Help Us Transmit This Story
Despite no agreement being announced during Special Envoy Marc Grossman’s visit to Pakistan last week, Pakistan Today reports that negotiations between Pakistan and the US had continued, and an agreement on transportation of NATO supplies through Pakistan, along with the resumption of the flow of support funding for Pakistan, was to be announced as early as today. Those plans, and the prospects for finalizing an agreement, were disrupted Sunday when the CIA unilaterally restarted drone attacks inside Pakistan, striking a former girls’ school in which Uzbek and Tajik militants were said to be holed up.
Here is how Pakistan Today described the current situation:
Intense negotiations between US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have finally paved the way for the reopening of blocked NATO supplies and release of arrears under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) by Washington, and a breakthrough in this regard is likely in a day or two, Pakistan Today learnt on Sunday.
This breakthrough is said to be planned for Monday (today) but Sunday’s drone strike in North Waziristan by CIA despite a clear ‘no’ to such attacks by Pakistani parliament has not gone down well with Pakistani authorities and it could impact the process of reconciliation between Islamabad and Washington.
“Ambassador Grossman has left Islamabad but around 10 American officials are still here finalizing a deal on NATO reopening and CSF arrears’ release,” the diplomat said.
A member of the federal cabinet, Sheikh Waqas Akram disclosed that Islamabad and Washington were very close to reaching a deal on NATO supplies and CSF dues’ release.
“Yes that is true, this breakthrough is imminent and it was revealed by Ambassador Grossman himself when he met me and some other parliamentarians in his recent visit to Islamabad,” Akram, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, said. He said that a breakthrough on NATO supplies and CSF arrears, according to his information was about to take place today (Monday) but the latest drone strike in North Waziristan could again sabotage the reconciliatory efforts.
Akram then placed blame for the drone strike on “hawkish elements” in the US and suggested it was intended to disrupt negotiations:
“It seems that the hawkish elements in US establishment and among the political circles there do not want the improvement of ties between Pakistan and the US,” Akram said.
Leading these “hawkish elements”, of course, is the CIA, which both the Washington Post and New York Times identify as behind the drone strike Sunday. Both papers noted how Sunday’s strike undermines the ongoing negotiations. From the Times:
The C.I.A. strike underlined the tensions between American diplomatic and security priorities in Pakistan. Officials from the two countries are trying to reset relations that stalled badly after American warplanes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghanistan border in November.
Last week, President Obama sent his regional representative, Marc Grossman, to Islamabad for two days of high-level talks that aimed to reach agreement on a variety of contentious issues, including drone strikes, the reopening of NATO supply lines and the clearing of at least $1 billion in American military aid that is overdue.
Diplomats from both countries insist that their talks are starting to make progress in some areas, like the reopening of NATO supply lines, the dispute about overdue military aid — variously estimated between $1.18 billion and $3 billion — and the nudging of the Afghan Taliban toward peace talks.
Yet the drone strike on Sunday in Miram Shah indicated that the C.I.A. would press ahead with its operations.
And from the Post:
CIA drone missiles hit militant targets in Pakistan on Sunday for the first time in a month, as the United States ignored the Pakistani government’s insistence that such attacks end as a condition for normalized relations between the two perpetually uneasy allies.
The drone strikes, which have long infuriated the Pakistani public, killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters in a girls’ school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials there said.
Warning of diplomatic consequences, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attacks, the first since Parliament’s unanimous vote this month approving new guidelines for the country’s relationship with the United States. Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back already difficult negotiations over the reopening of vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.
Although the Times and Post note that Pakistani diplomats are not pleased by the attacks, they did not carry the strongest reactions from Pakistan. The Express Tribune quotes a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office pointing out that drone attacks inside Pakistan are a violation of international law:
A statement issued by the Foreign Office denounced the latest strike as “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.
“Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations,” it added. The matter would be taken up through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.
