Jan 242014
 

ATBanner

I couldn’t think of a better excuse to start over for the new year.  We had a decent offer on the domain, “theintercept.com”, so this will be the opportunity to roll out another blog exploring the hypocrisy and origins of the war on terror.  Receive updates for the upcoming movie of the same name.  The new  domain will  be www.americanterrorist.com.  Join us or die!

Jun 122013
 

Risner

J.T. Waldron

For the past seven years, Pima County used every conceivable legal maneuver to evade a simple audit and forensic exam of the 2006 RTA ballots. It’s time to abandon formalities and refer to this two billion dollar bond election for what it is: a fraud perpetrated by the County against the people.

Like the scandals we are inundated with on a national level, the hard lessons learned involve judicial corruption, selective justice and complicit media. “Operation Fast and Furious”, NSA surveillance and the National Defense Authorization Act caused the nation to witness a compliant judiciary, a retaliatory justice department, and a collaborative press. Regardless of how offensive or outrageous these crimes become, the nation remains in a state of stagnation or paralysis unable to restore any semblance of law and order. In Pima County, Arizona, citizens remain in a stupor as they watch the continued destruction and construction of roads and infrastructure funded by a regressive half percent sales tax that was likely never approved by the electorate.

In the past seven years, we’ve watched Pima County’s Superior Courts rule in direct opposition to the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions, refuse to comply with the appellate court ruling and deny requests that Pima County follow existing election laws.

You might remember when Superior Court Judge Kyle Bryson ruled in defiance of the Appellate court, claiming there was no jurisdiction to provide prospective relief for rigged elections.

As a result, the Libertarian Party was forced to make the same appeal with the same arguments to the same appellate court.  Apparently, Pima County was not comfortable with that same argument being made to the same appellate court.  In a convoluted series of events, Pima County advocates succeeded in gaming the system and forcing a change in the venue.  By producing an amicus curiae brief through Republican party operatives, they managed to involve Sean Brearcliffe, a lawyer who was waiting to be selected by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as a Superior Court judge.  An amicus brief is a vehicle by which representatives of special interest groups are able to express opinions on matters before the Court.  It’s never required by the Court, but is a voluntary option.  Looking at the substance and timing of this brief, it’s clear that the intent of exercising this option was to force a change of venue for the upcoming appellate court decision in this case.

Sean Brearcliffe’s law firm, “Rusing, Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC”, recently acquired J. William Brammer, Jr. as a partner.  Brammer served as an appellate court judge in Division Two until his recent retirement.   Due to his law firm’s connection to Division Two’s appellate court, Brearcliffe’s involvement with this amicus brief created a conflict of interest and forced a move from Division Two  (where the appellate court judges ruled in favor of prospective relief) to Division One.  Brearcliffe received  his appointment and is now a Superior Court judge.

In Division One, the case will be met with a whole new set of judges.

This could be history’s most contrived conflict of interest and serves as a reminder that somebody is truly sweating a forensic exam of the RTA ballots.  If the state’s Attorney General was willing to do the dance, should we be surprised to find a new Superior Court judge directly involved with this disco?   Let’s face it.  Election integrity and Pima County’s Superior court judges just don’t mix.  Let’s assume Maricopa’s appellate court suddenly decides that  Arizona’s reputation as the “Methlab of Democracy” is unbecoming and they rule in favor of prospective relief in rigged elections just like Pima County’s appellate courts.  Do you think Pima County’s Superior Court judges will abide by that decision?   AUDIT AZ ‘s John Brakey would like to find out.

“Is this how judges are made? They have to prove their worth to the puppet masters?  If we lose this appeal, the argument that Pima County and now the Republican Party is making about the finality of an election is much more important than stopping cheating in the future, will be locked into law,” Brakey said. “No candidate of any party will be able to ever challenge an election,” which Brakey states is basically the case already, but now would be sanctioned by the courts.

The substance of the brief approved by those claiming to be in charge of the Republican party is almost diversionary in its bizarre statements.  They spend a great deal of time arguing that repeated cheating is less important than the “finality” of elections.  That is quite an endorsement of Pima County by the Republican party especially when Pima County’s bureaucrats are more closely aligned with elected officials dominated by Democrats.  Since Arizona is a party oversight state for elections, the ‘finality argument’ created by the Republican party inadvertently suggests that the Republican party would prefer to relinquish its power to oversee elections in favor of supporting the finality of the vote.  It’s little wonder that Karen Shutte, the Chairman of the Republican Election Integrity Committee, resigned shortly after the brief was filed.  It’s important to note  that a number of familiar Republicans known for transcending partisan politics on behalf of election integrity were not involved in this amicus brief.

The state’s organizing body claiming to serve justice in Arizona treated Pima County much the same way Eric Holder coddled megabank HSBC.  After admitting that he was aware that Pima County managed to access evidence in violation of a court order, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard refused to perform a forensic exam to make sure Pima County didn’t access the ballots during the years leading up to his investigation.  In fact, Goddard’s possession of the ballots (without allowing party oversight of the chain of custody), involved merely counting the ballots to determine if the figure was close to the tabulated 2006 election result.  A rudimentary audit characteristic of a white collar investigation comparing one set of numbers to another was certainly possible but refused by Arizona’s Department of Justice.

Poll tapes stored with the ballots could have served this auditing function.  They were also handy for detecting electronic fraud involving the memory cards from which these poll tapes are printed.  Goddard refused to examine the poll tapes despite requests by the Democratic party and a number of election integrity advocates.  One year later, the Democratic party was finally able to find out why.  Upon gaining access, they discovered that 44% of the poll-tapes were missing or didn’t match the final database and they happen to be closely matching the precincts suspected of foul play in the electronic data records.

What qualifies as more than just circumstantial evidence?  Let’s consider DNA samples in a murder case.  Whenever a DNA match is presented to the courts, prosecutors inform the jury about the probability of such a match occurring.

Why does it seem like only a pipe dream that someone may testify about the probability for the same precincts experiencing the same associated memory card errors correlating to the same missing poll tapes?  Statements claiming a lack of evidence for a crime are false claims by those who may be considered accessories after the fact.

The Republican party’s amicus brief states “there is no competent evidence that there was anything illegal or inappropriate done with regard to any of the 2006 elections in issue.”  One test of whether a judge is compromised or not is to see if he recognizes this statement as perjury.  Legal violations surrounding the RTA election have already been established in the courts.  Printing summary reports during elections is against the law.  The printing of such reports was indicated in electronic data files admitted as evidence in a previous court case.

Electronic data files containing details of this crime were first recovered in the exchange after the Democratic Party won the records lawsuit.  More detailed records remained in Pima County’s court vault until ten months later, when Pima County contractor John Moffatt somehow managed to obtain access to the remaining electronic data in violation of a court order.   Ironically, this violation was another unlawful act surrounding the 2006 RTA election.  In reality, this case is unique with the amount of evidence indicating that the 2006 RTA election was rigged.   There is a simplified RTA Fraud Flyer covering the basics and a more detailed “Statement of Facts” indicating what the Libertarian party intends to present if they receive a favorable ruling by one of the new judges in the upcoming appellate court decision.

Local media reaction to this crime has proven to be almost as scandalous as the crime itself.   We have provided past coverage showing how Pima County’s PR department uses taxpayer’s money to soak up employment slack as local media outlets shed their workforce in a failing local economy.  This results in reporters letting fear of retaliation and diminishing job prospects undermine critical coverage of the local RTA election.

The extent of public misdirection over the RTA election is best illustrated by the local weekly that actually claims to be independent and intent on informing the public with alternative news.  The Tucson Weekly’s editorial director at the time, Jim Boegle, published columns making dubious statements about a lack of evidence and chastising any public figure who suggested that the RTA election was rigged.

Their star political reporter, Jim Nintzel, actively sold the RTA plan to the public both before and after the plan had passed.  Nintzel’s primary strategy was to dismiss all evidence of fraud by drawing the public’s attention to a set of opinion polls.  Prior to our conducting a videotaped interview of pro-RTA advocate Steve Farley, Nintzel would pass along a copy of these polls hoping they would influence our discourse.  The polls were commissioned by an advertising agency called “Zimmerman and Associates”, a firm hired to promote approval of the RTA plan.

