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.

America and the community of illegal nations


It’s a sad sight, but not entirely unexpected; America has become along with Israel, an international pariah, a violator of international law.  Like many, we hoped that with the advent of the Obama administration the Nation would take a sharp turn away from this inevitable conclusion began with the illegal invasion of a hapless Iraq and Afghanistan, but it doesn’t seem as if policy makers will allow that.  Instead what we’ve been given is a notice that Guantanamo Bay will remain open, American troops will remain in war torn areas that have nothing to do with our security, and America will side with a country that’s hell bent on going to war with anyone who dissents with its pogroms of death and destruction against ancient rivalries and foes.

Not even bothering to go the way of disagreeing with the Israeli illegal actions, America has blamed everyone but the Zionist state for the deaths of a number of people we don’t even know.  The unequivocal statement made by a US representative in the UN…….politicians are even too scared to utter the mild statements of UN representatives, was that America will side with her mentor right or wrong…or in this case whenever she’s wrong, and everyone else be damned.  Such a position is sure to get America in another war because her client/mentor state has nothing to lose and everything to gain by engaging in belligerent activity with the knowledge she has the endless resources of America upon which to rely.  Not that she NEEDS them, it’s just that Israel is smart enough not to waste its human resources when it can find others more willing to die for her.

And let’s be clear about something….everything that happened vis-a-vis the murder of untold numbers of unarmed people at the hands of the IDF, and they’re threatening to do it again and in more deadly fashion, is absolutely illegal under all laws, even those that Israel applies to itself, but denies to others.  The Gaza blockade that Israel says it graciously supplies to only 15% of the population is illegal; the maritime blockade whereby Israel denies access to Gaza ports even to Gazans, is illegal, say nothing of the fact that Israel doesn’t recognize Gazan sovereignty or the right to self-determination.  Above all that, the extent to which Israel denies others the right to offer even the most basic subsistence to the people is itself illegal, yet anyone who approaches any of these boundaries Israel has laid out for a nation of people other than itself is in violation of what law? Make no mistake about it and before history is re-written, the actions of the Israeli government within the last several months are homicidal and illegal and only America has been convinced as of this writing, to support fully and unconditionally the Israelis.  It is not fun to see a once great Nation become so easily enslaved into following a course of action that is antithetical to its foundation of law and order but it is not uncommon to see there are some within the Israeli body politic who want to see it this way.  Their lust for power blinds them to all but the absolute quest for raw power above all else, even the fate of their allies or themselves.

The Truth has been laid bare


It’s now painfully obvious why we went to war in Iraq. I agree with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern some of it was because of “oil”, “Israel” and “logistics”, which form the acronym, oil.  The “O” in that word really was the main reason, but on an even larger level there were more and other business interests to satisfy.  Basically however, a former US businessman then President sent Americans over to fight a war to increase his bottom line, his ledger, his accounts; war is profitable to the American economy and all that’s left to do is figure out how to get people to willing sacrifice their sons and daughters to fight such a war, even when there is no other reason to do so than the personal profitability of the commander in chief and his associates, and then execute that war, not towards a successful conclusion but for as long as it takes to get corporate America back in the black.  Now you know why no one wants to talk of withdrawal from Iraq or any other war zone, because such decisions are made when the markets and other economic indicators say it is time to do so and not one day before.

So while partisan politics takes potshots across the great political divide over the ever scandalous BP disaster, intimating that one side or the other is benefiting from the largest eco catastrophe in American history, let them not forget we fight wars where we kill people and get killed in order to revitalize our economy.  In essence we fight people who are defenseless; we kill people who mean us no harm, we destroy whole societies, many of them older than our own because we can and because it’s good for business.  It has nothing to do with defending the homeland, it has nothing to do with promoting democracy or even capitalism and it has nothing to do with helping the weak or the oppressed. The blood of your loved ones and the ones they kill increases the profit margins of the ones who send those very loved ones off to meaningless and perpetual war. How do you like that America?!

