May 182013
 
There is clear evidence that he has broken the law on multiple occasions. And not even Republicans seem to care.

The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

obama full full full.jpg

Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. He. Has. Continue reading »

May 072013
 

Land Destroyer
Tony Cartalucci

The US feigns disassociation with Hitlerian act of Israeli aggression – as was planned since 2007.

Image: The West has carefully cultivated Israel into “regional bully.” Immune from international condemnation, it is now being used to commit egregious war crimes against neighboring Syria, in hopes of provoking a retaliation and giving the US and its regional axis the justification it has long sought to militarily intervene.

….

May 5, 2013 (LD) – Unprovoked, Israel has attacked Syria numerous times over the past 2 days, including attacks on the Syrian capital of Damascus, in what appears to be a series of intentional provocations designed to drag the region into a wider conflict its US sponsors can then enter militarily. Neither attacked directly by Syria, nor able to cite credible evidence in regards to perceived threats Israel claims to be reacting to, the assault on Syria represents a Chapter VII breach of the United Nations Charter.

What’s more, is that while the US feigns disassociation with Israel’s breach of international peace, after jointly fueling a genocidal sectarian conflict within Syria’s borders for the past two years, it is documented fact that the US and Saudi Arabia planned to use Israel to conduct military attacks against Iran and Syria, they themselves could not justify politically, legally, or strategically.

What is now hoped is that Syria and Iran retaliate militarily, allowing the “other shoe to drop,” and for the US, UK, France, and their regional axis to directly intervene in Syria, and with any luck, Iran.

Insidious Ploy Engineered and Documented in 2007-2009

As early as 2007, it was reported that a US-Saudi-Israeli conspiracy to overthrow the governments of Iran and Syria by arming sectarian terrorists, many linked directly to Al Qaeda, was already set in motion. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” stated (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Of Israel and Saudi Arabia’s partnership it specifically stated:
“The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.”

Additionally, Saudi Arabian officials mentioned the careful balancing act their nation must play in order to conceal its role in supporting US-Israeli ambitions across the region. It was stated even then, that using Israel to publicly carry out attacks on Iran would be preferable to the US, which would ultimately implicate the Saudis. It was stated:

“The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. “We have two nightmares,” the former diplomat told me. “For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.””

This ploy was further developed in 2009 by the Fortune 500-funded (page 19) Brookings Institution in their document, “Which Path to Persia?” In regards to Iran, and now clearly being utilized against Syria, the gambit was described as follows (emphasis added):

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.) ” –page 84-85, Which Path to Perisa?, Brookings Institution.

And:

“Israel appears to have done extensive planning and practice for such a strike already, and its aircraft are probably already based as close to Iran as possible. as such, Israel might be able to launch the strike in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what weather and intelligence conditions it felt it needed.  Moreover, since Israel would have much less of a need (or even interest)  in securing regional support for the operation, Jerusalem probably would feel less motivated to wait for an Iranian provocation before attacking. In short, Israel could move very fast to implement this option if both Israeli and American leaders wanted it to happen.

However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).” page 91, Which Path to Perisa?, Brookings Institution.

And Israel not waiting for a plausible justification to attack Syria is exactly what has just happened. It should also be noted in particular, the last paragraph which gives insight into what the US-led axis plans to do after this egregious international crime – that is – to incrementally engulf the region into a conflict it finally can justify its own entry into open military aggression.

What Should Syria and its Allies Do? 

Syria, Iran, Russia and other nations that support the besieged nation most certainly were aware of the Brookings document “Which Path to Persia?” and familiar with this strategy. It would be hoped that anything of value that the Israelis would seek to attack in order to provoke a much desired retaliation and subsequent war, would have been provided additional protection, or moved entirely out of range of potential Israeli attacks.

A media campaign to illustrate the hypocritical and very revealing convergence between Al Qaeda (the so-called Free Syrian Army or FSA) and Israeli interests would undermine whatever remaining support the battered and failing Western-backed terror campaign inside Syria may still have.

