists are Muslims.

So here are a few of the non Muslim terrorists they forgot to mention to you, and these have popped up within the last week.  First place goes to the guy who killed a park Ranger in Washington state and is being hunted by law enforcement there.  He’s not Muslim, his excuse for terror is he’s a veteran with PTSD back from Iraq and not able to handle the stress of living in peace.  We had to breed people like this guy……those who need war to survive or find meaning in killing to get them to do things against human nature, like invading and killing people in their own country for no reason whatsoever.  We just haven’t figured out how to turn the switch off, so Benjamin Colton Barnes, killed a Mt. Rainier park ranger in cold blood.  Along the way to perdition, he had run ins with the mother of his baby who was smart enough to see the danger he posed and requested a court order to keep him away from her and their baby because of his constant threats of violence against them and himself.  A ticking time bomb if there ever was one, and his singular act of murder against a federal employee is certainly one of terrorism, but the only place you will read him being called that is here on the pages of Miscellany101.

The next act of terrorism that more closely reminds us of 9/11 since the Christmas underwear bomber than any other is this young man of distinction…..a man with a military background as well who tried to get on an airplane with explosives.  Racial profiling was probably not being used when he tried to board a plane, just good old fashioned application of the rules for everyone.  Perhaps there are some people who normally carry explosives in their luggage whenever they travel, but we usually call such people terrorists, splash their pictures across the pages of all the papers and make sure they are public enemy #1.  Trey Scott Atwater tried to board a plane in Texas’ Midland Airport over the weekend and was found to be carrying military-grade explosives.  We have the dreaded TSA to thank for this guy’s arrest.  Atwater’s charge is attempting to board an aircraft with an explosive, yet no mention is made of the amount of explosive in his possession.  Atwater is of the right persuasion to escape the terrorist charge, but not here at Miscellany101.

Finally, it appears there is a gang of terrorists running amok in the New York city area, targeting Muslim places of worship.  I don’t know how else to classify such miscreants other than with the designation terrorist for they seem to operate at night via drive by bombings of random targets in the area.  They are reminiscent of that other all American terrorist organization, the KKK, but you don’t hear them called that anymore these days either.  It appears, in the minds of too many in America, terrorist is a pejorative term with a specific connotation that means only Muslim or Islam.  As we noted before however, that group should be the last one you should worry about for they are the ones who commit the smallest amount of  terrorist acts in America, unless you categorize all the other acts of terrorism committed by non Muslims as something other than terrorism.

 

firebombed house courtesy of the New York Times

hat tip to Loonwatch.com

 

Hitting the nail on the head


I read the following article and it was another epiphany for me in terms of its clarity regarding the US, Israel and Iran.  So much chest beating has been going on between these three countries within the last decade and with the draw down of US forces in Iraq it seems rhetoric has increased regarding the necessity to attack another Muslim country that surrounds Israel.

Most of Israel’s neighbors have accepted her existence, as they should, but they have resisted her oppression of her own Arab citizens as well as her Palestinian neighbors, as they should, so the drum beat for war is not an existential necessity for Israel it’s an exercise in assessing the power Israel has over her American client.

The boys who cry “Holocaust”
The same neocon hawks who lied us into Iraq are using the ultimate argument-stopper to push war with Iran
By Gary Kamiya

We’ve been through this before. As one of the most disastrous wars in our history is coming to an inglorious end, the same neoconservative hawks who dreamed it up are agitating for a new war that would make Iraq look like the invasion of Grenada — and using the ultimate trump card in American politics to silence debate over it.

When hawks begin beating the drums for war in the Middle East, Israel is usually a big reason why. That was true in the run-up to the war in Iraq, and it is doubly true with the current  hysteria over Iran. Despite disingenuous claims to the contrary, the only reason the U.S. is even talking about war with Iran is Israel. As the invaluable M.J. Rosenberg, who knows the working of the Israel lobby as only a former card-carrying member can, notes, “It is impossible to find a single politician or journalist advocating war with Iran who is not a neocon or an AIPAC cutout. (They’re often both.)”

