The latest alteration to the hate campaign advertisement


First there was this

then this

and now this

Keep them coming America.  It’s free speech and it’s constitutionally complaint!

Obama’s Hit List


I read this very interesting article that asserts President Obama is going down the same onerous road as his predecessor in dispensing justice to perceived enemies of the state…..at the expense of breaking the law and further endangering the national security as well as the national psyche.  What is the matter with America that she has become afraid of people, not nations mind you, but individual people, that it makes her break her own laws as well as the laws she has agreed with the international community upon for decades?!?

The Obama administration now claims a right to kill American citizens without trial, without notice, and without any chance for the marked men or women to object legally. The Bush administration’s “targeted killing” program has been radically expanded to include Americans far from any war zone. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair testified earlier this year that the targeting-to-kill decision depends only on “whether that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us.”

The poster boy for the targeted killing program is Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric who is reportedly in Yemen. The Obama administration touts allegations that al-Awlaki helped spark the slaughter at Ford Hood, Texas, inspired the attempt to destroy a jetliner on Christmas Day 2009, and has done other dastardly things that the government has not yet disclosed (for our own good, of course). Al-Awlaki might well be a four-star bastard, but government press releases and background briefings have not previously been sufficient to justify capital punishment.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing to compel Uncle Sam “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government kill lists.” The Obama administration has responded by invoking the doctrine of state secrets, effectively claiming that national security demands that these policies be kept hidden. By hiding behind state secrets, the feds don’t even have to explain why the law doesn’t apply to their actions.

In oral arguments in federal court on Nov. 9, Justice Department attorney Douglas Letter asserted that no judge has authority to be “looking over the shoulder” of the Obama administration’s targeted-killing program. Letter declared that the program involves “the very core powers of the president as commander-in-chief.” When Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008, entitling the president to kill Americans without trial was not one of the reforms he promised.

The Obama administration has decided to pursue a Bush administration policy of extra-judicial punishment for individuals anywhere in the world, even American citizens, and claim no one has the right to oversight.  It is an extraordinary position to take on the heels of an administration whose party was soundly defeated in the presidential elections in part one may argue for just such a disregard for law and the rights of US citizens.  There has been no hue and cry on the part of the people for their president to undertake this action, so why does he feel the need to do so?

The Obama administration’s position “would allow the executive unreviewable authority to target and kill any U.S. citizen it deems a suspect of terrorism anywhere,” according to Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriae. And the feds have a horrible batting average when it comes to accurately identifying terrorist suspects. In the six weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government rounded up 1,200 people as suspected terrorists or terrorist supporters. None of the detainees proved to have links to the attacks. And as the ACLU noted earlier this year, “the government has failed to prove the lawfulness of imprisoning individual Guantanamo detainees in 34 of the 48 cases that have been reviewed by the federal courts thus far, even though the government had years to gather and analyze evidence for those cases and had itself determined that those prisoners were detainable.”

It’s clear to this viewer that the Obama approach to the war on terror, is  just as pernicious as Bush.  In fact it is a continuation of the former President’s policy at at time when the “threat” level is not as imminent as it was after 911 all the inaccurate and misleading press propaganda to the contrary.  What we are witnessing is the way in which government works; it’s march towards diminution of citizen rights is gradual, slow, deceptive and relentless.  New faces have little to do with changing the progress of government’s march toward this goal.  Obama isn’t ‘change we can believe in’, he’s more of the same.

 

The poster boy for the targeted killing program is Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric who is reportedly in Yemen. The Obama administration touts allegations that al-Awlaki helped spark the slaughter at Ford Hood, Texas, inspired the attempt to destroy a jetliner on Christmas Day 2009, and has done other dastardly things that the government has not yet disclosed (for our own good, of course). Al-Awlaki might well be a four-star bastard, but government press releases and background briefings have not previously been sufficient to justify capital punishment.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing to compel Uncle Sam “to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government kill lists.” The Obama administration has responded by invoking the doctrine of state secrets, effectively claiming that national security demands that these policies be kept hidden. By hiding behind state secrets, the feds don’t even have to explain why the law doesn’t apply to their actions.

In oral arguments in federal court on Nov. 9, Justice Department attorney Douglas Letter asserted that no judge has authority to be “looking over the shoulder” of the Obama administration’s targeted-killing program. Letter declared that the program involves “the very core powers of the president as commander-in-chief.” When Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008, entitling the president to kill Americans without trial was not one of the reforms he promised.

The main difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration is that the Obama team publicly claims a right to do what Bush’s lawyers authorized behind closed doors. Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, told the Senate Intelligence Committee in early 2006 that Bush could order killings of suspected terrorists within the United States. When Newsweek contacted the Justice Department to verify this novel legal doctrine, spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos stressed that Bradbury’s comments occurred during an “off-the-record briefing.” Newsweek’s report generated no media stir. Apparently, unless the government disclosed that it had actually begun assassinations within the United States, it was a non-story.

An article by Charlie Savage in the New York Times in mid-September noted that “There is widespread agreement among the administration’s legal team that it is lawful for President Obama to authorize the killing of someone like Mr. Awlaki.”

It is comforting to know that top political appointees concur that some “law” gives them the right to assassinate Americans. But this is the same “legal” standard the Bush team used to justify torture. Since Bush’s lawyers told him that waterboarding wasn’t torture—despite a hundred years of U.S. court decisions to the contrary—the president was blameless, or so he recently claimed to NBC’s Matt Lauer.

There are other ominous parallels with the worst abuses of the Bush administration. When Bush decreed in November 2001 that he had the authority perpetually to detain anyone as an enemy combatant, based solely on his own assertion, administration defenders rushed to assure the media that the new policy did not apply to Americans or inside the United States. Seven months later, after José Padilla was arrested in Chicago and labeled an enemy combatant, the administration acted as if only fools would believe the president would not use his boundless power any way he could.

Similarly, Obama’s power grab has not spurred much opposition, perhaps in part because it is assumed to apply only to killing Americans abroad. (Hopefully farther away than Niagara Falls, Canada.) But the basis of the policy is that the entire world is a battlefield, thus the president has unlimited “commander in chief” powers everywhere.

Once the principle is accepted that the U.S. government can label Americans as enemies of the state and kill them without judicial nicety, the bureaucratic wish list of targets will continually expand. A similar metamorphosis occurred when the FBI decided to use illegal powers to target people who garnered official displeasure. Nixon White House aide Tom Charles Huston explained that the FBI’s COINTELPRO program continually stretched its target list “from the kid with a bomb to the kid with a picket sign, and from the kid with the picket sign to the kid with the bumper sticker of the opposing candidate. And you just keep going down the line.”

Blank checks for killing enemies of the state is the recipe for domestic tranquility that most dictatorships have used throughout history. And apparently this is a standard that many Americans might embrace. Some movement conservatives—such as columnist Jonah Goldberg—are already whooping for the U.S. government to assassinate people such as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Should the government be entitled to kill anyone who exposes its lies? Or should the standard be broader, permitting governments to kill anyone who is inconvenient?

The Obama administration’s position “would allow the executive unreviewable authority to target and kill any U.S. citizen it deems a suspect of terrorism anywhere,” according to Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriae. And the feds have a horrible batting average when it comes to accurately identifying terrorist suspects. In the six weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government rounded up 1,200 people as suspected terrorists or terrorist supporters. None of the detainees proved to have links to the attacks. And as the ACLU noted earlier this year, “the government has failed to prove the lawfulness of imprisoning individual Guantanamo detainees in 34 of the 48 cases that have been reviewed by the federal courts thus far, even though the government had years to gather and analyze evidence for those cases and had itself determined that those prisoners were detainable.”

