Monday, June 30, 2008

Christians In Palestine

A 2006 poll of Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, 90% reported having Muslim friends, 73.3% agreed that the Palestinian Authority treats Christian heritage in the city with respect and 78% attributed the ongoing exodus of Christians from Bethlehem to the Israeli blockade on the town.

AFRICOM Open To Working With China

By Charlie Coon,
Stars and Stripes Mideast edition,
Monday, June 30, 2008
Courtesy Of
Stars and Stripes

Second of a two-day Stripes series about AFRICOM)

STUTTGART, Germany — Energy-hungry China and the United States, the world’s two greatest oil consumers, are jockeying for influence over Africa’s vast economic potential. But as the two rivals sink their business hooks into the continent, soldiers from the two nations have also rubbed elbows there.

U.S. troops and contractors in Liberia, a nation about the size of Virginia, are training that country’s army, while about 580 Chinese soldiers in Liberia are staffing the ongoing U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Despite the U.S.-China rivalry — and different approaches toward the continent — the new U.S. Africa Command might see fit to eventually work there with China’s military, or anyone else’s, according to Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward, the AFRICOM commander.

"There’s work being done by many nations on the continent of Africa," Ward said. "Whether it’s the Chinese, the Indians, other European nations, other Asian nations — clearly to the degree that we can cooperate in reaching common objectives, we want to do that.

"And there’s enough work for all, to be sure."

As U.S. policy makers sort out the palatability of working with China, others ponder the common ground on which their militaries could operate in Africa.

While Stuttgart-based AFRICOM advertises humanitarian motives, critics condemn resource-poor China’s business-only approach toward buying oil from Sudan, minerals from Zimbabwe, and vital resources from other African nations.

"They sell weapons to Sudan that can be used to prolong the conflict in Darfur [and] build new power plants that support Robert Mugabe’s repressive regime in Zimbabwe," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., said June 5 at a hearing entitled "China in Africa: Implications for U.S. Policy."

The hearing was held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committeee’s Africa Relations Subcommittee.

"We as the international community should not tolerate such reckless behavior as it undermines global efforts to bring peace and security to these countries."

John J. Tkacik Jr., senior research fellow in Asian Studies at the Washington-based conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, said rulers such as Mugabe and Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir have simple aims that China is glad to accommodate.

"They say, ‘If you want money, you go to the Chinese; if you want to help reduce AIDS and malaria, you go to the Americans,’" Tkacik said. "Most African despots prefer the former."
China has defended its role in Sudan, noting that it appointed a special envoy for Darfur and has sent 140 engineers to work there with Africa Union and United Nations peacekeepers.
"Overall, relevant parties in the Darfur issue welcome China becoming more active in solving the problem," said the envoy, Liu Guijin. "They have seen China’s contribution. ... We’ll continue to work with the international community to push for a final solution," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Since 2003, as many as 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million people displaced in ethnic violence. Sudan’s Arab-dominated government, with which China deals, has denied perpetuating the violence.

China also voted last week with the U.N. Security Council to condemn the violence perpetrated against opponents of Mugabe, but called for Friday’s run-off election, from which Mugabe’s opponent withdrew, to proceed as scheduled.

"We hope relevant parties in Zimbabwe could put their national and people’s interest first, keep calm and refrained, and continue to solve their disputes peacefully through dialogue," Liu Jianchao, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday.

On Saturday, the United States went a step further.

President Bush called for an international arms embargo against Zimbabwe in the wake of the "sham election." The president also announced that the United States is drafting new economic sanctions that, for the first time, would take aim at Mugabe’s government.

AFRICOM, which is building toward full operation on Oct. 1, is consolidating U.S. military activity on the continent. Previous missions — military-to-military training, humanitarian efforts, peacekeeping support, and occasional combat — were overseen by three separate U.S. military commands.

One example of U.S.-China military cooperation was a recent effort toward rebuilding Liberian military facilities.

"This wasn’t emanating from above," said Stephen J. Morrison, executive director for the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. "They (U.S. and China) just happened to be side by side. Both were committed to this process. That was a good precedent."

Security, particularly at oil facilities, has become an issue for China as it develops oil resources on the continent, and could beckon more U.S.-China cooperation.

In April 2007, 74 people were killed in Ogaden, Ethiopia, when rebels attacked a Chinese-run oil exploration field. Chinese workers have been kidnapped in Nigeria and elsewhere.

That China often uses of its own workers instead of creating African jobs has rankled some.

Dr. Harvey Sicherman, president of the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, doubted the benefit of working alongside the Chinese military.

"What are their capabilities? They (Chinese) can train you how to shoot a little bit. That’s about it," said Sicherman, adding that China is also not known for having a humanitarian bent.

Sicherman speculated that the U.S. and China could address the major issue of piracy along Africa’s coasts.

"There it seems you would need a little coordination so you don’t end up shooting each other," he said.
Ward said the potential of working with China derives from the command’s desire to broadcast its goals, not hide them, and work with like-minded partners.

"Our intent is to be very open and transparent, with European nations, African nations and any other nations, quite frankly," Ward said. "If our foreign policy that says we work with these nations, to be sure, we would be very open [to it].

"If there is to be some sort of liaison relationship, where officers or [noncommissioned officers] of another country could come and be part of the staff, we clearly have a notion to have a structure that would permit that.

"It’s not there just yet," he added. "We’re building."

Day 1 Stories:

1. Visits designed to change perceptions among African nations

AFRICOM to rely on local knowledge in lieu of African headquarters

Hawaii Demands Independence From 'US Occupiers'

Queen Of Hawaii Demands Independence From 'US Occupiers'

The United States is an illegal occupying force that should hand the 132 islands of Hawaii back to the monarchy overthrown more than a century ago, according to members of a Native Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles
Last Updated: 12:26AM BST 30/06/2008
Courtesy Of The

For almost two months, the self-proclaimed Hawaiian Kingdom Government has peacefully occupied the grounds of the Iolani Palace, residence of the islands' last two monarchs, operating a shadow government from a tent erected in its stately grounds.

Her Majesty Mahealani Kahau, a descendant of Hawaii's last king who was elected "head of state" by the group, and her ministers gather each day to debate how to achieve their goal of restoring Native Hawaiian rule.

"We are here, we are real, we are in business," declares the group's website, which outlines its aim to "remove all laws, policies, rules and regulations" of the "occupying power" and "return Hawaii's independent status".

The group, which claims 1,000 followers, is demanding the dissolution of the State of Hawaii and the return of land and bank assets totalling billions of dollars.

Hawaii has about 200,000 Native Hawaiians, or kânaka maoli, out of a population of 1.3 million. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government is just one of a number of sovereignty groups, many with similar names, waging independence campaigns.

All aim to "right the wrong" inflicted on Native Hawaiians in 1893 when a small, mostly American group of sugar plantation owners and other businessmen overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy with the support of US troops sent ashore from a Navy warship.

The then monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, gave up her throne "to this superior force of the United States of America" and was imprisoned in the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, built by her brother King Kalakaua. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States and in 1959 became the 50th US state.

"The Hawaiian kingdom was unlawfully taken over by a coup d'etat and then those that took it over formed an illegal government and then ceded Hawaii to the United States," said Leon Siu, minister of foreign affairs for the Hawaiian Kingdom, another sovereignty group that shares many of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government's aims.

"There was never a lawful transfer of either jurisdiction or title, therefore what we are doing is asserting that the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists." Mr Siu said he was engaged in discussions with several countries as well as the United Nations as part of a bid to achieve "international recognition of our nation", in part by reviving treaties Hawaii had with other nations, including Britain, in the 19th century.

Sovereignty groups cite the so-called "Apology Resolution" signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 which acknowledged the 100th anniversary of the overthrow and apologised to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the US.

