Archive for War

Palestine; Sad but True

Posted in Israel, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2009 by indonesiaunderground

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Source : compiled from email

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Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School

Posted in Israel, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2009 by indonesiaunderground

Published: January 6, 2009

GAZA — Israeli mortar shells killed as many as 40 Palestinians, among them women and children, outside a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday where they were taking refuge in the 11th day of the conflict. The Israeli military contended that Hamas fighters had fired mortars from the school compound, and United Nations officials called for an independent inquiry into the episode.

The rising civilian death toll in crowded Gaza heightened international urgency to end the combat. American and European diplomats said it was highly likely that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel would travel to Egypt on Wednesday to discuss a cease-fire. Israel has said it will not end the operation until it has crushed Hamas’s ability to fire rockets into its civilian areas.

Meanwhile, Hamas continued to fire rockets, despite the large numbers of Israeli troops on the fourth day of the ground operation in Gaza. One rocket reached farther than ever into Israeli territory, only 20 miles from Tel Aviv, and wounded an infant.

With another day of gory news reports inflaming the Arab world, Israel contended that the deaths at the school, at the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza City, demonstrated Hamas’s callousness toward the lives of Palestinian civilians.

The Israeli Defense Forces said that their troops had fired several mortar shells near the school in response to mortar fire from the school compound.

“They shot back to save their own lives,” said Ilan Tal, an Israeli military spokesman and a brigadier general in the reserves. Among the dead, the military said in a statement, were “Hamas terrorist operatives and a mortar battery cell.”

The military identified two Hamas operatives, Imad Abu Asker and Hassan Abu Asker, as having been killed.

The New York Times : Israeli shells hit Jabaliya. A Hamas rocket struck Gadera

A young witness from Jabaliya, Ibrahim Amen, 16, said that he had seen one of the militants, whom he identified as Abu Khaled Abu Asker, in the area of the school right before the attack.

Ibrahim said he saw the militant after he answered calls for volunteers to pile sand around the camp “to help protect the resistance fighters.” Ibrahim went to pile sand near the school with his brother, Iyad, 20, who was then injured by the Israeli mortar fire.

United Nations officials were unable to immediately determine the accuracy of the Israeli military’s statements.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which offers assistance to registered Palestinian refugees and runs the school, said his organization was calling for an independent inquiry.

“Anyone on either side of the confrontation lines found to have violated international humanitarian law must be brought to justice,” Mr. Gunness said.

The night before, the United Nations said, three Palestinian men were killed in an Israeli attack on another United Nations school for refugees in Gaza.

“These attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger U.N. facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated,” the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said in a statement. “Equally unacceptable are any actions by militants which endanger the Palestinian civilian population.”

Speaking to reporters at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday, hours before the strike at the Jabaliya school compound, John Ging, the chief of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, called the Gaza violence a “horrific tragedy” and a result of “political failure.”

“There is no safe haven,” he said.

United Nations officials initially put the Jabaliya death toll at 30 and said 55 were wounded, with several in critical condition. Palestinian hospital officials said 40 people had been killed, among them 10 children and 5 women.

The death toll in Gaza reached around 640 on Tuesday, according to Palestinian health officials. The United Nations has estimated that about one-fourth of those killed were civilians, though there have been no reliable and current figures in recent days.

International efforts to halt the violence appeared to be moving into a higher gear.

At the United Nations, the Security Council held a high-level meeting attended by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and many foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Gaza. Mr. Abbas and other senior Arab officials supported a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, which was introduced by Libya.

But some members of the Security Council, including the United States, withheld support for any resolution because of efforts in the Middle East to achieve a cease-fire.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said at a news conference in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France that the Israelis and the Palestinians should accept a cease-fire to give Cairo time to continue its efforts toward a durable long-term solution.

Israeli and American officials insist that a cease-fire would have to await guarantees that no more weapons would be smuggled into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt; a possible mechanism for that is the stationing of international observers along the border with Egypt.

“We must find a way to prevent arms and explosives from entering Gaza,” the American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, told the Security Council. “When this ends, there must be new arrangements in place, not a return to the status quo ante.”

President-elect Barack Obama broke his silence about the Gaza fighting on Tuesday, telling reporters, “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern for me.”

Israeli losses have also risen since the ground invasion began on Saturday. The military said that three of its soldiers were killed late Monday night when an Israeli tank shell was mistakenly fired at a building they occupied.

A fourth soldier was also killed Monday night, very possibly also by an Israeli tank shell, the military said. Two soldiers, including one on Tuesday, have been killed in clashes with Hamas.

Before the Israeli ground campaign began, three Israeli civilians and a soldier were killed by rockets fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

Hamas’s deepest rocket fire into Israel was a Katyusha-type rocket that on Tuesday slammed into the Israeli town of Gadera, more than 25 miles north of the Gaza border. The rocket landed between houses, and a baby was injured slightly, the Israeli authorities said.

