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Bradley Manning Verdict- The view from Overseas Newspapers


 

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Bradley Manning Convicted: US Shows No Mercy for Whistleblower

A US military court acquitted Bradley Manning of the worst charge against him, but he isn’t out of the forest yet. read full article

spiegel.de

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Assange attacks Manning verdict

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has described Bradley Manning as “the most important journalistic source that the world has ever seen”. read full article

news.smh.com.au

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Whistleblower Manning guilty of espionage now facing 136 years in jail

BRADLEY MANNING, the US soldier who handed thousands of classified government files to WikiLeaks, faces spending the rest of his life in prison despite being acquitted yesterday of help read full article

independent.ie

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Barack Obama propose un marchandage fiscal aux entreprises américaines

Le président offre une réduction de l’impôt sur les sociétés en échange d’une taxe sur les profits logés à l’étranger. read full article

lefigaro.fr

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Manning guilty of espionage – Times LIVE

US military judge Colonel Denise Lind yesterday found soldier Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy – the most serious charge he faced for handing documents to WikiLeaks.         read full article

timeslive.co.za

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WikiLeaks case: Bradley Manning acquitted of aiding enemy, faces espionage charges

Former Army analyst has already accepted responsibility for providing classified info to WikiLeaks. read full article

indianexpress.com

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Military judge rules Manning of Wikileaks case not guilty of aiding enemy – WORLD

A US military judge on Tuesday ruled Bradley Manning, the Army private who is accused of leaking classified information to whistleblower site Wikileaks, not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious of the charges he faced, but guilty of most other charges. read full article

globaltimes.cn

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Bradley Manning lynched by the US government

The verdict for Manning was predetermined, and the show trial in a kangaroo court – a post-modern American remix of China in the 1960s during the Cultural Revolution – just signed, sealed and… read full article

rt.com

Bradley Manning acquitted of aiding enemy in WikiLeaks case

Jerusalem Post-9 hours agoShare
Bradley Manning acquitted of aiding enemy in WikiLeaks case … information that included battlefieldreports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. … a professor of international relations at Boston University and former officer in …

Thousands in Germany protest NSA surveillance


AP)—Thousands of people are taking to the streets in Germany to protest against the alleged widespread surveillance of Internet users by U.S. intelligence services.

Protesters, responding to calls by a loose network calling itself #stopwatchingus, braved searing summer temperatures Saturday to demonstrate in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and up to 35 other German cities and towns.

Some wore tinfoil hats to shield themselves from the sun—and make a political statement about warding off unwanted eavesdroppers.

Others held placards showing support for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue of the NSA’s alleged interception of Web traffic when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Berlin last month. But German opposition parties remain skeptical of the government’s claim that it had known nothing about the surveillance.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-thousands-germany-protest-nsa-surveillance.html#jCp

via Thousands in Germany protest NSA surveillance.

Obama Says “American Dream” Alive and Well in Detroit  


Somnium Americanum certum est quia impossibile est

DETROIT – USABarack Hussein Obama today addressed the nation from a city that epitomises his tenure as President of the United States.

“I’m standing in this piece of shit goddamn rubble city and saying to you Americans, I’m going to hand over the 17 Trillion dollar national debt I racked up to you and all future generations once I end my tenure as president. This was my American dream, and it’s going to be your American fu**ing nightmare. Thanks for voting for me — twice!” the jovial president said chuckling like a hyena.

The president then went on to his usual diatribe about how he is being hindered by Republicans in Congress and how none of the mess the country is currently in is his fault in any way.

A homeless army veteran onlooker to the whole sorry scene quipped: “This is what happens when Marxism mixes with Capitalism. In the Marine Corp. we used to call it a ‘clusterf*ck’.”

via Obama Says “American Dream” Alive and Well in Detroit  .

Syria is next…”kinetic air strikes”


t is official. During a Thursday morning Senate hearing, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Obama administration is deliberating whether or not it should utilize the US military in Syria. This means that President Barack Obama is considering using military force in Syria, and the Pentagon has prepared various scenarios for possible United States intervention.

Gen. Dempsey said the administration was considering using “kinetic strikes ” in Syria and said “the issue is under deliberation inside of our agencies of government ,” the Associated Press reported from Washington.

According to RT TV, a Russian news service:

Dempsey, 61, is the highest ranking officer in the US military and has been nominated by President Obama to serve a second term in that role. The Senate Armed Services Committee questioned him Thursday morning as part of the nominating process when Dempsey briefly discussed the situation in Syria.

Last month, the Obama administration concluded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons during the ongoing battles. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said, “The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete.”

President Obama said previously that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and likely trigger American intervention. When the White House concluded Assad had relied on chemical warfare, Rhodes said, “both the political and the military opposition … is and will be receiving US assistance.”

This brings us to the question “Is this a setup where the reason given to start yet another war aimed at overthrowing yet another government of a foreign country that has been long planned in advance by the US?” Given our history, this is likely.

First of all, the evidence of chemical weapons use is itself sketchy. So far we only have a   CIA report , which was described by an American official who declined to be identified, which states that the United States has acquired blood, urine and hair samples from two Syrian rebels–one dead and one wounded–who were in a firefight with Syrian government forces in mid-March northeast of Damascus. The samples showed that the rebels were exposed to sarin.

Secondly, although US intelligence reports are tentative, our media has been portraying them as definitive. The press is raring to go on this, just like they were on Feb. 5, 2003 when Colin Powell spoke before the United Nations, claiming there was absolute proof that Saddam Hussein’s regime was armed to the teeth with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Syria’s WMDs came from Iraq

How did the Assad regime come by these chemical weapons? It was reported in the New York Sun on January 26, 2006 that Israel’s top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam “transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria. The Iraqi Revolutionary Guard moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria in advance of the U.S.-led action to eliminate Hussein’s WMD threat.”

Two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, and special Republican Guard units loaded the planes with chemical weapons materials. There were, all told, 56 flights disguised as a relief effort after a June 4, 2002 collapse of the Zeyzoun Dam wiped out a village just below the impoundment, killing 20 people and washing away houses, cattle, hospitals, schools, water pumps and vehicles in five villages, stopping only when the water hit and joined the Orontes River more than 8 miles away.