Ever since the International Atomic Energy Agency released its overhyped, old-news report on Iran’s nuclear program, Israel’s amen corner in the U.S. has been loudly calling for war.

If American politics did not contain an enormous blind spot, no one would pay any attention to what these discredited ideologues have to say. The Iraq war they championed turned out to be one of the biggest foreign-policy disasters in U.S. history. Their ignorant and Islamophobic view of the Middle East is as breathtaking as their bland willingness to commit America to yet another ruinous war against a Muslim country, this time one four times larger than Iraq and with more than twice as many people. They have a demonstrated track record of complete failure.

Yet these incompetent militarists are still taken seriously. And the reason is simple: They purport to be supporters of Israel. In American politics, you can get away with even the most cracked war-mongering as long as you claim to be “pro-Israel.” And the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for anything having to do with Israel is the Holocaust.

To listen to the neocons and hawks, you’d think Hitler was about to send the tanks over the Polish border. Former U.S. ambassador and Dr. Strangelove impersonator John Bolton said, “The only alternative now is the potential for a pre-emptive military strike against their military program, either by the United States or Israel. Diplomacy has failed. Sanctions have failed.” For Bolton, Iran is the second coming of Nazi Germany: “If the choice is them continuing [towards a nuclear bomb] or the use of force, I think you’re at a Hitler marching into the Rhineland point … We’re still in 1936, but not for long.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, the former Israeli Defense Forces corporal and Atlantic writer, whose bogus claim in the New Yorker that Saddam Hussein might give his nonexistent WMD to al-Qaida helped convince some liberals to support the Iraq war,  claims, “The Israeli case for preemption is compelling, and has been for some time.”

Why? “The leaders of Iran are eliminationist anti-Semites; men who, for reasons of theology, view the state of the Jews as a ‘cancer.’ They have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction and worked to hasten that end, mainly by providing material support and training to two organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, that specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews. Iran’s leaders are men who deny the Holocaust while promising another.”

Goldberg acknowledged the downside for Israel of attacking Iran, including international isolation and retaliation, but for him that was a reason why America, not Israel, should threaten war.

“Numerous Israeli officials have told me that they are much less likely to recommend a preemptive strike of their own if they were reasonably sure that Obama was willing to use force. And if Iran’s leaders feared there was a real chance of a U.S. attack, they might actually modify their behavior,” Goldberg wrote. “I believe Obama would use force — and that he should make that perfectly clear to the Iranians.”

Neoconservative leader Bill Kristol, who was wrong about Iraq and was rewarded by being given a gig at the New York Times, where he quickly proved to be perhaps the worst columnist of all time, wrote in the Weekly Standard,  “The next speech we need to hear from the Obama administration should announce that, after 30 years, we have gone on the offensive against this murderous regime. And the speech after that can celebrate the fall of the regime, and offer American help to the democrats building a free and peaceful Iran.” In 2009, Kristol compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain for not being sufficiently outspoken on behalf of the Iranian people.

The Holocaust mind-set

But the most nakedly coercive use of the Holocaust was made by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (whose trustworthiness in foreign policy matters can be judged by the fact that he criticized the Bush State Department for not cooking its intelligence to support the Iraq war). “I don’t think the United States has the moral right to say to a country whose people who have already gone through one Holocaust – two nuclear weapons is another Holocaust,” said in 2006. “And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” In language virtually identical to Goldberg’s, Netanyahu said that while the Iranian president “denies the Holocaust, he is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”

“We will always remember what the Nazi Amalek did to us,” Netanyahu said at a 2010 Holocaust remembrance service at Auschwitz, “and we won’t forget to be prepared for the new Amalek, who is making an appearance on the stage of history and once again threatening to destroy the Jews.”

The Holocaust mind-set has led Israel into self-destructive policies. And its promiscuous invocation has helped ensure that Israel maintains a stranglehold over America’s Mideast policy. That stranglehold has always been harmful to America, but it is now actually dangerous.

