Unidos Venceremos! United We Will Win!
PETER S. LOPEZ AKA: Peta-de-Aztlan
"An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come." ~ Victor Hugo c/s
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F.Kennedy
~ Killed November 22, 1963~Address on the First Anniversary of the Alliance for Progress ~ March 13, 1962
From: Enrique Ferro <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sat, December 4, 2010 5:34:54 PM
Subject: READ WIKILEAKS ~A Comprehensive View
VIA Enrique Ferro <email@example.com>
Wikileaks's epic for truth and clean governance, its courageous exposition of filthy government and imperialist arrogance was bound to make many enemies, as anyone might predict. That governments, democratic or authoritarian, whose duplicity and secret dealings have been exposed, cry wolf, and seek to take revenge on the two people who have been identified as the main culprits, Pvt Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, the founder, is what anybody might expect. And that as a side note some political leader should think that the whole operation was targeting him, might be also feared, as many of those wielding power see no further than their precious umbilicus... So in spite of all the compromising cables laying bare US government's and CIA's dirty tricks, a man like Ahmadinejad has hastened to see in Wikileaks a CIA operation -it is obvious that a man who hates the web as much as he does, sending bloggers to prison, cannot possibly imagine that there are people who may challenge governments unless they are agents of an intelligence agency.
All that was predictable. But what is sad to acknowledge is that some writers whose articles keep going around in the web, and who are incidentally staunch fans of Ahmadinejad, have developed another cabalistic theory which is used to smear Wikileaks and Assange, who is harassed by state authorities and busy seeking solace under one or another shelter. So Wikileaks and Assange (Manning is already under isolation detention and expecting court martial) are mobbed not only by the governments of whatever persuasion, but also, alas, by a bunch of writers who are known by their anti-Zionism and anti-imperialism. Blaming the CIA must have appeared too puerile for them, so they found a more credible mastermind: Israel. Their argument is basically that Wikileaks is lenient with Israel (plus complicated theories over an Israeli plot to get war on Iran).
However, there are compromising cables on Israel, most sensible leaks haven't been published (yet) damaging US foreign policy, and it demands a fit of imagination to think that Israel is interested in a major discredit of US foreign establishment, and last but not least it should not be forgotten what it is all about: cables from the US diplomats abroad. Anybody who is barely familiar with US politics knows that if a US diplomat in Israel speaks criticism of Israel or the Israeli leaders he will not keep his post longer than the next 24 hours (and it should not be forgotten that most of US diplomats in Israel are Zionists and loyal to the host country). If most of comments and reports from diplomats in any country in the world are expected to be blunt and frank, Israeli exceptionalism commands caution, and diplomats will be extremely wary not to ruin their careers...
The following items on Wikileaks and Assange will make apparent all that has been said - the reader may judge on the view of crucial revelations. And come to the conclusion that all those conspiracy theories about CIA or Mossad behind the revelations is sheer nonsense.
The conclusion is: support Wikileaks and its struggle against arbitrary rule and established lies!
By Cindy Sheehan
December 01, 2010 "Information Clearing House" --- - Oakland, Ca: While only a tiny fraction of the U.S. diplomatic cables scheduled for publication by Wikileaks have thus far been made available, some conclusions can already be drawn. These cables and the Iraq and Afghan War Diaries provide an opportunity for Americans to see our government for what it is.
Our government is seen here as controlling a global military and espionage empire that impacts every region of the globe and deceives its own population. Secrecy, spying, and hostility have infected our entire government, turning the diplomatic corps into an arm of the CIA and the military, just as the civilian efforts in Afghanistan are described by Richard Holbrooke, who heads them up, as "support for the military." Secret war planning, secret wars, and lies about wars have become routine. The United States is secretly and illegally engaged in a war in Yemen and has persuaded that nation's government to lie about it. The United States has supported a coup in Honduras and lied about it.
We have long known that the war on terrorism was increasing, rather than diminishing, terrorism. These leaks show Saudi Arabia to be the greatest sponsor of terrorism, and show that nation's dictator, King Abdullah, to be very close to our own government in its treatment of prisoners. He has urged the United States to implant microchips in prisoners released from Guantanamo. And he has urged the United States to illegally and aggressively attack Iran. Congress should immediately block what would be the largest weapons sale in U.S. history, selling this country $60 billion in weapons. And Congress should drop any idea of "updating" the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force to permit presidents to unconstitutionally launch more wars. We see what sort of wars our allies urge on our presidents.
We learn that while dictators urge war, other branches of the same governments, the people, and the evidence weigh against it. We learn from a cable from last February that Russia has refuted U.S. claims that Iran has missiles that could target Europe. We learn from September 2009 that the United States and Britain planned to pressure Yukiya Amano, the then incoming head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to produce reports suggesting Iranian nuclear developments, whether or not merited by the facts, and that National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones proposed the propaganda strategy of baselessly tying Iran's nuclear program to North Korea's.
Much of the pressure for war appears to come from within the United States, whose representatives treat the entire world as a hostile enemy to be spied on, lied to, and exploited. The secrecy that permits this behavior must be broken if the United States' approach to the world is to change. Those who have helped to fulfill President Obama's campaign promise of transparency must be protected from his vengeance, while those who have abused positions of diplomatic trust to advance agendas of espionage and war planning must be held accountable.
While other countries may offer residency and protection to Wikileaks' Julian Assange, it is the United States that has most benefitted from his work. We encourage U.S. cities to offer him sanctuary.
Our Department of Justice has granted immunity for aggressive war, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and warrantless spying, while pursuing the criminal prosecution of Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking materials to Wikileaks. Were our government to indict Assange or support the extradition or rendition of Assange from anywhere in the world to Sweden, while maintaining that his work and not the Pentagon's has endangered us, our nation's moral standing would reach a new low.
Our government should cease any actions it is taking to prosecute Julian Assange for absurd criminal charges, to pressure Sweden to do so, or to sabotage Wikileaks' servers. Coverups of leaks have a history in Washington of backfiring in the form of larger leaks and scandals. Our State Department should focus on diplomacy and mutually beneficial partnerships with the world community.
The undersigned express our gratitude to those doing the job a representative government and an independent media are each supposed to do. We demand an end to all overt and covert wars, a ban on the use of State Department employees and contractors in spying or warfare, and a full investigation of the facts revealed in the Wikileaks cables.
Cindy Sheehan Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox
Medea Benjamin CODEPINK
Gael Murphy United for Peace and Justice
David Swanson WarisaCrime.org
Debra Sweet World Can't Wait
Kevin Zeese Voters for Peace
Raise A Glass to Wikileaks
Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist
The Guardian CIF has radically shortened and buried in a panel a piece I wrote for them - at their request - on Wikileaks.
Here is the original:
The well paid securitocracy have been out in force in the media, attacking wikileaks and repeating their well worn mantras.
These leaks will claim innocent lives, and will damage national security. They will encourage Islamic terrorism. Government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe. In fact, this action by Wikileaks is so cataclysmic, I shall be astonished if we are not all killed in our beds tonight.
Except that we heard exactly the same things months ago when Wikileaks released the Iraq war documents and then the Afghan war documents, and nobody has been able to point to a concrete example of any of these bloodurdling consequences.
As these are diplomatic telegrams, we have also had a number of pro-secrecy arguments being trotted out. These are arguments with which I was wearily familiar in over twenty years as a British diplomat, six of them in the Senior Management Structure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It is seriously argued that Ambassadors will not in future give candid advice, if that advice might become public. In the last twelve hours I have heard this remarkable proposition put forward on five different television networks, without anybody challenging it.
Put it another way. The best advice is advice you would not be prepared to defend in public. Really? Why? In today's globalised world, the Embassy is not a unique source of expertise. Often expatriate, academic and commercial organisations are a lot better informed. The best policy advice is not advice which is shielded from peer review.
What of course the establishment mean is that Ambassadors should be free to recommend things which the general public would view with deep opprobrium, without any danger of being found out. But should they really be allowed to do that, in a democracy?
I have never understood why it is felt that behaviours which would be considered reprehensible in private or even commercial life – like lying, or saying one thing to one person and the opposite to another person – should be considered acceptable, or even praiseworthy, in diplomacy.
When Ambassador to Uzbekistan, I was rebuked by the then head of the Diplomatic Service for reporting to London by unclassified email the details of dreadful human rights abuses by the Uzbek government. The FCO were concerned that the Uzbeks, who were intercepting our communications, would discover that I disapproved of their human rights violations. This might endanger the Uzbek alliance with British forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. For the FCO, diplomacy is synonymous with duplicity.
Among British diplomats. this belief that their profession exempts them from the normal constraints of decent behaviour amounts to a cult of Machiavellianism, a pride in their own amorality. It is reinforced by their narrow social origins – still in 2010, 80% of British ambassadors went to private schools. As a group, they view themselves as ultra-intelligent Nietzschean supermen, above normal morality. In Tony Blair (Fettes and Oxford), they had both leader and soulmate.
Those who argue that wikileaks are wrong, believe that we should entrust the government with sole control of what the people can and cannot know of what is done in their name. That attitude led to the "Dodgy dossier" of lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Those who posit the potential loss of life from wikileaks' activities need to set against any such risk the hundreds of thousands of actual dead from the foreign policies of the US and its co-conspirators in the past decade.
Web commenters have noted that the diplomatic cables now released reflect the USA's political agenda, and there is even a substantial wedge of the blogosphere which suggests that Wikileaks are therefore a CIA front. This is nonsense. Of course the documents reflect the US view – they are official US government communications. What they show is something I witnessed personally, that diplomats as a class very seldom tell unpalatable truths to politicians, but rather report and reinforce what their masters want to hear, in the hope of receiving preferment.
There is therefore a huge amount about Iran's putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran's warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel's massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because wikileaks have censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat. I don't want to bang on about my own case, but I wouldn't wish the things they do to whistleblowers on anybody. .
It is is no surprise that US diplomats are complicit in spying on senior UN staff. The British do it too, and a very brave woman, Katherine Gunn, was sacked for trying to stop it. While the cables released so far contain nothing that will shock informed observers, one real impact will be the information available to the arab peoples on how far they are betrayed by their US puppet leaders.
The government of Yemen has been actively colluding with the US in lying - including to its own parliament – that US drone attacks that have killed many civilians, were the work of the Yemeni air force. The King of Saudi Arabia shows no concern over the behaviour of Israel or the fate of the Palestinians, but strongly urges the bombing of Iran. It is not only, or primarily, in the Western world that we need to know more about what is done in our name. Wikileaks have struck a great blow against the USA's informal empire.
The people discomfited by these leaks are people who deserve to be discomfited. Truth helps the people against rapacious elites – everywhere.
Posted by craig on November 29, 2010 11:23 AM in the category The Telegrams!http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/11/raise_a_glass_t.html
Wikileaks A Call To Struggle Against Empire
By Andrea Pason & Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA
03 December, 2010
Running an empire produces many nasty habits, habits that lead you to treat people, nations, assets, and the environment as objects upon which to project your own power. The US government runs such an empire. As a result, innocent people die, the environment is ravaged and funds that could have been used to meet human needs have been fed into an insatiable military industrial complex. This has long been known by the socialist left and now, with the release and publication of secret US diplomatic messages, Wikileaks has made it visible to the entire world.
The more than 250,000 messages map out the complex interconnections of a US empire managed by a murky group of diplomats, secret agents and military personnel. They document scandalous acts such as the horse-trading of human beings for diplomatic access, the plotting of the payoffs necessary after the demise of North Korea and the employing of diplomatic muscle to shield intelligence agents from criminal prosecution. All of these acts are part of the everyday reality created by US imperial dominance.
The Wikileaks documents shed particular light on the ongoing scandal surrounding the illegal prison camp operated out of Guantanamo Bay. President Barack Obama's State Department engaged in a dehumanizing game of attempting to trade prisoners for diplomatic access. For instance, a letter sent to the government of Slovenia made it clear that access to President Obama was contingent on that country accepting a Guantanamo prisoner. Similarly, US diplomats promised Belgium the ability "to attain prominence in Europe," if they accepted prisoners.
No wonder then that the Obama administration has entirely reneged on its campaign promise to close the Guantanamo facility. As if the torture that occurred there was not enough of a human rights violation, the prison's inhabitants are now pawns in a global game of horse-trading in which the US attempts to impose its will through implicit threats and the withholding of access. This gives an entirely new light to the old Marxist maxim that capitalism doesn't solve problems, it just moves them around. In this case, imperial hubris sponsored hopes that the dispersal of prisoners throughout the world might solve the massive rights violation that is Guantanamo Bay.
An episode in Germany is equally sinister and offers even more insights into how the empire operates. There, Central Intelligence Agency agents snatched up a German citizen and summarily extradited him to a jail in Afghanistan where he was detained for months. Problem is, the CIA had the right name but the wrong person. After German officials drew up arrest warrants for the responsible agents, US diplomats issued a series of sharp threats to the German government to prevent the arrests. The well-oiled machine of Imperialism went into motion. When the stealth side is threatened, the legal side comes to the rescue.
And what is the outcome of the expensive, violent and secretive operation of the US Empire? 925 million in the world people who do not have enough to eat. One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries is left underweight. 12 million children under the age of 18 in sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned because of HIV/AIDS. The global arms trade is nearly $60 billion each year. The global proliferation of nuclear weapons is growing. And, perhaps most important, while 1.2 billion people are obliged to survive on $1.25 a day, there are almost 500 billionaires worldwide. The system of US Empire serves to protect these deep inequalities of capitalism and, in the process, endangers the very existence of billions of people every day.
The latest Wikileaks revelations should be a call to action for all Americans. It is time to tear down the empire that has been created in our name. Two tasks are first and foremost. We need to create a vibrant movement to end the wars being waged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. No more occupations, no more military surges and no more drone attacks. Simultaneously, we must demand that the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed immediately. Achieving such demands will open a political space to more directly challenge the center of the military industrial complex by calling for an immediate reduction of the military budget by 50% and the closing of all US military bases abroad.
As democratic socialists, we imagine another society, where the great wealth this world produces is put to use to meet human needs. Such a world would not need the secret cloak that covers the operations of the US Empire. It would, instead, be based on notions that seem very distant from our current reality – democracy, free association and self-determination. We think that democratic socialism holds the potential to live up to these lofty ideals. Let the Wikileaks disclosures provide the motivation for you to join in this struggle.
Check out the Socialist Party USA:
I Hate Authority -- Well, Except for My Authority!
Once Upon a Time... , November 30, 2010
Why Wikileaks Is Good For Democracy
By Bill Quigley
01 December, 2010
Information is the currency of democracy. --Thomas Jefferson.
Since 9-11, the US government, through Presidents Bush and Obama, has increasingly told the US public that "state secrets" will not be shared with citizens. Candidate Obama pledged to reduce the use of state secrets, but President Obama continued the Bush tradition. The Courts and Congress and international allies have gone meekly along with the escalating secrecy demands of the US Executive. By labeling tens of millions of documents secret, the US government has created a huge vacuum of information.
But information is the lifeblood of democracy. Information about government contributes to a healthy democracy. Transparency and accountability are essential elements of good government. Likewise, "a lack of government transparency and accountability undermines democracy and gives rise to cynicism and mistrust," according to a 2008 Harris survey commissioned by the Association of Government Accountants.
Into the secrecy vacuum stepped Private Bradley Manning, who, according to the Associated Press, was able to defeat "Pentagon security systems using little more than a Lady Gaga CD and a portable computer memory stick."
Manning apparently sent the information to Wikileaks – a non profit media organization, which specializes in publishing leaked information. Wikileaks in turn shared the documents to other media around the world including the New York Times and published much of it on its website.
Despite criminal investigations by the US and other governments, it is not clear that media organizations like Wikileaks can be prosecuted in the US in light of First Amendment. Recall that the First Amendment says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Outraged politicians are claiming that the release of government information is the criminal equivalent of terrorism and puts innocent people's lives at risk. Many of those same politicians authorized the modern equivalent of carpet bombing of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, the sacrifice of thousands of lives of soldiers and civilians, and drone assaults on civilian areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Their anger at a document dump, no matter how extensive, is more than a little suspect.
Everyone, including Wikileaks and the other media reporting the documents, hopes that no lives will be lost because of this. So far, that appears to be the case as McClatchey Newspapers reported November 28, 2010, that 'US officials conceded that they have no evidence to date that the [prior] release of documents led to anyone's death."
The US has been going in the wrong direction for years by classifying millions of documents as secrets. Wikileaks and other media which report these so called secrets will embarrass people yes. Wikileaks and other media will make leaders uncomfortable yes. But embarrassment and discomfort are small prices to pay for a healthier democracy.
Wikileaks has the potential to make transparency and accountability more robust in the US. That is good for democracy.
Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com
Noam Chomsky: WikiLeaks Cables Reveal "Profound Hatred for Democracy on the Part of Our Political Leadership"
In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks.
In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran, Chomsky says the latest polls show "Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that's 80 percent; the second threat is the United States, that's 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent... This may not be reported in the newspapers, ... but it's certainly familiar to the Israeli and the U.S. governments and to the ambassadors... What that reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership." [includes rush transcript]
WATCH PARTS I & 2 AND READ TRANSCRIPT ON DEMOCRACY NOW:
The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics
(updated below - Update II)
Time's Joe Klein writes this about the WikiLeaks disclosures:
I am tremendously concernced [sic] about the puerile eruptions of Julian Assange. . . . If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in "freedom" stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He's the one who should be in jail.
Do you have that principle down? If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a "single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail." That's quite a rigorous moral standard. So let's apply it elsewhere:
What about the most destructive "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" the planet has known for at least a generation: the "human disaster" known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn't result in the imprisonment of "a single foreign national," but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" -- or at least those responsible for its execution -- also "criminals who should be in jail"?
How about the multiple journalists and other human beings whom the U.S. Government imprisoned (and continues to imprison) for years without charges -- and tortured -- including many whom the Government knew were completely innocent, while Klein assured the world that wasn't happening? How about those responsible for the war in Afghanistan (which Klein supports) with its checkpoint shootings of an "amazing number" of innocent Afghans and civilian slaughtering air strikes, or the use of cluster bombs in Yemen, or the civilian killing drones in Pakistan? Are those responsible for the sky-high corpses of innocent people from these actions also "criminals who should be in jail"?
Wikileaks offline; faces triple threat
ABOVE: Wikileaks new banner, featuring founder Julian Assange. Although the site has lost its domain name service - meaning its web address Wikileaks.org no longer works - the site can still be accessed via its less user-friendly IP address: http://220.127.116.11. Wikileaks has said it will move its domain name to servers to Switzerland in an effort to reestablish service (a domain name takes up to 48 hours to transfer to a new provider).
Late Friday night NZ time, whistle-blowing website Wikileaks went offline - and early Saturday it is still without a working web address.
EveryDNS, the US company that provides Wikileaks' domain name (or URL or internet address - Wikileaks.org), said it could no longer provide service.
Multiple denial of service (DoS) attacks on Wikileaks were threatening the stability EveryDNS' infrastructure, the company said in a statement.
That will not stop the flow of leaked diplomatic cables from the site. Only a few hundred of the 250,000 US cables had been placed publicly on Wikileaks.org. That handful can still be accessed via Google cache (or the IP address mentioned in the caption above).
And, regardless, Wikileaks has already forwarded cables en masse to The New York Times, The Guardian and other media organisations.
Wikileaks repelled a major DoS attack on Wednesday, in part because the site was hosted on three IP addresses - two provided by France's Octopuce, and one in the US, provided by Amazon's E2 cloud service.
But without the domain name service previously provided by EveryDNS, Wikileaks is inaccessible from any of its hosts.
Amazon pulls plug
On Thursday NZ time, Amazon announced it would no longer host Wikileaks.
The decision to eject the whistleblowing site from its cloud servers came after a call from Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.
International arrest warrant for founder
Senator Lieberman also suggested than Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may have violated US law by releasing around 250,000 classified diplomatic cables through his site.
But beyond any possible treason charge, Mr Assange has a more immediate problem: Interpol earlier this week issued an international warrant for his arrest.
On November 19, a Swedish court ordered Mr Assange's arrest after he failed to front for questioning on rape and sex crime charges, which the Wikileaks founder has denied. Mr Assange is - an Australian citizen who has spent much of his recent career in Europe - is currently in hiding.
Through his London-based lawyer, Mark Stephens, Mr Assange has said he will not reveal his whereabouts because death threats.
History of trouble-making
Previous to posting the 250,000 cables, Wikileaks gained notoriety for releasing thousands of sensitive US documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It has also posted thousands of documents and articles censored in their home country including NBR's story on Vodafone and 2degrees' secret deal on mobile termination rates, taken offline by the Commerce Commission under a Section 100 order (and now back online).
Wikileaks chief: What will he do next?
Julian Assange lies low in UK while enemies call for his blood
By Mark Hughes, Michael Savage and Jerome Taylor
Thursday, 2 December 2010
AFP/ GETTY IMAGES
An international arrest warrant has been issued for the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is known to be in Britain
As a fresh batch of leaked files gave new urgency to worldwide controversy surrounding the publication of US diplomatic communiqués, there was continued mystery over the motivation, intentions and whereabouts of the man at the heart of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
Despite accusations that Julian Assange is on the run, The Independent has learnt that Scotland Yard has been in contact with his legal team for more than a month but is waiting for further instruction before arresting him. Police forces around the globe have been asked to arrest the enigmatic Wikileaks founder, who is wanted in Sweden to answer a series of sexual allegations against him.
But the 39-year-old Australian supplied the Metropolitan Police with contact details upon arriving in the UK in October. Police sources confirmed that they have a telephone number for Mr Assange and are fully aware of where he is staying.
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- Search the news archive for more stories
Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has received the so-called "red notice" – an international arrest warrant – but has so far refused to authorise the arrest of Mr Assange, who is thought to be in South-east England. Until it does, police forces cannot act.
The delay is said to be a technical one, with sources suggesting Soca needed clarifications about the European Arrest Warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors for Mr Assange, a fast-track system for arresting suspects within the EU. His name was added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list on 20 November, but only publicly revealed on Tuesday night. It has focused even greater attention on the man who has been lying low since releasing 250,000 mostly classified cables from US embassies across the globe.
Outrage at the data breach intensified yesterday, with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan among those to complain.
Friends of Mr Assange said he has been working through the night to protect his website from repeated attempts by hackers to bring it down. Last night, it emerged that Amazon had agreed to stop hosting Wikileaks after pressure from US senators. Wikileaks had temporarily switched to Amazon's servers during the cyber attacks.
Mr Assange's associates refused to reveal his current whereabouts because death threats have been made against him. His lawyer, Mark Stephens, insisted last night Mr Assange was not hiding. He has conducted brief media interviews from his current location.
He is wanted in Sweden on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, but no formal charges have been filed. Mr Assange has always denied the accusations, saying he had consensual sex with two women during a trip to Sweden in August.
His mother, Christine Assange, spoke of her distress at the Interpol alert issued against her son, adding that she was concerned for his wellbeing. "He's my son and I love him and obviously I don't want him hunted down and jailed," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from her Queensland home. "A lot of stuff that is written about me and Julian is untrue."
The enemies he has accumulated abroad rounded on him yesterday. One former adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, even suggested Mr Assange should be assassinated. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has said the site acted illegally and added there would be "aggressive steps" taken against those who released the information.
Mr Assange's legal team has lodged an appeal with Sweden's highest court against the order to have him returned to Stockholm. Mr Stephens launched a counterattack against Swedish prosecutors yesterday, saying they had failed to meet basic legal obligations such as informing him about the allegations he faces. "Given that Sweden is a civilised country, I am reluctantly forced to conclude that this is a persecution and not a prosecution," Mr Stephens said. "There is no suggestion that he is in any way a fugitive. The police and the security services here know exactly where he is located."
Mr Assange has hinted in the past he may head to Switzerland. He has also been offered safe haven by the government of Ecuador. However, now the Interpol notice has been issued, it will be much more difficult for him to move around the globe unnoticed.
"We Have Not Seen Anything Yet": Guardian Editor Says Most Startling WikiLeaks Cables Still to be Released
"In the coming days, we are going to see some quite startling disclosures about Russia, the nature of the Russian state, and about bribery and corruption in other countries, particularly in Central Asia," says investigations executive editor David Leigh at The Guardian, one of the three newspapers given advanced access to the secret U.S. embassy cables by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. "We will see a wrath of disclosures about pretty terrible things going on around the world." Leigh reviews the major WikiLeaks revelations so far, explains how the 250,000 files were downloaded and given to the newspaper on a thumb drive, and confirms The Guardian gave the files to the New York Times. Additional cables will be disclosed throughout the week. [includes rush transcript]
CHECK OUT VIDEOS AND READ TRANSCRIPT:
John Pilger - Wikileaks - The War You Don't See
Award winning journalist John Pilger speaks on Australian radio about the absurdities put forward by members of the American government.
John Pilger has a new documentary coming out in Britain on Dec. 12th called "The War You Don't See" which features an interview with Julian Assange. To see the trailer, go to http://www.johnpilger.com/videos/the-war-you-dont-see-trailer
Posted December 03, 2010
WikiLeaks is holding US global power to account
The WikiLeaks avalanche has exposed floundering imperial rule to scrutiny – and its reliance on dictatorship and deceit
Official America's reaction to the largest leak of confidential government files in history is tipping over towards derangement. What the White House initially denounced as a life-threatening "criminal" act and Hillary Clinton branded an "attack on the international community" has been taken a menacing stage further by the newly emboldened Republican right.
WikiLeaks' release of 250,000 United States embassy cables – shared with the Guardian and other international newspapers – was an act of terrorism, congressman Peter King declared. Sarah Palin called for its founder Julian Assange to be hunted down as an "anti-American operative with blood on his hands", while former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has demanded that whoever leaked the files should be executed for treason.
Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free. In reality, most of the leaked material is fairly low-level diplomatic gossip, which naturally reflects the US government's view of the world, and crucially doesn't include reports with the highest security classification.
When it comes to actual criminality and blood, nothing quite matches WikiLeaks' earlier revelations about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their chilling records of US collusion with industrial-scale torture and death squads, and killings of Afghan civilians by rampaging Nato troops.
Nor, of course, is what US diplomats write necessarily true. But beyond the dispatches on Prince Andrew's crass follies and Colonel Gaddafi's "weirdness", the leaks do paint a revealing picture of an overstretched imperial system at work, as its emissaries struggle to keep satraps in line and enemies at bay.
Much has been made of the appalling damage supposedly done to the delicate business of diplomacy. No doubt the back channels will survive the shock of daylight. But in any case the United States is the centre of a global empire, a state with a military presence in most countries which arrogates to itself the role of world leader and policeman.
When genuine checks on how it exercises that entirely undemocratic power are so weak at home, let alone in the rest of the world it still dominates, it's both inevitable and right that people everywhere will try to find ways to challenge and hold it to account.
After the Russian revolution, the secret tsarist treaties with Britain and France were published to expose and challenge the colonial carve-ups of the day. In the 1970s, the publication of the Pentagon papers cut the ground from beneath the US case for the Vietnam war. Now technology is allowing such exposures on a far grander scale.
Clinton complained this week that the leaks "tore at the fabric" of government and good relations between states. Far more damaging is her own instruction to ordinary US diplomats to violate the treaties the US government has itself signed and spy on UN officials, along with any other public figure they happen to meet: down to their credit card details, biometric records – and even frequent-flyer account numbers.
