Friday, September 27, 2013

Renowned Journalist Seymour Hersh slams American journalism and suggests what is wrong

[If nothing else, see Jackson Browne oldies at the end!]

"The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple." --Seymour Hersh

I haven't felt like writing much lately because on top of not feeling well, the torrent of lies and inane diversions flowing from the mainstream media, coupled with the distortions, unresponsiveness and dysfunction emanating from governments and quasi-governmental entities, local to national, never seems to cease. Responding to it all is more than I personally have the time and emotional energy for as I try to live from day to day. Many have much less time than I do to even begin to keep up with it all as they struggle with home, work, and making ends meet.

I received my usual news summary from Information Clearing House today. The quotes that come with each days news are by themselves worth the read.

Here are today's:

"Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other." -Thomas Jefferson 
"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison 
"No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. " - James Madison 
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism." -George Washington
But more to the point, among all the interesting and important articles that Tom Feeley sends out almost every day, I found one today by Seymour Hersh that not only addresses the failure of American journalism, but also reveals, for thinking individuals, parallels between the problems of journalism and the problems found within our society in general. 

The article states that Hersh feels "the fundamental job of journalists . . . is to be an outsider." 

Why? Because it is a sociological truth that we have difficulty in objectively criticizing those with whom we have developed favorable relationships with, whether one is a journalist, an editor, a blogger/journalist, a friend, or just an acquaintance within an identified social group (fellow church goers, Republicans, Democrats, or whatever).

For journalism he suggests:
"I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’."
Sound familiar? Go along to get along--don't make waves. I can tell you from personal experience what happens to those who go against the grain, and most people choose not to do so in order to further their own careers or their standing in a community. To do otherwise often brings suffering. People who question and say something that differs from the dominant group's conventional wisdom are labelled "trouble makers," "loose canons" and "extremists," and may lose their livelihoods. God help them if they are also whistle blowers.The views of supervisors and their minions are reinforced, the views of those who have alternative perspectives are shunned or otherwise punished. You end up with groups of people in power who echo each others opinions, who demonize those who question policy, who protect each other's positions, and who eventually loose a grip on the reality of what is actually occurring in the outside world because worthy criticism is disregarded. In the end, whether in Baker City or Washington D.C., we all suffer from powerful self interested groups protecting each other while they ignore important realities.

In the article, Hersh, is from the beginning said to have "extreme ideas." He is certainly anything but an extremist, but when people call for remedies that might bring real change, they are often labelled extremists. When doctors try to heal a severely diseased patient, they often resort to uncomfortable remedies. Fortunately, Seymour Hersh has a proven track record and everyone should consider what he has to say.
Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media
Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" – or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an "independent" Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. "The Pakistanis put out a report, don't get me going on it. Let's put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It's a bullshit report," he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government's policy.

"Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we've all written the notion there's constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it's real now" Hersh says.

"Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game," he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

"But I don't know if it's going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters 'al-Qaida, al-Qaida' and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic," he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London's summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

"I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity."

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: "Sergeant, I want Calley out now."

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. "I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000."

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been "despoiled".

"I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there's nothing there, it doesn't go anywhere."

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

"Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?" he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

"Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It's journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize," he adds. "It's a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don't mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that's a serious issue but there are other issues too.

"Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren't we doing more? How does he justify it? What's the intelligence? Why don't we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don't we do our own work?

"Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."

He says in some ways President George Bush's administration was easier to write about. "The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era," he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

"I'll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can't control," he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don't get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say 'I don't care what you say'.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn't stop with newspapers.

"I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing," he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

"The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple." And he implores journalists to do something about it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Weekend Reading--Recent Voices Against an Attack on Syria

[Updated 9/14/13]
It is unfortunate that at a time when our infrastructure is crumbling, and when the House Republican leadership is pushing a bill that would slash funding for food stamps even further than the looming cuts due to the end of stimulus money, and which would kick severely impoverished childless singles under 50 off of the program, that the nation is instead focused on whether our nation should plunge once again into an expensive unpopular war that is not in our national interest. Here are a few recent articles by some unheralded voices inside and outside of the mainstream media who oppose such a war and the ramped up arming of the rebels.

[Update Sat. 9/14/13] This morning, the US State Department released the outlines of an agreement with Russia concerning the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. The introduction contains the following:
The United States and the Russian Federation concur that this UN Security Council resolution should provide for review on a regular basis the implementation in Syria of the decision of the Executive Council of the OPCW, and in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
The inclusion of the words "non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria" will surely leave room for much mischief by the US, Israel, Al Qaeda, and the other enemies of Syria. After all, it almost begs the rebels to use their chemical weapons once again in order to provide the pretext for an attack by the US and it's anti-Syrian allies. Hopefully, any measures under Chapter VII will have to be taken before the UN Security Council for approval, but lack of UN approval may not keep the US, NATO, or others from acting unilaterally and illegally. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said today on RT that:
. . . the agreement did not include any potential use of force against Syria. He however said that deviations from the plan, including attacks on UN inspectors, would be brought to the UN Security Council, which would decide on further action. 
In the RT video, it was stated that Kerry, for the first time publicly, agreed with Russia that the rebels had used chemical weapons in Syria.

Remembering that Israel has often said that the peace overtures and other conciliatory efforts of its enemies are "not doing enough," and that the US repeatedly said similar to Saddam Hussein before the unjustified invasion of Iraq, John Kerry's recent tough guy talk, i.e., "The words of the Syrian regime in our judgment are simply not enough,"may be an ominous sign of things to come.

This first article points out the usual howling hypocrisy of the US when it comes to chemical weapons and other "weapons of mass destruction."
Obama's Rogue State Tramples Over Every Law It Demands Others Uphold

For 67 years the US has pursued its own interests at the expense of global justice – no wonder people are sceptical now

By George Monbiot

September 10, 2013 "The Guardian" - You could almost pity these people. For 67 years successive US governments have resisted calls to reform the UN security council. They've defended a system which grants five nations a veto over world affairs, reducing all others to impotent spectators. They have abused the powers and trust with which they have been vested. They have collaborated with the other four permanent members (the UK, Russia, China and France) in a colonial carve-up, through which these nations can pursue their own corrupt interests at the expense of peace and global justice.

Eighty-three times the US has exercised its veto. On 42 of these occasions it has done so to prevent Israel's treatment of the Palestinians being censured. On the last occasion, 130 nations supported the resolution but Barack Obama spiked it. Though veto powers have been used less often since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US has exercised them 14 times in the interim (in 13 cases to shield Israel), while Russia has used them nine times. Increasingly the permanent members have used the threat of a veto to prevent a resolution being discussed. They have bullied the rest of the world into silence.

