Monday, April 30, 2012

Washington and Israel Threaten Humanity


Washington and Israel Threaten Humanity

by Stephen Lendman

So does NATO. It's America's imperial tool. An alliance for war, not peace, enemies were invented post-Soviet Russia.

Communism then was the alleged threat. Today it's terrorism. Strategically intervening under US control, world peace and humanity are threatened. 

NATO wages America's wars. Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asian ones involve Israel. Both countries threaten world peace. 

Israel wants unchallenged regional power. Washington wants it globally. Together, they threaten humanity. Hell hath no fury like their alliance. 

Obama is America's latest warrior president. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. He accomplished the impossible. He governs to the right of George Bush. Yet he retains enough support so far for reelection.

In November, perhaps the economy will undo him. Perhaps he'll avoid it by heightening fear for more war. He's more belligerent than all his predecessors. 

Public apathy lets him get away with it. People worry more about pocket book issues. Manipulated fear diverts them to security. It works most every time.

Peter Bergin's an establishment figure. He directs national security studies for the New America Foundation. He's also a right-wing print and television contributor, as well as a member of the National Security Preparedness Group. It replaced the 9/11 Commission to perpetuate its whitewash. 

On April 28, his New York Times op-ed headlined "Warrior in Chief," saying:

After getting the Nobel Peace Peace prize months into his tenure, he "turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades."

He's worse than that, of course. He exceeds all his predecessors by far. No one's been more belligerent. No one waged more wars simultaneously and threatens more. No one endangers humanity like he does.

Candidate Obama promised peace. President Obama doubled down George Bush and then some. Discussing Afghanistan on October 27, 2007, he said:

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this (and the Iraq) war(s). You can take that to the bank."

Months earlier he said:

"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and (Afghan) President Musharraf won’t act, we will. I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America."

Perhaps no remembers either statement. Perhaps too few know America's only enemies are ones it invents. Terrorism is a catch-all term used to incite fear and justify conflict. When it wears thin, something else will replace it.

Bergin tried having it both ways. His title implies criticism. His content combines praise and muted disapproval. He avoided rule of law principles, truth and full disclosure. 

His article ignores Obama's threat to world peace, his Nobel award hypocrisy, and how he and Bush alienated more countries than any previous US leader.

Liberals helped elect him, said Bergin "in part because of his opposition to the Iraq (and Afghan) war(s)." They "probably don't celebrate (his) military accomplishments."

Bergin calls them "sizable," but couldn’t name any. He tried, of course, but failed. He "decimated Al Qaeda's leadership," he claimed. In fact, popular resistance across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia looks stronger than ever. The more deaths at America's hands, the more enemies it makes.

"He overthrew the Libyan dictator." In fact, Africa's most developed country was ravaged, not liberated. Libya's a charnel house, a raging cauldron. No central authority exists. Battles rage for control. Libyans are terrorized, traumatized, and impoverished. Some accomplishment!

"He ramped up drone attacks in Pakistan, waged effective covert wars in Yemen and Somalia, and authorized a threefold increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan."

Is Bergin pleased or critical? It's hard to say. He admitted that Obama "became the first president to authorize the assassination of a (US) citizen." He falsely called Anwar al-Awlaki a threat. He also claimed Obama killed Osama.

He ignored the staged event. Bin Ladin wasn't killed or targeted. Seriously ill, he died naturally in December 2001. On December 26, 2001, Fox News reported it, saying:

He "died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended (his) funeral."

Other media also reported his death. In October 2007, appearing on BBC with David Frost, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said bin Laden died years ago. In December that year, she was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Perhaps her admission played a part.

Obama didn't kill Osama. Dead men don't die twice.

Bergin wonders why Obama supporters ignore his "acting as judge and executioner" by ordering hundreds of drone strikes, killing thousands since 2009.

There's been a "dramatic cognitive disconnect between (his) record and the public perception of his leadership." Despite his belligerence, conservatives and others think he's a "peacenik."

Political posturing, of course, explains it. Supporter views are another matter. Clear facts are in plain sight. Many don't accept them. Obama's rhetoric belies his policies. 

During Bush's tenure, drone attacks struck Pakistan "every 43 days." In Obama's first two years alone, it was "every four days."

Perhaps it's now multiple times daily in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, other targeted countries, and more to come. Obama the peace candidate is "more Teddy Roosevelt than Jimmy Carter." 

In 1906, TR won a Nobel Peace Prize, but didn't wage war on humanity. Carter was the 2002 recipient. Obama elevated Nobel hypocrisy to new heights. Bergin noted how fast he opts for military intervention.

Knowledgeable supporters shouldn't be surprised. Politicians always say one thing and do another, especially on issues matter most like waging war.

In office, Bush expanded CIA funding, staff, and operations. Obama outdid him and then some for covert missions, drone wars, and other initiatives. Stopping short of calling him "trigger-happy," Bergin said he's "completely shaken the 'Vietnam syndrome...."

Perhaps he forgot GHW Bush saying on March 2, 1991, after the Gulf War:

"By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all."

He was right. From January then to now, America's been at war with Iraq, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere from North Africa to Central Asia. Obama's its latest exponent. Trigger-happy fits him well. 

