Saturday, June 17, 2006

America's problem is again a usurping king called George

Bush's determination to impose his own reading of new laws amounts to a power grab and subverts the US constitution Martin Kettle Saturday June 17, 2006 The Guardian Imagine a country with a different kind of monarch from the one we are used to. Forget the nation-binding human monarch whom Archbishop Rowan Williams praised so deftly this week. Imagine instead a monarch who, like many of Elizabeth II's ancestors, routinely reserved the right to override laws passed by the legislature, or who repeatedly asserted that the laws mean something they do not say. Imagine, in fact, King George of America. Article continues On April 30 the Boston Globe journalist Charlie Savage wrote an article whose contents become more astonishing the more one reads them. Over the past five years, Savage reported, President George Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws that have been enacted by the United States Congress since he took office. At the heart of Bush's strategy is the claim that the president has the power to set aside any statute that conflicts with his own interpretation of the constitution. Remarkably, this systematic reach for power has occurred not in secret but in public. Go to the White House website and the evidence is there in black and white. It takes the form of dozens of documents in which Bush asserts that his power as the nation's commander in chief entitles him to overrule or ignore bills sent to him by Congress for his signature. Behind this claim is a doctrine of the "unitary executive", which argues that the president's oath of office endows him with an independent authority to decide what a law means. Periodically, congressional leaders come down from Capitol Hill to applaud as the president, seated at his desk, signs a bill that becomes the law of the land. They are corny occasions. But they are a photo-op reminder that American law-making involves compromises that reflect a balance between the legislature and the presidency. The signing ceremony symbolises that the balance has been upheld and renewed. After the legislators leave, however, Bush puts his signature to another document. Known as a signing statement, this document is a presidential pronouncement setting out the terms in which he intends to interpret the new law. These signing statements often conflict with the new statutes. In some cases they even contradict their clear meaning. Increasing numbers of scholars and critics now believe they amount to a systematic power grab within a system that rests on checks and balances of which generations of Americans have been rightly proud - and of which others are justly envious. The Bush administration has often been charged with unilateralism in its conduct of foreign affairs. But a similar disregard for the rule of law underlies this domestic strategy. Article 1, section 1 of the US constitution states: "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Section 7 says that if the president refuses to sign a law, the Congress can override him. But Bush has never vetoed a bill. Instead he signs bills into law and then unilaterally redefines them his way. The contrast between the rhetoric of the public ceremony and the self-authorisation in the later signing statements is large. Take, for example, the renewal of the USA Patriot Act on March 9. In the signing ceremony Bush stressed that the law had been a bipartisan effort involving Congress and the White House. In the subsequent signing statement, however, he states that he does not feel bound to report to Congress (as the act requires) and would "withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties". Or take the contrast after Bush signed an overwhelmingly supported congressional bill last year outlawing the torture of detainees. On the face of it the new law was explicit, strengthening what Bush described as "values we hold dear" and extending a domestic ban on torture to cover US actions around the world. But the signing statement on December 30 carefully undermined that claim. It asserted that "the executive branch shall construe [the law] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president ... as commander in chief," adding that this approach would "assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the president ... of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks". In other words, circumstances might arise in which torture might still be authorised. The Bush White House did not invent the presidential signing statement; it goes back to the 19th century. But the frequency and ambition of Bush's signing statements go far beyond his predecessors. Whereas earlier presidents issued signing statements of a highly specific nature, those of Bush are repeatedly broad and unspecific. Above all, they make claims to enhanced executive power that impinge on profound issues of liberty such as torture or wiretapping. Too late in the day for comfort, Bush's approach is coming under greater scrutiny. In February the bipartisan Constitution Project warned of "the risk of permanent and unchecked presidential power". Last week the American Bar Association announced an independent inquiry into the practice. A powerful article in the New York Review of Books by the veteran writer Elizabeth Drew has also given the subject higher saliency. To their credit, even some Bush supporters are alarmed. If Bill Clinton had done what Bush is doing, the Republican senator Chuck Hagel has pointed out, Congress would be up in arms. If Bush were to bequeath the powers he claims to Hillary Clinton, the right would soon go berserk with indignation at the threat to American values. Which is why the most pertinent comment so far on the president's strategy has come from the anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist. He told Drew: "If you interpret the constitution's saying that the president is commander in chief to mean that the president can do anything he wants and can ignore the laws, you don't have a constitution: you have a king." It is not anti-American to warn about what Bush is doing. On the contrary, it is profoundly pro-American. In 1776 Americans issued their declaration of independence. They demanded a new form of government in place of the "repeated injuries and usurpations" to which they had been subjected. In the long list of grievances that followed, the first was that King George had "refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good". That suddenly has a contemporary ring. Now, as then, America's problem is a usurping king called George.