"The legal cause for the restoration of the kingdom is air-tight," said Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, who has been advising Hawaiian independence groups since 1992.

In addition to devising a draft constitution for one group, the Nation of Hawaii, Professor Boyle sued the US in the US Supreme Court in 1998, demanding the restoration of Hawaiian independence and reparations "for all the harm inflicted on the Kingdom of Hawaii".
He said rather than dismissing the case as "something totally frivolous" the court met several times to discuss it before determining the kingdom "was a non-recognised sovereign that does not have access to the US courts".

"Based on this experience I simply told them that we would have to wait until the Kingdom of Hawaii has achieved substantial diplomatic recognition and then I could file something in the international court of justice."

He described the occupation of Iolani Palace as "a very significant step in terms of their struggle to restore their kingdom their dignity and their land" and remains confident that Hawaii will at some stage achieve independence.

"Native Hawaiians operate in accordance with the Aloha spirit, which is similar to Mahatma Gandhi's Satyagraha force, and I take the position that if Gandhi can throw the mighty British Empire out of India with Satyagraha, Native Hawaiians can throw the mighty American empire out of Hawaii with Aloha."
Sovereignty groups reject as divisive and inadequate legislation being pursued by the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs that would grant Native Hawaiians partial self -governmence akin to that of American Indian tribes.

The State of Hawaii has so far turned a blind eye to the peaceful gatherings of Hawaiian Kingdom Government. No-one has been arrested and members have been careful not to break any laws. "As long as they comply with the permit conditions, they may continue to request permits to meet," Deborah Ward, of the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources, told the Associated Press.

More on: Hawaii >

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Preparing The Battlefield

The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

By Seymour M. Hersh
July 7, 2008
Courtesy Of The
New Yorker

Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations. They also include gathering intelligence about Iran’s suspected nuclear-weapons program.

Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials. Many of these activities are not specified in the new Finding, and some congressional leaders have had serious questions about their nature.

Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.

The request for funding came in the same period in which the Administration was coming to terms with a National Intelligence Estimate, released in December, that concluded that Iran had halted its work on nuclear weapons in 2003. The Administration downplayed the significance of the N.I.E., and, while saying that it was committed to diplomacy, continued to emphasize that urgent action was essential to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. President Bush questioned the N.I.E.’s conclusions, and senior national-security officials, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, made similar statements. (So did Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee.) Meanwhile, the Administration also revived charges that the Iranian leadership has been involved in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq: both directly, by dispatching commando units into Iraq, and indirectly, by supplying materials used for roadside bombs and other lethal goods. (There have been questions about the accuracy of the claims; the Times, among others, has reported that “significant uncertainties remain about the extent of that involvement.”)

Military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon share the White House’s concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but there is disagreement about whether a military strike is the right solution. Some Pentagon officials believe, as they have let Congress and the media know, that bombing Iran is not a viable response to the nuclear-proliferation issue, and that more diplomacy is necessary.

A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.” (A spokesman for Gates confirmed that he discussed the consequences of a strike at the meeting, but would not address what he said, other than to dispute the senator’s characterization.)

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose chairman is Admiral Mike Mullen, were “pushing back very hard” against White House pressure to undertake a military strike against Iran, the person familiar with the Finding told me. Similarly, a Pentagon consultant who is involved in the war on terror said that “at least ten senior flag and general officers, including combatant commanders”—the four-star officers who direct military operations around the world—“have weighed in on that issue.”

The most outspoken of those officers is Admiral William Fallon, who until recently was the head of U.S. Central Command, and thus in charge of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March, Fallon resigned under pressure, after giving a series of interviews stating his reservations about an armed attack on Iran. For example, late last year he told the Financial Times that the “real objective” of U.S. policy was to change the Iranians’ behavior, and that “attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice.”

Admiral Fallon acknowledged, when I spoke to him in June, that he had heard that there were people in the White House who were upset by his public statements. “Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians,” he told me. “Let’s get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone’s an individual. The idea that they’re only one way or another is nonsense.”

When it came to the Iraq war, Fallon said, “Did I bitch about some of the things that were being proposed? You bet. Some of them were very stupid.”

The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Senior Democrats in Congress told me that they had concerns about the possibility that their understanding of what the new operations entail differs from the White House’s. One issue has to do with a reference in the Finding, the person familiar with it recalled, to potential defensive lethal action by U.S. operatives in Iran. (In early May, the journalist Andrew Cockburn published elements of the Finding in Counterpunch, a newsletter and online magazine.)

The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

“This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

“The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

The defensive-lethal language led some Democrats, according to congressional sources familiar with their views, to call in the director of the C.I.A., Air Force General Michael V. Hayden, for a special briefing. Hayden reassured the legislators that the language did nothing more than provide authority for Special Forces operatives on the ground in Iran to shoot their way out if they faced capture or harm.

The legislators were far from convinced. One congressman subsequently wrote a personal letter to President Bush insisting that “no lethal action, period” had been authorized within Iran’s borders. As of June, he had received no answer.

Members of Congress have expressed skepticism in the past about the information provided by the White House. On March 15, 2005, David Obey, then the ranking Democrat on the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee, announced that he was putting aside an amendment that he had intended to offer that day, and that would have cut off all funding for national-intelligence programs unless the President agreed to keep Congress fully informed about clandestine military activities undertaken in the war on terror. He had changed his mind, he said, because the White House promised better coöperation. “The Executive Branch understands that we are not trying to dictate what they do,” he said in a floor speech at the time. “We are simply trying to see to it that what they do is consistent with American values and will not get the country in trouble.”

Obey declined to comment on the specifics of the operations in Iran, but he did tell me that the White House reneged on its promise to consult more fully with Congress. He said, “I suspect there’s something going on, but I don’t know what to believe. Cheney has always wanted to go after Iran, and if he had more time he’d find a way to do it. We still don’t get enough information from the agencies, and I have very little confidence that they give us information on the edge.”

None of the four Democrats in the Gang of Eight—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, and House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes—would comment on the Finding, with some noting that it was highly classified. An aide to one member of the Democratic leadership responded, on his behalf, by pointing to the limitations of the Gang of Eight process. The notification of a Finding, the aide said, “is just that—notification, and not a sign-off on activities. Proper oversight of ongoing intelligence activities is done by fully briefing the members of the intelligence committee.” However, Congress does have the means to challenge the White House once it has been sent a Finding. It has the power to withhold funding for any government operation. The members of the House and Senate Democratic leadership who have access to the Finding can also, if they choose to do so, and if they have shared concerns, come up with ways to exert their influence on Administration policy. (A spokesman for the C.I.A. said, “As a rule, we don’t comment one way or the other on allegations of covert activities or purported findings.” The White House also declined to comment.)

A member of the House Appropriations Committee acknowledged that, even with a Democratic victory in November, “it will take another year before we get the intelligence activities under control.” He went on, “We control the money and they can’t do anything without the money. Money is what it’s all about. But I’m very leery of this Administration.” He added, “This Administration has been so secretive.”

One irony of Admiral Fallon’s departure is that he was, in many areas, in agreement with President Bush on the threat posed by Iran. They had a good working relationship, Fallon told me, and, when he ran CENTCOM, were in regular communication. On March 4th, a week before his resignation, Fallon testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that he was “encouraged” about the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding the role played by Iran’s leaders, he said, “They’ve been absolutely unhelpful, very damaging, and I absolutely don’t condone any of their activities. And I have yet to see anything since I’ve been in this job in the way of a public action by Iran that’s been at all helpful in this region.”