Zimmerman and Associate’s work included television commercials showing Steve Farley attempting to cross a busy intersection, an ambulance driver indicating how his precious cargo would continue to suffer if the RTA didn’t pass and a cluster of City and County employees pretending to voluntarily and spontaneously scream “Yes” in favor of the plan.   Bill Risner, the attorney representing the Democratic party during the RTA records lawsuit, spoke with a colleague who shared office space on the same floor of the Pioneer Hotel.  This colleague was involved with bundling the money from contributors for the RTA plan and passing the money onto the vendors.  He was complaining to Risner  about the  pro-RTA group’s last minute scramble to obtain more funds due to claims that polls are indicating that the RTA election is too close to call.

The circumstances leading up to the election were truthfully related by the actual money handler for the RTA, but no hard copy of the polls prompting this last minute scramble ever surfaced.  As a result,  Nintzel adopted a strategy to discredit election integrity advocates by using a strawman technique which attempts to dismiss the more valid evidence by placing emphasis on this perceptively weaker link.

Zimmerman and Associates were the only organization that paid for opinion polling for the RTA election.  Was the public privy to all the polling information provided to Zimmerman and Associates?  Opinion polling has only peripheral relevance to the rest of the evidence indicating election fraud, but for those choosing to ignore all the other evidence to place so much emphasis on Zimmerman and Associate’s opinion polls, it’s only fair to present this account by Carolyn Campbell, the environmental activist working on the pro-RTA campaign:

Would we have realized how overtly biased Nintzel’s reporting was without the ill-conceived decision to place the reference to polling among the eighteen various points surrounding the RTA election?   Probably not.  Months later,  watchful eyes did discover that Jim Nintzel’s brother Doug Nintzel was the chief spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), a stakeholder in the RTA election.  Some of the weakest moments for the Tucson Weekly can be found in the bottom of a 2008 Time Initiative article where the comments thread sheds light on this potential conflict of interest.

Would election integrity activists have the opportunity to see just how far Pima County was willing to go to avoid transparency if they allowed Attorney General Terry Goddard’s recount to dissuade them?   Probably not.  Unfortunately for election integrity advocates, the opportunity to conduct a real investigation of the RTA ballots was a secondary goal.  The most important accomplishment behind this pursuit was to prevent cheating in future elections.  This case had implications for both Pima County and the rest of the country.

It appears for now that citizens will not be able to vote in the United States with confidence in an accurate outcome.  Pima County advocates gaming the system to change the venue of the appellate court decision from Pima County to Maricopa County know integrity will likely be abandoned.  There is some satisfaction, however, in watching Pima County jump through all these hoops just to avoid a simple investigation.  No doubt the cost of cheating was certainly raised in this instance.

Obviously, Pima County’s efforts to prevent this litigation from proceeding would not be needed if the 2006 RTA election was not rigged.  If the RTA was not rigged, Pima County only needed to make the effortless gesture of allowing a simple audit and forensic exam of the RTA ballots.  Nothing undermines the legitimacy of elections more than way Pima County reacts to scrutiny.

Continue reading »

Jun 092013
 

Source for the Guardian’s NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next

The Guardian
Ewen MacAskill

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Q: But isn’t there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?

A: “We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do.”

Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?

A: “Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good.”

Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?

A: “We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence.”

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: “Nothing good.”

Q: Why Hong Kong?

A: “I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech.”

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: “That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.”

Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA
Q: What about the Obama administration’s protests about hacking by China?

A: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: “You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

Q: Does your family know you are planning this?

A: “No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with …

I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”

Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?

A: “You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.

“A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama’s promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor.”

Q: What is your reaction to Obama denouncing the leaks on Friday while welcoming a debate on the balance between security and openness?

A: “My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it.”

Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?

A: “I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive.”

Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital’s Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be “disappeared”. How do you feel about that?

A: “Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.”

Q: Do you have a plan in place?

A: “The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.

“They could put out an Interpol note. But I don’t think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature.”

Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?

A: “I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.”

Q: How to you feel now, almost a week after the first leak?

A: “I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want.” Continue reading »

Jun 092013
 

PRWatch
Brendan Fischer

“Citizen Koch,” a documentary about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising, was shunned by PBS for fear of offending billionaire industrialist David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, according to Jane Mayer of the New YorkerThe dispute highlights the increasing role of private money in “public” television and raises even further concerns about the Kochs potentially purchasing eight major daily newspapers.

Citizen KochThe film from Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin documents how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision helped pave the way for secret political spending by players like the Kochs, who contributed directly and indirectly to the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2010 and came to his aid again when the battle broke out over his effort to limit collective bargaining.

Originally slated to appear on PBS stations nationwide as part of the “Independent Lens” series, “Citizen Koch” had its funding pulled after David Koch was offended by another PBS documentary critical of the billionaire industrialists.

“People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS,” Deal told the Center for Media and Democracy. “When public dollars dry up, private dollars come in to make up for the shortfall.”

And that private funding can conflict with PBS’ “public” mission and its editorial integrity. The PBS distributor “backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke,” Deal and Lessin said in a statement. “David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both [New York PBS member station] WNET and [Boston member station] WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”

“Park Avenue” Documentary Raised Koch Hackles

In November of last year, the New York PBS affiliate WNET aired a documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, “Park Avenue,” that explored growing income inequality by contrasting the lives of residents in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan with individuals living on the other end of Park Avenue, in the Bronx. The film focuses on one of the apartment’s wealthiest residents, David Koch, and does not paint a particularly positive image of the billionaire industrialist and his brother, Charles.

Koch is also a board trustee and major donor to WNET. And WNET’s president called him before the documentary aired to alert Koch to the critical content — and took the nearly unprecedented step of airing a disclaimer from Koch following the film calling it “disappointing and divisive.” WNET also replaced the original introduction to the film, which had been narrated by actor Stanley Tucci, with one calling the film “controversial” and “provocative.”

“They tried to undercut the credibility of the film, and I had no opportunity to defend it,” the film’s director Gibney told Mayer. “Why is WNET offering Mr. Koch special favors?”

Independent Television Service (ITVS), an arm of PBS that funds and distributes independent films, had funded “Park Avenue,” and aired it as part of ITVS’ popular “Independent Lens” series that runs on dozens of PBS member stations. ITVS also funded “Citizen Koch” and it was also slated to be aired on the Independent Lens series.

But “Citizen Koch” got caught in the blowback.

Fearing Koch Backlash, Funding Pulled on “Citizen Koch”

ITVS was excited about the “Citizen Koch” documentary before “Park Avenue” aired. In April 2012, the company informed Deal and Lessin their film would receive $150,000, and that “Everyone here at ITVS looks forward to working with you on your very exciting and promising program.”

But once “Park Avenue” aired, WNET blamed ITVS for impacting its relationship with David Koch and not providing advance notice of the film’s contents. Mayer writes:

“[WNET President Neal] Shapiro acknowledged that, in his conversations with ITVS officials about ‘Park Avenue,’ he was so livid that he threatened not to carry its films in the future. The New York metropolitan area is the largest audience for public television, so the threat posed a potentially mortal blow to ITVS.”

ITVS got the message, and quickly changed its tune on “Citizen Koch.”

Lessin and Deal began receiving pressure from ITVS executives to change the title and de-emphasize the Kochs’ political influence. One executive told the filmmakers the title was “extremely problematic” and that “we live in a world where we have to be aware that people with power have power.”

On a conference call in January, ITVS executives acknowledged the push-back from WNET over the “Park Avenue” film, and again urged the filmmakers to change the storyline. Sources told Mayer that what their message was “Get rid of the Koch story line … Because of the whole thing with the Koch brothers, ITVS knew WNET would never air it.”

“It is always a struggle for documentaries to get out there,” Deal told CMD. “That’s why PBS and ITVS are so important: they support independent filmmakers to say new things on the public airwaves.” But because of funding pressures, “we won’t have access to that audience now,” he said. “We’re disappointed.”