The Spread of Christianity Under Force of Arms


Hunting people for Christ has become a part time job in Afghanistan.  No doubt that is legal, whereas US soldiers are prohibited from proselytizing people, huntingk tracking down and killing adversaries  is something the US military is allowed to do.  No doubt it will be claimed that hunting them for Christ and then killing them after they have accepted Christ as their savior is far more humane than merely killing them before witnessing.

It is against military rules to proselytize — a regulation one of the soldiers filmed by the network readily acknowledged. “You cannot proselytize, but you can give gifts,” says the soldier. It is a crime in Afghanistan to attempt to convert anyone from Islam to any other religion. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out.” The footage is said to be roughly a year old.

“The Special Forces guys, they hunt men. Basically, we do the same things as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the Kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business,” he says.

If you think this is just an isolated phenomenon, check out this article which mentions even more examples of US military personnel behaving in the most un-christian like way while claiming to be Christ’s representatives on earth.  Evangelical notions of behavior have infiltrated the US military and manifest themselves in ways that are threatening and intimidating to believers and non believers alike.  Most likely the response to group which barges into your house with  guns  in one hand and a book in the other most probably will be to do whatever the person says who has the gun, even if it means taking the book they’re “offering” you which might be against your religious beliefs.   Of course, the people who are making this offer know that,  which is why proselytizing is illegal, so skip the formalities and say you’re hunting down your enemy to kill them.  That excuse is much more convenient and easier to say without having to lie and getting caught in your lies.  US forces have even been known to use special equipment which helps them spot the prey they are hunting in order to hound them into hell; the irony of this all is it’s happening under the “Muslim” administration of Barack Obama which begs the questions, when will these same US military forces set their “sights” on him?

The Iran Yo-Yo


yo-yoWith the Republican party all used up, battered and bruised, with dwindling Tea Party numbers, the titular head of the party’s constant insertion of his foot in his own mouth, the Sanford scandal,  the neocons have abandoned ship and returned to their home the Democratic party where they first found a footing during the days of Henry Scoop Jackson and they’re agitating for war with Iran.  The Republicans served their purpose at the beginning of this millenium but after being turned down by voters in 2006 and 2008, the GOP is not the power base the neocons need for their wars of aggression and racism.  Obama’s administration will suit their purposes just fine and they’re firmly ensconced with the party of asses and plotting their war with Iran.

It has been fun to watch the sudden and quick implosion of the GOP, first with the McCain campaign which resembled the Bob Dole campaign of ’96,  and the soap operaesque Sarah Palin and her drama, both personally and politically, but not even right wing nut job radio can revive the party with Obama acting on all four cylinders and practically mimicking the GOP as it expands wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan while allocating tons of money for defense that  not even a Republican secretary of defense requests.

What this means is neocons feel emboldened to continue their psy-ops assault on Iran with nothing less than regime change in mind.  Acting on behalf of the Israelis who are the ones calling for a military attack on Iran, neocons have used every excuse in the book to whip up attack Iran fervor both inside the Obama administration and with the general public which will have to supply the manpower, much like it did for the Iraq invasion, to administer the coup de grace on any attack initiated by Israel.  This past weekend, vice president Joe Biden gave the nod, as far as he and his boss Obama are concerned, for the Israelis to go ahead with the attack.  Of course the tacit meaning is that the US will do any and everything to help Israel when the Iranians respond by attacking Israel.

The Iranians elections were the 911 moment for the neocons whose crescendo-ing rhetoric began even before the elections.  There’s a very good piece, False Sorrow for the People of Iran, which talks about the different devices used by the neocons to demonize, denigrate and de-emphasize the importance of the elections when they thought the winner would try to make peaceful overtures to the US.  It states in part

So the possibility of Iran’s president being a rational, moderate man determined to make détente with the United States frightened the War Party and the Israel lobby. Thus, a week before the elections, Iran’s president was demoted to a powerless man again! The neoconservatives, the War Party, and the Israel lobby all began emphasizing how it does not matter who Iran’s president is, since all the important decisions regarding foreign policy are made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, Iranian leaders have been making peace overtures to the US since almost the inception of their revolution, and certainly since the American hostages debacle when they colluded with the Reagan administration to release the hostages in exchange for weapons to fight the Iran-Iraq war.  Their last attempt was met with scorn and rejection by the Bush administration’s cabal of neocons who want only Israel as an ally among the nation states in the middle east. Maintaining this “special relationship” means Israel can help itself to American largess, building up and defending the country at the expense of US tax dollars, personnel and materiel.