In fact, debacles over false charges against Gitmo detainees may have spurred the expansion of the targeted-killing program. Dead men file no appeals. Assassinations could be less embarrassing than trials because most of the American media will roll over and permit the government to blacken its victims however it pleases. As long as officials, speaking anonymously, assure reporters that the deceased were bad people, the story is closed.

The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed far more graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. But while the feds are demanding extraordinary measures to inform people about private risks, nothing is being done to warn people of the health risks of an unleashed Leviathan.

What sort of warning labels would be appropriate for Obama’s killing program? A picture of a sniper’s crosshairs on a mother holding a baby in her cabin door, à la Vicki Weaver? A picture of young demonstrators lying dead on the ground after a National Guard volley, à la Kent State? A picture of children lolling in the streets moments before they are obliterated, courtesy of the helicopter gun-sight video from the Wiki-Leaked “Collateral Murder” recording made by the U.S. military in Iraq?

If Obama gets away with this power-grab, the rhetoric for the 2012 race for the White House should be retuned. Instead of listening to candidates compete based on the number of new benefits they promise to lavish upon voters, prudent citizens will focus on which presidential candidate seems least likely to kill them or members or their family. We might hear campaign slogans like “Vote for Smith: he won’t have you killed unless all of his top advisers agree you deserve to die.” Unfortunately, as with other campaign promises, there will be no way for voters to compel politicians to honor their pledges.

Obama’s doctrine enabling the targeted killing of American citizens is at least as much an assassination of the Constitution as anything George W. Bush perpetrated. Yet most of the media has ignored the issue or treated it like an arcane legal dispute of interest only to people in desert hideaways 6,000 miles away. The more power the government has seized, the more craven the media has become.

Thanks to sovereign immunity and cowardly judges, it is unlikely that any Obama administration official will be held liable, regardless of whom the U.S. government slays. Americans have had plenty of warnings that the federal government is destroying the leashes the Founding Fathers created. Once it is accepted that the executive branch is entitled to kill Americans without a trial, only damn fools should expect Leviathan to limit its ravages here and abroad.

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy.

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15 Responses to “Assassin Nation”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AmericanConservative, Roy F. Moore. Roy F. Moore said: RT @amconmag: James Bovard | Assassin Nation | http://bit.ly/gz0Wqu […]

  2. hahahahaha….this is your tide American Conservative, Obama’s just riding it. Where were you when Bush & Co. created this mess? Cheerleading. This is not Obama’s policy, it’s Bush’s and years ago when this was first raised as an issue you folks were calling such critics traitors.

    If Obama tried to loosen the efforts against Terrorism(TM) you would be calling him traitor. This article is rich with hypocrisy.

  3. The American Conservative was an early critic of the Bush administration and the war. Don’t confuse these folks with the National Review.

  4. […] today from the January issue of American Conservative […]

  5. river c. should read The Bush Betrayal written by the author of this article.

  6. good to see once again the Kenyan King walking in the very same foot steps of his predecessors, bashing Bush then doing likewise and more

  7. […] of Attention Deficit Democracy, discusses the Obama administration’s claim that they have the right to kill American citizens without a trial, without notice, and without any chance for targets to legally object; the […]

  8. @River C… Why don’t you ask TAC why they came out against invading Iraq while the NYTs was publishing neo-con propaganda day after day? Maybe you should ask why the refused to endorse Bush in 2004 while the NYTs was sitting on the story of Bush spying on US citizens as to not hur his chances of re-election?

    Oh, I know why you don’t ask because you’re an idiot (as your comment demonstrated). In fact, you Obama supporters are exactly the same as Bush supporters. It’s uncanny how similar the Obama apologists are to the Bush apologists. Go worship the state so more.

  9. “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . .” US Constitiution, 5th amendment.

    What part of that don’t people understand?

    If someone is actually in the act of perpetrating violence against American citizens, then the police or military have an exemption, but that’s all.

    You would think that a guy who has taught constitutional law might have known about this. . .

  10. Hasn’t anyone here seen a ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ poster?

    American governments have been paying for the killing of Americans without a trial well before Obama was born (wherever that was)

    Just ask John Dillinger.

  11. Whatever the TAC has been doing all these years, Bovard has been a tireless critic of empire and chronicler of its consequences, through several administrations, and all the more energetically in recent times with Presidents GW Bush and Obama.

    The “where were you when Bush was doing it” whine is getting very tiresome. It identifies clueless partisans, making it all the easier to dismiss their boiler-plate bleating. We should instead ask the kool-aid drinking duckspeakers, “where were you when courageous people like Bovard were speaking out and being called ‘unpatriotic’ and even ‘treasonous’?” The river c’s of the world come very late to the party, then criticize the host for the crowding.

  12. Stefan, don’t be fooled. No person allowed to run for office gives a damn about the Constitution anymore. We don’t have a Constitutional Republic anymore; we have a dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. No candidate who believes that they should be governed by the Constitution will be allowed to run. They will be weeded out long before we even hear of them. Both parties are in on this. We will not see a patriot run for high office in this country again.

  13. OK, Stefan Stackhouse knows her constitution, ‘..“No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . .” US Constitiution, 5th amendment.

    If they can authorize the killing of each of us then they can authorize the killing of our family members as other dictators have done.

    Need to read this new book just out about Americans who actually take a stand against tyranny (based in part on real people & events). It’s a thriller so I recommend it.

    http://www.booksbyoliver.com

    This is tyranny & way beyond what the TSA is doing at airports. No one would have ever thought this could happen in America. Great article, James

  14. Frank,

    Although your other points are well taken, you are guilty of the same type of thoughtless jumping to conclusions as river c. who is obviously ignorant of what TAC is. What part of his comment led you to conclude that he is an “Obama supporter”? He may or may not be. Why is it necessary to hurl insults? River c.’s ignorance will be obvious to the vast majority who read this. Correction and guidance without insult as per Anonymous and Tom Blanton is much more helpful.

  15. This is only possible thanks to George W Bush who rescinded habeus corpus. My pointing this out is in no way an endorsement of Obama. I am merely pointing out the historical facts. Without the Bush Junta’s idiotic reign, the excesses of the Obama plague would not have been possible, or even really imaginable.

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Israeli Aggression; Circular referral


I had to post this comment from The Independent because it so encapsulates the dizzying and ridiculous nature of the explanation for Israeli aggression that I don’t possibly see how anyone can take that government seriously.

Somehow, the Chilcot Inquiry has become like Big Brother. About once a month it pops up as a small item in the news and you think: “Oh blimey, I didn’t realise that was still going on.” Before long, like Big Brother, they’ll come up with stunts to try and revive some interest. So they’ll reintroduce contestants from previous inquiries such as Martin McGuinness and Christine Keeler, or make some witnesses complete a task of finding hidden ping-pong balls in the room or they have to give evidence blindfold.

So it might seem these procedures are pointless, in which case it makes no difference that the Israelis have agreed to co-operate with a United Nations inquiry into the episode in which nine people died after the Israeli Defence Force went aboard the Mavi Marmara as it sailed towards Gaza.

But it seemed to matter to the Israelis, because until this week they insisted their own inquiry was sufficient, and that was already under way. One fact emerging from this process was that the victims, according to “Sgt S” who shot six of them, “were without a doubt terrorists”. And he produced evidence to back this up, which was: “I could see the murderous rage in their eyes”.

This matches the classic definition of a terrorist according to international law, as someone “with murderous rage in their eyes”, and shows the key witness in any terrorist trial isn’t the forensics expert or explosives analyst but an optician. If they’re trained well enough they can shine a light at the iris and tell whether you’re short-sighted, long-sighted, Hamas or Basque separatist.