The location was significant for Israelis, since Gadera is considered part of central Israel. The thousands of rockets fired out of Gaza in recent years have all landed in the south.

Israeli ground forces continued to fight Hamas operatives in northern Gaza.

The Israeli forces were surrounding Gaza City and, residents said, were east of Khan Yunis in the south.

In Al-Nasir, a district of Gaza City, families fleeing the fighting in the north poured into a United Nations boys’ school. Thirty members of the extended al-Sultan family from Beit Lahiya, including more than 20 children, huddled in one small classroom.

Ayisha al-Sultan, 36, who is married to a heart surgeon, said she had left behind a comfortable villa where each of her five children has a separate room.

“Now look at us,” she said. “At night we covered the floor tiles with paper for the kids to sleep on. We took off our jackets and covered them.”

International relief agencies warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was becoming increasingly dire. Three-quarters of the 1.5 million residents are currently without power, and hundreds of thousands are without running water, international agencies have said.

Venezuela Expels Envoy

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador on Wednesday to protest Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, bringing relations between Venezuela and Israel to their lowest point since 2006, when both nations withdrew their envoys in a dispute over Israel’s military campaign in Lebanon against Hezbollah.

Mr. Chávez stopped short of breaking off diplomatic ties but described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocide.”

Source : NYTimes.

A Palestinian woman at the United Nations school. The Israeli Army has repeatedly emphasized that its operation is not aimed at Gaza’s residents, amid sensitivity to deep opposition worldwide to the toll on civilians in Gaza. Photo: Suhaib Salem/Reuters
Palestinians carried the body of a man killed in an Israeli air strike on a house belonging to a Hamas member in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitun. Photo: Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
An Israeli airstrike on a three-story house belonging to a Hamas member in an eastern Gaza City neighborhood buried a child in rubble. About 30 people were inside the house when it was destroyed by the air raid, neighbors said. Photo: Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Obama’s War Cabinet

Posted in USA with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2008 by indonesiaunderground

By Stephen Lendman

12-5-8

December 1 brought more disappointment but no surprises. Obama’s national security appointees (like all his earlier ones) aren’t “change to believe in” or what people expected for their votes. They’re recycled establishment figures. Their agenda is business as usual, and they’ll continue the same failed Bush administration policies at home and abroad. Washington’s criminal class is bipartisan. Obama was chosen to lead it and is assembling a rogue team that’s little different from the one it’s replacing.

For “security”, it means:
— maintaining the “strongest military on the planet” and do it by outspending all other countries combined;
— continued foreign wars;
— possibly another against Iran;
— permanent occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – directly and with proxy forces; Obama saying he’ll withdraw all US forces from Iraq in 16 months (around mid-2010) is false and misleading;
— a reinvented Cold War against Russia;
— an “absolute” commitment “to eliminating the threat of terrorism (with) the full force of our power;”
— inciting instability anywhere it serves US imperial interests with special emphasis on resource-rich Eurasia, including the Asian sub-continent; Exhibit A: the Bombay (Mumbai) terror attacks that Michel Chossudovsky explains have “the fingerprints of a (carefully planned) paramilitary-intelligence operation (and) are described as India’s 9/11,” or at least a mini version of it; the usual suspects are blamed; the purpose is to incite fear and more violence; the consequences – an internal hard line crackdown, increased tensions between India and Pakistan, and a military opening for Washington to intervene further in the region; and
— additional North American militarization as evidenced by a disturbing December 1 Washington Post report – that (on the pretext of national security) the Pentagon will deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 “to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe;” three “rapid- reaction” combat units are planned; two or more additional ones may follow; they’ll be supplemented by 80 smaller National Guard units and will be trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosive, and other domestic “terror” attacks or disturbances; in other words, homeland militarization and occupation is planned using combat troops trained to kill.
Media Reaction to Obama’s National Security Appointees
The New York Times suggested he’s “put(ting) the rancor and even some of the rhetoric of the presidential campaign behind him on Monday as he welcomed his chief Democratic adversary into his cabinet and signaled flexibility in his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq.” He stated: “I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders (and it’s) likely to be necessary to maintain a residual force to provide potential training (and) logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq.”
According to the Cato Institute’s foreign policy director, Christopher Preble, Obama chose Iraq war supporters, so it “suggests that we will only get more of the same.”
The Washington Post highlighted Obama’s “high-powered national security team….to face a complex security picture.” It quoted him calling for “a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership (and) the power of our moral example.”
According to UN ambassador-designee Susan Rice, it’s a team “to prevent conflict, to promote peace, combat terrorism, prevent the spread and use of nuclear weapons, tackle climate change, end genocide, fight poverty and disease.” More on those aims below.
The Wall Street Journal suggested that Obama’s national security team will make “a clean break from Bush administration policies on Iraq, Afghanistan and overseas diplomacy.” It will differ from “an over-reliance on the military and a failure to devote enough resources to political reconciliation and economic development in those nations.” More on that below as well.
Obama’s National Security Designees
On December 1 in the UK Guardian, author Jeremy Scahill called them a “Kettle of Hawks” so it’s no surprise that hard line neocon writer Max Boot was jubilant over the selections and said they “as easily (could) have come from a President McCain.” He and like- minded ideologues believe this puts “an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators (aka democrats like Chavez, president Ahmadinejad of Iran, and Fidel and Raul Castro), and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign.” His selections “should be powerful voices for neoliberalism which is not so different from neoconservatism.”
According to Boot, Obama will pick up right where Bush left off with a near-seamless transition. “Only churlish partisans of both the left and the right can be unhappy with the emerging tenor of our nation’s new leadership.”
According to former Chicago congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House Counsel Abner Mikva in a Chicago Jewish News article, it’s also true for the nation’s Jews and the state of Israel. As some call Clinton ‘the nation’s first black president,’ “I think when this is over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president.” Rabbi Arnold Wolf agrees in saying Obama is “embedded in the Jewish world.” Given the team he’s assembling, there’s every reason to believe they’re right.
Hillary Clinton