Not surprisingly, US allies and client states come out badly from the leaks. The British government is once again shown to kowtow to US demands for no gain, first promising to "put measures in place" to protect American interests in the Iraq war inquiry, and then colluding in a plan to deceive parliament and allow the US to keep banned cluster-bombs in its bases on Diego Garcia (in exchange for which Gordon Brown was firmly rebuffed by the US over the extradition of the British computer hacker Gary McKinnon).
But it is the relentless US mobilisation against Iran that provides the most ominous thread in the leaked despatches. The reports that the king of Saudi Arabia has called on the US to "cut off the head of the snake" and launch what would be a catastrophic attack on Tehran, echoed by his fellow potentates in Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain – and, of course, most dangerously by Israel – were yesterday hailed by the Times as evidence of a new "international consensus" against Iran.
It is nothing of the sort. It simply underlines the fact that after more than half a century the US still has to rely on laughably unrepresentative autocracies and dictatorships to shore up its domination of the Middle East and its resources. While Arab emirs and election-rigging presidents fear the influence of Iran and only wearily bring themselves to raise the Palestinians with their imperial sponsors, their people regard Israel and the US itself as the threats to their security and strongly support Iran's nuclear programme – as the most recent US-conducted poll in the region demonstrated.
The confirmation in the cables that US military forces are indeed secretly operating on Pakistan's territory and that Yemen's president Abdullah Saleh felt it necessary to tell General Petraeus this year that he would carry on lying about US military operations against jihadists in his country – "we'll continue saying they are our bombs, not yours" – only emphasises how weak and illegitimate US props and allies are across the Muslim world.
But it's those who have helped to expose such lethal campaigns who are now charged with "putting lives at risk". Assange is threatened with ever more dire retribution and Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old US army intelligence analyst accused of leaking the Iraq, Afghanistan and diplomatic cables is already facing up to 52 years in prison. Meanwhile the aircrews of two US Apache helicopters who killed a dozen unarmed civilians in Iraq in 2007 as they laughed and crowed – the video of which Manning is alleged to have leaked – were commended by US central command for their "sound judgment".
Manning is reported to have said that the latest leaks show how "the first world exploits the third". But they also cast a powerful light on how the US empire has begun to flounder as the post-cold war unipolar moment has passed, former dependable client states like Turkey go their own way and independent regional powers such as China start to make their global presence felt.
By making available Washington's own account of its international dealings WikiLeaks has opened some of the institutions of global power to scrutiny and performed a democratic service in the process. Its next target is said to be the leviathan of the banks – bring it on.
• This article was amended on 2 December 2010. The original referred to Peter King as a senator. This has now been corrected
Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News
The WikiLeaks website is struggling to stay online just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure.
The U.S. State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government employees not to read the cables, even at home.
"These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States," said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. We host a debate between Steven Aftergood, a transparency advocate who has become a leading critic of WikiLeaks, and Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and legal blogger for Salon.com.
TranscriptJUAN GONZALEZ: WikiLeaks is under attack. The whistelblowing group's website has effectively been killed just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure. Wikileaks.org went offline this morning for the third time this week in what the Guardian newspaper is calling "the biggest threat to its online presence yet."
A California-based internet hosting provider called EveryDNS dropped WikiLeaks last night, late last night. The company says it did so to prevent its other 500,000 customers from being affected by the intense cyber attacks targeted at WikiLeaks.
This morning, WikiLeaks—and the massive trove of secret diplomatic cables it has been publishing since Sunday—was only accessible online through a string of digits known as a DNS address.
Earlier this week, Joe Lieberman, the chair of the Senate committee on Homeland Security, called for any organization helping to sustain WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them.
Meanwhile, the State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government workers not to read the cables, even at home.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told The Guardian the developments are an example of the, quote, "privatization of state censorship." Assange said, quote, "These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States."
AMY GOODMAN: Just what is WikiLeaks' mission? On its website, the group says, quote, "WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public." The website goes on, "We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices," unquote.
But not all transparency advocates support what WikiLeaks is doing. Today we'll host a debate. Steven Aftergood is one of the most prominent critics of WikiLeaks and one of the most prominent transparency advocates. He's the director of the government secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists. He runs the Secrecy News project, which routinely posts non-public documents. He is joining us from Washington, D.C. We're also joined by Glenn Greenwald. He's a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com who's supportive of WikiLeaks. He's joining us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Why don't we begin with Steven Aftergood? You have been a fierce proponent of transparency, yet you are a critic of WikiLeaks. Why?
The Obama Administration's War on Truth
Holder v. Assange
By SHERWOOD ROSS
November 30, 2010
:: Article nr. 72358 sent on 30-nov-2010 21:15 ECT
Get Over It! WikiLeaks Is Good For America
By John Grant (about the author) Page 1 of 4 page(s)
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would not depend on an unsustainable relation of domination
over the rest of the world." Jean Bricmont
We live in a time of incredible change, and to have any say at all in the direction that change will take requires a respect for reality. Right now, the United States is losing this battle as it tries mightily and wastefully -- to sustain its post-WWII legacy as the world's undisputed Top Dog.
The key to this disaster here in the US is a greater and greater restriction of information in conjunction with what can only be called a top down enforced blindness among the population.
If you think this is only the view of a disgruntled leftist, read Thomas Friedman's latest column in The New York Times, where he imagines WikiLeaks revealing a gleeful cable from the Chinese ambassador in Washington to his bosses in Beijing:
"Things are going well here for China," the ambassador writes. "There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. ... This leaves us relieved. It means that America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent."
His fictional ambassador goes on to gloat over the $190 million a day being pissed away to war in Afghanistan. He speculates that by the time the US finally leaves the Afghanis will hate the US so much China will have the inside track on all the minerals there.
The real cables recently released by WikiLeaks are, of course, not nearly as crisp and to the point as this fictional one. But they're equally as insightful and inciting to boot.
Bradley Manning, left, and Julian Assange by Unknown
Mike Huckabee, a follower of Jesus Christ and a presidential candidate, says Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, should be tried and executed. Others, like Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Prime Minister of Canada, says that would take too long and Assange should just be assassinated. "Take him out!" is the correct vernacular, I believe. Sarah Palin wants him hunted down like an al Qaeda dog.
The same surely goes for Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker of the 250,000 diplomatic cables. And since The New York Times and virtually every other major newspaper in the world has run some of the cables, presumably Times Editor Bill Keller and the other editors should be "taken out" as well.
The Specialized Class and the Bewildered Herd
The famous meta-journalist Walter Lippman was of the school only a "specialized class" of "responsible men" could handle reality and the rest of the nation's population -" those Lippman called "the bewildered herd" -- were to remain spectators fed soothing information, a situation akin to the Roman's notion of "bread and circus" to appease the citizenry. The art of public relations and propaganda grew to fill this need.
The devoted anti-imperialist Noam Chomsky says this arrangement "has a very close resemblance to the Leninist conception that a vanguard of revolutionary intellectuals take state power ... then drive the stupid masses toward a future they're too dumb and incompetent to envision for themselves."
No doubt, Chomsky should be "taken out" too. If I'm worthy, I might be put on the list as well.
I am a 62-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a 19-year-old kid who has been studying US counter-insurgency war ever since. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I am a photographer and a writer -- sometimes a video filmmaker. I have been a (more...)
Amnesia As A Way Of Life: WikiLeaks Amid The "Careless People"
By Phil Rockstroh (about the author) Page 1 of 3 page(s)
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In hindsight, one realizes, when the Obama administration promised transparency and accountability in government, National Security State enabler that Barack Obama has proven himself to be, that his administration's definition of transparency would entail the countenancing of said body scans at the nation's airports, revealing the private bits of the hoi polloi, as, all the while, his administration was engaged in stonewalling the hidden agendas and felonies of the corporate and governing elite. Recent events should remove any doubt regarding who stands exposed and who will remain cloaked by official aegis.
Unlike Julian Assange at Wikileaks, when the Democratic Congress had the opportunity to create an atmosphere of openness and transparency, they demurred. Once granted positions of authority, the Democrats didn't exercise their constitutionally granted powers to initiate investigations, hold hearings, nor issue subpoenas. This failure of will and integrity amounts to complicity by omission. Withal, Democrats gave their tacit support and approval to the last administration's (as well as to the present one's continuation of more of the same) constitution-shredding, morally repugnant policies.
On most occasions, existing within the tacit repression and the benumbing, virtual reality carnival of the corporate/National Security State leaves an individual with a sense of being stranded in anonymity " cast into circumstances wherein one feels the necessity to follow the unspoken dictates of a nebulous form of authority that remains hidden, both by physical distance and organizational insularity. In contrast, when one is introduced to the apparatus of the National Security State, by means of a full body search, this unnerving intrusion upon the body can bring clarity to the mind as to how the elite and apparatchik of the US government regard that mass annoyance known as its citizenry and any quaint notions those wretches clutch pertaining to their constitutional granted rights and liberties.
These present outrages will flair up and spiral through the news cycle. Yet, the practices will remain in place, and, after a time, become normalized. This has proven to be the case with other previously revealed excesses of the so-call War on Terror and the attendant assaults against civil liberties and breaches of international law incurred in the name of this ongoing, seemingly endless, national psychotic episode e.g., the existence of the "detention camp" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and those operations concomitant litany of war crimes and affronts to human dignity, such as the acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison -- as well as -- the whole blood-sodden laundry list of outrages and excesses of present day US imperium.
If there is any hope for the US to ever function as a democratic republic, the revelations, unearthed by Wikileaks, should constitute the beginning of a long, painful process of grim discovery.
First, one must ask: Why is it the corporate media is so deeply invested in promulgating distracting and miss-the-point narratives, hyper-adrenaline arguments of narrowed context and little consequence -- and, in general, trafficking in piffle packaged as news and public debate -- rather than showing even a passing interest, much less an avidity, for the pursuit of stories that confront power and might present a challenge to the present order?
As with any criminal enterprise, the essential question to ask is: who benefits from the crime (and the subsequent coverup) and who gets the payoff? Although most of human existence is constituted by ambiguity, this situation is not. The evidence of war crimes and fiscal malfeasance committed by the nation's political and financial elite are so pervasive that it cannot be missed, and that is precisely the reason the corporate media, as well as a large percentage of the general public, works so hard to ignore the situation.
Lord Northcliffe's aphorism provides a clue:
"News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising." ~ Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922
Accordingly, at present, there arrives a paucity of news, but, hour after hour, comes a drowning deluge of advertising. Enveloped in this commercially dominated hologram, on a cultural basis, it has proven difficult to arrive at a common lexicon to tell the tale of truths buried and freedoms imperiled.
The weightless, insubstantial quality of the consumer age engenders a state of mind wherein consequences cannot be grasped then processed. As a result, a sense of drift prevails. Yet below the surface churns a nebulous dread -- a feeling of being propelled towards a time of unbearable reckoning.
But such enervating thoughts must be banished from the mind; hence, amnesia, as a way of life, becomes the prevailing mindset of psyches minted in the media age hologram i.e., a manner of perceiving the world in which official accountability becomes as evanescent as last season's advertising campaign roll-out.
Voting for "change" becomes as meaningless and inconsequential as the introduction of Coke "Classic" and "Be all you can be." The US might as well have election campaigns in which the Michelin Man runs against the Energizer Bunny.
By means of its inherently self-narrowing context, the lingua franca of the media hologram reduces complex and conflicted human aspirations into consumer choices -- and the vastness of life to retail experience, as, simultaneously, its proliferate narratives envelop, saturate and bind to the architecture of our psyches becoming the quanta of our thoughts and the shared lexicon of our utterances.
Living in this milieu, that is as manic as it is mind-grinding, decisions must be made rapidly, with little time allowed for reflection (decision-making carrying no more depth and lasting meaning than a text message vote by cell phone involving some contrived Reality TV competition) because the proliferation of empty, non-choices just keeps being proffered and the rate of arrival keeps accelerating.
firstname.lastname@example.org Visit more...)
Out Of The Diplomatic Bag
By William Bowles
03 December, 2010
Julian Assange Says Document Dump Targets 'Lying, Corrupt and Murderous Leadership'
Wikileaks Chief Promises to Reveal Many More Government Secrets.
Wikileaks Documents: Fears Over Iran and Missiles
Many of the sensitive cables deal with the imminent threat from Iran, revealing that the U.S. now believes Iran has missiles, obtained from North Korea, capable of striking Western Europe. Fearing mounting danger, Arab leaders are seen pleading with the U.S. to do something.
Saudi Arabia wants the U.S. to intervene against an ascendant nuclear Iran, but is unwilling to confront a fellow Muslim country or sacrifice its own citizens, suggested Defense Secretrary Robert Gates at a meeting with French envoys, according a secret diplomatic cable recently made public.
During a conversation with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in 2008 about encouraging China to sign a resolution condemning Iran, Gates said the Saudis "always want to 'fight the Iranians to the last American,' but that now it is time for them to get into the game," according the cable.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah repeatedly urges the U.S. to "cut the head off the snake." The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates says "Ahmadinejad is Hitler" and told one U.S. top State Department official that "the threat from al Qaeda would be minor if Iran has nukes."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that the leak would not affect his country's policy to any other countries, The Associated Press reported.
The cables also reveal the delicacy of negotiations with Iran over the release of the three American hostages taken prisoner last year. One of the hostages, Sarah Shroud was released this summer.
The cables depict a grim prospect, in which the U.S. government is warned by French diplomats its damned either way -- if they too vocally call for the hikers' release, or if they quietly try to negotiate behind the scenes.
The French warn "the Iranians have in the past tried to 'blackmail' them," trading release of a French national for an Iranian national.
"Be vocal," one French envoy advises, "even more so if the Iranians ask you not to be, because silence will not expedite the process."
Some of the documents also reveal a diplomatic struggle with Pakistan over nuclear proliferation -- a disagreement that Hoekstra said had no business in the public sphere.
"Bottom line here is we want to work with the Pakistanis on proliferation. Putting the negotiations, the agreements and the disagreements that we have with our allies, putting them in the public spotlight is going to make it more difficult for us to get to the ultimate objective, which is to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons," he said. "Wikileaks is not providing us a service."
Beyond policy concerns, the White House said that the leak puts individuals in danger.CONTINUED: http://abcnews.go.com/US/official-wikileaks-greatest-danger-loss-trust/story?id=12263971&page=3
Julian Assange answers your questions
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, answers readers' questions about the release of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables
Read our users' questions
I'll start the ball rolling with a question. You're an Australian passport holder - would you want return to your own country or is this now out of the question due to potentially being arrested on arrival for releasing cables relating to Australian diplomats and polices?
I am an Australian citizen and I miss my country a great deal. However, during the last weeks the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, and the attorney general, Robert McClelland, have made it clear that not only is my return is impossible but that they are actively working to assist the United States government in its attacks on myself and our people. This brings into question what does it mean to be an Australian citizen - does that mean anything at all? Or are we all to be treated like David Hicks at the first possible opportunity merely so that Australian politicians and diplomats can be invited to the best US embassy cocktail parties.
How do you think you have changed world affairs?
And if you call all the attention you've been given-credit ... shouldn't the mole or source receive a word of praise from you?
For the past four years one of our goals has been to lionise the source who take the real risks in nearly every journalistic disclosure and without whose efforts, journalists would be nothing. If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier - Bradley Manning - is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero.
Have you released, or will you release, cables (either in the last few days or with the Afghan and Iraq war logs) with the names of Afghan informants or anything else like so?
Are you willing to censor (sorry for using the term) any names that you feel might land people in danger from reprisals??
By the way, I think history will absolve you. Well done!!!
WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time there has been no credible allegation, even by organisations like the Pentagon that even a single person has come to harm as a result of our activities. This is despite much-attempted manipulation and spin trying to lead people to a counter-factual conclusion. We do not expect any change in this regard.
The State Dept is mulling over the issue of whether you are a journalist or not. Are you a journalist? As far as delivering information that someone [anyone] does not want seen is concerned, does it matter if you are a 'journalist' or not?
I coauthored my first nonfiction book by the time I was 25. I have been involved in nonfiction documentaries, newspapers, TV and internet since that time. However, it is not necessary to debate whether I am a journalist, or how our people mysteriously are alleged to cease to be journalists when they start writing for our organisaiton. Although I still write, research and investigate my role is primarily that of a publisher and editor-in-chief who organises and directs other journalists.
have there ever been documents forwarded to you which deal with the topic of UFOs or extraterrestrials?
Many weirdos email us about UFOs or how they discovered that they were the anti-christ whilst talking with their ex-wife at a garden party over a pot-plant. However, as yet they have not satisfied two of our publishing rules.
1) that the documents not be self-authored;
2) that they be original.
However, it is worth noting that in yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs.
What happened to all the other documents that were on Wikileaks prior to these series of "megaleaks"? Will you put them back online at some stage ("technical difficulties" permitting)?
Many of these are still available at mirror.wikileaks.info and the rest will be returning as soon as we can find a moment to do address the engineering complexities. Since April of this year our timetable has not been our own, rather it has been one that has centred on the moves of abusive elements of the United States government against us. But rest assured I am deeply unhappy that the three-and-a-half years of my work and others is not easily available or searchable by the general public.
Have you expected this level of impact all over the world? Do you fear for your security?
I always believed that WikiLeaks as a concept would perform a global role and to some degree it was clear that is was doing that as far back as 2007 when it changed the result of the Kenyan general election. I thought it would take two years instead of four to be recognised by others as having this important role, so we are still a little behind schedule and have much more work to do. The threats against our lives are a matter of public record, however, we are taking the appropriate precautions to the degree that we are able when dealing with a super power.
I am a former British diplomat. In the course of my former duties I helped to coordinate multilateral action against a brutal regime in the Balkans, impose sanctions on a renegade state threatening ethnic cleansing, and negotiate a debt relief programme for an impoverished nation. None of this would have been possible without the security and secrecy of diplomatic correspondence, and the protection of that correspondence from publication under the laws of the UK and many other liberal and democratic states. An embassy which cannot securely offer advice or pass messages back to London is an embassy which cannot operate. Diplomacy cannot operate without discretion and the
protection of sources. This applies to the UK and the UN as much as the US.
In publishing this massive volume of correspondence, Wikileaks is not highlighting specific cases of wrongdoing but undermining the entire process of diplomacy. If you can publish US cables then you can publish UK telegrams and UN emails.
My question to you is: why should we not hold you personally responsible when next an international crisis goes unresolved because diplomats cannot function.
If you trim the vast editorial letter to the singular question actually asked, I would be happy to give it my attention.
Can you explain the censorship of identities as XXXXX's in the revealed cables? Some critical identities are left as is, whereas some are XXXXX'd. Some cables are partially revealed. Who can make such critical decisons, but the US gov't? As far as we know your request for such help was rejected by the State department. Also is there an order in the release of cable or are they randomly selected?
The cables we have release correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it. The redactions are then reviewed by at least one other journalist or editor, and we review samples supplied by the other organisations to make sure the process is working.
Annoying as it may be, the DDoS seems to be good publicity (if anything, it adds to your credibility). So is getting kicked out of AWS. Do you agree with this statement? Were you planning for it?
Thank you for doing what you are doing.
Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit inorder to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.
You started something that nobody can stop. The Beginning of a New World. Remember, that community is behind you and support you (from Slovakia).
Do you have leaks on ACTA?
Yes, we have leaks on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a trojan horse trade agreement designed from the very beginning to satisfy big players in the US copyright and patent industries. In fact, it was WikiLeaks that first drew ACTA to the public's attention - with a leak.
Tom Flanagan, a [former] senior adviser to Canadian Prime Minister recently stated "I think Assange should be assassinated ... I think Obama should put out a contract ... I wouldn't feel unhappy if Assange does disappear."
How do you feel about this?
It is correct that Mr. Flanagan and the others seriously making these statements should be charged with incitement to commit murder.
Julian, why do you think it was necessary to "give Wikileaks a face"? Don't you think it would be better if the organization was anonymous?
This whole debate has become very personal and reduced on you - "Julian Assange leaked documents", "Julian Assange is a terrorist", "Julian Assange alledgedly raped a woman", "Julian Assange should be assassinated", "Live Q&A qith Julian Assange" etc. Nobody talks about Wikileaks as an organization anymore. Many people don't even realize that there are other people behind Wikileaks, too.
And this, in my opinion, makes Wikileaks vulnerable because this enables your opponents to argue ad hominem. If they convince the public that you're an evil, woman-raping terrorist, then Wikileaks' credibility will be gone. Also, with due respect for all that you've done, I think it's unfair to all the other brave, hard working people behind Wikileaks, that you get so much credit.
This is an interesting question. I originally tried hard for the organisation to have no face, because I wanted egos to play no part in our activities. This followed the tradition of the French anonymous pure mathematians, who wrote under the collective allonym, "The Bourbaki". However this quickly led to tremendous distracting curiosity about who and random individuals claiming to represent us. In the end, someone must be responsible to the public and only a leadership that is willing to be publicly courageous can genuinely suggest that sources take risks for the greater good. In that process, I have become the lightening rod. I get undue attacks on every aspect of my life, but then I also get undue credit as some kind of balancing force.
Western governments lay claim to moral authority in part from having legal guarantees for a free press.
Threats of legal sanction against Wikileaks and yourself seem to weaken this claim.
(What press needs to be protected except that which is unpopular to the State? If being state-sanctioned is the test for being a media organization, and therefore able to claim rights to press freedom, the situation appears to be the same in authoritarian regimes and the west.)
Do you agree that western governments risk losing moral authority by
Do you believe western goverments have any moral authority to begin with?
The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade.
Is the game that you are caught up in winnable? Technically, can you keep playing hide and seek with the powers that be when services and service providers are directly or indirectly under government control or vulnerable to pressure - like Amazon?
Also, if you get "taken out" - and that could be technical, not necessarily physical - what are the alternatives for your cache of material?
Is there a 'second line' of activists in place that would continue the campaign?
Is your material 'dispersed' so that taking out one cache would not necessarily mean the end of the game?
The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.
That's it every one, thanks for all your questions and comments. Julian Assange is sorry that he can't answer every question but he has tried to cover as much territory as possible. Thanks for your patience with our earlier technical difficulties.
By Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review.
The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange
Dec 3 2010, 10:00 AM ET 56
The truly scandalous and shocking response to the Wikileaks documents has been that of other journalists, who make the Obama Administration sound like the ACLU.
US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee
Republican presidential hopeful wants the person responsible for the WikiLeaks cables to face capital punishment for treason
- Haroon Siddique and Matthew Weaver
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 December 2010 11.31 GMT
- Article history
Huckabee, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination at the last election but is one of the favourites for 2012, joined a growing number of people demanding the severest punishment possible for those behind the leak, which has prompted a global diplomatic crisis.
Huckabee said: "Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."
He added, according to Politico: "They've put American lives at risk. They put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk. They knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents they were entrusted.
"And anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed, under oath, a commitment that they would not violate. They did … Any lives they endangered, they're personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands."
Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the diplomatic cables, is currently being held at a military base. He has been charged with transferring classified data and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source. He faces a court martial and up to 52 years in prison.
The 23-year-old was arrested after boasting in instant messages and emails to a high-profile former hacker, Adrian Lamo, that he had passed the material to WikiLeaks along with a highly classified video of US forces killing unarmed civilians in Baghdad.
Kathleen McFarland, who served in the Pentagon under the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, concurred with Huckabee. "It's time to up the charges," said McFarland, now a Fox News national security analyst. "Let's charge him and try him for treason. If he is found guilty, he should be executed."
It is not just the Americans who are demanding blood. Tom Flanagan, a senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, issued what has been described as a fatwa against Assange, on the Canadian TV station CBC.
"I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," he said. "I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something." Flanagan chuckled as he made the comment but did not retract it when questioned, adding: "I wouldn't feel unhappy if Assange does disappear."
Revelations directly relating to Canada have been few and far between so far, although there was some embarrassment for Harper in the leak of a US embassy note from one of the French president's key foreign advisers. It explained that Harper was invited to last year's D-day commemorations in Normandy only because his government was in trouble.
The US has announced it is investigating whether he has violated its espionage laws, and his details have been added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list, based on an arrest warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors in connection with rape allegations.
On Monday, Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook: "He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaida and Taliban leaders?"
The New York Times Again Censoring WikiLeaks
by Stephen Lendman
November 30, 2010
:: Article nr. 72343 sent on 30-nov-2010 18:58 ECT
WikiLeaks cables: US espionage law
Although insiders who have leaked sensitive information before have been prosecuted, cases have rarely resulted in conviction
• Full coverage of the WikiLeaks cables
- Afua Hirsch
- The Guardian, Wednesday 1 December 2010
- Article history
The US Espionage Act is a little-used law dating from 1911 – the same year as the UK's Official Secrets Act, with which it has much in common.
The current law can be used to prosecute those who leak and publish classified information that creates a national security risk. But experts say the purpose of the act is primarily to tackle espionage, and that it has never been invoked successfully against a media organisation.
Although insiders who have leaked sensitive information have been prosecuted under the law – including two former officials of the American-Israel public affairs committee accused of leaking information in 2007 – cases have rarely resulted in convictions.
Media organisations are unlikely to be prosecuted under the act, under the constitutional protections for free speech upheld by the supreme court in a number of cases that have limited the application of the Espionage Act.
Experts say that in addition to protections for free speech, there are difficulties with proving leaked documents are classified, under a US government executive order which sets limits on documents that can be properly termed as classified documents.
However, if charges are made against Julian Assange under the law in the US, then he would face extradition under the controversial UK-US extradition treaty, which provides special measures for extraditions between the two countries.
Why Amazon Caved, and What It Means for the Rest of Us
A Q&A with Ethan Zuckerman
Amazon Web Services dropped WikiLeaks material from its servers on Tuesday, a move that is widely assumed to be a direct response to pressure from the Senate Homeland Security Committee. A statement from Amazon disputed that, stating that they kicked WikiLeaks off for violating the terms of service: "For example, our terms of service state that 'you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content… that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.'"
It's not the first time the company has pulled something like this. Just last year, Amazon "remotely deleted" the e-editions of two books that customers had already downloaded to their Kindle readers, after it was discovered that the books' seller did not have the rights to them. (And just their luck: the public relations headache that resulted from the deletion was no doubt amplified by the fact that the two books in question happened to be by George Orwell.) As Gawker's Ryan Tate notes, Amazon's policy of which content partners it will protect, and when, and why, is inconsistent and unpredictable, to say the least.CONTINUED: http://www.cjr.org/the_news_frontier/why_amazon_caved_and_what_it_m.php?page=all
PayPal cuts Wikileaks access for donations
The online payments processor, PayPal, says it has cut access for donations to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
PayPal said its payment service cannot be used for activities "that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity".
Wikileaks' latest releases - of US diplomatic cables - has caused considerable embarrassment to the US and its allies, correspondents say.
It has been forced to change its web address after sustained cyber attacks.
In a statement, US-based PayPal said donations could no longer be made to Wikileaks because of "a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy"
Earlier, the company providing Wikileaks with its domain name, EveryDNS.net, cut off service because the domain wikileaks.org had become the target of "multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks".
The company said: "These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites." Wikileaks later reappeared using a Swiss web address.
It had earlier turned to the online store Amazon to host its site but the company ended the agreement on Wednesday - a move welcomed by US officials.