Through this tyrannical dispensation – created at a time when other nations were either broken or voiceless – the great warmongers of the past 60 years remain responsible for global peace. The biggest weapons traders are tasked with global disarmament. Those who trample international law control the administration of justice.

But now, as the veto powers of two permanent members (Russia and China) obstruct its attempt to pour petrol on another Middle Eastern fire, the US suddenly decides that the system is illegitimate. Obama says: "If we end up using the UN security council not as a means of enforcing international norms and international law, but rather as a barrier … then I think people rightly are going to be pretty skeptical about the system." Well, yes.
Never have Obama or his predecessors attempted a serious reform of this system. Never have they sought to replace a corrupt global oligarchy with a democratic body. Never do they lament this injustice – until they object to the outcome. The same goes for every aspect of global governance.

Obama warned last week that Syria's use of poisoned gas "threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations". Unravelling the international norm is the US president's job.

In 1997 the US agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarin, VX, mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention – five years. Again it failed to keep its promise, and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021. Russia yesterday urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control. Perhaps it should press the US to do the same.

In 1998 the Clinton administration pushed a law through Congress which forbade international weapons inspectors from taking samples of chemicals in the US and allowed the president to refuse unannounced inspections. In 2002 the Bush government forced the sacking of José Maurício Bustani, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He had committed two unforgiveable crimes: seeking a rigorous inspection of US facilities; and pressing Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, to help prevent the war George Bush was itching to wage.
[For rest of this most interesting article see The Guardian.]
See Also: Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago             
No More War for Israel?

The People Against the 800 Pound Gorilla

The past ten days have seen what could be the start of an historic turning point away from endless war in the Middle East. Public opinion in the United States, in harmony with the majority of people in the world, has clearly rejected U.S. military intervention in Syria.

But for this turn away from war to be complete and lasting, greater awareness is needed of the forces that have been pushing the United States into these wars, and will surely continue to do so until they are clearly and openly rejected.

An American friend who knows Washington well recently told us that “everybody” there knows that, as far as the drive to war with Syria is concerned, it is Israel that directs U.S. policy. Why then, we replied, don’t opponents of war say it out loud, since, if the American public knew that, support for the war would collapse? Of course, we knew the answer to that question. They are afraid to say all they know, because if you blame the pro-Israel lobby, you are branded an anti-Semite in the media and your career is destroyed.

One who had that experience is James Abourezk, former Senator from South Dakota, who has testified: “I can tell you from personal experience that, at least in the Congress, the support Israel has in that body is based completely on political fear – fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that very few members of Congress–at least when I served there – have any affection for Israel or for its lobby. What they have is contempt, but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel. I’ve heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they’re pushed around by the lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of Israel and the tactics of the lobby, but not one of them is willing to risk the lobby’s animosity by making their feelings public.”
 Abourezk added : “The only exceptions to that rule are the feelings of Jewish members, who, I believe, are sincere in their efforts to keep U.S. money flowing to Israel. But that minority does not a U.S. imperial policy make.”

Since we do not have to run for Congress, we feel free to take a close look at that highly delicate question. First, we’ll review the evidence for the crucial role of the pro-Israel lobby, then we’ll discuss some objections.

For evidence, it should be enough to quote some recent headlines from the American and Israeli press.
First, according to the Times of Israel (not exactly an anti-Zionist rag): “Israel intelligence seen as central to U.S. case against Syria.”2 (Perhaps the fact that it is “central” also explains why it is so dubious.1 )

Then, in Haaretz: “AIPAC to deploy hundreds of lobbyists to push for Syria action”. Or, in U.S. News and World Report: “Pro-Israel lobby Seeks to Turn Tide on Syria Debate in Congress”. According to Bloomberg: “Adelson New Obama Ally as Jewish Groups Back Syria Strike”. The worst enemies of Obama become his allies, provided he does what “Jewish groups” want. Even rabbis enter the dance: according to the Times of Israel, “U.S. rabbis urge Congress to back Obama on Syria”.

The New York Times explained some of the logic behind the pressure: “Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Mr. Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. … One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC ‘the 800-pound gorilla in the room,’ and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, ‘If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line’ against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, ‘we’re in trouble’.”
Even more interesting, this part of the story was deleted by the New York Times, according to M.J. Rosenberg, which is consistent with the fact that the lobby prefers to act discreetly.

Now, to the objections:
[The rest of the article is here.]

MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades. . . . .

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law.

We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

. . . .
The whole letter is here
America's Ridiculous Position on Syria

By John Chuckman

September 13, 2013 "Information Clearing House I read that an American Senator, Bob Menendez, wanted “to vomit” when he was supplied with a copy of Vladimir Putin’s New York Times’ op-ed piece about Syria.

Well, I’m sure it wasn’t just a matter of Sen. Menendez’s delicate stomach: there have been many times in the past I wanted to vomit over something in The New York Times.

It is, after all, an impossibly pretentious, often-dishonest publication faithfully serving America’s military-industrial-intelligence complex, one which never fails to support America’s countless wars, insurgencies, dirty tricks, and coups – all this while publicly flattering itself as a rigorous source of journalism and even a newspaper “of record.” Many regard The Times as simply the most worn-out key of that thunderous public-relations instrument an ex-Agency official once called his “mighty Wurlitzer.” Only in the antediluvian political atmosphere of America could The Times manage to have something of a reputation for being “liberal.”

Mr. Menendez, as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, holds a powerful position, one he has used in lockstep with President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to promote illegal war. Like them he blubbers about rights and democracy and ethics while planning death and destruction to people who have done nothing against the United States except disagreeing with it and being hated by that greatest single outside determinant of American foreign policy, Israel.

Sen. Menendez’s personal anecdote actually provides a perfect miniature replica of the entire operation of America’s foreign affairs. American officials never fail to invoke words about democracy or human rights when addressing their next piece of dirty work or effort to pressure another people into doing what America wants.

So naturally the Senator might be a bit upset over Putin’s upstaging the top officials of the United States and proving himself the superior statesman and rational politician in every detail.

First, every honest, well-read person, not trying to promote American special interests, knows there is no proof that Assad used chemical weapons. Absolutely none. Even as I write, an Australian newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that the UN inspection team could find no evidence of chemical weapons used in the place cited by Syria’s rebel army.

A video which made the rounds among American allies and which purported to show the attack has been declared a fake by the UN. Russia’s secret services also declared it a fake.

The only other bit of “evidence” worth mentioning is a supposed recording of Syrian officials provided to American officials by Mossad. Yes, that’s Mossad, the very people who pride themselves on deception and who have a long track record of expertly using it, even in several cases successfully against the United States.

You do not kill thousands of people and destroy a country’s infrastructure citing rubbish like that.

