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]

Continue reading »

Apr 282013
 

Nation of Change
Dave Lindorff

When a horrific incident like this is used to justify such new threats to our Constitutional freedom as an unprecedented martial law-style lockdown of an entire 1-million-person metropolitan area and a precedent-setting deliberately Miranda-free, attorney-free interrogation of a hospitalized, gravely wounded and sedated suspect, it is critical that the whole story be told, not just the official one.

Article image

Speaking as an investigative reporter with almost 40 years’s experience, I can say that when government officials won’t talk, they’re generally hiding something embarrassing or worse.

I tried, and nobody will talk about those Craft International Services private security personnel who were widely observed and photographed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, wearing security ear-pieces, hats and T-shirts bearing the company’s skull logo, and all wearing the same dark coats, khaki pants and combat boots, some carrying what appear to have been radiation detectors. (I got no hard answers, though there were some inadvertent hints given.)

I first contacted a man identifying himself as Jack Fleming, a public affairs person with the Boston Athletic Assn., sponsor of the marathon. Fleming advised me that “If you want to ask about that you should contact the Commonwealth (of Massachusetts) Executive Office of Public Safety.”

I called that agency and spoke with the public information office there, a man named Terrell. He first said, “Did you call the Marathon organizers?” When I replied that I had, and that they had said to call his office, he replied, “They did?” Then he said, “You should call the City of Boston Police Department. They released a security plan to some media organizations.”

Indeed they had released that plan to the Boston Globe. Based upon the information it got from the police the article the Globe ran, did report that the Police had deployed “air patrols, K9 units, and more than 1,000 uniformed officers and soldiers along the 26-mile course and the finish line,” but it made no mention of the private contracting of soldiers-for-hire, which is what Craft International does (see the Craft website). News agency Reuters reported, meanwhile, that a top official for the Massachusetts state Homeland Security Department, Undersecretary Kurt Schwartz, told a group at Harvard U. that his agency had “planned” for a possible bombing attack on the marathon, even running a “table-top” exercise about such an event a week before the race.

I called the Boston Police to ask if they had hired the Craft International personnel who were observed at the scene just before and after the bombing, and was told by the public affairs office there that “Anything having to do with the investigation of the bombing would have to be referred to the FBI Boston Division office.” When I pointed out that I wasn’t asking anything about the investigation, but was simply asking who had hired the security personnel from Craft International, the answer was simply repeated: “You’ll have to ask the FBI.”

So I called the FBI, and got a public affairs person there named Amanda Cox. Her initial response to my question was, “I do not have any information on that,” then said I had been referred to her by the Boston Police Department, and said that photos of the scene after the bombing had shown Craft International personnel conversing with FBI agents. She then put down the phone, and I could hear her turn to a supervisor and ask, her voice muffled, “This guy’s asking about the Craft Security Consultants — who hired them and what they were doing.”

I next overheard the muffled voice of another woman to whom she had been speaking reply, “I think you could safely say, ‘I do know we worked with a lot of people who worked on security at the marathon…’” After that I couldn’t make out what was being said.

Cox later returned to the phone, and instead told me, “I’d refer you to the company on any information about who hired them.” (Taken together the overheard conversation and the official answer from Cox would at least seem to confirm that Craft’s people were hired for the event, and that the FBI knows a lot more than it is willing to say about them.)

Next I called Craft International. The company has no phone number listed on its website — just a general email address of info@thecraft.com (to which I wrote to asking for information, but which elicited no response)–but I found one listed for their headquarters office at 2101 Cedar Springs Rd., Suite 1400, Dallas, TX, in a listing on the company published in a directory in Bloomberg Businessweek, This entry noted that the company, in addition to “providing security, defense, and combat weapons training services for military, police, corporate and civilian clients in the US and internationally,” also “offers corporate and private and civilian training services…” The number, published in a business magazine, was clearly meant as a contact for potential customers to call.

A woman answered the phone brightly with the company’s name. However, when I identified myself as a reporter, and said I was wondering if someone could tell me who had hired personnel from the firm to work at the Boston Marathon, she responded with a flummoxed: “Um, I um, don’t really have any information on that. I’m just an answering service.”

I replied, “Look, the number I called is listed as the number of the company’s corporate headquarters at 2101 Cedar Springs Road. You’re not an answering service.”

At that point she said, “Let me see who I can transfer you to.”

However, after a long pause, she was back, and said, “The answer I’ve been given is that you should go to the website, where there’s an email address you can write to with your question.”

I had already done that, I told her. She then said she couldn’t help me and hung up.