For there is a very real possibility that Israel will attack Iran. I have been reading Israel’s best newspaper, Ha’aretz, for more than 10 years, and I have never seen a possible war with Iran taken so seriously by its journalists. Ha’aretz is a left-leaning paper, but the concern in Israel reaches across the political spectrum. Israel’s leading political columnist, Nahum Barnea, recently warned in a front-page story in Israel’s highest-circulation newspaper, the centrist Yediot Achronot, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, overriding the objections of their security experts, may launch an attack on Iran this winter.

Barnea’s article is in Hebrew: it is summarized  by Larry Derfner, who writes for the excellent Israeli-American site 972. Barnea wrote, “Netanyahu [believes] Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he is not stopped in time, there will be another Holocaust. There are those who describe Netanyahu’s attitude on the matter as an obsession: all his life he dreamed of being Churchill; Iran gives him the opportunity.”

The odds of war

To be sure, the odds are still against Israel actually launching an attack. Washington has made it clear it does not want war with Iran, and the first rule of Israeli politics is “never threaten the special relationship with America.” Israel has been warning that Iran is months away from getting a nuclear bomb for years. And it has a history of rattling its saber as a tactic to force the U.S. to take a harder line with Iran.

But the possibility that Israel might attack Iran, especially after the U.S. troops leave Iraq, cannot be taken lightly — not least because of Netanyahu’s invocation of the Holocaust. Netanyahu is apparently sincerely convinced that if Iran’s nuclear program is not destroyed, Israel will face another Holocaust. If that is true, the traditional restraints on Israeli behavior may not apply.

It is possible that Israel might attack Iran unilaterally, and dare the U.S. to stop it. As Iran analyst Mark Fitzpatrick  told Reuters, “When you consider that next year being the U.S. presidential election year, and the dynamics of politics in the United States, this could increase Israel’s inclination to take matters into its own hands. The most likely possibility is that Netanyahu calls up Obama and says: ‘I’m not asking for a green light, I’m just telling you that we’ve just launched the planes, don’t shoot them down.’ And in a U.S. presidential election year, I think it’s unlikely that Obama would shoot them down.”

The Israeli historian Benny Morris makes the same point.

“Most observers in Israel believe that while Israel would like to have a green light from Washington, it will proceed without one if it believes that its existence is at stake,” he wrote in the National Interest. “The feeling here is that Obama will endorse, and perhaps in various ways assist, an Israeli strike once it is underway — whether or not he is consulted beforehand — because he sees the ayatollahs’ regime as a threat to world peace and American interests in the Middle East; because successive American administrations, including his own, have declared that Washington will not to allow Iran to acquire the bomb; and because, in a presidential election year, Obama cannot afford to alienate the Jewish vote.”

Morris’ assertion that Obama would be willing to endorse and perhaps assist an Israeli strike because he believes it is justified is extremely dubious, to put it mildly. Obama’s Middle East policies have been hugely disappointing, but he is not a fool. He knows that Iran — which has not started a war in modern history — poses no conceivable military threat to the United States. He also knows that the Arab Spring and the crisis in Syria have weakened Tehran’s geo-strategic position. There is also the little issue of America being bankrupt and its military exhausted. For all these reasons, for Washington to even consider starting a war with Iran would be utter lunacy. This is why Obama has repeatedly sent Netanyahu high-level messages, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others, warning him not to launch a unilateral attack.

But starting a war is one thing, and daring to stand up to Israel in an election year is another. As usual, the discourse is tilted psychotically to the right. The GOP presidential candidates are beating up Obama for his alleged lack of support for Israel and falling over each other to be first in line to attack Iran. (Mitt Romney, who stands a decent chance of being the next president, actually said that he would simply let Israel decide America’s Mideast policy.) And considering Obama’s politically driven surrender to Netanyahu, Morris and Fitzpatrick are probably right that he would be unwilling to confront the Israeli leader.