There were also truck convoys into Syria. Both Israeli and U.S. intelligence observed large truck convoys leaving Iraq and entering Syria in the weeks and months before Operation Iraqi Freedom, John Shaw, former deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, told a private conference of former weapons inspectors and intelligence experts held in Arlington, Va., in 2006.

It was reported in the Fall 2005 Middle East Quarte rly that Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, stated: “Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.”

The U.S.A. provided Iraq with chem and bio capability

And here we come full circle. This report is from Common Dreams (Sept. 8, 2002):

The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Reports by the US Senate’s committee on banking, housing and urban affairs — which oversees American exports policy — reveal that the US, under the successive administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr, sold materials including anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia. Other bacteria sold included brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene.

UN inspectors had identified many United States manufactured items that had been exported from the United States to Iraq under licenses issued by the Department of Commerce, and established that these items were used to further Iraq’s chemical and nuclear weapons development and its missile delivery system development programs.

It is clear that the US government knows about everything that goes on everywhere, all of the time. It has mastered this technique since before President Truman established the CIA following World War 2. Furthermore, it is undeniable that we have planned a complete takeover of the Middle East and its petroleum reserves since then.

Going to war with Syria will complete our encirclement of Iran, the last bastion of Middle Eastern oil reserves that America covets.

That pesky “al Qaeda”

Once again, our excuse for an exercise in American use of real weapons of mass destruction will be laid at the feet of the terrorist boogeymen that we ourselves create. This is from USA Today of June 14:

A Syrian rebel group’s April pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda’s replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group’s influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al-Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.

The shadowy al Qaeda terrorist group that we attribute all of our woes to is a creature we devised to fight the Russians in Afghanistan back in the nether regions of public memory, when Osama bin Laden was our friend and hero. Why would we use them for our own ends to overthrow the Syrian government? For the same reason that we turned a blind eye when Israel attacked Lebanon a week ago, bombing southern Beiruit in the hopes of destroying the offices of Hezbollah.

It’s one more brick in the wall we’re building around Iran and its 150 billion barrels of oil, which make it second only to Saudi Arabia.

— 30 —

James R. Bailey is a 30 year veteran reporter, political activist, environmentalist, and homesteader in northern Wisconsin’s Chequamegon National Forest in the Town of Grand View. He was recently on the campaign staff of Wisconsin Secretary of State (more…)

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via OpEdNews – Article: Syria is next…”kinetic air strikes”.

Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press


The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating.”We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: ” There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify ” in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm  calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating. Press freedom is at stake.

Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That’s what the White House wants.

The federal Fourth Circuit covers the geographical area where most of the U.S. government’s intelligence, surveillance and top-level military agencies — including the NSA and CIA — are headquartered. The ruling “pretty much guts national security journalism in the states in which it matters,” Marcy Wheeler writes.

That court decision came seven days after the Justice Department released its “News Media Policies” report announcing “significant revisions to the Department’s policies regarding investigations that involve members of the news media.” The report offered assurances that “members of the news media will not be subject to prosecution based solely on newsgathering activities.” (Hey  thanks!) But the document quickly added that the government will take such action “as a last resort” when seeking information that is “essential to a successful investigation or prosecution.”

Translation: We won’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs unless we really want to.

Over the weekend, some news accounts described Friday’s court decision as bad timing for Attorney General Eric Holder, who has scrambled in recent weeks to soothe anger at the Justice Department’s surveillance of journalists. “The ruling was awkwardly timed for the Obama administration,” the New York Times reported. But the ruling wasn’t just “awkwardly timed” — it was revealing, and it underscored just how hostile the Obama White House has become toward freedom of the press.

News broke in May that the Justice Department had seized records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period and had also done intensive surveillance of a Fox News reporter that included obtaining phone records and reading his emails. Since then, the Obama administration tried to defuse the explosive reaction without actually retreating from its offensive against press freedom.

At a news conference two months ago, when President Obama refused to say a critical word about his Justice Department’s targeted surveillance of reporters, he touted plans to reintroduce a bill for a federal shield law so journalists can protect their sources. But Obama didn’t mention that he has insisted on a “national security exception” that would make such a law approximately worthless for reporters doing the kind of reporting that has resulted in government surveillance — and has sometimes landed them in federal court.

Obama’s current notion of a potential shield law would leave his administration fully able to block protection of journalistic sources. In a mid-May article — headlined “White House Shield Bill Could Actually Make It Easier for the Government to Get Journalists’ Sources” — the Freedom of the Press Foundation shed light on the duplicity: As a supposed concession to press freedom, the president was calling for reintroduction of a 2009 Senate bill that “would not have helped the Associated Press in this case, and worse, it would actually make it easier for the Justice Department to subpoena journalists covering national security issues.”

Whether hyping a scenario for a shield law or citing new Justice Department guidelines for news media policies, the cranked-up spin from the administration’s PR machinery does not change the fact that Obama is doubling down on a commitment to routine surveillance of everyone, along with extreme measures specifically aimed at journalists — and whistleblowers.

The administration’s efforts to quash press freedom are in sync with its unrelenting persecution of whistleblowers. The purpose is to further choke off the flow of crucial information to the public, making informed “consent of the governed” impossible while imposing massive surveillance and other violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Behind the assault on civil liberties is maintenance of a warfare state with huge corporate military contracts and endless war. The whole agenda is repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Norman Solomon is the author of many books, including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” which has been adapted into a documentary film. For more information, go to: http://www.normansolomon.com

via OpEdNews – Article: Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press.

Every Military Option in Syria Sucks


Using lethal force to strike high-value targets inside Syria would require hundreds of U.S. aircraft, ships and submarines, while establishing a no-fly zone would cost as much as a billion dollars per month over the course of a year, according to a new analysis of military options there by the nation’s top military officer. Another option, in which the U.S. attempts to control Syria’s chemical weapons stock, would first require thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces, wrote Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey. Oh, and well over a billion dollars per month.