Fallon made it clear in our conversations that he considered it inappropriate to comment publicly about the President, the Vice-President, or Special Operations. But he said he had heard that people in the White House had been “struggling” with his views on Iran. “When I arrived at CENTCOM, the Iranians were funding every entity inside Iraq. It was in their interest to get us out, and so they decided to kill as many Americans as they could. And why not? They didn’t know who’d come out ahead, but they wanted us out. I decided that I couldn’t resolve the situation in Iraq without the neighborhood. To get this problem in Iraq solved, we had to somehow involve Iran and Syria. I had to work the neighborhood.”

Fallon told me that his focus had been not on the Iranian nuclear issue, or on regime change there, but on “putting out the fires in Iraq.” There were constant discussions in Washington and in the field about how to engage Iran and, on the subject of the bombing option, Fallon said, he believed that “it would happen only if the Iranians did something stupid.”

Fallon’s early retirement, however, appears to have been provoked not only by his negative comments about bombing Iran but also by his strong belief in the chain of command and his insistence on being informed about Special Operations in his area of responsibility. One of Fallon’s defenders is retired Marine General John J. (Jack) Sheehan, whose last assignment was as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, where Fallon was a deputy. Last year, Sheehan rejected a White House offer to become the President’s “czar” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the reasons the White House selected Fallon for CENTCOM was that he’s known to be a strategic thinker and had demonstrated those skills in the Pacific,” Sheehan told me. (Fallon served as commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2005 to 2007.) “He was charged with coming up with an over-all coherent strategy for Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and, by law, the combatant commander is responsible for all military operations within his A.O.”—area of operations. “That was not happening,” Sheehan said. “When Fallon tried to make sense of all the overt and covert activity conducted by the military in his area of responsibility, a small group in the White House leadership shut him out.”

The law cited by Sheehan is the 1986 Defense Reorganization Act, known as Goldwater-Nichols, which defined the chain of command: from the President to the Secretary of Defense, through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and on to the various combatant commanders, who were put in charge of all aspects of military operations, including joint training and logistics. That authority, the act stated, was not to be shared with other echelons of command. But the Bush Administration, as part of its global war on terror, instituted new policies that undercut regional commanders-in-chief; for example, it gave Special Operations teams, at military commands around the world, the highest priority in terms of securing support and equipment. The degradation of the traditional chain of command in the past few years has been a point of tension between the White House and the uniformed military.

“The coherence of military strategy is being eroded because of undue civilian influence and direction of nonconventional military operations,” Sheehan said. “If you have small groups planning and conducting military operations outside the knowledge and control of the combatant commander, by default you can’t have a coherent military strategy. You end up with a disaster, like the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.”

Admiral Fallon, who is known as Fox, was aware that he would face special difficulties as the first Navy officer to lead CENTCOM, which had always been headed by a ground commander, one of his military colleagues told me. He was also aware that the Special Operations community would be a concern. “Fox said that there’s a lot of strange stuff going on in Special Ops, and I told him he had to figure out what they were really doing,” Fallon’s colleague said. “The Special Ops guys eventually figured out they needed Fox, and so they began to talk to him. Fox would have won his fight with Special Ops but for Cheney.”

The Pentagon consultant said, “Fallon went down because, in his own way, he was trying to prevent a war with Iran, and you have to admire him for that.”

In recent months, according to the Iranian media, there has been a surge in violence in Iran; it is impossible at this early stage, however, to credit JSOC or C.I.A. activities, or to assess their impact on the Iranian leadership. The Iranian press reports are being carefully monitored by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who has taught strategy at the National War College and now conducts war games centered on Iran for the federal government, think tanks, and universities. The Iranian press “is very open in describing the killings going on inside the country,” Gardiner said. It is, he said, “a controlled press, which makes it more important that it publishes these things. We begin to see inside the government.” He added, “Hardly a day goes by now we don’t see a clash somewhere. There were three or four incidents over a recent weekend, and the Iranians are even naming the Revolutionary Guard officers who have been killed.”

Earlier this year, a militant Ahwazi group claimed to have assassinated a Revolutionary Guard colonel, and the Iranian government acknowledged that an explosion in a cultural center in Shiraz, in the southern part of the country, which killed at least twelve people and injured more than two hundred, had been a terrorist act and not, as it earlier insisted, an accident. It could not be learned whether there has been American involvement in any specific incident in Iran, but, according to Gardiner, the Iranians have begun publicly blaming the U.S., Great Britain, and, more recently, the C.I.A. for some incidents. The agency was involved in a coup in Iran in 1953, and its support for the unpopular regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi—who was overthrown in 1979—was condemned for years by the ruling mullahs in Tehran, to great effect. “This is the ultimate for the Iranians—to blame the C.I.A.,” Gardiner said. “This is new, and it’s an escalation—a ratcheting up of tensions. It rallies support for the regime and shows the people that there is a continuing threat from the ‘Great Satan.’ ” In Gardiner’s view, the violence, rather than weakening Iran’s religious government, may generate support for it.

Many of the activities may be being carried out by dissidents in Iran, and not by Americans in the field. One problem with “passing money” (to use the term of the person familiar with the Finding) in a covert setting is that it is hard to control where the money goes and whom it benefits. Nonetheless, the former senior intelligence official said, “We’ve got exposure, because of the transfer of our weapons and our communications gear. The Iranians will be able to make the argument that the opposition was inspired by the Americans. How many times have we tried this without asking the right questions? Is the risk worth it?” One possible consequence of these operations would be a violent Iranian crackdown on one of the dissident groups, which could give the Bush Administration a reason to intervene.

A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr told me. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the U.S. is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said. “You can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population.”

The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.

The C.I.A. and Special Operations communities also have long-standing ties to two other dissident groups in Iran: the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K., and a Kurdish separatist group, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK.

The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”

The Kurdish party, PJAK, which has also been reported to be covertly supported by the United States, has been operating against Iran from bases in northern Iraq for at least three years. (Iran, like Iraq and Turkey, has a Kurdish minority, and PJAK and other groups have sought self-rule in territory that is now part of each of those countries.) In recent weeks, according to Sam Gardiner, the military strategist, there has been a marked increase in the number of PJAK armed engagements with Iranians and terrorist attacks on Iranian targets. In early June, the news agency Fars reported that a dozen PJAK members and four Iranian border guards were killed in a clash near the Iraq border; a similar attack in May killed three Revolutionary Guards and nine PJAK fighters. PJAK has also subjected Turkey, a member of NATO, to repeated terrorist attacks, and reports of American support for the group have been a source of friction between the two governments.

Gardiner also mentioned a trip that the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, made to Tehran in June. After his return, Maliki announced that his government would ban any contact between foreigners and the M.E.K.—a slap at the U.S.’s dealings with the group. Maliki declared that Iraq was not willing to be a staging ground for covert operations against other countries. This was a sign, Gardiner said, of “Maliki’s increasingly choosing the interests of Iraq over the interests of the United States.” In terms of U.S. allegations of Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers, he said, “Maliki was unwilling to play the blame-Iran game.” Gardiner added that Pakistan had just agreed to turn over a Jundallah leader to the Iranian government. America’s covert operations, he said, “seem to be harming relations with the governments of both Iraq and Pakistan and could well be strengthening the connection between Tehran and Baghdad.”

The White House’s reliance on questionable operatives, and on plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran, has created anger as well as anxiety within the Special Operations and intelligence communities. JSOC’s operations in Iran are believed to be modelled on a program that has, with some success, used surrogates to target the Taliban leadership in the tribal territories of Waziristan, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But the situations in Waziristan and Iran are not comparable.