Waging multiple wars, he can't wait to start another. In a second term, who knows what he'll do. 

Partnered with Israel should give supporters pause. Both nations are modern day Spartas. Militarism and war is their way of life, overtly and covertly. Both are also nuclear armed and dangerous.

Under its current leadership, Israel is especially threatening. On April 28, Haaretz headlined "Israel's former Shin Bet chief: I have no confidence in Netanyahu, Barak," saying:

Yuval Diskin harshly criticized both leaders. They're not worthy to lead Israel, he said, explaining:

"My major problem is that I have no faith in the current leadership, which must lead us in an event on the scale of war with Iran or a regional war."

"I don't believe in either the prime minister or the defense minister. I don't believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings."

Both are "messianics," he said. One's from "Akirov or the Assuta project." The other's from "Gaza Street or Caesarea." He referred to where they live. They ought to be cordoned off and kept there.

"Believe me, I have observed them from up close.... They are not people who I, on a personal level, trust to lead Israel to an event on that scale and carry it off. These are not people who I would want to have holding the wheel in such an event."

"They are misleading the public on the Iran issue. They tell the public that if Israel acts, Iran won't have a nuclear bomb. This is misleading. Actually, many experts say that an Israeli attack would accelerate the Iranian nuclear race."

In March, former Mossad head Meir Dagan said attacking Iran would be "devastating" for Israel. Doing so would ignite regional war. You know how things start, but not end. Attacking Iran will put Israel "in a very serious situation for quite a time."

Diskin added that over the past 10 or 15 years, Israel got "more racist....toward Arabs and foreigners, and we are also....a more belligerent society." 

He also worries about extremist Jews. He fears another political assassination like Yitzhak Rabin, and wonders what could come next.

Commenting at the time, Haaretz contributor Amos Harel headlined "Shin Bet chief's vote of no confidence is another blow to Netanyahu and Barak," saying:

His rebuke and Diskin's elevated "the confrontation over the Iranian question to another level....Dagan seems to be on a divine mission to stop the bombing."

Diskin feels the same way. So do other cooler heads, but they're outnumbered in high places.

Nonetheless, senior Israeli security officials "whisper" similar views. Shouting might work better.

Diskin's rebuke followed IDF chief Benny Gantz calling Iran's leadership "very rational." He doubted Tehran would "go the extra mile" to develop nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu, Barak, and others around them go to great lengths to cite nonexistent threats, Israel's determination to remove them, and efforts to enlist America's support. In an election year. Perhaps 2013, not now.

Political Washington wants regime change. Whether by war isn't known. Even America has cooler heads but not enough.

"Nothing has been determined in the Iranian story, and the spring is about to boil over into another summer of tension," said Harel. 

If Obama heads for Israel soon, it'll show Washington's going all out to avoid war this year. Wait 'till next year, he may say. Belligerent partners may delay another fight, but seldom decline them. 

For now, Syria is top priority. Obama and Netanyahu want Assad replaced with a puppet regime subservient to Washington and Israel. Western generated violence rages for it. Intervention may follow. 

Harel left that issue unaddressed or the legitimacy of waging wars against non-belligerent states. What's more important than that.

Haaretz contributor Gideon Levy believes "Nothing has changed in Israel since 1948," saying:

Business as usual continues. "In 1948, new immigrants were brought straight from the ships into abandoned Palestinian homes with pots of food still simmering in the kitchen, and no one asked too many questions." 

"In 2012, the Israeli government is trying to whitewash the theft of Palestinian lands, all the while scorning the law."

Earlier crimes repeat now. Those in power "us(e) the same corrupt means" as before. War crimes then become today's. Justifications always are fraudulent. At issue are land and power grabs.

Continuing them sends the world a message. "We will never stop this crushing, ultranationalist melody - then as now, in 1948 and in 2012."

Levy also came down hard on Zionist ideology headlining "After 115 years, it's time for Zionism to retire," saying:

It should have happened long ago. Something more legitimate is needed. In its 64th year as a state, "no one even knows what" role Zionism has or "how it is defined."

Consign it to the history books and be done with it. It's no longer relevant. It's done enough damage. Reinvigorating or reinventing a bad idea assures something worse as a result.

"In Israel 2012, a pursuer of justice and human rights is by definition not Zionist." Even discussing morality and rule of law principles "is blatantly 'not Zionist.' "

"Anyone who blindly supports all of Israel's misdeeds (is) Zionist. Critics are called anti-Semites, even if they are Jewish."

"Zionism is a negative epithet and....mark of shame." It's time has passed. It never should have been in the first place.

Imagine the bloodshed avoided. Imagine how many lives will be spared if peace, reconciliation, and justice replace Zionist instigated conflict. 

It's about dominance, not Jewishness. Everyone for right over wrong should want it sent to history's dustbin and rejected. 

It might even slow Washington's war machine. Stopping it takes heavier lifting. What better time to start than now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for May 3, 5 and 6, 2012


The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for May 3, 5, and 6, 2012

Thursday, May 3 at 10AM US Central time: Ann Wright

Former US Army colonel/State Department diplomat became an outspoken critic of America's imperial wars. As a result, she resigned in protest against Iraq's 2003 invasion.