PBS Reaction to “Citizen Koch” Proved the Film’s Point: Money Talks

“Citizen Koch,” which premiered at Sundance in January and competed for Best Documentary, followed the activism and struggles of former Republicans who felt betrayed by Walker’s union-busting move (which he never mentioned on the campaign trail). The film documents the role of Koch-funded entities like Americans for Prosperity, which spent $10 million aiding Walker in his recall election. The film’s final scene shows an Americans for Prosperity official making the incredible claim the group is “just like the Red Cross, just like any other nonprofit.”

In April of this year, one day after the film had its Dairy State premiere at the Wisconsin Film Festival, ITVS informed Lessin and Deal it had “decided not to move forward with the project.”

In a statement, the filmmakers said this is an ironic turn: “It’s the very thing our film is about—public servants bowing to pressures, direct or indirect, from high-dollar donors.”

ITVS wrote in a prepared statement: “ITVS commenced negotiations to fund the film ‘Citizen Corp’ based on a written proposal. Early cuts of the film did not reflect the proposal, however, and ITVS ceased negotiations.” The filmmakers disagreed. “The film we made is identical in premise and execution to the written and video proposals that ITVS green-lit last spring,” they said in a statement.

“I don’t believe there was a concerted conspiracy to keep ‘Citizen Koch’ off of public television, with David Koch as a ringleader,” Deal told CMD. “Instead, Koch’s presence and role in that world created an environment that was hostile to our message. And that was enough.”

Just before Mayer’s New Yorker article was published, on May 16, David Koch resigned from WNET’s board. The resignation was the result, a source told Mayer, “of his unwillingness to back a media organization that had so unsparingly covered its sponsor.”

As has been widely reported, the Kochs are now considering a purchase of eight major daily newspapers currently owned by the Tribune Companies. And that has Deal worried.

“For anybody who says the owner or funder of an outlet doesn’t have an impact on what gets published, I hope they’ll think again.”

This article has been updated. Continue reading »

Jun 042013
 

Russia Today

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Mokrushin)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Mokrushin)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that “political games” prevented Russia from investigating the data on the use of toxic substances in Aleppo: the UN Secretariat couldn’t respond promptly to Moscow’s demand to look into the matter.

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which killed 26 people, including government forces.

A boy, affected in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, is treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013. (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

A boy, affected in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, is treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013. (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

Several countries, including Israel, the UK, France and the US – all vocal critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad – all claimed they had evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

Damascus denied that a chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian army, blaming the rebels and Turkey for the incident: “The rocket came from a placed controlled by the terrorist and which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey,” Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi alleged in an interview with Interfax news agency.

Lavrov spoke following the reports that Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of alleged Syrian militants, who were reportedly planning a terrorist attack on the southern Turkish city of Adana.

Russia expressed concern over the incident, urging for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Almost a month ago, the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said that Damascus was ready to have the UN investigation team look into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria.

“We were ready and we are always ready, right now, to receive the delegation that was set up by [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon to investigate what happened in Khan al-Assal,” Muqdad said, referring to the March 19 incident near Aleppo.

Syrian rebels are accused of using a rocket with a chemical warhead, killing 25 people and injuring 86, according to SANA news agency.

Meanwhile, the US and Germany spoke to Russia on the perils of sending Assad any sort of support, arguing it would prolong the war and jeopardize efforts to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, with his German counterpart Guide Westervelle, urged Russia not to supply Assad with its sophisticated S-300 air defense missile system – among other reasons, arguing that it would threaten Israel’s security. Westervelle called the decision “totally wrong”.

Kerry has been actively promoting the upcoming Geneva conference on Syria, having met with Lavrov earlier – although planning has been muddled by the opposition threatening to boycott the talks. Despite this, Western powers have repeatedly chosen to overlook the opposition’s actions as an obstacle.

Still, both Russia and the US remain committed to the talks, with Kerry insisting “If everybody is serious, and we are, and the Russians have said they are, the best chance to save Syria… is through a peaceful resolution that comes about in an organized way.”

Westervelle also pleaded with both sides “not to spoil the conference.”

The Syrian civil war has been raging for more than two years now, with more than 80,000 people killed, according to UN estimates.

In his latest statement on the matter, Lavrov noted the Russian government’s concern over the issue due to the chance of provocations around the situation.

Continue reading »

Jun 032013
 

The Blaze
Jason Howerton

A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is.

It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.

The explosive allegations are being made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator.” He was extradited to the Chicago last year to face federal drug charges.

Sinaloa Cartel Operative Jesus Vincente Zambada Niebla Makes Explosive Allegation About Operation Fast and Furious

Zambada-Niebla claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 — during both Fast and Furious and Bush-era gunrunning operations — as long as the intel kept coming.

This pending court case against Zambada-Niebla is being closely monitored by some members of Congress, who expect potential legal ramifications if any of his claims are substantiated. The trial was delayed but is now scheduled to begin on Oct. 9.

Zambada-Niebla is reportedly a close associate of Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and the son of Ismael “Mayo” Zambada-Garcia, both of which remain fugitives, likely because of the deal made with the DEA, federal court documents allege.

Based on the alleged agreement  ”the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of defendant’s father, Ismael Zambada-Niebla and ‘Chapo’ Guzman, were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States and were also protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels which helped Mexican and United States authorities capture or kill thousands of rival cartel members,” states a motion for discovery filed in U.S. District Court by Zambada-Niebla’s attorney in July 2011.

A source in Congress, who spoke to TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity, said that some top congressional investigators have been keeping “one eye on the case.”  Another two members of Congress, both lead Fast and Furious Congressional investigators, told TheBlaze they had never even heard of the case.

One of the Congressmen, who also spoke to TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity because criminal proceedings are still ongoing, called the allegations “disturbing.” He said Congress will likely get involved once Zambada-Niebla’s trial has concluded if any compelling information surfaces.

“Congress won’t get involved in really any criminal case until the trial is over and the smoke has cleared,” he added. “If the allegations prove to hold any truth, there will be some serious legal ramifications.”

Earlier this month, two men in Texas were sentenced to 70 and 80 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempting to export 147 assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition to Mexico’s Los Zetas cartel. Compare that to the roughly 2,000 firearms reportedly “walked” in Fast and Furious, which were used in the murders of hundreds of Mexican citizens and U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry, and some U.S. officials could potentially face jail time if they knowingly armed the Sinaloa Cartel and allowed guns to cross into Mexico.

If proven in court, such an agreement between U.S. law enforcement agencies and a Mexican cartel could potentially mar both the Bush and Obama administrations. The federal government is denying all of Zambada-Niebla’s allegations and contend that no official immunity deal was agreed upon.

To be sure, Zambada-Niebla is a member of one of the most ruthless drug gangs in all of Mexico, so there is a chance that he is saying whatever it takes to reduce his sentence, which will likely be hefty. However, Congress and the media have a duty to prove without a reasonable doubt that there is no truth in his allegations. So far, that has not been achieved.

Zambada-Niebla was reportedly responsible for coordinating all of the Sinaloa Cartel’s multi-ton drug shipments from Central and South American countries, through Mexico, and into the United States. To accomplish this, he used every tool at his disposal: Boeing 747 cargo planes, narco-submarines, container ships, speed boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers and automobiles. But Guzman and Zambada-Niebla’s overwhelming success within the Sinaloa Cartel was largely due to the arrests and dismantling of many of their competitors and their booming businesses in the U.S. from 2004 to 2009 — around the same time ATF’s gun-walking operations were in full swing. Fast and Furious reportedly began in 2009 and continued into early 2011.

According Zambada-Niebla, that was a product of the collusion between the U.S. government and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Sinaloa Cartel Operative Jesus Vincente Zambada Niebla Makes Explosive Allegation About Operation Fast and Furious

The claims seem to fall in line with statements made last month by Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico who said U.S. agencies ”don’t fight drug traffickers,” instead “they try to manage the drug trade.”