In Waziristan, “the program works because it’s small and smart guys are running it,” the former senior intelligence official told me. “It’s being executed by professionals. The N.S.A., the C.I.A., and the D.I.A.”—the Defense Intelligence Agency—“are right in there with the Special Forces and Pakistani intelligence, and they’re dealing with serious bad guys.” He added, “We have to be really careful in calling in the missiles. We have to hit certain houses at certain times. The people on the ground are watching through binoculars a few hundred yards away and calling specific locations, in latitude and longitude. We keep the Predator loitering until the targets go into a house, and we have to make sure our guys are far enough away so they don’t get hit.” One of the most prominent victims of the program, the former official said, was Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior Taliban commander, who was killed on January 31st, reportedly in a missile strike that also killed eleven other people.

A dispatch published on March 26th by the Washington Post reported on the increasing number of successful strikes against Taliban and other insurgent units in Pakistan’s tribal areas. A follow-up article noted that, in response, the Taliban had killed “dozens of people” suspected of providing information to the United States and its allies on the whereabouts of Taliban leaders. Many of the victims were thought to be American spies, and their executions—a beheading, in one case—were videotaped and distributed by DVD as a warning to others.

It is not simple to replicate the program in Iran. “Everybody’s arguing about the high-value-target list,” the former senior intelligence official said. “The Special Ops guys are pissed off because Cheney’s office set up priorities for categories of targets, and now he’s getting impatient and applying pressure for results. But it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.”

The Pentagon consultant told me, “We’ve had wonderful results in the Horn of Africa with the use of surrogates and false flags—basic counterintelligence and counter-insurgency tactics. And we’re beginning to tie them in knots in Afghanistan. But the White House is going to kill the program if they use it to go after Iran. It’s one thing to engage in selective strikes and assassinations in Waziristan and another in Iran. The White House believes that one size fits all, but the legal issues surrounding extrajudicial killings in Waziristan are less of a problem because Al Qaeda and the Taliban cross the border into Afghanistan and back again, often with U.S. and NATO forces in hot pursuit. The situation is not nearly as clear in the Iranian case. All the considerations—judicial, strategic, and political—are different in Iran.”

He added, “There is huge opposition inside the intelligence community to the idea of waging a covert war inside Iran, and using Baluchis and Ahwazis as surrogates. The leaders of our Special Operations community all have remarkable physical courage, but they are less likely to voice their opposition to policy. Iran is not Waziristan.”

A Gallup poll taken last November, before the N.I.E. was made public, found that seventy-three per cent of those surveyed thought that the United States should use economic action and diplomacy to stop Iran’s nuclear program, while only eighteen per cent favored direct military action. Republicans were twice as likely as Democrats to endorse a military strike. Weariness with the war in Iraq has undoubtedly affected the public’s tolerance for an attack on Iran. This mood could change quickly, however. The potential for escalation became clear in early January, when five Iranian patrol boats, believed to be under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, made a series of aggressive moves toward three Navy warships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. Initial reports of the incident made public by the Pentagon press office said that the Iranians had transmitted threats, over ship-to-ship radio, to “explode” the American ships. At a White House news conference, the President, on the day he left for an eight-day trip to the Middle East, called the incident “provocative” and “dangerous,” and there was, very briefly, a sense of crisis and of outrage at Iran. “TWO MINUTES FROM WAR” was the headline in one British newspaper.

The crisis was quickly defused by Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region. No warning shots were fired, the Admiral told the Pentagon press corps on January 7th, via teleconference from his headquarters, in Bahrain. “Yes, it’s more serious than we have seen, but, to put it in context, we do interact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their Navy regularly,” Cosgriff said. “I didn’t get the sense from the reports I was receiving that there was a sense of being afraid of these five boats.”

Admiral Cosgriff’s caution was well founded: within a week, the Pentagon acknowledged that it could not positively identify the Iranian boats as the source of the ominous radio transmission, and press reports suggested that it had instead come from a prankster long known for sending fake messages in the region. Nonetheless, Cosgriff’s demeanor angered Cheney, according to the former senior intelligence official. But a lesson was learned in the incident: The public had supported the idea of retaliation, and was even asking why the U.S. didn’t do more. The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office. “The subject was how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” he said.

In June, President Bush went on a farewell tour of Europe. He had tea with Queen Elizabeth II and dinner with Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, the President and First Lady of France. The serious business was conducted out of sight, and involved a series of meetings on a new diplomatic effort to persuade the Iranians to halt their uranium-enrichment program. (Iran argues that its enrichment program is for civilian purposes and is legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) Secretary of State Rice had been involved with developing a new package of incentives. But the Administration’s essential negotiating position seemed unchanged: talks could not take place until Iran halted the program. The Iranians have repeatedly and categorically rejected that precondition, leaving the diplomatic situation in a stalemate; they have not yet formally responded to the new incentives.

The continuing impasse alarms many observers. Joschka Fischer, the former German Foreign Minister, recently wrote in a syndicated column that it may not “be possible to freeze the Iranian nuclear program for the duration of the negotiations to avoid a military confrontation before they are completed. Should this newest attempt fail, things will soon get serious. Deadly serious.” When I spoke to him last week, Fischer, who has extensive contacts in the diplomatic community, said that the latest European approach includes a new element: the willingness of the U.S. and the Europeans to accept something less than a complete cessation of enrichment as an intermediate step. “The proposal says that the Iranians must stop manufacturing new centrifuges and the other side will stop all further sanction activities in the U.N. Security Council,” Fischer said, although Iran would still have to freeze its enrichment activities when formal negotiations begin. “This could be acceptable to the Iranians—if they have good will.”

The big question, Fischer added, is in Washington. “I think the Americans are deeply divided on the issue of what to do about Iran,” he said. “Some officials are concerned about the fallout from a military attack and others think an attack is unavoidable. I know the Europeans, but I have no idea where the Americans will end up on this issue.”

There is another complication: American Presidential politics. Barack Obama has said that, if elected, he would begin talks with Iran with no “self-defeating” preconditions (although only after diplomatic groundwork had been laid). That position has been vigorously criticized by John McCain. The Washington Post recently quoted Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s national-security director, as stating that McCain supports the White House’s position, and that the program be suspended before talks begin. What Obama is proposing, Scheunemann said, “is unilateral cowboy summitry.”

Scheunemann, who is known as a neoconservative, is also the McCain campaign’s most important channel of communication with the White House. He is a friend of David Addington, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. I have heard differing accounts of Scheunemann’s influence with McCain; though some close to the McCain campaign talk about him as a possible national-security adviser, others say he is someone who isn’t taken seriously while “telling Cheney and others what they want to hear,” as a senior McCain adviser put it.

It is not known whether McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been formally briefed on the operations in Iran. At the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in June, Obama repeated his plea for “tough and principled diplomacy.” But he also said, along with McCain, that he would keep the threat of military action against Iran on the table.

The Logic Of Resistance

By William C. Carlotti
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jun 27, 2008, 00:21
Courtesy Of
Online Journal

It should be apparent that the problem in Palestine is not just simply a problem of checkpoints, human rights abuses, the wall, home demolitions, the architecture of occupation or even the siege of Gaza; the core of the problem is the illegal theft, colonization and occupation of a whole country.

These are only symptoms of the Jewish nationalism expressed in the cancerous ideology called Zionism.
It is an ideology that has been organized into the World Zionist Organization with branches in all the countries of Europe, in the United States and in dozens of other countries ranging from Australia to Mexico to South Africa. The organization held its 35th Zionist Congress in 2006 in Jerusalem with some 2,000 delegates and observers from all over the world. Five hundred-ten delegates participated in its proceedings, including 145 delegates from the United States.

Christian Zionist support, however, unlike the international World Zionist Organization, is principally centered in the United States. In concert with the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Conference of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (52 organizations) they constitute an enormously well-funded confluence with the Bush/Cheney neocon cabal-led United States government's drive for hegemony over the oil and gas reserves of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea for the United States based international oil, gas and finance conglomerates.