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Saturday, May 5 at noon US Central time: Robert Abele

Abele is Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at Diablo Valley College, CA. He also authored four books, including "Democracy Gone" and "Anatomy of a Deception" about the Iraq invasion, occupation, and preparation for the next deception.

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Sunday, May 6 at noon US Central time: Mickey Huff

Mickey Huff is a California-based Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and Director of Project Censored (PC) and the Media Freedom Foundation. MFF supports First Amendment freedoms and investigative research, and works closely with PC and other media related organizations.

PC is the media democracy advocacy group that publishes vital news stories suppressed or censored in the mainstream.

Each year, it ranks the top 25 and publishes them in its yearbook, Censored: Media Democracy in Action. The latest Censored 2011: The Top Censored Stories of 2009 - 10 can be purchased at projectcensored.org/store.

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

What's Next for Libya?


What's Next for Libya?

NATO's "responsibility to protect" (R2P) was subterfuge to wage war. Months of terror bombing left Libya a charnel house.

Africa's most developed country was ravaged, not liberated. Protracted struggle continues. Expect it to persist for years.

When is war not war? It's when mass killing and destruction are called the right thing. It's also when terrorizing and traumatizing an entire population continues unaddressed.

Libya was developed and peaceful until NATO intervened. It arrived on cruise missiles, bombs, shells, other munitions, depleted and enriched uranium, other terror weapons, fifth column infiltrators, and media scoundrel complicity, as well as coverup and denial.

No nation or alliance may interfere in the internal affairs of another except in self-defense if attacked. NATO R2P authority was Trojan Horse deception. Crimes of war and against humanity followed. They continue out-of-control. 

NATO's still involved. Thousands of US forces guard key oil facilities, ports, and perhaps other strategic sites. Occasional air attacks occur. NATO warships occupy Libya's ports. US, Italian, French, and perhaps other forces are involved. January reports from Misrata said Apache helicopters slaughtered rebels trying to scale Brega oil platforms.

Insurgents battle each other and Green Resistance for control. Frequent clashes leave rivals and civilians dead or injured. Militias control local areas and neighborhoods. Thousands of Gaddafi loyalists and Black African guest workers were murdered or held captive and tortured. Dark-skinned Libyans and guest workers are especially threatened. 

On October 23, Obama duplicitously "congratulated the people of Libya on today's declaration of liberation. After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise."

He's a frontman for power. He's an inveterate liar and war criminal multiple times over. He added another imperial trophy to colonize, plunder and exploit. Keeping it's another matter. Libya's one of history's great crime. Green Resistance struggles to restore Jamahiriya rule. 

Obama matched the worst of Bush and exceeded him. Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians revile him. So do millions of others for good reason. Hopefully one day they'll have the last word.

Liberation never comes easily or quickly. For sure, it's worth protracted struggle to achieve, no matter the cost.

Gaddafi was no coward or quitter. Neither are Libyans and others throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

Their liberating struggle won't end until America's imperial scourge ends, and NATO's consigned to the dustbin of history. Humanity depends on it.

NATO's sole new millennium accomplishment consists of endless unwinnable wars. Coalition partners eventually tire and pull out.

America may end up isolated. It excels in making enemies and losing friends. 

The battle for Iraq continues. Afghanistan's war was lost years ago. Libya's also though political Washington, coalition partners, media scoundrels, and NATO won't admit it.

The alliance wages lawless imperial aggression against nonbelligerent countries. Yugoslavia was first, then Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. 

Daily terror bombings massacred tens of thousands of Libyans. Insurgent gangs continue committing shocking atrocities. Libya's revolutionary struggle won't end until Green Resistance purges them eliminates NATO's control.

Gaddafi's murder investigation was whitewashed. Killers don't judge themselves guilty. 

In mid-February, a UN News Centre release "welcomed....Libya's new electoral authorities." It urged "free elections" be held as soon as possible.

On February 12, members of Libya's so-called Higher National Electoral Commission (HNEC) were sworn in days after National Transitional Council (NTC) officials adopted electoral laws to choose National Congress members. A 200-member constituent assembly is planned.

The Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) quoted HNEC's Othman al-Kajiji saying last week in June "elections will be held on schedule as set by the constitutional declaration."

So-called elections install powerless puppets subservient to Washington, Britain, France, and other rogue NATO partners. Free Libya won't exist until loyalists regain it.

Last September, Security Council Resolution 2009 established a UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Its mandate belies its mission. 

Allegedly it's tasked to "restor(e) public security and the rule of law, promot(e) inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, and (help) the (NTC) embark on the drafting of a new constitution and on laying the foundation for new elections."

In fact, it's part of NATO's imperial occupation. UN Special Representative for Libya's Ian Martin heads it. He's Ban Ki-moon's Post-Conflict for Libya Special Advisor. He serves Washington and other NATO allies, not Libyans.

They face enormous challenges to overcome. They include imperial occupation, destabilization, divisiveness, and violence ravaging the country. Media scoundrels report nothing. Libyans fear what's next.

Insurgents battle for local control. Death squads eliminate rivals and other targeted victims. Tawergha residents were terrorized last year. Their nightmare continues.