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Jun 032013
 

Global Research
Cem Ertür

  • Turkey’s False-flag Operation against Syria Backfires: The Reyhanli bombing attacks in a larger contex
The Syria-Iran-Turkey Triangle: A New War Scenario in the Middle East

“Syria is worrying that it will be attacked by Turkey from above and by Israel from below. It is worrying that it will be squeezed between us like a sandwich.”   [Israeli President Ezer Weizman (1993-2000), interview with Guneri Civaoglu,Caesarea, Israel, 11 June 1996]  [1]

“Although Turkey has never taken part in a war alongside us, it is a positive factor for Israel that Syria has an enemy on its northern frontiers. Syria will never attack Turkey, but it cannot exclude the reverse.”  [Former Israeli Defence Minister Uri Or (1995-1996), interview with Alain Gresh, Tel Aviv, October 1997]  [2]

INTRODUCTION

When the U.S. and its allies launched the covert war on Syria in 2011, they were expecting that either Syria’s political establishment would collapse within a short duration or they would find a way to ignite an open war. As Syria’s leaders and people proved to be exceptionally resilient, increasingly more brutal means have been deployed to tear the country apart. Being at the forefront of this covert war in every respect, Turkey has been thoroughly complicit in monumental war crimes committed against the neighbouring people of Syria.

Turkey’s phony peace with its neighbours Syria (since December 2004) and Iran (since November 2008) came to an abrupt end in May 2011, when its central role in NATO’s covert war against Syria became evident. [3] 

As for Turkey’s phony conflict with Israel, which began with the May 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre, has also been fully exposed when Turkey overtly supported Israel’s blatant acts of military aggression against Syria in 2013. The repercussions of the May 2013 Reyhanli false-flag bombing attacks near Turkey’s border with Syria is the latest evidence of a deep crisis of legitimacy for the United States, Britain, Israel and Turkey; the four countries whose alliance has been dominating the political scene in the Middle East and beyond since 1990.

ISRAELI AIR ATTACKS ON DAMASCUS

As NATO’s international mercenary forces from 29 different countries started suffering heavy defeats against the Syrian Army, Israeli Air Forces came to their rescue by launching two separate air strikes in Syria, both of which were blatant acts of war.  [4]  [5]

After the first Israeli air attack on Damascus on January 30th, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made the following remarks  [6]:

“Why did the Syrian Army, which has been launching attacks on its own innocent civilian population for the past 22 months with jets from the air and with tanks and artillery fire from the ground, not retaliate against this Israeli operation?  Why doesAssadnoteven throw a pebble whenthe Israeli jets fly over his palace and violate the dignity of his country? Why is Assad, who gives an order to fire Scud [missiles] at Aleppo, not doing anything against Israel? Is there a secret pact between Assad and Israel? […]  The Assad administration knows only to abuse. Why doesn’t he use against Israel, [a country] which they have regarded as an enemy since its foundation, the same force that he uses against defenceless women ? ”  [7]

On May 5th, UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte announced the findings of the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria:

“According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons [in Syria], making use of sarin gas.”  [8]

The same day, Israel launched another air attack on Damascus. [9]  In response to this second act of war by Israel against Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lashed out at Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for war crimes that were actually perpetrated by NATO’s international mercenary forces in Syria  [10] :

“The scenes in [the Syrian town of] Baniyas are as tragic as those in Karbala [in AD 680]  and the murderers are at least as despicable as Yazid […] [who killed] our beloved Prophet’s beautiful grandchildren Hassan and Hussein […]

Those organisations which are lending support to the illegal regime of Syria, those countries which are backing the illegal regime of Syria, the United Nations and the [U.N.] Security Council in particular, will not be able to exonerate themselves of this sin. Those who ignore this massacre, this inhumane scene in the name of sectarian solidarity, in the name of [political] conjuncture or in the name of international [political] interests will not be able to exonerate themselves of this major sin. […]

I need to point this out as well: Israel’s air attack on Damascus is certainly not acceptable either. No reason, no excuse can justify this operation. Such attacks serve as trump cards, golden opportunities offered to the Syrian regime. In fact, by using Israel’s attack as an excuse, Assad engages in an effort to cover up the genocide in Baniyas. [However] , even this Israeli operation will not be able to save Assad who does not shed a drop of sweat, let alone a drop of blood for the Golan [Heights] .”  [11]

Four days after the second Israeli air attack on Damascus and United Nations’ statement on the mercenaries’ use of chemical weapons in Syria, Mr Erdogan gave an interview to the U.S. television channel NBC, where he said that if the U.S. were to launch a ground military invasion of Syria, then Turkey would support it. [12]  However, as this statement amounted to a de facto declaration of war on Syria, it has been instantly censored by the NBC and the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release which denied it. [13]  Here are excerpts from the edited version of this interview:

“ERDOGAN:  It is clear that the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles. They used about 200 missiles, according to our intelligence. There are different sizes missiles. And then there are deaths caused by these missiles. And there are burns, you know, serious burns and chemical reactions. And there are patients who are brought to our hospitals who were wounded by these chemical weapons. You can see who is affected by chemical missiles by their burns.  [14]

NBC:  So has President Assad crossed President Obama’s red line?

ERDOGAN:  A long time ago. My question is, the United Nations, U.N. Security Council, are you doing what you are supposed to do? Why do you exist in the first place? What is your job? I mean, is there a deadline, like they are not going to move until 1 million people are killed?

NBC:  Will you encourage President Obama to get involved directly in the situation in Syria?

ERDOGAN:  We want the United States to assume more responsibilities and take further steps.

NBC:  What is the just punishment for Mr. Assad, in your view? What is your message to him today, at this moment in history?

ERDOGAN:  Well, I am saying that he should leave Syria immediately. Sooner or later, the opposition are going to get him. And I hope that his end does not be like Qadhafi’s.”  [15]

During the interview, Mr Erdogan also said that he plans to share the evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria with the U.S. President Barack Obama. [16]  However, no evidence at all was presented by either Mr Erdogan or Mr Obama after their meeting in the following week on May 16th.  [17]

The same day, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Davutoglu reiterated the last Anglo-American propaganda argument before the launch of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, by making a reference to the Iraqi Army’s mass murder of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988  [18] :

“From now on, we will be carrying out these tests [for chemical weapon wounds] on every injured person coming [from Syria] so that no one could dare to commit a crime against humanity, like the one in Halabja, by using [chemical weapons] in Syria.” [19]

The same day, the Associated Press reported the ongoing preparations at Turkey’s border with Syria:

 “Turkey had stationed a team of eight experts to screen injured Syrians at the frontier. They were manning a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense vehicle deployed at the main Cilvegozu border gate with Syria.”  [20]

Again on the same day, a news report entitled “Forensic medicine establishment proves that al-Assad has used chemical weapons” was published by Turkish newspaper Star:

“It has been definitely determined that [Syrian President Bashar] Al-Asad has used chemical weapons against his own people. The Public Health Institute and the Ankara Forensic Medicine Establishment have found the substance “Ricin”, which in the world is found only in Iran, China, and Russia, in 13 wounded individuals coming from Syria. […]  It is stated that Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan will place the dossier before [US President Barack] Obama on his US visit [on May 16] .The affair emerged when 13 wounded Syrian oppositionists were brought on 29 April from Syria to the Reyhanli State Hospital. ”  [21]

All this evokes the war propaganda back in February 1998, when the Bill Clinton administration made an unsuccessful attempt to instigate a war with Iraq. According to an AFP report;

“Turkish authorities have sent 60,000 gas masks to its southeast regions bordering Iraq to protect civilians from possible chemical and biological attacks by Iraqi forces, [Turkish] dailies Sabah and Yeni Yuzyil said Friday. The masks, sent by civil defence chiefs, are destined for civil servants working in the region bordering Iraq […] . Southeast Turkey borders Iraq and the region is thought to be in a potentially dangerous position in case Iraq decides to use the chemical and biological weapons it is suspected of having.”  [22]

It is worth also mentioning two allegations made against Turkish Armed Forces’ use of chemical weapons in the past:

In August 2011, five members of parliament from Germany’s Die Linke party held a press conference to condemn the appointment of the current head of Turkish Armed Forces Necdet Ozel:

  “When [Necdet] Ozel was the General Commander of the Gendarmerie, he was not only responsible for the death, torture and violence in the Kurdish region [of Turkey] . In 1999, he ordered the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas [near the Ballikaya Village in Silopi] .”  [23]

In October 2011, two months after Necdet Ozel’s appointment, 37 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas were killed in the Kazan Valley of the Hakkari province during an operation by the Turkish Armed Forces. The following month, a European delegation visited the Kazan Valley to investigate the allegations of chemical weapons use during this operation.  [24]

As the earlier quote from Turkish newspaper Star shows, the Reyhanli State Hospital near Turkey’s border with Syria was at the forefront of the chemical weapons propaganda over the April 29 incident. Two days after this press report, the same hospital was inundated with the victims of a far more devastating false-flag operation.