As I noted a couple of weeks ago, an apology from the US for November’s border post attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers is seen as one of the remaining actions needed to reach a final agreement on reopening the supply routes. Pakistan believed then that John Kerry would travel to Pakistan on April 29 to deliver the apology. The Pakistan Today article cited above repeats the expectation that an apology is still expected, but the Washington Post article states flatly that “Washington has made it clear that an apology will not be forthcoming”, echoing the report in the New York Times on Friday that no apology was forthcoming.
The CIA on Sunday added an exclamation point to that flat statement.
House Republicans are not ready to proceed with a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious scandal, but there are clear signals that that GOP patience with the Justice Department is wearing thin.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday night that Speaker John Boehner had “given the green light” to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to pursue a contempt citation against Holder and the Justice Department for failing to comply with the panel’s probe into the hugely controversial program.
“While there are very legitimate arguments to be made in favor of such an action, no decision has been made to move forward with one by the Speaker or by House Republican leaders,” a senior GOP leadership aide said.
“The Justice Department has not fully cooperated with the investigation into gunwalking that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious. The House Oversight Committee continues to make necessary preparations to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt if the Justice Department refuses to change course and stop blocking access to critical documents,” a spokesman for Issa added.
“While the committee continues to move toward consideration of contempt, it is important to note that the next step in the process of contempt must be made by the Oversight Committee. Reports, based on anonymous sources, that decisions for consideration of contempt on the House floor have already been made are inaccurate.”
The Times also reported it had obtained a draft 48-page contempt resolution being circulated by Issa’s staff. Committee sources confirmed the authenticity of the document but again cautioned that no final call had been made on whether to press the issue with a floor vote.
DOJ and White House officials counter that they have cooperated fully with Issa’s probe, turning over thousands of pages of documents to the panel and responding to dozen of inquiries from individual lawmakers.
Fast and Furious was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from 2009 to 2011. Agents allowed hundreds of illegal gun sales to occur in the hopes of tracking the weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
Instead, hundreds of guns disappeared or were used in other illegal activities inside Mexico. Two guns smuggled into Mexico under the program were recovered at the site where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.
Dozens of House and Senate Republicans – although not Issa – have called for Holder to resign over the scandal. So far he and President Barack Obama have dismissed the demands as politically motivated.
Enforcing a contempt resolution against Holder would be difficult even if approved by the House. During the Democratic-led probe into the U.S. Attorney firing scandal in 2007-8, both criminal and civil contempt resolutions were approved by the House as it sought internal White House documents and testimony from senior presidential aides, including Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff.
The Justice Department, then under former President George W. Bush at that time, refused to enforce the criminal contempt citation. The House Judiciary Committee then sued the White House in civil court. While the Judiciary Committee won an early round in the legal fight, the two sides eventually worked out a deal to make some of the information and staffers available, fearing that a court ruling could set a precedent that future presidents and Congresses would regret.
Unions, pensioners, student associations and others infuriated by austerity cuts took part in a protest rally on Saturday, chanting “Enough is enough.”
The protesters demanded the government’s resignation over reforms and budget cuts and called for early parliamentary elections as they blame the country’s budget deficit on capitalism, the government and spending cuts.
Unions have promised more protests and civil disobedience to paralyze the government unless their legitimate demands are met.
“They promised budgetary responsibility but instead the government debt is growing. They promised to fight graft but corruption has gripped their parties and the entire society,” Jaroslav Zavadil, the head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, told the crowd.
Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas says the austerity measures are needed to avoid falling in a “debt trap.”
The government has pledged to reduce the country’s budget deficit to below 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GPD) in 2013 from 3.5 percent expected this year.
The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, triggering incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European Countries.
SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.