Under pressure to publicly provide his views on military intervention in Syria, Dempsey told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin what most people already knew: there are few good options. But for the first time, Dempsey provided an analysis of each option and its cost, providing new fodder for thinking about a conflict that has waged for more than two years, killed nearly 100,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

Dempsey outlined five options, including training, advising and assisting the opposition; conducting limited stand-off strikes; establishing a no-fly zone; creating a buffer zone to protect certain areas inside Syria; and finally, controlling Syria’s chemical weapons. Any of those options would likely “further the narrow military objective of helping the opposition and placing more pressure on the regime,” Dempsey wrote. But any or all of them could slip the U.S. into another new war. “We have learned from the past 10 years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state,” Dempsey wrote Levin in the memo, a copy of which was released publicly late Monday. “We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action.”

As requested after a heated exchange in the Senate on Thursday over U.S. policy in Syria, Dempsey dutifully gave the pros and cons for each option. But in what amounts to the most candid analysis of the Pentagon‘s thinking on Syria to date, Dempsey couched each as highly risky. Establishing a no-fly zone, for example, comes with inherent risk: “Risks include the loss of U.S. aircraft, which would require us to insert personnel recovery forces,” Dempsey wrote. “It may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because the regime relies overwhelmingly on surface fires – mortars, artillery and missiles.” Conducting limited strikes on high-value targets inside Syria could have a “significant degradation of regime capabilities” and would increase the likelihood of individuals deserting the regime. On the other hand, he wrote, “there is a risk that the regime could withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets.” Retaliatory attacks and collateral damage from the U.S. strikes could create large and sometimes unforeseen problems, despite the best planning.

All of this would come, Dempsey argued, at a time of enormous budget uncertainty for the Pentagon that has forced furloughs of civilian workers, cuts to programs and allowed readiness rates to drop to low levels, Pentagon officials say. “This is especially critical as we lose readiness due to budget cuts and fiscal uncertainty,” Dempsey wrote. “Some options may not be feasible in time or cost without compromising our security elsewhere.”

Dempsey still hedged the issue of his own view in an unclassified forum, never quite providing what he would recommend to his boss, President Barack Obama. But he also conceded that intervention in some form could make a difference. “As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that the use of force will move us toward the intended outcome.”

It still amounts to the start of a new conflict after more than a decade getting out of two other ones.  “I know that the decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly, it is no less an act of war,” Dempsey wrote.

It was unclear if Dempsey’s letter, intended to appease Sen. John McCain and Sen. Levin, would prompt them to move forward on his reappointment to another two years as Chairman. A few days before the hearing, a senior officer from the Pentagon had provided a classified briefing for senior Hill members and officials, according to a senior Hill staffer. But the takeaway may have been what got McCain so fired up: Pentagon officials told Hill staffers there is no clear military direction on Syria because there is no clear policy guidance from the White House.

Now Dempsey’s reappointment as Chairman hangs in the balance as Levin and McCain seek additional information from Dempsey on Syria — knowing full well that the nation’s senior military officer is getting directions from the White House on Syria that are ambiguous at best.

The issue stems in part from how Dempsey handled himself last week when McCain demanded he provide his personal views on military intervention in Syria. Dempsey essentially refused to answer to McCain’s satisfaction, raising the question squarely: what should military officers say when they’re asked their personal opinion in public?

When senior officers shuffle up to Capitol Hill for confirmation or oversight hearings, they all must affirm their answer to one of a handful of boilerplate questions, but this one is often central to the veracity of their testimony: “Do you agree, when asked, to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the administration in power?”

It’s all very pro forma. As all officers appearing for testimony do, Dempsey answered the question in the affirmative. But he seemed to trip up on it later during the hearing.

Dempsey could have known it was coming. McCain, increasingly agitated at White House policy over Syria, tested him over his views on military intervention. “Do you believe the continued costs and risks of our inaction in Syria are now worse for our national security interests than the costs and risks associated with limited military action?” McCain demanded. But Dempsey would not answer the question directly, saying he would instead share his views privately with the Commander-in-Chief, President Obama.

“Senator, I am in favor of building a moderate opposition and supporting it,” Dempsey said during the tense exchange. “The question whether to support it with direct kinetic strikes is a president for a — is a decision for our elected officials, not for the senior military leader of the nation.”

McCain has now locked his confirmation until he gets more answers. There are two ways to look at Dempsey’s decision Thursday before the Senate panel. Some believe the general, well regarded but not known for rocking the boat, stood his ground and took a stand against a Congressional overseer thought to be bullying the administration over its Syria policy. Others were astounded that Dempsey seemed so cocky, even arrogant, at one point shooting a question back to McCain about “recent experience” with intervention — in Iraq.

Senior officers, experts and other observers all believe that Dempsey’s number one job was to obey what any senior officer will tell you is Golden Rule of confirmations: don’t filibuster, don’t grandstand and get confirmed. If Dempsey was being asked an uncomfortable question he couldn’t avoid, he should have politely asked to answer it in private session, they say.

“Military leaders, when they answer that question, they get from the Senate in the affirmative, they are absolutely committing themselves to providing their personal views to members of Congress,” one senior officer said. But those personal views aren’t always appropriate for a public setting such as a confirmation hearing, the officer said, and Dempsey did the right thing – even if he didn’t do it in the right way. “In my view, it was not inappropriate for Dempsey to withhold his views in that particular setting.”

Others agree, too. Some officials who are familiar with the process of preparing for testimony say commanders should be able to retain their best military advice for their commander-in-chief – not the public or members of Congress.

“Senior general officers, be they in command of a war or serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, are there to serve the commander-in-chief, as advisors or commanders, giving him their best military advice.”Look at judges up for confirmation: do they divulge what their decisions will be? No. Similarly, a senior general gives advice to the president. He’s not appointed to give advice to Congress, nor does he feel compelled to tell, in advance, what his advice and views are to anyone besides the president.”