I also called the US Department of Homeland Security, but a women named Angela who answered the press office number for this public government agency (she refused to provide her last name despite being the public information office) said the DHS media office was “only taking inquiries sent in by email.” I sent in an inquiry asking if any unit of the DHS had hired Craft International to provide security at the Boston Marathon, but so far have received no response.

As things stand, since it’s highly unlikely that Craft International, a private for-profit enterprise founded by the late ace Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, would have “hired” itself to police the Marathon gratis, it seems pretty clear that we had rent-a-special forces-soldier people, hired by some agency, at the scene of the bombing ahead of the bombing.

And we have no reporting on this in the mainstream corporate media.

Why? I have no answer to that.

I did write to Andrea Estes, the lead writer of the Globe’s piece on police security planning mentioned above, who is described in her bio on the Globe’s website staff page as an “investigative reporter specializing in government accountability.”

I called and left a message on her phone, and sent her an email, asking if she had looked into the Craft Security personnel, to see who hired them, what they were doing at the race finish line, and why they appeared be carrying radiation detectors. She has so far not responded to my request for information and assistance concerning anything she had done or learned about this, or whether she had looked into it at all.

Certainly there is a big accountability question. A bunch of them actually. Here are a few:

  • If Craft International people were hired, who hired them and why?
  • If it was the Boston Police or the FBI that hired them, why won’t they just say so? Simply hiring outside security help should not be a secret, and could in no way affect the investigation into the bombing and the captured suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, so why the secrecy about that? Given all the police presence, and the size of the FBI’s Boston division, why did they need those extra guys from a private rent-a-soldier firm?
  • If it was not the Boston Police or the FBI, what agency did hire the company, and why?
  • If it was the state’s Homeland Security Dept. or or the state Executive Office of Public Safety, or perhaps more likely, the US Department of Homeland Security, did they notify the FBI that they had done so, and tell the agency what had prompted them to do this?
  • The big overarching question when it comes to who hired Craft International is, what possible gain in security could have been achieved by adding what appears to be seven guys (or perhaps a few more who didn’t appear in photos) from a private security firm when the Boston Police had in place over 1000 armed security people from their office and the National Guard, and when, as became evident immediately after the bombs went off, a large number of FBI personnel were also on hand?

Unless, of course, the Craft Security people were aware of something that we, the public, including the race participants and spectators, and perhaps even the police and FBI, were not aware of.

Transparency is critical to accountability. At this point, it is clear that we have had a massive failure of the national security state. Despite the fact that the FBI was aware of concerns about Tarmelan Tsarnaev, and the fact that the CIA had him on a watch list, he appears to have been able to work on line to learn how to build a powerful homemade bomb, to obtain the materials, including a substantial quantity of black powder, to build a number of them, and, allegedly with the help of his younger brother Dzhokhar, to place them near the finish line and detonate two of them, killing three people and injuring as many as 200. That’s a huge intelligence fail.

It would be an even bigger fail if it turns out that some agency had awareness of a credible threat and that it hired Craft International personnel to prevent it. We clearly need to know, and have a right to demand to know, who hired those men and why. After all, at a minimum, on the face of things, they did an abysmal job of preventing a bombing right in front of their supposedly well-trained noses.

And of course, as I wrote earlier, there is also another question, which is really disturbing: The image of the exploded backpack released by the FBI and identified as the remains of the pack that was carrying one of the two pressure-cooker bombs, prominently displays a white square on a black background. This is not a doctored photograph; it’s the photograph that was released by the FBI. There are also at least two photos depicting one of the Craft International men who is wearing a black backpack identical to several of the other Craft International personnel. The same white square is also visible on the top of his pack.

There does not appear to be any such white marking — square or otherwise — on the top of the black backpack worn by Tarmelan Tsarnaev, as observed in several security photos taken of him (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was shown carrying a smaller white or light-colored pack, slung over one shoulder). Check out the images below of Tarmelan, the exploded bag and the Craft International character:

I am not drawing any conclusions from any of this, but I will say that when government agencies at all levels and a private contracting firm are all this obtuse and secretive (and in some cases even deceptive) about what should be a simple question — who hired these men? — my suspicions are aroused.

Somebody’s clearly hiding something.

And by the way, why aren’t the mainstream media asking about this? Are corporate media journalists so intimidated about being labeled “conspiracy nuts” that they can’t do their jobs? At a minimum, this goes to the question of accountability. It also goes to the question of inter-agency communication or lack of it. And given what we know about how many times the FBI has been an active encourager and enabler of terror plots which it later thwarts and claims credit for preventing, there’s the question, too of potential official culpability. Furthermore, when an horrific incident like this is used to justify such new threats to our Constitutional freedom as an unprecedented martial law-style lockdown of an entire 1-million-person metropolitan area and a precedent-setting deliberately Miranda-free, attorney-free interrogation of a hospitalized, gravely wounded and sedated suspect, it is critical that the whole story be told, not just the official one. Continue reading »

Apr 142013
 

Global Research
Stephen Lendman

Washington needs enemies. When none exist, they’re invented.