Damascus blames armed terrorist groups for the country’s year-long unrest, asserting that violent acts are being orchestrated from abroad. Press TV has conducted an interview with Paul Sheldon Foote, professor at the California State University, Irvine, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview. Press TV: Professor, how would you explain Russia’s stance and position towards Syria? Foote: I think it’s time that someone started telling the truth about it. It’s very obvious that America, Israel and some Arab countries are behind this terrorism in Syria. A big lie for a long time, that America’s been at war with terrorism while they continually support terrorism in the region. It’s outrageous what they’re doing. Not only that, they’ve used that as an excuse in America for taking away our freedoms. It’s time for the people in the West to wake up to what’s really happening. It affects not only Syria but it affects all of us in the West too.
Press TV: Nearly a year into the crisis in Syria, many people around the world are asking this question, that what is the end game in Syria? What will happen after this 90-day period after Kofi Annan’s peace plan?
Foote: I think that those in the West who have started this don’t have any plans to stop in the near future. They would even be happy to see a civil war in the country totally torn into pieces.
Unfortunately, the only way it’s going to end is if there’s any decent people left in Syria who won’t take money or weapons from the Israelis, Americans or Arabs, and realize that what they’re doing is very treasonous.
Press TV: Why is it that the Syrian government is accused and not the opposition?
Foote: It’s the controlled media of the West. It’s like George Orwell: ‘black is white and white is black’. The Western media has great success in twisting every truth into a lie, and a lie into a truth.
Unfortunately, millions of people in America continue to listen only to the “lame-stream” media, as we call it here – the critics of the lies are the mainstream media.
Damascus blames armed terrorist groups for the country’s year-long unrest, asserting that violent acts are being orchestrated from abroad.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Paul Sheldon Foote, professor at the California State University, Irvine, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Professor, how would you explain Russia’s stance and position towards Syria?
Foote: I think it’s time that someone started telling the truth about it. It’s very obvious that America, Israel and some Arab countries are behind this terrorism in Syria.
A big lie for a long time, that America’s been at war with terrorism while they continually support terrorism in the region. It’s outrageous what they’re doing.
Not only that, they’ve used that as an excuse in America for taking away our freedoms. It’s time for the people in the West to wake up to what’s really happening. It affects not only Syria but it affects all of us in the West too.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to fund French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign – to the tune of 50 million euro, a new report says.
The Paris-based investigative website Mediapart published “documentary evidence” that Gaddafi was ready to stump up tens of millions of dollars to help Sarkozy win the French presidential race.
Mediapart claimed Saturday that the 2006 document was provided by “former senior [Libyan] officials, who are now in hiding.” They further claim the document came “from the archives of the secret service,” and was signed by Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief and later foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.
In it, Koussa noted “an agreement in principle to support the campaign for the candidate for presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to 50 million euro.”
Sarkozy attempted to deflect the allegations when confronted by a TF1 presenter, saying, “If [Gaddafi] had financed it, I wasn’t very grateful.” Sarkozy’s sarcastic comeback was in reference to France’s lead role in the NATO campaign that led to Gaddafi’s brutal demise.
‘It’s obviously an attempt to draw away attention after Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back on stage,’ Nicolas Sarkozy told the French media.
On Friday the former IMF-chief, who was once tipped to win France’s presidential vote, but dropped out of the race after a sex scandal, claimed Sarkozy and other political rivals orchestrated his downfall.
‘This only plays into Socialists’ hands as they don’t want to be reminded that they were going to make him the next French president,’ Sarkozy added.
In March 2012 Sarkozy also rejected claims he took €50 million from Muammar Gaddafi.
The scandal with alleged finance from Libya dates back to March 2011 when Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam demanded that Sarkozy return the money his family had given for the 2007 campaign:
“He’s disappointed us. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon,” – threatened Saif al-Islam in a TV interview during the NATO-backed military campaign in Libya.
French politicians are banned from receiving campaign contributions from foreign states, and a French judge is currently looking into the allegations.
The latest document has surfaced at a particularly sensitive time for Sarkozy, who lost the first round of the French presidential vote and is currently trailing his Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls.
The second round of the presidential election is scheduled for May 6.