There have been a number of cases in which senior officers are asked their opinion in a public hearing — and some give it. Most recently, Gen. James Mattis, then commander of U.S. Central Command in April was asked how many troops he believed should be left in Afghanistan after security responsibility is completely transferred to Afghans at the end of next year. His answer: 13,600. The response, from an officer who was about to retire but had been widely thought to have been under a gag order during that command, angered some in the White House and other political types. But individuals close to his thinking believe that that was his personal opinion and he didn’t mind sharing it publicly since it didn’t expose any state secrets or classified information. Dempsey’s predecessor, Adm. Mike Mullen, famously expressed his opinion about suspending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, telling the Senate what he thought, himself. “Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said in February 2010. “No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” he said. “For me personally, it comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

It took some prodding. But Dempsey finally spoke up, too. But by presenting the options in Syria as an array that goes from bad to worse, it’s not clear if he enhanced his confirmation prospects – or made them worse.

via Breaking: Every Military Option in Syria Sucks – By Gordon Lubold | Foreign Policy.

NSA Snooping: The War on Terror Is America’s Mania- The View from Germany


The NSA spying scandal shows that America’s pursuit of terrorists has turned into a mania. Spying on citizens is as monstrous and unlawful as Guantanamo Bay and drone warfare. The German government‘s response has been woefully weak.

America is sick. September 11 left it wounded and unsettled — that’s been obvious for nearly 12 years — but we are only now finding out just how grave the illness really is. The actions of the NSA exposed more than just the telephone conversations and digital lives of many millions of people. The global spying scandal shows that the US has become manic, that it is behaving pathologically, invasively. Its actions are entirely out of proportion to the danger.

Since 2005, an average of 23 Americans per year have been killed through terrorism, mostly outside of the US. “More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism,” writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, and “15 times as many die by falling off ladders.” The US has spent $8 trillion on the military and homeland security since 2001.

America has other threats. The true short-term danger is homegrown: More than 30,000 Americans are killed by firearms every year. An American child is 13 times more likely to be shot than a child in another industrialized country. When it comes to combating the problem, President Barack Obama and Congress are doing very little — or, to be fair, nothing at all. They talk about it every now and then, after every killing spree. The gun lobby, incurably ill, counters that the weapons are necessary for self-defense.

And when it comes to real long-term dangers, such as climate change, America, its prime perpetrator, does nothing — or, to be fair, too little too late.

As Monstrous as Guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay Facility Continues To Serve As Detention Center For War Detainees

Getty Images

Eleven and a half years later, Guantanamo Bay detention camp is still up and running.

All of this is not to say that terrorism doesn’t exist: 9/11 happened, and al Qaida is real. But spying on citizens and embassies, on businesses and allies, violates international law. It is as monstrous and as unlawful as Guantanamo Bay, where for 11 and a half years, men have been detained and force-fed, often without evidence against them, many of whom are still there to this day. It is as unlawful as the drones that are killing people, launched with a mere signature from Obama.

There has been virtually no political discussion about all of this. Attacks have been prevented through the spying program — Obama says it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it, and we have to believe them. Voters and citizens are akin to children, whose parents — the government — know what is best for them. But does the free America that should be defended even still exist, or has it abolished itself through its own defense?

An American government that gives its blessing to a program like Prism respects nothing and no one. It acts out its omnipotence, considers itself above international law — certainly on its own territory and even on foreign ground. The fact that it’s Obama behaving in such a way is bleak. If this were happening during the administration of George W. Bush, we could at least think, “It’s just Bush. He’s predictable. There is a better America.” Now we know: There is only one America. Did Obama, the Harvard Law student, even believe what he was saying in his speeches about the return of civil liberties? Can someone be so cynical that they promise to heal the world, then act in such a way all the while giving the xenophobic explanation that only foreigners would be monitored? Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are Obama’s role models. What would they say?

The Stasi Comparison Stands

The German government has shown devastating weakness. Merkel should say, “You are manic, and what you are doing is sick.” That’s what friends do. Instead she weighs every word to avoid annoying the Americans. She said that a comparison between the NSA and the Stasi is inappropriate, but she’s wrong. A comparison doesn’t require that two things be identical. The Stasi destroyed families, the NSA probably not. But the use of technology, the careful nurturing of the image of the enemy, the obsessive collection of data, the belief of being on the right side, the good side: Is there really no resemblance?

Angela Merkel promised to defend the German people from harm. To have your phone wiretapped and accept the fact that every one of your emails could be monitored — the violation of the private sphere — that qualifies as harm.

Every voter knows that realpolitik can be ugly, because politics require the balancing of many considerations. The decisive question is: What greater good justifies this breach of law by the US and the cooperation of German agencies? It is time for answers.

via SPIEGEL Commentary on US Internet Surveillance – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Bugged by US spying, EU may sever ties with American internet providers


The building of the European Parliament is seen in Brussels.(AFP Photo/Dominique Faget) 

EU businesses are threatening to terminate relations with American internet providers in response to the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European Commission has warned.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said that US providers of “cloud services,” a technology that permits clients to store data on remote servers, could suffer steep losses if users fear the security of their material is at risk of being compromised.

“If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out,” Kroes said. “Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?”

The EC vice president then pointed to the “multi-billion euro consequences” facing US internet companies in the wake of the scandal.

“It is often American providers that will miss out, because they are often the leaders in cloud services. If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government, then maybe they won’t trust US cloud providers either. If I am right, there are multibillion-euro consequences for American companies. If I were an American cloud provider, I would be quite frustrated with my government right now.”

AFP Photo / John Macdougall
AFP Photo/John Macdougall

On Thursday, the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution that says the US should provide full disclosure about its email and communications data, otherwise two EU-US transatlantic information-sharing deals — the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) and Passenger Name Records (PNR) — could be revoked.

Relations between Washington and Brussels suffered a setback in June when former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked details of a top-secret US data-mining surveillance program, known as Prism, which operated both in the United States and the European Union.

Prism is said to give the NSA and FBI user information from some of the world’s largest internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Skype.