Pyongyang threatens no one. Obama claims no one wants war on the Korean peninsula. He urges Pyongyang “to pursue peace.”

On the other, he’s heightening tensions. He accused its leaders of “bad behavior,” “threats,” and “provocations.” He’s creating crisis conditions that didn’t exist. He’s spoiling for trouble doing so.

On Friday, John Kerry warned Kim Jong Un. Test-launching its Musudan missile threatens to inflame “an already volatile, potentially dangerous situation,” he said.

He claimed Washington’s open to negotiations. Denuclearizing the North comes first. Since Korean War hostilities ended, America never negotiated in good faith.

Promises made were broken. North Koreans remember. Efforts to normalize relations were spurned. A longstanding uneasy armistice continues.

Fidel Castro commented. He discussed “great challenges” humanity faces. The “situation created in the Korean Peninsula (is) one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, he said.”

If war erupts, “the peoples of both part of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed….” It’ll provide added proof that Obama is “the most sinister character in the history of the United States.”

Avoiding war is his call, said Castro. It’s also up to Americans to demand it.

Heightening tensions is a US specialty. On April 13, a “Joint Statement at the United States-Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers’ Meeting said:

“The United States reaffirms its commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea in the wake of recent unacceptable provocations by North Korea.”

“Both sides agree on the importance of the denuclearization of North Korea, knowing that North Korea’s dangerous nuclear and missile programs threaten not only its neighbors, but also its own people.”

“The United States stands vigilantly by the Republic of Korea’s side. (Both) countries remain committed to the goal of peaceful denuclearization.”

America’s nuclear armed and dangerous. Its arsenal and global delivery systems make the unthinkable possible. Strategic and tactical nuclear weapons target the region.

Washington asserts the right to use them preemptively. Eventually perhaps they’ll do so. The threat is real.

Offensive missile defense systems are regionally land and sea-based. They encircle Russia, China and North Korea. They’re key parts of America’s first-strike policy. Obama accelerated their deployment.

At the same time, America encourages Russia and China to reduce their nuclear arsenals. It wants North Korea denuclearized. Doing so makes a US first-strike more likely.

America’s the only country ever to use nuclear weapons. It’s not hard imagining they’ll do so again. East Asia’s a prime target. China, Russia and North Korea know it. Thermonuclear disaster is possible.

Washington threatens the region. North Korea is blamed. On April 12, New York Times editors headlined “The North Korean Problem,” saying:

“….Washington (is) willing to resume long-stalled negotiations but only if the North Koreans….move seriously on denuclearization.”

“But the window into North Korea’s nuclear intentions and American policy in response was as blurry as ever.”

“The Defense Intelligence Agency rang alarms bells on Thursday with a report that it had concluded with ‘moderate confidence’ that the North was capable of launching a missile with a nuclear warhead.”

“North Korea poses a more imminent nuclear threat than Iran.” Washington so far “failed to curb either the North’s nuclear weapons program or its bellicosity.”

Numerous New York Times reports, commentaries and editorials falsely claim a North Korean threat. Hyperbole and misinformation substitute for hard facts. Fingers point the wrong way.

Readers are systematically lied to. It’s standard Times practice. Doing so marches in lockstep with Washington’s imperial policy. Times editors aren’t alone. Other Western ones match them.

On April 2, the Washington Post’s editorial board headlined “Answer North Korea with financial sanctions,” saying:

North Korea “manage(s) to concoct….provocative announcement(s) aimed at Washington.” Kim Jong Un declared a “state of war.”

 ”Could this untested, 30-year-old dictator be preparing to (do so against) the United States or South Korea? The worrying reality is that it is virtually impossible for outsiders to know for sure.”

It’s “playing an old and familiar game. (It’s) stoking a crisis atmosphere in order to rally support (and ) pressure the United States and its allies into opening negotiations.”

Previous US administrations “learned the hard way, answering provocations with diplomacy will not lead to concessions….only to another round of provocations.”

As usual, Post editors twisted truth. Pyongyang’s blamed for US belligerence and duplicity. They want tougher policies imposed.

They spurn peaceful conflict resolution. They want measures increasing the chances for war. They might get what they wish for. They may regret having done so.

A Fox News Wall Street Journal Editorial Report asked “what are the Norks up to?” Three panel members responded. Matt Kaminski said what’s ongoing “happened before.”