In other words, it is quite likely that the most powerful nation in the world will simply stand impotently by while a tiny client state threatens to do something that it knows is not just antithetical to its interests, but possibly ruinous to them. The tail could be about to wag the dog right off a cliff.

If war does break out, the consequences for America would be catastrophic. Oil prices would soar, plunging the U.S. and the world into a massive depression. Iran would use its proxies to attack U.S. troops. And the entire region would erupt, with unforeseeable consequences. It is not too much of a stretch to say that war with Iran might spell the beginning of the end of America as a superpower.

Of course, if a nuclear Iran really did threaten the existence of Israel, a preemptive strike might be justified. But according to the upper echelons of Israeli’s military and security brass, Iran does not pose such a threat. Israel’s  recently retired Mossad chief, Meir Dagan,  called  plans to attack Iran “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” saying that an attack would mean a regional war that would put Israel in an “impossible” position.

Israel’s former military chief of staff, Gabe Ashkenazi, is also opposed to war, as is former Shin Beth head Yuval Diskin. Another former Mossad chief, Ephraim Halevy, said Iran poses no existential threat to Israel and attacking it “will impact the region for 100 years.”

If Iran were to launch a nuclear missile at Israel, Israel would instantly vaporize it with the estimated 200 nuclear warheads it possesses. Contrary to the ignorant claims made by Islamophobic hawks like Goldberg, Iran is not run by madmen bent on committing national suicide. (If its leaders really are “eliminationist anti-Semites,” it’s hard to understand why they have not wiped out Tehran’s Jewish community.)

In fact, the logic behind attacking Iran is identical to that of Dick Cheney’s notorious  “one percent doctrine,” which held that if there was even a 1 percent chance that Iraq might acquire WMD, the U.S. had to attack. Cheney’s crackpot doctrine has been thoroughly discredited. But because the supposed 1 percent possibility is another Holocaust, it is once again framing American policy.

What a nuclear Iran really threatens, as several top Israeli officials have admitted, is Israeli hegemony in the region. The Arab Spring and the rise of Turkey have already begun to erode that hegemony, and Iran’s inevitable acquisition of the ability to build a bomb will further erode it. Israel cannot fight this trend. The days when it could impose its will by bullying are over. It must learn to live with its neighbors.

Which takes us to the one thing that is anathema to the war-mongers: full diplomatic engagement with Tehran. It is time for the U.S. to put everything on the table – Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian file, the nuclear issue, Iraq – thrash it all out, acknowledge that Iran is going to be a major regional player, and come to an agreement.

The key element is the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If Israel makes a just peace with the Palestinians and the Arab League recognizes Israel, the entire raison d’etre of Iran’s rejectionist position would be removed. Israel and Iran would then just be neighbors squabbling over their turf, along with the rest of the countries in the rapidly transforming Middle East.

Israel stands at a crossroads — and time is not on its side. Netanyahu is a disciple of the father of Revisionist Zionism, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who  argued  that the Arabs, understandably in his view, would never voluntarily accept Zionist colonization, and could only be controlled by an “Iron Wall the native population cannot break through.”

Netanyahu lacks Jabotinsky’s intellectual integrity, but shares his belief that brute force is Israel’s only recourse. For him, it is always 1938, the Palestinians are terrorists, Israel’s enemies are murderous anti-Semites and the Jewish state must exist in a constant state of war.

Israel, supported by the United States, has been fighting the Nazis for 63 years. That Iron Wall approach, which sees all of Israel’s enemies as reincarnations of Hitler (as in Jeffrey Goldberg’s propagandistic assertion that Hezbollah and Hamas “specialize in the slaughter of innocent Jews”) has been a calamitous failure. It has not made Israel safer. As even center-right Israeli politicians like Tzipi Livni now recognize, it has resulted in Israel becoming increasingly isolated from the world, much of which now sees it as a pariah.