OFFICIAL REACTIONS TO THE REYHANLI BOMBING ATTACKS

On May 11, international media agencies reported that twin car bombs have killed at least 43 people and injured at least 100 in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, near the Syrian border. [25]  Shortly after the bombing attacks, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc pointed the finger at Syria:

“Our thoughts are that their Mukhabarat [Syria’s intelligence agency] and armed organisations are the usual suspects in planning and the carrying out of such devilish plans.”  [25]

Hours after the Reyhanli bombing attacks, the head of global military alliance NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a press release:

“I express full solidarity with the people and the authorities of our Ally Turkey.”  [26]

The following day, Turkey’s Interior Minister Muammer Guler held a press conference:

“For the time being there is no evidence suggesting that al-Qaida was involved.”  [27]

This is a rather interesting comment considering that until 2012, when al-Qaeda’s role in NATO’s covert war on Syria became fully exposed, Turkey’s political authorities were quite at ease in holding Al Qaeda responsible for any atrocity committed in Turkey or abroad. [E]  That same day, Prime Minister Erdogan also accused Syria:

“These attacks betray the intention of a country on fire which is trying to drag Turkey into the same fire. These attacks, to put it bluntly, are the bloody Baath regime’s attempt to provide an opportunity to its collaborators. […] These attacks aim to provoke those who live together in peace, in serenity, in fraternity, particularly in Hatay. Most importantly, these attacks target Turkey which has resolved its terror issue, reinforced fraternity, put an end to mothers’ tears. […]

Even if Turkey were to remain silent, stand idly by in the face of the tragedy in Syria, these traps would still have been set up, Turkey would still have been targeted. Those who criticise Turkey’s policy on Syria in the wake of these attacks with utter brazenness, a sheer lack of common sense and pure opportunism exhibit ignorance and an absence of policy. These attacks do not target our policy on Syria, they target our fraternity, our stability, our growth.”  [28]

The next day, Mr Erdogan spoke even more categorically:

“This incident is definitely connected to the [Syrian] regime. The [Syrian] regime is behind this incident. That is evident.”  [29]

Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi responded to Mr Erdogan’s accusations in full force:

“The real terrorist is the government of Turkey under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It opened Turkey’s border with Syria to the terrorists. [Turkey] became a hub of international jihadi terrorism. It unleashed these terrorists on Turkish people’s houses and fields. It hosted terrorists coming from all over the world. Without any consideration, it provided them with all types of arms, bombs and explosive devices so that they could massacre people of Syria. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his interior and foreign ministers bear a political and moral responsibility towards all the people of the world in general and the people of Syria and their own people in particular. […]

The sole responsibility for the bombing attacks in Reyhanli lies with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These [attacks] couldn’t have been perpetrated by Syria. Despite all the things they did to the people and army of Syria for such a long time, neither our decency, nor our ethics, nor our policy would allow us to do something like this. […]

No one has got the right to accuse others. Shortly after [the attacks] , Turkey’s Interior Minister [Muammer Guler] has said that they suspect that [the attacks] were connected to Syria. To put it plainly, the reason why he came up with such quick accusations without any evidence at hand, is to fabricate the evidence they had in mind. These [attacks] were directly perpetrated by Erdogan and the AKP. They are the ones who, through their intelligence and security forces, supplied Al Qaida with chemical and got them to penetrate all the way to Aleppo. They are the ones who transported terrorists, arms and deaths through their planes. Erdogan himself and his party want to destroy Syria. What occurred in Reyhanli was the ambition of destroying Syria itself. Whoever wants death and massacre is the one who carried out this massacre in Turkey.

When bombs explode in Turkey, we know why these bombs have been made to explode. The whole world knows why the bombs are exploding in Syria. But why in Turkey and why now? And why particularly before Erdogan’s meeting with Obama? Erdogan wants to get the United States into action. And then he will say ‘I am a member of NATO, Syria is attacking me’. In fact, in his latest statement, he said ‘we are capable of making war with Syria’. […]  Turkey’s Foreign Minister [Davutoglu] said yesterday that Turkey is strong enough to defend itself. Against whom is it going to defend itself ? Who actually poses a threat to Turkey ? ”  [30]

Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah’s statement was equally straightforward:

“These terrorist bombings came as part of a series of similar crimes that affect innocent people in several Arab and Islamic countries, which can only be made [by] criminal hands. It also bore the hallmarks of international intelligence agencies, aimed at destabilizing and creating discord and unrest in these countries.”  [31]

Two weeks later, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag targeted Hezbollah for its political and military support to Syria  [32] :

“ [Hezbollah] says that it stands by Assad. […]  From where does it draw its strength?  Having sided with those who unleash death upon their fellow Muslim brothers […] , [Hezbollah] has no right to draw strength from Islam and the Quran. The source of their strength would actually be the Satan who wants to pit Muslims against each other, who wants to have them slaughter each other. […]  Hezbollah should change its name to ‘Hezbol-satan’ [i.e. Party of Satan] . ”  [33]

DESTROYING THE EVIDENCE

On the day of the incident, which was a Saturday, the Government managed to get the local court of Reyhanli to issue a blanket censorship ban regarding the broadcasting of news about the bombing attacks in Reyhanli. According to this ban, only statements made by senior authorities and police reports would be allowed to be reported on the media and the internet:

 “Within the framework of the investigation concerning the blasts in Reyhanli district on 11.05.2013 […] , broadcasting and displaying information concerning the site of the incident, concerning the dead and injured casualties of the incident and concerning the content of the incident on all types of audio-visual, written and visual media and the internet is banned according to Article 153 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.”  [34]

Actually, this blanket ban was mainly targeting the information flow through the Internet considering that Turkey’s mainstream media have been fully complicit in the Government’s constant war propaganda against Syria from April 2011. Nevertheless, the ban on the Internet proved to be somewhat ineffective in the face of an overwhelming sense of indignation towards to Government across the country.

Medical staff in the Hatay province, where Reyhanli is located, was ordered to “limit the death toll to 50”. Local authorities said they ‘were instructed not to give any statement to the press’. [35]  Journalist Ferdi Ozmen revealed the actual figure by posting the number of deaths in seven local hospitals with a total of 177. He has been arrested for defying the blanket ban.  [36]

Republican People’s Party (CHP) member of parliament Mevlut Dudu explains how the evidence was instantly destroyed after the incident:

“The police officers refused us entry to the site of the attacks on the grounds that they are collecting evidence. Nevertheless, we did [manage] to enter and saw that no evidence was being collected. Quite on the contrary, they were destroying the evidence using heavy construction equipment.”  [37]

It transpired that none of the 73 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the town recorded the bombing attacks. Due to a “system error”, they had been out of order four days before the incident. Most of these 73 CCTV cameras were directly viewing the points where the bombing attacks occurred.  [38]

CHP member of parliament Aytug Atici revealed that electricity was cut off just five minutes before the bombing attacks. [39]  In fact, according to activist Hamide Yigit, cutting off the electricity was a strategy used by Turkey’s authorities in smuggling international mercenaries into Syria:

“Electricity is cut off along the [Harbiye-Yayladagi] itinerary; everywhere, including streets and roads, becomes totally dark. Meanwhile, vehicles carrying military ammunition and armed groups to the border pass by. Once their passage is over, the electricity resumes. The local residents, who are prevented from witnessing this transport, are feeling deeply restless about it.”  [40]

On the day of the bombing attacks, the militants who wanted to cross from Syria into Turkey were guided towards the Cilvegozu border gate instead of their habitual point of entry in Reyhanli.  [41]

A currently censored video which was posted on Youtube shortly after the bombing attacks was recorded from an angle which oversaw the site of the attacks. Arabic speaking “Free Syrian Army” militants are seen to be recording the blasts in jubilation, shouting “Allah-u Akbar” (God is great) and mentioning the location of the blasts and the date.  [42]

Only two days before the bombing attacks in Reyhanli, ABC reported “a secret visit” by the former U.S. Ambassador to Syria (January-October 2011) Robert Ford, who is the mastermind of NATO’s covert war on Syria  [43] :

“A U.S. official confirmed [Robert] Ford’s secret visit, which occurred along the Turkey-Syria border. He briefly crossed into Syria to meet with opposition leaders before returning to Turkey.”  [44]

In fact, there is a long history of false-flag incidents occurring in Turkey ahead of almost every top level meeting between Turkey’s politicians and their U.S. or Israeli counterparts.