Thousands were killed or exiled to refugee camps. Raids continue. Arrests, torture and deaths result. Human rights atrocities are horrific. Other areas are targeted. Libya's a raging cauldron. No central control exists. 

NATO intends the same fate for Syria and elsewhere. Installing Western puppets is planned. In Libya, they got more than they bargained for. The same holds for Afghanistan and Iraq. Nonetheless, conflicts and violence continue. With more planned, the entire region's threatened.

Libya was ravaged and destroyed. Tens of thousands were killed, many more injured and displaced. Violence, fear and poverty replaced Gaddafi's social state. No wonder most Libyans supported him. No wonder they revile NATO.

The alliance hailed a successful mission accomplished. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the war an "inspiring revolution." He added that Washington helped "creat(e) a unique alliance against tyranny and for freedom." 

Libyans know otherwise. Daily terror replaced peace and calm. None of it shows signs of ending. No one knows who's next to die. Everyone suffers. Kafkaesque reality plagues the country. Few doubt who's responsible.

In February 2011, the UN Human Rights Council established the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya. In March 2012, it reported crimes of war and against humanity committed by both sides.

It said insurgents "committed serious violations, including war crimes and breaches of international human rights law, the latter continuing at the time of the present report. The Commission found these violations to include unlawful killing, arbitrary arrest, torture, enforced disappearance, indiscriminate attacks, and pillage."

It didn't address horrific NATO war crimes. Instead it said participating nations "conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties." It added that further investigations are recommended to evaluate its effectiveness.

Thousands of bombing missions reigned death and destruction for months. Civilians were willfully targeted. Western and Qatari Special Forces aided insurgent violence. Coverup and denial whitewash NATO crimes. Washington orchestrated and directed them. Gaddafi's Libya no longer exists.

On January 21, Press TV cited the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat saying Washington sent 12,000 soldiers to Libya. They landed in Brega. They came to control key oil fields, facilities and ports.

A Final Comment

Wherever NATO intervenes, death, destruction, and human misery follow.  Libya's disintegrating in chaos and violence. Tribes and rebel gangs battle for dominance. NTC control's impossible. A new semi-autonomous Cyrenaica region was declared. It extends from Sirte to Egypt's border. It holds about two-thirds of Libya's oil.

Oil rich Fezzan region also seeks independence. Tripolitania remains. Its own oil fields lie close to Tripoli. Syrian insurgents are being trained there.

Last year, some observers predicted balkanization. In early March, factional Eastern leaders discussed recognizing Tripoli as Libya's political capital and Benghazi its financial one - sort of like a Washington/New York division.

Given ongoing violence, instability and lawlessness, perhaps June elections won't happen as planned. Establishing legitimate rule's impossible. Restoring peace and calm won't happen soon. It may take many years to accomplish.

Dozens of insurgent factions remain heavily armed. Operating independently, they won't integrate into a national army. Clashes continue across mostly Northern areas. Thousands of Gaddafi supporters languish in prisons. 

Green Resistance fighters struggle for freedom. So do major tribes against puppet governance. Libya's so violent, dysfunctional, and unstable, neighboring countries are threatened. 

Mali's late March military coup appears fallout from Libya. It may be replicated elsewhere in North Africa and perhaps beyond. Niger's also endangered. There's more involved than meets the eye, including controlling regional resources. Besides oil, Libya, Mali, and Niger have valuable uranium deposits. Washington seeks control.

America and the IMF are involved in Nigerian violence. Western oil giants largely control its oil. However, China made inroads with exploration and infrastructure deals. It wants more. That puts Beijing at odds with Washington and other Western interests.

Currency wars are also at issue. Nigeria's foreign reserves are 80% in dollars. The rest are in euros and Sterling. Russia, China, India, Iran, and other countries increasingly want less dollar dependence. Moving away enough threatens it as the dominant world reserve currency. Washington's determined to prevent it. Succeeding's another matter.

The more China becomes a major Nigeria player, the less dominant dollars in the country become. Destabilizing violence may be involved to prevent it. It's too early to know for sure but bears watching.

At issue is controlling North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Washington seeks global dominance, especially over resource rich areas. Independence and freedom depend on preventing it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Palestinian Rights Activism Endangered


Palestinian Rights Activism Endangered 

by Stephen Lendman

In America, Israel, Europe and elsewhere, supporting Palestinian rights publicly is dangerous. 

In September 2010, FBI agents raided homes of Chicago and Minneapolis human rights activists.

Two Chicagoans affected said 20 FBI agents ransacked their home. They and others had computers, cell phones, and other personal belongings taken.

They weren't terrorists. They committed no crimes. Most supported the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. It publishes a newsletter called Fight Back.

An FBI spokesman lied, saying raids targeted people "providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support" to terrorist groups. In fact, those named are legitimate, lawful and/or resistance organizations. They included Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and FARC-EP. 

In June 2010, the Supreme Court Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder ruling is relevant. It targeted First Amendment rights. The Justice Department likely used it as justification for the raids and others.

Individuals or groups opposing policies of America, NATO, Israeli, or other US allies can be targeted for expressing views publicly.