She’s co-heading the team (with Robert Gates) as Secretary of State designee, so it’s clear no change is planned given her hard line neocon ideology. As one analyst puts it: it’s why many on the left “are grinding their teeth” about her and other former Clinton administration appointees.

Back in May, CounterPunch co-editor Jeff St. Clair referred to her “Gothic politics” that offer no hope for needed change. He called her “constitutionally wedded to a stern neoliberalism, a disposition (she’s unable to) camouflage.”

Darker still is her hawkishness, far enough to the right to be indistinguishable from Joe Lieberman or John McCain. It’s why one analyst calls her a “war goddess” and with good reason. She supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and still does. She voted for the Patriot, Homeland Security, and other repressive acts.

She’s extremely bellicose, endorses attacking Iran, supported Israel’s destructive 2006 Lebanon war, praised Israel’s apartheid wall, demeans the Palestinian people, equates them with terrorists, calls any Israeli criticism anti-Semitism, is close to AIPAC, and at its June convention said “The United States stands with Israel now and forever….We have shared interests….shared ideals….common values. I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security. (Against Islamic extremists) our two nations are fighting a shared threat….I strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense (and) believe America should aid in that defense….I am committed to making sure that Israel maintains a military edge to meet increasing threats.”

“I am deeply concerned about the growing threat in Gaza (and) Hamas’ campaign of terror….Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel….Iran (also) threatens to destroy Israel….I support calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard what it is: a terrorist organization. It is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.”

In other speeches, Clinton has been extremely belligerent and blatantly malicious in accusations mirror opposite of the truth. She called Iran a strategic long-term threat, a country that practices state terrorism, that uses “surrogates to supply explosives that kill US troops in Iraq,” and that must be dealt with with “all options on the table.”

She also said that if Iran attacks Israel (that’s implausible on its face), America would respond by “obliterating” the country – in other words, incinerate its entire population through a nuclear holocaust. During the 2008 campaign, she told ABC’s Good Morning America:

“I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that (if) they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

She’s just as extremist on all foreign policy issues. She opposes an international treaty to ban land mines and was against banning cluster bomb exports to countries that use them on civilians. She backs arms transfers and police training to human rights abusing countries like Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and similar US allies.

She’s for a larger military budget, continuing the “war on terror,” the nation’s illegal wars and occupation, and Israel’s repressive Palestinian occupation. In July 2004, she denounced the UN, accused it of opposing aggressive US policies, its judicial arm for challenging Israel’s Separation Barrier, and she sponsored a Senate resolution “urging no further action by the UN to delay” its construction.

She’s done nothing to contain nuclear proliferation except to condemn Iran’s legal commercial development. It’s in full accord with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) unlike the world’s greatest nuclear outlaw – America. Israel, India, and Pakistan as well, but they’re US allies unlike Iran. Clinton also supports the Bush Doctrine and his administration’s unilateral position on using first strike nuclear weapons, including against non-nuclear states.

Hillary Clinton at State sends a strong message to free people everywhere and especially to all Muslims and the Arab world – the “war on terror” will continue. Your people are its main target, and America will continue to invade and occupy your lands. It also tells the anti-war movement that it’s work has just begun and will be no simpler under Obama than it’s been up to now. Clinton is a powerful bulwark against it and to all freedom loving people everywhere. “Gothic” indeed – dark and foreboding in the same “war party” under new management.