Der Spiegel cited a secret 2010 document alleging that the US spied on internal computer networks in Washington, as well as at the 27-member bloc’s UN office and EU offices in New York.

The NSA paper also allegedly refers to the EU as a “target.”

According to Der Spiegel, the US surveillance system spied on some 500 million telephone and internet recordings in Germany each month, ramping up fears that the United States was not simply collecting data to prevent against acts of terrorism, but was involved in full-scale industrial espionage.

In response to heated European criticism of the US surveillance activities, US President Barack Obama this week seemed to downplay the severity of the situation when he commented: “I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That’s how intelligence services operate.”

During a Wednesday phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama sought to reassure her that the United States would provide the Europeans with details of their surveillance program.

Meanwhile, in an effort to contain the damage from the revelations, ambassadors to the European Union agreed on Thursday to proceed with EU-US negotiations on a new transatlantic free trade pact, scheduled to open in Washington on Monday. 

EU commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.(AFP Photo / Georges Gobet)
EU commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.(AFP Photo/Georges Gobet)

During the EU-US trade negotiations it will certainly not go unnoticed that crucial European positions in the trade talks may already be compromised due to the wide-scale surveillance. EU officials do not want the issue of America’s covert spy program to be the elephant in the room which nobody talks about.

Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania, which takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency this week, said on Thursday that she awaits “information” — not apologies — from the Americans over the spying allegations.

“They are open to co-operation. They are open to explain,” she said. “I never seek an apology from anyone. I seek information … We don’t want to jeopardize the strategic importance of free trade.”

Grybauskaite insisted that the scandal, which has shown no sign of abating, should not be allowed to obstruct the trade talks but acknowledged that “some countries are very sensitive on this question.”

Meanwhile, Britain may also have some explaining to do on the sidelines of next week’s trade talks since it was suggested that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), through a system known as Tempora, .

The European Commission vice president said that US companies could suffer from the US government’s covert intelligence-gathering activities.

“Concerns about cloud security can easily push European policy-makers into putting security guarantees ahead of open markets, with consequences for American companies,” Kroes warned. “Cloud has a lot of potential. But potential doesn’t count for much in an atmosphere of distrust.”
________

 

Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empirewhich discusses the dangerous consequences of excessive corporate power now prevalent in the United States.

 

 

http://rt.com

rt.com is Russian television, which actually does a great job reporting on US news too.

Why Are Leakors Investigated or Punished Without Reason?


There are very critical issues missing from news reports about the U.S. government’s protection of so called classified information and its pursuit of that data’s leakors.

Who classified the data; why; and how is that classification valid?

Scores of news reports have focused on so called classified information leaked out in thousands of documents by WikiLeaks, its agents and entirely separately by Edward Snowden, who exposed the National Security Agency’s massive domestic surveillance program.

Those news reports generally discuss the kind of information disclosed. But, no government agent is quoted as specifically justifying why the data became secret in the first place or who decided it should be so classified.

If leakors of so called classified information are to be charged with crimes or heavily criticized in the news media, that information is crucial to protect the accused. As well, the public needs to be assured that those classifying information as secret have not done so simply to cover up their own mistakes or the government’s crucial and intentional errors.

Federal prosecutors are in the midst of a court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst on a charge of aiding the enemy for sending thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. They are still pursuing Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, for his role in widely publishing such documents.

Now, according to news reports, federal authorities are separately investigating Snowden, a 29-year-old defense contractor, for leaking documents and data about the classified domestic surveillance program to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post.

Missing from most daily news reports on the leaks of secrecy issues headlined for months worldwide is this crucial issue. Where is the U.S. government’s proof that the hordes of data at the center of these controversies is properly classified? Where is the valid explanation that each and every one of the documents in question has any information that needs a security classification? And, is there any motivation to cover up data embarrassing to the government, its hired security companies or their employees by simply classifying it?

Here is but one big area of doubt created in the title of a detailed article inside George Washington University’s version of the National Security Archive: “Systematic Overclassification of Defense Information Poses Challenge for President Obama’s Security Review.” The article discloses reams of overclassified data in decades of government documents.http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb281/index.htm

It points out that: Pentagon classification authorities are treating classified historical documents as if they contain today’s secrets, rather than decades-old information that has not been secret for many years.

Here is the legal definition of secret data: USC – 834 – “Classified information” defined:. the term “classified information” means information which, for reasons of national security, is specifically designated by a United States Government agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution.

It would seem logical and simply fair that every single classified document needs accountability and identification from the source or sources classifying it. They need to reveal exactly why it is or was classified, and why that so called classification is valid or still valid. Even legally classified documents need to be constantly monitored to assure their top secret, secret and confidential classifications are still valid today.

via OpEdNews – Article: Why Are Leakors Investigated or Punished Without Reason?.

Why Gitmo will never close


Barack Obama had been President for only one full day when, on Jan. 22, 2009, he acted on a central campaign promise. Arguing that the Founding Fathers would agree that America must “observe the core standards of conduct not just when it’s easy but also when it’s hard,” Obama signed an executive order to close the notorious military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, where the Bush administration had detained hundreds of men captured in combat and counter terrorism operations since 2001. With dozens of men imprisoned for years without charges brought against them, and in many cases having actually been cleared for release, Obama said closing Guantánamo would return America to the “moral high ground” it had yielded in its ruthless pursuit of al-Qaeda during the Bush years. “I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away,” Obama said in May 2009. “I refuse to pass it on to somebody else. It is my responsibility to solve the problem.”

Four years later, with Guantánamo still open–and the site of widespread hunger strikes and other acts of disobedience by many of its 166 inmates–Obama is again trying to fulfill that responsibility. In a May 23 address about a range of his counter-terrorism policies, including drone strikes, Obama declared the start of a new push against the political obstacles that thwarted his first attempt to close the most infamous symbol of the US’s post-9/11 war on terrorism. “[History] will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to end it,” Obama said.