In its 6 - 3 decision, the Court criminalized "knowingly provid(ing) material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization." The State Department can designate any group a "foreign terrorist organization," whether or not it's true.

Designations are largely political, not terrorist related. Claims about threatening US security are used to heighten fear and justify hostile actions. Wars sometimes follow.

Washington, NATO allies, Israel, and rogue Arab League states conspire to wage them. Anti-war groups, human rights activists, and Palestinian supporters are vulnerable. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were targeted.

They call themselves "a student-run political and advocacy organization that was created for the purposes of stimulating a heightened awareness among the FAU community and South Florida, in general, for the plight of the Palestinian people living in Occupied Palestine."

Similar groups exist on dozens of US campuses. Among others, they include UC Berkeley, Yale, Penn State, Purdue, NYU, Harvard Law, Georgetown, Colombia, Brown, Brandeis, and University of Texas (Austin).

They advocate Palestinian self-determination, ending Israel's occupation, the right to resist to achieve it, respecting international law and human rights, the right of return, and other social and political justice issues.

FAU activists protested against Israel demolishing Palestinian homes. In response, they got death threats. Pro-Israeli groups threatened them.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Jewish Voices for Peace, CODEPINK, and 11 other human rights organizations issued a statement defending their free speech rights. In part, they said:

"We, the undersigned, condemn efforts, both on and off campus, to silence student speech in support of Palestinian rights, and affirm the First Amendment rights of students to engage in such speech." 

"It is not anti-Semitic to criticize the conduct of the State of Israel. It is not “hate speech” to challenge violations of international law and internationally recognized human rights standards."

They cited the Supreme Court's Terminiello v. Chicago decision. It ruled speech "may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger." 

"Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea."

Speech is constitutionally protected. Without it, all other rights are endangered. In Keyishian v. Board of Regents, the Supreme Court ruled that protecting free expression "is nowhere more vital" than on campuses. 

Academic freedom shares equal importance. Silencing anyone for unpopular or other political views can't be tolerated in free societies. Millions support Palestinian rights worldwide. 

FAU and other students are constitutionally protected to do it. So is everyone. Censorship is abhorrent everywhere. 

Defending human rights is vital. So is supporting justice for those denied it.

Targeting Australian Palestinian Rights Activists 

On May 1, Palestine solidarity goes on trial. Nineteen Melbourne, Australia activists were targeted for nonviolently protesting last July for Palestinian rights.

Outside a Max Brenner (MB) chocolateria store, police attacked them violently. The Israeli conglomerate Strauss Group owns MB. It supports militantly occupying Palestine.

Activists are charged with besetting (meaning to surround a building) and trespass. Some face additional charges, including "riotous manner," resisting and/or hindering arrest. 

Their protest was one of several the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid organized. It's part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

The case involves speech, public solidarity, and right to protest peacefully in a free society. Expressing Palestinian, anti-imperial, and social justice support publicly risks retaliation in many Western countries and elsewhere.

Police violence, arrests, and false accusations follow. Melbourne protesters were brutalized. One woman had her shoulder dislocated. Another said:

"I was dragged behind police lines. Once they grabbed me and started dragging me, I went limp and dropped to the ground." 

"As I was being carried through the corridors of the loading dock, I lost consciousness because one of the police had me in a choke hold. I am not sure how long I was out, probably a few minutes. I woke up on the loading dock floor and heard the police saying I was 'out.' "

Pro-Israeli supporters held counter-demonstrations. The fascist/Islamophic Australian Protection Party (APP) and Australian Defense League (ADL) held their own in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

One APP leader held a sign, saying: "I'm more interested in the purer form of fascism." It included other extremist comments as well.

Palestinian activists called it no accident that neo-Nazis and pro-Israeli zealots united against the Melbourne 19. They said success in Australian politics depends on unswerving loyalty to Israel and cracking down hard on opposition groups.

The case involves collusion among pro-Israeli groups, police, the shopping center management where MB's store is located, and the Victorian government.

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies head Vic Alhadeff discussed tactics used. He said they're "not limited to engagement with civil society and politicians, patronage of boycotted outlets, cooperation with police, shop owners and centre managers, and exposure of the motives behind the BDS movement."

Strategy he said should be "speak softly" but carry "a big stick." Police provide big ones but don't "speak softly."

During a July 27, 2011 bail hearing, Victoria police admitted that confrontation was decided before protesters demonstrated. It followed meetings with Zionist organizations, the local government, shopping center management, and Max Brenner.

Palestinian solidarity is criminalized. So is BDS activism. Anyone supporting right over wrong is vulnerable. Doing it publicly may bring fines and jail. It also subjects activists to police brutality. Whether in Melbourne, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, or Jerusalem, criticizing Israel is dangerous.

Militarized police lash out violently. In Australia, America Europe, and elsewhere, special units have been trained. Designations include Special Operations Groups (SOGs). Critical Incident Response teams are part of the Victorian Police Force Response Unit Command.

Tactics used include close monitoring and infiltrating groups, as well as kettling. It involves confining demonstrations to small areas.

A Final Comment

Following last July's confrontation, Stop the War Coalition Sydney (SWCS) headlined "Support the Melbourne Boycott-Israel 19 Defence Campaign!" saying:

Attacking Palestinian rights activists "highlights increasing attempts to criminalise BDS and pro-Palestine solidarity activism internationally."