But there was more. According to the Jersusalem Post the IDF told the inquiry that the group on the boat were “well-trained and likely ex-military” because “each squad of the mercenaries was equipped with a Motorola communication advice, so they could pass information to one another”. A Motorola communication advice? So these so-called peace-activists were armed with mobile phones! It’s a wonder the whole Middle East wasn’t set alight. And to think Motorola and other sinister arms dealers such as Nokia and Orange go round trading in this deadly merchandise quite openly.

If the IDF were asked to police a rock festival, at the moment when everyone used their mobiles to take a photo they’d open fire on the whole crowd. Then once 3,000 were dead, Sgt S would say: “Well done, boys, if we hadn’t been so careful that could have turned quite nasty.”

One possible difficulty in proving the optically murderous gang’s intent could be that none of them had guns. But the IDF dealt with that by saying the “mercenaries” preferred to use “bats, metal bars and knives, since opening fire would have made it blatantly clear they were terrorists and not peace activists”. So this was another cunning trick of the terrorists, to disguise the fact they were terrorists by not doing anything terrorist. My neighbour’s much the same; disguising her terrorism by being 74 and spending all day peacefully doing the garden without ever shooting anyone, the evil witch.

Even more blatantly, the inquiry was told the group did have guns on board, but “the mercenaries threw their weapons overboard after the commandos took control of the vessel”. Because that’s classic guerrilla training, to carry guns right up until the moment when the enemy arrives, and then throw them away. This is the strategy of all great military thinkers. That’s why Nelson, at the Battle of Trafalgar said: “Men, I see the French, and so let every Englishmen do his duty, and chuck all our weapons in the sea. That’ll teach the bastards.”

On and on this goes, with Prime Minister Netanyahu making it clear he agrees with it, himself calling the victims “mercenaries”. Because these mercenaries were trying to get goods such as medicine to an area that’s under a blockade, which is typical mercenary behaviour, except instead of gun-running, they were inhaler-running.

But bit by bit Israel is finding it has to answer for itself publicly, and the old excuses are not so easily accepted. From now on they’ll have to put a bit more thought into their bollocks, which has got to be for the good.

And so it is; the government whose existence depends solely on US taxpayer dollars is able to only come up with parodies to justify their murderous impulses?

No Such thing as Israeli transparency


Israel being transparent would result in the Goldstone report all over again, or worse something like  this

In a 116-page document, entitled I Lost Everything: Israel’s Unlawful Destruction of Property in the Gaza Conflict , the report documents the complete destruction of orchards and farms as well as 189 buildings. These included 11 factories, eight warehouses and 170 residential buildings, rendering 971 people homeless during Operation Cast Lead which began on December 27th, 2008 and ended on January 18th, 2009.

The report said that a dozen specific targetings documented in the report account for only 5 per cent of the homes, warehouses and factories destroyed during the conflict. The report stated: “These cases describe instances in which Israeli forces caused extensive destruction of homes, factories, farms and greenhouses in areas under [Israeli] control without any evident military purpose”.

The human rights group said there had been no evidence of fighting in the vicinity of these facilities at the time of the attacks and Israeli bulldozers demolished the property after fighting had ceased and Israel had taken full control.

In “many cases, the destruction was carried out during the final days of the campaign when an Israeli withdrawal was imminent”, HRW said. “Individuals responsible for committing or ordering such destruction should be prosecuted for war crimes.”

What Israel has agreed to do, in investigating itself is so weak and designed to paint the perpetrator as the victim is this

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent the last two weeks searching for a process that would win the endorsement of the U.S. and appear credible to the international community, but not spiral out of the government’s control.

To that end, the five-member panel will have a narrow mandate. It is chiefly tasked with evaluating the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, imposed three years ago when the Islamic militant group Hamas established full control over the coastal strip, and whether the use of force during the raid was consistent with international practices. The commission also will look into the identity and motivations of activists aboard the ship, some of whom Israel has accused of having links to terrorist groups.

So what we will see emanate from the Israeli report will be ‘the devil made me do it’ excuses for their infringement on international law. Meanwhile as if to underscore the point that the blockade is not about stemming the flow of weapons into Gaza, nor of securing the state of Israel from any threat posed by Hamas comes  this

..

in response to a lawsuit by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, the Israeli government explained the blockade as an exercise of the right of economic warfare.”A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,'” the government said.

Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, said the documents prove that Israel isn’t imposing its blockade for its stated reasons, but rather as collective punishment for the Palestinian population of Gaza. Gisha focuses on Palestinian rights.
Whatever findings come from the Israeli report will be purely about state interests for Israel, and that’s to be expected and even welcomed.  There is enough evidence to indict Israel for illegal activity and it’s only natural for the state of Israel to do what it can to countermand that body of evidence.  What is shameful is that they will get away with it while everything else will be ignored, forgotten, or flushed down the memory hole. The victims of Israeli rage on that morning as well as the people of Gaza deserve better than that from a 21st century world citizenry.

What he said…


There’s no ambiguity here…the Israeli blockade and occupation of Gaza is illegal!

Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza “Freedom Flotilla” was flagrantly illegal. The flotilla, carefully searched for arms before disembarkation, enjoyed the right of free navigation in international waters, and Israel had no legal justification to interrupt its peaceful mission.

Flotilla passengers were entitled to defend themselves against Israel’s forcible boarding of the Mavi Marmara, whether or not Israeli commandos fired immediately on landing on the ship’s deck, as the passengers maintain. Dropping 100 armed soldiers on a ship from the sky is not a peaceful maneuver. Nor can Israeli armed commandos claim self-defense, any more than a purse snatcher facing a victim who elects to fight back. Hence, Israel is culpable for the killings that followed.

Israel has claimed that it is in “armed conflict” with the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and that its actions on the high seas to enforce the blockade of the Gaza Strip are therefore permissible. That claim is wrong.

In fact, under customary international law that Israel accepts as binding, Israel continues to occupy the Gaza Strip, despite the withdrawal of its ground troops and settlers from that region in 2005. A territory is “occupied” when foreign forces exercise “effective control” over it, whether accomplished through the continuous presence of ground troops or not.

Israel patrols the territorial waters and airspace of the Gaza Strip, regulates Gaza’s land borders, restricts internal movements by excluding Gazans from a “buffer zone” that includes 46 percent of the strip’s agricultural land, and controls the Gaza Strip’s supplies of electricity, heating oil, and petrol. Together these factors amount to remote but “effective control.” Thus, the Gaza Strip remains occupied, as the United Nations, the U.S. government and the International Committee of the Red Cross have all recognized.

Israel has authority to halt arms imports into the Gaza Strip. But it also owes a general duty of protection to civilians under its control, and has specific duties to allow them access to adequate food and medical supplies, and to maintain public health standards – duties it has deliberately violated in imposing the siege on Gaza. Currently 77.2 percent of Gaza Palestinians either face or are vulnerable to hunger; of these, 65 percent are children younger than 18. According to UNICEF, 10 percent of Gaza children show signs of stunting, while the World Health Organization maintains that another 10 percent face chronic malnutrition.

Moreover, collective punishment is specifically barred under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the objective of the blockade is to weaken the Gaza economy and undermine support for Hamas. That is a political, not a military, objective, and it is impermissible under international law to target innocent civilians to achieve nonmilitary goals.

Actions taken to enforce an illegal siege cannot themselves be legal. Israel’s blockade violates the human rights of Gaza Palestinians and must be brought to an end.