Again, as I write this, a former British Ambassador, Craig John Murray, states that the United States has been deceived by Mossad with its purported recording and that Britain’s super-sensitive listening post in Cyprus, vastly superior to Israel’s listening assets, had picked up no such information.

Germany, based on its secret service operations, also has publicly stated that Assad did not use chemical weapons.

And, of course, after all America’s huffing and blowing and threatening in recent months, Assad and his senior associates would have to have been genuinely mad to use them, but there is no sign of madness. Assad remains a calm and thoughtful person whose voice is largely silenced in the West by his having been declared arbitrarily not an acceptable head of state.

Second, there is significant proof that ugly elements of the rebellion – the substantial al Qaeda-like components who hate Assad for his tolerance towards all religions in Syria – did indeed use limited amounts on more than one occasion, hoping, undoubtedly to create a provocation for American entry. The UN has said so and so have other agencies.

We have incidents, reported reliably, of rebel elements receiving small canisters of chemical weapons, likely from Saudi agents working on behalf of American policy. We also have an incident of a canister caught by authorities moving across the Turkish border in the hands of rebel fighters, the Turkish border having been used extensively since the beginning of the rebellion as a way to inject weapons and lunatic fighters into Syria and as a refuge for rebels when corned by Syria’s army. Even the American military confirms this last event.

Third, we absolutely know that Israel has a stockpile of this horrible stuff, Sarin, but not a word is said about it. This stockpile has been confirmed by CIA sources recently. Even before CIA sources, we knew of Israel’s chemical weapons from the 1992 crash of an El Al cargo plane in Amsterdam, a plane whose illegal cargo proved to be precursor chemicals for such weapons.

Now, if you were regarded as an enemy by Israel, the most ruthless country in the Mideast when simply measured by the number of times it has attacked its neighbors, wouldn’t you want weapons to counteract theirs? And, of course, to counteract not just Israel’s chemical weapons but secret nuclear ones? So it is hardly a terrible thing for Assad’s military to posses them.

Perhaps most importantly, the United States is in no position to draw lines or make public judgments about the behavior of anyone with regard to such weapons.

It stands as likely the greatest user of various chemical weapons over the last four or five decades. Napalm and Agent Orange were used on a colossal scale in Vietnam, a true holocaust in which the United States killed about three million people. The residue from millions of pounds of Agent Orange still causes horribly mangled babies to be born in Vietnam, and the United States has never lifted a finger to clean the mess or treat its victims.

In the terrible Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, the United States supplied Iraq – the clear aggressor in the war – with the materials for chemical weapons which eventually killed many thousands of Iranian soldiers.

In the illegal invasion of Iraq – where the United States killed upwards of half a million people and created millions of refugees – it employed white phosphorus (a good substitute for napalm), flame-throwers, depleted-uranium (cancer-inducing) ammunition, and hideous child-crippling cluster bombs. The children of Iraq today suffer a plague of cancer caused by breathing tons of vaporized depleted-uranium the United States dumped there.

In the unnecessary invasion of Afghanistan, the United States used massive carpet bombing to support the thugs of the Northern Alliance, who happened to be old enemies of the Taleban, though often being equally horrible in behavior. This was one of the first instances of the strategy America employed in Libya and wants to employ in Syria: local rebels on the ground, supplied with money and intelligence and weapons, are supported by high-tech hell from the air, yielding the needed results with minimum American casualties.

Thousands of Taleban prisoners of war were “disappeared’ by members of the Northern Alliance by sealing them in trucks, driving them out to the desert to suffocate, and then dumping their bodies in mass graves – all this while American soldiers looked on and picked their noses.

Nothing which has happened in recent years so horrifyingly recalls the work of Hitler’s Einsatzkommandos using mobile killing-trucks before the death camps were built, yet there can be no question that senior American commanders and the White House were aware of these events.

And of course, the only nation on earth ever to actually use atomic weapons – twice, and both times on civilian, non-military targets – is the United States, a country which also seriously planned to use them in Cold War pre-emptive strikes against Russia and China and later in Vietnam.

The voice of the United States today is shrill with hypocrisy and dishonesty and self-interest when it is heard condemning Syria, or anyone else, for using unacceptable weapons. Where was that voice when its ally, Israel, committed atrocities, as it did in Lebanon and in Gaza and on the high seas against unarmed humanitarians or when it steals the land of defenceless occupied people? Indeed, the white phosphorus and cluster bombs Israel used in some of Israel’s attacks were supplied by the United States, as were the planes and artillery used to deliver them.

And this brings us to the real cause of the rebellion in Syria. Israel would like Assad gone and Syria reduced to a broken state the way Iraq was reduced. It does not want to do this directly because Syria is a serious military opponent and not easy prey, and Israel’s doing so would arouse new waves of anger in the Mideast and new difficulties for the United States.

So the United States has had a long-term program of creating a kind of cordon sanitaire around Israel, breaking all of its potential opponents for many hundreds of miles around, but doing so always under contrived circumstances of supporting peoples’ revolts or removing dictators. It surreptitiously supplies large amounts of money and useful intelligence to the genuinely disaffected peoples of various states, encouraging them to revolt, indicating air and other support once things are underway. This is reminiscent of the dirty work of Henry Kissinger carried out with Iraq’s Kurdish population in 1975, promising them anything if they revolted but failing to deliver and leaving them to face a massive slaughter by Saddam Hussein’s troops.

Today’s is a complex black operation using a bizarre collection of intermediaries and helpers. Events in Benghazi, Libya, never explained in the United States, were certainly one little corner of this with the CIA operating there to collect weapons and jihadist types for secret entry into Syria through Turkey.

Saudi Arabia too plays a large role, surprising as that may seem to some given that Israel is a major beneficiary. Saudi Arabia’s ruling family plays the anti-Israel card just enough to keep its own fundamentalist Wahhabi population from revolting. But in truth, the wealthy Saudi elites have always had more in common with American and Israeli elites than with popular leaders in the Mideast.

Those Saudi elites were rendered extremely vulnerable to American pressures during 9/11. George Bush, always a good friend and beneficiary of Saudi largess, secretly rounded up a number of them who were in the United States (at places like Las Vegas casinos) and shipped them back to Saudi Arabia for their safety. As it proved, the greatest number of perpetrators of 9/11 were Saudi extremists, and it was discovered, though not publicly announced, that bin Laden’s movement regularly received bribes from the royal family to keep his operations out of Saudi Arabia. Thus the royal family financed bin Laden. All this made the Saudis extremely nervous and willing to be of more conspicuous future assistance in the Mideast.

And so they are, supplying money and weapons through various routes to the rebels. There is also a report of the Saudis releasing more than twelve hundred violent prisoners from death row in return for their training and going to Syria to fight as jihadist volunteers.