But Obama will be hard pressed to live up to his grand rhetoric. Opposition still runs high to the idea of releasing or bringing into US prisons dozens of men widely considered dangerous terrorists even if many are not. Asked to gauge the probability that Obama can close Guantánamo before he leaves office, David Remes, a lawyer who represents 18 Guantánamo inmates replies, “Zero.” And even if Obama can shut down the site known colloquially as Gitmo, he hasn’t promised to end the practice of long-term incarceration without trial that along with interrogation techniques like waterboarding blighted the US’s track record for treating prisoners in the so-called global war on terrorism. The prison camp on Cuba’s southern tip may or may not be shuttered during Obama’s watch, but Gitmo, in the metaphorical sense, may never really close.

Nor is America’s long war on terrorism about to end. Obama’s speech revealed a man “haunted” by the deaths of innocents in drone strikes and wrestling with the balance between national security and the constitution’s integrity. But while he announced tighter standards for ordering drone strikes abroad (including an unspoken plan to partly shift the programme from the CIA to the theoretically more accountable Pentagon) and spoke of a day when the war might be declared over, Obama is retaining broad powers to detain or kill suspected terrorists, to conduct aggressive surveillance and to use military force in foreign nations. “To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties,” Obama said. “We must finish the work of defeating al-Qaeda and its associated forces.”

Hungry for Clarity

At last count, military medical personnel at Gitmo were force-feeding 35 of the more than 100 inmates who refuse to eat. Twice a day, those men are strapped into restraining chairs as tubes that run up their noses and down their throats fill their stomachs with a compound called Ensure, a supplement used by everyone from athletes to dieters. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called force-feeding a violation of international law, and the World Medical Association, of which the US is a member, declared in 1991 that the practice is “never ethically acceptable” unless a prisoner consents or is unable to make a rational choice. (The WMA calls it “ethical to allow a determined hunger striker to die.”)

Although Remes says he suspects the inmates at Gitmo are aware of the President’s speech and that some may even have watched it on television, he doubts that the hunger strikes will end anytime soon. “Obama has no credibility with the detainees,” he says. “I bet they didn’t even look up from their chessboards.” Then, recalling that after recent scuffles with their guards, inmates were barred from congregating, he adds, “No, they’re not playing chess. They’re not even allowed to be together.”

A lack of faith in Obama is one reason for the hunger strikes (although detainees have also alleged improper treatment by guards, including charges of mishandling Quran, that the military denies). Among the hunger strikers are 86 who have been declared safe for release–some of them by two different administrations–and who were crushed when Obama failed to deliver on his 2009 promise to close Gitmo.

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Understanding why Gitmo hasn’t closed requires understanding who exactly is there. The camp holds three types of inmates, each posing different challenges. The first group consists of those 86 detainees deemed safe to release to their home countries or third nations, so long as they can be monitored and accounted for to ensure they don’t take up arms against the US The second group consists of suspected terrorists whom the administration is prosecuting or plans to charge with specific crimes. The third group consists of prisoners too dangerous to simply release–for reasons that could include a suspected organizational role in al-Qaeda, explosives training or in some cases an openly stated desire to kill Americans–but also impossible to put on trial, maybe because of evidence rendered inadmissible by torture; because the troops who captured them didn’t collect evidence; or because they supported al-Qaeda before the US made that a crime for foreigners overseas.

The first group is the easiest to deal with. Obama has the freedom to send the 86 men home on his own. Fifty-six of them are from Yemen–all of whom could be there by now had al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, whose leaders included an ex–Gitmo detainee, not tried to bomb a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009, leading Obama to halt detainee transfers back to the country. Obama now says improvements in the Yemeni government’s ability to monitor repatriated detainees allows him to lift his self-imposed moratorium on returning detainees there. He can likewise dispatch the rest of the cleared inmates to other countries unilaterally.

Republicans warn that even some of those detainees deemed safe for release will inevitably join forces with Islamic radicals–as did Saeed al-Shihri months after his 2007 release from Gitmo, eventually rising to the No. 2 spot in al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch before being killed by a drone strike earlier this year. “I don’t trust the government” in Yemen, Republican Representative Peter King told ABC’s This Week on May 26. But they can’t prevent Obama from proceeding. How fast he’ll move is another question: Obama said each of the Yemenis must first undergo yet another review.

The second and third groups are considerably tougher cases. Obama would like to move the trials by military commissions now under way at Guantánamo to a location in the US and bring any new cases against prosecutable suspects on American soil, either in military or civilian courts. He also presumably intends to move to highly secure sites in the US the roughly 46 who can be neither released nor tried, until some solution can be found for them. But right now Obama can’t move any detainees into the US without Congress’s help. In 2009 he tried to resettle some low-risk prisoners in the US and also proposed trying alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Gitmo inmates in federal court. A furious backlash from conservatives and even many Democrats who feared the soft-on-terrorists label prompted Congress to block inmate transfers into the US for any reason.

And while Obama’s May 23 speech may have stirred the hearts of some liberal supporters, it doesn’t seem to have moved the Republicans whose support he’ll need to move detainees into the US, particularly in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. “I don’t get the sense that this pressure is having an impact” on House Republicans, says Representative Adam Smith, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Many Republicans argue that the risk of detainees’ committing future acts of terrorism outweighs the damage Guantánamo does to the US’s image. And they have little interest in Obama’s appetite for moving more terrorism cases into civilian courts.

Lately Obama has tried speaking the language Republicans best understand–spending–by pointing out that each inmate at Gitmo costs $800,000 per year to house, for a total of about $150 million per year in operations. But when it comes to closing Gitmo, Smith says, many of the Republicans whose support Obama would need to approve transfers to US prisons have boxed themselves in politically. House Speaker John Boehner, for instance, has called the prison a “world-class facility” and in 2010 said he wouldn’t vote to close it “if you put a gun to my head.”

The broader themes of Obama’s speech may not have helped the Guantánamo cause either. Far from agreeing with the President’s talk of a severely weakened al-Qaeda and his aspiration to wind down the war on terrorism, some Republicans accused him of complacency and retreat. Newt Gingrich called Obama’s vision “breathtakingly, stunningly naive.” Such talk is hardly the groundwork for a new spirit of cooperation.