Robert Gates

He’ll remain as Defense Secretary and is a clear signal of Bush administration policy continuity. After being named to succeed Donald Rumsfeld in November 2006, this writer said about him: The appointment of Robert Gates “replac(es) one controversial (defense) secretary and accused war criminal with an unindicted liar and equally controversial former Reagan and senior Bush official.” Earlier he was involved “in cooking the intelligence to fit the policy in the Iran-Contra scandal he was never held to account for.” He also had a hand “in secretly arming Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. When he takes over (at DOD), expect the Pentagon under (his) management to be no different” than the leadership it’s replacing. In all respects, Gates lived up to expectations and will continue the same policies under Obama.

In an October 28 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he argued for expanding the Bush administration’s pre- emptive war doctrine to include first strike nuclear weapons. He said that pacifist illusions shouldn’t deter planning for a broader war.

He added that “As long as other states have or seek nuclear weapons – and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends – then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the US in the nuclear arena – or with weapons of mass destruction – could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response.” In other words, if non-US allies seek nuclear weapons or if Washington (without evidence) claims it, they then become potential targets for a nuclear response even if their intentions are peaceful.

Gates’ other credentials include 26 years with the CIA where he was its deputy director from 1986 – 1989 and director from 1991 – 1993. Former CIA official, turned political activist, Ray McGovern knew him there and wrote about his “dexterity in orchestrating his own advancement (and) never (being) one to let truth derail (his) ambition.”

Former CIA analyst Mel Goodman described how he “tried hard to anticipate the views of policy makers in order to pander to their needs” and played a major role in politicizing the agency. One of his key distortions led to higher military spending under Ronald Reagan – by exaggerating the Soviet menace (along with CIA director Bill Casey) as a “military behemoth with a robust economy rather than a decaying power with a shriveling GDP.”

Goodman added: “While serving as deputy director for intelligence from 1982 – 1986, Gates wrote the manual for manipulating and centralizing the intelligence process to get the desired intelligence product.” He promoted pliable CIA careerists to top positions while sidelining or retiring more independent ones. In 1991 under GHW Bush, his colleagues staged an unprecedented revolt for his role in destroying the agency’s commitment to objectivity.

At the time, Harold P. Ford, former National Intelligence Council vice-chairman, told the Senate Intelligence Committee: “Bob Gates has often depended too much on his own individual analytic judgments and has ignored or scorned the views of others whose assessments did not accord with his own. This would be okay if he were uniquely all-seeing. He has not been.”

Throughout his career, Gates was devious and opportunistic. He’ll bring those “qualities” to the new Obama administration.

He’s also a past president of Texas A & M University (a position gotten with considerable Bush family help), a member of several corporate boards, served on the Baker Iraq Study Group, and was George Bush’s first choice for Department of Homeland Security secretary but declined to remain at Texas A & M.

Retired Marine General James Jones

He’s the announced National Security Advisor designee to head the White House National Security Council (NSC). Since inception under Harry Truman, it’s to advise the president on national security and foreign policies as well as coordinate them among various government agencies (including the military branches, CIA, and other intelligence agencies).

Jones is a former NATO commander (from 2003 – 2006), Commandant of the Marine Corp (from 1999 – 2003), and 40 year veteran after retiring from the Corp in 2007. He’s now a US Chamber of Commerce executive and last November was named the administration’s special Middle East envoy with this endorsement: he’s the “person we need to take up this vital mission….an experienced leader who can address the regional security challenges comprehensively and at the highest levels….” His assignment was to draft a strategic security stabilization plan to complement (so-called) Israeli – Palestinian peace talks. He supports stationing US forces in Occupied Palestine under the pretext of NATO peacekeepers.

He also investigated the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, concluded that America “t(ook) its eye off the ball” in Afghanistan and is losing. That view supports Obama’s wanting 10,000 more combat troops there (30,000 according to some reports) and also plans “as our first priority” increased regional military operations – against Afghanistan and Pakistan with a more convenient than ever pretext in the wake of the Bombay (Mumbai) terror attacks in the part of the world he calls the greatest menace to US security.

Increasing numbers of US missile strikes are killing more Pakistani civilians. They’re inciting growing anger in the country, are escalating the Afghan war, and threaten to expand the war theater to a much larger area with potentially catastrophic consequences – a strategy Obama and his incoming team apparently support.

In his latest article titled “Afghanistan, Another Untold Story,” Michael Parenti has a different view. After reviewing the country’s recent history, he says:

“US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.”

“The war in Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world….In the face of all this, Obama’s call for ‘change’ rings hollow.”

It also suggests a frightening prospect under his leadership – a continuation of Bush’s (preventive war) Doctrine against countries we claim (true or false) practice “terrorism,” harbor “terrorist” elements, or aid “terrorist” groups. In other words, an agenda that needs enemies, invents them strategically, and intends to wage permanent aggressive wars to expand US imperialism globally and especially over resource-rich parts of the world like Eurasia.