This organized international Jewish Zionist support centered in the World Zionist Organization is critical to the Israeli government that has been on a 60-year messianic mission to acquire the whole of Palestine and parts of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, which they describe as "Eretz Israel".
According to the Zionists, "Eretz Lsrael" is described in that book of short stories that has become known as the bible, in Genesis 15:18-21, Ezekiel 47:13-20 and similarly in Numbers 34:1-15, descriptions which have been adopted by the Israeli government.

According to Prime Minister Ehud Ohmert of Israel, in his address before a joint meeting of a genuflecting United States Congress in a May 24, 2006, address to Congress,

"For thousands of years, we Jews have been nourished and sustained by a yearning for our historic land. I, like many others, was raised with a deep conviction that the day would never come when we would have to relinquish parts of the land of our forefathers. I believed, and to this day still believe in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land."

What is not often mentioned is the fact that this biblically defined land that the modern day Jews claim as their "entire land" was acquired, according to the short story accounts of their claimed ancestors, by the genocidal slaughter of the peoples of seven other nations that occupied the land that these modern Jews now claim by "historic right."
The description of this completed genocidal slaughter is the only known written admission of genocide by any of the perpetrators of genocide in recorded history.

Even the Nazi-led German government and the European colonialist-led United States government never designed to produce a written admission of the genocides that they engaged in.

The following are some of the descriptions of this genocide by the ancestors claimed by Olmert and the whole of the government of Israel:

"In Deuteronomy 7:1-36, ".the Lord thy God shall have destroyed many nations before thee, the Hethite, and the Gergezite, and the Amorrite, and the Chanaanite, and the Pherezite, and Hevite, and the Jebusite, seven nations much more numerous than thou art,.thou shalt utterly destroy them. Thou shalt make no league with them, nor show mercy to them: and shall slay them until they are utterly destroyed . . . and thou shalt destroy their names under heaven: no man shall be able to resist thee, until thou destroy them."

In I Samuel 15:3, "Now therefore go, and smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he hath; spare him not, nor covet any thing that is his; but slay both man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

In Numbers 31:1-35, ".the Lord spoke to Moses saying: Revenge first the children of Israel on the Madianites . . . when they fought against the Madianites and had overcome them, they slew all the men. Therefore kill all that are of the male sex, even of the children: and put to death the women that have carnally known men. But the girls, and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves . . . and the spoils which the army had taken, was . . . thirty two thousand persons of the female sex that had not known men."

In Numbers 33:50-52, ".the Lord said to Moses: Command the children of Israel. When you shall have passed over to Jordan, entering into the land of Chanaan, Destroy all the inhabitants of that land: beat down their pillars and break in pieces their statues, and waste all their high places."

In I Samuel 27:8-9, "And David and his men went up, and pillaged Gessuri, and Gerzi, and the Amalecites; for these were of old the inhabitants of the countries . . . David wasted all the land, and left neither man nor woman live."

In Isaiah 13:15-18, "Every one that shall be found shall be slain; and every one that shall come to their aid, shall fall by the sword. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces before their eyes: their houses shall be pillaged, and their wives ravaged . . . with their arrows they shall kill the children, and shall have no pity upon the sucklings of the womb, and their eye shall not spare their sons."

So the lands that are claimed as "ancestral land" were acquired, according to the writings of Olmert's ancestors, by a genocide that is unprecedented in human history -- unprecedented as regards the scope of the completed annihilation of seven tribal nations and unprecedented as it regards the written admission that they committed the genocide.
With this understanding of the use of the term "Eretz Israel" as used by the Israeli government, it should be apparent that the problems in Palestine goes beyond the immediacy of one or the other of some action of the Israeli government.

For 60 years the Israeli government has invaded Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine beyond the 1947 internationally recognized border to recreate the biblically described Eretz Israel originally acquired by the genocidal annihilation of seven tribal nations.
This messianic impulse of Jewish nationalists, this messianic program that seeks to expand the territory provided for the creation of the State of Israel by a world's compassion for the Nazi-led German government's assault on the Jewish people of Europe has transformed the Israeli State into the mirror of the ancestors that they claim as their own -- a nation with a messianic impulse for genocide.

There are two aspects for the rationale for this messianic impulse:

On the one hand, the Israeli occupation, absorption and devastating occupation of Palestine beyond the internationally recognized 1947-1967 borders is met by a resistance by the people of Palestine -- a resistance that is every bit as justified as the Italian Partisan resistance to the Nazi occupied Fascist Italy, every bit as justified as the French resistance to the Nazi occupation of France, every bit as justified as Geronimo's leadership of the indigenous resistance to annihilation in what has become the United States, every bit as justified as the Chicasaw resistance to the United States Indian Removal Law that resulted in the "trail of tears".

The Israeli government then uses this resistance as the rationale for the continued occupation and absorption of Palestine and the continued assault on the Palestinian people.

Any notion that the struggle of the Palestinian resistance is the equivalent of the Israeli government's massive assault on Palestine beyond the 1947 borders or that the subsequent continuing assault is to be treated "even-handedly" is sheer, unadulterated, vicious sophistry.

The behemoth tank demolitions, supersonic jet plane bombings, black hawk helicopter strafing of the people, infrastructure, and property in occupied Palestine is nothing less than a description of the naked aggression of Israel's all-Jewish armed forces.

On the other hand, the Israeli government uses the "peace ploy" to counter the justified resistance of the Palestinian people to the continued occupation and absorption of Palestine and the assaults on its people.

In this instance, the "peace ploy" as outlined by the Israeli government requires that the Palestinians cease the resistance to the Israeli occupation and absorption of Palestine and the assault on the people of Palestine in order for the Jewish Israelis to cease the occupation and absorption.

Anytime that there is a call for a "negotiated peace" or "a peace broker" or the "peace process," it is a part of the peace ploy that the Israeli government has used for the past 60 years, and a signal that it will be used again, in their strategic objective to absorb the whole of Palestine and parts of Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.

Every move that they make, every peace ploy that they engender, every bomb that they drop, every farm that they destroy, every targeted assassination that they make, every Palestinian child that is starved, every Mosque, every school, every Palestinian government building or home that they demolish, every action that they take in Palestine and in the Middle East, every political, ideological, philosophical, religious statement that they make is driven by the messianic, genocidal impulse to recreate Eretz Israel.

The government of Israel has no intention of doing anything but continuing the ongoing assault on Palestine and its people until it has absorbed the whole of Palestine. Part of its modus operandi is the peace ploy that is designed to never arrive at the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

That is what they are about and that is the source of their genocidal impulse.
Aside from the Israeli activity, we are confronted in the United States with an extremely well organized, well funded Zionist-led, Christian Zionist supported significant segment of the Jewish community that has been at the forefront in support of the Bush/Cheney neocon cabal-led United States government's invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and its threatened invasion of Iran and its clandestine operations in Pakistan.

Jewish Zionists and their Christian Zionist supporters are certainly collaborators in the Bush/Cheney neocon cabal-led United States government's invasion and occupations to secure hegemony over the oil and gas reserves of the Middle East and the Caspian Sea for the United States' oil and financial conglomerates, as it intensifies the political organization of the state apparatus of the United States to suppress the resistance and opposition that the cost and tragedy imposed on the people of the United States engenders.

Express statements of support for these operations have been made by the Zionist-led Anti-Defamation League (ADL), by the Zionist dominated American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), by the Zionist dominated Conference of the President's of Major Jewish Organizations. The participation of this significant, well-funded element of the Jewish community in the production of the world-dominating scheme detailed in the Project for A New American Century is notorious. This well organized support is distinct from the opposition to these operations by the majority of people of the United States.