There is no need to burn papers - Cuba's Reply to new U.S. Provocation

There is no need to burn papers

Yesterday, June 12, a rabid lapdog of the empire and the terrorist mafia in Miami, El Nuevo Herald, published an article titled, "U.S. Interests Section in Havana Under Siege," in which it accuses the Cuban government of cutting off electricity and water supplies to that office as a response to what it describes as "a deepening of the diplomatic crisis," that began when "the electronic billboard was installed on the facade of the Interests Section."

According to the article, "the United States Interests Section in Havana had given instructions on Friday to its personnel to begin destroying all non-essential documents," and it adds this suspicious conclusion: "The sources who offered this information to El Nuevo Herald consider the destruction of documents in the U.S. diplomatic offices in Havana to be the prelude to an evacuation, or as a minimum, a preparation for one if necessary."

Tendentiously, the El Nuevo Herald article included a photo taken during one of the historic Marches of the Fighting People that passed by the Interests Section office (USIS) in which our people appear in the surroundings of that office reaffirming their rejection of the imperialist and genocidal policies toward Cuba. The objective of the photo is to manipulate readers into believing that right now and on a constant basis, the USIS is surrounded by our compatriots, when in reality what surrounds it is absolute normality and the only people there are specialized personnel charged with guarding that facility.

The article ends by slipping in a sentence that exposes the real hidden intentions behind this latest maneuver: "In response to the aggravation of the situation in its offices, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana could be temporarily forced to suspend its activities, something that would explain the step of beginning to destroy important documents."

A few hours later, evidently confirming the U.S. government’s part in the orchestration and direction of this campaign of lies, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack cynically insisted on accusing our government of harassing the USIS. Playing the victim, McCormack said that despite the supposed difficulties with electricity and water supplies, the USIS was continuing to "do its work," including its efforts to "reach out to the Cuban people," and impudently affirmed that the alleged USIS problems could be linked to its activities of "offering basic information and facts to the Cuban people."

Thus, the lying spokesman qualified as "doing its work" the growing attempts at espionage and subversion that the USIS is carrying out in Cuba. What he referred to as "efforts to reach out to the Cuban people" are the patronage, direction and generous financing of mercenary factions nursed by the USIS in Cuba and comprised of traitors and stoolies who collaborate with the implementation of the brutal blockade that is being used to attempt to bring our people to their knees through hunger and sickness. And, at the height of insolence, he describes as "offering basic information and data to the Cuban people" the systematic launching of the crudest insults of our people via the electronic billboard, which, in violation of the most elemental regulations of international law, they think they can maintain with impunity on the facade of that imperial lair.

To get an idea of the type of "information and facts" that the USIS has been spreading via its electronic billboard, let’s take just one example:

"Many decent Cuban women cannot live decently without doing something indecent. If you are young and pretty, what is more beneficial: to follow a career or a Spaniard?" (April 7 and 8)

In the afternoon, Drew Blakeney, spokesman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, told a bald-faced lie in a statement to the Cuban press when he affirmed: "The regime's increasing resort to bullying tactics in dealing with USIS and the Cuban people comes as no surprise; it has been trying to isolate and harass the Interests Section for some time." He also added, "On Monday, June 5, at approximately 3:00 a.m., electricity supplies to the main building of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana were cut off."

El Nuevo Herald and U.S. government spokespersons are shamelessly lying when they hold our government responsible for a supposed power cut and a decrease in the availability of potable water to the Interests Section.

We categorically deny that any premeditated cuts of electric power have been made to block the operations of the Interests Section’s offices. In fact there were a large number of power failures in the city of Havana and throughout the country; one of them occurred along the underground 13,000-volt circuit Vedado2, which directly feeds the Interests Section offices, and one of the two channels that supplies electric power to the Anti-Imperialist Tribune, due to the adverse weather conditions experienced by the country over the last two weeks up until yesterday afternoon, Monday (June 12): repair work on this interruption is underway just like on all the others. In spite of that, as the spokespeople admit, the USIS has continued in full function, including its provocative electronic billboard which, since January 16 and for almost five months, has been offending and insulting our people, demonstrating that that facility has not lacked even one watt of electricity.