Hundreds in America and Europe face criminal charges for supporting what's right. Their civil liberties are violated. Melbourne's Herald Sun said a new 42-member "Public Order Response Team" was established for involvement in "breaking up public protests."

Representing the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary denounced the attacks and arrests. He said they show that "the new Victorian government is prepared to criminalise legitimate dissent."

SWCS called on "all supporters of human rights, freedom of speech and civil liberties to stand in solidarity with" the Melbourne 19.

Over two dozens human rights groups and over 100 activists, scholars, journalists, other professionals, students, unionists, and at least one courageous politician signed the Melbourne 19 solidarity pledge and defense campaign support statement.

They urged those able to please donate to their defense fund as follows:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Commonwealth Bank 
BSB: 063-262 Account: 1052 9148. 
Please tag donations DF19

Defend Palestinian rights! Defend their right to resist! Defend the right to protest! Defend the Melbourne 19 for courageously doing it!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Drone Warfare in Yemen


Drone Warfare in Yemen

by Stephen Lendman

Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap compared to manned aircraft and ground troops. Teams of remote warriors work far from, and at times, closer to battlefields. 

Drone pilots operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors. Sensor staff work with them. They handle TV and infrared cameras, as well as other high-tech drone sensors. Faceless enemies nearby or half a world away are attacked. Virtual war kills like sport. 

At day's end, home-based operators head there for dinner, relaxation, family time, then a good night sleep before another day guiding weapons with joysticks and monitors like computer games.

Dozens of drone command centers operate worldwide. Dozens more are planned. Pentagon and CIA personnel run them. Some are bare bones. Climate-controlled trailers work fine. They operate effectively anywhere. They maintain constant radio contact with command centers.

Others are sophisticated command and control centers. Two operate at CIA's Langley, VA headquarters. Nevada's Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases near Las Vegas have others. Plans last year called for Nellis operations to be moved to Florida's Hurlburt Field Special Operations Command. 

Domestic bases also operate from command and control centers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, New York, and perhaps elsewhere. Eventually they could be anywhere.

Washington plans escalated surveillance and predator drone operations at dozens of global sites. Expanding them to hundreds is likely. The Pentagon and CIA are tightlipped. 

Currently, around one in three US warplanes are drones. One day perhaps they'll all be unmanned. Sanitized killing is cheap and efficient. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren't considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.

Last September, the Washington Post headlined, "US assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say."

Pentagon and CIA officials plan aggressive campaigns against "al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said."

Ethiopia is home to one installation. Al-Shabab fighters are targeted. Another is based in the Seychelles. Since September 2009, Air Force and Navy MQ-9 Reaper drones operated there. 

Called "hunter-killers," they're equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. Operational secrecy suppresses details of planned missions.

Besides elsewhere, drones are used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen. Among other locations, they operate from Djibouti.

The CIA  is building "a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen."

More on Yemen below.

On July 1, 2011, Aviation Week headlined "Drone War," saying:

"There is an unofficial but lethal drone war taking place over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya that has expanded the area of operation for U.S. forces beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, with no real acknowledgement from the government that anything extraordinary is happening." 

"The undeclared conflict on these three fronts might be the first Drone War, and warfare has never seen anything like it."

The article asked if unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) increase the threshold for war in more places because logistics are simpler and US lives aren't at stake.

Using them also provides intelligence. Aircraft can stay airborne 24 hours. Multiple crews operate them. Offsite calm away from battle zones aids concentration, decision-making, and overall efficiency.

The Air Force Academy's class of 2011 was its first with graduates planning to specialize in drone operations. Army enlisted personnel do it along with trained pilots  handling takeoffs and landings.

Unmanned platform killing is expanding. Targets include countries where technically America isn't at war. Victims and families know otherwise. 

Target Yemen

On June 14, 2011, the Los Angeles Times headlined, "CIA plans drone strike campaign in Yemen," saying:

Obama authorized escalated counterterrorism strikes against alleged Al Qaeda threats to America. A secret CIA regional base will target them. An unnamed US official was quoted, saying:

"There's no question that we're trying to look at a lot of different ways to make something happen in Yemen."

In March 2012, after returning from Yemen, Nation magazine contributor Jeremy Scahill headlined "Washington's War in Yemen Backfires," saying:

Washington is "doubling down on its use of air power and drones, which are swiftly becoming the primary focus of Washington’s counterterrorism operations."

"For years, the elite Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA had teams deployed inside Yemen that supported Yemeni forces and conducted unilateral operations, consisting mostly of cruise missile and drone attacks."

Lots of civilians are killed. At anti-regime rallies, "prominent conservative imams deliver stinging sermons denouncing the United States and Israel."

US policy enrages tribal leaders. Resistance grows stronger against it. Washington's belligerence "backfire(d) by killing civilians" and for violating Yemeni sovereignty. Angry people strike back. In a heavily armed country, America's alleged threat is stronger. 

Yemen's a gun culture. On average, people own three, including automatic weapons like AK-47s and heavier arms. Moreover, they're prone to direct action. Threaten them and they strike back. They're mostly ordinary Yemenis against imperial America's intervention. In self-defense, they react belligerently. 

