Saturday, December 17, 2011

Obama at Fort Bragg:
A Hypocritical Embrace of a Criminal War

By Bill Van Auken

President Barack Obama used his speech to US troops at Fort Bragg, to embrace the nine-year war in Iraq that he had ostensibly opposed and to declare the destruction of the country a “success.”

NATO Troops on Syrian Border?  
By RT  -   Sibel Edmonds, exposes what is going on around Syria.    Click to watch the video interview

Why Do They Hate Us?
December 16, 2011 "

Even as President Obama and War Secretary Leon Panetta announce the “end” of the Iraq War, a US “covert war” against Iran, as the National Journal put it in a December 4 article, has already begun.

This secret war–at least secret from the American people–is being conducted in part directly by the US, as evidenced by the advanced American RQ-170 Sentinel stealth surveillance drone just recently downed–apparently by sophisticated electronic countermeasures that allowed the taking control of, and landing of the vehicle–by Iran.

Also conducted in part of proxies, including the Iranian anti-government terrorist organization MEK (for Mujahideen-e Khalq), and of course Israel’s Mossad, this dirty covert war has led to an escalating string of acts of terror inside Iran, including a campaign of assassination against Iranian nuclear scientists, and bombings of Iranian military installations.

Not content to simply engage in such illegal hostilities against a sovereign nation that has not threatened the U.S., and that in fact has not invaded another country in some 200 years, President Obama had the effrontery to demand that the Iranians return the spy drone that they had captured!

Imagine for a moment if an Iranian, or some other nation’s, robot spy plane had been captured or shot down over U.S. territory. Imagine the official response if the nation that owned that plane were to demand its return! First of all, Congressmembers, probably almost unanimously, would be clamoring for the US to launch an attack on whatever company launched the spy plane. But the reaction to a demand to return such a device would be truly explosive! The audacity!

Actually, you don’t need to imagine. Look at the right-wing media and the official US government response to the arrest of two men in New York accused of the hard-to-believe conspiracy of planning, allegedly at the direction of Iranian
government sources, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Forget about proving that this far-fetched alleged plot was real at all, and not just another creation of some FBI informant/provocateur,  or whether Iran was really behind it even if it was. There were open calls for bombing Iran immediately!

President Obama, meanwhile, keeps saying that “all options are on the table” for dealing with what the US government alleges is an Iranian campaign to develop nuclear weapons — itself a very dubious claim. And to back up that threat, the US has actually delivered huge non-nuclear “bunker busting” bombs to Israel, a country which has openly been discussing plans to attack Iran.

These are all war crimes under the UN charter and actual acts of war.

But that’s just Iran.

The US is already at war with Pakistan, too, this country’s nominal ally in the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban. Two weeks ago, American planes, ground forces and helicopters attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing several dozen Pakistani troops. There is considerable evidence that these attacks were deliberate, though the US is claiming lamely that its forces had “incorrect coordinates” that led to the fatal attacks.


These days the US doesn’t just rely on Garman GPS devices for its attacks. It sends in drones with high-rez cameras and knows exactly what and who it is killing before it pulls the trigger.

Meanwhile, we’ve been killing people in Yemen for years with planes sent from offshore aircraft carriers, and using missile-firing Predator drones.

In Latin America, American military “trainers” are fighting a war against leftist forces in Columbia, the CIA is supporting opposition groups seeking to oust the elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries, and the US Justice Department is shipping weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico and helping to launder Mexican drug money back in the US.

There are credible charges that the US has also been supporting the latest protests against the Vladimir Putin government in Russia (even as our own Homeland Security and “Justice” Departments coordinate violent police crackdowns on the Occupy protests here at home against our own government’s craven support of the corrupt banks that have been wrecking the US and global economies).

And we Americans wonder: “Why do they hate us?”

If real people around the world weren’t dying from all this criminal US behavior, and if real people here in America weren’t suffering because of all the trillions of dollars being wasted over the years on military spending, spying, covert destabilization campaigns and overt war-making, it would all be laughable.

But real people are dying and are suffering and there is nothing to laugh about.

Someday there will come a reckoning for the US, as there came a reckoning for Rome, for the British Empire, for the German Reich and for the USSR. A hollowed-out country like the this one, which is under-funding education, health care, infrastructure investment, research, and environmental protection, while its governing class steadily disenfranchises, disempowers, and impoverishes the public while systematically taking away their right to protest, is ultimately doomed.