Maliciously, the U.S. government neglects to mention that every time the USIS has reported having difficulties with its supply of potable water or electric power for its facilities, these have been duly attended to by the Cuban enterprises charged with providing those services.

The USIS consumes an average of 26,000 kilowatts monthly, the same amount of energy consumed by about 200 average Cuban families.

In spite of the reorganization of fuel distribution being carried out in the country, the USIS has received from the CUBALSE enterprise a total of 53,756 liters of fuel to date this year.

In spite of the difficult conditions of drought and difficulties in supplying potable water in the city of Havana, which before the recent rain were affecting almost the entire country, the enterprise that supplies water to the capital has maintained a stable water supply to the USIS.

In response to a USIS requirement, during the month of March of this year the water company sent its technicians to the main building and to the USIS annex to review the internal and external aqueduct mains and solve any difficulties presented.

From January 2006 to date, the Cuban CUBALSE enterprise has carried out seven actions of maintenance or repair on the buildings housing the USIS officials.

In spite of the fact that on February 1 the USIS rudely expelled from its facilities workers from the Blas Roca Caderío Contingent, who were carrying out construction work on the annex building, CUBALSE has been punctually supplying the USIS with materials for continuing that work. To date, the USIS has received the 44 cubic meters of premixed concrete, 540 meters of rebar, and 300 meters of steel sheeting that it has requested.

The USIS currently has 302 contracted Cuban workers. To date this year, nine of those workers have traveled abroad on the request of the USIS, with the aim of receiving training in order to carry out their duties.

The U.S. spokespersons likewise neglected to mention the most important fact: that during this year alone, the USIS has received immediate approval for 33 requested operations to return illegal emigrants, without any delay or exception whatsoever; four operations to repatriate Cuban citizens considered to be excludable by U.S. authorities, and eight consular visits to U.S. citizens being held in Cuban jails.

The latest accusations against the Cuban government are part of the Yankee administration’s plans, exposed by compañero Fidel on January 22 and 24 of 2006, when he literally affirmed, "Under pressure from the Cuban-American mafia, and as one of its next steps, the government of the United States is intent on openly violating the U.S.–Cuba Migratory Agreement (...) It is looking for any pretext to prevent, at all costs, the sale of agricultural products to Cuba, which has been increasing, while our country has paid every cent on time during five years – something it did not expect from a blockaded nation facing constant aggression (...) And, unhappy with the decision taken by President Carter on May 30, 1977, it proposes to force a rupture in its current minimal diplomatic ties with Cuba. The gross provocations that have been carried out from its Interests Section offices in Havana do not and cannot have any other purpose."

The latest accusations against Cuba also perfidiously aim to distract attention from the real problem, the subversive and provocative nature of actions by the USIS, which in frank violation of the diplomatic status conferred on it by international agreements and conventions, has become the General Staff of the counterrevolution, which it directs and materially and financially supplies in order to incite the subversion of internal order in our country.

Perhaps they think that Cuba is afraid of the constant provocations that are devised against our homeland or the consequences of a rupture in the minimal existing ties, already substantially deteriorated due to the immoral and cynical policies of the Bush administration.

It is up to the imperialist U.S. government to explain its demented and reiterated practice of devising and implementing new brutal measures against Cuba, and its vain attempts to break the heroic resistance of our people.

The U.S. government is sinking morally and materially in its war of conquest in Iraq, corruption scandals, growing budget and account deficits, high energy prices, inability to overcome natural disasters, illegal espionage against its own citizens, and the repugnant practice of clandestine arrests and torture on a global scale.

The Revolutionary government has provided a lesson in equanimity, firmness and strict adherence to diplomatic regulations in its response to the vulgar, contemptible actions of the USIS and the mercenaries at its service in our country.

With our moral authority and our principles, we will defeat each and every of its criminal and cowardly campaigns, provocations and aggressions!