Israel’s attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” is the logical consequence of years of Israeli impunity from international law – abetted by the diplomatic cover provided it by our government. At some point, genuine friends of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs must impress on Israel that its serial lawlessness is good for no one, multiplying resentment and pain, and pushing the prospects of regional peace into a more distant future.

The Ever Changing Bar of Civility


When it comes to Israel that bar keeps getting lower and lower.  I just finished reading a NYT article, In Bid to Quell Anger Over Raid, Israel Frees Detainees which proclaimed

Israel worked Wednesday to defuse rising international anger by agreeing to a rapid release of all detainees — including those suspected of attacking its soldiers — taken after the deadly nighttime raid of six ships seeking to break its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The release seemed most immediately aimed at repairing dangerously eroding ties with Turkey, Israel’s main ally in the Muslim world, as demands continued to intensify around the world to end a blockade that critics say has kept Gazans isolated and impoverished.

which seems to imply Israel was doing the activists a favor by releasing them even though they “attacked” IDF soldiers.  This is the same theme repeated in defense of Israeli action that fateful morning; the Israelis inflicted casualties on people only after they were attacked, which begs the questions why were they attacked?  The fight didn’t happen in a vacuum; indeed it occurred only after Israeli soldiers first fired on and then assaulted the flotilla that was at the time in international waters, far from the coast of Gaza, its intended target or better yet, Israel its final destination.  However, Israelis would have you believe the people on board those vessels were the worst of the worst terrorists and of course have even thrown in the word al-Qaida to frighten people even more.  It doesn’t matter that the al-Qaida label applied to the organizers of the flotilla is as false and non-existent as the one many tried to affix to Saddam Hussein; the mere mention of the word generates the “shock” value that legitimizes any reaction even illegal ones.

The Israelis who probably just a few short weeks ago were leading the calls for freedom of the press in response to the Draw Muhammad day fiasco dreamed up by people who want to antagonize members of the Islamic faith, went on to perform the best press censorship of the modern era, by taking all the recording devices from any and everyone on any ships and not releasing them while spinning their (Israeli) yarns about what went on during that dreaded encounter.  The IDF even went so far as to release their video version of events and the aftermath, which was as sloppy as the tale they tried to spin.  For example, it was discovered that pictures of some of the “weapons” they claimed to have confiscated and displayed were taken several years ago and other photographs showed instruments, rather tools, one would expect to see on a boat that handled several hundred passengers and cargo not the weapons Israelis hoped one would dream up when it was said they were fired on or assaulted.  Those pictures immediately discredited the scenario the Israelis painted of having been fired on by passengers during their own assault on the ship; there were no firearms on any of the vessels except the firearms the Israelis brought when they pirated the ships.

We still don’t have a casualty count from the Israelis, not that anyone is asking any more, but it would certainly tell us the extent of the killing that went on that night.  There is at least one account that says the Israelis threw some bodies overboard into the water. Nor do we know just how badly wounded and how many there are of the other people involved in the flotilla.  Main stream media has settled on the number 9 but other accounts have said as many as 20 were killed and so what will happen is people will begin to quibble about numbers and forget about the fact that those numbers represent people who were murdered for there is absolutely no justification for the Israeli boarding of those boats in international waters or anywhere near the coast of Gaza.  The blockade of Gaza is not meant to secure Israeli borders……it is an act of war and intimidation used to impoverish an entire group of people and frighten others from coming to their aid in order for the Israelis to seize the land they want those people to abandon and grab the natural resources contained therein.  We’ve already posted stories here on Miscellany101 of Palestinian farmers and fisherman who have been killed or wounded while going about their daily business of subsistence living in plain view, during daylight hours when there was no ambiguity about their actions or intentions, by IDF. What was the security risk they posed, other than their living, as they went about the daily chores associated with gathering food and providing for their families?  What group did they represent to the Israelis as they toiled on their boats, in an area off the coast of GAZA, not Israel, that was an existential threat? We have grown used  to this war of attrition the Israelis are waging against unarmed civilians to the extent we don’t even ask those kinds of questions anymore.  Instead we are fed the diet of the importance of Israel maintaining its security and the rights of victims of Israeli aggression are never considered and their deaths continue.  Israel has no right to murder farmers and fishermen, but that axiom of law  is lost in the clamor about Israel’s right to  self defense.

In like fashion, the argument about Israel’s latest atrocity never addresses the illegal nature of the Israeli blockade of Gaza which has slowly been lost in the noise about international waters.   Instead we’re told indignantly how the flotilla was well away from the Israeli imposed blockade limit, miles away in fact, in international waters.  That too has become another encroachment that will fall to the Israeli march towards total abandonment of law and order as the Israelis claim they were fired upon by members of the flotilla who were out to lynch these heroes of Israel’s gestapo storm troopers when they descended onto the ships.  Israel didn’t consider for one moment international law and boundaries and it doesn’t want you to either when it comes to their illegal activity. And have you heard how tolerant the Israelis were by boarding ships with non lethal paint guns and how they only resorted to deadly force when they were attacked, as if they magically appeared on those ships or were passengers all along from the moment they set sail from ports in Cyprus who had to defend themselves suddenly and unexpectedly from bloodthirsty anti-semitic activists who turned on them, endangering their lives.

The very idea of Israel confronting the ships was illegal, and the actions which ensued during or after that confrontation were murderous at best, war crimes/atrocities at worse.  What’s sad is an American administration’s reaction to such criminal behavior, ostensibly done in its name; Joe Biden suggesting murder is no big deal, Obama being absolutely silent on the issue and America before the UN watering down any resolutions critical, not condemnatory mind you, of Israeli action. This all because the international community has continued to dismiss pass transgressions and only focus on current ones which are increasingly more narrowed and defined by Israel.  Israeli soldiers were attacked, even though they were engaged in internationally criminal activity, but that’s not a big deal, they were attacked and some were injured, even though they themselves murdered unarmed citizens, but that’s not important because they have a right to know what was contained on the boats, even though they sabotaged some of them while they were at port but that’s not a big deal, and so it goes.  And did you know an American was killed on one of the boats, shot four times in the head, but the US government is used to its citizens being killed by Israelis and so that’s not a big deal either.

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A more complete list in pdf, here at gaza restrictions.

Threat to peace


In the last month we have seen or read about Israel rejecting calls for a nuclear free Middle East; condemned  the NonProliferation Treaty; put out news stories that it has placed nuclear armed submarines off the coast of Iran; attacked a ship belonging to a country that signed an accord with Iran that a US administration had sought; attacked and killed unarmed civilians on  relief aid boats in international waters; continued the blockade and siege of a defenseless population and American troops are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for what?

The Darfur Deception


by Muhammad Idris Ahmed
Darfur ProtestIn Errol Morris’s 2004 film The Fog of War, former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recalls General Curtis LeMay, the architect of the fire-bombings of Japan during WWII, saying that “if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” LeMay was merely articulating an unacknowledged truism of international relations: power bestows, among other things, the right to label. So it is that mass slaughter perpetrated by the big powers, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, is normalized through labels such as “counterinsurgency,” “pacification” and “war on terror,” while similar acts carried out by states out of favor result in the severest of charges. It is this politics of naming that is the subject of Mahmood Mamdani’s explosive new book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror.

Like the Middle East, parts of Africa have been engulfed in conflict for much of the post-colonial period. While the media coverage in both cases is perfunctory, in the case of Africa it is also sporadic. To the extent that there is coverage, the emphasis is on the dramatic or the grotesque. When the subject is not war, it is usually famine, disease or poverty — sometimes all together, always free of context. The wars are between “tribes” led by “warlords,” that take place in “failed states” ruled by “corrupt dictators.” Driven by primal motives, they rarely involve discernible issues. The gallery of rogues gives way only to a tableau of victims, inevitably in need of White saviors. A headline like “Can Bono save Africa?” is as illustrative of Western attitudes towards the continent as the comments of Richard Littlejohn, Britain’s highest-paid columnist, who wrote at the peak of the Rwandan genocide “Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them.”