Amazon said Wikileaks had failed to adhere to its terms of service.
"It's clear that Wikileaks doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content. Further it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that Wikileaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy," Amazon said on its website.
Interpol Called for Arrest of WikiLeaks Founder
By JOHN F. BURNS and ALAN COWELL ~ Published: December 1, 2010LONDON — For nearly two weeks, Interpol has been circulating a broad international call for the arrest of Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing organization, to face questioning about alleged sex crimes, Interpol said on its Web site on Wednesday.
Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Julian Assange, in sunglasses, founder of WikiLeaks, after a Nov. 4 news conference in Geneva.
Articles in this series examine American diplomatic relations as a window on relations with the rest of the world in an age of war and terrorism.
ates on the reaction to the leak of diplomatic cables.
Franz-Peter Tschauner/European Pressphoto Agency
Interpol revealed that it issued a call on Nov. 20 for Mr. Assange's arrest, to face questioning about sex crime allegations against him in Sweden.
Also on Wednesday, WikiLeaks accused Amazon.com of ending an agreement to host its Web site. Amazon hosts the sites of many companies and organizations as part of its Amazon Web Services program.
In a statement issued from its headquarters in the French city of Lyon, Interpol, the international police agency, said that it had issued its call on Nov. 20, two days after Swedish prosecutors won court approval for a warrant that Interpol could circulate, and that it had only now received Sweden's authorization to make its action public.
The whereabouts of Mr. Assange, 39, is unknown, but the sequence suggested that if he had wanted to flee Britain, his last known location, without being arrested, he might have had to do so within 48 hours of the Swedish court ruling.
The developments came as several newspapers, including The New York Times, published confidential documents obtained by WikiLeaks and made available from a mass of some 250,000 diplomatic cables from the State Department, including communications concerning American policy toward Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and many other countries.
In a message posted on Twitter, WikiLeaks said its servers at Amazon had been "ousted," adding that its money would now be spent "to employ people in Europe."
An hour and a half later, WikiLeaks continued the attack, saying, "If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books." WikiLeaks then posted a link to its donations page, with an appeal to "Keep WikiLeaks strong."
Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment about any business relationship with WikiLeaks.
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent of Connecticut, said Amazon had stopped hosting the WikiLeaks site on Wednesday after being contacted by the staff of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Staff members had asked Amazon to explain its business relationship with WikiLeaks, which Senator Lieberman, the committee's chairman, had criticized for publishing sensitive government documents.
"I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier, based on WikiLeaks's previous publication of classified material," Senator Lieberman said in a statement. "The company's decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material."
Senator Lieberman called on any other company that is hosting WikiLeaks's Web site to stop immediately, saying that its "illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world."
"No responsible company — whether American or foreign — should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials," he said. "I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and what it and other Web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information."
The Swedish prosecutor's office said almost two weeks ago that a court in Stockholm had approved its request for the arrest of Mr. Assange to face questioning on suspicion of "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion" — charges that he has strongly denied and that WikiLeaks has dismissed as "dirty tricks" meant to punish him for his organization's work. Appeals by Mr. Assange to suspend the warrant have been unsuccessful.
The accusations were first made against Mr. Assange after he traveled to Sweden in mid-August and had brief relationships with two Swedish women.
According to accounts they gave to the police and friends, each had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. Mr. Assange has portrayed the relationships as consensual and questioned the veracity of the women's accounts.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said the force had received "no intelligence" that Mr. Assange, an Australian, was still in London, and that while the Interpol alert did not compel the British police to hunt for him, "if that intelligence comes in, or we have reason to believe that a person who has a Red Notice out on them is in a certain location, we will find them and extradite them as per the international rules."
Unconfirmed reports on Wednesday, attributed to WikiLeaks associates, said Mr. Assange was staying out of sight outside London. The cellphones of two close associates of Mr. Assange seemed to be switched off, with recorded messages saying their owners were outside Britain.
A Web report by the British newspaper The Guardian, which has developed close ties with Mr. Assange in the months that The Guardian, The Times and other publications have been preparing articles based on the documents obtained by WikiLeaks, said Tuesday that Mr. Assange was "in a secret location somewhere outside London with fellow hackers and WikiLeaks enthusiasts."
John F. Burns reported from London, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London, and Verne G. Kopytoff from San Francisco.
Australian government joins persecution of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange
By James Cogan~1 December 2010
The Australian Labor government has joined with the Obama administration in its attempt to manufacture criminal charges against Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and the editor of WikiLeaks.
On Monday, Attorney General Robert McClelland told a doorstop press conference that Australia "will support any law enforcement action that may be taken. The United States will be the lead government in that respect, but certainly Australian agencies will assist". The Australian Federal Police, he stated, would "look at the issue as to whether any Australian laws have been breached as a specific issue as well".
A taskforce, made up of personnel from various intelligence and police agencies, has been formed to scour through the leaked material to determine if Assange can be charged with releasing "national security-classified documents".
McClelland indicated that the Australian government had not received a specific request from Washington to cancel Assange's passport. This is likely because both the US and Australian governments hope he will emerge from hiding and attempt to travel, whereupon he can be detained on either the trumped-up rape charges brought by the Swedish government or whatever equally politically-motivated charges are ultimately laid in the US.
McClelland left no doubt that if Assange returned to Australia—where he is a citizen and supposedly protected from political persecution by other states—the Labor government would provide "every assistance" to his deportation and prosecution in the US.
In a separate statement, McClelland also made clear that the Australian government would demand that any country providing Assange refuge, before charges are laid in the US, hands him over to Swedish authorities. The prosecution in Sweden, he declared on Tuesday, "places an obligation on those countries that are part of the Interpol arrangements to actually detain him when he arrives".
Australia's foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, told journalists in the United Arab Emirates, where he is attending forums on the Afghanistan war, that "our attitude, like most governments, is one of absolute condemnation" of WikiLeaks. "The Australian government" he said, "like other governments, is looking at full recourse to its legal jurisdiction, in terms of whether any of these actions have breached the Australian criminal law as well".
The treatment being meted out to Assange demonstrates the contempt for democratic rights and international law within the Australian ruling elite and its political parties. Not one figure in the Labor government, the conservative opposition or the Greens has even expressed concern, let alone condemnation, of the implied death threats against Assange that were made by former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin—who wrote that he should be hunted down like "Al Qaeda"—or the hysterical calls in the US for WikiLeaks to be declared a "terrorist organisation".
WikiLeaks is a media organisation. It has both a legal and moral right to make available to the public the mass of documents made available to it regarding the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and US diplomatic activity around the world. By doing so, it has brought into the light of day such atrocities as the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians and the US use of death squads and torture in Iraq to repress resistance.
The initial leaks since Sunday of some 250,000 cables from US embassies and consulates around the world have already revealed that US imperialism is actively plotting a war against Iran and carrying out secret bombing missions in Yemen. US diplomats have been ordered by the Obama administration to systematically collect personal information and even DNA samples on officials of foreign governments and the United Nations. It does not take a great deal of imagination to envisage the filthy purposes for which such information could be used, from frame-ups to blackmail.
All the outrage in the Australian political establishment, however, has been reserved for Assange and WikiLeaks. It is prepared for one of its citizens to be hounded, persecuted, imprisoned and even killed because he has contributed to exposing, before the world's population, the criminality of the foreign policy of Australia's primary ally.
For the Australian ruling class, the US alliance is the so-called "bedrock" of its foreign policy. It depends upon Washington's backing to assert economic and strategic influence in the South Pacific and South East Asia—Canberra's own "sphere of influence". The democratic rights, liberty and lives of Australian citizens count for little in comparison.
There are parallels in the treatment of Assange with the willingness of the Howard Liberal-National government to allow two Australian citizens—Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks—to be held for years without charges in the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. Instead, Canberra supported the criminal treatment of the two men, doing nothing to assist them in defending themselves and securing their release.
Above all, the Australian government's hostility to WikiLeaks is conditioned by the role it plays as junior partner in US military aggression and imperialist intrigue around the world. Australian troops have participated in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; Australian ministers and diplomats vocally defend US foreign policy in every international forum, and Australian intelligence agencies cooperate closely with their US counterparts in spying on perceived rivals, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, the Australian government hosts Pine Gap, one of the most important satellite bases and missile-targeting facilities in the US network.
Evidence revealed by WikiLeaks may well provide the basis for war crimes charges against several politicians and military personnel in Australia. There may also be concerns within the Labor government about the contents of the 1,003 cables from the US embassy in Canberra and US consulate in Melbourne reportedly in the hands of WikiLeaks.
In particular, there could be highly revealing information on any US involvement in the June 23-24 political coup that removed Kevin Rudd as prime minister, especially given the well-known acrimony between the Obama administration and Rudd over Afghanistan and other foreign policy issues.
Since Rudd's removal, his replacement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made an indefinite and unconditional commitment to the war in Afghanistan and aligned her government with US efforts to stem rising Chinese influence in Asia, despite the fact that China is now Australia's largest trading partner. The documents from the US embassy in Australia may contain highly embarrassing and diplomatically damaging revelations about joint US-Australian activity directed against Chinese interests. As the WikiLeaks cables from Australia are released, the WSWS will comment further.http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/assa-d01.shtml
More leaked cables from Wikileaks appear to confirm, for the first time, where the US has deployed its tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.
The WikiLeaks cables suggest that most of the roughly 200 bombs still left in Europe are based in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey.
While the international community is aware that the US has warheads remaining in Europe, the locations of the bombs have never been revealed - until now.
The cable, sent from Berlin to the US Secretary of State in November last year, details a conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon and German foreign policy advisor Christoph Heusgen.
The cable says: "Heusgen said that from his perspective, it made no sense to unilaterally withdraw 'the 20' tactical nuclear weapons still in Germany while Russia maintains 'thousands' of them."
The German government, particularly foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, has pledged to remove all remaining nuclear weapons from Germany.
The cable adds that Mr Gordon "noted that it was important to think through all the potential consequences" of withdrawing the weapons from Germany - "for example, a withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany and perhaps from Belgium and the Netherlands could make it very difficult politically for Turkey to maintain its own stockpile, even though it was still convinced of the need to do so."
Nato condemned the publication of the locations of the weapons as "illegal and dangerous", according to The Times.
The weapons remain in strategic locations across Europe, placed there after the Second World War to demonstrate the US commitment to NATO during the Cold War.
Ministers across Europe have recently called for their removal, saying they are obsolete, particularly in light of Russia joining Nato's missile shield, the closest co-operation between Nato and Russia since before the Cold War.
WikiLeaks' harsh lesson on imperial hubris
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2010
The WikiLeaks disclosure this week of confidential cables from United States embassies has been debated chiefly in terms either of the damage to Washington's reputation or of the questions it raises about national security and freedom of the press.
The headlines aside, most of the information so far revealed from the 250,000 documents is hardly earth-shattering, even if it often runs starkly counter to the official narrative of the US as the benevolent global policeman, trying to maintain order amid an often unruly rabble of underlings.
Is it really surprising that US officials appear to have been trying to spy on senior United Nations staff, and just about everyone else for that matter? Or that Israel has been lobbying strenuously for military action to be taken against Iran? Or even that Saudi Arabia feels threatened by an Iranian nuclear bomb? All of this was already largely understood; the leaks have simply provided official confirmation.
The new disclosures, however, do provide a useful insight, captured in the very ordinariness of the diplomatic correspondence, into Washington's own sense of the limits on its global role -- an insight that was far less apparent in the previous WikiLeaks revelations on the US army's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Underlying the gossip and analysis sent back to Washington is an awareness from many US officials stationed abroad of quite how ineffective -- and often counter-productive -- much US foreign policy is.
While the most powerful nation on earth is again shown to be more than capable of throwing its weight around in bullying fashion, a cynical resignation nonetheless shines through many of the cables, an implicit recognition that even the top dog has to recognize its limits.
That is most starkly evident in the messages sent by the embassy in Pakistan, revealing the perception among local US officials that the country is largely impervious to US machinations and is in danger of falling entirely out the ambit of Washington's influence.
In the cables sent from Tel Aviv, a similar fatalism reigns. The possibility that Israel might go it alone and attack Iran is contemplated as though it were an event Washington has no hope of preventing. US largesse of billions of dollars in annual aid and military assistance to Israel appears to confer zero leverage on its ally's policies.
The same sense of US ineffectiveness is highlighted by the WikiLeaks episode in another way. Once, in the pre-digital era, the most a whistleblower could hope to achieve was the disclosure of secret documents limited to his or her area of privileged access. Even then the affair could often be hushed up and make no lasting impact.
Now, however, it seems the contents of almost the entire system of US official communications is vulnerable to exposure. And anyone with a computer has a permanent and easily disseminated record of the evidence.
The impression of a world running out of American control has become a theme touching all our lives over the past decade.
The US invented and exported financial deregulation, promising it to be the epitome of the new capitalism that was going to offer the world economic salvation. The result is a banking crisis that now threatens to topple the very governments in Europe who are Washington's closest allies.
As the contagion of bad debt spreads through the system, we are likely to see a growing destabilization of the Washington order across the globe.
At the same time, the US army's invasions in the Middle East are stretching its financial and military muscle to tearing point, defining for a modern audience the problem of imperial overreach. Here too the upheaval is offering potent possibilities to those who wish to challenge the current order.
And then there is the biggest crisis facing Washington: of a gradually unfolding environmental catastrophe that has been caused chiefly by the same rush for world economic dominance that spawned the banking disaster.
The scale of this problem is overawing most scientists, and starting to register with the public, even if it is still barely acknowledged beyond platitudes by US officials.
The repercussions of ecological meltdown will be felt not just by polar bears and tribes living on islands. It will change the way we live -- and whether we live -- in ways that we cannot hope to foresee.
At work here is a set of global forces that the US, in its hubris, believed it could tame and dominate in its own cynical interests. By the early 1990s that arrogance manifested itself in the claim of the "end of history": the world's problems were about to be solved by US-sponsored corporate capitalism.
The new WikiLeaks disclosures will help to dent those assumptions. If a small group of activists can embarrass the most powerful nation on earth, the world's finite resources and its laws of nature promise a much harsher lesson.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
WikiLeaks cables: Secret deal let Americans sidestep cluster bomb ban
Officials concealed from parliament how US is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty
- Bob Evans and David Leigh
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 December 2010 22.59 GMT
- Article history
British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, the Guardian can disclose.
According to leaked US embassy dispatches, David Miliband, who was Britain's foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.
Unlike Britain, the US had refused to sign up to an international convention that bans the weapons because of the widespread injury they cause to civilians.
Whitehall officials proposed that a specially created loophole to grant the US a free hand should be concealed from parliament in case it "complicated or muddied" the MPs' debate.
Gordon Brown, as prime minister, had swung his political weight in 2008 behind the treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Britain therefore signed it, contrary to earlier assurances made by British officials to their US counterparts.
The US had stockpiles of cluster munitions at bases on British soil and intended to keep them, regardless of the treaty.
When the bill to ratify the treaty was going through parliament this year, the then Labour foreign ministers Glenys Kinnock and Chris Bryant repeatedly proclaimed that US cluster munition arsenals would be removed from British territory by the declared deadline of 2013.
But a different picture emerges from a confidential account of a meeting between UK and US officials in May last year.
It shows that the two governments concocted the "concept" of allowing US forces to store their cluster weapons as "temporary exceptions" and on a "case-by-case" basis for specific military operations.
Foreign Office officials "confirmed that the concept was accepted at highest levels of the government, as that idea had been included in the draft letter from minister [David] Miliband to secretary [of state Hillary] Clinton".
US cluster munitions are permanently stored on ships off the coast of the Diego Garcia airbase in the Indian Ocean, the cables reveal. The base is crucial for US military missions in the Middle East. Diego Garcia, still deemed British territory, has been occupied by the US military since its inhabitants were expelled in the 1960s and 1970s. The British concept of a "temporary exception" to oblige the US does not appear to be envisaged in the treaty. But the British arranged that "any movement of cluster munitions from ships at Diego Garcia to planes there, temporary transit, or use from British territory ... would require the temporary exception".
Nicholas Pickard, head of the Foreign Office's security policy unit, is quoted as saying: "It would be better for the US government and HMG [the British government] not to reach final agreement on this temporary agreement understanding until after the [treaty] ratification process is completed in parliament, so that they can tell parliamentarians that they have requested the US government to remove its cluster munitions by 2013, without complicating/muddying the debate by having to indicate that this request is open to exceptions."
Lady Kinnock subsequently promised parliament that there would be no "permanent stockpiles of cluster munitions on UK territory" after the treaty as the US had decided it no longer needed them on British soil.
There is no suggestion that Kinnock or Bryant were aware of a plan to mislead parliament.
Tonight, a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We reject any allegation that the Foreign Office deliberately misled parliament or failed in our obligation to inform parliament. We cannot go into specifics of any leaked documents because we condemn any unauthorised release of classified information."
David Miliband declined to comment.
Cluster bombs drop large numbers of "bomblets" over a wide area. Many do not explode at the time but can kill long afterwards. The Americans dropped thousands of cluster bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians in Vietnam still die from cluster bombs dropped by the US in the 1960s.
The leaked US state department documents reveal American displeasure at the international project launched by Norway to outlaw cluster munitions. An American arms control diplomat, John Rood, privately told the Foreign Office in 2008 that the US disliked this initiative, called the Oslo process. The Americans denounced it as "impractical and unconstructive" and were urging countries not to sign up.
Mariot Leslie, then director general of defence and intelligence in the Foreign Office, reassured him that the British were only taking part as a "tactical manoeuvre" and cluster bombs were "essential to its arsenal". "The UK is concerned about the impact of the Oslo process on the aftermath of a conflict, foreseeing 'astronomical bills' handed out to those who used cluster munitions in the past," Leslie is recorded as saying.
But two weeks later Brown defied military opposition and went ahead in banning British cluster munitions.
Afghanistan, which had suffered grievous civilian casualties from the continuing war on its territory, also unexpectedly signed up to the treaty in December 2008 "without prior consultation with the US government" and "despite assurances to the contrary from President Karzai".
Washington's reaction was to seek to convince the Kabul government that the US could still legally use cluster munitions on Afghan territory under the treaty, even if the Afghan regime itself could not.
Diplomats recommended a "low-profile approach" at "sub-ministerial level ... given the political sensitivities in Afghanistan surrounding cluster munitions, as well as air and artillery strikes in general".
WikiLeaks cables portray Hamid Karzai as corrupt and erratic
Diplomats describe Afghan president as weak, indecisive, paranoid and beholden to criminals to maintain power
- Jon Boone in Kabul
- guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 December 2010 21.30 GMT
- Article history
He may be vital to western plans in Afghanistan but Hamid Karzai is regularly described by frustrated diplomats and foreign statesmen as erratic, emotional and prone to believing paranoid conspiracy theories.
On some occasions Karzai's own ministers accuse him of complicity in criminal activity, including ordering the physical intimidation of the top official in charge of leading negotiations with the Taliban.
In memos back to Washington, released by WikiLeaks, the current US ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, adopted a particularly weary tone when describing often bizarre meetings with the mercurial president.
In one in 2009, Karzai argued that the US intended to "divide Pakistan and weaken Afghanistan in order to pursue its fight against terrorist groups"; and suggested the US and Iran were working together to support his main political rival in the presidential elections. Eikenberry "pushed back hard" against Karzai's claim in what appears to have been a heated exchange.
Eikenberry concluded it was unlikely Karzai would ever break his habit of blaming the US and its allies for Afghanistan's troubles and not addressing his own shortcomings. "Indeed his inability to grasp the most rudimentary principles of state-building and his deep seated insecurity as a leader combine to make any admission of fault unlikely, in turn confounding our best efforts to find in Karzai a responsible partner."
Eikenberry identified two competing personalities in Karzai. "The first is a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation-building and overly self-conscious that his time in the spotlight of glowing reviews from the international community has passed. The other is that of an ever-shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero who can save the country from being divided by the decentralisation-focused agenda of Abdullah [Karzai's main rival in the 2009 election]."
Omar Zakhilwal, the much respected finance minister, told the Americans Karzai was "an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts but was instead easily swayed by anyone who came to report even the most bizarre stories or plots against him". He said an "inner circle" of top ministers had developed a system to work together to influence Karzai when he started "going astray on such matters".
Overall, "Karzai is at the centre of the governance challenge", says a briefing paper written by the embassy for Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, in late 2008. "He has failed to overcome his fundamental leadership deficiencies in decisiveness and in confidence to delegate authority to competent subordinates. The result: a cycle of overwork/fatigue/indecision on the part of Karzai, and gridlock and a sense of drift among senior officials on nearly all critical policy decisions."
International statesmen who meet Karzai occasionally have also expressed concerns.Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, said in a meeting with General David Petraeus last year: "Karzai is weak, but it's better to keep him on." In a conversation with John McCain in 2008, David Cameron said that "each year he had the sense Karzai's sphere of influence was shrinking".
Relations between Karzai and the British have long been strained. The cables identify the problem as a fundamental disagreement between the two sides about how best to pacify Helmand.
For Karzai the solution was to "bring the tribes to our side" by appointing a corrupt but powerful tribal bigwig as governor. The UK, on the other hand, believed clean and effective local government was the answer.
On several occasions the British thwarted Karzai's plan to replace Gulab Mangal – the technocratic governor of Helmand praised to the skies by the US and UK – with Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, a leader of the Alizai tribe who served as governor of the province from 2001 to 2005.
Once Gordon Brown had to tell Karzai that "Akhundzada was not an acceptable alternative, given his history of corruption and involvement in drug trafficking" and that Karzai was being deceived about the state of Helmand by scheming palace advisers.
British opposition created more recriminations, with a bitter Karzai telling a district governor that Helmand "is not part of my administration" but is "controlled by foreigners".
The cables reveal that Karzai first tried to reinstate Akhundzada, – described as a "known warlord and criminal" – three months after the appointment of Mangal in March 2008. There was another effort in 2009 when Karzai argued that gaining the support of Akhundzada's Alizai tribe was key to gaining stability in Helmand's most troubled districts, including Sangin and Musa Qala. Karzai argued with the US that it was better to have "a bad guy on your side" rather than him "working for the Taliban". But in its analysis the US embassy said a "key underlying calculation" of Karzai's was that Akhundzada could turn out his Alizai tribe to vote for the president in the 2009 election.
There are signs that the UK worried about Karzai's lack of public appreciation for the British effort. In November 2008 David Miliband was recorded asking Karzai to write "an open letter to the British people" designed to reassure the UK public about the "Afghan project".
Frustration with the Karzai family occasionally bubbles over among diplomats. The Canadian ambassador William Crosbie told his US counterpart in February that they must be "prepared for a confrontation with Karzai" to prevent the rampant fraud that wrecked the presidential elections happening again in this year's parliamentary poll.
He said Canada would demand that the "international community ... stand up for the silent majority or be blamed for letting Karzai and his family establish across the country the system of patronage and control that exists in Kandahar".
But perhaps the most damning accounts of Karzai's style of governing are from the president's close colleagues. In 2009 Umar Daudzai, Karzai's chief of staff, told the Americans he was "ashamed" of an incident in which Karzai pardoned five border policemen who had been caught transporting 124kg of heroin in an official vehicle.
The episode sent relations between Karzai and Washington into one of its periodic lows, with many assuming that Karzai had freed the men because their extended family had contributed to his re-election campaign. Speaking generally about the release of drug traffickers, Mohammad Daud, deputy minister of interior with responsibility for tackling illegal drugs, is quoted in a cable as telling assistant US ambassador Anthony Wayne that he had learned "some members of the president's family had been receiving money from those seeking the pardon and release of convicted traffickers".
Daud described their release as a "big psychological blow" to him and the country's counter-narcotics police force.Masoon Stanekzai, a senior government official charged with disarming militias and "reintegrating" Taliban insurgents, is reported to have feared for his own life after defying Karzai's many demands to remove two provincial election candidates from Helmand from a blacklist so they could stand.
Both were known drug traffickers and members of illegal militias.
Stanekzai told the embassy that he received threats and menacing visits to his office from the men, who on one occasion brought along a 54-man militia that Stanekzai was supposed to have disbanded.
The highly respected minister said the president himself was involved in the threats. The cable says: "Karzai himself has made no overt threats but he [Stanekzai] believes the president is behind a litany of visits Stanekzai has had by known warlords – including the two narcotics traffickers – accompanied by their private militias in the past two weeks."
The incident was "an example of Karzai meddling in the elections by using intimidation to protect known thugs".
WikiLeaks: US Considered Prosecuting President Karzai's Brother
— — US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald.
Despite widespread allegations about his involvement in Afghanistan's drug trade and other illicit activities, the US government has never taken steps to prosecute Ahmed Wali Karzai, the younger half-brother of the Afghan President—though a leaked diplomatic cable suggests American officials may have come very close.
This revelation was contained in one of a series of Afghanistan-related communiqués released by WikiLeaks on Thursday. The document in question is a confidential summary of a February 4, 2010, meeting of an interagency group known as the Next-Corruption Leadership Board. The board—which was co-chaired by Kabul embassy official Earl Anthony Wayne and Major General Michael Flynn, then the top military intelligence official in Afghanistan—had convened to review potential anti-corruption measures. Specifically discussed were "possible courses of action ("COAs") that U.S. military and Embassy personnel may employ against criminal and corrupt Afghan officials in an effort to change their behavior." During the meeting, board members agreed to "apply a set of minimum COAs against high-profile corrupt officials to signal a change in U.S. policy on corruption" and to "begin a series of high-level demarches to persuade the Karzai government to follow through on promises to tackle corruption."
But there was also a more politically fraught matter on the agenda: "possible law enforcement actions, against three prominent Afghan malign actors in southern Afghanistan" including Ahmed Wali Karzai, who is a key powerbroker in the Kandahar region (a key battleground that has traditionally been a Taliban stronghold). Along with AWK, as he's widely known, the board also singled out a colonel in the Afghan border police named Abdul Razziq (the Washington Post recently dubbed him "The Afghan Robin Hood") and Asadullah Sherzad, the chief of police in Helmand Province.
The cable noted that the embassy's Nexus Corruption Coordination committee—which develops anti-corruption policy recommendations—and NATO's Anti-Corruption Task Force would soon meet to "consider intel and law enforcement files assembled on" each of the officials. The groups would then make a "joint policy recommendation on how these officials should be addressed, taking into consideration second and third order effects"—that is, the potential blowback of taking down Karzai's brother and the others.
According to the cable, there was reason to act quickly: "Given the fluidity of developments on the ground (e.g., rumors of Ahmed Wali Karzai's appointment as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia or Oman, and Abdul Razziq's initiative to form an anti-corruption task force in Spin Boldak), the time is right to determine an appropriate policy for dealing with such officials."
In the trove of cables released by WikiLeaks, there's no record of what transpired at future meetings. But one thing is clear: Whether for lack of evidence, fear of alienating the Karzai government, or other reasons, the trio of Southern Afghanistan powerbrokers US officials had dubbed "malign actors" remain in place.
AWK, for his part, has vigorously asserted his innocence, claiming allegations of drug smuggling and graft have been concocted by political enemies to weaken the Karzai government. (According to one cable, he even offered to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence.) But the WikiLeaks cables paint the clearest picture yet of how widely AWK is mistrusted by US and international officials (including Ambassador Karl Eikenberry), who nevertheless believe they have little choice but to engage with him. (Though AWK denies it, he is also reportedly on the CIA's payroll, which, if true, further complicates matters.)