Perhaps Obama officials want it that way in more combat theaters than Yemen to justify waging permanent wars. America needs enemies. Peace and calm defeats its imperial agenda. Killing civilians may work as planned.

On April 25, 2012, the Washington Post headlined "White House approves broader Yemen drone campaign," saying:

Al Qaeda suspects are targeted. Obama's authorization lets Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and CIA personnel "fire even when the identity of those who could be killed is not known, US officials said."

In June 2011, counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen told Congress that drone strikes kill militants 2% of the time. Others are noncombatant civilians. He explained that these operations "lose the population (and) the war." He also raised issues of legality.

UAVs were first used in Vietnam as reconnaissance platforms. In the 1980s, Harpy air defense suppression system radar killer drones were employed. In the Gulf War, unmanned combat air systems (UCAS) and X-45 air vehicles were used.

Others were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and against Serbia in 1999. America's new weapon of choice is now commonplace in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, elsewhere abroad, and domestically for law enforcement and surveillance. Escalated domestic and foreign use is planned.

Along with satellites and other technologies, Big Brother plans a global presence to spy and kill. International law isn't considered. Neither are constitutional and US statute laws. Rogue states do what they please. They answer to no one and don't say they're sorry.

CIA Director General David Petraeus urged easing the rules of engagement. Anything goes is policy. It always was, but now it's more official. Princeton University Yemen specialist Gregory Johnsen worries about "a dangerous drift." He said policymakers "don't appear to realize they are heading into rough waters without a map."

The greater the number of drone kills, he explained, the more recruits Al Qaeda gains. What does Washington plan in response, he asked? Is another war coming, he wonders?

On April 20, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman headlined his Washington Post op-ed "President Obama: Don't go there." 

Before Obama's authorization, he said permitting expanded UAV strikes "break(s) the legal barrier that Congress erected to prevent the White House from waging an endless war on terrorism."

Ackerman, of course, knows legal barriers haven't deterred presidents from waging lawless wars since Korea in 1950. WW II was the last legal one. 

Since 2009, Obama waged drone war on Yemen and other countries besides officially designated war theaters. He also authorized special forces death squads in dozens of countries worldwide.

Post-9/11, Congress gave Bush a blank check to wage war. It approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States."

It was used to wage war on Iraq. It's still in force today. Obama's 2010 National Security Strategy "reserve(s) the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests."

In other words, to wage preemptive or proxy war, including with nuclear weapons. Making the world safe for capital may destroy it. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) was reinvented in new form. Who knows what's next.

A constitutional lawyer, Obama knows right from wrong. Nonetheless, he's waging lawless permanent wars, plans more, and not just against Yemen.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Daring to Criticize Israel


Daring to Criticize Israel

by Stephen Lendman

Addressing this issue responsibly risks rebuke, ostracism, or job loss. For some, it's a career ender. Scoundrel media writers and broadcasters are vulnerable. So are university professors.

Joel Kovel lost his Bard College position for writing books like "Overcoming Zionism" and calling Israel "a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses."

DePaul University denied Norman Finkelstein tenure. It  then fired him for speaking out and writing books like "The Holocaust Industry."

Political activism and honesty about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict also cost tenured professor Denis Rancourt his University of Ottawa job.

UCLA Professor David Delgado Shorter's now targeted. His academic freedom's at stake. On April 4, department chair Professor Angelia Leung rebuked him. She said his web site was being reviewed for posting inappropriate material pertaining to the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. More on that below.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (CSAF) include 134 academics at 20 state universities. "The group formed as a response to various violations of academic freedom that were arising from both the post-9/11/2001 climate of civil rights violations and the increasing attacks on progressive educators by neo-conservatives."

Arab, Muslim or Middle East scholars are especially vulnerable. So is anyone criticizing Israel. CSAF's "goal of protecting California scholars" broadened in scope. Its members "recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere" threaten it "everywhere."

On April 18, CSAF wrote UCLA Academic Senate chair Professor Andrew Leuchter. It addressed Shorter's rebuke and the broader academic freedom issue.

It expressed concern that Leuchter "overstepp(ed his) authority (by) honoring of complaints by a clearly partisan political group over collegiality and protocol regarding treatment of tenured faculty at UCLA...."

The AMCHA Initiative made the complaint. AMCHA is Hebrew for "your people." The organization "strives to bring together Jewish people from all over California so that they might speak in one voice in order to express their concern for the safety and well-being of Jewish college and university students."

It also one-sidedly supports Israel and Zionist ideology. Its record includes harassing faculty members critical of Israeli policy. It airs views openly in the press. Targeting academic freedom shows how far it's willing to go. Its history includes accusing UC campuses of ignoring anti-Semitism and allowing anti-Israeli protests. On issues regarding the Jewish state, it tolerates no criticism.

Shorter felt its wrath. At issue was also judging him " 'in the court of public opinion' by releasing information to the press without his knowledge." 

In the 2012 winter quarter, he taught W33: Tribal Worldviews. He used a university provided web site for course material. It covered "indigenous uses of media around the globe to assert their claims of sovereignty."