You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda,” but “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative” and “organization”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming Western democracy.
What are you going to do about it?
In Britain, on instructions from the CIA, secret courts are to deal with “terror suspects.” Habeas Corpus is dying. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five men, including three British citizens, can be extradited to the US even though none except one has been charged with a crime. All have been imprisoned for years under the 2003 US/UK Extradition Treaty which was signed one month after the criminal invasion of Iraq. The European Court had condemned the treaty as likely to lead to “cruel and unusual punishment.” One of the men, Babar Ahmad, was awarded 63,000 pounds compensation for 73 recorded injuries he sustained in the custody of the Metropolitan Police. Sexual abuse, the signature of fascism, was high on the list. Another man is a schizophrenic, who has suffered a complete mental collapse and is in Broadmoor secure hospital; another is a suicide risk. To the Land of the Free they go – along with young Richard O’Dwyer, who faces ten years in shackles and an orange jump suit because he allegedly infringed US copyright on the Internet.
As the law is politicized and Americanized, these travesties are not untypical. In upholding the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating “terrorism” on the Internet, appeal court judges in London ruled that “acts … against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes” were now crimes. Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.
What are you going to do about it?
The prognosis is clear now: the malignancy that Norman Mailer called “pre fascist” has metastasized. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, defends the “right” of his government to assassinate American citizens. Israel, the protégé, is allowed to aim its nukes at nukeless Iran. In this looking glass world, the lying is panoramic. The massacre of 17 Afghan civilians on 11 March, including at least nine children and four women, is attributed to a “rogue” American soldier. The “authenticity” of this was vouched by President Obama himself, who had “seen a video” and regarded it as “conclusive proof.” An independent Afghan parliamentary investigation produced eyewitnesses who give detailed evidence of as many as 20 soldiers, aided by a helicopter, ravaging their villages, killing and raping: a standard, if marginally more murderous, US Special Forces “night raid.”
Take away the videogame technology of killing – America’s contribution to modernity – and the behavior is traditional. Immersed in comic-book righteousness, poorly or brutally trained, frequently racist, obese and led by a corrupt officer class, American forces transfer the homicide of home to faraway places whose impoverished struggles they cannot comprehend. A nation founded on the genocide of the native population never quite kicks the habit. Vietnam was “Indian country” and its “slits” and “gooks” were to be “blown away.
The blowing away of hundreds of mostly women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968 was also a “rogue” incident and, profanely, an “American tragedy” (the cover headline of Newsweek). Only one of 26 men prosecuted was convicted and he was let go by President Richard Nixon. My Lai is in Quang Ngai Province where, as I learned as a reporter, an estimated 50,000 people were killed by American troops, mostly in what they called “free fire zones.” This was the model of modern warfare: industrial murder.
Like Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan is a theme park for the beneficiaries of America’s new permanent war: NATO, the armaments and high-tech companies, the media and a “security” industry whose lucrative contamination is a contagion on everyday life. The conquest or “pacification” of territory is unimportant. What matters is the pacification of you, the cultivation of your indifference.
What are you going to do about it?
The descent into totalitarianism has landmarks. Any day now, the Supreme Court in London will decide whether WikiLeaks’ editor, Julian Assange, is to be extradited to Sweden. Should this final appeal fail, the facilitator of truth-telling on an epic scale, who is charged with no crime, faces solitary confinement and interrogation on ludicrous sex allegations. Thanks to a secret deal between the US and Sweden, he can be “rendered” to the American gulag at any time. In his own country, Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has conspired with those in Washington she calls her “true mates” to ensure her innocent fellow citizen is fitted for his orange jump suit just in case he should make it home. In February, her government wrote a “WikiLeaks Amendment” to the extradition treaty between Australia and the US that makes it easier for her “mates” to get their hands on him. She has even given them the power of approval over Freedom of Information searches – so that the world outside can be lied to, as is customary.
What are you going to do about it?