“If you push them too far, they might do something stupid.” They’re “unpredictable.”

According to Dan Henninger:

Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather were “more unstable than he is.” He accused them of offenses they didn’t commit. It’s standard media scoundrel practice.

Henninger claims Pyongyang’s “capable of (a) Pearl Harbor-type attack.”

Kim Strassel said North Korea “manufacture(d) a crisis.” It did so to “secure high-level talk(s and) get concessions from the West.”

The remaining discussion continued along the same lines. Pyongyang’s blamed for Washington’s provocations. Fingers point the wrong way. At the same time, Journal editors claimed Iran’s about to “go nuclear.”

Chicago Tribune editors headlined “Another North Korea? No thanks. So squeeze Iran. Harder,” saying:

“At any moment, North Korea may fire more missiles….”

“As all of us wait to see what comes next, no one in the West knows the intentions of….Kim Jong Un.”

“North Korea has a growing nuclear arsenal. It commands world attention with its threats of nuclear retaliation against the US and other enemies.”

It may be able to launch a nuclear weapon by ballistic missile. “All of this worries not only American officials but also US allies in the region….”

“Now imagine a world with not one rambunctious and nuke-emboldened North Korea, but two.”

“That is, imagine a world in which the Islamic despots of Iran, too, control a nuclear arsenal.”

Today’s Tribune editors replicate former publisher Robert McCormick. He was outspoken and conservative. He was rabidly right-wing, anti-union and belligerent.

He was heir to the International Harvester fortune. He became the Republican party’s kingmaker. He supported America’s 1916 Mexico invasion. He was a cavalry major in the conflict.

In WW I, he was an artillery officer. He rose to the rank of colonel. He was ardently anti-Communist. His editorials condemned it. Today’s follow in his footsteps. They support tough measures against North Korea and Iran. They blame both countries for America’s belligerence.

Alexander Voronstsov heads Russia’s Institute of Oriental Studies. He calls North Korea’s fears justifiable. It’s concerned about annual US/South Korean war games.

They prepare for war. Perhaps that’s Washington’s intention. Its policies belie its rhetoric. Obama’s waging multiple imperial wars.

America wants unchallenged global dominance. East Asia represents the final frontier.

Washington deplores peace. It prioritizes war. It threatens humanity. Attacking North Korea or Iran could precipitate global war. The danger is real. Both countries have justifiable cause for concern.

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays 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

http://www.dailycensored.com/creating-a-north-korean-threat/
Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

New York Times
C.J. Chivers
Eric Schmitt

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. The C.I.A. declined to comment on the shipments or its role in them.

The shipments also highlight the competition for Syria’s future between Sunni Muslim states and Iran, the Shiite theocracy that remains Mr. Assad’s main ally. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian arms shipments through its airspace; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night.

Syrian opposition figures and some American lawmakers and officials have argued that Russian and Iranian arms shipments to support Mr. Assad’s government have made arming the rebels more necessary.

Most of the cargo flights have occurred since November, after the presidential election in the United States and as the Turkish and Arab governments grew more frustrated by the rebels’ slow progress against Mr. Assad’s well-equipped military. The flights also became more frequent as the humanitarian crisis inside Syria deepened in the winter and cascades of refugees crossed into neighboring countries.

The Turkish government has had oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the military goods through Turkey so it might monitor shipments as they move by land into Syria, officials said. The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved.

“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.

“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”

Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.

Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.

These multiple logistics streams throughout the winter formed what one former American official who was briefed on the program called “a cataract of weaponry.”

American officials, rebel commanders and a Turkish opposition politician have described the Arab roles as an open secret, but have also said the program is freighted with risk, including the possibility of drawing Turkey or Jordan actively into the war and of provoking military action by Iran.

Still, rebel commanders have criticized the shipments as insufficient, saying the quantities of weapons they receive are too small and the types too light to fight Mr. Assad’s military effectively. They also accused those distributing the weapons of being parsimonious or corrupt.

“The outside countries give us weapons and bullets little by little,” said Abdel Rahman Ayachi, a commander in Soquor al-Sham, an Islamist fighting group in northern Syria.

He made a gesture as if switching on and off a tap. “They open and they close the way to the bullets like water,” he said.

Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job.

“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.

The former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous.

“People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. “But they burn through a million rounds of ammo in two weeks.”

A Tentative Start

The airlift to Syrian rebels began slowly. On Jan. 3, 2012, months after the crackdown by the Alawite-led government against antigovernment demonstrators had morphed into a military campaign, a pair of Qatar Emiri Air Force C-130 transport aircraft touched down in Istanbul, according to air traffic data.