Along with AWK, the cables also depict his half-brother, Hamid Karzai, in a less than flattering light. The Afghan president is portrayed as weak, insular, and unpredictable, charming one minute and despondent the next. A March 2009 cable relays one Afghan official's assessment of Hamid Karzai as a "'lonely and alone man'" who suspects his inner circle is leading him in the wrong direction, but does not know who else to trust. The president pays significant attention to the mostly negative media coverage of his government—behavior that reinforces his suspicions that enemies are 'out to get him.'"
Afghan-US relations have been strained for months, and the candid views expressed in the cables are sure to ratchet up tensions even further while likely heightening Karzai's paranoia about his standing with US officials. Highlighting just how tense things have become, President Obama made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Friday to meet with the Afghan leader. The WikiLeaks cables were a likely topic of discussion—especially those about Karzai and his family members.
Removing AWK from his Kandahar stronghold has long been a point of contention between the Obama and Karzai administrations. And though the US has consciously backed down on its criticism of AWK in recent months, the leaked cables are sure to revive this sore point, since they suggest that AWK's continued role in Kandahar is a key source of instability. A December 2009 cable—which relayed that "in a land of popular strongmen, AWK is widely unpopular"—described just how entrenched the president's half-brother had become in the political fabric of Kandahar and outlined his methods of consolidating power:
As the kingpin of Kandahar, the President's younger half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, rules over political deal and decision-making at the provincial level and thereby dominates access to economic resources, patronage and protection. The overriding purpose that unifies his political roles as Chairman of the Kandahar Provincial Council and as the President's personal representative to the South is the enrichment, extension and perpetuation of the Karzai clan, and along with it their branch of the Popalzai tribe. This applies equally to his entrepreneurial and his alleged criminal activities. AWK derives authority and legitimacy from his relationship to President Karzai, from the relative discipline and elite position of the Popalzai tribe and from his access to resources. In Kandahar's political realm, he is an unrivaled strongman.
The cable goes on to describe the catch-22 of prosecuting allegedly corrupt officials, and previews some of the issues that surely arose when, just a few months later, US diplomats and military officials hashed out whether to take criminal action against AWK. "Bringing to justice major corrupt figures or negative influences in Kandahar contain a serious dilemma: they would include some of Karzai's closest relatives and allies and require the prosecution of people on whom we often rely for assistance and/or support."
Daniel Schulman is Mother Jones' Washington-based news editor. For more of his stories, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here. Email him at dschulman (at) motherjones.com. Get Daniel Schulman's RSS feed.
By Braden Holly
December 03, 2010 "ASCJ" -- The diplomatic cables recently revealed by WikiLeaks have drawn attention for highlighting out of control corruption in Afghanistan and a general lack of confidence in the leadership of President Hamid Karzai.
In an article published Thursday on the New York Times website it was noted that the American Embassy stated that there appeared to be only one minister in Afghanistan who was not facing allegations of bribery. The article highlights the difficulty American officials face while trying to find honest people to work with in the embattled country. However, some experts say that America's contributions to the corrupt atmosphere in Afghanistan should not be ignored.
"We know that Ahmed Wali Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother and the man who effectively controls Kandahar province, is getting paid by the CIA and that thousands of other officials are being paid off. That, in my mind, is corruption," said Pratap Chatterjee, an author and columnist for the Guardian. "A lot of the biggest money in Afghanistan is U.S. military and State Department contracts."
According to the New York Times, many American officials believe Ahmed Wali Karzai benefits from narcotics trafficking taking place in Afghanistan, though he denies the charges. Many Americans may be finding it difficult to know whom to trust. According to polling by USA Today/Gallup the percentage of Americans who feel it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan has been steadily increasing from 9 percent in Nov. 2001 to 39 percent in Nov. 2010.
Information of the sort released by WikiLeaks may prove to be detrimental to President Obama's ability to maintain support amongst the American people for the war in Afghanistan. However, despite rising disapproval of the war, most Americans feel that what WikiLeaks did was wrong. According to a Rasmussen Poll, 67 percent of likely voters feel that the release of this kind of information hurts national security, while only 19 percent felt that it was performing a public service. Some experts, however, disagree.
"Greater information sharing is going to enhance security, not hurt it, though I am not an advocate of releasing information about ongoing investigations." said Colleen Rowley, who served 24 years in the FBI and recently co-wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. "[And] the inherent problem is that U.S. officials are looking for allies in Afghanistan who will support their agenda and won't dissent, so they are looking for the people who could be the most corruptible."
Nor is corruption amongst U.S. officials new or uncommon, reminded Rowley. In an investigation during the 1970's code-named ABSCAM, FBI agents dressed as a sheikh and his staff and offered money to public officials for political favors. The investigation resulted in the arrest and conviction of a senator and six congressmen as well as other public officials.
© 2008-2010 USC Annenberg. All rights reserved.
Wikileaks Cables: US Arms to Georgia Keep Tensions Between Russia, Georgia HighBy Kevin Gosztola (about the author) Page 1 of 2 page(s)
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President Obama and President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev by poniblog
Cables from the U.S. embassies in Moscow, Russia and Tbilisi, Georgia reveal ever since a five-day war in Georgia, which erupted between Georgians and Russian-backed separatists in August 2008, the U.S. has been carefully assessing the implications of further arming Georgia. This assessment has required the U.S. to pay extra lip service to the idea that it is not arming Georgia for future provocations against Russia. And, the U.S. has had to show restrain and only make transfers Georgia can claim will be used for defense or to help the U.S. fight in Afghanistan and other parts of Eurasia as part of the "war on terror."
[*For revelations on the August war, see The Guardian 's story using details from WikiLeaks cables sent out during the conflict.]
The geopolitical maneuverings are revealed in a June 18, 2009 cable from Moscow titled, "Implications of Rearming Georgia for U.S.-Russian "Reset." The cable summary explains, "A decision to move towards a more robust military relationship with Georgia will imperil our efforts to re-start relations with Russia, if it is not carefully calibrated and deployed. While Medvedev understands the strategic and personal benefits of crafting a productive partnership with the U.S., this impulse is trumped by the GOR's "absolute' priority placed on expanding Russian influence in the Eurasian neighborhood, preventing NATO enlargement, and demonstrating Russia's great power status."
The cable contends "Georgia's territorial integrity" could be cost if a "lethal military supply relationship with Tbilisi" continues. The cable proposes a strategy of proving to Abkhaz and South Ossetians that autonomy with Tbilisi is better than submission to Russia." It suggests Georgia work to establish itself as a "democratically vibrant and economically successful model for the region" instead of relying on military arms to gain advantage over Russia. And, further indicating how central Iran is to U.S. foreign policy, it adds that rearming Georgia openly could "lessen Russian restraint on weapons transfers to Iran."
The flipside of the geopolitical strategy unfolds in another cable from Tbilisi, sent out the day after the previously mentioned cable from Moscow. It indicates the importance of properly adjusting and defining policy toward Georgia and Russia in the region is a result of a U.S.-Georgia Charter Commission on June 22 that will require a discussion over the future of "military cooperation" with Georgia. The cable titled, "The Importance of Continued Military Engagement with Georgia," provides suggestions for why Georgia should be provided "a modest, transparent defensive capability" by the U.S.
Contending that Russia's claims that the U.S. is rearming Georgia are based on propaganda, the cable surmises that Russian objections to arming Georgia would contradict U.S. policy in the region and give "Russian disinformation an undeserved voice in U.S. policy formation." The cable urges the U.S. to not validate Russia's objections to arming Georgia because it could be seen as a reward for Russia's aggression in Georgia, "as well as its violation of international law and commitments, encourage a similar stance in Ukraine; and deal a body blow to [U.S.] credibility in Georgia, other Eurasian states, the [U.S.'] western partners -" and ultimately Russia itself."
It justifies two deliveries of "lethal military equipment" by noting they were purchased before the five-day August war and one in particular was for "coalition operations in Afghanistan." It reveals that the U.S. has agreed to deploy a Georgian battalion for two years in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, RC-South.
The cable illustrates Georgia's desire to "rebuild its native defensive capacity, which is currently insufficient to control its own airspace or hinder an invasion from any of its neighbors." It says Georgia "needs sufficient anti-armor and air defense capability to stall a ground advance" and the "Georgian operational thinking is that if they can defend Tbilisi from occupation for 72 hours, then international pressure will force" any advance "to pause."
The rationalization for ultimately going ahead with arming Georgia is as follows:
""The development of this capacity is not solely equipment-based, but it will require the acquisition of new lethal defensive systems. If Georgia does not procure the equipment from the U.S., it will almost surely seek to procure it elsewhere, as it has done in the past. U.S. involvement would help ensure the transparency of the procurement process itself, as well as increase our control over the amount, type and location of the equipment""
But, more important to the decision is the fact that ultimately Russia has no credibility when opposing a rearming of Georgia:
""While Russia, as well as the de facto regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, may argue otherwise, it is Russia and its proxy regimes that have dramatically increased the militarization of Georgia over the past year. Russia has introduced at least 3,700 troops into sovereign Georgian territory, as well as heavy military equipment, such as tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft systems, into the area immediately adjacent to the administrative boundaries -- in direct violation of the commitments President Medvedev made in the cease-fire agreement. It is Georgia that has lost 14 police officers since the war; kidnappings, cattle thefts, and detentions continue along the boundary, mostly on the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sides. Russian helicopters make regular flights along the boundaries, sometimes crossing them, and Russian forces move large numbers of troops and heavy equipment along the boundaries at will""
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Kevin Gosztola is a multimedia editor for OpEdNews.com. He follows media & activism, religions and their influence on politics, and sometimes writes movie reviews for OEN. His work can be found on Open Salon, The Seminal, Media-ocracy.com, and a (more...)
Leaked Cables Reveal U.S. Pressured Spain to Drop Case of Cameraman Killed in 2003 Attack on Journalists in Baghdad
December 1, 2010
In a cable released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, former U.S. Ambassador to Spain Eduardo Aguirre wrote on May 14, 2007: "For our side, it will be important to continue to raise the Couso case, in which three U.S. servicemen face charges related to the 2003 death of Spanish cameraman José Couso during the battle for Baghdad."
WikiLeaks Reveals U.S. Interference With Courts in Spain
Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Apparently not content to see its own justice system befouled, the U.S. government has tried to corrupt courts in other countries.
That is one of many nauseating lessons from the recent WikiLeaks dump of cables from the U.S. State Department. U.S. officials, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, have tried to corruptly influence the outcomes of three criminal matters pending in Spain's national security court, according to a new article from Scott Horton, at Harper's.
The cases involve the death of a Spanish cameraman from the U.S. shelling of a Baghdad hotel, the torture of Spanish subjects at Guantanomo, and the use of Spanish airfields and bases for extraordinary-renditions flights.
Do U.S. officials want these cases handled in the manner required by our own constitution, which involves due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment? Not at all. In fact, it appears the U.S. wants the cases to get the kind of treatment they might receive in a banana republic--complete with compromised prosecutors and judges.
These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations. High-ranking U.S. visitors such as former Republican Party Chair Mel Martinez, Senator Greg Judd, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were corralled into this effort, warning Spanish political leaders that the criminal investigations would "be misunderstood" and would harm bilateral relations. The U.S. diplomats also sought out and communicated directly with judges and prosecutors, attempting to steer the cases into the hands of judges of their choosing. The cables also reflect an absolutely extraordinary rapport between the Madrid embassy and Spanish prosecutors, who repeatedly appear to be doing the embassy's bidding.
WikiLeaks exposes blatant attempts by U.S. officials to push for judge shopping:
The cables show that the embassy was briefed in detail about the pending cases, receiving information that was not publicly accessible and would have been known only to the prosecutors and the magistrates handling the cases. The embassy engaged Spanish authorities in detailed discussions about the specific judges handling these cases and on at least one occasion extracted a promise from prosecutors to seek to have one sensitive case--in which former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former vice presidential chief of staff David Addington, John Yoo, Jay Baybee, Douglas Feith, and William J. Haynes figured as potential defendants--reassigned to a judge they considered friendlier to the United States. In fact, around the time of the cables in question the prosecutors acted just as the cable suggests they would.
This might be one of the most grotesque news reports I've ever read. Remember how the Bush administration claimed it was trying to promote democratic principles in the Middle East? Meanwhile, it was promoting blatant unlawfulness in Spanish courts.
Is it any wonder that the Obama administration has taken a "look forward, not backwards" approach to the apparent justice-related crimes of Bush officials? Apparently it's because the Obama crowd shares the Bush crowd's warped view on basic matters of right and wrong. And should we be surprised that the Obama administration seems to be scrambling for a method to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?
Meanwhile, it appears U.S. citizens should be building monuments in Assange's honor. He might be the last hope for salvaging what's left of our national integrity.
The state-department cables provide clear proof that the U.S. government, under both Republican and Democratic control, has essentially embraced the dark side. We've spent three-plus years at this blog writing about court corruption in Alabama and beyond. Now we learn that our own government has been trying to export that kind of sleaze to other countries.
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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
The Reign in Spain Stays Mostly in ... Washington, DC?
Wikileaks and the Spanish Prosecutors
By FRAN SHOR
"It seems like we are citizens, or at least a small province, of an empire of the United States." With this bitterly poignant and perceptive remark, Javier Couso, the brother of the Spanish cameraman killed by a US tank attack on April 8, 2003 in Baghdad, encapsulated his anger at the complicity of Spanish legal officials who aided the American government's efforts to suppress the family's lawsuit against three US soldiers.
Some of these same Spanish prosecutors, including both the national court chief prosecutor, Javier Zaragoza, and attorney general, Candido Conde-Pumpido, were instrumental in impeding investigations into CIA rendition flights originating in Spain and attempts by the Spanish magistrate, Baltasar Garzon, to bring charges against Bush Administration officials linked to torture at Guantanamo. According to the recently released US State Department diplomatic cables, the continued lobbying by the US embassy and Washington politicians on all of these legal cases found willing agents within the highest ranks of the Spanish government.
The pertinent cables have been front-page news in the Madrid daily, El Pais, one of the prominent papers to which WikiLeaks provided the formerly classified material. Unlike the New York Times, the Spanish newspaper has not felt the need to check with the government before publishing the damning documents. One of the more revealing cables comes from the former US ambassador, Eduardo Aguirre, a Cuban-American banker and Bush appointee. In this May 14, 2007 cable, Aguirre underscores the fact that the Deputy Justice Minister assured him that his government "strongly opposes a case brought against former Secretary Rumsfeld and will work to get it dismissed. The judge involved in that case has told us he has already started the process of dismissing the case."
In that same cable, Aguirre points to concerted efforts to get the Cuoso case dismissed. Having bragged to the Spanish media that he was Bush's plumber, these WikiLeaks disclose what kind of wrenching interference Aguirre and other US officials waged against those seeking legal remedies for American imperial crimes. Unlike Nixon's Plumbers who engaged in illegal break-ins and other criminal activities, Aguirre and his accomplices found the means for manipulating the Spanish legal system to protect Washington's ways of war.
Those ways of war included not only the murder of Jose Cuoso by the tank projectile, but also another cameraman on the hotel floor below. On that very same day of April 8, 2003, a US air strike deliberately targeted another Baghdad building where reporters from the Arab media were housed, killing in the process an Al Jazeera correspondent. Later that year, a Palestinian Reuters cameraman was killed by the US military near Abu Ghraib. And one should not forget the 2007 US helicopter lethal attack on several Iraqi civilians and Reuter employees that WikiLeaks, through the valiant whistle blowing of Pfc. Bradley Manning (incarcerated since this past summer in a military prison and facing new charges and outrageous threats), released several months ago.
All of these actions by the US war-machine to target reporters and civilians demand full investigations. Yet, it appears to be the duty of Washington's imperial pro-consuls to stifle any attempts by other sovereign nations to engage in legal campaigns for justice for the victims of US empire. That legal officers from these so-called sovereign nations can collude with the empire to suppress judicial proceedings is an indictment against imperial corruptions at the highest level.
As noted by Scott Horton, an American international law and human rights attorney, in his interview with Amy Goodman on her "Democracy Now!" program of December 1, 2010: "We have US diplomats trying to dictate which prosecutors are assigned, trying to assure which judge is assigned, engaging in all sorts of conspiracies…with local officials, trying to remove the judge who's initially assigned, actually trying to remove several different judges."
Beyond the manipulation of the judicial system in Spain, Washington mounted an unremitting bipartisan campaign to block the prosecution of six former Bush officials who created the legal framework for torture. According to an April 17, 2009 State Department cable originating from the US embassy in Spain, the previous day's announcement by Attorney General Conde-Pumpido that he would refuse to sustain any criminal charge against the six was directly attributable to the US "outreach to (Spanish) officials…(about) the implications of this case."
It was those implications that the Obama Administration was concerned about that led to the vaunted bi-partisanship in importuning Spanish authorities to drop the case. Visits by Republican Senators Judd Gregg and Mel Martinez in the company of the US embassy's charge d'affaires to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the impact that any prosecution of Bush torture legal advocates would have on bilateral relationships. Obviously, when Obama insisted that he was looking forward and not backward on these matters, he meant that he would do everything in his power as an imperial president to prevent any further besmirching of the reputation and legitimacy of the empire.
Unfortunately, for all of the rulers and complicit agents of US empire, the release of these and other hundreds of thousands of State Department cables underlines the duplicity of American diplomacy. While the New York Times and other compliant corporate media may try to cheery-pick those cables that reinforce the perspectives of the empire, in the provinces around the world the US imperial order stands accused.
Francis Shor is the author of Dying Empire: US Imperialism and Global Resistance. A website for the book can be found at www.dyingempire.org
WikiLeaks cable reveals secret pledge to protect US at Iraq inquiry
Ministry of Defence told US that UK had 'put measures in place' to protect American interests during Chilcot inquiry
- Robert Booth
- guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 30 November 2010 21.12 GMT
- Article history
Tony Blair and other senior British officials were called to give evidence at the Chilcot inquiry, but no US officials were called. Photograph: PA
The British government promised to protect America's interests during the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, according to a secret cable sent from the US embassy in London.
Jon Day, the Ministry of Defence's director general for security policy, told US under-secretary of state Ellen Tauscher that the UK had "put measures in place to protect your interests during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war".
The admission came in the cable sent on 22 September 2009, which recorded a series of high-level meetings between Tauscher and UK defence officials and diplomats, which involved the then foreign secretary, David Miliband.
Day was a senior adviser to the Labour government, and told the American delegation that "Iraq seems no longer to be a major issue in the US", but said it would become a big issue – a "feeding frenzy" – in the UK "when the inquiry takes off".
The revelation of the move to defend Washington threatens to undermine the inquiry, which was launched by Gordon Brown 'to identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict'. It is due to deliver its findings around the turn of the year.
The diplomats do not record which measures the British government took to protect US interests. No American officials were called to give evidence in public, and evidence from US officials was heard in private during visits by inquiry members to the US. The inquiry was also refused permission to publish letters between George Bush and Tony Blair written in 2002 in the run-up to the war, even though they were referred to in evidence. There were fears that the release of the details could harm both UK-US relations, and those with other countries. In January, a Blair ally told the Guardian: "They are full of scurrilous remarks about other people, including [Jacques] Chirac [the former French president]."
Tonight, Andrew Burgin, a spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition, was reported as saying: "This shows is the beginning of the cover-up".
"This really brings the whole inquiry into disrepute," he said. "Those involved in this cover-up must be held to account. The implications are so serious that there may need to be a new inquiry."
So far, the 251,287 secret State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks have been more embarrassing to the United States than particularly revealing. But one exchange between U.S. and German officials reveals a sad reality about the tangled web woven by the Bush administration when it decided to engage in torture -- and highlights how President Obama has kept the U.S. ensnared by that legacy.
According to this leaked document, the U.S. State Department in 2007 warned Germany that issuance of arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in the kidnapping of an innocent German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, imprisoned for months in Afghanistan and allegedly tortured there would "have a negative impact" on the two countries' relationship. Indeed, Deputy Chief of Mission John M. Koenig reminded German Deputy National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel that a similar move by Italy, which a year earlier had prosecuted CIA officers for their involvement in the kidnapping from Milan and rendition to Egypt of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, had "repercussions to U.S.-Italian bilateral relations."
According to the cable, which appears to summarize the two officials' conversation, "The DCM pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S."
In other words, the U.S. was warning Germany not to enforce its own laws against kidnapping and torture, or face serious negative consequences.
Khalid El-Masri was a German citizen mistakenly detained in Macedonia in late 2003 because his name was similar to that of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist, Khalid al-Masri. The CIA, eager to interrogate an al Qaeda operative, quickly stepped in and rendered El-Masri to its secret prison in Afghanistan known as "the salt pit" for interrogation. El-Masri claims he was beaten, stripped naked, deprived of minimally decent food and water and sodomized at the CIA prison. By April 2004, the CIA realized its agents had caught the wrong man. So more than a month later, they dumped El-Masri late one night on the side of a desolate road in Albania. Starved and disheveled, he was picked up by Albanian guards and eventually reunited with his family.
In 2005, El-Masri sued the U.S. government for his ordeal. But the Justice Department, in what's become a regular tactic when confronted with torture allegations, convinced a federal judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that it would reveal sensitive "state secrets."
Given this context, it's not exactly surprising that the State Department, faced a couple of years later with the news that German authorities planned to arrest CIA agents for their role, urged (or threatened) the Germans to refrain. But what the cables highlight is what an awkward, embarrassing, hypocritical and ultimately counterproductive position the whole extraordinary rendition program has boxed the United States into. Not only did the renditions violate international law and in at least some cases lead to the torture of wholly innocent victims, but the Obama administration's refusal to acknowledge the United States' role and provide redress has left it stuck in that cramped corner.
Now, in order to avoid having to explain why the U.S. government is not investigating the criminal actions of its own officials, and why the U.S. repeatedly uses the "state secrets" defense to quash individual attempts at accountability, the United States has to quietly strong-arm its allies into not enforcing their own laws.
In Italy, as the secret cable acknowledges, the U.S. tried to prevent Italian prosecutors from going after 23 CIA agents who kidnapped Abu Omar off the streets of Milan and rendered him to Egypt to be interrogated under torture there. That effort failed, and the agents were convicted in absentia. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was apparently more successful in the case of El-Masri.
Sadly, the Obama administration has kept up the pretense that the United States knows nothing about these incidents and will not investigate further. Never mind that between the lawsuits, the news stories and now the Wikileaks cable, the entire world knows better.
When President Obama traveled to Asia recently, he called on the Indonesian government to exercise a leadership role in the G20 by "embracing transparency and accountability."
Upholding democracy and human rights is "an essential element of everything we do in U.S. foreign policy," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her speech kicking off the Asian tour. She added that "the US administration will work within international bodies like the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian nations "to pursue accountability and bring an end to human rights abuses."
Or not. The Bush administration pursued a program of torture that Obama has said reflected "us losing our moral bearings." But until President Obama acknowledges, investigates and accounts for it, he will keep the United States in that contorted position of instructing notorious dictators to respect human rights and hold violators accountable, while informing our democratic allies that it's in their best interest not to do the same.
Wikileaks and the El-Masri case:
Innocent CIA torture victim more than just a leaked cable
Khaled El-Masri is a German citizen, a father of six who the CIA kidnapped by mistake, then sent off to receive months of torture in Afghanistan.
When they realized he was innocent, he was flown to Albania and dumped on a back road without so much as an apology.
El-Masri's futile efforts at receiving justice in the U.S. are well-known, but cables recently leaked by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. also warned German authorities not to allow a local investigation into his kidnapping.
The nearest he's gotten to justice is an arrest warrant for 13 CIA agents issued by prosecutors in Spain, which they entered on forged passports.
In this video, originally part of the Witness.org documentary OUTLAWED, El-Masri relates his experiences.
OUTLAWED website: http://www.witness.org/
Posted December 02, 2010
Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe
— Zuma/Paul Morse
A WikiLeaks cable shows that when Spain considered a criminal case against ex-Bush officials, the Obama White House and Republicans got really bipartisan.
— By David Corn
In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A "confidential" April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
The previous month, a Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had requested that Spain's National Court indict six former Bush officials for, as the cable describes it, "creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture." The six were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon's former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. The human rights group contended that Spain had a duty to open an investigation under the nation's "universal jurisdiction" law, which permits its legal system to prosecute overseas human rights crimes involving Spanish citizens and residents. Five Guantanamo detainees, the group maintained, fit that criteria.
Soon after the request was made, the US embassy in Madrid began tracking the matter. On April 1, embassy officials spoke with chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, who indicated that he was not pleased to have been handed this case, but he believed that the complaint appeared to be well-documented and he'd have to pursue it. Around that time, the acting deputy chief of the US embassy talked to the chief of staff for Spain's foreign minister and a senior official in the Spanish Ministry of Justice to convey, as the cable says, "that this was a very serious matter for the USG." The two Spaniards "expressed their concern at the case but stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary."
Two weeks later, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and the embassy's charge d'affaires "raised the issue" with another official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day, Zaragoza informed the US embassy that the complaint might not be legally sound. He noted he would ask Cándido Conde-Pumpido, Spain's attorney general, to review whether Spain had jurisdiction.
On April 15, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who'd recently been chairman of the Republican Party, and the US embassy's charge d'affaires met with the acting Spanish foreign minister, Angel Lossada. The Americans, according to this cable, "underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship" between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration's use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials. Lossada replied that the independence of the Spanish judiciary had to be respected, but he added that the government would send a message to the attorney general that it did not favor prosecuting this case.
The next day, April 16, 2009, Attorney General Conde-Pumpido publicly declared that he would not support the criminal complaint, calling it "fraudulent" and political. If the Bush officials had acted criminally, he said, then a case should be filed in the United States. On April 17, the prosecutors of the National Court filed a report asking that complaint be discontinued. In the April 17 cable, the American embassy in Madrid claimed some credit for Conde-Pumpido's opposition, noting that "Conde-Pumpido's public announcement follows outreach to [Government of Spain] officials to raise USG deep concerns on the implications of this case."
Still, this did not end the matter. It would still be up to investigating Judge Baltasar Garzón—a world-renowned jurist who had initiated previous prosecutions of war crimes and had publicly said that former President George W. Bush ought to be tried for war crimes—to decide whether to pursue the case against the six former Bush officials. That June—coincidentally or not—the Spanish Parliament passed legislation narrowing the use of "universal jurisdiction." Still, in September 2009, Judge Garzón pushed ahead with the case.
The case eventually came to be overseen by another judge who last spring asked the parties behind the complaint to explain why the investigation should continue. Several human rights groups filed a brief urging this judge to keep the case alive, citing the Obama administration's failure to prosecute the Bush officials. Since then, there's been no action. The Obama administration essentially got what it wanted. The case of the Bush Six went away.
Back when it seemed that this case could become a major international issue, during an April 14, 2009, White House briefing, I asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from the Spaniards for information and documents related to the Bush Six. He said, "I don't want to get involved in hypotheticals." What he didn't disclose was that the Obama administration, working with Republicans, was actively pressuring the Spaniards to drop the investigation. Those efforts apparently paid off, and, as this WikiLeaks-released cable shows, Gonzales, Haynes, Feith, Bybee, Addington, and Yoo owed Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thank-you notes.