Eric Holder

As Attorney General designee, he’s another very troublesome choice because of his hard line law-and-order reputation. He’s Obama’s senior legal advisor, a former District of Columbia Superior Court judge, and Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton.

As senior Democrat Party legal advisor during the Bush administration, he was actively involved in his party’s complicity in enacting repressive police state laws.

In 1998, he issued a statement known as the “Holder memo” in which he supported government intervention into policing Internet free speech. It stated:

“Because of the nature of the Internet and availability of agents trained in conducting criminal investigations in cyberspace, investigation and prosecution of Internet obscenity is particularly suitable to federal resources.”

In a 1998 letter to Morality In Media (an extremist religious right front group against pornography), he said: “I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with you recently to discuss the prosecution of obscenity cases.” Holder supported multi- jurisdictional prosecutions of Internet web sites and businesses on such charges, even in cases of First Amendment-protected material.

Some claim his strategy wasn’t to win, but to burden defendants with mounting legal costs, exhaust them through repeated litigation, and perhaps drive them into bankruptcy. It’s a tactic very similar to so-called SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuits that are used to intimidate and silence critics.

Holder was also involved in Bill Clinton’s indefensible last day in office Mark Rich pardon, the billionaire fugitive commodities trader. In 1983, Rich and his partner were indicted on 65 counts of defrauding the IRS, mail fraud, tax evasion, racketeering, defrauding the Treasury and trading with the enemy. Holder was deputy attorney general at the time.

As US attorney for the District of Columbia, he also pushed for stiffer marijuana penalties, and according to one report, advocated “minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for second offenses, and 72 months for each subsequent conviction.” He also wanted to “make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence.” The DC Council enacted Holder’s recommendation into law in 2000. His hard line stance against non-violent drug offenders runs counter to Obama’s softer position, apparently about to harden.

Holder also played a lead role in the 2005 Patriot Act reauthorization, supported at the time by Obama. In addition, after his Clinton administration service, he was a partner in the Covington & Burling law and lobbying firm at which he defended Chiquita Brands International executives on charges of aiding terrorism by financing and arming Colombian (AUC) death squads. In spite of overwhelming evidence and the company’s own admission, he got it off with a fine of around half of one percent of its annual revenue.

Holder also believes that accused “terrorists” have no Geneva Convention rights. In a January 2002 CNN interview he said:

“One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.”

“It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war.”

Holder left unaddressed the question of torture, guilt or innocence. The fact that they were captured and imprisoned is good enough for him.

As the nation’s top law enforcement official, he’ll assure more of the same criminal abuses under George Bush. He’s no civil libertarian or what people should expect from the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He represents business as usual, and a sign of continued dark times ahead.

Keeping FBI Director Robert Mueller as his chief law enforcement deputy (even though his term runs until 2011) is an even stronger signal. Mueller enforced the worst of “war on terrorism” policies, including witch-hunt prosecutions, illegal spying, and targeting political dissent.

The possible appointment of former George Tenet aide John Brennan as new CIA chief is also disturbing although reportedly he’s out of the running. He heads Obama’s intelligence transition team, supported warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and was involved in politicizing intelligence alleging Saddam’s WMDs in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Possible CIA Directors

On December 2, The New York Times reported that “Obama Faces a Delicate Task” in choosing his CIA chief – “one of the more treacherous patches of his transition to the White House” given the agency’s disturbing involvement in extraordinary renditions, torture, and other illegal practices under Bush.

Even so, “some senior Democratic lawmakers who are vehement critics of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies seemed reluctant in recent interviews to commit the new administration to following the Army Field Manual in all cases.”

Diane Feinstein will become Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson in January. She says extreme cases and potential terrorist threats call for flexibility, so her message is clear even though in a subsequent statement she softened it. Repressive interrogations, including torture, will likely continue under Obama even if Guantanamo is closed and even though they’re illegal under US and international law.

During the campaign, Obama aides said he’d let CIA keep holding prisoners in overseas jails but that International Committee of the Red Cross representatives should be given access to them. It matters little because, when allowed, their tours are carefully orchestrated to conceal repressive practices and no contact with prisoners most aggrieved by them.

The Army Field Manual (No. 27-10) is explicit on the rule of law. It incorporates the Nuremberg Principles prohibiting crimes against humanity, and in paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law bears responsibility and may be punished. In addition, paragraph 499 defines a “war crime.” Paragraph 500 refers to conspiracy, attempts to commit it and complicity with respect to international crimes. Paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime; and paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state.”

Most members of Congress from both parties have been complicit with the administration in egregiously violating both US and international laws. All signs point to little, if any, change under the incoming Obama administration.