Darfur is the conspicuous exception to this trend, though Rwanda did enter Western vocabulary after the 1994 genocide. This, Mamdani argues, is primarily due to the efforts of one organization — the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC) — whose advocacy has been central to turning this into the biggest mass movement in the United States since the anti-Vietnam mobilization, bigger than the anti-apartheid movement. While the mobilization did have the salutary effect of raising awareness about an issue otherwise unknown to the majority of US citizens, its privileging of acting over knowing renders this less meaningful. Indeed, the campaign’s shunning of complexity, its substituting of moral certainty for knowledge, and its preference for military solutions, precludes the very end that it purports to strive for. Invoking what it claims are lessons of the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide, it combines slogans such as “never again” with the battle cries of a new “good war”, such as “boots on the ground”, and “out of Iraq and into Darfur”. Mamdani contends that SDC is not a peace movement, it is a war movement.

The SDC was established in July 2004 through the combined efforts of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Jewish World Service. It has since been joined by a broad spectrum of political and religious organizations, a gaggle of celebrities and prominent intellectuals. It has spawned student chapters all across the country that range from the high school to university levels. Led by an advertising executive, it is the only organization capable of bringing together such unlikely partners as the Reverend Al Sharpton and author Elie Wiesel, actor George Clooney and former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. If the signature activity of the anti-Vietnam war movement was the teach-in, for the SDC it is the advertising campaign. The expert has been replaced by the celebrity, the campaigner by the advertising agent. With an annual budget of $14 million the SDC employs the DC-based PR firm M+R Strategic Services (M&R) for its publicity. While M&R boasts a clientele comprising mainly green and humanitarian non-profits, in 2002 it was exposed by PR Watch for using its progressive credentials to greenwash DuPont, one of the world’s leading polluters. The centrality of propaganda to the SDC’s success was underscored by the fact that in the period between Spring 2007 and January 2008, the president of M&R Bill Wasserman also served as Save Darfur’s executive director.

The apparent diversity of the SDC’s affiliates also obscures the fact that its agenda is mainly driven by Zionist organizations and the Christian Right. However, Mamdani pays scant attention to the composition of the SDC even though he devotes a whole chapter to its politics and methods. As The Jerusalem Post reported ahead of the SDC’s rally in Washington on 30 April 2006, it is “[l]ittle known … that the coalition, which has presented itself as ‘an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations’ was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.” It noted that even in 2006 that coalition was “heavily weighted” with a “diverse collection of local and national Jewish groups.” The Washington Post reported the same day that “[k]eeping the peace within the diverse Save Darfur Coalition has not been easy” due to tensions, in particular, between evangelical Christians and the mostly Muslim Darfuri immigrants. The Sudanese immigrants also objected to the lineup of speakers which, according to the paper, included “eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four politicians and assorted celebrities — but no Muslims and no one from Darfur” (two were eventually added at the last minute). Ned Goldstein has suggested in his investigation of the Zionist interests behind the SDC that Darfur is being deployed as a strategic distraction from Israeli crimes against the Palestinians (most recently at the UN anti-racism conference). The salient feature of the SDC propaganda is to paint the conflict as war between “Arabs” and “Africans” and to label the violence “genocide.”

The genocide debate hinges on two factors: numbers and identity. For mass violence to qualify as genocide the killing has to be on a large enough scale, and the intent to eliminate a discrete racial, ethnic, or religious group has to be established. Mamdani argues that in order to sustain its claim of genocide, the SDC has inflated casualty figures and racialized the conflict.

The mortality figure of 400,000 has become a staple of SDC propaganda even though it has been repeatedly discredited. In 2007, the British Advertising Standards Authority chided the SDC (and the Aegis Trust) for breaching “standards of truthfulness” in its use of the figure for its UK advertising campaign. The number had already been challenged when a panel convened by the US Government Accountability Office in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences concluded that of the six estimates they studied, the figures presented by the SDC were the least reliable. The most reliable estimate was the study carried out by the World Heath Organization-affiliated Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) that had recorded 131,000 excess deaths at the peak of the conflict of which only 30 percent were due to violence. The violence had dropped sharply after January 2005; this, Mamdani avers, was due mainly to the intervention of African Union peacekeepers. By 2008, the total deaths for the whole year had dropped to 1,500. These numbers are far lower than what constitutes an emergency according to the UN, let alone genocide.

The conflict began as a civil war in 1987-89, driven less by race or ethnic rivalries than by a struggle for land and resources — it pitted the mostly nomadic landless Arabs against the mostly sedentary Fur peasants. Compounded by Khartoum’s botched attempt at land reform during the 1990s, turning it into a party to the civil war, the simmering conflict erupted into a full-scale insurgency in 2003. This eventually led to the government’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign where it turned to nomadic tribes from Darfur and Chad to serve as proxies.

Mamdani identifies three causes as having contributed to the conflict. First, is the history of colonial rule wherein the British went about a project of retribalizing Darfur through a system of native administration which created tribal homelands and introduced a principle of discrimination that privileged “natives” over “settlers.” This led to the dispossession of nomadic tribes, especially the camel nomads of the north. The tribal identities were further solidified through a census that required each registrant to choose a “race”; a written history that presented Arabs as “settlers” from the Middle East; and laws that gave preferential treatment to whoever was deemed a “native”. This narrative also allowed the British colonizers to present themselves as merely following the precedent of an earlier Arab colonization.

Drought and desertification was the second contributing factor. The Sahara’s southern rim expanded by 100 kilometers, forcing nomadic tribes further south and eventually to encroach on the lands of the sedentary Fur tribes.

Finally, the civil war in neighboring Chad where opposition groups armed by Cold War rivals — the US, France and Israel on one side, and Libya and the Soviet Union on the other — had frequently taken refuge in Darfur, leading to a proliferation of weapons and militias. Mamdani explains that the Western powers were involved in the conflict long before the Sudanese government was; and Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist regime wasn’t even in power at the time.

The Arab-versus-African narrative obscures the fact that since at least the British colonial era, Arabs have been Darfur’s most deprived constituency. “If Darfur was marginal in Sudan,” writes Mamdani, “the Arabs of Darfur were marginal in Darfur.” Contrary to the British historiography — whose assumptions have since been reproduced in 20th century nationalist writings — most Arabs arrived in Sudan as refugees fleeing persecution in Mamluk Egypt. Moreover, the diffusion of Arab culture was more a consequence of commerce than of conquest. Mamdani demonstrates that “Arab” is not a racial, ethnic, or cultural identity. It is an assumed political identity that is more a reflection of preference and power than of genealogy. For example, former slaves once freed would become Fur in Darfur, and Arab in Funj, the Sultanate in riverine Sudan where Arabs dominated. To be an Arab in Darfur therefore signifies nothing so much as weakness. The conflict in Darfur today is as much between Arabs (the Abbala camel nomads against the Baggara cattle nomads) as it is against the relatively privileged Fur and Massalit, and the less privileged Zaghawa. The SDC however emphasizes the north-south axis of the conflict that pits Arab against Fur and ignores the south-south Axis which pits Arab against Arab.