WikiLeaks Reveals Diplomatic Cables On Aafia Siddiqui
By Stephen Lendman
03 December, 2010
Earlier articles about her can be accessed through the following links:
On September 23 in federal court, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison, though committed no crime. It's a gross miscarriage of justice, compounding what's she's already endured, following her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on spurious charges.
Through sentencing she was in New York City solitary confinement and may still be there, pending transfer to Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell in Fort Worth, TX, a hellhole described as a facility "provid(ing) specialized medical and mental health services to female prisoners." If she's there long-term, it'll be a death sentence, its harshness precipitating it sooner, not later. CONTINUED: http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman031210C.htm
Germany asked U.S. to force settlement freeze on Israel, WikiLeaks cables show
Senior German official urged U.S. to threaten withdrawing its veto on an anti-Israel vote at the UN.
The WikiLeaks website exposé of the inner workings of American diplomacy continued Wednesday, with revelations that Berlin pushed for the U.S. to impose a settlement freeze on Israel.
According to a telegram published by the whistleblowing website, two weeks before Israel's inner cabinet decided on a settlement construction freeze in November 2009, a senior German government official urged the United States to threaten Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if he did not agree to a moratorium, Washington would withdraw its support for blocking a vote on the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Security Council.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
|Photo by: AP|
The telegram shows that German National Security Adviser Christoph Heusgen met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon and with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy on November 10, 2009 to discuss the matter. Even though German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered one of Israel's closest friends, her senior advisers urged the Americans to step up pressure on Netanyahu.
At the time, relations between Netanyahu and Merkel were tense over German opposition to Israeli construction in the settlements. Two and a half months earlier, a planned visit by Netanyahu to the German capital was nearly canceled following a clash between Heusgen and his Israeli counterpart, Uzi Arad.
Arad had demanded that during the meeting between the two leaders, the issue of settlement construction not be raised and warned that if the Germans did not agree, Netanyahu would cancel the trip.
The German official is quoted in the telegram as saying that Germany believes that Netanyahu needed "to do more" to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. "With Palestinians in East Jerusalem getting notices from Israeli authorities that their houses will be destroyed, it would be 'suicide' for President Abbas to move under the current circumstances. Heusgen said he could not fathom why Netanyahu did not understand this," according to the telegram.
The American telegram indicates that the German position on settlements was less tolerant than that of the Obama administration.
"He [Heusgen] suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC [United Nations Security Council] treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity," according to the telegram.
The American officials were surprised by the proposal and said that such linkage would be counterproductive "but agreed that it was worth pointing out to the Israelis that their policy on settlements was making it difficult for their friends to hold the line in the UNSC." Heusgen said this certainly would be an issue when Netanyahu and "half of his cabinet" visited Berlin on November 30, 2009 for bilateral government consultations.
At the time, Arab and Muslim countries, led by Turkey and Libya, were stepping up pressure to hold discussions on the Goldstone Report at the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. administration managed to block the initiative and avoided an anti-Israeli vote.
Meanwhile, another leaked U.S. cable, dated February 2009, shows that Netanyahu supported the notion of land swaps with the Palestinians. A statement issued yesterday by the Prime Minister's Bureau said that Netanyahu meant only that he was willing to accept territorial compromises within the framework of a future peace deal.
"That was Netanyahu's open policy, that is his policy today and in the aforementioned meeting in February 2009, he did not voice any other position," the statement said. "Any other interpretation is incorrect and definitely does not represent the prime minister's position."
In the February 26, 2009, cable, written two weeks after the Israeli leader was elected, Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps and said that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks being launched from there.
WikiLeaks exposes Egypt's duplicity in Gaza siege
Cam McGrath, The Electronic Intifada, 1 December 2010
|Egyptians in Cairo protest against their government's role in the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. (Hossam el-Hamalawy)|
CAIRO, Egypt (IPS) - More than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks include statements made behind closed doors that could prove embarrassing for Egypt's government, say analysts.
The embassy missives lift the veil on Egypt's advice to US administration officials concerning the growing political influence of Iran, military strategy in Iraq, and Cairo's pledge to isolate Hamas. More provocatively, they suggest Egypt's complicity in Israel's devastating military assault on Gaza in late 2008.
"The release of these documents has put Egypt in an uncomfortable position," says Emad Gad, political analyst at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. "They contradict Egypt's public stance on many issues ... and damage its credibility."
Egypt, a long-time ally of the United States, receives about $2 billion a year in US military and economic aid. Several leaked cables speak of the moderate Arab state's crucial role in intelligence gathering and as a mediator in regional affairs. Others reveal tensions between Washington and Cairo, and provide an unflattering assessment of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his regime.
One US diplomat described Egypt as a "stubborn and recalcitrant ally" that constantly needs its ego stroked.
Analysts suspect Cairo is less worried about the criticism of itself than the public airing of what it privately thinks of its regional neighbors.
The trove of classified diplomatic correspondence details the extent to which Egypt and other Sunni-ruled Arab countries fear the growing regional influence of Shia Iran. They reveal tacit support among Arab leaders for sanctions and US-led military action against Iran.
Mubarak, in particular, shows deep contempt for Iran, which he accuses of sponsoring terrorism and says is not to be trusted, according to leaked cables.
"Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as 'liars,' and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region. He also sees the Syrians and Qataris as sycophants to Tehran and liars themselves," US ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey wrote in a memo dated 9 February 2009.
"Relations between Egypt and these countries were already bad before the release of these documents," says Gad. "I doubt they could get worse, but the [insults] could hurt efforts to mend relations with certain Arab states."
On Iraq, leaked documents reveal how Egypt's fear of Iran's growing political strength shaped its advice to US officials concerning exit strategies. In May 2008, Mubarak reportedly told a visiting US congressional delegation that a benevolent dictator in Iraq was preferable to a power vacuum that would leave Iran in control of the country.
"Strengthen the [Iraqi] armed forces, relax your hold, and then you will have a coup. Then we will have a dictator, but a fair one. Forget democracy, the Iraqis are by their nature too tough," Mubarak was quoted as saying.
More potentially embarrassing for Egypt, given Arab sensitivity to Palestinian affairs, is a cable from the US embassy in Tel Aviv in June 2009 that reports on a meeting between Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and US congressional leaders. At the meeting, Barak is said to confirm that Israel consulted both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority's Fatah leadership prior to launching a military assault on Gaza in December 2008.
"He [Barak] explained that the GOI [Government of Israel] consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas. Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both," a US diplomat wrote.
More than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed during the three-week military assault. Thirteen Israelis also died during campaign, which aimed ostensibly at halting Hamas rocket attacks against Israel.
While the allegation that Israel consulted Egypt ahead of its planned attack on Gaza is not new, Gad says the WikiLeaks release could disgrace Egyptian officials, who previously denied having any prior knowledge of the military operation.
Political analyst Abdel Aleem Mohamed argues that being informed of Israel's military intentions does not necessarily constitute complicity, though the Arab street will certainly see it that way.
"There is a tradition in politics that you notify concerned countries before any big battle," he explains. "This doesn't mean Egypt collaborated with Israel. On the contrary, Egypt warned Hamas that it expected Israel to attack and advised Hamas leaders to accept the ceasefire deal [that might have averted] the war."
The leaked documents nonetheless show Egypt's commitment to isolate Hamas despite dire consequences to the Palestinian people. A leaked missive from US ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton points out that it was Egypt, not Israel, which enforced the blockade of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.
"Even during the height of the December fighting, the Egyptians only sent medicine and medical supplies through the Rafah border; all other humanitarian goods went through the Israeli crossing at Kerem Shalom," Scobey wrote in February 2009.
Scobey advised Clinton ahead of her visit to Egypt that Mubarak regarded Hamas as a dangerous political threat, and that Cairo was sharing intelligence with Israel to prevent members of the Islamist organization from crossing the Gaza border. She added that Egypt was well apprised of joint US-Israeli efforts to combat arms smuggling in Gaza, but wanted to distance itself from the issue.
"Egypt will not take any action that could be perceived as collaboration in Israel's siege of Gaza," Scobey wrote. "The Egyptians do not want to be stuck holding the Gaza bag, and must be able to point the finger of blame at Israel for the plight of the Palestinians."
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the newly released WikiLeaks cables. Analysts believe the government is still studying the situation to determine a course of action. With over 250,000 leaked documents, it may be "waiting to see which issues get press play" before formulating a response, suggests Gad.
He concludes that while the confidentiality breach is unlikely to force a shift in strategy, it will prompt a change in diplomacy. Arab leaders will be more guarded in their conversations with US officials knowing their dirty linen could end up being aired in public.
|Ireland 'blocked' weapons to Israel|
Released cable says Irish blocked US arms shipments to Israel during war with Lebanon.
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2010 07:48 GMT
After the Israel-Lebanon war, the Israeli military said it needed to restore its depleted ammunition stocks, but the cable from James Kenny, the US ambassador to Ireland at the time, indicates that the Irish government was making it increasingly difficult for Israel-bound US weapons shipments to pass through its airport.
The cable said that the Irish department of transport required that any military equipment passing through the country required "prior notification" and "exemption waivers."
| http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/12/20101224118125377.html |
WikiLeaks cables: Don't trust Israel on Iran
Officials gently mock the Israeli habit of making bogus predictions about when Iran will obtain a nuclear bomb
A couple of items from the WikiLeaks trove suggest that State Depatment officials do not take particularly seriously Israeli predictions about when Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon. That's because those predictions are so often wrong. There's a candid discussion of the matter in a March 2005 cable about Israeli views on Iran (emphasis ours):
GOI [Government of Israel] officials have given different timelines for when they believe Iran will have full enrichment capability. In February, PM [Ariel] Sharon told the Secretary that he believes there is still time remaining to pressure Iran, but that the window of opportunity is closing quickly. DefMin Mofaz cautioned that Iran is "less than one year away," while the head of research in military intelligence estimated that Iran would reach this point by early 2007. Technical experts at the IAEC predicted that Iran would have enrichment capability within six months of the end of the suspension agreement. A few GOI officials admitted informally that these estimates need to be taken with caution. The head of the MFA's [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] strategic affairs division recalled that GOI assessments from 1993 predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest.
And then there's this from a 2009 cable describing a meeting between a U.S. defense official and an Israeli counterpart:
General Baidatz argued that it would take Iran one year to obtain a nuclear weapon and two and a half years to build an arsenal of three weapons. By 2012 Iran would be able to build one weapon within weeks and an arsenal within six months. (COMMENT: It is unclear if the Israelis firmly believe this or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States).
For more on Iran, check out Salon's timeline to crisis.
- Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott
JERUSALEM, Dec 1, 2010 (IPS) - Embarrassing, damaging or actually helpful? Israeli reactions to the explosive WikiLeaks revelations run the full gamut.
After a worried prelude to the disclosures of the diplomatic to-and-fro between Israel and its greatest ally the U.S., and fears that the leaks would expose U.S. antagonism to the Israeli leadership's character and policies, there was an audible sigh of relief when the leaks finally came out overnight Sunday.
"There is no disparity between the public discourse between us and Washington, and the mutual understanding of each other's positions," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters, not concerned about concealing his satisfaction.
The satisfaction came even further to the fore when Netanyahu and his top ministers latched onto the WikiLeaks disclosures that show the Arab world viewing Iran just as Israel does - as the chief threat to the Middle East.
According to the U.S. diplomatic memos released by WikiLeaks, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly urged Washington to attack Iran in order to destroy its nuclear programme.
Netanyahu told a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the Saudi monarch was just one of many voices in the Arab world who, according to the documents, were calling for tough action against Iran – "proof that Israel is not alone in its belief that Iran is a growing menace to the region," said the Israeli leader.
"The greatest threat to world peace stems from the arming of the regime in Iran," Netanyahu added. "More and more states, governments and leaders in the region, understand this is a fundamental threat."
"Our warnings have been vindicated," Netanyahu continued, "For the first time, it is now publicly clear that the world understands that it is Iran, not Israel, which is the greatest threat to the region.
"If Middle East leaders start saying openly what they've long been saying behind closed doors, we can make a real breakthrough on the road to peace," Netanyahu maintained.
Top Israeli political analyst David Landau, normally a trenchant critic of the prime minister, told IPS that the revelations amounted to "a remarkable corroboration of what Israel has been saying for years – that a moderate Arab alliance has been forming against extremist Shi'ism and against Iran, with Israel a silent partner in this shaping battle." In contrast, a leading Israeli scholar of Arab politics, and a former ambassador to Egypt, Prof. Shimon Shamir, believes that the leaks are "damaging to the cause of containing Iran and radical elements within the region.
"The disclosures are ultimately embarrassing to the moderate Arab camp which wants to stop Iran. While it is true that they have been urging the U.S. to take a tough stand on Iran's nuclear ambitions, they're always wary of being seen by their own publics as adopting policies that are in line with those of Washington. This will only weaken them and is thus damaging to Israel's 'Stop Iran' campaign," he told IPS.
Shamir also noted that unlike the delight within the Israeli establishment about the "non-disparity" between public positions and behind-the-scenes diplomatic stances in the region, there will inevitably be consternation among the pro-Western Arab states that this 'disparity' in the case of Arab societies has been brought out into the open.
Where there was some embarrassment for Israel was the disclosure that Israel views Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as being wholly dependent for his future and that of the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Israel's backing of him.
Specifically, it was the confirmation by WikiLeaks that Israel had tried to coordinate with the PA its fierce assault on Hamas during the war it launched in Gaza last year. The classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks expose Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak as trying to solicit PA and Egyptian support prior to the Israeli offensive. Barak wanted to know whether Abbas and President Hosni Mubarak would both be "willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas." Both Egypt and the PA refused.
There was also some measure of discomfort at the exposing of Netanyahu by the Egyptian leader as "elegant, charming, but a man who does not keep his promises."
The embarrassment, however, is minor. "What else is new, WikiLeaks? We don't need Mubarak to tell us Netanyahu can't be trusted," wrote political commentator Akiva Eldar. (END)
WikiLeaks Exposes Israeli Mafia's Growing Influence
Cable reveals Mafia-government connection -- But US media don't care to dig for the story
I love how the pundits are yawning over the latest WikiLeaks revelations: oh, there's nothing to see here, it's all so boring, no "smoking gun," so let's just move right along. These people are just plain lazy: they want "scoops" delivered to their front doors, all neatly packaged and labeled as such. In short, they don't want to have to do any work, beyond the usual cut-and-paste. Which is why a lot of the really juicy stuff coming out of WikiLeaks continues to elude them.
Take, for example, this excerpt from a cable dated May 15, 2009 — entitled "Israel, A Promised Land for Organized Crime?" – sent by our embassy in Tel Aviv, which deals with the rising influence of Israeli organized crime:
"As recently as March 2009, Zvika Ben Shabat, Yaacov Avitan, and Tzuri Roka requested visas to attend a 'security-related convention' in Las Vegas. According to local media reports, all three had involvement with OC. Post asked the applicants to provide police reports for any criminal records in Israel, but without such evidence there is no immediate ineligibility for links to OC. Luckily, all three have so far failed to return for continued adjudication of their applications. Nevertheless, it is fair to assume that many known OC figures hold valid tourist visas to the United States and travel freely."
What are organized crime figures doing showing up at a "security-related convention" in Las Vegas? Well, it seems Mr. Zvika Ben Shabat is the President of "H.A.Sh Security Group," an Israeli company that offers security services worldwide. Indeed, they just signed an agreement to start a joint venture with India's giant Micro-Technologies, a company which is described
"Micro Technologies was established by Dr. [P.] Shekhar, who served as the person in charge on behalf of the Indian Government for advancement and development of the technology and software field in India (First Director Software Technology Park in India), and his company deals with the development of technologies and is already active in many markets around the world, amongst which are: Denmark, Brussels, Italy, New York, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and more. The company has security technologies for identification and monitoring of cell phones, vehicles, structures, computers, infrastructures and WIFI technologies."
In other words, they specialize in snooping, otherwise known as spying. The first Micro Technologies/H.A. Sh Security Group project is a "command and control center" to be built in Mumbai, India. As for what theH.A.Sh Security Group specializes in, well, take a look at these Youtube videos: here, here, and here, for starters. And get a load of who is the Chairman of H.A.Sh Security: none other than retired Major General Dan Ronen, whose resume appears here:
"2001-2003 – Israel Police: Head of the Operations Division, with the rank of Major General; Coordination of activities of all police units in the operational field; Coordination with the General Security Service and IDF units in the battle against terrorism; 2004-2007 – Israel Police: Commander of Northern Region (the largest of the police regions); Responsible for liaison and coordination vis-à-vis heads of local authorities; Responsible for leading and commanding the overall forces and systems during the second Lebanon War, in missions involving defense of the residents in the northern home front; Areas of Expertise: Combat against terrorism and suicide bombers coordination and operation of emergency and rescue organizations Combat against crime and crime organizations."
Gen. Ronen is listed as the Chairman of H.A.Sh Security Group, with Mr. Ben Shabat, variously described [pdf] as the President, Vice-President, and Director. So why is one of Israel's former top cops in a business relationship with a known member of the Israeli Mafia? Enquiring minds want to know!
Ominously, the cable goes on to bemoan the fact that Israeli organized crime figures are no longer automatically prevented from entering the US due to a change in the rules. As the author, someone named Cunningham, notes in an appended comment entitled "OC [Organized Crime] Slipping Through the Consular Cracks":
"Given the growing reach and lethal methods of Israeli OC, blocking the travel of known OC figures to the United States is a matter of great concern to Post. Through collaboration with Israeli and U.S. law enforcement authorities, Post has developed an extensive database and placed lookouts for OC figures and their foot soldiers. Nevertheless, the above visa cases demonstrate the challenges that have arisen since the termination of the Visas Shark in September 2008. Unlike OC groups from the former Soviet Union, Italy, China, and Central America, application of INA 212(a)(3)(A)(ii) against Israeli OC is not specifically authorized per Foreign Affairs Manual 40.31 N5.3. As such, Israelis who are known to work for or belong to OC families are not automatically ineligible for travel to the United States."
"Visas Shark" was apparently a program that effectively excluded organized crime figures from the US, and its termination is noted here: instead, the embassy must go through a complex bureaucratic procedure in order to exclude a suspected organized crime member. First, the consular official must determine that a "reasonable suspicion" exists to identify a visa applicant as a member of an organized crime syndicate, and then the matter goes back to the State Department's "Office of Legislation, Regulations, and Advisory Assistance," which will then determine if a "reason to believe" the derogatory information on the applicant exists. A whole laundry list of possible "reasons to believe" are listed, including
Acknowledgement of membership by the individual, …actively working to further the organization's aims in a way to suggest close affiliation; Receiving financial support or recognition from the organization; Determination of membership by a competent court; Statement from local or U.S. law enforcement authorities that the individual is a member; Frequent association with other members; Voluntarily displaying symbols of the organization; and participating in the organization's activities, even if lawful."
Yet it was due to media reports that the author of the cable determined the connection of Messrs Ben Shabat, Avitan, and Roka to organized crime. Is this good enough to have a "reason to believe"? Ask the Office of Legislation, Regulation, and Advisory Assistance – which is what our embassy in Tel Aviv (and, indeed, our embassies all around the world) must do before they can refuse a visa to an applicant on that basis.
Not that the Israeli Mafia has had any problem entering the United States in the past – and making its presence felt. As Fox News' Carl Cameron reported on December 17, 2001:
"Los Angeles, 1997, a major local, state and federal drug investigating sours. The suspects: Israeli organized crime with operations in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Canada, Israel and Egypt. The allegations: cocaine and ecstasy trafficking, and sophisticated white-collar credit card and computer fraud.
"The problem: according to classified law enforcement documents obtained by Fox News, the bad guys had the cops' beepers, cell phones, even home phones under surveillance. Some who did get caught admitted to having hundreds of numbers and using them to avoid arrest.
"This compromised law enforcement communications between LAPD detectives and other assigned law enforcement officers working various aspects of the case. The organization discovered communications between organized crime intelligence division detectives, the FBI and the Secret Service.
"Shock spread from the DEA to the FBI in Washington, and then the CIA. An investigation of the problem, according to law enforcement documents, concluded, 'The organization has apparent extensive access to database systems to identify pertinent personal and biographical information.'"
Israel's hi-tech military sector is booming in the midst of a world economic downturn, and the "homeland security" industry is something they've jumped into head first, as Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania knows all too well. It was Rendell who hired them to oversee Pennsylvania's security – until it was revealed they were spying on legal citizens groups who were protesting the construction of a local power plant. Israeli "security" firms are operating all over the US, as well as abroad, in airports, and government facilities, and if Israeli organized crime is now a factor in that booming industry, then surely that's a major security concern – or ought to be.
Cameron's four-part Fox News investigation into Israeli spying in the US seemed to posit a connection between the Israeli government and the Israeli Mafia, and, thanks to WikiLeaks, we can now see the link made visible. The Gen. Ronen-Ben Shabat connection, through the H.A.Sh Security Group, shows Cameron's reporting was based on more than a mere suspicion. Given the additional information provided by this cable, it is reasonable to believe a corrupted segment of the Israeli military-law enforcement establishment has literally gone into business with Israeli organized crime.
If that isn't scary — and newsworthy — I don't know what is. Yet our laid-back pundits, and "journalists" — who want a story delivered on a silver platter — complain that there's nothing really new to be found in the WikiLeaks cables. That's because they aren't looking.
WikiLeaks: Israel cautioned U.S. not to arm Arabs against Iran
Netanyahu is quoted as warning that should Iran get the bomb, Arab powers could shift loyalties from Washington to Tehran.By Reuters
Israel's lobbying to get better American weaponry than U.S.-aligned Arab powers has been complicated by their shared hostility toward Iran, leaked diplomatic cables show.
WikiLeaks disclosures from July 2009 document Israeli and U.S. defense delegates debating the merits of arming Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states given doubts over whether Iran can be denied the means for developing nuclear weaponry.
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 3, 2009.
|Photo by: AP|
Hearing the Israelis' objections to the planned sale of F-15 fighters and missiles to the Saudis, State Department official Andrew Shapiro argues for "a commonality of interests with the Gulf States, which also view Iran as the preeminent threat."
"We should take advantage of this commonality," he says.
Shapiro's line appears supported elsewhere in the Wikileaks trove, which includes an account of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to attack Iran preemptively.
One Arab leader echoes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by likening Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Another voices empathy for Israel in considering offensive military options against its arch-foe.
Yet Netanyahu is quoted as warning that should Iran get the bomb despite U.S.-led efforts to curb its uranium enrichment, Arab powers could shift loyalties from Washington to Tehran.
This spells a quandary for the Israeli envoys who have long handled negotiations on both securing Israel's "Qualitative Military Edge" with the most advanced U.S.-supplied arms, and ensuring that the Arabs - some of them old foes - get less.
According to the U.S. embassy cable from July 2009, "Israel understands U.S. policy intentions to arm moderate Arab states in the region to counter the Iranian threat, and prefers such sales originate from the United States instead of other countries like Russia or China."
But Pinchas Buchris, a top Israeli defense official at the time, is described as having "stated bluntly that it was not clear to him where U.S. policy was heading with regard to Iran."
Senior Israeli diplomat Alon Bar adds: "A perceived closure in the capability gap between Israel and Arab states, coupled with a nuclear-armed Iran, could compel moderate Arab states to reassess the notion that Israel was a fixture in the region."
The document quotes Shapiro as reiterating the Obama administration's determination to deny Iran access to nuclear weapons, and "agree(ing) that assistance to Gulf states should not diminish Israel's QME."
But Shapiro declines an Israeli request to review the U.S. report on planned Middle East arms sales before its submission to Congress, as it contained secret intelligence assessments.
The Obama administration announced last month it would go ahead with the $60 billion deal with Saudi Arabia. A Pentagon official, Alexander Vershbow, told reporters at the time: "Israel does not object to this sale."
WikiLeaks: The Hikers and Iran's "Hostage-Taking as Political Blackmail"
— By Daniel Schulman
In August 2009, weeks after three US citizens (including Mother Jones contributor Shane Bauer) were snatched by Iranian forces while hiking in Kurdistan, near the Iranian border, the US sought advice from France on how to free them. At the time, the French government was working to secure the release of one of its own citizens, Clotilde Reiss, and, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, French officials opened their playbook to State Department official Kathleen H. Allegrone. Summarizing her meetings with two French officials, President Nicolas Sarkozy's strategic affairs advisor Francois Richier and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Middle East director Patrice Paoli, she wrote:
The French approached their hostage situations in Iran by first seeking an immediate, behind-the-scenes resolution before the Iranians brought charges against their captives, and then, once that approach failed, by adopting a two-pronged strategy: (1) relentlessly publicizing the cases with repeated employment of key words chosen carefully to put the Iranians on the defensive, and (2) constant exertion of diplomatic and political pressure, with the help of allies, in the form of regular demarches in Tehran and convocations of Iranian Ambassadors in European and Middle Eastern capitals.
The French officials stressed the importance of enlisting allies that might have Iran's ear, and said they had quickly reached out to Syria after Reiss was detained. Similarly, Richier said the French had made sure to explicitly thank Syria when Iran freed Nazak Afshar, a French embassy employee held briefly by Iran. "Of course we don't know if the Syrians did anything," Richier said, "but we wanted to thank them anyway. It should at least confuse the Iranians."
The French officials told their American counterparts that the Iranians would likely advise the US government, through the Swiss, to "remain calm and quiet" while the Iranian legal process moved forward. The French officials advised the opposite. "Be vocal," Richier said, "even more so if the Iranians ask you not to be." Paoli warned: "They are the masters of stalling tactics."
Ignore this warning, they insisted, because silence will not expedite the process. They argued that USG statements and actions can sway and even mobilize public opinion within Iran. Whether or not we choose to speak out, they warned, the Iranians will energetically disseminate fabricated accusations.
The French officials cautioned that it would be difficult to even ascertain which power center in Iran was in control of the Americans and that Iran might attempt to use the hostages to blackmail the US government, potentially as a bargaining chip over the regime's nuclear program.
They may try, for instance, to drag out the cases of the American and French hostages through the US/EU late September deadline for a response from the regime on the nuclear issue.
Among other things, the officials said, the Iranians might seek a trade for Majid Kakavand, who'd been arrested in Paris in March 2009 at the request of the Department of Justice, which was seeking his extradition to the US. The Iranian citizen was suspected of supplying Iran with dual-use technologies with military applications.
This year, in early May, a French court denied Kakavand's extradition to the US and set him free. Shortly thereafter, Iran freed Clotilde Reiss, the student who was accused of spying for France, prompting widespread speculation that the French and Iranian governments had indeed brokered a trade.
One of the American hikers, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September. Bauer and a third American, Josh Fattal, are still being held in Iran on espionage charges. As the State Department cables suggest, the hikers appear to be little more than pawns in Iran's geopoltical gamesmanship. Ominously, Allegrone wrote in her cable, relaying her conversation with one French official, "this familiar Iranian tactic—hostage-taking as political blackmail—will only increase in the near future."
Scott Peterson's fine piece at CSM on Iranian reactions to the Wikileaks cables is given further credence by yet another document that surfaced Tuesday. Peterson says that the Iranians took the documents to suggest that President Obama was all along plotting against them even while pursuing a diplomatic track in public, and that a breakthrough through negotiations is now very unlikely.