American officials know all these things while they stand and blubber about democratic rebels and “red lines” and other fairy stories. They want to bomb Syria because the recent success of Assad’s army has begun to endanger the huge effort to have him overthrown. Just as their planes and missiles tipped the scales in Libya with a phony zero-fly zone, they want to repeat that success in Syria.

Now, Putin appears to have upset the plan with admirable statesmanship, and Sen. Menendez will just have to console himself with Pepto-Bismol.

But then the Russians have always been great chess players.

Posted By Philip Giraldi
On September 11, 2013

In the second century B.C., Cato the Elder, a Roman Senator, would end every speech he made with the admonition "Delenda Est Carthago," meaning that the city of Carthage, Rome’s perennial rival, must be destroyed. Among other claims, the Romans accused the Carthaginians of engaging in human sacrifice to their god Ba’al Hammon, something that one might describe as the "red line" of that era as Greco-Roman culture abhorred the practice and condemned those who engaged in it. Even though Rome dominated the Mediterranean and Carthage was in decline, Cato believed that one day the ancient resentments would again rise to the surface and a resurgent Carthage would discover a new Hannibal and take revenge. In other words, the survival of Carthage was seen as a threat to the continued existence of the Roman Republic. Cato’s argument was convincing enough to many Romans that it resulted in the Third Punic War in which Carthage was indeed destroyed.

I mention Rome and Carthage to illustrate the fact that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to making compelling arguments about what today might be termed national security. There is in today’s world no Carthage to serve as a counterpoint to America’s new Rome, but in a nation where corruption enabled by the art of lobbying has become so refined that interest groups are able to dominate the political discourse the real enemy is internal. It is plausible to argue that the nation’s legislature is only marginally answerable to the citizens that have elected it. This has nowhere been more evident than in the still ongoing debate over America going to war against Syria, which the White House intends to initiate to establish its "credibility" in spite of the clear evidence that Damascus poses no actual threat to the United States or its interests. Even if one considers a government killing its own citizens as humanitarian grounds for outside military intervention, which I do not, the White House has failed to produce any compelling evidence that the Syrian government actually used chemical weapons against its own people. Ordinary American citizens have responded to the mess of pottage they have been served by writing and calling their congressmen and, overwhelmingly, saying "no." Even normally bellicose evangelical Christians are surprisingly nearly two to one opposed. But still congress dithers.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has weighed into the debate big time, unleashing hundreds of its activists on Capitol Hill, buttonholing congressmen and staffers alike. This is how it works according to a congressional staffer: "First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him, or whichever staffer the constituent knows, just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district. Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don’t have to. Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script… Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don’t like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff. Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website…and then the ‘Dear Colleague’ letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor… And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC. Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democratic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote. On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC’s. Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants."

AIPAC carefully avoided naming Israel in its statement of support for Obama even though it prides itself on being America’s pro-Israel lobby, presumably because it wishes to avoid Syria being labeled as Israel’s war if the bombing turns out badly. Which it will. AIPAC cares nothing for the fate of Syrian civilians but it does fear that failing to attack Damascus could possibly strengthen noninterventionist sentiment when it comes time to confront Iran, which it regards as Israel’s principal enemy. Its statement asserts "America’s allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability. Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country’s credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies." The White House, for its part, is increasingly playing the Israel card to gain support, with the Israeli media even reporting that Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene directly in lobbying American Jews to support an attack.

So AIPAC and the other components of the Israel Lobby, which are marching in lock step on this issue, are basically advocating a series of wars in which the United States will do the fighting and dying to make the world safe for Israel.  . . . .

[For Rest of article go here ]

On the Wings of Empire Comes Only Grief
U.S. Military Confirms Rebels Had Sarin
Classified document shows deadly weapon found in home of arrested Islamists

By F. Michael Maloof

September 12, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "WND" - As part of the Obama administration’s repeated insistence – though without offering proof – that the recent sarin gas attack near Damascus was the work of the Assad regime, the administration has downplayed or denied the possibility that al-Qaidalinked Syrian rebels could produce deadly chemical weapons.

However, in a classified document just obtained by WND, the U.S. military confirms that sarin was confiscated earlier this year from members of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, the most influential of the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria.

The document says sarin from al-Qaida in Iraq made its way into Turkey and that while some was seized, more could have been used in an attack last March on civilians and Syrian military soldiers in Aleppo.
Rest of article is here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

City reports CDC results from fecal samples--What does it mean?

Today, the city website reported:
Information received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Today the City of Baker City received the following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • 81 goats tested; 1 positive for C. ubiquitum (making it unlikely source)
  • 64 elk tested; 1 positive with species still unknown, but negative by C. parvum and C. hominis–specific PCR
  • 10 human specimens tested; 9 positive; 7 are C. parvum IIaA15G2R1; most recent 2 resequencing
  • 4 cattle tested (5 listed on packing sheet, but only 4 in box); all negative
  • 4 water samples tested; all negative
  • 1 positive EPA method 1623 slide (4 oocysts present) tested; could not detect Crypto DNA
This is complicated so you might want to read it more than once.

Day Late and a few Cow Pies Short

I said in an earlier blog that they might not get positive results because of the haphazard late sampling (after we found the cow pies on the trip of the 19th) and not asking Dennis Dorrah and I to go along to show them where all the cow pies were. I had already notified Dr. De bess of our findings.

The cattle tests were taken on samples that were from some cow pies that had been there for an unknown length of time, and it is not known if they are from calves that have been in the watershed. It is the calves that usually test positive for C. parvum. Calves also shed more crypto when they are younger, like July in this case. 

They apparently only tested four or fewer cow pies and there is no way to know whether the cow pies they tested were from the calves. They tested 64 elk scat samples. 

They probably did not test all the fecal material that Dennis and I found. They should have tested the calves that are in the herd and were in the area (Dennis Dorrah, Clair Button, and I, saw them at least twice and they were nearby when they tested) for C. parvum, but I am quite sure they didn't, and I doubt if they will. It is in the state's and the city's interest not to find a culprit in this case due to liability issues. That is what happened in the Milwaukee outbreak--no definitive cause found. 

Also, Dr. De Bess told me that the staining of the crypto oocysts found in the 913 oocyst water sample might make it impossible to genotype the oocysts, i.e., determine whether they were C. parvum. That was a huge mistake. I think that means they didn't split the sample so that they could test (genotype) any unstained material from the sample to find out whether it is C. parvum, and the staining, as Dr. DeBess suggested to me that it might, destroyed the possibility of matching the 913 water sample oocysts to the C. parvum oocysts found in diseased patients. Not finding C. Parvum in the cow pies is also problematic, in terms of  establishing the responsibility of cattle, but they didn't and probably won't test the calves. All the research, plus the results showing it isn't in the elk, suggests that it may have come from cows.