Much as these pitiful panderers to the power of the United States might suppose that they are in control of their destiny, it behooves them to consider the fate of Pinochet, Noriega, Marcos, Batista, Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, the Taliban and now Musharraf when the rubber hits the road of the interests of United States international conglomerates.
In the meantime, we will watch these Jewish Zionists engaged in the fantasy of their messianic nightmare that will proceed with the unabated slaughter of the Palestinians.

And, in case we have any doubt, the Palestinians currently attempting to escape the Israeli government's messianic, genocidal impulse join the millions of Palestinians that have already been driven out of their homeland to live in the squalor of the refugee camps.

For those that have succumbed to the corporate media's hype and have engaged in rejoicing for the Palestinian "breakout" from Gaza, the following statements of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger in Israel should begin the process of getting them to take their heads out of the clouds. The statements are certainly significant enough in Israel to be placed in its major "liberal" newspaper with international Internet distribution. Obviously what occurred at the wall between Palestine's Gaza and Egypt was a forced exodus of Palestinians through a devised break in the separation wall built by the Israeli government.

If there is any one that believes that the Israeli armed forces, which shoot Palestinian teenagers throwing rocks at tanks or shoot Palestinians getting water at the public water taps after an Israeli imposed curfew, were taken by surprise when the wall that they built was knocked down by a behemoth bulldozer, I'd like to have the opportunity to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.

The only difference between this forced exodus and the others that occurred in 1947-48, in 1967, in Jerusalem, and all over Palestine to build the armed Jewish settlements, is that this exodus was forced by a total siege of food, medicine, water and electricity in combination with terrifying raids and incursions into Gaza by the Israeli military toting United States supplied weapons, planes and helicopters. In those other, earlier forced exodus of millions that are now living in the squalor of refugee camps, the forced exodus was produced by the terror created in a slaughter of innocents by the all Jewish terror groups that became Israeli forces and the scorched earth policy applied by them to Palestinian towns.

The blessed rabbi's plan, according to Haaretz, would be "to take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona -- we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people -- they will have a nice country, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace."
But that is not the whole of it.

On the other side of the world in the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, Bret Stephans writes,

"The Egyptian-Israeli treaty may ultimately have to be revised to take account of the changing facts on the ground. Israel, too, will have to rethink some basic strategic assumptions. Supporters of Ariel Sharon's 'disengagement' plan -- present company included -- can take a measure of satisfaction in noting that Gaza is increasingly becoming an Arab problem rather than an Israeli one. But in addition to the physical challenge of having to defend against incessant (if so far rarely deadly) rocket attacks from Gaza, and reinforce its long desert border with Egypt, Israel must also now consider the possibility that the current regime in Egypt may not long survive the death of its soon-to-be octogenarian president."
So it should be obvious in considering the matter, that there is nothing that can be discussed with regard to the Israeli government's assault on the people of Palestine without the understanding that it is their strategic objective, already in process for 60 years, to acquire the whole of Palestine and parts of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon devoid of their historical inhabitants.

It bears repeating, every move that they make, every peace ploy that they engender, every bomb that they drop, every farm that they destroy, every targeted assassination that they make, every Palestinian child that is starved, every mosque, every school, every Palestinian government building or home that they demolish, every olive grove that they flatten, every action that they take in Palestine and in the Middle East, and that their counterparts in the United States take, is driven by the messianic, genocidal impulse to recreate Eretz Israel.

It is a pattern of expulsion that has been repeated consistently for the past 60 years not only in Palestine but also in portions of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt with the Jewish Israelis claiming the land and resources of the areas of the expelled population.

In order to put an end to this genocidal messianic impulse of the Israeli government, we must insist, demand, support, and encourage that the international community use the force of economic boycott and economic sanctions to have the Zionist-led Israeli government withdraw from the occupation of Palestine beyond the 1947 internationally recognized borders and to have them cease the blockade of Palestine's water, electricity, sewer, air space, sea coast, and borders.

That is a plan that is in keeping with international law, the Geneva Convention, and the Convention on Human Rights.
In the meantime, the people of Palestine have the right under international law to resist the occupation by any means necessary or available.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Focus Grouping War With Iran

A Recent Virginia Focus Group Test-Marketed Language To Get Tougher On Iran.

By Laura Rozen
November 19, 2007
Courtesy Of
Mother Jones

The following article is an updated and revised version of a piece first posted on November 19, 2007. That piece misidentified Freedom's Watch as the sponsor of the focus group described below. We regret the error.

Laura Sonnenmark is a focus group regular. "I've been asked to talk about orange juice, cell phone service, furniture," the Fairfax County, Virginia-based children's book author and Democratic Party volunteer says. But when she was called by a focus group organizer for a prospective assignment earlier this month, she was told the questions this time would be about something "political."

On November 1, she went to the offices of Martin Focus Groups in Alexandria, Virginia, knowing she would be paid $150 for two hours of her time. After joining a half dozen other women in a conference room, she discovered that she had been called in for what seemed an unusual assignment: to help test-market language that could be used to sell military action against Iran to the American public. "The whole basis of the whole thing was, 'we're going to go into Iran and what do we have to do to get you guys to along with it?" says Sonnenmark, 49.
Soon after the leader of the focus group began the discussion, according to Sonnenmark, he directed the conversation toward recent tensions between Iran and the United States.

"He was asking questions about [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad going to speak at Columbia University, how terrible it was that he was able to go to Columbia and was invited," Sonnenmark says. "And he used lots of catch phrases, like 'victory' and 'failure is not an option.'"
According to Sonnenmark, two fliers distributed at the focus group session bore the logo and name of Freedom's Watch, a high-powered, well-connected group of hawks. This summer, Freedom's Watch launched a $15 million ad campaign to support the escalation of troops in Iraq. It counts former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and former deputy assistant to President Bush Bradley A. Blakeman among its leaders.

The first flier handed to the group bearing Freedom's Watch's logo, Sonnenmark recalls, raised questions about Ahmadinejad's recent appearance at Columbia University. The second one was also related to Iran. Sonnenmark assumed Freedom's Watch had arranged for the session.
And the upshot of this focus group?

"After two hours, [the leader] asked three final questions," Sonnenmark recalls:

"How would you feel if Hillary [Clinton] bombed Iran?
How would you feel if George Bush bombed Iran?
And how would you feel if Israel bombed Iran?"

Sonnenmark says she responded, "It would depend on the circumstances....What is the situation in Iraq? Do we have international support?"
When asked by Mother Jones about this focus group, Freedom's Watch spokesman Matt David responded, "As a general policy we won't comment on our internal strategy." And an employee at Martin Focus Groups who only gave his name as Steve declined to say anything about the session.

(In 2003, Steve Weachter, the manager of the firm's Alexandria offices, told a local Virginia newspaper, "We help whoever calls. It could be about cigarette smoking, drinking, whatever. We could even have a group to evaluate Pepsi one day and Coke the next." In the same article Donna Carter, the assistant manager at Martin, recalled the time the outfit was conducting a Republican focus group in one room and a Democratic group in another.)

After an earlier version of this story attributing the focus group to Freedom's Watch was posted, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder and president of the Israel Project, contacted Mother Jones and said that her group had commissioned the focus group and that it was designed by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm.

The Israel Project is a nonprofit group that supports Israel and conducts extensive polling on American public attitudes toward Israel and the Middle East.

Its board of advisers includes 15 Democratic and Republican members of the House and the Senate, plus actor Ron Silver.
Mizrahi says that her group and Freedom's Watch share a common interest in "thwarting the threat of Islamic extremism" and in "dealing with the threat of Iran." But Freedom's Watch "in no way is directing our work, and it's not funding our work." She pointed out that the Israel Project is not "involved with Iraq," a major concern of Freedom's Watch. But the two outfits, she said, "shared information" produced by this focus group.