It is an account of conversations between the US undersecretary for arms control and British officials in early September, 2009. It shows that the then British Labor Government supported President Obama's diplomatic outreach to Iran but was very much prepared for it to fail, and fail quickly, and so was already focused on ratcheting up further economic sanctions on Tehran. Simon McDonald said that the prime minister did not think Obama's diplomatic efforts should be "open-ended," and seemed to have a 30-day deadline in mind for Iran to respond. That sort of impatience does not comport with genuine diplomacy, and it seems clear that the British were eager to impose further sanctions as soon as possible.
Another passage suggests strong British and American pressure on Yukiya Amano, the then incoming head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under his predecessor, Mohammad Elbaradei, the IAEA had steadfastly refused to rubber stamp US and Western European charges that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. The inspectors could find no evidence of it, and were able to certify that no nuclear material had been diverted from the civilian program. They were extremely frustrated by Iran's lack of complete cooperation, and some entertained dark suspicions, but Elbaradei's reports only included what could be proven from the inspections. Foreign Minister David Miliband spoke of putting some "steel" in Amano's spine. Ellen Tauscher, the US under secretary for arms control and international security affairs, said that the US and the UK must work to make Amano a "success."
Reading between the lines, it seems clear that London and Washington intended to get hold of Amano as soon as Elbaradei had departed, and twist his arm to be more alarmist in his reports on Iran. Surely from Washington's hawkish point of view, any "success" of the IAEA would be in demonstrating an Iranian weapons program and giving evidence that could be used to ratchet up sanctions at the UN Security Council. Ironically, the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had supported Elbaradei's careful approach. Amano may have been predisposed to be suspicious of Iran because of his own country's experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his consequent personal commitment to non-proliferation.
It was improper for Miliband to have spoken of putting steel in Amano's spine, with the obvious meaning that the UK wanted the IAEA to put out reports on Iran's nuclear activities that mirrored Whitehall's suspicions– suspicions for which there is no known proof. (Iran has a civilian nuclear enrichment program; no one has found any dispositive evidence that it has a nuclear weapons program, and there is much evidence to the contrary).
There is also a passage about tying Iran's nuclear program to that of North Korea, said to be urged by then National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones. That strategy is shot through with propaganda, since North Korea went for broke to get a nuclear warhead and has a handful of them now. North Korea conducted underground nuclear detonations in 2006 and 2009, as confirmed by seismic activity. In contrast, Iran has no bomb. All Iran can be shown to have done is to whirl radioactive material around to produce about two tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% and a very small amount enriched to 19.75%, intended for use in Iran's small medical reactor, given it by the US in 1969. Both these levels of enrichment are considered Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) and are irrelevant to bomb-making unless they are further processed to 95%– something there is no evidence of the Iranians trying to do or even being able to do. Remember, their facility at Natanz is being inspected. So, Iran is just not like North Korea. The latter is a known violator (like Israel, Pakistan and India) of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nothing Iran has done since 2003 violates the NPT, which it signed– unlike Israel.
The USG Open Source center today translated an Iranian Fars News Agency, Wednesday, December 1, 2010, report of a television discussion in which an Iranian security expert complained about this very strategy:
' Fars News Agency: An expert on Iran and the region emphasized with the new atmosphere of controversy the Zionists are creating they are trying to show that Iran's peaceful nuclear program is connected to North Korea's nuclear program. Fars reports Amir Musavi in an interview with this week's program The Israeli Eye on the Al-Alam News Network mentioned the creation of controversy by the Zionists against Iran's nuclear program and said the Zionists are trying to divert world public opinion away from their own nuclear armory towards other directions, and to portray Iran's peaceful nuclear program as a threat they are connecting North Korea's nuclear program to Iran's peaceful nuclear program. This expert on Iran and regional affairs added: However unlike North Korea the Islamic Republic of Iran consistently cooperates with the IAEA.' Musavi added: If the Islamic Republic of Iran were seeking to conceal its peaceful nuclear program it could have done this but Iran has always sought mutual cooperation with the IAEA.
Iran-related passages of the wikileaks cable:
Background: Ellen Tauscher, the US under secretary for arms control and international security affairs held meetings in London on September 2-4 on the margins of the P5 Conference on Confidence Building Measures Towards Nuclear Disarmament with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Simon McDonald, Head of the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Cabinet Office … [and others]
"Tuesday, 22 September 2009, 14:13
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 LONDON 002198
SUBJECT: U/S TAUSCHER'S MEETINGS WITH FS MILIBAND AND OTHER
¶11. (S/NF) Tauscher made clear that Iran needed to respond to the P5 1 offer prior to the UNGA, at which point there would be a stock-taking; absent progress, attention would turn to substantially stronger sanctions. FS Milband opined that U.S. Administration is "rightly trying to overcome a deficit of prejudice and mistrust in a relatively short time" by diplomatic outreach to Iran. He continued that the Iranian elections were a "bad outcome" — an outcome that had given extremists the upper hand and resulted in a "culling of reformists." Miliband said that, in his opinion, Iran's extremist government would not make concessions in a short time. Nonetheless, the U.S. "Administration's support for a diplomatic solution is very wise." He praised the impact of financial sanctions spearheaded by Treasury U/S Levey. Leslie asserted that the Iranian administration is "in a state of flux" and "not focused," so probably unable to respond to overtures.
LONDON 00002198 003 OF 005
¶12. (S/NF) McDonald stressed that the PM supports the President's outreach efforts to Iran, but this outreach should not be "open ended." The UK view is that "if Iran is not responsive, we have to get serious." UK experts have concluded that stronger sanctions should be in place by the end of the year if Iran is not significantly responsive by the end of September. McDonald observed that it would take some time to negotiate a UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution]; in the meantime, the UK is considering national steps it could take as well as possible steps the EU could take. HMG shares NSA Jones' view that proliferation problems posed by Iran and North Korea should be addressed together, not as separate, unrelated issues, McDonald said…
¶14. (S/NF) "We need to put some steel in Director General-elect Amano," [of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency] Miliband opined. Amano has a key role and he "must be a leader and a consensus-builder who reports faithfully what experts tell him." McDonald observed that the IAEA seems more prepared than it has in the past to address Iranian conduct. Tauscher agreed we need to make Amano a success."
Farhang Jahanpour writes in a guest column for Informed Comment
What is truly alarming about the new batch of Wikileaks diplomatic files is the extent to which US politicians and their Israeli allies are obsessed with Iran. There is virtually no talk of Israeli colonial settlements on the West Bank, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the war crimes in Gaza, the attack on the aid flotilla, and Israel's arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons, but there is constant preoccupation with Iran's uranium enrichment and whether Israel or the United States should attack Iran first.
The media has dwelt almost exclusively on the remarks of the Saudi King Abdullah's ambassador in Washington, calling on America to "cut off the head of this snake". There are quotes from the rulers of other Western friends in the Middle East, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and Jordan, repeating what American officials wanted to hear, namely that Iran's nuclear ambitions pose an "existential threat" to them…
By latching on to the alleged remarks of these autocratic rulers, Western media has tried to convey the idea that Iran does not only pose an "existential threat" to Israel, but to all those other friends of the West as well.
However, the Arab rulers' nightmare is that while they hate Iran for obvious reasons, most of their subjects look up to Iran as the only country in the region that is championing the Palestinian cause and is standing up to Israel and the West. According to the most recent poll, carried out by the US Zogby polling organisation and the University of Maryland, in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other pro-western Arab states, a majority of the respondents even had a positive view of the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Asked which countries threatened their security, 88% replied Israel, 77% the US and just 10% Iran.1 It is not that US diplomats don't understand these facts, they have just lost all sight of reality, democratic principles and America's long-term interests. The experiences of supporting Saddam Hussein, General Musharraf and other dictators should have proved to them that relying on undemocratic rulers would backfire, not to say that it is contrary to the democratic principles that they claim that they are championing.
In view of the fact that the United States is arming its "allies" with billions of dollars worth of the most sophisticated weapons, its protestations about Iran's military threat sounds hollow. According to The Financial Times, the US plans to reinforce Arab military power by selling an unprecedented amount of USD 123 billion to four Persian Gulf littoral states. Saudi Arabia's share stands at nearly $67 billion, the UAE at $40 billion, Oman at $12 billion and Kuwait at $7 billion, according to the business daily.
This is despite the fact that those countries and Israel already spend a much larger part of their GDP on arms. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), while Iran's military spending in 2009 was $9.174 billion (or 2.7% of its GDP), that of Saudi Arabia was $39.257 billion (8.2% of its GDP), that of the tiny United Arab Emirates was $13.5 billion (or 5.9% of its GDP), and that of Israel was $14.34 billion (7% of its GDP). And whereas Iran's military spending as a share of its GDP is 2.7% (9.174 billion: 340 billion), that of the United States is nearly 7% (1 trillion: 14 trillion). In other words, Iran's military spending is less than one per cent of the United States' spending.
Nevertheless, the US and Israel have the temerity to portray Iran as the main threat to the Middle East and the main obstacle to the "peace process". There is a wonderful moment in the cables when the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, explains to a US congressional delegation on 28 April last year that "a Palestinian state must be demilitarised, without control of its airspace and electro-magnetic field [sic], and without the power to enter into treaties or control its border". Well, what then does the Obama Administration mean by a two-state solution and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state? What is the point of the "peace process" for which the United States is willing to make so many concessions to Israel?
Practically, all US-Israeli talks show a feverish and obsessive preoccupation with Iran. They do not try to find ways of resolving Iran's nuclear program through co-operation, talks and constructive solutions, but through sanctions ultimately leading to war. It seems that Iranian leaders were justified not to trust even President Obama's offer of unconditional talks. WikiLeaks revelations that American officials were planning to raise pressure on Iran with more sanctions and a missile defence shield, despite making high-profile public overtures to Iran are being seen in Tehran as validation of deep skepticism from the start about Obama's intentions. The leaked documents show that there was a half-hearted attempt at engagement, while also pursuing US administration's "dual track" policy of simultaneously applying pressure and negotiating, with the constant refrain that "all options are on the table".
A most revealing case about the US-Israeli approach towards Iran concerns the meeting between the Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and Nicholas Burns, then US under-secretary of state. The Israeli spy chief practically puts forward the "roadmap" that the United States must follow. It includes Israel's "five-part strategy". It is worth quoting the passage in full:
• Bring Iran before the UN security council to pursue a third sanctions resolution;
• "Covert measures: Dagan and the under-secretary agreed not to discuss this approach in the larger group setting";
• Counter-proliferation: prevent know-how and technology from making their way to Iran;
• Sanctions – the biggest success so far. Three Iranian banks were on the verge of collapse. Financial sanctions were having a nationwide impact.
• Regime change. Israel believed more should be done to foment this, possibly with the support of student democracy movements and ethnic groups such as the Azeris, Kurds and Baluchs.
Is this not exactly the formula that has been followed during the past two years by US politicians? Under great US pressure, the Security Council has passed two more resolutions imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The US Congress and EU countries have gone further and have imposed their own sanctions against Iranian trade, shipping, banks, aviation, oil and gas, as well as the Iranian nuclear program and the Revolutionary Guards…
After the revelation of these files, US politicians have two options, either to continue with their failed policy and push with the sanctions, ultimately leading to war; or to change course and give meaning to President Obama's initial slogans of talks and negotiations with Iran, with respect and as equals, trying to reach a comprehensive agreement that will allow Iran to pursue its right to enrich uranium under strict international supervision, while preventing her from gaining access to nuclear weapons. So far, President Obama has not given in to intense pressure from the Israeli lobby to attack Iran. That pressure is bound to increase in the coming months as we move closer to the next presidential election. He should hold his nerve and make it clear to the warmongers that Iran is not going to be another Iraq.
Iran should be asked to help resolve some of the intractable problems in the Middle East, from the on-going conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Arab-Israeli conflict in return for security guarantees to Iran and the normalization of relations. A friendly Iran can play a major role in the Middle East and can act as a US partner, rather than as an adversary.
One should only compare the non-existent elections in most Arab countries or even the recent parliamentary election in Egypt where the opposition Muslim Brotherhood miraculously failed to win a single seat with Iran's defective but nevertheless meaningful and vibrant democracy. Last year's presidential election in Iran showed that the vast majority of Iranians are anxious to put an end to their radical government and to form a true democracy. Their dream was shattered as the result of the brutal repression by the Iranian President Ahmadinezhad and his conservative clerical backers.
What the Iranians need above all is a certainty that if they rise up in larger numbers against their unpopular rulers they will not face the ethnic partition of their country, advocated by the Mossad chief, or a military attack on their country.
In order for Iran to achieve this and for the US to turn over a new leaf in her relations with that ancient and influential country, which has perhaps the most pro-Western population anywhere in the Middle East, it is essential for the US to cut its umbilical chord with the most extreme elements in Israel and usher in a new era in her relations with the Middle East and with the Islamic world as a whole. Such a policy would also be in the long-term interests of Israel, because their present course of action is doomed to failure.
* Dr Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Languages at the University of Isfahan, Iran, and a former Senior Fulbright Research Scholar at Harvard. He is Associate Fellow at the Faculty of Oriental Studies and tutor in Middle Eastern Studies at the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Oxford-----------------------------------------------------
29 November 2010
PRESS RELEASE: US proxy war in Yemen exposed by Wikileaks revelations
The release of 'secret' US State Department documents has revealed that the US has been conducting a proxy war in Yemen with the agreement of the Yemeni authorities. Until this time, the US has been very keen to distance itself from any accusation that it has been behind the programme of targeted assassinations in Yemen.
The revelations show that there has been a direct agreement between the two countries that the US army would be permitted to bomb suspected al-Qaeda targets and evidently will not be held to account. Rather, as another revealed cable explicitly states, that the Yemen government will take responsibility for any bombing operations conducted by the US, the Yemeni president Abdullah Saleh explicitly stating, "We'll continue saying they are our bombs, not yours."
Once again the US is not officially bringing its activities within the purvey of the laws of armed conflict and is flouting international law in the process. By failing to declare it is operationally involved in a conflict, the US has not fulfilled its obligation to abide by the required conduct of hostilities as required under the Geneva conventions. More disturbingly, it has manipulated one of the poorest countries in the world into taking responsibility for a crime that it is itself responsible for: extrajudicial killings.
Cageprisoners Executive Director, Asim Qureshi, said of this revelation,
"The US has been conducting a proxy war in Yemen outside of the international law or armed conflict and are thereby failing to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law. This latest revelation is an extremely cynical development as the US government continues to disregard its international obligations and has rather chosen to run clandestine operations in Yemen. These revelations will only be further damaging to the reputation of the US in the Muslim world."
Cageprisoners will be raising the issue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings in order to highlight the disgraceful way in which the US is currently conducting its operations and the serious breaches of international law.
Cageprisoners is a human rights NGO that exists to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror. We aim to give a voice to the voiceless.
Give a voice to the voiceless.
27 Old Gloucester Street
Telephone: (+44) 203 167 4416
Wikileaks : US Cable Confirms US Killed Women and Children In Yemen
By Michael Isikoff
Envoy's report released by WikiLeaks indicates Yemeni leaders 'lied' about air strikes to cover up U.S. involvement
:: Article nr. 72377 sent on 01-dec-2010 16:39 ECT
WikiLeaks document exposes US complicity in Sri Lankan war crimes
By K. Ratnayake ~ 4 December 2010
One of the diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Colombo released by WikiLeaks this week shows that the Obama administration was well aware of the war crimes committed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his regime in the final stages of its war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Rajapakse restarted the war against the LTTE in July 2006, which culminated in its defeat in May 2009. During the final months, the Sri Lankan military pounded and strafed the remaining LTTE-held pockets, killing thousands of Tamil civilians. Rajapakse has repeatedly denied that war crimes were committed by the military or his government, and opposed any independent investigation.
The cable published by WikiLeaks was sent by the US Ambassador, Patricia A. Butenis, on January 15 this year, just a week before the presidential election in Sri Lanka. Rajapakse won the election, defeating former Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka.
After noting that the government's "lack of attention to [war crime] accountability is not surprising," Butenis said the issue had been "complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country's senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapakse and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka".
Although it called for investigations into "human rights violations" after the LTTE's defeat, Washington has never named the Rajapakse brothers or Fonseka as the chief criminals. The cable from Butenis confirms that the US knew all along that the country's top civilian and military leaders were responsible for war crimes. As army commander, Fonseka, was responsible for planning and carrying out the final offensives. Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the president's brother, is the defence secretary—the top bureaucrat in charge of the defence ministry.
There is ample evidence that President Rajapakse and General Fonseka presided over war crimes. The UN has estimated that between January and May last year, 7,000 civilians were killed. The International Crisis Group has compiled evidence showing an even higher civilian toll of between 30,000 and 75,000 and of the Sri Lankan military's deliberate targetting of hospitals and aid centres inside LTTE territory.
In May 2009, the British-based Guardian and the Sunday Times reported that three LTTE leaders—its peace secretariat head S. Puleedevan, political leader B. Nadesan and a military leader Romesh—were killed as they attempted to surrender with white flags. Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin revealed that the surrender arrangements had involved contact with British, US and UN officials.
The leaked cable highlights the duplicity of the policy pursued by the US and its allies, which backed Rajapakse's renewed offensive to the hilt. They were silent over the army's blatant breaches of the 2002 ceasefire, its bombardments of civilian targets and violations of democratic rights, including the operations of pro-government death squads. In the final months, they repeatedly demanded the LTTE's unconditional surrender as the only way to end the carnage.
It was only during the last stages of the war and subsequently, that the US and other powers cynically played the "human rights" card to pressure the Rajapakse government. Their reservations about "human rights violations" had nothing to do with the plight of Tamil civilians. Rather, their concern was that China had emerged as a close supporter of the Colombo government, providing money to finance the war and weapons to fight it, in return for economic and strategic concessions—in particular, a major new southern port at Hambantota.
Once it became clear that Rajapakse had consolidated his power in the wake of the war, US concerns about "human rights" were soon downplayed. Butenis's cable was in line with a major report entitled "Sri Lanka: Recharting US Strategy After the War," issued by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last December. That report highlighted the danger to US strategic interests of China's growing influence in Colombo and declared that the US could not afford to "lose Sri Lanka". While "human rights" remained important, the report stated, "US policy towards Sri Lanka cannot be dominated by a single agenda. It is not effective at delivering real reform, and it shortchanges US geostrategic interests in the region".
In accordance with this orientation, the US embassy in Colombo yesterday claimed that the January cable revealed nothing new. "The United States policy on accountability in Sri Lanka has been made clear many times," it said, adding that "the primary responsibility for investigating them [war crime allegations] lies with the sovereign national government."
So far, the Sri Lankan government has remained completely silent, with the Sri Lankan external affairs ministry claiming that it "does not wish to comment publicly on privileged communications of a foreign government".
The Butenis cable also lays bare the prostration of the Tamil parties, which were engaged in backroom consultations with the US embassy, seeking its support for their own manoeuvres to secure a place in the political establishment for the Tamil elite following the LTTE's defeat. These parties included the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which acted as a mouthpiece for the LTTE during the war.
Butenis noted that TNA leader R. Sambandan believed "accountability was important and he welcomed the international community's interest in the issue." TNA MP Pathmini Sithamparanathan was more explicit in suggesting that these "accountability" issues, while of "immediate concern," be downplayed in order to focus instead on "current bread-and-butter issues, such as IDP [internally displaced persons] releases, concerns about Sinhala emigration to traditional Tamil regions, and re-developing the local economy."
Mano Ganeshan, former MP and leader of Democratic People's Front (DPF), told the US envoy that Fonseka would address the "ethnic reconciliation" issues. "On accountability, Ganeshan told us that while the issue was significant, accountability was a divisive issue and the focus now had to be on uniting to rid the country of the Rajapakses."
Both the TNA and Ganeshan's party supported Fonseka in the presidential election—even though he was directly involved in the war crimes—claiming that he was a lesser evil compared to Rajapakse. Fonseka had fallen out with Rajapakse after the war, resigned and stood as the common opposition candidate in the presidential election. In backing Fonseka, the Tamil parties joined the right-wing United National Party and the chauvinist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), two parties that had fully supported the communal war.
TNA dissident M.K. Sivajilingam, who contested the presidential election, took a different tack. According to the Butenis cable, he spoke "about accountability, demanding an international inquiry to get justice for the deaths and suffering of the Tamil people". Sivajilingam was supported by the ex-radicals of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), who also urged the US and other powers to convene a human rights probe. The leaked cable confirms the political bankruptcy of that call. The US and its allies never had any intention of holding Rajapakse or Fonseka to account. Instead, their interventions were always entirely bound up with their strategic, economic and diplomatic calculations, not least the growing US rivalry with China.http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/sril-d04.shtml
WikiLeaks Honduras: State Department Busted on Support of Coup
Tuesday 30 November 2010
by: Robert Naiman, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis
The streets of Honduras following a coup in July 2009. (Photo: codepinkhq)
By July 24, 2009, the US government was totally clear about the basic facts of what took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009. The US embassy in Tegucigalpa sent a cable to Washington with the subject, "Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup," asserting that "there is no doubt" that the events of June 28 "constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup." The embassy listed arguments being made by supporters of the coup to claim its legality, and dismissed them thus: "None ... has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution." The Honduran military clearly had no legal authority to remove President Manuel Zelaya from office or from Honduras, the embassy said, and their action - the embassy described it as an "abduction" and "kidnapping" - was clearly unconstitutional.
It is inconceivable that any top US official responsible for US policy in Honduras was not familiar with the contents of the July 24 cable, which summarized the assessment of the US embassy in Honduras on key facts that were politically disputed by supporters of the coup regime. The cable was addressed to Tom Shannon, then assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs; Harold Koh, the State Department's legal adviser; and Dan Restrepo, senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council. The cable was sent to the White House and to Secretary of State Clinton.
But despite the fact that the US government was crystal clear on what had transpired, the US did not immediately cut off all aid to Honduras except "democracy assistance," as required by US law.
Instead, a month after this cable was sent, the State Department, in its public pronouncements, pretended that the events of June 28 - in particular, "who did what to whom" and the constitutionality of these actions - were murky and needed further study by State Department lawyers, despite the fact that the State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh, knew exactly "who did what to whom" and that these actions were unconstitutional at least one month earlier. The State Department, to justify its delay in carrying out US law, invented a legal distinction between a "coup" and a "military coup," claiming that the State Department's lawyers had to determine whether a "military coup" took place, because only that determination would meet the legal threshold for the aid cutoff.
Question: And so - sorry, just a follow-up. If this is a coup - the State Department considers this a coup, what's the next step? And I mean, there is a legal framework on the US laws dealing with countries that are under coup d'etat? I mean, what's holding you guys [back from taking] other measures according [to] the law?
Senior State Department Official: I think what you're referring to, Mr. Davila, is whether or not this is - has been determined to be a military coup. And you're correct that there are provisions in our law that have to be applied if it is determined that this is a military coup. And frankly, our lawyers are looking at that exact question. And when we get the answer to that, you are right, there will be things that - if it is determined that this was a military coup, there will be things that will kick in.
As you know, on the ground, there's a lot of discussion about who did what to whom and what things were constitutional or not, which is why our lawyers are really looking at the event as we understand them in order to come out with the accurate determination.
But the July 24 cable shows that this was nonsense. The phrase "military coup" occurs nowhere in the document, a remarkable omission in a cable from the embassy presenting its analysis of the June 28 events' constitutionality and legality one month after the fact, if that were a crucial distinction in assessing US policy. And indeed, initial press reports on the statements of top US officials in response to the coup made no such distinction, using the descriptions "coup" and "military coup" interchangeably.
Why did the State Department drag its feet, pretending that facts which it knew to be clear-cut were murky? Why didn't the State Department speak publicly after July 24 with the same moral clarity as the July 24 cable from the embassy in Honduras? Had the State Department shared publicly the embassy's clear assessment of the June 28 events after July 24, history might have turned out differently, because supporters of the coup in the United States - including Republican members of Congress and media talking heads - continued to dispute basic facts about the coup which the US embassy in Honduras had reported were not subject to reasonable dispute, and US media reporting on the coup continued to describe these facts as subject to reasonable dispute, long after the embassy had firmly declared that they were not.
As the Center for Economic and Policy Research noted in an August 2009 report, in the previous 12 months the US had responded to other coups by cutting US aid within days. In these cases - in Africa - there was no lengthy deliberation on whether a "coup" was a "military coup."
What was the difference?
A key difference was that Honduras is in Central America, "our backyard," so different rules applied. Top officials in Washington supported the political aims of the coup. They did not nominally support the means of the coup, as far as we know, but they supported its political end: the removal of the ability of President Zelaya and his supporters to pursue a meaningful reform project in Honduras. On the other hand, they were politically constrained not to support the coup openly, since they knew it to be illegal and unconstitutional. Thus, they pursued a "diplomatic compromise" which would "restore constitutional order" while achieving the coup's central political aim: removal of the ability of President Zelaya and his supporters to pursue a meaningful reform project in Honduras. The effect of their efforts at "diplomatic compromise" was to allow the coup to stand, a result that these supporters of the coup's political aims were evidently content with.
Why does this matter now?
(AFP) – 1 day ago
BRASILIA — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders Friday in a public letter addressed to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
The decision came in response to a personal request made by Abbas on November 24, according to the letter published on the foreign ministry's website.
"Considering that the demand presented by his excellency (Abbas) is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue, Brazil, through this letter, recognizes a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders," it said.
The letter refers to the "legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel."
The international community backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
But the United States and most Western governments have held back from recognizing a Palestinian state, saying it should be brought about through a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.
Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, and Lula made the first ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Israel and the Palestinian territories in March of this year.
In a parallel statement, the government assured relations with Israel "have never been more robust."
Brazil has offered to help mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which were briefly revived in September before grounding to a halt over the resumption of Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories.
International Day of Solidarity With The Palestinian People
By Stephen Lendman
03 December, 2010
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181, the Palestine Partition Plan, granting 56% of historic Palestine to Jews (with one-third of the population), 42% to Palestinians, with Jerusalem designated an international city (a corpus separatum - separate body) under a UN Trusteeship Council. The area included all Jerusalem, Bethlelem, and Beit Sahour, to encompass Christian holy sites.
Resolution 181 called for an Independent Arab state by October 1, 1948, asking:
"all Governments and peoples to refrain from taking any action which might hamper or delay the carrying out of these recommendations," the Security Council to be empowered with "the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation."
However, Israel's 1948 "War of Independence" intervened, creating the Jewish state on May 14, 1948 on 78% of historic Palestine, excluding Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
On December 2, 1977, the General Assembly (GA) passed Resolution 32/40 A and B, stating its deep concern:
"that no just solution to the problem of Palestine has been achieved and that this problem therefore continues to aggravate the Middle East conflict, of which it is the core, and to endanger international peace and security."
It reaffirmed "that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East cannot be established without the achievement, inter alia, of a just solution of the problem of Palestine on the basis of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the right of return and the right to national independence and sovereignty in Palestine, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations."
Urging the Security Council to act promptly on this matter, the GA declared, "commencing in 1978, the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people."
On December 1, 2005, the GA requested that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights (CEIRPP), as part of the International Day of Solidarity observance, to continue organizing an annual exhibit or cultural event on Palestinian rights in cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN. It also encouraged Member States to widely support and publicize the day that should have established an independent Palestinian state.