Here are seven important points to consider (there are no doubt others):

- Four cow fecal material samples (compared to 64 elk samples) does not prove that cows weren't responsible.

-  The results do not remove the responsibility of Public Works to report to the Council about crypto or cows in the watershed.

-  Why did they take 64 elk fecal samples, 81 mountain goat samples, but only 4 cow fecal samples?

- Why did Dr. De Bess ignore my phone call and not ask Dennis and I to go along even though I alerted him to our findings prior to his prominent trip with the Herald reporter(s) to Elk Creek?

-  Why didn't they try to get cow pie samples from the calves that were in the area during our trip on the 19th, during their sampling mission, or during the following weeks when Councilor Dennis Dorrah went up to try and and repair the fence to keep the cows out and yet still found them in the watershed?

-  Why did the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), or the state, destroy the ability to genotype the original 913 oocysts in the original water sample to see if it was Cryptosporidium parvum? By apparently staining the whole sample and not keeping anything aside for genotyping, that information will likely never be known.  

- Why was the effort by Dr. De Bess and his CDC companions so weak with regards to testing fecal material from the cows in the vicinity when he made his investigation? 4 cattle samples and 64 elk samples? There was ample fecal material outside the watershed fence when the Councilors and I made our trip to the watershed that could have been genotyped to determine whether the cows carried Cryptosporidium parvum that matched the Cryptosporidium parvum found in the Baker City citizens suffering from cryptosporidiosis.

End Note:
At least one Baker City cancer patient contracted symptoms resembling those of cryptosporidiosis in July, and he died not long thereafter, before experimental treatments, an individualized immunotherapy vaccine, could be implemented in an effort to save him.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Crypto Crisis morphs into Council soap opera starring Clair Button as Blind Man

In this Edition:

-Crypto Crisis morphs into Council soap opera starring Clair Button as Blind Man [Edit 9/8]
-Golf Course operator Billy Cunningham said to have thrown in the towel.
Crypto Crisis morphs into Council soap opera starring Clair Button as Blind Man

In yesterday's Herald article on the developing Council soap opera, Councilor Clair Button is reported to have said:
In a Thursday interview, Button said he doesn’t believe any city employee is or has been negligent.“I haven’t seen anything to make me believe that somebody really screwed up something that they should have known better about,” Button said.“I don’t believe in making scapegoats. The Council was warned in the past that there is a risk. You can’t expect people to see the future. The Council wasn’t prescient, and we can’t expect the staff to be either.”
Prescient means:
having or showing knowledge of events before they take place. "a prescient warning"
synonyms: prophetic, predictive, visionary
 Negligence means:
(Lat. negligentia, from neglegere, to neglect, literally "not to pick up something") is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.[1] The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.
Councilor Button seems to be trying to bury the responsibility and accountability issues under a blanket of bromidic sermons, but are they true?

Well, while it is true that people can't be expected to always predict the future, there are some situations or events that have easily predictable outcomes. For example, if you park your vehicle on a hill, leave it out of gear, don't put on the parking break, and don't turn the wheels toward the curb, you can predict with some certainty that it will roll down the hill, quite possibly resulting in some minor disaster.  You could say the driver wasn't "prescient" or you could say the driver was "negligent."  Which would you choose?

With this in mind, lets review some of the facts surrounding Baker City's crypto crisis.
1) There was a lapse of over one year between the time Public Works received positive crypto test results until the time city staff informed Council about it. The tests were conducted in order to let Council know how to proceed with regard to water treatment.
Could Council have been expected to predict that staff would not inform them of the test results? If Council weren't told of the results could they be reasonably expected to proceed with the water treatment discussion and solutions in a timely and responsible manner and be deemed negligent if they didn't?  Answer to all is obviously no.

On the other hand, if a public works employee or employees are waiting for test results they know are coming and don't read them or report them for over a year, that's not about prescience, it is simple negligence. 
2) The Watershed Management Plan with the state requires cows be kept out of the watershed, and the Watershed Report from 2011 references a fence that was supposed to be built in the spring of 2012 to keep them out, but it never was. Council did not know about the planned fence or that materials had been purchased for it. Council did not know that cows were regularly getting into the watershed until August 19th of this year because staff hadn't told them or the Forest Service. 
The Watershed Management Plan requires that cows be kept out of the watershed and calls for city and Forest Service employees to monitor the situation to keep them out. The reason they are to be kept out of the watershed is that they carry disease producing organisms like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. We all know that, but city drinking water personnel are supposed to be acutely aware of that fact and to protect us from such possibilities. If staff knew that cows were getting into the watershed since at least 2011 but did not "exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances" by informing the Council and building the fence that was planned to keep cows out, that is not a failure to predict the unknowable, it is, once again, negligence, because they knew it needed to be built to keep the cows out and help prevent a waterborne disease outbreak.
3) Public works director Owen told Council on March 27, 2012, that the backup drinking water well at the golf course had been inoperable for a year and could be worked out through the water fund. It still is not operable.
Public works director Owen and the water department personnel should have known that the Watershed Management Plan designates the golf course well as our second drinking water well in case of an emergency, like for example a crypto outbreak or a fire in the watershed. It's not a matter of prescience because the reason the plan calls for it is that an eventual emergency has already been predicted. Not using water funds to repair the well and allowing the well to remain inoperable was a "failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances." Negligence by definition.

4) The Public Works Director did not meet the qualifications and experience requirements in the Watershed Management Plan which are a degree with specialization in engineering or equivalent background when she was hired.

Responsibility for this one rests with both former and current City Councils and the City Manager. The Watershed Management Plan states:
Minimum education of key personnel in Watershed Management: 
 (a) Director of Public Works minimum qualifications: Graduation from a four year college or university with specialization in civil engineering and three years of progressive responsible professional experience in public works administration including supervisory capacity; or any combination of experience and education that demonstrates provision of the knowledge, skills, and abilities listed above.   
This provision is included in the Water Management Plan to insure that Baker City Residents have appropriately educated and adequately qualified personnel overseeing the safety and over-all quality of our drinking water. It is there so that you don't end up in a situation where you've got a grocery store clerk or a secretary in charge of your drinking water program. As George H.W. Bush would say--"Wouldn't be prudent." More negligence

There are more facts that I could bring forth, but for now, I rest my case.

Please don't get sidetracked by the rhetorical nonsense or outright distortions and apparent lies of one or more Councilors trying to get us focused on the tone of Council emails, and the idea that we've got "nice" Councilors and angelic competent staff fighting off the "mean-spirited"unwarranted attacks of a minority of "bad" Councilors. We don't.  It's not about some sort of politically correct soap opera, it's about qualifications, diligent management, prudence and accountability. Can you say "negligence?"
Golf Course operator Billy Cunningham said to have thrown in the towel.