She insisted the focus group was designed to help the Israel Project promote "our belief in pushing sanctions." She added, "We're working day and night to persuade people the options [concerning Iran] are very limited. We're pushing really aggressively on the economic and diplomatic fronts."
Mizrahi confirmed that Freedom's Watch material was distributed to members of the focus group but insisted that ads from "lots of other groups" were handed out. "We test a lot of messages," she said.

"Of all the focus groups I've ever been to," Sonnenmark wrote in a subsequent email to a group of fellow volunteers for the 2006 Senate campaign of Jim Webb, "I've never seen a moderator who was so persistent in manipulating and leading the participants."

(Webb is lead author of a Senate letter warning President Bush not to attack Iran without congressional approval; see here and here.))

The gist of the event was "anti-Iranian," says Sonnenmark.
If the group's organizers were testing the case for military action against Iran—even as a last resort—Sonnenmark believes they could not have been encouraged by the results of this focus group.

"I got the general feeling that George Bush didn't have a shot in hell" of winning public support for an Iran attack, she says.

Some members of her group suggested that if Hillary Clinton were elected president she might have more credibility in making such a case.

As for the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, Sonnenmark's impression was that the group's members did not believe it was up to them to judge.

Sonnenmark left the session wondering if foreign policy hawks would soon be pushing publicly for military action against Iran using language that had been tested on her. But, she says, "It is not going to be so easy this time around."
Laura Rozen is the National Security Correspondent for Mother Jones.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Side To The Jewish Story

Many Jews left Arab countries because they wanted to live in Israel, not because their lives back home were miserable.

By Rachel Shabi
Friday June 27, 2008
Courtesy Of
The Guardian

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) thinks that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinian refugees should somehow be offset against each other – the rights of one side counterbalancing the rights of the other. It's a neat argument: Jews were forced to abandon material assets and leave Arab countries; Palestinians similarly fled or were expelled from their homes. Ergo, the region witnessed an exchange of populations and if Palestinian refugees are to be compensated by Israel, so too must the Jewish "refugees" from the Middle East, by the Arab nations that expelled them.

Nice try, but there are many reasons why this formula is all wrong. First off (as David Cesarani points out), it's tasteless. There is no need for the fate of these two peoples, Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians, to be so fused materialistically. Middle Eastern Jews may indeed have a claim to lost assets, but those genuinely seeking peace between Israel and its neighbours should know that this is not the way to pursue it.

Second, defining Jews from Arab lands as "refugees" is problematic – and many Middle Eastern Jews would be angered by it. Countless Israelis recount leaving former homes in Arab countries and illegally, dangerously migrating prior to 1948. Such experiences do not include a component of expulsion: they left because they wanted to.

Broadly, you could say that any Middle Eastern Jew ("Oriental" or "Mizrahi" Jew) who defines their migration to Israel as "Zionist" cannot also be a refugee: the former label has agency and involves a desire to live in the Jewish state; the second suggests passivity and a lack of choice. Demanding the refugee label to bloc-define this group denies every other scenario: such as that Jews weren't all driven out of the Arab world; that they didn't all want to leave; or that many actually chose to do so.

What's more, if you take the line that Zionism both caused Palestinians to leave their homes and brought Middle Eastern Jews to Israel, then the refugee offset equation is, as the Israeli professor Yehouda Shenhav puts it, a form of "double-entry accounting".

Jewish Agency officials knew that their activities in Palestine could imperil Jews in the Middle East (see the work of Israeli historian Esther Meir-Glitzenste). They chose to carry on with those actions and committed to "rescuing" those Jews if things did take a turn for the worse. If Zionist officials themselves worried about a backlash in the Arab world, how can Israel then be absolved of responsibility for the Jewish exodus from those countries?

let's get to the heart of the matter. What JJAC seems keen to establish is that Arab countries treated Jewish citizens with contempt and cruelty, fuelled by antisemitism. This formulation perpetuates the myth of Arabs and Jews as polar opposites, destined to be eternal enemies. It shirks the plain fact that Jews lived in Arab counties for over two millennia, for the most part productively and in peace. Even historians like Bernard Lewis say that. Sure, there were hostile periods, but nothing like the waves of anti-Jewish persecution experienced in Europe. The conflict between Arab nations and nascent Israel made it practically untenable for most Jews in the Middle East to stay put – and both sides of the conflict are to blame for that. In other words, Oriental Jews weren't simply "pushed" out of Arab countries; they were also "pulled" towards Israel.

"Pulled" because by the early 1940s Zionist emissaries were operative in the Middle East. They helped set up underground organisations that sought to inspire Jews to migrate to then Palestine.

Scores of Middle Eastern Jews recall that Jewish Agency officials dazzled them with stories of a better life in Israel. Many of them felt betrayed when they set foot in the new Jewish state – and continue to feel that way today.

But Oriental Jews were equally "pushed" out because, often, Arab governments did little to encourage them to stay. For instance, the Iraqi government passed a series of anti-Zionist laws during the 1948 war with Israel, but it didn't properly define Zionism so the laws were wide open to abuse and often experienced as anti-Jewish. The government, a British puppet and under constant threat amidst Iraqi nationalist calls for independence, used the Palestinian issue to deflect attention – sacrificing its Jewish community to this end.

Middle Eastern Jews were stuck between two opposing currents, Zionism and Arab nationalist anti-colonialism – and squeezed out in a pincer manoeuvre.

But this situation at national level did not always sour relations on the ground. Talking to Middle Eastern Jews now in Israel, there are many positive tales about former days in Arab countries: good lives; full rights; friendly Muslim neighbours. These recollections jar with the picture JJAC paints, of a rampant Arab antisemitism during this period.

Of course, we could only focus on the bad and write what the Jewish historian Salo Baron called a "lachrymose" version of events. But what's the point? The Middle Eastern Jewry comprises many threads and, compared with European Jewry, has a distinct history, heritage and culture. This legacy, in all its dimensions, should not be hijacked to fuel further rage and acrimony in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Civil Liberties Under Attack

Henry Rollins - Civil Liberties Under Attack

Civil Liberties, the Internet, and Free Speech. Henry Rollins tells it like it is.

30,000 Troops Heading To Iraq In 2009

APNewBreak: Officials Say Pentagon To Order 30,000 Troops To Iraq In 2009

AP News
Jun 27, 2008 20:05 EST
Courtesy Of

The Pentagon is preparing to order roughly 30,000 troops to Iraq early next year in a move that would allow the U.S. to maintain 15 combat brigades in the country through 2009, The Associated Press has learned.

The deployments would replace troops currently there. But the decisions could change depending on whether Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides in the fall to further reduce troop levels in Iraq.
Several officials familiar with the deployments spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders have not yet been made public.

According to the officials, three active-duty Army brigade combat teams, one Army National Guard brigade and two Marine regimental combat teams are being notified that they are being sent to Iraq in early 2009. Officials would not release the specific units involved because the soldiers and Marines and their families have not all been told.

The Guard unit, however, is the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, from the Pennsylvania National Guard. Members of that unit — a large brigade with heavily armored Stryker vehicles — were told last October that they should be prepared to deploy to Iraq early in 2009. The order this week is the formal notice that includes a more specific time frame.
Currently, the final brigade involved in the military buildup in Baghdad last year is pulling out of Iraq. That departure will leave 15 combat brigades there — compared to a high of 20 for much of the past year. Other smaller units are also there, including troops doing security, logistics, air assaults, intelligence and medical aid.

Overall, there are about 146,000 forces in Iraq, and that number is expected to dip to about 142,000 by mid-July when that last unit is all out. That total is at least 7,000 more than the number of troops in Iraq before the buildup began early last year.