They were a vanguard.

Weeks later, the Syrian Army besieged Homs, Syria’s third largest city. Artillery and tanks pounded neighborhoods. Ground forces moved in.

Across the country, the army and loyalist militias were trying to stamp out the rebellion with force — further infuriating Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, which was severely outgunned. The rebels called for international help, and more weapons.

By late midspring the first stream of cargo flights from an Arab state began, according to air traffic data and information from plane spotters.

On a string of nights from April 26 through May 4, a Qatari Air Force C-17 — a huge American-made cargo plane — made six landings in Turkey, at Esenboga Airport. By Aug. 8 the Qataris had made 14 more cargo flights. All came from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a hub for American military logistics in the Middle East.

Qatar has denied providing any arms to the rebels. A Qatari official, who requested anonymity, said Qatar has shipped in only what he called nonlethal aid. He declined to answer further questions. It is not clear whether Qatar has purchased and supplied the arms alone or is also providing air transportation service for other donors. But American and other Western officials, and rebel commanders, have said Qatar has been an active arms supplier — so much so that the United States became concerned about some of the Islamist groups that Qatar has armed.

The Qatari flights aligned with the tide-turning military campaign by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib, as their campaign of ambushes, roadside bombs and attacks on isolated outposts began driving Mr. Assad’s military and supporting militias from parts of the countryside.

As flights continued into the summer, the rebels also opened an offensive in that city — a battle that soon bogged down.

The former American official said David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director until November, had been instrumental in helping to get this aviation network moving and had prodded various countries to work together on it. Mr. Petraeus did not return multiple e-mails asking for comment.

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.

American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the shipments. “These countries were going to do it one way or another,” the former official said. “They weren’t asking for a ‘Mother, may I?’ from us. But if we could help them in certain ways, they’d appreciate that.”

Through the fall, the Qatari Air Force cargo fleet became even more busy, running flights almost every other day in October. But the rebels were clamoring for even more weapons, continuing to assert that they lacked the firepower to fight a military armed with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft.

Many were also complaining, saying they were hearing from arms donors that the Obama administration was limiting their supplies and blocking the distribution of the antiaircraft and anti-armor weapons they most sought. These complaints continue.

“Arming or not arming, lethal or nonlethal — it all depends on what America says,” said Mohammed Abu Ahmed, who leads a band of anti-Assad fighters in Idlib Province.

The Breakout

Soon, other players joined the airlift: In November, three Royal Jordanian Air Force C-130s landed in Esenboga, in a hint at what would become a stepped-up Jordanian and Saudi role.

Within three weeks, two other Jordanian cargo planes began making a round-trip run between Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, where, officials from several countries said, the aircraft were picking up a large Saudi purchase of infantry arms from a Croatian-controlled stockpile. Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

Russia Today

AFP Photo / John Moore

AFP Photo / John Moore

A trove of leaked classified reports has confirmed what many had suspected – US drone kills in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists they are portrayed as by the Obama administration.

Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States – and for many there appears to be little evidence to justify the assassinations.

Top secret documents obtained by McClatchy newspapers in the US show the locations, identities and numbers of those attacked and killed in Pakistan in 2006-8 and 2010-11, as well as explanations for why the targets were picked.

The statistics illustrate the breadth of the US ‘drone doctrine’ – which has never been defined by consecutive US administrations. Between 1,990 and 3,308 people are reported to have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, the vast majority of them during the Obama terms.

In the 12-month period up to 2011, 43 out of 95 drone strikes in the reports (which give an account of the vast majority of US operations in the country) were not aimed at al-Qaeda at all. And 265 out of 482 people killed in those assassinations, were defined internally as “extremists”.

Indeed, only six of the men killed – less than two percent – were senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Some of the groups include the Haqqani network and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, both militant organizations, but ones the US did not designate as terrorists until 2012 and 2010 respectively. Neither one has ever conducted an attack on US soil.

It also confirms that attacks during the George W. Bush era, were conducted on targets picked by ISI, Pakistan’s security agency, which has no obligations to comply with US legal criteria.

Furthermore, in some cases it is difficult to confirm that the targets were militants at all.

In the strikes above, the internal reports showed that only one civilian had been killed. But the modus operandi revealed behind the strikes, shows that some of the attacks seem to have been based on the certain people or visitors being present as certain locations, or merely associating with those the US believes were terrorists. This chimes with the accusation that the US is carrying out a policy of “signature strikes” – attacks based on behavior, or “signature” that would be expected of a terrorist, rather than any specific illegal activity.