Billy Cunningham is reported by three different knowledgable sources to have resigned as operator of Baker City's Quail Ridge Golf Course. The golf course has struggled to make ends meet, but particularly since the completion of the "back nine" holes over a decade ago.

One current plan under discussion is to is to turn it into a public, non-profit organization/corporation along the lines of the Anthony Lakes ski area, which is owned by the County, but run by a public non-profit organization.   More on this later I hope.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What is the deeper context of the Syrian sectarian civil war and increased US involvement?

[Edited & articles added, 9/4&5/12]

To arrive at a plausible explanation for why an armed struggle, such as that occurring in Syria, is taking place, and why we are involved, one must look at the historical context of the conflict and therefore at all the causes, historical events, and relationships that may have led up to it, both inside and outside of the conflict itself. So it goes without saying that one must not only look to the motivations of those historically associated with the conflict, but also of those who analyze it and either present justifications for it or arguments against it.

I try to analyze many things, including the current sectarian civil war in Syria so my motivations are fair game. I am an atheist (god forbid, of course!) and an American (yes, I'm just as patriotic is you are, even if we disagree.). I have a special fondness for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which states:
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 the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [Emphasis added]
Most Americans reject the idea that we should live under the dictates of any particular religion or religious sect. Because Americans of different religions or of no religion at all, enjoy the freedoms inherent in the First Amendment, most reject the idea that America should be set aside as a Christian state of general or specific denomination (or as a state devoted to the European ethnicity of the colonists), and both atheists and people of the Jewish religion/ethnicity, some of whom are atheists, have been at the forefront of the struggle to defend our fist amendment rights. That is why I find al Qaeda, extreme American Christian fundamentalists, the more extreme elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Zionists similarly abhorrent (Assad, a secularist, is none of these, although he oversees a sometimes brutal authoritarian government that is perhaps not as bad as the sectarian monarchies in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, or the current military government in Egypt.)

When we look at the history of conflict in the Middle East, however, we see in recent history some movements and countries who have set people to fighting amognst each other according to religious and ethnic interests. Prior to the European Zionist program to establish a "Jewish State" in the region of Palestine, the Arabs,  Persians, and Jews got along reasonably well. After the Western Powers in charge after WWII decided that the Jewish people should be able to establish a "Jewish State" in the midst of Arab Palestinians though, things deteriorated rapidly. Suddenly, Americans were continuously coerced into supporting the tiny "State of Israel" in wars to protect Israel's interests, even when it was not necessarily in our own national interest to do so.

One wonders why. Jewish people in the United States constitute a small fraction, 2 or 3% at most, of our population (about the same as Muslims), and many Jews do not support the occupations or Zionist Israeli expansion into the states bordering Israel, which are predominantly Muslim states, like Syria. Many do not support the barbaric treatment of Palestinians that breeds such resentment in Palestine and the nearby Muslim Arab and Persian states.

One wonders why Americans have come to support the establishment of a "Jewish State" in Israel, when we whole-heartedly reject the idea that America could be officially established as a Christian, atheist, Muslim, or Jewish state. It gets confusing, because Jewishness connotes both a religion, Judaism, and an ethnicity, but you have heard much uproar at the idea that America, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, should call itself a Christian state or a state of European ancestry.

Why then is America, or any other country, but especially America with its First Amendment, supporting the idea that Israel can declare openly that it is a "Jewish State?" Why don't they just invite the Palestinians to share in the homeland they have taken from them and have fair elections? (Answer: The Palestinians in their homeland would far outnumber the Israelis, even with all the Jewish immigration from other countries, especially if the Palestinian refugees were allowed to come home.) In particular, with reference to we Americans, why are some American Jews, who fight so strongly here for the separation of church and state, fighting so strongly for our defense of Israel, a "state" that so whole-heatedly rejects that same concept?

This situation can only occur if people are uninformed, ignore their cognitive dissonance, or if the media and Congress are heavily under the influence of those that support these notions that go against our founding principles. Just look at the fawning attention of Congress to the needs of Israel while they ignore our many pressing needs at home.

Remember that technically Israel and Syria, while reaching a ceasefire agreement after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, are still at war, and that Israel still occupies and transfers its citizens to the illegally held Golan Heights, which was taken from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel has every reason to weaken Syria because Israel is still occupying and settling their country, on the Golan Heights, in violation of international law--not that international law really means much to the rogue states of the US and Israel.

This situation is part of the reason you see the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mr. "Hope and Change," placed into a position where he thinks it is advantageous to lie openly to the American people about his certainty of a Syrian chemical weapons attack on the Syrian rebels before all the evidence is in, and to commit to an attack on Syria that can only bring us more hatred from Muslims, more hatred from the real "International Community," more terrorist activities, more suffering in Syria, while promoting an attach which would make him a war criminal once again.

I realize that some are thinking that all this frank talk about the Israeli state, Zionism, and Jews in America must only come from an "Anti-Semite," because that is exactly what you have been taught to think by the mainstream media. That's why they incessantly present programs on PBS, NPR, and other networks, about the Jewish holocaust (no capital H), instead of incessantly bringing you programs about other important genocidal activities, like our murderous wars on the Native Americans, the African slave trade, slavery in the US, the treatment of the Irish by the English during the potato famine, Colonial period massacres, the Armenian holocaust, the slaughter of millions of Russians in WWII, or the Rwandan genocide. You are not allowed to criticize Israel's criminality. That is why the media constantly demonizes people who criticize Israel with the label of anti-Semite, even though the Palestinians are Semite too. That is why they even call Jewish critics like Norman Finklestein and Israel Shahak "self-hating Jews" or anti-Semites.

I guess some will have to get up off their programmed asses and look at the real history, the owners, producers, editors, reporters and guests in the mainstream media, and the activities of the Israel Lobby (AIPAC, etc.) to figure all that out. NPR, for example, regularly features spokespeople from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israeli foreign policy think-tank. WINEP is a simply another propaganda arm of AIPAC. This morning, Renee Montagne talked "to analyst David Makovsky of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy about the degree to which concern for Israel is shaping the Obama administration's thinking on Syria." His purpose was to show that our concerns should be Israel's concerns about Iran, more than Syria. The message was that Israel is dependent on our commitments to "red lines" being kept so as to send a message to Iran, another of their sworn enemies in the neighborhood. Tonight, PBS's Newshour has Jewish pro-war Senator Carl Levin telling us what to think. A careful look at AIPAC's activities and media bias should tell people what they need to know, so I'm not going to tell you about the important Jewish friendships in my life, or the respect I have for many Jewish commentators like Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, and the rest. Just read my past posts. After all, in an irrational, emotionally manipulated, ideological, and propagandized world, the truth is no defense. Anyone who roundly criticizes Israel is by their definition an anti-Semite. That is as true as their implying that a Barak Obama attack on Syria, sans UN approval, would be legal under international law. Like their evidence for Iraq and Syria WMD, their arguments are completely bogus.