Another attack point against Iran has been its nuclear energy program which some have said is a secret nuclear weapons program, without offering any proof of that assertion.  Of course the neocons are able to muddy the waters, confusing the public by putting the onus of Iran to prove a negative, i.e. prove they do not have a nuclear weapons program going on.  This so resembles the WMD nonsense of Iraq that it would be funny if it weren’t a matter of life and death for everyone.  All this talk of an Iranian  nuclear weapons program continues despite the National Intelligence Estimate of last year that said in effect the Iranians had halted their weapons program at about the same time they were making peaceful overtures to the US in 2003.  The rejection of those overtures was the neocons way of trying to back the Iranians into a corner to resume their program since they assumed, correctly, that any sovereign country would develop a means of defending itself decisively in the face of an hostile neighbor,  something which Iranians have certainly been accused of despite the absence of any evidence.  The kicker is however, that the Israelis don’t really consider the presence of Iranian nukes an existential threat as some in the neocon stable would have us believe.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said a few months ago in a series of closed discussions that in her opinion that Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel, Haaretz magazine reveals in an article on Livni to be published Friday.

Livni also criticized the exaggerated use that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears. Last week, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said similar things about Iran.

Such sentiment is not acceptable to neocons because it would make Israel an equal partner, vis-a-vis the nuclear weapons front  with its Iranian  neighbors and superiority not equality is the only state of affairs the Israelis are willing to  accept in its relations with other countries in the region.  Despite the fact Iran has not developed its nuclear weapons program, the fact that it is enriching uranium is considered a threat, by neocons in the American government, to the existence of Israel even though the Israelis themselves don’t think so.  This is the danger of neoconservatism, which inflates dangers to the point of conflagrations that envelope the world community when they are absolutely needless and pointless.  It also underscores the danger such philosophy has to the well being of nation states and indeed the US itself, which has already been devastated by one needless war and appears to be on the edge of entering another because of the lies of its policy makers, the neocons.

Neo-Conservatives are bad for America


neocons+straussIt’s been extraordinary watching how neocons have made everything up, down, everything black, white and everything evil, good and back again.  In the process they have managed to weaken America, tarnish her image in the world community and imperil the world.  In my wildest of conspiratorial dreams, I surmise they are responsible for the election of Barack Obama in order to undo some of the damage they have done, but they have not kept themselves out of the policy making apparatus of government; they are rather firmly entrenched there and have installed gate keepers at every door of the branches of government.  Rahm Emmanuel in the executive, and policy wonks at State, two previously mentioned here on the pages of Miscellany101.  They are not working in the best interests of the US; American interests take a back seat to interests feuled by tribalism and history they want to rewrite in order settle old scores at the expense of an unconcerned and uninitiated American public.  Sure most of it is based on OIL, oil, Israel and logistics, but personal aggrandizement and wealth also play a part in their deception.

So while going through my daily reading I wandered on this article which reinforced these notions above.  What picqued my interest and aggravated my anger was the explicit statement that Saddam wanted the help of America and would have entered into a defense pact with the US in order to defend him against Iran.  That’s not altogether surprising since Saddam fought the Iranians before in the 80s for eight years, at no expense to US personnel or materiel.  Saddam wanted to talk to Bush about that and if he had been successful in pitching the idea all the American lives killed and money wasted at great expense to the country could have been avoided with an even better policy result!  But Bush was convinced to ignore Saddam’s overtures, no doubt with the blessings of the many neocons entrenched in his government who advised against such acceptance.  Instead these people using fascist tactics of deception and the increased powers of the state  got Bush to promote the lie of WMDS and consequently,  America has  installed  a pro-Iranian regime, and destabilized one of the largest Arab speaking countries of the region.  All this happened because neocons have been pitching the idea of regime change to Democrats and Republicans alike since the mid 90s.