These “signatures” apparently include such suspicious behavior as taking part in a funeral procession or first responding to an initial drone strike. Last year, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said it’s believed that, “since President Obama took office, at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

The US has previously refused to admit that it operates such a policy.

Pakistani tribesmen carry the coffin of a person allegedly killed in a US drone attack, claiming that innocent civilians were killed during a June 15 strike in the North Waziristan village of Tapi, 10 kilometers away from Miranshah.(AFP Photo / Thir Khan)

Pakistani tribesmen carry the coffin of a person allegedly killed in a US drone attack, claiming that innocent civilians were killed during a June 15 strike in the North Waziristan village of Tapi, 10 kilometers away from Miranshah.(AFP Photo / Thir Khan)

Some of the assassinations, such as that of, Mohammad, the younger brother of the leader of the Haqqani network, Badruddin, appear to have been simply errors, with the victims branded as terrorists only after the fact.

All this seems to go against the assurance of John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism chief, and new CIA head, who is the mastermind behind the drone policy

“We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing,” Brennan explained a year ago.

Obama’s administration has also said all targets are on a “list of active terrorists,” compiled with “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness”. Obama has also explicitly stated that drones should not carry out “speculative” killings.

But other than when ordering assassinations of US citizens, the President does not have to give full information to the Senate about the basis for any drone attack, much less give it a legal justification.

The latest revelations have unleashed a torrent of protest from experts who believe that the program is extra-judicial, violates Pakistan’s sovereignty, and is counter-productive in the long term.

“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” Christopher Swift, a national security law expert from Georgetown University told McClatchy.

“We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”

Micah Zenko, from the Council on Foreign Relations, a foreign policy think tank, went further, and accused the government of“misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

He added: “When there is such a disconnect between who the administration says it kills and who it actually kills, that hypocrisy itself is a very dangerous precedent that other countries will emulate.”

Last month Ben Emmerson, after a secret research trip to the country announced that drone strikes violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Emmerson added that the Pakistani government conveyed to him that it does not consent to the attacks, something that is often challenged in Washington and fuels mass protests in Pakistan.

AFP Photo / Aamir Qureshi

AFP Photo / Aamir Qureshi

Drone strikes were first used after the 9/11 attacks from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, in combat missions inside Afghanistan. More than a decade later, Washington has expanded the use of the remotely controlled aircraft into Yemen, Somalia and most of all Pakistan.

The US has carried out countless attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan since 2004 through the CIA’s Special Activities Division.  Begun by President George W. Bush, the intensity of the missions has increased under the presidency of Barack Obama.

Islamabad publicly condemns these attacks but is known to have shared intelligence with the US and allowed drones to operate from its territory until April 2011, when NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Salala incident. WikiLeaks cables also revealed that Pakistan’s Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani sanctioned the flights and in 2008 even asked the CIA for more “Predator coverage.” 

Ordinary Pakistanis have also repeatedly protested against these attacks as a violation of its sovereignty and because of immense civilian collateral damage, including the death dozens of women and children.

Mar 052013
 

 

Published on Mar 4, 2013

Internment camps for political dissidents in the U.S. aren’t a conspiracy theory. The Department of Defense document entitled “INTERNMENT AND RESETTLEMENT OPERATIONS” or FM 3-39.40 proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Army hiring for these internment camps:
http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-job… Continue reading »

Feb 102013
 

The Daily Bell

Thomas Herbrich: “The Truth About the Moon Landing” satirical take … For his project, Herbrich, whose work will be on view in March at the Circulation(s) Festival in Paris, wanted to concoct his own hoax not about the moon landing itself but about the photographs documenting the famous first steps on the moon. Herbrich invented a character, the fictitious “Uncle Stanley,” to insert into the events surrounding the moon landing as a starting point for the story. The premise of the series is that Uncle Stanley is behind the photos of the astronauts first landing and walking on the moon (including the famous photo of Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the moon’s surface). Stanley was, allegedly, one of rocket scientist Wernher von Braun’s friends and co-workers at NASA. In addition to staging the moon landing photos, Uncle Stan purportedly came up with the 10-seconds-to-launch countdown. – Slate

Dominant Social Theme: These fellows have bigger tin foil hats than anyone.

Free-Market Analysis: Doubts about NASA’s landing on the moon persist despite everything that NASA and its enablers and supporters do to stamp them out.

Various satires (see above) and the odd video continue to emerge on a regular basis to combat outbreaks of disbelief by those who increasingly don’t believe the official story. See also our article on a recent video, “Why the US Moon Landing Was Not Faked.”

Recent polls have shown that up to 30 percent of those questioned on the issue have considerable doubts that man reached the moon. The frustration is almost palpable among those who support the official narrative and we understand why this should be so.