Reminder from Tom Feeley at Information Clearing House:
"We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it." - Robert H. Jackson was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Robert H. Jackson was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. 
For more about Israel, search on "Israel" in the search function at the upper left hand portion of the blog, below the Google search function.

So. . . .  Here is one of the most important articles on the historical context of the war on Syria. It comes from Global Research and provides a very important perspective from Israel Shahak. You may notice a similarity to American foreign policy in other areas, like the Balkans, when the US was busy carving up the socialist Yugoslavian state into selfish ethnic interests.

It is followed by links to many more articles on the current situation in regard to Obama's perceived need to attack Syria in our name.
“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East
Global Research, August 26, 2013
Global Research Editor’s Note
The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government, the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment.
According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”  According to Rabbi Fischmann,  “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”

When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing war on Syria, not to mention the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project.
“Greater Israel” consists in an area extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates.
The Zionist project supports the Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel.
Greater Israel would create a number of proxy States. It would include parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, as well as parts of  Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (See map).

According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in a 2011 Global Research article,   The Yinon Plan was a continuation of Britain’s colonial design in the Middle East:
“[The Yinon plan] is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states.
Israeli strategists viewed Iraq as their biggest strategic challenge from an Arab state. This is why Iraq was outlined as the centerpiece to the balkanization of the Middle East and the Arab World. In Iraq, on the basis of the concepts of the Yinon Plan, Israeli strategists have called for the division of Iraq into a Kurdish state and two Arab states, one for Shiite Muslims and the other for Sunni Muslims. The first step towards establishing this was a war between Iraq and Iran, which the Yinon Plan discusses.
The Atlantic, in 2008, and the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal, in 2006, both published widely circulated maps that closely followed the outline of the Yinon Plan. Aside from a divided Iraq, which the Biden Plan also calls for, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria. The partitioning of Iran, Turkey, Somalia, and Pakistan also all fall into line with these views. The Yinon Plan also calls for dissolution in North Africa and forecasts it as starting from Egypt and then spilling over into Sudan, Libya, and the rest of the region.
File:Greater israel.jpg
Greater Israel” requires the breaking up of the existing Arab states into small states.
“The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation…  This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.” (Yinon Plan, see below)
Viewed in this context, the war on Syria is part of the process of Israeli territorial expansion. Israeli intelligence working hand in glove with the US, Turkey and NATO is directly supportive of the Al Qaeda terrorist mercenaries inside Syria.
The Zionist Project also requires the destabilization of Egypt, the creation of factional divisions within Egypt as instrumented by the “Arab Spring” leading to the formation of a sectarian based State dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 3, 2013

The Zionist Plan for the Middle East 

Translated and edited by
Israel Shahak
The Israel of Theodore Herzl (1904) and of Rabbi Fischmann (1947)
In his Complete Diaries, Vol. II. p. 711, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, says that the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.”
Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”
Oded Yinon’s

“A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”

Published by the
Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc.
Belmont, Massachusetts, 1982
Special Document No. 1 (ISBN 0-937694-56-8)
Table of Contents
The Association of Arab-American University Graduates finds it compelling to inaugurate its new publication series, Special Documents, with Oded Yinon’s article which appeared in Kivunim (Directions), the journal of the Department of Information of the World Zionist Organization. Oded Yinon is an Israeli journalist and was formerly attached to the Foreign Ministry of Israel. To our knowledge, this document is the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East. Furthermore, it stands as an accurate representation of the “vision” for the entire Middle East of the presently ruling Zionist regime of Begin, Sharon and Eitan. Its importance, hence, lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it presents.
The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.
This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme. This theme has been documented on a very modest scale in the AAUG publication,  Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Based on the memoirs of Moshe Sharett, former Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s study documents, in convincing detail, the Zionist plan as it applies to Lebanon and as it was prepared in the mid-fifties.
The first massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978 bore this plan out to the minutest detail. The second and more barbaric and encompassing Israeli invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, aims to effect certain parts of this plan which hopes to see not only Lebanon, but Syria and Jordan as well, in fragments. This ought to make mockery of Israeli public claims regarding their desire for a strong and independent Lebanese central government. More accurately, they want a Lebanese central government that sanctions their regional imperialist designs by signing a peace treaty with them. They also seek acquiescence in their designs by the Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian and other Arab governments as well as by the Palestinian people. What they want and what they are planning for is not an Arab world, but a world of Arab fragments that is ready to succumb to Israeli hegemony. Hence, Oded Yinon in his essay, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980′s,” talks about “far-reaching opportunities for the first time since 1967″ that are created by the “very stormy situation [that] surrounds Israel.”
The Zionist policy of displacing the Palestinians from Palestine is very much an active policy, but is pursued more forcefully in times of conflict, such as in the 1947-1948 war and in the 1967 war. An appendix entitled  ”Israel Talks of a New Exodus” is included in this publication to demonstrate past Zionist dispersals of Palestinians from their homeland and to show, besides the main Zionist document we present, other Zionist planning for the de-Palestinization of Palestine.
It is clear from the Kivunim document, published in February, 1982, that the “far-reaching opportunities” of which Zionist strategists have been thinking are the same “opportunities” of which they are trying to convince the world and which they claim were generated by their June, 1982 invasion. It is also clear that the Palestinians were never the sole target of Zionist plans, but the priority target since their viable and independent presence as a people negates the essence of the Zionist state. Every Arab state, however, especially those with cohesive and clear nationalist directions, is a real target sooner or later.
Contrasted with the detailed and unambiguous Zionist strategy elucidated in this document, Arab and Palestinian strategy, unfortunately, suffers from ambiguity and incoherence. There is no indication that Arab strategists have internalized the Zionist plan in its full ramifications. Instead, they react with incredulity and shock whenever a new stage of it unfolds. This is apparent in Arab reaction, albeit muted, to the Israeli siege of Beirut. The sad fact is that as long as the Zionist strategy for the Middle East is not taken seriously Arab reaction to any future siege of other Arab capitals will be the same.
Khalil Nakhleh
July 23, 1982
by Israel Shahak
The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:
1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.
2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.
3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.
The notes by the author follow the text. To avoid confusion, I did not add any notes of my own, but have put the substance of them into this foreward and the conclusion at the end. I have, however, emphasized some portions of the text.
Israel Shahak
June 13, 1982

For the rest of this article, see:

“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

Global Research, August 26, 2013
Additional Reading:

This first article completely blows away (forgive the language) the Obama adminsitration's argument for war on Syria:
Point-By-Point Rebuttal of U.S. Case for War In Syria The American War Brief Is Extremely Weak