The Times reports that Obama will replace CIA director Michael Hayden. Possible candidates include:

— deputy director (since 2004) Stephen Kappes, a 27-year CIA veteran;

— former Indiana congressman and member of the 9/11 commission Tim Roemer; he’s now president of the Center for National Policy, a Washington-based national security think tank; — Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel who’s retiring from the Senate in January; he’s also a former conservative talk-show host and is (or was during his runs for the Senate) part owner, chairman, and CEO of the Election Systems & Software (ES&S) electronic voting machine company; it installed, programmed and operated the equipment used by most voters for the elections in which he ran; he won a second term in 1982 with 83% of the vote – the largest ever political victory in the state; some critics called it a dress rehearsal for Bush’s 2004 electoral theft and various state ones favoring Republican candidates; and

— Jack Devine, a 32-year CIA veteran, now retired, and former head of clandestine service; he describes himself as “a covert action person (who believes) we should be out there pushing US policy wherever we can, covertly and overtly.”

Admiral Dennis Blair

Reports are that retired Admiral Dennis Blair is top choice to be Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The office was established by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act and was formed in April 2005. It’s the president’s principal national security intelligence advisor; heads the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies; and oversees and directs the National Intelligence Program.

Now retired, Blair is a 34 year Navy veteran and currently holds the (former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman) John Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Also the General of the Army Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickenson College and the US Army War College. He’s the immediate past president of the Institute for Defense Analyses, a US government Washington, DC think tank that calls itself “a non-profit corporation that administers three federally funded (R & D) centers to assist the (government) in national security issues.”

Blair was also an Oxford classmate of Bill Clinton and a Naval Academy classmate of Senator Jim Webb. If appointed, he’ll bring more militarist credentials to Obama’s war cabinet. In his various command assignments during the Bush administration, he was a point man in the “war on terrorism.” He’ll continue that role as the nation’s intelligence chief.

An obstacle in his way was in a Pentagon inspector general finding regarding DOD conflict-of-interest standards. Earlier he was involved with a study of a major military contract for the F-22 fighter while a board member of the company that makes it, Lockheed Martin. It occurred while Blair was president of the Institute for Defense Analyses. Whether this will derail him is an open question, but it highlights the pervasive Washington revolving-door and overall corrupted culture.

Janet Napolitano

According to Michael Lacey of LA Weekly News, the current Arizona governor and designee for Homeland Security secretary is a troublesome choice. He cites her sorrowful Arizona service “consorting with anti-immigrant enforcers, indulging rank opportunism, and adhering to failed policies (that make for) an unlikely recipe for change we can believe in. And yet this very cocktail of mediocrity” made her Obama’s choice for DHS chief or what this writer calls the nation’s Gestapo.

As Arizona governor, Napolitano defended her states border with a “pitchfork. Her multi-pronged strategy: embrace the nation’s most regressive legislation; empower a notorious sheriff using cynical political calculations; (and) employ boots on the ground” – shock troop enforcers against defenseless Latino immigrants forced north because of destructive NAFTA policies.

Lacey goes on to describe Napolitano’s “bungled billions,” hiring companies embedded with former state agency employees and cronies, ducking hard choices, using accounting gimmicks in state budgets, and various other practices amounting to “corruption, greed, and the cupidity of boondoggle bookkeeping in hard times.” She also signed legislation criminalizing the need to work and support one’s family and created a state atmosphere reminiscent of Prohibition – today against Latino immigrants driven north to find work. Now she’ll do for America what she’s doing to Arizona.

Susan Rice

She’ll be Obama’s nominee for UN ambassador. Earlier under Bill Clinton, she was on the National Security Council and served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Some call her progressive but recommending the unilateral use of military force against any country violates the Charter of the organization where she’ll work. In 2006, she recommended it against Sudan in stating:

“History demonstrates that there is one language Khartoum understands: the credible threat or use of force….After swift diplomatic consultations, the United States should press for a UN resolution that issues Sudan an ultimatum: accept unconditional deployment of the UN force within one week or face military consequences.”

Chapter VII of the UN Charter authorizes only the Security Council to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, or act of aggression (and, if necessary, take military or other actions to) restore international peace and stability.” It permits a nation to use force only under two conditions: when authorized by the Security Council or under Article 51 allowing the “right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member….until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”

Calling for unilateral force against another state for any reason is illegal and criminal. Susan Rice did it, yet will serve as America’s UN ambassador as her reward.

Obama continues to round out his team, and each appointment mirrors the others. On his watch, it’ll be business as usual, but what else would we expect.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Source : http://www.rense.com

Hoax call fuels Pakistan-Indian tensions

Posted in USA, War with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2008 by indonesiaunderground

Pakistani people are seen next to a building on fire at the site of an explosion AP – Pakistani people are seen next to a building on fire at the site of an explosion in Peshawar, Pakistan, …

By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmed, Associated Press Writer Sat Dec 6, 7:15 am ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A man pretending to be India’s foreign minister called Pakistan’s president and talked in a “threatening” manner during the Mumbai terror attacks, prompting Pakistan to put its air force on high alert, a security official and a news report said Saturday.