Additionally, Israel’s selection by the US to carry out this attack was done specifically because Israel has long-ago exhausted its international legitimacy. What it is doing in Syria is a blatant international crime, in direct violation of international law. Currently, Syria and its allies hold the moral high ground against an enemy who is no longer fooling the world. If it is calculated that Syria can survive Israel’s unprovoked brutality, it would be best to do little or nothing, and incur internationally the same outrage that accompanies Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians.

In light of the US using Israel as its proxy against Syria, should Syria and its allies retaliate, it would be best to do so through any proxies they themselves have at their disposal. Just as Hezbollah and the Palestinians now routinely defeat Israel both strategically and politically, Syria now faces an opportunity to do so again, only on a much bigger scale.

The outrageous actions of Israel, the despicable double-game the US attempts to play by feigning disassociation with its regional beachhead in Tel Aviv, and the silent complicity of the UN, has people around the world desperately seeking retaliation from Syria, or Iran, or both. In reality, this is precisely what the West hopes to achieve – a wider conventional war in which they hold the advantage. By refusing to retaliate directly, Syria cripples the West politically, highlighting the unprovoked nature of their attacks on a nation they claim is a threat, yet fails to strike back even when its capital is under bombardment. By responding through its own plausibly deniable proxies, tactical and political pressure can be put on Israel to end its aggression.
Continue reading »

Apr 102013
 

Mondoweiss
Philip Weiss
Adam Horowitz

An important case in Britain, pointed out to me by Abdeen Jabara and Antony Loewenstein, who writes,

“Memo to British Zionists; being anti-Zionist [is] as human as oxygen: Witness the debacle within the British Zionist establishment, via Haaretz, and the increasingly desperate ways that so-called leaders there will do anything to defend Israeli policies without for a minute actually considering what the Jewish state has become; a brutish occupier.”

The case involves a suit brought against an academic union by an Israel-supporting professor who wanted the tribunal to condemn anti-Israel speech as anti-Semitism because, he claimed, an affinity to Israel was an intrinsic part of his and others’ Jewish identity.  Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz says the ruling that such speech does not constitute anti-Semitism has produced “turmoil” in the ranks of British Jewry. I particularly like the bit at the end, where the judge told the plaintiff if he doesn’t want to get his feelings hurt, he should avoid political debate:

The case was to have been the culmination of 11 years of pro-Israel activism by [Ronnie] Fraser, a mathematics lecturer who had been fighting against what he saw as a virulently anti-Israel tide, with a distinct tinge of anti-Semitism, rising in the union to which he belongs.

Alongside him was Anthony Julius, one of the most prominent Jewish lawyers in Britain and a tireless opponent of anti-Semitism. Supporting the two were a cast of witnesses including Jewish and sympathetic non-Jewish activists, academics and politicians….

The lawsuit was backed both financially and in terms of considerable research resources by organizations linked to the central British Jewry leadership forums, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

But beyond the factual disputes in the case, the fundamental basis of the Fraser’s accusations was that Jews possess a strong feeling of affinity toward Israel that is an intrinsic part of their Jewish identity. Therefore, he claimed, when an organization to which they belong constantly attacks Israel in a manner they deem unfair, it constitutes a direct attack on their identity…
The defendants also had their own Jewish supporters. Fifty Jewish UCU [University and College Union] members signed an open letter praising their union and denying that there was any sort of institutional anti-Semitism within its ranks. Julius responded that it was simply a standard anti-Semitic ploy of dividing Jews into good-Jew/bad-Jew categories.
But the well-built and detailed case was shattered by the tribunal’s ruling. The panel, headed by Judge A.M. Snelson, accepted UCU’s version of all the events in question, and found that most of the claims were no longer valid in any case, due to a change in the laws.
Beyond that, it fundamentally disagreed with the central claim underpinning the complaints. The tribunal wrote in its judgment that “a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel or any similar sentiment cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not intrinsically a part of Jewishness.”
And while many Jews would agree with that ruling, the tribunal did not stop there. At the end of its 45-page ruling, it launched into an extraordinarily hostile invective against the very nature of the case brought before it. Though the panel was generally sympathetic to Fraser himself, it stated that as an activist “he must accept his fair share of minor injuries. … A political activist accepts the risk of being offended or hurt on occasions.”