Petraeus told Congress in May that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq, but he did not provide any details. If he decides in the fall that fewer brigades will be needed in Iraq during the next year, there is the chance that brigades could simply be directed to the war in Afghanistan instead.

There is a broad consensus that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, to both train the security forces and fight the insurgents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush, earlier this year, told NATO allies that they would increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 in response to the growing violence.


On the Net:

Defense Department:

America Is The Rogue Nation

By Charley Reese
June 28, 2008
Courtesy Of

One gets the impression that there are some people in Washington who believe that Israel or the U.S. can bomb Iran's nuclear reactors, fly home, and it will be mission complete.

It makes you wonder if perhaps there is a virus going around that is gradually making people stupid. If we or Israel attack Iran, we will have a new war on our hands. The Iranians are not going to shrug off an attack and say, "You naughty boys, you."

Consider how much trouble Iraq has given us. Some 4,000 dead and 29,000 wounded, a half a trillion dollars in cost and still climbing, and five years later, we cannot say that the country is pacified.

Iraq is a small country compared with Iran. Iran has about 70 million people. Its western mountains border the Persian Gulf. In other words, its missiles and guns look down on the U.S. ships below it. And it has lots of missiles, from short-range to intermediate-range (around 2,200 kilometers).

More to the point, it has been equipped by Russia with the fastest anti-ship missile on the planet. The SS-N-22 Sunburn can travel at Mach 3 at high altitude and at Mach 2.2 at low altitude. That is faster than anything in our arsenal.

Iran's conventional forces include an army of 540,000 men and 300,000 reserves, including 120,000 Iranian Guards especially trained in unconventional warfare. It has more than 1,600 main battle tanks and 21,000 other armored combat vehicles. It has 3,200 artillery pieces, three submarines, 59 surface warships and 10 amphibious ships.

It's been receiving help in arming itself from China, North Korea and Russia. Unlike Iraq, Iran's forces have not been worn down with bombing, wars and sanctions. It also has a new anti-aircraft defense system from Russia that I've heard is pretty snazzy.
So, if you think we or Israel can attack Iran and not expect retaliation, I'd have to say with regret that you are a moron. If you think we could easily handle Iran in an all-out war, I'd have to promote you to idiot.

Attacking Iran would be folly, but we seem to be living in the Age of Folly. Morons and idiots took us into an unjustified war against Iraq before we had finished the job in Afghanistan. Now we have troops tied down in both countries.

For some years now, I've worried that we seem to be more and more like Colonial England – arrogant, racist, overestimating our own capacity and underestimating that of our enemies. As the fate of the British Empire demonstrates, that is a fatal flaw.

The British never dreamed that the "little yellow people" could come ashore by land and take Singapore from the rear or that they would sink the pride of the British fleet, but they did both.

I suppose no one in Washington can imagine the Iranians sinking one of our carriers in the Persian Gulf. How'd you like to be the president who has to tell the American people that we've lost a carrier for the first time since World War II?
Exactly how the Iranians will respond to an attack, I don't know, but they will respond.
In keeping with our present policy, our attack on Iran would be illegal, since under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Who would have thought that we would become the rogue nation committing acts of aggression around the globe?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Israel Reveals How It Gained The Nuclear Bomb

Israel Reveals Secrets Of How It Gained Bomb

By Inigo Gilmore in Jerusalem
Last Updated: 11:47PM GMT 22/12/2001
Courtesy Of
The Telegraph

A TELEVISION documentary in which Shimon Peres, Israel's foreign minister, discloses for the first time details about Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons is to be broadcast in the Arab world. It is intended, at a time of rising tensions, as a warning.

In the documentary, Mr Peres goes further than any other Israeli official in confirming that the Jewish state has a nuclear capability. He and former French government officials give details about co-operation between Israel and France in launching Israel's nuclear programme.

The film, made by a leading Israeli documentary team, is a sign that the government may be finally relaxing its rule of absolute silence on its nuclear programme. Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the Dimona nuclear facility, is serving an 18-year jail sentence for revealing in 1986 that Israel had a nuclear programme and more than 100 warheads.

The documentary, The Bomb in the Basement: Israel's Nuclear Option, was shown in Israel last month and is being sold to leading Arabic television stations including Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite channel.

The makers of the film believe that the government's co-operation in speaking about the origins of its nuclear capability was prompted by concerns over international terrorism and the expectation that Iran will have a nuclear capability within a few years.

The documentary's Israeli director, Michael Karpin, who previously made a controversial film about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, said he was not sure until a few weeks ago whether military censors would allow the programme to be broadcast.

"It could be that after September 11 they [the government] decided that perhaps the time had come to reveal a little bit more about the Israeli nuclear project," Mr Karpin said. "I think the decision to let it go ahead has to do with the idea of wanting to tell the Arab world: 'Listen we have it'."

The film reveals how France helped Israel on its nuclear programme in exchange for support in the Suez War. In the mid-1950s, relations between the two countries were warming because of their shared anxiety over burgeoning nationalist movements in North Africa.

Israel feared that the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt would embolden an already formidable foe, while France faced an Arab insurrection in Algeria, one of its last colonies. Their interests converged in 1956 when Israel agreed to team up with France and Britain in a war to punish Nasser for nationalising the Suez Canal.

At the end of September 1956, in Sevres near Paris, Mr Peres, then a 30-year-old Defence Ministry official, accompanied David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, to a meeting with French and British delegations about the Suez crisis. The Israelis waited for the British delegation to leave before approaching the French on the matter of its nuclear project.

Mr Peres said: "In Sevres, when it was all over, I told Ben-Gurion, 'There's one piece of unfinished business: the nuclear issue. Before you agree, let me finish that.' Of the four countries which at that time had a nuclear capacity - the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France - only France was willing to help us."

Mr Peres is asked in the documentary whether Israel requested a nuclear reactor. He replies: "I asked for more than that. I asked for other things, too; the uranium and those things. I went up to Ben-Gurion and said, 'It's settled.' That's how it was."

Mr Ben-Gurion approved Israel's participation in the Suez campaign. On October 29, 1956, 400 Israeli paratroopers were dropped in western Sinai in the first phase of the attack on Egypt.

The agreement with France was unprecedented. Until then, no country had supplied another with the means for developing a nuclear capability. Mr Karpin believes that Mr Peres may have been motivated to speak on the subject because he hopes that it will help to secure his place in history.

In Paris, Jean-Francois Daguzan, the deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, said that France's deal with Israel had been kept a secret for almost 30 years. "It was well known in military and political circles but it didn't become public knowledge until the mid-1980s after a book was published about that era and the agreement was mentioned.

"There was no suggestion that France had given Israel its nuclear capacity but it had certainly helped the country acquire it."
Israel still officially neither confirms nor denies making nuclear weapons at the plant near Dimona.

The country's journalists use coded language, never stating unequivocally that Israel has the bomb.

The policy of ambiguity was crafted to deter Arabs from attacking Israel while avoiding the political fallout of becoming an acknowledged nuclear power.

The documentary marks the first time that the Israeli broadcasting media has dealt with the issue candidly. Some commentators are surprised that the censors allowed Mr Karpin such leeway as in the past six months Israel has detained an academic over a book he wrote on the country's nuclear capacity and jailed Yitzhak Yaakov, a retired general, for talking to a journalists on the subject.

Related Content:

1. Vanunu questions Israel's right to exist

2. Vanunu questions Israel's right to exist

3. Videotape is mightier than the sword

4. To the brink on Yom Kippur

5. Who is having a good war on TV?

External Links:

6. Israel's nuclear weapons program - Federation of American Scientists

NOTE: The following video was not part of the above report, but was independently included by me.

Olmert Lets Slip That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons:

Dimona - Israeli Nuclear Reactor