Dawn newspaper said authorities were investigating the circumstances of the hoax, which occurred as tensions spiked between the nuclear-armed neighbors during the attacks.

The atrocity, which began Nov. 26, is being blamed by India on Pakistani extremists.

Indian officials were not immediately available to comment on the telephone call.

The call by a man identifying himself as Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was put through to President Asif Ali Zardari on Nov. 28, said the security official, who declined to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

“India through diplomatic channels has informed the Pakistani Foreign Ministry that Pranab Mukherjee made no such call,” he said. “Now what still needs to be checked is who made this threatening call.”

Dawn newspaper said the country’s air force was put on high alert in response to the telephone call. It said it came from a New Delhi number, but that Indian officials believed the caller ID could have been manipulated.

A day after the call, two Pakistani security officials warned the government would pull its troops from the anti-terrorism fight along the border with Afghanistan in order to respond to any Indian military mobilization.

During a briefing, one of those officials said someone from the Indian Foreign Ministry had called “a top Pakistani personality” and threatened military action if Pakistan did not cooperate with New Delhi.

The rising tensions between the two rivals prompted an intense round of international telephone diplomacy that night and into the next day. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to Zardari and Mukherjee.

Dawn reported that Rice asked Mukherjee why he took such a threatening tone with Zardari. He replied he had had no contact with the president, the newspaper reported, in what apparently led to the hoax being uncovered.

Dawn reported that none of the normal checks on establishing callers’ identities before putting them through to the president were carried out because of the urgency of the situation during the attacks.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars in 60 years, two over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Despite improved relations since 2004, mistrust on both sides remains high.

Indian authorities say the Mumbai attackers were members of a banned Pakistani militant group that was set up by Pakistani intelligence officials to battle Indian rule in Kashmir.

Pakistan says it has yet to see any proof of New Delhi’s allegations but is prepared to cooperate with India. It has denied any of its state agencies were involved in the attacks, noting it too is a victim of terrorism.

In the latest attack, a car bombing Friday in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed 29 people and wounded 100 more. The blast wrecked a Shiite Muslim mosque and a hotel, but the motive and culprits were not immediately known.

Further adding to the tension in Pakistan, a suspected U.S. missile strike reportedly killed three people in a stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaida near the border with Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

There have been more than 30 suspected U.S. missile strikes since August, including the one Friday in the North Waziristan region, part of Pakistan’s wild tribal belt viewed as possible hiding place for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

The missiles are apparently fired from drone aircraft that take off from Afghanistan. U.S. officials rarely confirm or deny responsibility, although American leaders have said the attacks have killed several militant leaders this year.

Source : http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081206/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan

India puts air defence on high alert Indian’s want WAR

Posted in USA, War with tags , , , , on December 6, 2008 by indonesiaunderground

Saturday, 29 November 2008 18:28

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) met here on Saturday to discuss the situation prevailing due to the recent incidents of terrorism in Mumbai.
Geo News senior correspondent Hamid Mir has said that Pakistan army officials held an important briefing session with a group of senior journalists. The military officials said that after Mumbai attacks, the Indian External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee called senior Pakistani officials and gave threats. The officials said that it seems as if Indian authorities wanted to ‘escalate’ the already fragile situation.

Considering the gravity of situation, Pakistan has made it clear to the United States of America and its allies in Europe that if India keeps blaming Pakistan for Mumbai attacks, Pakistan would have no option but to pull back its troops from the Western border to Eastern border. India has also put its air defence on high alert, they added.

According to well-placed sources, it has been made clear to the US and European Union (EU) that in case of any eventuality, India will have to suffer more than Pakistan. Mir said there are indications suggesting that Pak army is being pulled out from the Western border. Military sources also said that instead of pointing fingers at neighbours, India should address the root causes of terrorism inside its own territory.

Source : pakistan daily

Children in Palestine

Posted in Israel, Palestine with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2008 by indonesiaunderground

“Life is becoming more violent for children in the Palestinian Territory. By the end of 2006 more than 120 children had died due to the conflict, more than double the number of child deaths in 2005. Many more have been injured, some for life.”