SOAS Academic: "No Palestinian State While Zionism Exists"
Palestine Monitor, December 2, 2010
:: Article nr. 72441 sent on 02-dec-2010 23:37 ECT
The leftist Palestinian faction said in a statement that the PA should take the issue to the UN and demand the implementation of relevant resolutions based on international legitimacy rather than continue with "absurd" peace talks.
"Two decades of bilateral negotiations amidst various Israeli actions -- settlements, operations, siege -- should be enough to convince anyone that these talks are absurd and reflect Israeli and American dictates," the PFLP said.
The faction also said the PLO should be reformed to include all Palestinian parties.
Palestinians: Israel has chosen West Bank settlements over peace
After Israel announces plans for 625 new homes in Pisgat Ze'ev, Palestinians say Jerusalem has signaled it is 'not willing' to resume peace negotiations.By Reuters
The United States should openly blame Israel for the "collapse" of the peace process, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday, in one of the bleakest assessments yet on Middle East peace efforts.
New Israeli plans to build near East Jerusalem show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to resume peace talks, Palestinian officials said.
The neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev in East Jerusalem
|Photo by: Tess Scheflan|
"It's time for the American administration to tell the world that Israel holds the responsibility for the collapse of this peace process," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
"Israel has chosen settlements and not peace," he told Reuters.
The United States has been trying to revive direct negotiations between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but weeks of diplomacy have yet to yield a breakthrough.
The Palestinians want Israel to halt all construction on land where they aim to found an independent state, including areas in and around Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Abbas and Netanyahu held three rounds of direct talks in September but the Palestinians withdrew from the negotiations three weeks after they started when Israel lifted restrictions on settlement building in the West Bank.
Netanyahu had imposed the restrictions for 10 months. He has faced strong opposition within his cabinet to any further curbs on settlement building. His government is dominated by parties that support the settlers, including his own rightist Likud.
Israel announced on Wednesday plans for 625 new homes in Pisgat Zeev, which is built on West Bank land Israel annexed to its Jerusalem municipality immediately after the 1967 war.
"This Israeli signal shows that they are not willing and not ready for any deal in order to resume the negotiations," Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas's spokesman, told Reuters.
Israel sees Pisgat Zeev and other districts it has built in and around Jerusalem since 1967 as part of its capital. The Palestinians regard them as settlements, a view supported by the European Union.
Israel's building in and around Jerusalem has strained its ties with the United States this year. Washington says such building does not help peace negotiations.
The United States has been in talks with Israel over a set of incentives designed to produce another settlement freeze that would allow the negotiations to resume.
The Palestinian officials said Israel's new settlement building plans amounted to a rejection of the U.S. efforts.
Erekat said the United States should now recognize a state of Palestine in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital if it wished "to preserve the two-state solution".
Referring to the Pisgat Zeev building plans, Abu Rdainah said: "It looks like this is an Israeli message to the Palestinians and the Americans that they are refusing any deal resuming the negotiations."
Speaking with Palestine TV, Abbas said he would not "afford to remain the president of a nonexistent Palestinian Authority" if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank continued, and along with that settlement construction .
When asked if the comment meant that he could actually disband the Palestinian Authority, the president said, "I am telling the Israelis that they can continue as occupiers, but as for me, I will not accept the status quo."
The comment came two days after PA officials told AFP that American mediators engaged in bilateral talks with Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams had announced their inability to secure a promise to freeze settlement construction from Israel. Officials later denied the report to Ma'an, but White House spokesman PJ Crowley would not deny the incident during a Thursday news conference.
Abbas himself has been threatening to resign from the Palestinian Authority since before 2009, when his term was extended by a PLO mandate, beyond its four-year elected term.
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders is thriving on Islamophobia and
holds the present right-wing Dutch government hostage. Now he comes
here at the invitation of KM Aryeh Eldad - to preach his "Jordan is
Palestine" ideas. Yes, he is the one behind that internet hate fim "Fitna".
Let's show that we don't need him here.
TIME: Sunday, 05.12.10, 4pm (to be there for the arriving participants to see)
PLACE: In front of the Israel Jafa Center, Tel Aviv - Ganei Yehoshua Park, Sderot Rokach 80 (north of the Yarkon).
HOW TO GET THERE: less than 1 kilometer eastward from the corner of the Namir Road-- Rokach Avenue
Dan buses coming close to the Center: 21, 28, 28, 48
Egged bus to the Namir Road: 74
Slogan idea (but you will be able to make your own text at the spot):
WILDERS THE HATEMONGER - AS IF WE HADN'T ENOUGH
and also something in Dutch:
WILDERS - DAAR ZATEN WE NOU NET OP TE WACHTEN
Expected also, a group of Dutch internationals active as human rights observers etc. on the West Bank
FYI: the "Hatikva Conference" invitation - in Hebrew:
In the company of the most right-wing political groups in Israel, which resist any form of Palestinian self-determination, Wilders calls for a kind of silent transfer of Palestinians to Jordan. His Islamophobia and uncritical attitude towards Israel add only fuel to the flames in the West Bank and East-Jerusalem where fanatic settlers resist any form of peace agreement or protection of human rights of Palestinians.
The last thing needed here is a Wilders who comes to express support to such groups. In reference to the St Nicholas feast in Holland on December 5, we will ask St Nicholas to put Wilders in the "sack." Instead of Wilders' interference, we call for effective Dutch pressure on Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and the continuing siege of Gaza in accordance with international law.
The initiative is of Dutch citizens and their sympathizers who are committed to peace- and development work among Palestinians in the West Bank, East-Jerusalem and Israel. Coordinator of (this part of) the action is Fabienne van Eck (East-Jerusalem) en spokesperson Toine van Teeffelen (Bethlehem).
*This is a reference to the Dutch St Nicholas feast, held December 5, during which it can happen, among other more fortunate events, that "naughty children" are put in "the sack."
Contact: 0522-789156 or 054-7220926.
Contact the Israeli initiators: 054-2340750
Israeli Rights Activists File Complaint Against
IDF Deputy Chief, Accusing Him of 'Crimes' and
Gen. Yair Naveh's promotion called 'immoral' by Israeli rights activists (Yonatan Shaul)
Alongside the newly named IDF chief of staff, Yoav Galant, his new deputy chief will be Gen. Yair Naveh. Naveh has the distinction of being responsible for the Palestinian targeted killings which Anat Kamm leaked to Haaretz journalist, Uri Blau. These West Bank murders completely contravened Supreme Court rulings which directed that such assassinations be avoided if there were civilians present and likely to be harmed; or if there were non-violent means available to apprehend the suspects.
Maariv quotes Naveh's reply to this claim:
"Stop bothering me with the rulings of the Supreme Court. I don't know when they apply and when they don't. I do know that targeted killings work and prevent terror attacks. I take my orders from the operations command [and not human rights activists]."
When asked by Blau: "Why do you approve beforehand an attack on an unidentified target [an innocent bystander],' Naveh answered: 'These are questions you shouldn't direct to me. These matters are approved at the level of the prime minister and what is done is done. Generally, this bunch [Palestinian militants] pals around with a nasty bunch, not with nice people."
That's the level of strategic doctrine and tactical sophistication in the IDF high command. If you spend time with a Palestinian militant you're as good as dead. It doesn't matter if you're his mother, wife, daughter or grandmother. You're as good as being a killer yourself. This is precisely the reason that human rights activists are so eager to bring killers like Naveh to justice. He's pulling a Dick Cheney thumbing his nose at the notion of accountability, basically daring the world to throw Ehud Olmert into the Hague docket with him.
You will find that once an IDF general is detained abroad and brought to justice that Israel will all of a sudden discover its own conscience just as it has in the aftermath of the storm of bad PR that beset it thanks to the Goldstone Report. Israel currently whitewashes such crimes committed on its behalf by its generals. The only way to affirm the concept of accountability is for an international body to ring Israel's bell and give it a moral wake up call.
Among the other peculiarities of Naveh's previous IDF service were the lax security procedures within Naveh's office which allowed Kamm to obtain 2,000 secret documents, which she offered to Blau because she believed that doing so would prove that war crimes had been committed by his command.
Naveh has the additional distinction of being CEO of the Jerusalem light rail project, for which he urged gender-segregated seating in order to a mollify ultra-Orthodox Jews who might otherwise shun this form of public transportation. Instead of understanding the violation of human rights and dignity that such a prohibition would inflict on women, Naveh couched his position in terms of going the extra mile to accommodate Israel's extreme Judaist (cf. "Islamist") tendencies.
For this veritable festival of follies, Naveh was singled out for promotion to the second highest military position in the land. Against this backdrop, Israeli notables like Shulamit Aloni, Uri Avnery, Alice Shalvi, Nurit Peled, and Natan Zach, and the human rights NGO, Yesh Gvul, have applied to the Supreme Court for an injunction preventing Naveh to take his position on the Palestinian killing fields, claiming his is an "immoral appointment" afflicted with profound taint.
Zach, one of Israel's most distinguished poets, is so fed up with conditions in contemporary Israel, he stated publicly that he was ready to join a Gaza flotilla because of the brutality which has penetrated into the nation's soul:
Not a day goes by when people are not murdered here. The violence on the roads and in schools seeps into our lives due to the Conquest ("Occupation").
IOF arrests Palestinian mother while visiting her detained brother
|[ 01/12/2010 - 10:53 AM ]|
AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) guarding Nafha jail arrested a Palestinian mother while visiting her brother Jamal Al-Hur in the jail, relatives of the family said.
They said that Mariam Al-Hur went to visit her brother, who is serving three life sentences, but was taken away by intelligence elements and the prosecution asked court on Tuesday to extend her detention.
Mariam Hur, a mother of a number of children, hails from Sourif village, north of Al-Khalil, and is married to a man from Beit Kahel village.
The Israeli prosecutor claimed that Mariam tried to smuggle a mobile segment for her brother. Her relatives, however, denied the charge and demanded the release of Mariam.
IOF soldiers arrested Jamal Al-Hur for working with the so-called Sourif cell that was allegedly found guilty of a number of attacks on Israeli targets.
Israeli police acknowledge interrogating around 1200 Palestinian children in OJ
|[ 01/12/2010 - 05:04 PM ]|
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Official statistics of the Israeli police in occupied Jerusalem indicated that its various apparatuses had detained and interrogated 1,124 Palestinian children during 2010, Hebrew media reported on Wednesday.
Ha'aretz said that more troubling than the absolute number is the manner in which youths are being detained and questioned.
"Children and youth have reportedly being taken from their beds in the middle of the night or apprehended by undercover detectives and special forces in their neighborhoods. They were brought in for questioning without a parental escort and sometimes without having been able to notify their families in time. Some were required to give names or to implicate their friends and relatives as conditions for their release."
The paper noted that tens of Israeli figures addressed a message to premier Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to order an end to the arrest of Palestinian minors in occupied Jerusalem for the alleged charge of throwing stones.
Silwan, East Jerusalem - 60 Israeli professionals speak out at violence against Palestinian children
Defence for Children International - Palestine Section
DCI, [1 December 2010] – On 24 November 2010, 60 prominent Israeli professionals sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials raising their concerns about the violent treatment of Palestinian children at the hands of the authorities in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to Israeli Police, in 2010 more than 1,200 criminal cases have been opened against children from occupied East Jerusalem alleging involvement in stone-throwing incidents. The letter states that 'children and teenagers related that they had been dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night or arrested in their neighbourhoods by undercover detectives and special security forces; taken in for questioning while handcuffed and unescorted by their parents; in certain cases, the families were not notified of the arrest in real time; minors were asked to give names and incriminate friends and relatives as a condition of their release; were threatened and humiliated by their interrogators; and some of them were even subject to physical violence while taken in for questioning and under interrogation.' The authors of the letter urge the Prime Minister to 'immediately take the necessary steps to ensure that all arrest, detention, and interrogation procedures employed against minors suspect of throwing stones in East Jerusalem … adhere to the letter and spirit of the law.'
The issues raised in the letter reflect concerns held by DCI-Palestine, which has documented 22 cases of children who report being mistreated by the arresting authorities since 8 October 2010. The age of the youngest child reporting mistreatment is seven years.
These arrests are occurring against a backdrop of heightened tensions in occupied East Jerusalem due to the Municipality's plans to demolish houses in Silwan, and the presence of around 380 settlers in the area. Under international law, East Jerusalem forms part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and 'all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status … have no legal validity.' (UN Security Council Resolution 465 of 1980)
2 Dec. '10:
New settler enclaves in East Jerusalem
On 23 and 24 November 2010, settler organizations took control of two houses in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In the first case, the Qara'in family, 14 persons, were evicted from their home, which is located next to the UN compound in Jabal Mukabber. The eviction was carried out in accordance with court order and with police assistance. The building had been purchased by a foreign company that is registered in the Cocos Islands and is represented in Israel by David Be'eri, one of the heads of the Elad settlers' organization, even though some of the owners of the property contend that the transaction was made without their knowledge and approval. Settlers have taken over another house in the village.
Police evict Qara'in family from their home in Jabal Mukabber. Photo: Wadi Hilweh Information Center, 23 Nov. 10.
In the second case, settlers took control of the second floor of a building in a-Tur that had been unoccupied in recent years. The first and third floors are occupied by Palestinian families. Entry of the settlers was allowed by the District Court. Nearby is another house that settlers have taken over, which they have dubbed Beit Hachoshen. See map
The story taken over by settlers in a-Tur. Photo: Hagit Ofran, Peace Now, 24 Nov. '10.
The settlement enclaves in East Jerusalem, including these latest takeovers, surround the Old City Basin from the south, east, and north, and some of them are positioned on main roads leading to the Old City, enabling control of movement along these routes. Also, settlement enclaves have been established in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, with the objective of surrounding the Temple Mount. It is apparent that the aim of the settler enclaves is to thwart division of the city in any possible political arrangement.
The main enclaves are in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, in Silwan (Ir David), in Ras al-'Amud (Ma'ale Zeitim and Ma'ale David), in a-Tur (Beit Orot), in Abu Dis (Kidmat Zion), and in Sheikh Jarrah (Nahalat Shimon). It is estimated that some 2,000 settlers live in these enclaves. The actions of these organizations in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods generate violent friction and constant tension in those neighborhoods.
While the initiative for establishing the enclaves comes from the settler organizations, they have benefited from extensive Israeli state assistance and support. The organizations have gained control of Palestinian property with the assistance of authorities such as the Custodian of Absentee Property, have purchased from Palestinians, sometimes by questionable means, and have demanded that control of property that was Jewish-owned before 1948 be transferred to them.
The government and the Jerusalem Municipality support the settlement efforts in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and in the Old City by allocating private security guards, paid for by taxes, to protect the enclaves; by sending security forces to accompany takeover of Palestinian assets and houses; by funding and promoting building and development projects in the enclaves; and by transferring government assets, such as the Archeological Garden around the Old City, to the control of the organizations. This support illustrates the institutional, systematic discrimination against residents of East Jerusalem by Israel, as the state and the municipal authorities choke planning for the Palestinian neighborhoods and refuse to supply their residents with many basic services.
The enclaves severely and continuously infringe the right of the local Palestinians to freedom of movement, privacy, and security. The settlers' security guards intimidate the residents and limit their movement near the enclaves, even of children wanting to play near their homes. In buildings in which settlers live alongside Palestinians, the Palestinians' movement is also restricted inside the buildings themselves. Security cameras installed by settlers violate the privacy of the other occupants, sometimes even filming events inside their apartments. In addition, the police discriminate against Palestinians. When friction occurs between the two populations, they routinely protect only the rights of the settlers.
Israel Approves Construction Of 625 Units In East Jerusalem
The Israeli government approved, on Wednesday, evening the construction of additional 625 units in Pisgat Zeev settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
The so called Regional Construction Committee decided to approve the construction plan, that was originally approved by the Israeli Interior Ministry more than two years ago, but the initiators of the construction project were asked to conduct some modifications that were concluded recently.
Since the temporary settlement freeze expired on September 25, Israeli settlers started the construction of more than 1,300 units in East Jerusalem settlements, and additional 1,000 units in the West Bank.
The new declaration comes shortly after Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that he is expecting an American response regarding efforts to have Israel reinstate settlement freeze this Thursday.
Abbas said that should Israel insist on resuming settlement activities, the Palestinians will have to look for other alternatives as resuming peace talks would not be an option.
Warning of Israeli housing plot to expel Palestinians from Old Acre
Old Acre residents have warned against action taken by some Israeli governmental institutions to expel the Arab residents of the old city.
The residents' statement, a copy of which was sent to Quds Press, called upon the city's Arabs to be vigilant about plots being hatched behind closed doors and the laws invoked by officials to paralyse the local people and stop them from tackling attempts to empty Acre of its Arab population. The statement drew attention to a publication distributed to Arab citizens of Acre by Amidar, the state-owned housing company. It announced its plans to sell houses and properties it owns to the inhabitants of the old town; discounts are being offered, especially to those who are not in debt to the company. However, the sting in the tail is that if the current resident does not buy the house, the company "reserves the right to sell it to others".
Acre's Arab citizens are wondering who those "others" might be. Perhaps, it is said, foreign investors who could afford the prices being asked. What will happen to the existing tenants, asked the residents' statement, when they cannot afford to buy their home? In closing, the statement reminded readers that Acre has always had a cosmopolitan population; historically-speaking, it said, the Arabs of Acre have contributed to the city's development for centuries.
Arab citizens of Israel must be alerted to this aspect of the government's ethnic cleansing project, say the people of Acre. They appealed to all of their fellow citizens' conscience not to underestimate such projects undertaken by the government against Arabs and their presence in the city and country.
Thoughts on Germany and Palestine
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
November 30, 2010
The conference in Stuttgart about Palestine was themed "Separated in the past, together in the future", was sold-out, and had some high powered speakers and lots of energy (1). We listened, spoke, networked, bought each others' books, ate, hugged, cried, and laughed. I mostly spent lots of time in thinking; maybe because waiting at airports or because such conferences give us opportunity to reflect or whatever. Thoughts are a mixed blessing. In that labyrinth of neurons firing sometimes uncontrollably, we are transported to the past, to the present, to the future, whipsawed by images and stories and sounds and smells. The one minute I am thinking of my delay of three hours at the bridge to Jordan while Israeli Shin Bet agents scurry around trying to figure out what to do about me. I reflect on my angered indignation verbalized twice to a young white clean-cut guy (maybe Russian?). Did I challenge him too much or was it too little?
In visiting Germany one cannot help but reflect on history. The thoughts are transported to periods before I was born, periods in history and facts I have read and verified and contrast it with myths that are taught daily to unsuspecting publics. Germany lives in the modern presence but the mist of a heavy and dark past moves all around sometimes getting thick and blurring visions. Some people pump such smoke trying to convince Germans and themselves that this is that mist emanating from a relevant past. We think and speak of how best to explain to Germans that guilt feelings are misdirected. How do we explain the Nazi-Zionist collaborations and the horrors that happened because of a misunderstanding of what really happened nearly seven decades ago (2). But most of all I reflect on both how good people can be and how much evil they can do. After all, what makes an Ilan Pappe, brilliant professor, humanist who shed all his tribal borders and moved to touch his humanity? And what makes an Ehud Barak, a war criminal with blood of thousands on his hands?
Not in my name is the message that a brilliant Jewish German woman (Evelyn Hecht-Galinski) gave in her speech. Her clarion voice echoed those of prophets speaking to decadent kings of the past articulating in passionate moral clarity what horror awaits if they stay their destructive course. As human beings, we cannot choose to stand on the side line while a grave injustice is being committed. We cannot stand by and watch as Western governments succumb to lobbies and send weapons and money that are used to commit horrific crimes. As citizens of those countries we cannot be silent. I listen to Evelyn's words (translated from German to English) and to the tone of her strong voice and determined looks that penetrate to the hearts of a mesmerized audience. I think this is what decency and courage look like.
I listen to Ilan Pappe brilliantly articulating in very simple and common language what the underpinning of this "issue" is about (that it is a simple colonialism and racism, nothing special other than the success of propaganda in drowning this fact with much mythologies, lies, and nonsense). He explains how we are allowed to criticize specific Israeli policies like attacks on Gaza etc but we are not allowed to criticize the ideology (Zionism) behind these policies. We must move from dealing with the symptoms rather to deal with the etiology. He mentioned how Zionists themselves for decades used terms like Hityakvut (to colonize) to describe their activities which amounted to creating a state by destroying a country (his book "the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" remains a classic). But my mind wonders back to olive trees being uprooted in Al-Walaja. My thoughts are wandering all over the map. Feelings of moral outrage, mix with memories of childhood playing in hills that was not yet infected with colonies.
I listen to my friend Dr. Haidar Eid describe life in Gaza and could only think about the absurdity that he is less than two-hour drive from where I am but that I could only get to meet him face to face for the first time thousands of kilometers away in Stuttgart, Germany of all places. It is not fair that he is imprisoned in the concentration camp with 1.5 million prisoners whose only crime is that they are not Jewish and as such were ethnically cleansed and occupied. Haidar's years in South Africa gave him the ability to really understand similarities and differences of our "hafrada" (Hebrew for segregation) with "Apartheid" (Afrikaaner for segregation). Ali Abunimah's articulate description of where we are with the BDS movement and the media struggle in the US complements nicely our talks about life and struggle in Palestine.
Felicia Langer was there. She served for decades as an Israeli lawyer trying to defend Palestinian political prisoners in kangaroo courts of colonial apartheid. I think that the image of her and me and Haidar on the stage is an image of what the future of an inclusive democratic state will be like.
I listen to my friend Lubna Masarwa who verbalized better than any of us the moral indignation that is right and urgent. She says "we are struggling as Palestinians, we are tired and we want you to do more..it is urgent and the world keeps letting Israel commit massacres and continue its ethnic cleansing practices..why…enough is enough..we are fed up.." My thoughts here bounce across in a room full of dark walls trying to think of why the disease of apathy is so hard to cure among humans. Silence and indifference while injustice and war crimes are being committed is not just some distant historical episode but a brutal living reality. Children in Auschwitz seven decades ago and children of Gaza and Sabra and Shatila today are after all still children. Their eyes and their suffering may be ignored by most of humanity but their truth will penetrate deeper than any fog of mythology. It can no longer be said by anyone in the age of the internet that "we did not know."
I talked about Popular Resistance in Palestine (the subject of my just published book) and explained in as simple a language I could what it means to live here and struggle here and love. I explain that we are in this all together (humanity) and that this is not just a struggle by and for Palestinians. Summarizing 130 years of resistance is not easy. At the conference there is really little time, everyone wants to talk to us, to get a book signed, to exhange cards, to hug…
The organizers did a masterful job. I stayed with a wonderful Palestinian host (Anton). Two of the key organizers also spoke about the plight of the Bedouin communities in the Negev. Attia and Verena Rajab (and their young son who also volunteered) epitomize kindness and hard work but also of love that should be the model for all of us.
More can be said about this conference but ultimately, I say Lubna said it well "enough talk, time for action."
Uprooting The Bedouins Of Israel
By Neve Gordon
03 December, 2010
Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved.
I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund put up a big sign that reads: "GOD-TV FOREST, A Generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev." GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: "I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs."
The Jewish National Fund's objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel's establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war. The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba.
For several years, I thought this practice had been discontinued, but thanks to the JNF's new bedfellows and the generous donation of Rory and Wendy Alec, who established the international evangelical television channel GOD-TV, within the next few months a million saplings will be planted on land belonging to uprooted Bedouins.
God-TV can afford such lavish gifts, since it boasts a viewership of nearly half a billion people, with 20 million in the United States and 14 million in Britain. The television channel regularly features evangelical leaders such as Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and John Hagee, at least some of whom espouse Christian Dispensationalism and believe that all Jews must convert to Christianity before the Second Coming.
The viewers are asked to open their wallets in order to "sow a seed for God." In this case, the donations seem to have actually been allocated toward sowing seeds, but these seeds are ones of hate and strife. They are antithetical to Isaiah's prophecy about the people beating their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Indeed, if Isaiah were alive today, he would probably be among the first to lie in front of the bulldozers in an effort to stop the destruction of the Bedouin homes.
Neve Gordon can be contacted through his website www.israelsoccupation.info
Prof. Neve Gordon
Department of Politics and Government
|In the Khirbet Yerza village in the Jordan Valley, members of the Anabousy family stand in front of their home one day after it was destroyed by Israeli forces, 25 November. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)|
Israeli bulldozers and armed soldiers implemented a swath of demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures for more than a week in multiple areas across the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.
On 24 November, two bulldozers and approximately 200 soldiers swarmed the farming village of Abu al-Ajaj in the Jordan Valley, destroying livestock pens and sheds. Ma'an News Agency reported that the demolition came two weeks after the state confiscated village land in preparation for the expansion of a nearby illegal Israeli settlement colony ("More Bedouin structures demolished in Jordan Valley," 24 November 2010).
The Jordan Valley Solidarity (JVS) group, a network of Palestinian grassroots community organizations from all over the Jordan Valley, stated that several baby goats were killed and Israeli settlers accompanied the soldiers as the bulldozers razed the land. "Both [the soldiers and the settlers] laughed and cheered as the destruction took place," the group reported in a news release ("The occupation forces demolished 4 barracks in the Jordan Valley," 24 November 2010).
JVS added that an Israeli court declared a settlement expansion freeze for the nearby settlement of Massua, but the destruction happened nevertheless, and the settlers are intent on building despite the freeze. "Five years ago the settlement started to expand onto a small piece of land that belongs to the Bedouin community," JVS reported. "Since then, settlers haven't stopped grabbing land from the Palestinian shepherds."
Most of the Jordan Valley is located in Area C, an area which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank. Under the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were carved up into areas A, B and C, the latter of which indicates full Israeli control. Under the Oslo regulations, Area C, which includes East Jerusalem, is administered and controlled by the Israeli government and its military. Approximately 40,000 Palestinians live in Area C.
Gaza's blockade silences women
We have just visited the Gaza Strip where we met many courageous people trying to live relatively normal lives despite the crippling effects of the illegal Israeli blockade. The blockade was imposed to punish the Hamas-led government, but it is women and children who are paying the highest price.
In our conversations with a range of women, we learned that despite the apparent "easing" of restrictions by Israel and Egypt, important socio- economic indicators such as poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and family violence are getting worse. Women in this conservative society find their domestic responsibilities made all the more difficult and time- consuming by the blockade, and they bear the brunt of society's frustration and anger in such trying times.
Equally disturbing are the creeping restrictions on women's freedom imposed by Hamas activists. These restrictions are not being imposed through the introduction of laws, but rather through party-led initiatives that are enforced without any system of accountability. For example, there is no legal decree stating that all schoolgirls must wear a headscarf, yet those who don't wear it are harassed. Women are punished if they smoke in public, while their male compatriots are allowed to do so. And at the beach, Gaza's main source of fun and entertainment, women and men are strictly segregated.
The erosion of women's freedoms is compounded by their lack of participation in politics. In Gaza, women already struggle to be heard. The absence of women from politics in turn fuels perceptions of women as passive; they are seen as victims of the ongoing conflict, rather than active participants in shaping opinions and political processes. Despite the extremely challenging circumstances in which they live, it was therefore encouraging to meet a remarkable group of women in Gaza who are working hard to counter prevailing stereotypes. They are doing it in particular, through a UN mechanism called 1325.
