by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories
For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel’s 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.
Israel also refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I was myself expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza. Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel… Continue reading
by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009
Paulson’s Financial Bailout
It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.
The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.
According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2
Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading
By Paul Craig Roberts
January 08, 2009
The American print
and TV media has never been very good. These days it is horrible. If a person
intends to be informed, he must turn to foreign news broadcasts, to Internet
sites, to foreign newspapers available on the Internet, or to alternative newspapers
that are springing up in various cities. A person who sits in front of Murdoch’s
Fox “News” or CNN or who reads the New York Times is simply being
brainwashed with propaganda.
Before conservatives nod their heads in agreement, I’m not referring
to “the liberal media.” I mean the propaganda that issues from the
US government and the Israel Lobby.
It was neoconservative Bush regime propaganda fed to America through Judith
Miller and the New York Times and through Murdoch’s Fox “News”
that convinced Americans that they were in danger from a small secular Arab
country half way around the globe called Iraq. It was the American media that
convinced Americans that getting rid of dangerous “weapons of mass destruction,”
weapons that did not exist in Iraq, would be a cakewalk paid for by Iraqi oil
It is the same propagandistic American print and TV media that has rationalized
Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan based on seven years of
lies and deception.
It is the same media that today provides only Israeli propaganda as “coverage”
of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
It was the New York Times that spiked for one year the leaked information
from the National Security Agency that the Bush regime, in violation of US law,
was illegally spying on Americans without warrants.…
I’m posting Michael Heart‘s new video with a special dedication today, just from this mother in Kansas, for all the mothers (and others) in Gaza …
Why? Because yesterday “our” Senate unanimously affirmed, by cowardly “voice vote” (meaning there is no written record and we can’t know who represented humanity vs. who represented Israel), “Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”
Reuters reports, in “US Senate supports Israel’s Gaza incursion”: “The Senate resolution encourages President George W. Bush ‘to work actively to support a durable, enforceable and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza as soon as possible that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets or mortars against Israel,’ Reid said. (emphasis added) The article goes on to report the current death toll (without mentioning numbers of injured, or the overwhelming number of women and children) as 700 Palestinians : 11 Israelis (4 by friendly fire).
Therefore, this Special Dedication From Janice goes out to all you Senators (especially “AIPAC bill” S.Res.10 sponsors Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, and you 31 cosponsors); to H.Res.34 sponsor Nancy Pelosi (and your 11 cosponsors); to Bush & Cheney who have perpetuated this for eight long years and truly re-defined “war crime”; to Obama, who believes that blowing up children cowering in a UN school warrants no response beyond vague support for this crime against humanity; and perhaps especially to Condoleeza Rice, who has the gaul to shamefully “represent” US to the world as not wanting to stop the MASSACRE until she’s convinced it will ensure a “lasting peace” — even while thousands of children and other innocent citizens of Gaza starve, bleed, and die … This one’s for you.…Continue reading
Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes
by Nick Juliano
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.
Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its “all-out” war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.
Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an “independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza.” The Democratic lawmaker said Israel’s attacks are an example of “collective punishment,” which violates the Geneva Conventions.
“The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better,” Kucinich said in a news release Monday. “The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation.”
Kucinich compared the latest bombing campaign to Isreal’s earlier strikes at southern Lebanon targeted at Hezbollah. Then too, he said, civilians were killed, infrastructure was destroyed and lawlessness took hold… Continue reading
Sat Jan 17, 2009
By Louis Charbonneau
BEIRUT, Jan 17 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday he was relieved about an Israeli ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and urged the Jewish state to withdraw all of its troops as soon as possible.
“I am relieved that the Israeli government has decided to cease hostilities as of midnight GMT,” Ban told reporters. “This should be the first
step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza,” he said, adding that he wanted the withdrawal “as soon as possible”.
He said that Hamas militants also needed to do their part to bring an end to the violence by halting their rocket attacks against southern Israel.
“Hamas militants must stop firing rockets now,” he said.
Ban said that humanitarian access for the people of the Gaza Strip was the top priority and the United Nations was ready to act immediately.
“Any durable solution must include the reopening of the (Gaza border) crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms,” he said.