The various landings on the moon are among humankind’s most significant accomplishments – assuming they are as reported – and are also a resonant triumph for the modern US … as leviathan and empire.

The moon landings, in fact, are a most significant elite dominant social theme. They act as a metaphor for the regnant State, a justification for big government, a signifier for empire.

Everything about the moon landings supports the current scenario of the Western paradigm. NASA is a gigantic bureaucracy; the astronauts worked for the US military; the political wing of the US empire provided the funding.

If the moon landings are a hoax, then a basic anchor of the military-industrial complex is unmoored.

This is why the moon-landing hoax won’t go away, why the “hoax-ers” are taken so seriously by the Anglo-American Establishment and why so much time and energy is devoted to attacking them and “debunking the debunkers.”

In the excerpted report article above posted at Slate, we can see yet another attempt at mocking those who doubt. Slate, a certifiable elite mouthpiece with leftist inclinations, is just one more outlet that can provide us with coverage of what “sensible” people think of the loons who don’t believe NASA’s presentation of the facts.

We’ve carried plenty of articles about NASA’s moon landings and indicated our skepticism of the current official narrative. And debunking videos and articles are posted all over the Internet – as are rebuttals. It is a fierce argument that, like the 9/11 debate, refuses to die.

Other debunking arguments have been given life by what we call the Internet Reformation. The shootings of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy as well as the assassination of Martin Luther King.

The reason there are increasing – not decreasing – doubts about official stories on almost any controversial topic is because we are today in possession of a narrative that was not available before the advent of electronic communications.

Today, we can see the sweep of modern Western history – official history – and compare it to another narrative that has been patiently constructed over the past two decades by emergent alternative media.

The alternative narrative is both shocking and compelling. It postulates the existence of a small group of impossibly wealthy individuals funded by the Internet who seek world government and are manipulating historical events to gain it.

These people use Money Power to create directed history – always with the end goal of global governance in mind. War, depression and regulatory democracy are all manipulated toward one end: the centralization of power.

Keeping this narrative in mind, it is perfectly understandable that those who doubt the official story about the moon landings should emerge and continue to voice their difficulties with the official story.

What is driving the moon doubters is not so much the particulars of the explanations as the larger view of how the power elite has operated over the past century or more.

The ramifications are sociological, political and, of course, economic. As trust erodes in the current moorings of monetary and fiscal policy, significant sums of money are at stake. If the current central banking paradigm is jeopardized as a result of doubts generated elsewhere, then a social breakdown can take place – one that can jeopardize the very fabric of economy.

And yet the doubts persist and even expand. One can argue, in fact, that the rise and continuance of moon landing skepticism already serve as a kind of metaphor for a larger cultural breakdown.

This is surely the reason for the amount of pushback that moon-hoax believers receive from mainstream sources. The debunking Websites and the energy generally devoted to maintaining the official moon narrative is startling. It is as vehement and persistent as debunking rhetoric itself.

We are continually surprised by these mainstream arguments, as we know of only a few other elite memes that attract as much defensive energy. Perhaps no others.

Conclusion: Within this context we can perhaps paraphrase Shakespeare: “”The lady doth protest too much …” (Hamlet)

Continue reading »

Feb 082013
 

Wired
Spencer Ackerman

Here are indications of the lingering costs of 11 years of warfare. Nearly 130,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and vastly more have experienced brain injuries. Over 1,700 have undergone life-changing limb amputations. Over 50,000 have been wounded in action. As of Wednesday, 6,656 U.S. troops and Defense Department civilians have died.

That updated data (.pdf) comes from a new Congressional Research Service report into military casualty statistics that can sometimes be difficult to find — and even more difficult for American society to fully appreciate. It almost certainly understates the extent of the costs of war.

Start with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Counting since 2001 across the U.S. military services, 129,731 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with the disorder since 2001. The vast majority of those, nearly 104,000, have come from deployed personnel.

But that’s the tip of the PTSD iceberg, since not all — and perhaps not even most — PTSD cases are diagnosed. The former vice chief of staff of the Army, retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, has proposed dropping the “D” from PTSD so as not to stigmatize those who suffer from it — and, perhaps, encourage more veterans to seek diagnosis and treatment for it. (Not all veterans advocates agree with Chiarelli.)

The congressional study also brings to light the extent of one of the signature injuries of the post-9/11 wars, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), often suffered by survivors of explosions from homemade insurgent bombs. From 2000 (a pre-9/11 year probably chosen for inclusion for control purposes) to the end of 2012, some 253,330 troops have experienced TBI in some form. About 77 percent of those cases are classified by the Defense Department as “mild,” meaning a “confused or disoriented state lasting less than 24 hours; loss of consciousness for up to thirty minutes; memory loss lasting less than 24 hours; and structural brain imaging that yields normal results.”