Of all the false-flag operations in Turkey, by far the most devastating was the bombing attacks on 15th and 20th November 2003, which targeted two synagogues, HSBC bank headquarters and the British Embassy in Istanbul, killing 57 people and wounding another 700. The attacks coincided with U.S. President George Bush’s meting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.  [45]

Baki Yigit was on of the five people who were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment in 2007 for their roles in these attacks. He was released from prison in 2010 and died in 2012 whilst fighting in Aleppo among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.  [46]

Furthermore, foreign intelligence agencies CIA (U.S.), Mossad (Israel), MI6 (Britain) and BND (Germany) have a very prominent presence across Turkey’s border region with Syria. Located some 100 km from Turkey’s border with Syria, NATO’s Incirlik Airbase is being used as the command centre for the covert war on Syria.  [47]

PROTESTS AGAINST THE ERDOGAN GOVERNMENT

Immediately after the bombing attacks, spontaneous protests broke out in Reyhanli and in various parts of the Hatay province. Incensed protesters were chanting “Erdogan resign” Turkey’s military deployed a huge number of air and ground military reinforcements to Hatay and Reyhanli in order to prevent spontaneous protests in Reyhanli and other parts of the Hatay province turning into a full-scale uprising.  [48]  [49]

Even the Reyhanli State Hospital was under siege, where riot police, plain-clothes police officers and an armoured police vehicle were deployed.  [50]

Nine months before the bombing attacks in Reyhanli, activist Hamide Yigit describes the state of mind of the people in the Hatay province where Reyhanli is located:

“The mendacity of the media in ‘marketing’ war to the people is seen more clearly from Hatay. From the very first day the incidents started in Syria, they have been aware and observe that the media is reporting lies. The people of Hatay have relatives in every city in Syria, they speak its language [i.e. Arabic] , watch its broadcasts, read its press, and even if none of that is the case, can inform themselves about any incident at the convenience of a phone call, they are furious towards the media for its distortion of the facts to such an extent. […]

For the past seventeenth months, the people [of Hatay] have been living in fear of [the possibility that] a war, for which they can find no reason, might explode on their doorstep. Hatay’s economy is stagnating, its revenues have stopped, its bread has shrunk. Hatay has enjoyed harmonious fraternity among its diverse population up until the present day. However, [the Government] is trying to disrupt this by pitting groups against each other, by emphasising differences of identity [Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, etc.] , sectarian differences [Sunni, Alevi, etc.] . The people of Hatay are constantly hearing news of deaths and injuries from relatives [in Syria] and live in constant fear of hearing such news.

The worst of this is that Hatay is being used as the command centre for attacks launched on their brotherly, blood-related people of Syria and hosting those who are firing bullets at them… With the anger and sorrow this, what is being spoken on every street and household [in Hatay] is the following: ‘We refuse to endure this disgrace any longer. We don’t want to keep waiting for this catastrophe which is advancing rapidly and looms closer every day. The refugee camps should be immediately removed from Hatay and re-arranged in a way to prioritise a humanitarian function. The flow of weapons and ‘terrorists’ across the border [with Syria] must stop! ” [40]

In 2013, tensions between the local population of the Hatay province and the international mercenary forces have reached a peak. Numerous riots broke out between the Syrian refugees and Turkey’s security forces in the refugee camps in Hatay and other southern provinces of Turkey. [51]  [52]  According to the Government’s own figures, a total of 114,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey have returned to Syria.  [53]

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May 242013
 

Memory Hole
Professor James Tracy

To posit that one’s government may be partially composed of unaccountable criminal elements is cause for serious censure in polite circles. Labeled “conspiracy theories” by a corporate media that prompt and channel emotionally-laden mass consent, such perspectives are quickly dispatched to the memory hole lest they prompt meaningful discussion of the political prerogatives and designs held by a global power elite coordinating governments and broader geopolitical configurations.

Cultural historian Jack Bratich terms such phenomena “conspiracy panics.” Potentially fostered by the coordinated actions of government officials or agencies and major news organs to generate public suspicion and uncertainty, a conspiracy panic is a demonstrable immediate or long-term reactive thrust against rational queries toward unusual and poorly understood events. To be sure, they are also intertwined with how the given society acknowledges and preserves its own identity—through “the management and expulsion of deviance.”[1]

In the American mass mind, government intelligence and military operations are largely seen as being directed almost solely toward manipulation or coercion of unfortunate souls in foreign lands. To suggest otherwise, as independent researchers and commentators have done with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the CIA-Contra-crack cocaine connection, and 9/11, has been cause for sustained conspiracy panics that act to suppress inquiry into such events by professional and credentialed opinion leaders, particularly journalists and academics.

At the same time a conspiracy panic serves a subtle yet important doctrinal function of manifesting and reproducing the apt ideational status quo of the post-Cold War, “War on Terror” era. “The scapegoating of conspiracy theories provides the conditions for social integration and political rationality,” Bratich observes. “Conspiracy panics help to define the normal modes of dissent. Politically it is predicated on a consensus of ‘us’ over against a subversive and threatening ‘them.’”[2] These days especially the suggestion that an official narrative may be amiss almost invariably puts one in the enemy camp.

Popular Credence in Government Conspiracy Narratives

The time for a conspiracy panic to develop has decreased commensurately with the heightened spread and availability of information and communication technology that allows for the dissemination of news and research formerly suppressed by the perpetual data overload of corporate media. Before the wide access to information technology and the internet, independent investigations into events including the JFK assassination took place over the course of many years, materializing in book-length treatments that could be dismissed by intelligence assets in news media and academe as the collective activity of “conspiracy buffs”—amateurish researchers who lack a government or privately-funded sinecure to overlook or obscure inquiry into deep events.

Not until Oliver Stone’s 1991 blockbuster film JFK, essentially an adoption of works by author Jim Marrs, Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, did a substantial conspiracy panic take shape as a response to such analysis thrust upon the public in popular narrative form. This panic arose from and centered around Hollywood’s apt challenge to traditional journalism’s turf alongside commercial news outlets’ typically deceptive  interpretation of the event and almost wholly uncritical treatment of the Warren Commission Report.

Shortly thereafter investigative journalist Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series for the San Jose Mercury News demonstrated the internet’s capacity to explain and document a government conspiracy. With Webb’s painstaking examination of the CIA’s role in the illicit drug trade hyperlinked to a bevy of documentation and freely distributed online, the professional journalistic community and its intelligence penumbra fell silent for months.

In the interim the story picked up steam in the non-traditional outlets of talk radio and tabloid television, with African Americans especially intrigued by the potential government role in the crack cocaine epidemic. Then suddenly major news outlets spewed forth a vitriolic attack on Webb and the Mercury News that amazingly resulted in the Mercury‘s retraction of the story and Webb’s eventual departure from the paper and probable murder by the US government.[3]

Criticism of Webb’s work predictably focused on petty misgivings toward his alleged poor judgment—specifically his intimation that the CIA intentionally caused the crack epidemic in African American communities, an observation that many blacks found logical and compelling. So not only did Webb find himself at the center of a conspiracy panic because of his assessment of the CIA’s role in the drug trade; he was also causing mass “paranoia” within African American communities allegedly predisposed toward such thinking.