They have managed to pitch war at the expense of peace before, when they similarly got Bush to ignore Iranian attempts at rapprochement with America in 2003.  Now a second US administration is being led by the nose with the help of a belligerent ally, Israel, that wants a war and ostensibly drag America into it, with a country that wants peace and is willing to  make major concessions towards that aim.  Such a war would not be in the interests of America and could prove to be more costly than even the Iraq debacle.  The authors of American government advised this country in its infancy from foreign entanglements and that advice still reverberates throughout time but there are few in government who are able to hear it because of the noise being made by neoconservatives and their spin doctors.  The fact that Obama has further embraced them, making government positions a revolving door for the enemies of America to spin, deceive and escalate and involve this country in military adventures means there isn’t much that has changed with his election.  It’s time for Americans to show neocons the door.

Reliving the sins of our (fore)fathers


gitmo detaineeSecurity subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to separation of powers. . . .

The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system, they are reconciled within the framework of law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, part of that law.

So said the US Supreme Court in its decision, BOUMEDIENE ET AL. v. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE
UNITED STATES, ET AL. where it ruled the Military Commissions Act’s Section 7 was unconstitutional and that Lakhdar Boumediene had a right to a habeas corpus hearing to decide whether he should face charges the US military said he was guilty. Lakhdar Boumediene’s case is a shining example of what American forefathers went through in their escape from an imperial England which brought them to the shores of America. Fleeing repressive government which arbitrarily meted out justice without any regard for the rule of law, even though there was some semblance of British common law in the magna carta, America’s founders established the right to habeas corpus for its citizens, which in turn the Supreme Court expanded to those present day America swooped up in its farcical war on terror.

Boumediene was one such casualty. Working in Sarajevo, Bosnia he was accused by the US of plotting to commit acts of terror against the US embassy there and arrested by Bosnian authorities who using their own judicial means established there was no merit to the charge. However, after being released by Bosnian authorities he was re-arrested by American forces and rendered to Guantanamo Bay where he was held for 7.5 years, without access to a legal system. Kept in isolation and tortured his only request was to know why he was being held.  Finally when his case went before the Supreme Court it was ruled he had a right to  habeas corpus review, which in turn quickly adjudicated him  innocent, by a Bush appointee federal judge no less, of the charges levied against him by America just as he was in a Bosnian court.

What possessed America to hold him another 8 months after he was ordered release shows the contempt the Bush administration had for the very judicial process it abused in order to justify it’s WOT. One can only imagine how many others, similarly innocent languish in places like Gitmo Bay, Bagram, or any other base set up to house people deemed terrorist by an abusive and imperial executive out of control. Why this should even matter to the average American on the street is simple: the country has built up over a long history a very precise, intricate and detailed system of law to avoid the mistakes of the English who chased its downtrodden all over the world to deny them their rights and inevitably fight them when they asserted them. We should not and cannot sit by and watch them discarded by an abusive executive who decides unilaterally what laws it wants to abide by and which ones it doesn’t. The Supreme Court decision was clear in that regard.

The Framers’ inherent distrust of government power was the driving force behind the constitutional plan that allocated powers among three independent branches. This design serves not only to make Government accountable but also to secure individual liberty. . . .

Where a person is detained by executive order rather than, say, after being tried and convicted in a court, the need for collateral review is most pressing. . . . The habeas court must have sufficient authority to conduct a meaningful review of both the cause of detention and the Executive’s power to detain. . . .

We haven’t begun to address the issue of Boumediene’s treatment while in captivity in Gitmo Bay and his assertion that he was tortured. Indeed the biggest torture of all was his unlawful imprisonment and isolation from the legal redress he was found by US authorities to be clearly entitled too but which he was denied for so very long. The fact that his imprisonment could not stand judicial review from TWO separate courts continents removed from one another is why the will of a whimsical executive must be challenged by the judicial checks and balances embedded in our system of government. Check out Boumediene’s interview with ABC news below. This should be one more nail in the coffin for the indictment of any and all officials in the Bush administration for international war crimes.