Ban flies to Damascus on Sunday to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before heading to the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh for a summit meeting on aid and reconstruction efforts for Gaza hosted by Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.
Israel accuses Syria and Iran of supporting and arming Hamas, an accusation they deny.
Ban said he and European leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela… Continue reading
Originally published at http://nafeez.blogspot.com by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed on January 26, 2009
The arrival of the Obama administration will not fundamentally alter the course of military expansion accelerated during the Bush era. The origins of these policies do not lie uniquely in neoconservative ideology. While the election of President Obama may offer new opportunities for progressive forces to delimit the damage, their space for movement will ultimately be constrained by deep-seated structural pressures that will attempt to exploit Obama to rehabilitate American imperial hegemony, rather than transform it.
Indeed, the radicalization of Anglo-American political ideology represented by the rise of neoconservative principles and the militarization processes of the ‘War on Terror’, constituted a strategic response to global systemic crises supported by the American business classes. The same classes, recognizing the extent to which the Bush era has discredited this response, have rallied around Obama. Therefore, as global crises intensify, this militarization response is likely to undergo further radicalization, rather than a meaningful change in course. The key differences will be in language and method, not substance.
Obama and National Security: “It’s the Oil, Stupid!”
This became increasingly clear as Barack Obama’s administration appointees became known — individuals whose political and ideological positions are largely commensurate with neoconservative ideals particularly on security matters, and whose social and intellectual connections link them to neo-conservative think-tanks and policy-makers.
A glance through Obama’s national security team also raises eyebrows, but we should focus on his selection of former Marine General Jim Jones as his… Continue reading
From Iraq to Afghanistan to Palestine, Occupation is a Crime
Jobs & Education – Not Wars & Occupation
Saturday, March 21, 2009 – Gather at 12 noon at 23rd St. & Constitution Ave. NW in Washington, D.C.!
Various coalitions, organizations, and networks are joining together in a March
21 National Coalition to bring people from all walks of life and from all cities
across the United States to take part in a March on the Pentagon on the sixth
anniversary of the Iraq war: Saturday, March 21.
More than 1,000 organizations and individuals have now endorsed the March 21,
2009, March on the Pentagon to say “Bring the Troops Home NOW!”
on the sixth anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq.
The thousands who march will demand “From Iraq to Afghanistan to Palestine,
Occupation is a Crime” and “We Need Jobs and Education, Not Wars
and Occupation.” They will insist on an end to the war threats and economic
sanctions against Iran. They will say no to the illegal U.S. program of detention
Members of the March 21 National Coalition and supporters of the March on the
– ANSWER Coalition (http://www.answercoalition.org/)
– Muslim American Society Freedom
– National Council of Arab Americans
– National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations (http://www.natassembly.org/)
– Veterans For Peace-National
– United States Labor Against the War (USLAW)
– Ramsey Clark
– Cindy Sheehan
– The World Can’t Wait
– Code Pink
– Middle East Children’s Alliance… Continue reading
Originally published at Information Clearinghouse By Paul Craig Roberts on February 04, 2009
According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.
If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harrassments when they fly.
The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.
The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.
Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover,… Continue reading
By Peter Phillips
The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world–albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantánamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated.
The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration.
The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush administration, amplified this trend of increased military spending. The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding America’s Defenses . The report called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax Americana , potential rivals–such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea–needed to be held in check. This military global dominance agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The result was a doubling of the US military budget to… Continue reading
Stop US Occupations & Torture for Empire!
No Wars on Iran, Pakistan, Gaza!
The world can’t wait!
Come OUT to the first national protest of the wars under President Obama
THURSDAY March 19 leave work & school to PROTEST the 6th anniversary
of the Iraq War.
SATURDAY March 21 at the Pentagon.