Since the mid-1990s conspiracy panics have increasingly revolved around an effort by mainstream news media to link unorthodox political ideas and inquiry with violent acts. This dynamic was crystallized in Timothy McVeigh, the principal suspect in the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing,  who through the propaganda-like efforts of  government and major news media was constructed to symbolize the dangers of “extremist” conspiratorial thought (his purported fascination with white supremacism and The Turner Diaries) and violent terrorist action (the bombing itself). Conveniently overlooked is the fact that McVeigh was trained as a black ops technician and still in US Army employ at the time of his 2001 execution.[4]

Through a broad array of media coverage and subsequent book-length treatments by the left intelligentsia on the “radical right,” the alleged lone wolf McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing became forever coupled in the national memory. The image and event seemingly attested to how certain modes of thought can bring about violence–even though McVeigh’s role in what took place on April 19 was without question one part of an intricate web painstakingly examined by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee [5] and in the 2011 documentary A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995.

The Quickening Pace of Conspiracy Panics

Independent researchers and alternative media utilizing the internet have necessitated the rapid deployment of conspiracy panic-like reactions that appear far less natural and spontaneous to neutralize inquiry and bolster the official narratives of  momentous and unusual events. For example, wide-scale skepticism surrounding the May 1, 2011 assault on Osama bin Laden’s alleged lair in Pakistan was met with efforts to cultivate a conspiracy panic evident in editorials appearing across mainstream print, broadcast, and online news platforms. The untenable event supported only by President Obama’s pronouncement of the operation was unquestioningly accepted by corporate media that shouted down calls for further evidence and alternative explanations of bin Laden’s demise as “conspiracy theories.”

Indeed, a LexisNexis search for “bin Laden” and “conspiracy theories” yields over five hundred such stories and opinion pieces appearing across Western print and broadcast media outlets for the week of May 2, 2011.[6] “While much of America celebrated the dramatic killing of Osama bin Laden,” the Washington Post opined, “the Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists still had questions. For them and a growing number of skeptics, the plot only thickened.”[7]

Along these lines retired General Mark Kimmitt remarked on CNN, “Well, I’m sure the conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this, about why it was done? Was it done? Is he still alive?”[8] “The conspiracy theorists are not going to be satisfied,” Glenn Beck asserted. “Next thing you know, Trump is going to ask for the death certificate, and is it the real death certificate? And then all hell breaks loose.”[9]

Like 9/11 or the Gulf of Tonkin, the narrative has since become a part of official history, disingenuously repeated in subsequent news accounts and elementary school history books—a history handed down from on high and accepted by compromised, unintelligent, or simply lazy journalists perpetuating nightmare fictions to a poorly informed and intellectually idle public.

This psycho-symbolic template is simultaneously evident in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and Boston Marathon bombing (BMB) events and their aftermaths. Indeed, the brief yet intense Sandy Hook conspiracy panic, and to a lesser degree that of the BMB, revolved at least partially around the “conspiracy theory professor,” who, as a credentialed member of the intellectual class, overstepped his bounds by suggesting how there are many unanswered questions related to the tragedies that might lead one to conclude—as social theorist Jean Baudrillard observed concerning the 1991 Gulf War—that the events did not take place, at least in the way official pronouncements and major media have represented them. It is perhaps telling  that critical assessments of domestic events and their relatedness to a corrupt media and governing apparatus are so vigorously assailed.

Yet to suggest that the news and information Americans accept as sound and factual on a routine basis is in fact a central means for manipulating their worldviews is not a matter for debate. Rather, it is an empirically verifiable assertion substantiated in a century of public relations and psychological warfare research and practice. Such propaganda efforts once reserved for foreign locales are now freely practiced in the US to keep the population increasingly on edge.

Still, a significant portion of the population cannot believe their government would lie to or mislead them, especially about a traumatic and emotional event involving young children or running enthusiasts. To suggest this to be the case is not unlike informing a devoted sports fan that her team lost a decisive game after she’s been convinced of an overwhelming win. Such an allegation goes against not only what they often unconsciously accept to be true, but also challenges their substantial emotional investment in the given mediated event.

In a revealing yet characteristic move the reaction by corporate media outlets such as the New York Times, FoxNews, CNN, and in the case of the BMB the New York Times-owned Boston Globe, has been not to revisit and critique their own slipshod coverage of the Newtown massacre or BMB that often bordered on blatant disinformation, but rather to divert attention from any responsible self-evaluation by vilifying the messenger in what have been acute conspiracy panics of unusual proportion.

As a disciplinary mechanism against unsettling observations and questions directed toward political leaders and the status quo, conspiracy panics serve to reinforce ideas and thought processes sustained by the fleeting yet pervasive stimuli of infotainment, government pronouncements, and, yes, the staged events that have been part and parcel of US news media and government collaboration dating at least to the Spanish-American war. Despite (or perhaps because of) the immense technological sophistication at the dawn of the twenty-first century a majority of the population remains bound and shackled in the bowels of the cave, forever doomed to watch the shadows projected before them.

Notes

[1] Jack Z. Bratich, Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture, Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 2008.

[2] Bratich, Conspiracy Panics, 11.

[3] Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson, “Evidence Begins to Indicate Gary Webb Was Murdered,” prisonplanet.com, December 15, 2004; Charlene Fassa, “Gary Webb: More Pieces in the Suicided Puzzle, Pt. 1,” Rense.com, December 11, 2005.

[4] Death Certificate of Timothy James McVeigh, June 11, 2001, http://www.autopsyfiles.org/reports/deathcert/mcveigh,%20timothy.pdf

[5] Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995, 2001. See also Oklahoma City: What Really Happened? Chuck Allen, dir., 1995.

[6] See James F. Tracy, “State Propaganda, Historical Revisionism, and Perpetuation of the 911 Myth,” memoryholeblog.com and GlobalResearch.ca, May 6, 2012.

[7] Emily Wax, “Report of bin Laden’s Death Spurs Questions From Conspiracy Theorists,” Washington Post, May 2, 20111.

[8] Gen. Mark Kimmitt on CNN Breaking News, “Osama bin Laden is Dead,” CNN, May 2, 2011.

[9] Glenn Beck, “Beck for May 2, 2011,” Fox News Network, May 2, 2011.

-JFT
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May 242013
 

Russia Today

The US war on terror is in fact the most massive terror campaign ever, and the invasion of Iraq was the worst crime in recent history, prominent liberal thinker Noam Chomsky told RT, adding that he wants to see Bush, Blair and Obama tried at the ICC.

The ‘father of modern linguistics,’ Chomsky reflects on the language of the war on terror, coming to the conclusion that the freer the society, the more sophisticated its propaganda.

RT: As someone who was living in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, the chaos, what did you think of the police and media response to them?

Noam Chomsky: I hate to second guess police tactics, but my impression was that it was kind of overdone. There didn’t have to be that degree of militarization of the area. Maybe there did, maybe not. It is kind of striking that the suspect they were looking for was found by a civilian after they lifted the curfew. They just noticed some blood on the street. But I have nothing to say about police tactics. As far as media was concerned, there was 24 hour coverage on television on all the channels.

RT: Also zeroing in on one tragedy while ignoring others, across the Muslim world, for example…

NC: Two days after the Boston bombing there was a drone strike in Yemen, one of many, but this one we happen to know about because the young man from the village that was hit testified before the Senate a couple of days later and described it. It was right at the same time. And what he said is interesting and relevant. He said that they were trying to kill someone in his village, he said that the man was perfectly well known and they could have apprehended him if they wanted.

A tribesman walks near a building damaged last year by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan of the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)

A drone strike was a terror weapon, we don’t talk about it that way. It is, just imagine you are walking down the street and you don’t know whether in 5 minutes there is going to be an explosion across the street from some place up in the sky that you can’t see. Somebody will be killed, and whoever is around will be killed, maybe you’ll be injured if you’re there. That is a terror weapon. It terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. In fact it’s the most massive terror campaign going on by a longshot.