Some Problems Have No Solution

Even assuming that the president can close Gitmo by resettling some detainees in other countries and bringing the rest to trials and prisons in the US, a major problem will remain: What to do with the 48 detainees who can’t be tried or released for fear that they will return to the “battlefield” of the war on terrorism? After all, holding prisoners without charges would seem to violate the constitution’s fundamental habeas corpus guarantee. Obama doesn’t claim to have a clear answer, and his speech punted the question. He said only that “once we commit to a process of closing [Guantánamo], I am confident that this legacy problem can be resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.”

For now, Obama deals with this legal equivalent of radioactive waste by treating those inmates as prisoners of war. In March 2009, Obama’s lawyers filed a legal brief justifying detention of Gitmo detainees under the laws of war–in this case the war on al-Qaeda, made official by Congress’s September 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which allowed for the invasion of Afghanistan and other counter-terrorism efforts. Ironically, “while it decries Guantánamo as contrary to American values, the Obama administration has convinced courts of its legal validity,” says Matthew Waxman, a former Bush detainee policy official now at Columbia Law School.

Rather than see Obama stretch that validity in new directions, one prominent human rights lawyer has actually argued for keeping Gitmo open. Closing it now “would do more harm than good,” human rights lawyer and Georgetown law professor Jennifer Daskal wrote in a January New York Times op-ed, because it would mean simply opening up a similar camp in the US, thereby “setting a precedent and creating a facility readily available to future Presidents wanting to rid themselves of a range of potentially dangerous actors.”

According to this vision, Gitmo would close when the war on terrorism is finally considered over. Lawyers for detainees might argue that should happen once the US’s lead combat role in Afghanistan ends in late 2014, for instance. Obama also says he’d like Congress to revisit the AUMF, perhaps to narrow its scope or even to declare the war over. “Usually if you’re holding prisoners of war, you release them at the end of hostilities,” says C. Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First.

But at a recent Senate hearing on the AUMF, a top Pentagon official testified that the war on al-Qaeda could last 10 to 20 more years. Some Republicans, including Senator John McCain, have suggested that the law should be broadened, not narrowed or repealed.

Rhetoric about the founders aside, it’s hard to imagine Obama’s releasing trained al-Qaeda members who have not renounced terrorism into the wild, as it were. “The administration’s view seems to be that so long as it’s only a small number of very dangerous al-Qaeda terrorists, it is legitimate to hold them without trial,” Waxman says. Obama would prefer not to hold them in the prison that stains America’s international reputation. But he may find the moral high ground he seeks is simply out of his reach.

via Why Gitmo will never close.

Obama Administration to Crack Down Further on Leakers


Still remembered for his promise to end the “secrecy” of the Bush era and usher in a new level of government transparency, President Obama has created a new initiative, called the “Insider Threat Program,” aimed at keeping even routine clandestine actions from coming public.

The Obama Administration has gone leaker-phobic, following both the Bradley Manning leaks and the more recent revelations about NSA surveillance, and is now imposing draconian new penalties on anyone leak-adjacent.

No longer contented to merely threaten ridiculous levels of punishment to the leakers themselves, the Insider Threat Program also calls on department managers to severely punish anyone who “suspects” a leak and doesn’t immediately turn the person in.

Snitching on co-workers is not only part of a government job, it’s the most important part by some officials’ views, as the administration tells its bureaucrats that any leak of any information to anyone is “aiding the enemies of the United States.”

President Obama’s determination to move against anybody and everybody for leaking information is even extending beyond the actual secret parts of government, and the administration is now exhorting the Social Security Administration and the Department of Education to keep their secrets closely guarded for “national security’s” sake.

via Insider Threat: Obama Administration to Crack Down Further on Leakers — News from Antiwar.com.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria: Cheer-leading Another Blood Bath in the Name of Peace


Lies, Perfidies and Tony Blair

“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terrorism.”President Barack Obama, April 15th 2013.

Having learned nothing from the catastrophes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, it seems President Obama, the equally clueless UK Prime Minister Cameron and his culturally challenged Foreign Secretary William Hague are cheer-leading another bloodbath in formerly peaceful, secular, outward looking Syria.

Having covertly provided arms and equipment to insurgents from numerous different countries for over two years, they have now moved to the overt stage, a move over which even arch hawks such as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and former Republican Senator Richard Luger, six term leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged caution.

Luger said such action would boost extremists, with Brzezinski dismissing Obama’s talk of “red lines” as thoughtless and risking: “a large-scale disaster for the United States.”

During Brzezinski’s time as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter the decision was made to finance the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in response to Soviet deployment there. He’s had a bit of time to reflect on blowback and perhaps the 2,243 wasted US lives in that “graveyard of empires” – so far.

It seems however, the Washington and Whitehall regimes remain increasingly disconnected from reality. In spite of the plethora of gruesome images circulating on the internet of grinning terrorists holding up severed heads, cannibalizing body organs and summarily executing, they are to provide further arms to insurgency’s Hannibal Lecters. This, also regardless of the fact that Riad al-Assad, founder of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is quoted as saying that suicide bombing is: “ an integral part of revolutionary action, of Free Syrian Army action.”

Meanwhile, less than a month after the murder of a soldier in London’s Woolwich by wanna be jihadists (with reported relationship with hard drugs) Britain’s increasingly rudderless ship of state allows entry to a controversial Saudi preacher, Muhamed Al Arefe, alleged to have made anti-Shia and anti-Semitic exhortations and who argues that a husband: “may use beatings to discipline his wife” as long as he beats her “lightly.”(i)

Informed friends from the Middle East charge bluntly that he recruits jihadists, as last week in visits Riyadh and Cairo. One added: “David Cameron may as well stand at the gate (of the Mosque) and hand out arms for the ‘good freedom fighters’ who will be heading to Syria after hearing Arefe’s sickening lies, sectarian incitement and calls for jihad against the ‘infidel regime.’ “

This was not a low key occasion. Arefe, spoke at the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, built on land donated by King George V1 to the Muslim Community of Britain. The Cultural Centre was officially opened by the King in 1944. The Mosque, completed in 1978, which can hold over five thousand worshippers in the main hall alone, was designed by renowned architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. Quite a platform for any recruiter.