And Israel will not be given another 63 years. If it continues down this path, aided by its false “friends” in the U.S. who insist on fighting Hitler-redux to the last Israeli (and the last American), Israel is doomed. But if it abandons its self-defeating Holocaustology, it will be able to live in peace with its neighbors and join the world.

From the founding of Israel in the ashes of the Final Solution, the Holocaust has been at the core of Israel’s national identity. That identity is affirmed every year, when at 10 in the morning, sirens are sounded for two minutes throughout Israel to commemorate the Holocaust. During those two minutes, everything comes to a standstill. Even the traffic on the road stops.

It is understandable that a people who suffered one of the most horrific genocides in human history would commemorate it, and vow never to allow it to happen again. But history is filled with ugly ironies, and sometimes the reaction to a trauma ensures that it keeps happening again.

A young Polish Jew named Ruth Grunkraut and her mother were shipped to Bergen-Belsen. Grunkraut’s mother died just six days before the Allies liberated the camp. Before she died, she told her daughter, “You must live. You must live for me.”

The annals of the Holocaust are filled with this same message: You must live.

An attack on Iran will be carried out in the name of the victims of the Holocaust. But that attack, rather than saving the Jewish state, will sound the death knell for it. Israel and its American supporters owe more to the millions of human beings whose last prayer, before their deaths, was that their children live.

Is this democracy or terrorism?


I’ve often stayed up at night wondering how did the strongest, most prosperous country, one supposedly dedicated to democracy and freedom justify invading, occupying and terrorizing a country that was not at war with us, or at the time of the 2003 war anyone else. While it’s really old news that no substantial cache of WMDS on the order of what were told have been found in Iraq and equally old news that thousands of civilians have been killed it still is no easier to read headlines like this

Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.

The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks’ website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.

But Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.

News like this is the answer to the question, ‘why do they hate us?’ This is who we are…….what we’ve become.  It is such a far disconnect between what we say we are, and what we  told people, like Iraqis, and how we behave.

Glen Greenwald’s definition of terrorism is right on the money, really


He nails it and has nailed it for some time.  This is what he says

I’ve often written that Terrorism is the most meaningless, and thus most manipulated, term in American political discourse.  But while it lacks any objective meaning, it does have a functional one.  It means:  anyone — especially of the Muslim religion and/or Arab nationality — who fights against the United States and its allies or tries to impede their will.  That’s what “Terrorism” is; that’s all it means.  And it’s just extraordinary how we’ve created what we call ”law” that is intended to do nothing other than justify all acts of American violence while delegitimizing, criminalizing, and converting into Terrorism any acts of resistance to that violence….

it’s not remotely criminal that the U.S. attacked Iraq, spent 7 years destroying the country, and left at least 100,000 people dead.  To even suggest that American officials responsible for that attack should be held criminally liable is to marginalize oneself as a fringe and unSerious radical.  It’s not an idea that’s even heard, let alone accepted…..

The U.S. repeatedly tried to kill Saddam at the start of the Iraq War, and — contrary to Obama’s early pledges — has done the same to Gadaffi in Libya. NATO has explicitly declared Gadaffi to be a “legitimate target.”  But just imagine if an Iraqi had come to the U.S. and attempted to bomb the White House or kill George Bush, or if a Libyan (or Afghan, Pakistani, or Yemeni) did the same to Obama.  Would anyone in American political circles be allowed to suggest that this was a legitimate act of war?  Of course not:  screaming “Terrorism!” would be the only acceptable reaction.