His site contains source materials and URLs related to struggles throughout the world. UN documentation on Palestine is included. They're called indigenous people. In March, the course ended. So did access to the site. Only students could view it.

In response to Professor Leung's concern, Shorter emailed her his syllabus and a URL about groups targeting US professors for their Palestinian course materials.

On April 11, Leung gave him a choice. Either teach about a petition or be a signatory, not both. In response, Shorter said he'd consider the implications of Leung's demand. 

He requested deferring comment until next academic year. Clearly, Leung was academically and constitutionally out of line. Academic and speech freedoms are inviolable.

UCLA and other US higher education institutions have other rules. So do Canadian and perhaps European ones as well. On April 12, Leuchter emailed his complaint. He copied signatories endorsing it. They included “US Senators and University Administrators." He said:

"posting of such materials is not appropriate. Professor Shorter's chair assures me that he understands his serious error in judgment and has said he will not make this mistake again."

In response, AMCHA issued a press release. It claimed victory over an anti-Israeli professor. It quoted Leuchter verbatim. It made it appear that UCLA found "his actions were inappropriate."

On April 13, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and the Los Angeles Times contacted Shorter to comment about university disciplinary action. No one told him his private conversation was communicated broadly to outsiders.

On April 16, the LA Times headlined, "UCLA professor told not to link class material to anti-Israeli campaign," saying:

Academic freedom's at issue. So aren't First Amendment rights. None are more important. All are risked without this one.

"Leuchter said (Shorter) agreed not to repeat" linking his web site to one "call(ing) for a boycott of Israel." Shorter said "he made no such promise." He awaits a more detailed campus policy explanation regarding issues this important. He added that linking "to the Israeli boycott was just a number of suggested links for the class to explore in his" course.

He didn't provide them as required reading. In class, he also discussed other views. Since he changes courses annually, he didn't know if he'd use the same links. Constitutionally he can use any he wishes freely.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin heads AMCHA. She’s UC Santa Cruz Center for Jewish Studies lecturer. She said by email:

"Although I believe it was appropriate for Professor Shorter to be cautioned about his misuse of his class website, our primary purpose in raising the case of Professor Shorter was not to demand that action be taken against him, but rather to force UC administrators and faculty to grapple with the question of whether the UC academic freedom rules protect a professor who uses his classroom and university resources to engage in political activities, including the boycott of Israel."

Leuchter concurred, saying faculty may freely express views in classrooms or course material short of "advanc(ing) a political agenda." Apparently he includes facts critical of Israel. 

He said Shorter faces no disciplinary action. He described what he did as a judgment error. Perhaps repeating it will be cause for dismissal. It wouldn't be the first time on US or other Western campuses.

CSAF asked why Leuchter never met or spoke to Shorter while defamatory information about him was being circulated. What kind of investigation was conducted, it asked? Clearly, "your actions....constitute a violation of the normal protocols of due process at the University of California or most other universities."

CSAF wants definitive answers regarding UCLA policies and Academic Senate authority to investigate a faculty member without his knowledge, then requesting his chair rebuke and warn him. Doing so amounts to unwarranted "censure."

CSAF also wants Leuchter to explain how he justified distributing information about Shorter behind his back to a partisan organization like AMCHA, and why he challenged his academic freedom. 

Silencing anyone critical of Israel "makes a mockery of (UCLA's) faculty protocol...." CSAF deserves answers regarding these vital issues.

A Final Comment

Perhaps Leung, Leuchter, and other like-minded academics need brushing up on what life in occupied Palestine is like. It's not pretty, nor has it been for decades. Visiting to see things firsthand might help. 

Spending time in Gaza during Israeli air and ground assaults might prove enlightening. So would learning about the effects of siege, watching Israeli soldiers use Palestinian children for target practice, and fishermen criminally assaulted at sea.

Maybe watching homes bulldozed, farmland razed, and trees uprooted repressively would be hard to forget. Seeing soldiers attack peaceful protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and live fire would enlighten more. 

Conversations with Palestinians might be best of all. Firsthand accounts from wives would explain life without husbands. Parents could talk about lost children. Sisters and brothers could say what its like without lost siblings. Discussions about thousands of political prisoners would reveal much about a repressive state.

Life in deep poverty without jobs would be described. So would daily fear of Israeli incursions, attacks, arrests, detentions, torture, and other unspeakable abuses for praying to the wrong God. 

Enough time in occupied Palestine might soften views now held. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. So is seeing things firsthand to know what's really going on.

Israel is criticized for a reason. Persecution, racism, occupation, and apartheid are unjustifiable. So are crimes of war and against humanity. 

Compromising academic and speech freedoms puts all other rights at risk. Without them, classrooms are more indoctrination than education. Professors understanding that deserve praise, not rebukes or ostracism. 

Freedom in America and other Western societies hang by a thread. Protecting it in classrooms may be step one to having a chance to save it. 

Professors on the front lines of right over wrong are heros, not villains. Students lucky enough to have them know best of all. 

Imagine if all academics taught the right way. Imagine a better world at peace. Instead of a dream, it could be reality. Imagine how different things could be. 

If enough people cared enough and worked for it, it would be. It won't happen any other way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.