Ten years ago, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 which recognised that sustainable peace could not be achieved in any conflict without the full participation -- and protection -- of women. We were impressed to see that women's groups in Gaza are working hard to mobilise support for the democratic principles of Resolution 1325. At the heart of this resolution is the conviction that women, like men, have a right to participate as decision- makers in all aspects of governance: women have a right to a voice in institutions that are democratic and accountable, including those that govern peacemaking.
Women's groups in Gaza told us that they are doing their best to raise awareness about Resolution 1325 among local leaders. They have provided training to women on the ground in how to exercise their political rights. They have documented human rights violations and violence against women, and they participated in the UN investigation, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, to establish whether war crimes were committed during the devastating Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. However, they don't feel that there has been any positive improvement in the lives of Gazan women.
Women activists are clamouring for help from beyond Gaza. "What we do ourselves is not enough," they told us. "We need help to make sure that our voices are heard in the outside world." These women are very keen to join networks worldwide that are working on Resolution 1325 and women's rights more generally; they want to stand in solidarity with women around the world and feel that they are not alone. They want to reach out to the wider international community, but they are penned in -- the blockade prevents them from doing so.
This is one, largely unrecognised, price of the blockade of Gaza: it is hampering women's efforts to cooperate and to build a movement that can effectively advance gender equality. The effect extends beyond politics; the disempowerment of women hinders post-conflict reconstruction, reduces the likelihood that it will be sustainable, and prevents any meaningful progress on development.
As Elders, we call for the immediate and complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The ongoing siege is a denial of dignity; it is the denial of rights of a people, particularly its women, who yearn to be free.
Lakhdar Brahimi -- distinguished diplomat and mediator -- and Mary Robinson -- former UN high commissioner for human rights -- are both members of The Elders (theElders.org), an independent group of eminent world leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela.http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1025/op5.htm
International Day of Solidarity in Gaza greeted with more bullets in Beit Hanoun
Jewbonics -, December 1, 2010
1st December 2010
Live bullets were fired from snipers at an Erez control tower within a metre of demonstrators on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Tuesday morning in Beit Hanoun, Northern Gaza. A German activist Vera Macht was injured as she stumbled while running for cover. The Local Initiative of Beit Hanoun organized the demonstration international mural and with extra attention focusing on the growing international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, against Israel for its ongoing human rights violations of the Palestinian people. The demonstration was held in the area where 6 farmers and rock collectors, including 2 children had been shot and injured over the previous 2 days, seeing an acceleration of violence against civilians from the Israeli Occupation Forces.
It was actually the United Nations General Assembly who in 1977 called for this annual observance of 29th November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It was on that day, in 1947, that the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine resolution 181, which began the horrific trend of violent land expropriation and expulsion of the Palestinian population. Over two thirds of Gazans are UN registered refugees from this period.
Tuesday morning 30 people, amongst them 5 internationals from the International Solidarity Movement and two more including Mavi Marmara survivor Ken O'Keefe and Irish Activist Cormac O'Daly, gathered in Beit Hanoun at approximately 800m from Erez Crossing. Opposite the remains of the destroyed Agricultural College, which was bombed during the war on Gaza, the demonstrators put up a wall of slogans and international and Palestinian flags to express solidarity. All demonstrators held up letters forming the slogan "Boycott Israel boycott!", before marching down towards the Erez Wall.
They were also protesting their right to their land, much of which is now lost or out of bounds by the Israeli imposed "buffer-zone." The buffer-zone, extended to 300 metres wide in December 2009, stretches along the entire border fence on the frontier with Israel. According to a recent UN report the violence used to restrict Palestinians from accessing their land actually covers areas up to 1500m from the border fence, meaning that over 35% of Gaza's most agricultural land is in a high risk area causing severe losses of food production and livelihoods.
As the demonstrators neared to within 100 metres of the wall, chanting and waving flags it was clear one of the watch towers was open, evidently monitoring. The barren waste land all around was a result of the forced neglect as they marched into a place that has been made out of bounds by the threat of Israel snipers and shelling. As a soldier shouted from the tower, the group decided to walk back towards the village center. At around 500 metres from the fence, IOF snipers opened fire at them, the first few shots at head height missing many of the people on the march by a metre or less. Afterwards, another ten shots were fired.
According to Local Initiative organiser Saber Al Za'anin the day highlights the responsibility of international civil society to exert pressure to end the violent siege and occupation of Palestinian lands: "It is vital that Internationals support the Palestinian cause and make the world understand the horrific occupation and attacks Palestinians live under day in day out. The international grass roots boycotts are saying no to Israeli violence and oppression and its time that the International governing community did the same to hold Israel to account for their crimes. We painted flags of countries from around the world on a mural and demonstrated. Now its time for the world to increase the power of their demonstrations, lobbying, festivals, legal work and boycotts to finally end the conflict."
On the violence at the borders, demonstration participant Ken O'Keefe said: "When people are shot and killed for collecting rocks so they can be crushed and turned into powder and ultimately into cement, because cement is banned under the Israeli siege, you know the so-called "easing" of the siege is a farce. The siege must be smashed into oblivion, and the only people who will make that happen are people of conscience who are willing to act."
Released on Wednesday was a report 'Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade' signed by over 21 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and Medical Aid for Palestinians. It calls for international action to make Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the condition of the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continues devastate daily living for the 1.5million population, over half of which are children.
63 years before the day of the demonstration, On 29 November, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted for Resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine into two states and envisaged a Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. It was this plan that triggered the ongoing suffering for the Palestinians given the hugely unequal partition of the land.
According to Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, "The injustice was as striking then as it appears now… the Jews, who owned less than six per cent of the total land area of Palestine and constituted no more than one third of the population, were handed more than half of its overall territory"
According to Pappe, from the beginning the major global institutions and power-brokers were pitted against them: "The Palestinians were at the mercy of an international organization [the United Nations] that appeared ready to ignore all the rules of international mediation, which its own charter endorsed…One does not have to be a great jurist or legal mind to predict how the international court would have ruled on forcing a solution on a country to which the majority of its people were vehemently opposed."
Then after the resolution partition came the Nakba or 'Catastrophe' during which the nascent Israeli army forcibly annexed even more land, leaving them controlling 78% of the land for a prospective Israeli State, leaving behind the West Bank and Gaza. During these attacks which began in March 1948, which included massacres such as Deir Yassin village, close to 800,000 Palestinians were uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighbourhoods emptied of their inhabitants. With the 'slow motion ethnic cleaning' that has ensued ever since, Israel has now settled over 60% of the 22% of historic Palestine and militarily occupies the rest. 
 Pappe, I. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), One World Publications, Oxford
:: Article nr. 72379 sent on 01-dec-2010 16:44 ECT
TOO TOXIC TO HANDLE?
FOLLOW-UP ALERT ON ISRAEL'S POLICY OF NEAR-STARVATION FOR GAZA
December 2, 2010
On November 17, we sent out a media alert that highlighted the corporate media's lack of interest in official documents revealing Israel's deliberate policy of near-starvation for Gaza.
The documents had been obtained by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, which won a legal battle in October to compel the Israeli government to release the information. The state policy relates to the transfer of goods into Gaza prior to the May 31, 2010 attack on the peace flotilla in which nine people were killed by Israeli forces. Israel still refuses to release documents on the current blockade policy, now supposedly "eased" following worldwide condemnation of the flotilla attack.
We, and many of our readers, emailed broadcasters and newspapers asking why the release of these documents was not reported in October. Were journalists simply unaware of the documents and their significance? For the BBC in particular, with all its huge resources for monitoring developments in the Middle East, this is surely implausible.
Two readers pointed out to us that the BBC had published one online story about the legal battle over the release of the documents back in May. However, BBC journalist Tim Franks accepted the Israeli assertion that the then secret documents "were not used for policy-making."
The BBC obviously thought the story was newsworthy at the time, just as it should have last month. Indeed, the news is all the more compelling now that the documents have been released, despite the efforts of the Israeli government to block their publication. It is of major significance that explicit Israeli calculations for the amount of food, animal feed and poultry to be allowed into Gaza can be seen, starkly laid out in black and white. One of the calculated quantities is "breathing space": the number of days that supplies will last in Gaza. The concept of "breathing space" for Gaza, dictated by the Israelis, is chilling; yet, the media appear happy to look the other way.
Finally, almost two weeks after our alert went out, an article about the Gaza blockade appeared on the BBC website in response to a new report by Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children and eighteen other groups. The main spin of the BBC article was that the NGOs had found "little improvement" for the people of Gaza since Israel's claimed "easing" of the blockade which, said the groups, was "crippling" the Gaza economy. But the web article failed to emphasise the call by the NGOs for "an immediate, unconditional and complete lifting" of the illegal blockade. Tucked away at the bottom of the piece, fleeting reference was finally made to the previously secret Israeli documents:
|Aid groups decry blockade on Gaza |
Aid and human rights groups says there has been little improvement since Israel announced blockade would be "eased".
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2010 08:13 GMT
For two-year old Nasma Abu Lasma, the Israeli announcement in June that the blockade on the Gaza Strip would be relaxed offered a ray of hope.
Nasma was suffering from leukaemia, and the movement restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza that went along with the blockade meant that she had little hope of receiving the necessary permit to leave the beleaguered coastal strip for potentially life-saving treatment.
But in June, following intense international pressure, Israel announced that the blockade would be relaxed, and the system of issuing exit permits for those needing medical attention would be streamlined.
Nasma died four months later, on October 16, after Israeli authorities failed to issue her with a permit to leave the strip in time for treatment in an Israeli hospital. Her case is being held up by human rights groups as evidence that Israel's "relaxation" of the blockade has in fact offered little improvement to the lives of Palestinians trapped in Gaza.
In a report issued on Tuesday, a coalition of 22 international NGOs and human rights groups have accused Israel of failing to make good on its June promises.
The report, entitled Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade, says the system for issuing exit permits for medical patients is "still arbitrary, unpredictable and time consuming."
The groups say that Israel's continued failure to allow medical supplies into Gaza is adding pressure on the system. "The need to refer patients for treatment outside Gaza is being reinforced by Israeli restrictions on entry of medical equipment," the report says.
The organisations point out it is not just medical goods that are failing to get into Gaza, but many other desperately needed goods. In particular construction materials are not getting through. The materials are badly needed after the destruction wrought by Israel's military assault on the strip in the winter of 2008.
The report says that the import of construction materials is currently at just eleven per cent of pre-blockade levels, and warns that this is having a devastating effect on those living in the Gaza.
"Because UNWRA was unable to get construction materials to build new schools, 40,000 eligible children could not be enrolled at UNWRA schools at the start of the new academic year," the report says, adding that the children were referred to schools run by the Hamas government.
The UN estimates that Gaza needs 670,000 truckloads of construction materials for housing alone, but the report says on average, just 715 truckloads of construction materials have entered Gaza since the announcement in June.
At current rates, it could take decades to build the homes Gaza needs, the report says.
"Only a fraction of the aid needed has made it to the civilians trapped in Gaza by the blockade," Jeremy Hobbs, the director of Oxfam International, one of the major organisations that issued the report, said.
"Israel's failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future."
Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, said that little had changed in Gaza as a result of the relaxation of the blockade.
"The so-called 'easing' of the Gaza blockade does not change the fact that there's still a cruel and illegal blockade collectively punishing the entire civilian population," she said.
The report comes days after Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said that the situation in Gaza is "unsatisfactory" because the amount of goods being allowed into Gaza "is not increasing as significantly as it needs to".
"It is absolutely essential that the economy is allowed to recover and that people are allowed to invest in their futures," Ashton said, in comments made on behalf of all EU foreign ministers last week.
Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade (Full Report)
November 30, 2010
By Selim Saheb Ettaba (AFP) – 4 days ago
GAZA CITY — UN plans to address Gaza's schooling shortage have hit a wall, with Israel banning the construction of two new schools on a site it says could be targeted in strikes on Hamas.
The two schools at the centre of the dispute between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Israeli authorities are part of the agency's plans for 12 new schools in the Gaza Strip.
At the moment, little more than mounds of sand and some prefabricated building materials mark the site where UNRWA wants to put the new facilities.
The plot was once the location of the preventative security headquarters, which fell into the hands of Hamas fighters after they routed the rival Fatah faction in bloody internecine fighting in June 2007.
Little over a year later, the entire building was reduced to rubble when Israeli forces bombed it during Operation Cast Lead, which lasted from late December 2008 to January 2009.
Now, a lone guard watches over the precious building materials that UNRWA, which cares for Palestinian refugees, has stacked at the site.
"We saw an opportunity for building on the site of a security installation two civilian schools to educate thousands of children," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told AFP.
The agency has launched a series of projects since Israel announced it would ease a blockade on the Gaza Strip it imposed in 2006, after the kidnap of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Gaza militants.
Israel tightened the blockade in 2007, after Hamas routed Fatah from Gaza, but bowed to international pressure after a May 2010 raid on aid ships attempting to break the siege, agreeing to loosen the restrictions.
Israel agreed to allow the import of construction materials for projects supervised by the international community, allowing UNRWA to start addressing Gaza's school shortage.
The agency already accommodates over 200,000 students in Gaza, 90 percent of them studying in schools that run double shifts to expand access.
But with building material trickling into Gaza and construction running at a slow pace, UNRWA had to turn away some 40,000 schoolchildren at the start of the school year in September.
Gunness said the two new facilities could accommodate some 4,000 children in a district where there are no UNRWA schools, but in October Israel said the construction could not proceed because of Hamas activity in the area.
"In the list of the 12 schools that they gave us, we allowed all the schools and only two of them were close to a Hamas implantation," said Major Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
"We have information that there is still activity of Hamas there in that place and because we don't want the Hamas later on to use the schools and the children as human shields... that's why we didn't allow them to build," Inbar told AFP.
During the Gaza war, Israel and Hamas accused each other of using civilians as human shields.
Residential buildings, some still blackened and pockmarked by the impact of the blast that destroyed the former security headquarters, surround the site.
Several bearded men clear debris from the ground of a grey building damaged by the attack, while children file out of a nearby red-brick government school.
A few dozen metres (yards) away lies Al Quds hospital, where France is upgrading the emergency services unit, with Israeli permission.
But despite the civilian buildings the surround the site, Inbar said any school there would be at risk.
"If there is Hamas activity, they can shoot rockets from there and then when we will attack in response to their shooting, we could hurt the people there," he said.
In January 2009, an Israeli strike next to an UNRWA school in the northern Gaza Strip killed 43 people, in one of the bloodiest episodes in the three-week war.
Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
New warning of Gaza plight
December 2, 2010
The disastrous humanitarian situation in Gaza is far from improving, observers warn, Dina Ezzat reports
"Lifting the blockade on Gaza remains a legal, economic and political imperative for those seeking a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," states an international report issued Tuesday. The report adds: "The time for credible and effective action is now."
Issued by group of international humanitarian and legal rights organisations, Dashed Hopes is a 12-page report that examines the current humanitarian situation in Gaza and warns of grave consequences should the needs of civilians living in the densely populated and harshly impoverished Strip continue to be denied.
According to the report, only seven per cent of the required construction material demanded by UNRWA for the building (and rebuilding) of schools and healthcare centres had been approved by Israel and much less has been allowed into the Gaza Strip, despite Israeli commitments offered to the international community to allow in construction materials.
Israel's three-week open war on Gaza from late December 2008 into January 2009 has left Gaza with enormous damage. A donor conference hosted by Egypt weeks after the end of the war promised to rebuild Gaza but to date most of these promises have not been honoured -- largely due to the restrictions imposed by the Israeli government on the transportation of construction material.
And while humanitarian workers in Gaza report that almost two years after the war there are still civilians living in gravely demolished houses, the Tuesday report notes that while 670,000 truckloads of construction material should be allowed into the Strip, only an average of 715 is permitted.
The report notes further Israeli failures to honour its commitments along with its legally binding responsibilities as an occupying power. It reveals that two thirds of the factories in Gaza are unable to operate due to Israeli restrictions -- either on the introduction of industrial material or on the exports of goods produced.
"The list extends far beyond the international definition of dual-use items... Many items absent from [the] list still require special approval, and many of them have not received it."
In addition, the report reveals, the number of truckloads of export has gone down significantly from an agreed upon 400 per day in 2005 to 224 in 2007.
Meanwhile, Dashed Hopes reminds the world that citizens of Gaza are still denied legitimate freedom of movement. Although it notes an increase in permits to entry and exit Gaza for businesspeople, it observes that an "overall ban on exit and entry is still in place [for ordinary citizens]."
Many, the report underlines, seek healthcare outside of Gaza and are denied, their well being jeopardised due to the lack of necessary medical equipment locally.
Israel controls most of the crossing points linking Gaza to the outside world and has been imposing restrictions since the 1990s. But since 2007, it has significantly augmented these restrictions to a point where some international humanitarian organisations qualify Gaza as an open-air prison.
Tellingly, Dashed Hopes confirms that "fewer permits are approved by the Israeli government for UN local humanitarian staff than before" and that the restrictive permit policy for aid workers and medical patients is "still arbitrary, unpredictable and time consuming".
The report comes a few weeks before the second anniversary of the last Israeli war on Gaza -- Operation Cast Lead -- that killed around 1,500 people and left Gaza in an abyss of human suffering.
IOF soldiers open machinegun fire at civilians in Gaza, wound three
|[ 04/12/2010 - 09:53 AM ]|
GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stationed north and east of Gaza Strip opened machinegun fire at Palestinian citizens at dawn Saturday wounding three of them including two workers who were collecting gravel, medical sources reported.
Adham Abu Salmiya, the coordinator of medical services in the Strip, told the PIC reporter that a 22-year-old youth was hit with a bullet in his right foot after the IOF soldiers opened machinegun fire at citizens' homes east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, at dawn Saturday.
Resistance elements affiliated with the Nasser Salahuddin Brigades, the armed wing of the popular resistance committees, had confronted an IOF special unit in the same area overnight.
Meanwhile, Abu Salmiya said that two workers were injured in the vicinity of Beit Hanun (Erez) crossing on Saturday morning at the hands of the IOF troops.
He told the PIC that both were hospitalized with moderate wounds.
IOF gunfire wounded 90 Palestinian workers since March 2010 in a clear indication of systematic targeting of those workers.
The head of veterinary services in the enclave Zakariyah Al-Kafarneh said chickens were the hardest hit by the shortage.
Al-Kafarneh said the shortage had become more acute over the previous weeks, as the average number of tons of fodder permitted into the coastal enclave per week dropped from 16,000 tons to 2,000 in the last two.
The shortage comes as UN officials warn of a wheat deficiency, citing in recent reports the limited operations of the bulk goods crossing, Karni, east of Gaza City.
The bulk crossing, used for the transportation of construction aggregates, wheat and animal fodder, opens twice a week or less. UN officials have said that the increase in aggregate transport for vital construction projects stalled under Israel's continued blockade, has come at the expense of quantities of wheat.
Using WikiLeaks to Advance the Narrative of War on Iran
by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
05 Dec 2010 00:243 Comments
Morally bankrupt U.S. media buries facts that counter the case for war.[ [analysis ] The classified documents released by WikiLeaks have had something for everyone.
Supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejoiced over the cable in which a British official opined that he had actually won the rigged June 2009 presidential election. They could not see the irony in taking the opinion of an official of a foreign government that their president routinely denounces as "proof" that he secured his victory honestly. In so doing, they exhibit once again their desperation to legitimize their illegitimate president. I suppose there might be something to Iranians' favorite conspiracy theory -- kaar kaar-e Engelis haast (this is the work of British agents) -- after all. Ahmadinejad's supporters also overlooked another leaked cable in which an American diplomat reported that a source had told him that it was Mir Hossein Mousavi who had won the election with 26 million votes, which only goes to show that neither of the two cables should be taken seriously.
Those (like this author) who despise the French president got a kick out of a cable in which Nicolas Sarkozy was called "an emperor without clothes." Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu was happy to see confirmation that the Arab governments of the Persian Gulf are as hostile toward Iran as Israel is.
Netanyahu's claim brings us to some of the most debated documents released by WikiLeaks, namely, those concerning what the rulers of the Arab countries, especially those in the Persian Gulf area, think of Iran and its nuclear program. According to the documents, many Arab leaders have privately been urging the United States to stage a military attack on Iran. These are the same leaders that time and again have publicly proclaimed that they oppose such an attack, which demonstrates both their utter dishonesty toward their own citizens and the fact that they are well aware that, as unpopular as Ahmadinejad is at home, he enjoys wide popularity in the Islamic world due to his intransigence toward Israel. The fact that the American mainstream media fails to point out such dishonesty only reveals its own moral bankruptcy.
In an April 2008 cable, Adel A. al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, is quoted talking about Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and his "frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and thus put an end to its nuclear weapon program...to cut off the head of the snake."
Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is quoted in a July 2009 memo to the effect that "Ahmadinejad is Hitler" and urging the United States not to "appease" Iran, echoing the views of Israel's Likud Party.
King Hamad of Bahrain, where the headquarters of the U.S. 5th Fleet is located, is quoted in a November 2009 cable discussing Iran's nuclear program: "That program must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is quoted in an August 2006 cable arguing that the "Iraq [invasion] was unnecessary. [Invading] Iran is necessary." Of course, the American mainstream media did not mention that Hariri called for defense ties with Iran during his recent trip to the country.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is quoted in a June 2006 cable saying that it is in the "interest of all nations" to work with the United States "to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons," and that in his opinion "Tehran wants to restore the Persian Empire." The imbecile president is apparently unaware that many of Tehran's hardliners reject the notion of the Persian Empire that existed in pre-Islamic Iran.
To appreciate what a turncoat the Yemeni president is, consider the cable made public by WikiLeaks that describes his meeting with General David Petraeus in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, in January 2010. Saleh agreed to persist in covering up the plan to use U.S. fixed-wing bombers with precision weapons to attack the opposition (or the terrorists) in his country. He told Petraeus, "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," according to the cable, written by then U.S. Ambassador Stephen Seche. In short, Saleh was far more concerned with protecting the image of the United States than with being honest with his own people.
According to a May 2008 cable describing a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a group of U.S. congressmen, when he was "asked about Egypt's reaction if Iran developed nuclear weapons capability, Mubarak said that none will accept a nuclear Iran, 'we are all terrified.'" A February 2009 cable reported that Mubarak repeatedly refers to Iranians as "liars" and denounces the Islamic Republic for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region at large.
The way in which the U.S. mainstream media has discussed the sentiments of these Arab rulers is very troubling. It appears that the only thing that American analysts, ranging from David E. Sanger of the New York Times to all the right-wing pundits at Fox News and the Weekly Standard, are interested in is using the Arab leaders' private comments to advance the narrative that the neoconservatives, the Israel lobby in the United States, and the War Party have developed: that Iran is a threat to the nonexistent stability of the Middle East and the nonexistent "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians, and that its nonexistent nuclear weapon program is a security threat to U.S. allies in the region and beyond.
That the Arab rulers are hostile toward Iran and Iranians is nothing new. They were just as hostile during the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Because he was supported by the West, however, the Arab rulers, with the exception of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, did not dare to challenge Iran. Even Saddam Hussein was forced to accept the Algiers Agreement of 1975 regarding the border dispute between Iran and Iraq.
But the 1979 Revolution that established the first Shia theocracy in the world frightened the Arab leaders, all of whom are Sunni Muslims. Thus, they supported Iraq in its war with Iran, with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait providing up to $50 billion in aid to Hussein's regime. When Iranian forces overran the Faw peninsula on February 11, 1986, and established a foothold inside Iraq, Saudi Arabia flooded the market with oil to bring down the price to $6-10 per barrel and put pressure on Iran. Ever since, Saudi Arabia has used its oil "weapon" to "contain" Iran. And, of course, while the Islamic Republic has supported Shia groups in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has strongly supported the Sunnis. In fact, in one leaked cable King Abdullah was quoted telling an Iraqi official that "you and Iraq are in my heart, but that man [Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki] is not." Recently, there have been persuasive rumors that Saudi Arabia has authorized Israel to use its airspace to attack Iran.
The troubling aspect of the WikiLeaks documents concerning Iran is thus not that they demonstrate the hostility of Arab leaders toward the Islamic Republic. Rather, it is the fact that the mainstream media has failed to talk about the huge gap between the sentiments of the masses in the Islamic and Arab worlds and those of their rulers regarding Iran's nuclear program and its stance toward Israel. The mainstream media has also failed to remind the public of the nature of the Arab regimes that are supposedly U.S. allies and of what the consequences of a military attack on Iran would be. Let us consider these issues that have been swept under the rug by the mainstream media.
To begin with, the mainstream media fails to point out that almost all of the Arab nations whose leaders have advocated an attack on Iran are ruled by unpopular and corrupt dictatorships that are supported by the United States:
* The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is run in a virtually medieval fashion. Women have almost no rights and citizens in general enjoy no political freedom.
* In the island nation of Bahrain, the ruling Sunnis harshly suppress the Shiites, who are the vast majority of the population. The government has even been importing Sunni Arabs and quickly granting them citizenship to increase the Sunni population share. Until the late 1960s, the Iranian governments considered Bahrain Iran's 14th province. A secret deal between the Shah and Great Britain led to the island's independence.
* Kuwait, a city-state in which Shiites constitute about 40 percent of the population, has been virtually occupied by U.S. forces for the past two decades. Though it has a parliament, it is under the autocratic rule of the Al-Sabah clan. It was from Kuwait that U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003.
* The UAE, a federation of seven absolute monarchies, is ruled by a tribe installed in power when the nation was created by the British Empire in 1971. It bogusly claims ownership of three Persian Gulf islands, the Lesser and Greater Tunbs and Abu Mousa, that have been part of Iran for at least 1,000 years. At the same time, the UAE is enriched through its lucrative commerce with Iran and by at least $400 billion of Iranian investments in the country.
* Egypt has been ruled under a state of emergency since 1981. It has been one of the destinations for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, whereby terrorist suspects are sent to countries where information and confessions are extracted from them via torture. Hosni Mubarak has been Egypt's president for 29 years.
The supposedly "moderate" Arab regimes that are allies of the United States are thus all ruled by unpopular regimes that are dictatorial, even autocratic. Their rulers say one thing about Iran in public and the opposite in private because they are afraid of their own citizens.
The mainstream media also fails to mention that an extensive poll released by the Brookings Institution in August clearly indicates that, contrary to their dictators' sentiments, the Arab masses support Iran and its nuclear program. They even support Iran's attainment of nuclear weapons and consider that possibility as positive for the Middle East. They reject the narrative that it is Iran that is the source of all of the Middle East's problems. In fact, the vast majority of Arabs consider Israel and the United States as the main threats to peace and stability in the region. Only a tiny minority holds such a view of Iran.
In using the WikiLeaks documents to advance the War Party/Israel lobby narrative, the mainstream media has also completely forgotten that one of the main reasons for the terrorism committed by Middle Eastern radicals against the West, and the United States in particular, is the West's close association with those corrupt Arab regimes. The mainstream media fails to point out
* that 15 of the 19 terrorists that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from Egypt, and one each from the UAE and Lebanon, the same nations that are supposedly U.S. allies and have called for attacks on Iran;
* that Iran and Iranians have not been implicated in any terrorist attacks on the United States, either here at home or abroad since at least the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. While the Islamic Republic was accused by some U.S. officials of involvement in the terrorist attacks on the U.S. base in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in 1996, no proof was ever established and in fact no Iranian was ever indicted, though others were;
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