However, Obama and Cameron hardly need to arm terrorists, they are seemingly doing fine, via the US-UK-NATO last mega screw up: Libya.

This week it was reported (ii, iii) that weapons are flooding in to Syria from a Libya awash with weapons, “with spy chiefs saying” that the country has become a supermarket “of the world’s illegal arms trade.”

“Up to 3,000 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) have gone missing since the conflict” with more than “one million tonnes of weapons belonging to Colonel Quaddaffi” looted after his terrible death at the hands of NATO’s “allies.”

Potentially that is enough SAMs to down 3,000 airliners.

The Daily Mail understands that, unsecured: “ … there are now more weapons in Libya than in the entire arsenal of the British Army” according to MI6 estimates.

One internet video showed a stockpile of SAMs, which can hit an aircraft flying at 11,000 feet, in the hands of the Syrian insurgents. Used from airport perimeters anywhere, the result could be tragedy.

However, Akhbar Alaan TV reports(iv) Benghazi has been supplying weapons to the Syrian terrorists for “over a year.” With pictures they: “show the shipments from Libya, via Turkey to the Syrian opposition.”

The TV station’s reporter states:

“Their own Libyan revolution was supported by NATO … But these former Libyan rebels say the world is abandoning the Syrian opposition. And because of that Benghazi decided to act …”

Further:

“All these weapons are donated by former rebel units in eastern Libya … According to the Libyan organizer they also have shipped around 120 SAM 7 surface to air-missiles to Syria.”

Rebel units were, of course aided by US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who arrived in a cargo ship loaded with arms (news, websites) and was murdered with colleagues in Benghazi on 11th September 2012.

According to the New York Times, Qatari C-17 cargo planes, capable of carrying a payload of over seventy tonnes, have picked up a weapons shipment at least three times this year, which were then delivered to the Turkish-Syrian border to be handed on to the “rebels.”

British-Libyan arms dealer Abdul Basit Haroun – who was a property developer in Manchester, UK for twenty years, until 2011 – has told Reuters that weapons are reaching Syria not alone by numerous flights, but on ships, concealed amongst humanitarian aid. Haroun has claimed that the authorities know about the shipment: “everybody knows.”

Further, Libyan Assembly Member Tawfiq Shehabi has said he supports the activities of people like Haroun, who was a brigade commander during the Libyan uprising: “After the end of the (uprising) he became involved in supporting the Syrian revolution … he does a good job of supporting the Syrian revolution.”

Claims are that permission for shipments is sought from and sanctioned by, Turkey. The UN has criticized Libya for proliferating weapons at an “alarming rate” and for “enriching the arsenals of a range of non-State actors, including terrorist groups.”(v)

Reuters interviewed Haroun and a reporter was taken to a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria: “ … stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.”

Arms are flown in to “neighbouring countries on chartered flights”, several to Jordan as well as Turkey: “weapons were then transferred over the border.” (vi)

In Libya, the versatile Mr Haroun: “helps the government with state security, according to interior ministry spokesman Majdi al-Ourfi.”

Quite an own goal, NATO.

But no lessons have been learned. On Saturday (22nd June) the ridiculously named, eleven nation “Friends of Syria”, meeting in Qatar, agreed to supply: “all the necessary material” to the insurgents. Britain, with the US, is of course cheer-leading.

This in spite of warnings from such as Charles Lister, analyst at HIS – Jane’s Terrorist and Insurgency Centre – of the danger that weapons “almost invariably end up in the hands of” terrorists and extremists, and possibly even back in Britain.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, said last week he was: “very much in the camp of those who would not wish to be involved and intervene in any shape or form”, with Major General Julian Thompson, who commanded British forces in the Falklands War in 1982, saying it was: “absolutely ridiculous” to contemplate another intervention …and getting involved with something else” whilst still mired in Afghanistan after nearly twelve years.

“Our information from Doha says that five countries have decided to start arming us immediately, and four other countries will give us logistical and technical support and, at a later stage, arm the Free Syrian Army,” a spokesman for the opposition fighters, Loay Al Mikdad, said in an interview with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV.

Incredibly, with not a glance towards legality, the Doha plotters: “repeated their call for the establishment of a transitional governing body to which full executive powers would be transferred … Bashar Assad has no role in the transitional governing body or thereafter.”

However, Syria is a founding Member of the UN, one of the fifty one countries who signed to the Charter on 26th June 1945. Member States of the United Nations are bound by the UN Charter.

Article 2 (4) states:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Article 2 (1) The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign      equality of all its Members.

Article 2 (2) All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful  means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

Further:

The UN’s 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States directs:

“No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.

“Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the state or against its political economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.”

Recalling the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State,

“Considering it essential that all States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,

“In accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression.

Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another State.

“Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when the acts referred to in the present paragraph involve a threat or use of force.”

End Note. Lest we Forget.

That Middle East “Peace Envoy” Tony Blair [left] who lied his way in to the destruction of Iraq, kissed his welcoming host Colonel Gaddafi then betrayed worthy of any Judas, had also entertained President Assad.

In 2002, when Bashar al Assad visited Britain, meeting the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and dined with Blair at Downing Street, it was considered bestowing an honor on the President.

“According to documents, on Nov. 14, 2002, a desk officer covering Syria and Lebanon at the Foreign and Commonwealth office wrote: “You should be aware that President Bashar of Syria will visit the U.K. as a guest of government … This will include an audience with the queen. I have been advised that we need to consider whether the queen should bestow an honor on him.”(ix)

Blair is, of course, cheer leading for Syria’s destruction:

“A spokesperson for Tony Blair defended the actions of the government under the former PM, stating: “Engagement with Syria and Assad in 2002 was absolutely right …  Mr. Blair has said many times since that the situation has changed and Assad now has to go.”

Notes

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