In addition, Ben White reports the case may have been supported by the Israeli government:

Was the Israeli government involved too? A senior official at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently revealed that, “over the last six months Israel has taken on two (court) cases in partnership with UK Jewry” in fighting Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). This very likely includes Fraser’s case, yet Anthony Julius had previously denied any such links, saying that to assume the case was “being supported by the Israeli government” is a “fantasy”. Continue reading »

Apr 022013
 

Oxford Journals
Eran Elhaik

Abstract

The question of Jewish ancestry has been the subject of controversy for over two centuries and has yet to be resolved. The “Rhineland Hypothesis” depicts Eastern European Jews as a „population isolate” that emerged from a small group of German Jews who migrated eastward and expanded rapidly. Alternatively, the „Khazarian Hypothesis” suggests that Eastern European Jew descended from the Khazars, an amalgam of Turkic clans that settled the Caucasus in the early centuries CE and converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman Jews continuously reinforced the Judaized Empire until the 13th century. Following the collapse of their empire, the Judeo-Khazars fled to Eastern Europe. The rise of European Jewry is therefore explained by the contribution of the Judeo-Khazars. Thus far, however, the Khazar’s contribution has been estimated only empirically, as the absence of genome-wide data from Caucasus populations precluded testing the Khazarian Hypothesis. Recent sequencing of modern Caucasus populations prompted us to revisit the Khazarian Hypothesis and compare it with the Rhineland Hypothesis. We applied a wide range of population genetic analyses to compare these two hypotheses. Our findings support the Khazarian Hypothesis and portray the European Jewish genome as a mosaic of Caucasus, European, and Semitic ancestries, thereby consolidating previous contradictory reports of Jewish ancestry. We further describe major difference among Caucasus populations explained by early presence of Judeans in the Southern and Central Caucasus. Our results have important implications on the demographic forces that shaped the genetic diversity in the Caucasus and medical studies.


Full Study (PDF)

Continue reading »

Feb 042013
 

Israel is causing grave injustice to dozens of old, poverty-stricken communities that make a living from herding and farming.

Haaretz

The campaign of destruction in the northern Jordan Valley continued for a week. As reported by Amira Hass ‏(on February 1‏) it started in January 17 at 6:30 in the morning, when bulldozers and Jeeps with soldiers and representatives of the IDF’s Civil Administration in the West Bank removed 60 Palestinians, including 36 children, and destroyed 46 tents and improvised structures. Thirty-two emergency tents from the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations given to the residents after the destruction were confiscated two days later. The soldiers checked every vehicle at the site to make sure none were carrying humanitarian goods, and the water in the tanks was poured out.

The declared reason for the destruction is usually “military exercises.” In 2012, eight times the IDF ordered the 17 communities of shepherds and farmers to temporarily leave their tents for that reason. But despite the fact that firing ranges already make up 45.7 percent of the area of the Jordan Valley, this is not enough for Israel: 20 percent of the area was declared a nature reserve; hundreds of thousands of mines were laid in the area; 2,500 dunams ‏(about 625 acres‏) that were farmed by Palestinians were confiscated for the separation barrier. In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.