More-severe TBI is measured along those metrics, lasting longer than a day. Nearly 6,500 of of those cases are “severe or penetrating TBI,” which include the effects of open head injuries, skull fractures, or projectiles lodged in the brain.

Like with PTSD, the TBI diagnoses scratch the surface. The military’s screening for TBI is notoriously bad: One former Army chief of staff described it as “basically a coin flip.” Worse, poor military medical technology, particularly in bandwidth-deprived areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, have made it uncertain that battlefield diagnoses of TBI actually transmit back to troops’ permanent medical files.

Amputations are a feature of any prolonged war. Almost 800 Iraq veterans have undergone “major limb” amputations, such as a leg, and another 194 have experienced partial foot, finger or other so-called “minor limb” losses. For Afghanistan veterans, those numbers are 696 and 28, respectively.

The Iraq war is over for all but a handful of U.S. troops and thousands of contractors. The Afghanistan war is in the process of a troop drawdown through 2014 of unknown speed and will feature a residual troop presence of unknown size. Even if the U.S. deaths and injuries in those wars may almost be over, the aftereffects of the wars on a huge number of veterans will not end. Continue reading »

Oct 312012
 

4SS
Thomas L. Knapp

When pundits name-check “the welfare-warfare state,” we usually mean, and are usually understood to mean, something along the lines of “bread and circuses at home, military adventurism abroad.”

That’s as good a definition as any, I suppose, and certainly an accurate description of today’s global political environment, but it fails to really capture the nature of the post-WWII trend in US politics.

In America, the “welfare” and “warfare” aspects of the state have, over that period, achieved a near-perfect merger. Rather than representing one side of two mutually reinforcing but nominally separate sets of policies, US “defense” spending has become the single largest, and by far most redistributive, welfare program in the federal budget.

This phenomenon is best illustrated by the Hobson’s Choice offered in the final debate between US president Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: “Draconian cuts” of 10% growth (yes, you read that right) over the next five years (Obama) or 18% growth over the same period (Romney). Real cuts aren’t even on the table. Like Henry Ford said, you can get any color Model T you want, as long as it’s black.

The numbers are constantly changing, but a 2010 baseline looks like this:

Approximately 1.4 million Americans work as members of the armed forces, and another 1.6 million workers labor in the civilian “defense” industry. These Americans are welfare clients of the “workfare” variety.

As an economic factor, they might just as well be digging holes and filling them back in (in fact, as a US Marine infantryman, I did quite a bit of exactly that!). The vast bulk of the work they do serves no “legitimate” function with respect to actual defense of the United States from attack or invasion, and in fact more likely increases the risks of such.

Some high double-digit percentage — I think 75% is a reasonable and conservative estimate — of “defense” spending is not about “defense” in any meaningful sense of the word. It’s about keeping those 3 million workers on the clock, and keeping their politically connected employers in profit.

Those 3 million workfare clients cost the American taxpayer $700 billion per year — $233,000 per client. But they don’t take that much home, of course. If their average income tracks to US per capita, they take home an average of $41,500 per year each, or a total of nearly $125 billion.

Where does the other $575 billion go? That’s the gross rakeoff, after workfare costs but before other overhead, of the real welfare queens: “Defense contractors.” If we generously assume that 25% of that rakeoff actually does produce “legitimate” defense benefits, they are knocking down more than $430 billion in welfare checks. But let’s be fair: According to the US Department of Defense, the top 20 “defense” contractors average a profit margin of only about 4%. So, $17 billion.

With that much money at stake, the $30 million or so that “defense”-related contributors have spent on the 2012 election so far is chump change: About 2/10ths of 1% of the profits they get from having politicians on their side.

If that was the end of it, it would be pretty bad — one out of every five dollars earned by American workers siphoned off on an incredibly inefficient welfare program. But that’s not the end of it at all. The existence of the welfare program is a major incentive for going to war early and often.

First, when you have a $700 billion hammer, it’s easy to fall into the habit of looking at every problem as a nail.

And secondly, welfare programs are expected, by everyone involved, to demonstrate their own necessity. If peace breaks out, the workfare clients go back to doing something else … and “defense” contractors have to cut back on the caviar and brie.

There’s no easy way out of the situation. If we have a welfare-warfare state, we’re going to spend a lot of blood and treasure on wars. And if we have a state, it’s going to become, and do everything in its operators’ power to remain, a welfare-warfare state. You can have politics or you can have peace, but you can’t have both.

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