Barack Obama says he will:
* leave 80,000 troops, thousands of private contractors, and 17 permanent
bases in Iraq;
* send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan , leading to more killings of civilians;
* keep sending robot drones over Pakistan, killing more civilians;
* deploy nuclear carriers with enough firepower to annihilate any country in
* support the Israeli siege on Gaza;
* keep in place the “secret rendition” program which Bush used to
* keep the government spying on citizens and continue Bush’s “state
* increase the U.S. military by 92,000 troops, sending more to die for empire;
* refuse to investigate & prosecute the war and torture crimes of the Bush
The election of the first black president is effectively re-branding preemptive
and illegal wars of aggression to make us feel good about them, enlisting us
to “serve and sacrifice” for horrors we have no good reason to support.
The U.S. war on Afghanistan is an unjust war of aggression–the supreme
war crime, waged not to bring democracy and liberation to the Afghan
people, but to control Afghanistan with the goal of permanent domination of
the Middle East.… Continue reading
by Michael Hasty
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
One of the central elements of Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy to free the Indian
people from British colonialism was what he called “satyagraha,” a Sanskrit
word that is most often translated as “truth force.” What he meant by this was
that those who seek justice should embody the truth in their actions.
The strongest element in the campaign for 9/11 truth is the very fact that we
have truth on our side (and however “9/11 truth” became the consensus slogan
of the movement, it was brilliant marketing). Seven years of independent research
and investigation by thousands of concerned patriots, expert and amateur alike,
have turned up enough evidence to make the official story of what happened on
September 11, 2001, look highly implausible–and prosecutable.
Up to this point, most of the efforts of the 9/11 truth movement have been geared
to educating the general public about the facts that refute the official story–the
mysterious inaction of the US military; the inscrutable behavior of the chain
of command, from Bush on down; the weird “coincidences” in both airline and
World Trade Center security; the unexplained global stock trades on companies
affected by the attacks; the deliberate confusion of US intelligence; the official
attempts to hide the truth, from destroyed video and audio tapes, to manipulation
of data in government reports, to profligate use of the “state secrets” privilege;
and perhaps most important, the physical evidence, now in the hands of independent
scientists, of controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.…
Liberal Leaders Betray Antiwar Cause To Serve Dems and Obama — Again
by John Walsh
February 25th, 2009
In the Wall Street Journal of January 24, the loathsome McCarthyite neocon David Horowitz gazed approvingly on the inauguration of Barack Obama. To Horowitz it meant the removal of an obstacle to war. Thus he wrote:
Consider: When President Obama commits this nation to war against the Islamic terrorists, as he already has in Afghanistan, he will take millions of previously alienated and disaffected Americans with him, and they will support our troops in a way that most of his party has refused to support them until now. When another liberal, Bill Clinton went to war from the air, there was no anti-war movement in the streets or in his party’s ranks to oppose him. That is an encouraging fact for us . . .
Horowitz is now locked in fast embrace with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor in chief of The Nation and Leslie Cagan and her cohorts at United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Vanden Heuvel’s most recent piece in The Nation runs under a title in the form of a query, “Obama’s War?” Whose war does she think it is anyway? Even the mainstream media calls it Obama’s war — sans question mark. Her piece ran shortly after Obama ordered 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan and almost a month after both Afghan and Pakistani civilians were first bombed at Obama’s orders. She concludes her piece, after citing the deployment of additional troops, “Up to this point the Afghan war belonged to George W.…Continue reading
by Kenneth J. Theisen
28 March 2009
President Barack Obama continued with his latest escalation of the war in Afghanistan
by announcing his plans to send an additional 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan
to train Afghan government puppet forces. He also announced plans to send hundreds
of diplomats and civilian officials to the country, in what Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton called an “integrated military-civilian strategy”.
Like his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama raised the specter of “terrorism”
to justify his actions.
Obama stated that, “If the Afghanistan government falls to the Taliban
or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged, that country will again be a base for
terrorists.” Obama warned that the al-Qaida “terrorists” were
actively planning further attacks on the U.S. from havens in Pakistan. He stated,
“So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and
focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan,
and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” He went on
to claim, “That is the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that
could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the
same: we will defeat you.” Does this sound a little too much like Bush’s
excuse for the initial invasion in 2001? I was waiting to hear Obama say, “bring
This latest escalation builds on Obama’s previously announced plan to
send 17,000 troops to that war-torn country. President George… Continue reading
By Matt Corley
In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh if, as he continues to investigate the Bush administration, “more people” were “coming forward” to talk to him now that “the president and vice president are no longer in power.” Hersh replied that though “a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, ‘call me next, next February,’ not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney.
“Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward,” asked Gross. “I’ll make it worse,” answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney “put people back” in government to “stay behind” in order to “tell him what’s going on” and perhaps even “do sabotage”:
HERSH: I’ll make it worse. I think he’s put people left. He’s put people back. They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind… Continue reading
by Dave Lindorff
For some time now, many Americans have wondered how Congress, the elected body that the nation’s Founding Fathers saw as the bulwark of liberty, could have been so thoroughly unwilling to, or incapable of challenging the dictatorial power-grabs and the eight-year Constitution wrecking campaign of the Bush/Cheney administration.
There has been speculation on both the far left and the far right, and even among some in the apolitical, cynical middle of the political spectrum, that somehow the Bush/Cheney administration must have been blackmailing at least the key members of the Congressional leadership, most likely through the use of electronic monitoring by the National Security Agency (NSA).
I’ll admit that I considered the idea of blackmail a bit far out. But now suddenly there is at least some evidence that such seemingly wild speculation may not have been off the mark, with reports that the NSA was indeed monitoring Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and that the Bush Administration used the evidence it had obtained of her improper conversations with and promises to assist agents of the Israeli government and its lobby here in the US, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to blackmail her into supporting the NSA’s warrantless spying program–the very kind of spying that led to her being caught on tape plotting with an agent of a foreign power.
At the time of the taping of Harman’s incriminating phone conversations, the administration was trying desperately (and ultimately successfully) to get the New York Times to hold off on publishing a shocking investigative report by journalist James Risen about a massive campaign of warrantless tapping of Americans’ phone and internet communications.…Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
May 8, 2009
One of the most frustrating features of observing American foreign policy is to see the gap between the encapsulated thinking of the national security bureaucracy and the sensible unfettered observations of the experts outside. In the case of Afghanistan, outside commentators have called for terminating current specific American policies and tactics — many reminiscent of the US in Vietnam.
Observers decry the use of air strikes to decapitate the Taliban and al Qaeda, usually resulting in the death of other civilians. They counsel against is the insertion of more and more US and other foreign troops, in an effort to secure the safety and allegiance of the population. And they regret the on-going interference in the fragile Afghan political process, in order to secure outcomes desired in Washington.1
One root source for this gap between official and outside opinion will not be addressed soon — the conduct of crucial decision-making in secrecy, not by those who know the area, but by those skilled enough in bureaucratic politics to have earned the highest security clearances. However it may be more productive to criticize the mindset shared by the decision-makers, and to point out elements of the false consciousness which frames it, and which should be corrigible by common sense.
Why One Should Think of So-Called “Failed States” as “Ravaged States”
I have in mind the bureaucratically convenient concept of Afghanistan as a failed or failing state. This epithet has been… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
What’s the difference between murder and massacre?
The answer is Terry Halbardier, whose bravery and ingenuity as a 23-year-old Navy seaman spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the USS Liberty crew and the intended massacre of all 294.
The date was June 8, 1967; and for the families of the 34 murdered and for the Liberty’s survivors and their families, it is a “date which will live in infamy” — like the date of an earlier surprise attack on the U.S. Navy.
The infamy is two-fold: (1) the Liberty, a virtually defenseless intelligence collection platform prominently flying an American flag in international waters, came under deliberate attack by Israeli aircraft and three 60-ton Israeli torpedo boats off the coast of the Sinai on a cloudless June afternoon during the six-day Israeli-Arab war; and (2) President Lyndon Johnson called back carrier aircraft dispatched to defend the Liberty lest Israel be embarrassed — the start of an unconscionable cover-up, including top Navy brass, that persists to this day.
Given all they have been through, the Liberty survivors and other veterans — who joined Halbardier to celebrate his belated receipt of the Silver Star — can be forgiven for having doubted that this day would ever come.
In the award ceremony at the Visalia (California) office of Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman pinned the Silver Star next to the Purple Heart that Halbardier found in his home mailbox three years ago.
Nunes said, “The government… Continue reading