All this comes at the same time that Israeli settlements in the very same region live in peace and quiet, and are not required to evacuate. The IDF and Civil Administration’s brutal activities, which in addition to the destruction of the camps also includes cruelty in everything connected with access to water, is part of the consistent implementation of a nationalist policy based on the desire to uproot entire Palestinian populations from Area C and transfer them to Area A. In its desire to cleanse strategic centers of the West Bank ‏(South Hebron Hills, the Khan al-Ahmar area and northern Jordan Valley‏) of Palestinian residents, Israel is causing grave injustice to dozens of old, poverty-stricken communities that make a living from herding and farming. Except for the fact that this is a cruel and inhuman policy that stands in opposition to every democratic and civilized principle, this behavior proves that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to renew peace negotiations is nothing but a ploy. Continue reading »

Jan 312013
 

Associated Press
Ben Hubbard

DAMASCUS AIRSTRIKE

Map locates Jamraya, Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Israel conducted a rare airstrike on a military target inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, foreign officials and Syrian state TV said Wednesday, amid fears President Bashar Assad’s regime could provide powerful weapons to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Regional security officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military force and a sworn enemy of the Jewish state. Among Israeli officials’ chief fears is that Assad will pass chemical weapons or sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah — something that could change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.

The regional officials said the shipment Israel was planning to strike included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah by enabling the group to carry out fiercer attacks on Israel and shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. A U.S. official said the strike hit a convoy of trucks but did not give an exact location.

The Syrian military confirmed the strike in a statement read aloud on state TV, but it said the jets bombed a military research center in the area of Jamraya, northwest of the capital, Damascus, and about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the border with Lebanon.

The statement said the center was responsible for “raising the level of resistance and self-defense” of Syria’s military. It said the strike destroyed the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others.

The Syrian army statement denied that the strike had targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon, instead portraying the strike as linked to the civil war pitting Assad’s forces against rebels seeking to push him from power.

“This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people,” the statement said.

The Israeli military declined to comment, and the location could not be independently confirmed because of reporting restrictions in Syria.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel’s destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past. Syria has long been among the militant group’s most significant backers and is suspected of supplying with funding and arms, as well as a land corridor to Iran.

This strike also comes as Syria is enmeshed in a civil war. The rebels have seized a large swath of territory in the country’s north and established footholds in a number of Damascus suburbs, though Assad’s forces still control the city and much of the rest of the country.

While Assad’s fall does not appear imminent, analysts worry he could grow desperate as his power wanes and seek to cause trouble elsewhere in the region through proxy groups like Hezbollah.

Syria’s government portrays the crisis, which started with political protest in 2011 and has since become a civil war, as a foreign-backed conspiracy meant to destroy the country.

Top Israeli officials have recently expressed worries that Assad’s regime could pass chemical weapons to Hezbollah or other militant groups.

President Barack Obama has called Syria’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” whose crossing could prompt a tougher U.S. response, but U.S. officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be under regime control.

The strike, carried out either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, appears to be the latest move in a long running race by Hezbollah to increase its military power while Israel seeks to limit it.

Continue reading »

Jan 202013
 

Iran English Radio
Americans slam US support of Zionist regime 

Americans have taken to the streets in Washington DC to condemn US President Barack Obama’s ongoing financial support of Zionist regime, as his country continues in its economic doldrums.

According to Press TV, Cathy Lisa Schneider, with the Jewish Voice for Peace, at a rally march held in the nation’s capital said “We are providing a big part of the budget to a country…spending a lot of money in Occupied Palestinian Territories and we are not asking any questions about how the money is being spent.”

Activists criticized the US for its incontestable financial support of Zionist regime, particularly at a time when numerous polls also indicate that a majority of Americans are not in favor of the White House’s policies regarding the handling of the economic crisis.

Schneider added “We should question what is being done with that money and if the country is violating international law, domestic law.”

The demonstrators went on to condemn Washington for supporting Zionist regime’s aggression against the Palestinian people.

Ibrahim Oweiss a former professor at Georgetown University said “We are giving Zionist regime aid to help the country to demolish other people, to demolish their homes, to obstruct peace.”

Continue reading »