The Darfuri rebels likewise defy easy classification. When the insurgency began in 2003, there were two major groups — the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) — they have now split into 26. JEM, which is the largest rebel organization, has an Islamist orientation and draws its inspiration from Hassan al-Turabi, the influential Sudanese Islamist and one time ally of Omar al-Bashir. In contrast, the SLA is secular-Africanist with ties to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South (led by the late John Garang). Before the split between the Islamists in Khartoum, the government had employed Darfuri Islamists led by future JEM founder Khalil Ibrahim for its counterinsurgency in the south. (Ibrahim opposed the power-sharing agreement that ended the war in the south.) However, according to Sudan scholar Alex de Waal, both organizations learned “to characterize their plight in the simplified terms that had proved so effective in winning foreign sympathy for the south: they were the ‘African’ victims of an ‘Arab’ regime.” The government’s response to the insurgency was at first a half-hearted attempt at reconciliation, followed by the arming of a proxy force comprising nomadic militias, many of them from Chad, who have come to be known as the Janjawid. The consequences were devastating, with large-scale bloodletting and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

Khartoum’s use of proxies to quell an insurgency and the resulting death and displacement parallel US policies in Iraq, where ethnic-sectarian militias have been deployed against the mostly-Sunni insurgency. Yet, unlike Iraq, where in excess of a million have died according to the lates ORB poll, and five million displaced, the violence in Darfur has been labeled a genocide. Darfur has also spawned domestic mobilization in the US on a scale for which there is no parallel in the case of Iraq. Mamdani argues that this is due to the fact that Iraq requires Americans to act as citizens, with all the responsibility and complicated political choices it entails, whereas Darfur only requires them to act as humans where they choose to take responsibility out of a sense of philanthropy. He notes that “In Darfur, Americans can feel themselves to be what they know they are not in Iraq: powerful saviors.” As the Nigerian writer Uzodinma Iweala observed, “It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption.” In adopting the language of good and evil, Mamdani observes, the SDC has acted as “the great depoliticizer” in precluding political reconciliation in favor of a moral (read military) solution.

In Saviors and Survivors, Mamdani emphasizes regional over international solutions. Western modes of conflict resolution in Africa resemble nothing so much as the International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Programs: “Those who made decisions did not have to live with their consequences, nor pay for them.” The Western emphasis on the humanitarian crisis in lieu of a political solution merely prolongs the conflict. By contrast, the AU’s approach is both humanitarian and political. The African Union’s (AU) intervention in Darfur had been largely successful in reducing the violence, yet its operation was undermined by Western powers that failed to deliver the support they had pledged when the AU brokered the N’DJamena ceasefire agreement in April 2004. It was also vilified in SDC propaganda. Mamdani asserts that much of the foot-dragging was to discredit the AU so that the notion of an African solution for an African problem could be discredited. The aim was to “blue hat” the AU forces and bring them under Western command. In a Washington Post op-ed pointedly titled “Stop Trying To ‘Save’ Africa,” Iweala asked, “How is it that a former mid-level US diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan than do the numerous African Union countries that have sent food and troops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlement among all parties in that crisis?”

The recent International Criminal Court case has further entrenched the Khartoum government in its defiant stance. Criminal prosecutions during an ongoing conflict merely exacerbate matters, Mamdani argues. More so when the adjudicating body has a demonstrable record of bias. The model for justice must be the post-Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission rather than Nuremberg — survivors’ justice rather than victors’ justice. The well-being of surviving multitudes must not be subordinated to the imperative of punishing individual perpetrators. Mamdani offers a trenchant critique of what he calls the “New Humanitarian Order,” which has supplanted traditional colonialism and turned human rights into the new pretext for intervention. The “international community”, which Mamdani argues is nothing more than a “post-Cold War nom de guerre for the Western powers”, has created “a bifurcated system whereby state sovereignty obtains in large parts of the world but is suspended in more and more countries in Africa and the Middle East” reducing citizens to wards in “an open-ended international rescue operation”.

The Obama Administration already appears to be making a break with its predecessor’s approach and has ordered a review of its Sudan policy. Scott Gration, the new envoy, has already visited Khartoum and Darfur, as has John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the case of the Bush Administration, the SDC was able to mobilize Congress against the State Department that was seeking a political resolution modeled on the power-sharing agreement that ended the longstanding conflict in the south. It remains to be seen how much the Obama Administration is able to resist the formidable lobbying power of the SDC. While Mamdani maintains that the aim of the SDC is to induce the US government to intervene militarily in Sudan, it appears that the real interest of its core organizations is to perpetuate the conflict so as to continue using the image of the Arab as the perpetrator to distract from the regional reality of the Arab as the victim.

Interesting insight into the Israeli national mentality


No matter what they say about nuclear weapons possessed by Iran or hostile Arab neighbors who want to drive the Jews into the sea, it’s the least of Israeli worries, just as  Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were no threat to Israel or anyone else for that matter, because they simply didn’t exist. What is interesting is reading what Israel thinks are their problems and why and the list is far more revealing than any I’ve seen to date.  Here they are in the order mentioned in this article Seven Existential Threats.

1.The Loss of Jerusalem; partly due to the absence of Zionists living in the city.

2.The Arab Demographic Threat; Israel must be 70% Zionist in order to be legitimate and Arabs are having too many children

3. Delegitimization; Israel’s sins are receiving world wide attention which is bad for it’s reputation.

4.Terrorism; we’ve heard it all before.

5. A Nuclear-Armed Iran; we’ve heard this all before too.

6.The Hemorrhaging of Sovereignty; Israel doesn’t exert its control over people under its authority.

7.Corruption;The breakdown of public morality especially among it’s leaders.

The blog, War In Context,  does a decent job dismantling some of the above notions but looking at Oren’s list, the originator of the 7 deadly threats to Israel, it appears his biggest complaint and remedy for it is the absence of Zionism and the need for more Zionism.  Not much mention of Judaism as a religion, but rather Zionism as a political movement.  One other line in his piece that brought about a chuckle was this assertion:

Israel, the Jewish State, is predicated on a decisive and stable Jewish majority of at least 70 percent. Any lower than that and Israel will have to decide between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. If it chooses democracy, then Israel as a Jewish state will cease to exist. If it remains officially Jewish, then the state will face an unprecedented level of international isolation, including sanctions, that might prove fatal.

Is he saying democracy is a threat to and not consistent with Israeli interests?  Ohh, America, are you listening?

See for yourself


The Iranian President’s speech to the UN conference on racism can be viewed in its entirety here.

Close but no cigar


omar_bashirI’m still waiting for the indictment to come down against George W. Bush just as it did with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. What Bashir was indicted for pales in comparison to the crimes committed by Bush under the full might and services of the US government and its military.  The only similarity between the two countries is that both of them have not signed  the International Criminal Court treaty and therefore refuse to recognize its jurisdiction; other than that Bush’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, his rendition (read that kidnapping) of foreign and American citizens to prisons all over the world and their subsequent subjugation to torture and the over one million Iraqi and Afghani refugees brought about because of Bush’s madness, far exceed anything Bashir could ever do with his third world economy, military and infrastructure.

Sudan is the cause celebre of the rich and famous;  a bone tossed to them by policy makers who wanted to give influential people something to assuage their conscience.  It is a rallying point for people who are for change from heavy handed militarism and want to see the rule of law and diplomacy restored to the settling of conflicts.  I admire that spirit; it has been missing for far too long.  America has decided, lately, that the only way to settle conflict is through superior military might, and all other avenues aren’t worth discussing.  Some of us have grown tired of seeing the country through its weight around like a bull in a china shop, destroying everything it says it wants to save or rescue.  However, those who are for saving Darfur are themselves a pawn in the geopolitical game of oil and strategic alliances that have been going on for over 30 years in Sudan.  After settling a decades old conflict with the south, whose leaders are against the ICC arrest warrant for Bashir, Sudan was tagged with the bin laden fantasy, the chemical weapons falacy, oil and now the Darfurian fable with an Israeli interjection that’s sure to raise more than a few eyebrows about Israeli/zionist machinations in Sudan’s internal affairs.