It’s just a question of time, and of course a matter of how it happens.

If we’re lucky, the dramatic awakening that began with the Occupy Movement in September will continue to spread and grow until an enraged public rises up en masse and evicts the entire corrupt gang from Washington, replacing them with genuine representatives of the people and a new commitment to true democratic governance.

If we’re not so lucky, this nation is likely to slide into global irrelevance — a backward relic of faded glory, a place where Chinese, Brazilian and European firms will invest to take advantage of our cheap, uneducated labor to produce goods to sell back in their own countries. Such an economic slide would of course not occur without violent conflicts and struggles over ever diminishing wealth and resources.

By then off course, if our government continues on its present course of militarily meddling in other nations, the US will be almost universally loathed and, in stead of being manipulated into fears of nonexistent threats to our “safety,”  we Americans will finally have reason to genuinely fear the actions of other, more powerful, nations, which will find the temptation to compete in meddling in the affairs of what remains of the United States irresistible.

Why They Hate Us in Iraq

Reading the New York Times, an American might have been excused for wondering why Iraqis, and especially the people of Fallujah, would be so happy to see American occupying troops leaving the country at the end of this month and of nine years of war against their country that they were actually celebrating.

The Times made it sound as though Fallujah deserved what happened to it. As the article published Dec. 15 notes dryly, American forces in 2004 twice attacked this largest city in Anbar Province to “pacify” it (there’s a political euphemism for you!) after insurgents there in March of 2004 captured four US “contractors” driving through the city, burned their bodies, and strung them up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.

First of all, let’s also dispense with the euphemistic term “contractors,” which is meant to bring to mind the image of a couple of overweight construction workers. In Iraq, and especially in lawless areas like Anbar at that time, “contractor” means “mercenary,” and we now know that mercenaries in Iraq (and in Afghanistan) were and are a lawless, bloodthirsty, group of former US military personnel and vicious thugs from various foreign fascist states like Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, apartheid South Africa and elsewhere, who have killed countless numbers of civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, operating outside of any government monitoring or legal constraints for “security firms” like Blackwater (now Xe) and DynCorp.

What actually happened in Fallujah though, was that because of Pentagon and US media-stoked domestic public outrage at the treatment of the four captured mercenaries, 20,000 US Marines were sent in to the city to level it and to slaughter its male inhabitants in an example of the kind of massive war crime tactic once popular with the Nazi Wehrmacht in World War II, where it was known as “collective punishment.” 

The Nazis used to burn down villages, particularly in Eastern Europe and the USSR, if even one shot was fired at them. But taking things much further in Iraq, US forces encircled Fallujah, a city of 300,000, in November, 2004, and ordered all non-combatants out of the area. Women and children were allowed to leave through checkpoints, but no males of “combat age”–which was illegally set, according to reports, at the age of 11, or by some accounts, at 14. 

In either case, the whole thing was criminal. Under Geneva Conventions signed by the US, first of all all civilians are required to be granted free passage to escape from any field of battle or impending battle, and secondly, under those same Conventions, all children under the age of 18 are to be protected from war, not considered combatants. Even those who are found armed or captured while fighting are to be treated not as combatants, but as victims.

Instead of obeying the laws of war (which once approved by the Senate have the force of law under the US Constitution), US forces trapped all males in the city, including old men and young boys, and then went in with assault rifles, cannons, ground attack planes, helicopter and fixed-wing gunships, and with illegal weapons and weapons that cause mass deaths such as white phosphorus bombs, napalm, anti-personnel shells and depleted uranium shells. 

US forces basically killed everything that moved in numbers ranging upward of 6000 (In contrast the UN is expressing horror that the government in Syria has killed 5000 people in its crackdown on a democracy movement there). There were accounts of people being shot in the river as they tried to swim away from the city, of hospitals being raided and ambulances bombed, and there were even videos of seriously wounded and unarmed Iraqi fighters being coldly executed by Marines. 

What was done to Fallujah was as vile, evil and criminal a campaign of retribution and vengeance, exercised against enemy fighters and trapped civilians alike, as anything Hitler’s SS ever engaged in.