I applaud Greenwald’s courage in taking a stand against the very obvious racist application of the terrorist term.  It’s use is meant to conjure up images of a ‘clash of civilizations’ where no such clash exists.  When one hears the term it can only mean one thing, the destruction of the values that we hold so dearly by Muslims who want to impose Sharia law on an unwitting population.  Quite frankly it is demagogic, designed to elicit a fear and loathing response that it’s hoped will drive America to systemically oppress a group of people based on their race and religion.  I renew my call for all good people of conscience to reject such grandstanding and bigoted behavior and to call it what it is, just like Greenwald, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

The GOP bitch slapped by Obama



The Obama Administration has just slapped the Republican Party two times in less than a week and relegated that party to the dust bin of  history because Republicans wallow in mud instead of substance in their political postures.  Any true Republican should hide his/her face in shame at the way their party has been manhandled by the Obama machine.  In effect it, the Republican Party, got what it deserved.  It gave into the crazies of the lunatic fringe within the party with its notions of dubious citizenship and questionable loyalties on the part of Obama and went up in flames when the President adroitly handled both to the point that everyone in the Republican Party was reduced to mumbling and looking quite frankly stupid.

First the release of the much ballyhooed long form birth certificate that party loyalists said was necessary to prove citizenship, when they thought that such a certificate could not be produced, was humiliating for them.  Even the buffoon Donald Trump who so vociferously called for “proof” Obama was a citizen had to double back and say that he was proud of himself for getting Obama to release what should have never been and has never been requested from any other president in modern times to display.  It didn’t help Trump’s cause for him to go on and begin to doubt Obama’s college transcripts/records in an attempt to say he got where he is undeservedly so.  You gotta’ wonder whether Obama is sitting on highest honor diplomas from all the colleges and universities he ever attended, waiting to release them at the most propitious time during a presidential campaign season to further humiliate his opponents. It doesn’t look too good for Trump with the main stream media finally getting tired of his dog and pony show to the extent that even some of them are calling his snipping at Obama’s heels racism in the extreme.  Trump is pathetically embarrassing.

The kicker however is the news released just today, Monday 2 May that bin laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan.    You remember Osama bin Laden don’t you?  The ONE everyone said was responsible for the most heinous terrorist attack on US soil ever in the history of America; the ONE who it was said made it necessary for Americans to invade two countries destroying both theirs and ours in unnecessary wars.  It’s significant to point out that the operation carried out by US special forces was done with far less  US firepower than it took to invade Afghanistan and Iraq practically nullifying the stupefying loss of life that occurred on all sides in what has turned out to be BEFORE bin laden’s death morally senseless, bankrupt wars of occupation.  It took Obama two years to do what Bush couldn’t accomplish in two terms, despite the “mission accomplished” claims to the contrary; had this been the course of action of Bush a lot less “blowback” would have ensued for the world community and a lot more good will could have been generated that could have translated into the dollars and cents the invasions were really meant to accomplish.

In real terms, Obama has out Bush(ed) Bush and in the process made irrelevant the Republican Party which has increasingly separated itself from common political consensus andbeen  overtaken instead by fanatical racist zealots who talk in terms of fear and divisiveness, at the expense of the American people.  In response to them, Obama has slapped them silly, humiliated them; that might not have been his intention, and pushed them further into a corner of isolation and disarray.  It’s sad to see.  I hope the GOP for the good of the nation, stops its genuflections at the altar of American fear and xenophobia and returns to the mainstream.  The way Obama has acted lately, it would serve them good to do so, or else, he may have to slap them silly again.

T

Caught in another lie–it just never stops with them does it?


“We strongly condemn the unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell prior to the release of  Wikileaks almost 400,000 documents outlining the abuses as well as body counts during the Iraqi invasion.  The Wikileaks figures surpass the Pentagon’s figures by some 30,000 and are  lower than five other groups’ estimates, which probably doesn’t mean much to you if you aren’t the victim of a foreign invasion.  But two things come out both news reports.

First, the Pentagon, despite its own claims during the war to the contrary, was keeping a tally of casualties during the war and secondly the final total was far greater than what the Pentagon claimed during the war when it was releasing it “officially unofficial” figures.  Once again,  government bureaucracy lied about the war and once again we just seem to take it as business as usual.  We get what we deserve, don’t we?