Bush should also be indicted along with Bashir; and Bush’s trial should preceed Bashir’s, but the foundation for a Bush trial is already crumbling, with the news the Obama administration doesn’t want John Yoo prosecuted for his memos inciting the Bush administration to torture.  Such a position by Obama only makes me think that perhaps he will institute some form of torture during his term in office.  Change indeed…

Paper is a WMD according to Israel


We’ve blogged about how israel considers clothes a WMD and has blocked them from entering Gaza but now comes word the Israelis are blocking paper that will be used to print textbooks from entering Gaza as well.   Now before you go off and think the textbooks will be about pigs and monkeys, a term I was called by an Israeli for insisting what’s happening in Gaza is “genocide”, you should know the textbooks that will be printed are human rights courses which are modeled on those developed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with input from the human rights community in Gaza. They will be taught by specialist human rights teachers in every school, and human rights organizations in Gaza will evaluate the teachers’ performance. This should come as no surprise since the Israelis the biggest violators of human rights in the Middle East want to continue the myth that they are the victims.

From the ‘more things change the more they remain the same’ department


We’ve seen how the Israelis have deployed almost every kind of munition against the Palestinians of Gaza, short of a nuclear bomb.  Genotoxic, chemical, and now flechette rounds have been chronicled used against civilians in Gaza.

Flechettes are 4cm long metal darts that are sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 are packed into 120mm shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m wide and 100m long.

An anti-personnel weapon designed to penetrate dense vegetation, flechettes should never be used in built-up civilian areas. The Israeli army has used them in Gaza periodically for several years. In most cases their use has resulted in civilians being killed or injured.

Amnesty International’s fact-finding team in Gaza first heard about the use of flechettes in the most recent conflict some ten days ago. The father of one of the victims showed the team a flechette which had been taken out of his son’s body.

In its latest post on Amnesty International’s Livewire blog, the team described how on Monday it visited towns and villages around Gaza and found more hard evidence of the use of flechettes.

I’ve ceased being indignant about Israeli atrocity, they are simply too many and the international community seems unwilling to hold Israelis accountable for them.  Flechette rounds were more egregiously mentioned and documented  in the death of the Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana who photographed his own death at the hand of that munition.  The video below clearly depicts the effectiveness of the round.

As is customary with Israeli atrocities exposed, the investigation into this young man’s death exonerated the tank crew and business returned to usual on the part of Reuters, who by the way along with other media, was barred from entering Gaza during the latest Israeli incursion. The revelation of this latest use of flechettes will be equally ignored by the Israelis and forgotten by the international community until the next offense is recorded by a complacent and indifferent media.  What needs to happen, if it hasn’t happened already, is each offense documented should be taken before the International Court and charges of crimes against humanity be lodged against Israel until there is a sufficient body of evidence before a world body which will then pursue charges against Israeli leadership and cite the Israeli government as the pariah it has become.  Short of that, Amnesty International’s mention of such crimes in and of itself  is meaningless and only fodder for bloggers’ cannons.

Erroneous analogies


Kudos to the Washington Times for publishing this viewpoint which makes mince meat of analogies that are floating around government circles in the US and Israel about the genocide which took place in Gaza.  I’m encouraged to see that the author, himself Jewish, places the analogies  in proper context.

In the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak made this analogy: “Think about what would happen if for seven years rockets had been fired at San Diego, California from Tijuana, Mexico.”

Within hours scores of American pundits and politicians had mimicked Barak’s comparisons almost verbatim. In fact, in this very paper on January 9 House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying “America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana.” But let’s see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I’m Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

What if the United Nations kept San Diego’s discarded minorities in crowded, festering camps in Tijuana for 19 years? Then, the United States invaded Mexico, occupied Tijuana and began to build large housing developments in Tijuana where only whites could live.

And what if the United States built a network of highways connecting American citizens of Tijuana to the United States? And checkpoints, not just between Mexico and the United States but also around every neighborhood of Tijuana? What if we required every Tijuana resident, refugee or native, to show an ID card to the U.S. military on demand? What if thousands of Tijuana residents lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their children, their sense of self worth to this occupation? Would you be surprised to hear of a protest movement in Tijuana that sometimes became violent and hateful? Okay, now for the unbelievable part.

Think about what would happen if, after expelling all of the minorities from San Diego to Tijuana and subjecting them to 40 years of brutal military occupation, we just left Tijuana, removing all the white settlers and the soldiers? Only instead of giving them their freedom, we built a 20-foot tall electrified wall around Tijuana? Not just on the sides bordering San Diego, but on all the Mexico crossings as well. What if we set up 50-foot high watchtowers with machine gun batteries, and told them that if they stood within 100 yards of this wall we would shoot them dead on sight? And four out of every five days we kept every single one of those border crossings closed, not even allowing food, clothing, or medicine to arrive. And we patrolled their air space with our state-of-the-art fighter jets but didn’t allow them so much as a crop duster. And we patrolled their waters with destroyers and submarines, but didn’t even allow them to fish.

Would you be at all surprised to hear that these resistance groups in Tijuana, even after having been “freed” from their occupation but starved half to death, kept on firing rockets at the United States? Probably not. But you may be surprised to learn that the majority of people in Tijuana never picked up a rocket, or a gun, or a weapon of any kind.

The majority, instead, supported against all hope negotiations toward a peaceful solution that would provide security, freedom and equal rights to both people in two independent states living side by side as neighbors. This is the sound analogy to Israel’s military onslaught in Gaza today. Maybe some day soon, common sense will prevail and no corpus of misleading analogies abut Tijuana or the crazy guy across the hall who wants to murder your daughter will be able to obscure the truth. And at that moment, in a country whose people shouted We Shall Overcome, Ich bin ein Berliner, End Apartheid, Free Tibet and Save Darfur, we will all join together and shout “Free Gaza. Free Palestine.” And because we are Americans, the world will take notice and they will be free, and perhaps peace will prevail for all the residents of the Holy Land.

Bush made the UN irrelevant


It’s easy to see why.

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said, in remarks to be broadcast on Germany’s ZDF television Tuesday evening.

He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

“But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this,” added Nowak, who authored a UN investigation report on the Guantanamo prison.

The irony in this is it’s being exposed on German television, the very same country whose leaders we expunged with public show trials and executions for their war crimes, who are now asking, begging, suggesting, we do the same.  Not a word of these allegations on American media, however, and that is as chilling for us as it was for Germany in the 30s and 40s. Bush ushered in the era of American fascism; Obama’s biggest challenge will be in undoing it.

Beware the Lord of Israel


Listening to Him can make one a war criminal!

He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.

2And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.

3And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;

4And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.

5And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:

6Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

7And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. – Ezekeil 9:1-7

The death toll keeps rising, much to the glee of the IDF.  They’ve got to have something to show for all the military hardware they’ve managed to squeeze into a 125 square mile area filled with over one million people.  Here’s the dicey part if you’re true, blue  and red blooded: we only have Palestinian or UN or Red Cross sources to rely on since the Israelis have either blocked or killed everyone else who could verify the numbers, but regardless the figures are startling. Over one thousand people killed in three weeks, several hundred are children and scores are women.  Surely the Israelis will dispute these numbers, but how can they since they haven’t allowed anyone in Gaza to see nor do they seem too interested in providing a count of the numbers of people they’ve slaughtered.   The point is however, the Jewish state which takes its mandate from scripture shouldnot  have, and they don’t it seems, any guilt about killing anyone that’s not a member of their fraternity.  The scripture and the numbers piling up in Gaza bear that out. The ‘religion of peace’ doesn’t have anything over this crowd.