By WashingtonsBlog
PEW Poll:
Public Opinion Runs Against Syrian Airstrikes-- Few See U.S. Military Action Discouraging Chemical Weapons Use
President Obama faces an uphill battle in making the case for U.S. military action in Syria. By a 48% to 29% margin, more Americans oppose than support conducting military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 29-Sept. 1 among 1,000 adults, finds that Obama has significant ground to make up in his own party. Just 29% of Democrats favor conducting airstrikes against Syria while 48% are opposed. Opinion among independents is similar (29% favor, 50% oppose). Republicans are more divided, with 35% favoring airstrikes and 40% opposed. [Emphasis Added]
Washington Post--Politics
Pro-Israel and Jewish groups strongly back military strike against Syria
By Matea Gold and , Published: September 3

Many of the United States’ most influential pro-Israel and Jewish groups on Tuesday backed the Obama administration’s call for military action in Syria, putting strong momentum behind the effort to persuade reluctant lawmakers to authorize a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The stances mark a new phase in the debate over how to respond to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, setting in motion a robust lobbying effort on Capitol Hill — powered  in part by the memory of the Holocaust and how the Nazis gassed Jews. After a period of conspicuous silence on the issue, major groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the  Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called for bipartisan consensus Tuesday around the use of force. . . . .
To some, US case for Syrian gas attack, strike has too many holes

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s public case for attacking Syria is riddled with inconsistencies and hinges mainly on circumstantial evidence, undermining U.S. efforts this week to build support at home and abroad for a punitive strike against Bashar Assad’s regime.


By Alex Kane

September 02, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Mondoweiss" -  A former legal official from the Bush administration has warned that the text of President Barack Obama’s resolution authorizing the use of military force on Syria is so broad that it could justify attacks on Iran and Lebanon. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law professor who resigned from the Bush administration over its  executive overreach, wrote today in Lawfare that “the proposed AUMF focuses on Syrian WMD but is otherwise very broad” and that it “does not contain specific limits on targets.”
After Obama’s Rose Garden speech yesterday, he sent Congress the text of his proposed resolution on striking Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta. While Congress could modify the resolution, as it stands it’s a document authorizing the use of force on a broad array of targets and could justify deeper U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. Here’s more of Goldsmith’s analysis:
(1) Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to take sides in the Syrian Civil War, or to attack Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, or to remove Assad from power?  Yes, as long as the President determines that any of these entities has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and that the use of force against one of them would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the U.S. or its allies (e.g. Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.  It is very easy to imagine the President making such determinations with regard to Assad or one or more of the rebel groups.
(2) Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon?  Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and the use of force against Iran or Hezbollah would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the U.S. or its allies (e.g. Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.  Again, very easy to imagine.
It brings to mind the AUMF passed in the aftermath of September 11. While that resolution directly concerned Al Qaeda and the Taliban, it was later broadened to justify drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia–even on targets that were clearly not part of Al Qaeda.
Should We Fall Again for ‘Trust Me’?

By Ray McGovern
September 03, 2013 "Information Clearing House - In a dazzling display of chutzpah, the White House is demanding that Congress demonstrate blind trust in a U.S. intelligence establishment headed by James Clapper, a self-confessed perjurer.

That’s a lot to ask in seeking approval for a military attack on Syria, a country posing no credible threat to the United States. But with the help of the same corporate media that cheer-led us into war with Iraq, the administration has already largely succeeded in turning public discussion into one that assumes the accuracy of both the intelligence on the apparent Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria and President Barack Obama’s far-fetched claim that Syria is somehow a threat to the United States.
Here we go again with the old political gamesmanship over ”facts” as a prelude to war, a replay of intelligence trickery from Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin to Iraq’s nonexistent WMD. Once more, White House officials are mounting a full-court press in Congress, hoping there will be enough ball turnovers to enable the administration to pull out a victory, with the corporate media acting as hometown referees.
How “Progressives” and the American “Left” are Failing Over Syria

By Shamus Cooke
 September 03, 2013 "
Information Clearing House - It’s now painfully clear that Obama’s war on Syria is a replay of Bush’s march to war in Iraq, both built on lies. Zero evidence has been put forth that proves the Syrian government used chemical weapons. On the contrary, evidence has been collected that suggests the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are responsible for the attack.  

 If Obama wages an aggressive attack on Syria — especially without UN authorization — he’ll be committing a major international crime that will, by any standard, make him a war criminal, just like Bush before him.

And because Obama’s attack on Syria followed Bush’s logic, you’d assume that liberal, progressive, and other Left groups would do what they did when Bush went to war: denounce it unconditionally and organize against it.

But that’s not what happened. Because this didn’t happen, less accurate information was made available to the public, and fewer public mobilizations have occurred, thus re-enforcing Obama’s ability to wage an aggressive war.

There are four pieces of information that all left groups have a duty to report about Syria, but they have either ignored or minimized:

1) Obama presented zero evidence to back up his main justification for war: that the Syrian Government used chemical weapons against civilians.

2) A top UN investigator, Carla Del Ponte, blamed a previous chemical weapons attack on the U.S.-backed rebels.

3) Any attack on Syria, no matter how “limited,” has a high risk of expanding into neighboring countries if Syria exercises its right as a sovereign nation to defend itself.

4) A war against Syria will be a violation of international law, since it is not approved by the UN, and therefore will make President Obama a war criminal.


September 03, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Politico" - -   A reference to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC was mysteriously cut from a New York Times article published online Monday and in print Tuesday. The first version, published online Monday, quotes an anonymous administration official calling AIPAC the "800-pound gorilla in the room." The original article, which is still available on the Boston Globe's site, had two paragraphs worth of quotes from officials about the powerful lobbying group's position in the Syria debate:

Administration officials said the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee was already at work pressing for military action against the government of Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes American retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. In the House, the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the only Jewish Republican in Congress [Their are an additional 21 Jews in the House of Representatives who are Democrats--there are 13 Jews in the Senate, i.e., 13%, far in excess of their percentage of the US population. Chris], has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews.
One administration official, who, like others, declined to be identified discussing White House strategy, called AIPAC “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line” against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, “we’re in trouble.”

The newer version makes no reference to AIPAC and does not include an editor's note explaining any change, other than a typical note at the end of the story noting that a version of the article appeared in the Tuesday print edition of the Times.


Russian president says that if Obama is so convinced of Syria's guilt he should bring evidence to the UN

- Jon Queally, staff writer   

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. claims about Syria's use of chemical weapons are 'absolutely absurd' and said that if quality evidence does exist it should be brought to the U.N. Security Council and be debated before the international community.
"If there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the U.N. Security Council," said Putin in a joint interview with the Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television. "And it ought to be convincing. It shouldn't be based on some rumors and information obtained by special services through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that." . . . .