What happened in the village according to the Senate testimony, he said that the jihadists had been trying to turn over the villagers against the Americans and had not succeeded. He said in one drone strike they’ve turned the entire village against the Americans. That is a couple of hundred new people who will be called terrorists if they take revenge. It’s a terrorist operation and a terrorist generating machine. It goes on and on, it’s not just the drone strikes, also the Special Forces and so on. It was right at the time of the Boston marathon and it was one of innumerable cases.

It is more than that. The man who was targeted, for whatever reason they had to target him, that’s just murder. There are principles going back 800 years to Magna Carta holding that people cannot be punished by the state without being sentenced by a trial of peers. That’s only 800 years old. There are various excuses, but I don’t think they apply.

But beyond that there are other cases which come to mind right away, where a person is murdered, who could easily be apprehended, with severe consequences. And the most famous one is Bin Laden. There were eight years of special forces highly trained, navy seals, they invaded Pakistan , broke into his compound, killed a couple people. When they captured him he was defenseless, I think his wife was with him. Under instructions they murdered him and threw his body into the ocean without autopsy. That’s only the beginning.

RT: The apprehension of bin Laden and the assassination and dumping his body into the ocean, of course the narrative completely fell apart. You’ve said that in the aftermath of 9-11 the Taliban said that we will give you Bin Laden if you present us with evidence, which we didn’t do…

NC: Their proposal was a little vague.

RT: But why are people so easy to accept conventional wisdom of government narratives, there is virtually no questioning…

NC: That’s all they hear. They hear a drumbeat of conventional propaganda, in my view. And it takes a research project to find other things.

‘Invasion of Iraq was textbook example of aggression’

RT: And of course at the same time of the Boston bombings, Iraq saw almost the deadliest week in 5 years, it was the deadliest month in a long time. Atrocities going on every day, suicide bombings. At the same time our foreign policy is causing these effects in Iraq…

NC: I did mention the Magna Carta, which is 800 years old, but there is also something else which is about 70 years. It’s called the Nurnberg tribunal, which is part of foundation of modern international law. It defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil it follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, no questions about it. Which means that we were responsible for all the evil that follows like the bombings. Serious conflict arose, it spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict. That’s part of the evil that follows.

Iraqi security personnel are seen at the site of a bomb attack in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, April 15, 2013 (Reuters / Ako Rasheed)

RT: The media’s lack of coverage of everything that you are speaking about, I know that America runs on nationalism, but is America’s lack of empathy unique? Or do we see that in every country? Or as we grew up in America we are isolated with this viewpoint? NC:

Every great power that I can think of… Britain was the same, France was the same, unless the country is defeated. Like when Germany was defeated after the WWII, it was compelled to pay attention to the atrocities that it carried out. But others don’t. In fact there was an interesting case this morning, which I was glad to see. There are trials going on in Guatemala for Efrain Rios Montt who is basically responsible for the virtual genocide of the Mayans. The US was involved in it every step of the way. Finally this morning there was an article about it saying that there was something missing from the trials, the US’s role. I was glad to see the article.

‘Bush, Blair and Obama got to be tried by ICC but that’s inconceivable’

RT: Do you think that we will ever see white war criminals from imperial nations stand trial the way that  Rios Montt did?

NC: It’s almost impossible. Take a look at the International criminal court (ICC) – black Africans or other people the West doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq. Obama’s got to be there for the terror war. But that is just inconceivable. In fact there is a legislation in the US which in Europe is called the ‘Netherlands invasion act’, Congressional legislation signed by the president, which authorizes the president to use force to rescue an American brought to the Hague for trial.

RT: Speaking of the drone wars I can’t help but think of John Bellinger, the chief architect of the drone policy, speaking to a think-tank recently saying that Obama has ramped up the drone killings as something to avoid bad press of Gitmo, capturing the suspects alive and trying them at Gitmo. When you hear things like this what is your response to people saying that ‘his hands are tied, he wants to do well’?
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May 182013
 
There is clear evidence that he has broken the law on multiple occasions. And not even Republicans seem to care.

The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

obama full full full.jpg

Reuters

Prompted by Peggy Noonan’s claim in The Wall Street Journal that “we are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” Andrew Sullivan steps forward to defend Pres. Obama’s honor. “Can she actually believe this?,” he asks incredulously. “Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes? Has he traded arms for hostages with Iran? Has he knowingly sent his cabinet out to tell lies about his sex life? Has he sat by idly as an American city was destroyed by a hurricane? Has he started a war with no planning for an occupation? Has he started a war based on a lie, and destroyed the US’ credibility and moral standing while he was at it, leaving nothing but a smoldering and now rekindled civil sectarian war?”

An Obama critic, having overplayed her hand, gave Sullivan an opening to respond with what amounts to, “It isn’t as bad as Watergate, nor as bad as George W. Bush.” Let’s concede those points. I don’t much care what Obama’s Republican critics say about him. The scandals they’re presently touting, bad as two of them are, aren’t even the worst of Team Obama’s transgressions.

I have a stronger critique. Sullivan hasn’t internalized the worst of what Obama’s done, because his notion of scandal is implicitly constrained by whatever a president’s partisan opponents tout as scandalous. If they criticize Obama wrongly, he defends Obama proportionately.

To see what he’s forgotten as a result, let’s run once more through the first questions in Sullivan’s latest Obama apologia.

Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes?

Yes, President Obama has broken the law on multiple occasions. Despite clearly stating, in a 2008 questionnaire, that  the commander-in-chief is not lawfully empowered to ignore treaties duly ratified by the Senate, Obama has willfully failed to enforce the torture treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the Senate, that compels him to investigate and prosecute torture. As Sullivan put it earlier this year, “what Obama and Holder have done (or rather not done) is illegal.”

Obama also violated the War Powers Resolution, a law he has specifically proclaimed to be Constitutionally valid, when committing U.S. troops to Libya without Congressional approval.  Or as Sullivan put it in 2011, “I’m with Conor. The war in Libya becomes illegal from now on. And the imperial presidency grows even more powerful.”

On the subject of war crimes, Sullivan wrote that “Obama and attorney-general Eric Holder have decided to remain in breach of the Geneva Conventions and be complicit themselves in covering up the war crimes of their predecessors – which means, of course, that those of us who fought for Obama’s election precisely because we wanted a return to the rule of law were conned.” In a separate entry, he went so far as to say that Obama is “a clear and knowing accessory to war crimes, and should at some point face prosecution as well, if the Geneva Conventions mean anything any more.” That seems rather farther than Noonan went in her column.

Obama has not, as Sullivan points out, traded arms for hostages with Iran, or started a war with no planning for the inevitable occupation that would follow. But there are different questions that could be asked about Obama that would perhaps be more relevant to his behavior.

Has he ordered the assassination of any American citizens in secret without due process? Did he kill any of their teenage kids without ever explaining how or why that happened?

Has he refused to reveal even the legal reasoning he used to conclude his targeted killing program is lawful?

Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

Has he spied on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or probable cause?

Does he automatically count dead military-aged males killed by U.S. drones as “militants”?

Did he “sign a bill that enshrines in law the previously merely alleged executive power of indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects”?

There is more, as Sullivan knows, and it all amounts to a scandalous presidency, even if it happens that few Republicans care about the most scandalous behavior, and have instead spent almost a year* now obsessing about Benghazi. The IRS scandal and Department of Justice leak-investigation excesses are worrisome, but the biggest scandals definitely go all the way to the top, and are still largely ignored even by commentators who have acknowledged that they’re happening. Sullivan has noted the stories as they broke, and seemed, for fleeting moments, to confront their gravity, noting the violation of very serious laws, and even once stating that Obama deserves to be prosecuted! Yet in response to Noonan, he writes, “So far as I can tell, this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.” How inexplicably they forget.

And Sullivan is hardly alone. At the New York Times, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and beyond, exceptional journalists take great care to document alarming abuses against the rule of law, the separation of powers, transparency, and human rights perpetrated by the Obama Administration. On a given subject, the coverage leaves me awed and proud to be part of the same profession. But when it comes time for synthesis, bad heuristics take over. Confronted with the opportunism and absurdity of the GOP, Obama’s sins are forgiven, as if he should be graded on a curve. His sins are forgotten, as if “this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.”

Yes. He. Has. Continue reading »