Politics vs. Integrity: No Brainer!


I remember all the brouhaha surrounding Keith Ellison’s run for the House of Representatives; people were afraid he would institute Islamic Shariah law and therefore felt he was a threat to the security of the US.  He handled himself well throughout all the racist diatribe he faced and prevailed and won election and reelection last fall as well.  Meanwhile another American Muslim was elected to Congress from Indiana named Andre Carson, albeit with a lot less fanfare.  Now I know why.  Politics as it stands today is a business, and congressmen are business people, not representatives in a Republican form of government.  How else can you account for the fact these two Muslims of African-American descent voted either present or for House Resolution 34, which says in part:

expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state……reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel…believes strongly that the lives of innocent civilians must be protected to the maximum extent possible…lay(s) blame both for the breaking of the ‘calm’ and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas….reiterates its strong support for a just and sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict achieved through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

There’s a lot wrong with the wording of the Resolution and many of the “facts” have been disputed worldwide, and on some of the pages here at Miscellany.  What’s disturbing is that ANYONE could vote for such a lame document that is so  factually inaccurate and easily documented as such, but it passed overwhelmingly, with the votes of 2 Muslim American congressmen…or rather 1.5 votes of the two. Keith Ellison said in part:

Israeli citizens living near the Gaza border have been repeatedly harassed and live daily in fear. Hamas, a terrorist organization founded with the goal of destroying Israel, has launched more than 6,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2005.

We need to have compassion for the people of Gaza and the tremendous human suffering there.

That is why I will vote “present” on this resolution concerning the current conflict in Gaza.

There are no recorded remarks for Carson regarding this resolution.  On the one hand this vote dispels the notion that Muslim congressmen are monolithic and contrary to American foreign policy, but it also points out how political office in America tends to foster myopic vision of world events when it comes to Israel.  What I would have liked to see is a more compassionate and reasoned voice like the one offered by Dennis Kucinich, Democrat from Ohio, who said:

In Gaza, the United Nations gave the Israeli army the coordinates of a UN school, and the school was then hit by Israeli tank fire, killing about forty. The UN put flags on emergency vehicles, coordinating the movements of those vehicles with the Israeli military, and the vehicles came under attack, killing emergency workers. The Israeli army evacuated 100 Palestinians to shelter, and then bombed the shelter, killing thirty people.

Emergency workers have been blocked by the Israeli army from reaching hundreds of injured persons. Today’s Washington Post: 100 survivors rescued in Gaza from roads blocked from Israelis. Relief agencies fear more are trapped, days after neighborhood was shelled…Today, the U.S. Congress is going to be asked to pass a resolution supporting Israel’s actions in Gaza. I’m hopeful that we don’t support the inhumanity that has been repeatedly expressed by the Israeli army. The U.S. abstained from a UN call for a ceasefire. We must take a new direction in the Middle East, and that new direction must be mindful of the inhumane conditions in Gaza.

Ellison and Carson could learn a thing or two from Kucinich.  Or there is this even more eloquently expressed opinion from an ordinary citizen, Sarah Shields.

I accuse you, the US Congress, of having voted for US House Resolution 34 by an overwhelming margin, 390-5. In the name of protecting Israel’s security, this Resolution instead protects Israel’s “right” to hold a whole population accountable for the violations of a few. By condoning Israel’s behavior over the past two weeks as self-defense, HR 34 condemns one and a half million Gazans to capital punishment without trial for crimes they have not committed. By publicly acknowledging and approving Israel’s behavior, you now share responsibility for the outcomes.

I accuse you of violating the laws made by the Congress of the United States, laws like the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, which insist that American-made weapons may not be used against civilian populations.I accuse you of supporting flagrant violations of human rights. The combatants you voted to support are required by international law to care for civilian victims of war. Yet the Israeli government denied the International Committee of the Red Cross access to the sites they bombed for four days.

I accuse you of transgressing international law. The United States, as one of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, is required to protect civilians in war, and to call to account anyone who targets them. You have instead voted to support behavior considered criminal according to international law.

I accuse you of putting politics before humanity, of condoning the slaughter of innocents, of supporting war crimes instead of standing up for the most basic human right: the right to live without the terrifying fear of immediate death.

I hold you responsible, each of these 390 members of America’s 111th Congress. I accuse you of complicity in the most serious transgressions that humans can commit.

This is the type of passion we need in American politics, the fervor for going against the “status quo” no matter the stakes, if your position is right.  I salute the Dennnis Kucinichs and Sarah Shields of today who place their humanity before politics or religion or nationality, who make principled positions based on facts that are readily discernible and not on public relations brochures and junkets, and  I ask,  Keith, Andre, where were you when it counted?


A funny


People say the damndest thing!

“Mr. Olmert is wrong,” the official said.

Even if everything had gone according to plan, “she would have abstained. That was the plan,” said the official. “The government of Israel does not make US policy.”

Hilarious!  This from a news article recounting the embarrassing US abstention  of a resolution it originally helped produce! It’s in response to Olmert’s interpretation of how that abstention came about.

“She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favour…In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour,” Olmert said.

“I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

“I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour.

and shows the disregard Israeli leaders have for Americans…. Americans are to serve every Israeli whim at the drop of a hat and drop what they’re doing to do so, and how Israelis paint their picture of that relationship among themselves.  That this story found its way in an English medium shows Israelis don’t care we know they have such disdain.  So, while the Ariel Sharon quote following 911 has been cast in doubt, literally spun into non-existence, the “I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.” quote is alive and sourced.  So the next time anyone tells you it’s an urban legend, or anti-semitic to say Israelis are the dog that wags the American tail….just laugh and congratulate them for their chutzpah!

Will Israel open up a front in Lebanon?


The Israelis have already started their false flag operations in the south of Lebanon.

Lebanese army and international forces bolstered troop numbers, stepped up patrols and declared a state of alert Thursday after an early-morning rocket attack on Israel from southern Lebanon threatened to widen the ongoing Gaza Strip conflict.

The rocket fire, which struck a nursing home and slightly injured at least two civilians, resurrected memories of the destructive 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah, an ally of the Gaza-based militant group Hamas.
There was no claim of responsibility for the rocket attack. Hezbollah and the major Palestinian organizations based in Lebanon denied any role. Only one small group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, would neither affirm nor deny any part in the attack.

The area the missiles were launched from is outside the sphere of influence of  Hezbollah, well south of the Litani River, the line of demarcation setup in UN Resolution 1701. The rabid politicians of the Israeli government want to involve Lebanon in order to strike at Hezbollah and Iran.  Of course they want the US to do the latter…..Iran is far too formidable for Israel alone.  They also want to discredit the UN by underscoring how ineffective it is in preventing the missile attacks from Lebanese soil and avoid having to deal with the Lebanese government which is the party responsible for southern Lebanon.  Israel always seems to demand recognition from others, while not giving it to its neighbors and it wants to blunt criticism from the UN because of the crimes being committed in Gaza.  Curious that…

Meanwhile, Israel true to form, continues to violate Lebanese airspace, and this is no doubt an attempt to get the Lebanese to open fire on Israeli aircraft, while claiming Hezbollah has “rearmed”.   There’s no question Israel will attack Lebanon.  Whether it will be of the same magnitude as 2006 will probably depend on the US response to Gaza.  Already there is talk of how the US had to resupply the Israeli war machine and if the killing continues there forcing more supplies in the face of international opposition, the US may decide to stop the resupply to curb Israel’s appetite for blood.