The Times article made no mention about any of this — an exercise in censorship and propaganda made all the more outrageous because the atrocity was well reported at the time it happened by the paper’s own excellent war reporter, Dexter Filkins.

Knowing what really happened, and what the US military really did in Fallujah, would make much more understandable to Americans why the end of US occupation of Iraq has been greeted with a “festival” atmosphere in the still recovering city of Fallujah.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new Project-Censored Award-winning independent online alternative newspaper. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.


50 Economic Numbers From 2011
That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

By Economic Collapse

Most Americans have no idea just how bad our economic decline has been or how much trouble we are going to be in if we don't make dramatic changes immediately.  


 When Corporations Rule the World
Banker Occupation and Europain

By Stephen Lendman

Over half the world's largest economies are corporations. Financial ones controlling the power of money are most dominant. Continue

No Justice for Bradley Manning

The US government has made an example of Bradley Manning to prevent others from challenging the American empire.

By Charles Davis

December 16, 2011 "
Al Jazeera" - - Washington, DC

Private Bradley Manning was just 22 years old when he allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables and video evidence of war crimes to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. For that act of courage that revealed to the world the true face of the American empire, he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

After waiting more than 18 months, half of which he spent in torturous solitary confinement that he was only removed from after an international outcry and the resignation of a top State Department official, Manning is finally getting a shot at justice - if we can think of a military court as justice - when his case moves to the pre-trial hearing phase this Friday. 

But whether Manning is ultimately found guilty or not is beside the point: All one needs to know about American justice is that if he had murdered civilians and desecrated their corpses - if he had the moral capacity to commit war crimes, not the audacity to expose them - he'd be better off today.

Indeed, if Manning had merely murdered the nameless, faceless "other", as his Army colleagues on the notorious Afghan "Kill Team" did, he would not have had his right to a speedy trial blatantly violated. 

If Manning had intentionally killed unarmed civilians, posed for pictures with their dead bodies and slashed their fingers off as souvenirs, he would not have had his guilt publicly pronounced by his own commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama, months before he so much as saw the inside of a military court. 

If he had killed poor foreigners instead of exposing their deaths, he might even stand a chance of getting out of prison while still a young man.

This isn't really a head-scratching development. While killing unarmed civilians for sport may not be officially sanctioned policy, it doesn't threaten the functioning of the war machine as much as a soldier standing up and refusing to be complicit in mass murder. From the perspective of a Washington establishment much more concerned with maintaining hegemony than its humanity, the former - murder - is much less troubling a precedent than the latter.

And so the US government is making an example of Manning, lest any other cogs in the machine start thinking about listening to their consciences instead of their commanders.

Other young soldiers thinking of telling the truth about America's wars must by now have surely gotten the message: if you see something, don't say something. Meanwhile, Manning couldn't be faulted for wondering why he did not just take a cue from his commander-in-chief and kill some innocent foreigners like a good American boy. Instead of facing a lifetime in prison, he might have been up for a medal.

Had Manning - instead of exposing the crime - been the one pulling the trigger in the US Apache helicopter that in 2007 murdered at least a dozen unarmed people in Baghdad, he wouldn't be facing any legal consequences for his actions. 

Had Manning authorised a 2009 missile strike in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children, instead of releasing the State Department cable that acknowledges responsibility for the killings, we wouldn't even know his name.

But Manning didn't kill anybody. 

Rather, he was outraged by the killing he saw all around him and angered at the complicity of his higher-ups who weren't prepared to do a damn thing about. 

So, the system having failed to ensure accountability, Manning took it upon himself to share the inconvenient facts his government was withholding from the world.
"I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy", he explained in a chat with hacker-turned-informant Adrian Lamo. 

As an Army intelligence analyst, Manning witnessed firsthand the American empire in action - and it changed him. "I don't believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore", he lamented, "only a plethora of states acting in self-interest".

Confronted with the reality of institutional evil, Manning risked his career - and his freedom - in order to expose everything from mass murder and child rape in Afghanistan to US support for brutal dictators across North Africa and the Middle East. 

His actions were heroic, and Amnesty International has even credited them as the spark for jump-starting the Arab Spring. And yet a president who proclaims his commitment to transparency while on the campaign trail is determined to go down as the one whose administration mentally tortured, prosecuted and jailed the most famous whistle-blower in half-a-century.