UNICEF, 2007

Children in Palestine: The Facts

- 60% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are under 19-years-old.
- One in 3 Palestinian males aged 15-19 is an unskilled worker. Unemployment is a severe problem for young Palestinian men: 20% of 15-19-year-olds cannot find paid work.
- 20% of Palestinian females marry between the ages of 15-19. More than 1 in 10 subsequently divorce.
- According to the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF): “Conditions have rarely been worse for Palestinian children.” One in 10 Palestinian children now suffer from stunted growth due to compromised health, poor diet and nutrition and 50% of Palestinian children are anemic, and 75% of those under 5 suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
- UNICEF claims that roadblocks, barriers, checkpoints and soldiers are impeding health workers and patients, including child patients, from accessing health centers across the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Delivery of medication and equipment are also severely affected.
- On March 8th, 2007 Khaled Daud Faqih died at a checkpoint between the village of Kafr’Ain and the city of Ramallah. His parents were trying to take him to Ramallah hospital, but were detained at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. Khaled Daud Faqih was 6 months old.
- Rising poverty and unemployment is affecting school attendance across Palestine. In the 2005/6 school year the number of students whose families could not afford the NIS 50 ($11) school fee doubled from 29,000 to 56,000.
- Up to 67% of families are living in poverty across the West Bank. In Gaza poverty rates have spiraled to 85% this year, severely affecting every aspect of children’s lives.
- Increasing numbers of Palestinian children are now working to support their families instead of attending school. Palestinian children under the age of 14 can cross Israeli checkpoints without permits, and at least one thousand Palestinian children now cross into Israel every day, to work in garbage tips salvaging glass and metal. More than half of the Palestinian children who work in Israel, or Palestine, do not attend school at all.

Children Killed in Conflict

- Since September 2000, approximately 883 Palestinian children have been killed in the Occupied Territories. The majority of these children were shot and killed by the Israeli military. However, Israeli settlers have also shot and killed Palestinian children.
- 124 Palestinian children were killed in 2006, more than twice the number killed the previous year. From January–July 2007, 31 children were killed. The vast majority of child deaths in Palestine are caused by live ammunition shots to the head or chest, generally indicative of an Israeli “shoot to kill” policy.
- On July 4th 2007 Israeli troops shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron. Ahmad Abed Al-Muhsin Skafi was shot 4 times in his upper torso. Israeli troops then allowed a military dog to maul the boy’s dead body, tearing his intestines from his stomach and mutilating his right hand.
- 20,000 Palestinian children have been injured since September 2000. Almost 1,500 of them sustained life-long disabilities.

Child Arrests and International Law

- International law states that child imprisonment should be used as a last resort. However the Israeli military routinely arrest and detain Palestinian children.
- Since September 2002 approximately 5,200 Palestinian children have been arrested by the Israeli military. Israel continues to prosecute all children in military courts, to use imprisonment as a first resort, to deny children prompt access to a lawyer, to elicit confessions under interrogation and torture and to attempt to recruit child detainees as collaborators with Israel’s secret security agency. These actions are all explicitly in violation of Article 40 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel has signed.
- Seven hundred Palestinian children were arrested by the Israeli military during 2006.
- There are now approximately 426 Palestinian children being held in Israeli detention. They regularly receive lengthy terms of imprisonment for minor offences such as stone throwing.
- Israeli Military Order 132 defines a Palestinian child as a person under the age of 16. Therefore Palestinians over the age of 16 are sentenced as adults and imprisoned with adults. This law discriminates against Palestinian children and is contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, which defines a child as under 18. Israelis under the age of 18 are legally defined and treated as children.

source : http://www.palestinemonitor.org

Peres: I oppose the use of military force against Iran

Posted in USA with tags , , , on September 6, 2008 by indonesiaunderground

“I do not support military action against Iran, but the world must become a united front and impose harsh economic sanctions on Iran,” President Shimon Peres said Friday.

President Shimon Peres.

President Shimon Peres.
Photo: AP

Speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum, an annual gathering of global political and business leaders in this Italian lakeside resort, Peres said that most of the Arab states were opposed to Iran having nuclear weapons, and the world at large would not allow terrorists and extremists to have nuclear weapons of mass destruction at their disposal.

He went on to say that the world would not permit fanatics to hold nuclear weapons, and that he was certain that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the incoming elected president of the United States would share that opinion, as would the leaders of Europe. “It is up to all of us to stop the Iranian threat,” he said.

Iran today, the president went on, does not represent its magnificent history, but rather stands for extremism and religious fanaticism, and presents a tangible and existential danger to the Middle East and the entire world.

Peres also expressed his support for indirect peace talks with Syria, currently being mediated by Turkey. He suggested that Syrian President Bashar Assad make a move like that of former-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, whose visit to Jerusalem in 1977 resulted in the signing of a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

“I think if President Assad will visit in Israel or alternatively invite the prime minister of Israel to go to Damascus we shall see a major change,” he told the gathering.

“I believe the best way is to start with a meeting and then have negotiations.”

Responding to comments made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the same conference about the possibility of a peace agreement by the end of the year, Peres said, “We have to try to reach agreement… we have to act on the supposition that it is possible.”

Peres referred also to the upcoming elections in the Palestinian Authority and noted that democracy should be implemented not only on election day but perhaps more importantly, on the day after.

It was unacceptable, he said, for any party to use democratic tools to impose a military dictatorship, terrorism, murder and fanatic religious coercion.

Peres underscored that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in the elections while it continued to carry out a policy of terror.

AP contributed to this report.