Rumsfeld was/is possessed


It’s something “progressives” have known since September 12, 2001 but now someone else in the US military has come out and said so.  Hugh Shelton has written a book entitled, Without Hesitation and in it he has some pretty damning things to say about “Rummy”. Of course he’s doing it at a time that is beneficial to him…i.e. he’s plugging a book and while the message of the book is there were some very evil people making policy that drove this country to war, the book’s author didn’t exactly come out and say all this when it might have mattered, but at least it’s being said now.  Better late than never is kind of like the rule to apply I suppose.

I’m slightly amused therefore that Rumsfeld is still a free man, that there’s no talk of citizenship revocation or even a small slight on the wrist jail term for committing what was in effect a war crime.  In the process he endangered the lives of America’s young men and women, displaced millions waging a war on their soil and in the process thumbed his nose at everyone, including the American people.  No matter how we try to glamorize it or give it a patriotic flavor, the US military was abused by the likes of Rumsfeld and his patrons who have now slithered away in the darkness untouched by American law, while those who followed their command and fought for nothing are either dead, physically or emotionally traumatized for life and the lives of their loved ones as well.

Unfortunately, Rumsfeld will have the last word when he releases his memoir next year.  Don’t believe any of it!  Rumsfeld lost all credibility in 2002 when he said, ‘I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won’t last any longer than that.’

 

The inefficiency of the federal government to efficiently spend your money


Not much has changed since this report was aired a year ago.  Not only has ArmourGroup done a masterful job at being unproffessional they’ve done any even better job of putting the lives of American personnel at risk while spending our money…and you thought the only enemy we had to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq was al-Qaida?

“There is significant evidence that some security contractors even worked against our coalition forces, creating the very threat they are hired to combat….These contractors threaten the security of our troops and risk the success of our mission.”

ArmorGroup North America was hired to provide security and used two competing warlords in the region to provide the men for the guard force.

The report said that over the course of the contract at the base, warlords and guards involved were implicated in murder, revenge attacks, bribery and anti-coalition activities. One of the warlords even hosted an August 2008 Taliban meeting that was raided by U.S. and Afghan forces, it added.

The ArmourGroup has had a federal contract in the millions and it has processes in place that endanger the lives of Americans who are supposedly at war and that’s ok with the federal bureaucracy.  Meanwhile back at home, millions of Americans are out of work, and millions more are at each others  throats while defense contractors and security firms continue to rob the national coffers dry.  Only now during the reign of the Obama Administration is anyone taking note of the perils of federal spending which has gone unabated for the last ten years and we wonder why we have the likes of Sharon Angle, Pam Geller, et.co setting the national agenda?

Obama’s well wishing to the Muslim world


President Obama’s remarks on the advent of Ramadan

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I want to extend our best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.

Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God.  This is a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared.  But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere.  For all of us must remember that the world we want to build – and the changes that we want to make – must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.

These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.   Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.  And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country. And today, I want to extend my best wishes to the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world – and your families and friends – as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan.

I look forward to hosting an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan here at the White House later this week, and wish you a blessed month.

May God’s peace be upon you.

That said, my wish list is for  President Obama to keep his word about Guantanamo Bay and the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq so that Muslims in those places can have “peace”.

Bush and Blair lied intentionally


So says Tariq Aziz in a moment of candor that we’ve all come to know is correct.  That lie led to the total destruction of Iraq and the United States and allowed for the propaganda against Islam and Muslims all over the world which has further plunged America into an abyss of poverty and weakness.

We’ve heard a lot of claims about recidivism of Guantanamo Bay detainees much of it hyped to keep Gitmo Bay open. One of the questions I’ve never seen asked is if the people placed in Gitmo Bay are the worst of the worst, why isn’t recidivism 100% instead of the more reliable 4% to the exaggerated 20%?  It would appear terrorists dedicated to their cause plucked from their homeland would relish the opportunity to return to battle.  This guy,Izatullah Nasrat Yar imprisoned at Gitmo for 5 years,  however has decided to take the battle to the enemy to a higher level. Let’s hope such attempts at change will go down better than the offense which originally put him in Gitmo Bay, which was another lie…..they just seem to follow the efforts of the US government around wherever it goes.

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