Colonel Ann Wright, a former top State Department official who resigned in protest of the 2003 Iraq war, says Manning's treatment at the hands of the Obama administration is an outrage that is at odds with the norms of military justice. 

He's been treated "as if he were an enemy combatant in Guantanamo", she says. "His past treatment while in pre-trial confinement and the lack of compliance with the norms of the military legal system of a 'speedy' trial . . . reeks of 18 months of intimidation, retribution and retaliation."

"It's clear the military and those tasked with Manning's case are working hard to make an example of him", says Nathan Fuller, an activist with the Bradley Manning Support Network. 

Like many, he suspects Manning's treatment has at least in part been an attempt to get him to implicate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But even if the Obama administration can't get that, "they're more than happy to use his case to send a message to potential whistle-blowers everywhere".

Politicians aren't the only ones who can send a message. This weekend, activists from around the country, including those involved in the Occupy movement in nearby Washington, DC, will be rallying outside Maryland's Fort Meade, where the pre-trial hearings in Manning's case are being conducted. The hope is that they can convince President Obama and his military brass that punishing a whistle-blower goes against the wishes of the American public. The question is whether that's true - and whether the political establishment really cares.

Charles Davis is an activist and writer who splits his time between Washington, DC, and Nicaragua. He is a contributor to the newswire Inter Press Service and his work has aired on public radio stations across the United States. To read more of his work, visit his website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

America's Covert War Against Iran
Do 'All Options' Mean Nukes?

By Tom Burghardt
December 13, 2011
"Antifascist Calling

Legendary investigative journalist I.F. Stone famously observed: "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.". . .

Click to continue to the complete article, and read/post comments

Remembering His-Story - Iran Attack Next?

By Bruce K. Gagnon

This map tells the whole story. Each star represents a U.S. military base. In the middle, in blue, is Iran. Iran has no military bases outside its borders. Just north of Iran is Georgia that has essentially become a U.S./NATO base. Turkey belongs to NATO. Iran has been checkmated. North of Georgia is Russia. Can there be any wonder why Russia is so alarmed about an attack on Iran?

Imagine if we saw a map of the U.S. with Russian or Chinese military bases throughout Canada and Mexico along with their warships just off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The American people would be going ballistic. But when we do it to others, no one even blinks an eye.

Following the recent spy drone fiasco over Iran the U.S. has been working hard to justify these flights. In an Associated Press story yesterday it was reported that the covert operations in play are "much bigger than people appreciate," said Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser under George W. Bush. . .

But after looking at this map where does the danger really lie? Iran is actually no danger to anyone. The real danger is that the U.S./NATO/Israel have their itchy fingers on the war trigger and could attack at any time. . . .

Friday, December 02, 2011

Rights group urges Bush's arrest during tour

Amnesty says Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia have an "obligation" to bring former US president "to justice".

Amnesty has called on African authorities to arrest Bush during his visit for 'crimes under international law' [Reuters]

A human rights organisation has urged Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest and prosecute former US president George Bush for violating international torture laws during his African tour this week.

"International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture"

- Matt Pollard,
Amnesty's senior legal adviser

Amnesty International said the three nations have an obligation to arrest Bush under international law during his tour of these countries from Monday to promote efforts to fight cervical and breast cancers.

"Amnesty International recognises the value of raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Africa, the stated aim of the visit, but this cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorising water-boarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law," the group said in a statement on Thursday.

"All countries to which George W Bush travels have an obligation to bring him to justice for his role in torture," Matt Pollard, Amnesty's senior legal adviser, said.

'Responsible for torture'

"International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfil their obligations and end the impunity George W Bush has so far enjoyed."

Amnesty made a similar appeal to Canada in October when Bush visited British Columbia for an economic summit.

The group claimed Bush authorised the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "waterboarding" on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2009.

Amnesty's case relies on the public record, US documents obtained through access to information requests, Bush's own memoir and a Red Cross report critical of the US's war on terror policies.

Amnesty cites several instances of alleged torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval facility, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, by the US military.

The cases include that of Abu Zubaydah - also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husain and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, both arrested in Pakistan. The two men were waterboarded a total of 266 times from 2002 to 2003, according to the CIA inspector general, cited by Amnesty.

Human rights organisation says Canada must prosecute former US president during October visit for "authorising torture". ( 12-Oct-2011 )