Cuba fights openly and with clean weapons; it has no reason to seek pretexts to harass the USIS. It knows how to say "yes" or "no" to requests by the empire’s representatives. It is not looking for subterfuges, or trying to cut electric cables to turn off trashy little signs. It is not harassing U.S. officials or representatives. The millions of people who have paraded past those facilities with honor and dignity, including children and teenagers, have never thrown a single stone against that building. Throughout the history of the Revolution, Cuba has always fought with a moral authority that crushes its enemies. If the current U.S. government is seeking pretexts to remove the USIS, cut food sales to our people and do away with the Migration Agreement, then let it do so without inventing them or attempting to perpetuate its gross and cowardly provocations, which did not come from Cuba, but from the USIS, which has become a bastion, headquarters and bank for the mercenaries and a center for supplying subversive materials brought in as contraband in their diplomatic pouches. Cuba could peacefully do without all of that, and everything else signified by interventionism and outrages. It would not shed a single tear at its departure. There is no need to burn papers. It does not matter how many monstrous crimes they document. Our Revolution would never attack or violate a diplomatic office. It never has and it never will.

GUANTANAMO: Democratic crimes

THE U.S. government ban on lawyers or representatives of the Red Cross or humanitarian groups from entering the Guantanamo naval base prison is a revealing boomerang. If, to date, access to the improvised prison was limited, preventing all contact with the outside world indicates that something must be very wrong there, when nobody – not even in a brief, controlled way – can have contact with the prisoners or witness the real conditions of their incarceration.

In response to the avalanche of criticism after the suicide of two Saudis and a Yemeni, and reiterated demands for the disgraceful facility to be shut down and its inmates provided with legal trials under proper conditions, the Bush administration has reacted by closing up the small opening to the outside world that the prisoners had. This makes them even more exposed.

If Saudi authorities were suspicious of the alleged suicide, it can be assumed that the U.S. government's decision has increased their doubts. The ongoing revelations of torture and abuse, including religious, suffered by the more or less 500 prisoners held on the base in southeastern Cuban territory usurped by Washington compound the hunger strike that various inmates have intermittently undertaken for more than 12 months, with most of them being force-fed.

It is known that some of them got so desperate that they tried to kill themselves using the most improbable methods, due to a lack of any ideal resources for doing so. That is why it is strange that all of a sudden they obtained the means of committing suicide used so often throughout history by individuals in similar circumstances. So, it is no exaggeration to mistrust the versions served up by the authorities of that despicable place.

Mansur al Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, announced his government’s suspicions that those prisoners were tortured, possibly to death. He announced that his country is to try to obtain the bodies of the two Saudis who supposedly killed themselves to bury them, and perhaps to investigate the real causes of their deaths.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has reiterated its questions regarding the prisoners and how they are being psychologically affected by their extraordinary suffering, due to a total uncertainty over their fate. For his part, George W. Bush issued a curt condolence, and it is difficult to believe that he is sincere, given that the White House treated last month’s attempt at a collective suicide as a joke and ignored the May 19 UN group petition stating that keeping prisoners indefinitely imprisoned in Guantanamo is in violation of the international convention against torture.

Various heads of state have referred to the issue, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who did so during her visit to the U.S. president, and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who stated to Bush that events like those of Abu Ghraib or Haditha in Iraq, or the existence of the horrifying black hole of Guantanamo are inadmissible. British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith made a similar comment recently, and called for the shameful prison to be shut down.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Power of the Israel Lobby, Its Origins and Growth By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON - Former CIA analysts

Editors' Note: Ten, even five years ago, a fierce public debate over the nature and activities of the Israeli lobby would have been impossible. It was as verboten as the use of the word Empire, to describe the global reach of the United States. Through its disdain for the usual proprieties decorously observed by Republican and Democratic administrations in the past , the Bush administration has hauled many realities of our political economy center stage. Open up the New York Times or the Washington Post over the recent past and there, like as not, is another opinion column about the Lobby.

CounterPunch has hosted some of the most vigorous polemics on the Lobby. In May we asked two of our most valued contributors, Kathy and Bill Christison, to offer their evaluation of the debate on the Lobby's role and power. As our readers know, Bill and Kathy both had significant careers as CIA analysts. Bill was a National Intelligence Officer. In the aftermath of the September, 2001, attacks we published here his trenchant and influential essay on "the war on terror". Kathy has written powerfully on our website on the topic of Palestine. Specifically on the Lobby they contributed an unsparing essay on the topic of "dual loyalty" which can bed found in our CounterPunch collection, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

In mid May they sent us the detailed, measured commentary, rich in historical detail, that we are delighted to print below in its entirety. Which is the tail? Which is the dog? asked Uri Avnery in our newsletter, a few issues back, apropos the respective roles of the Israel Lobby and the US in the exercise of US policy in the Middle East. Here's an answer that will be tough to challenge.

-- A.C./J.S.C.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the University of Chicago and Harvard political scientists who published in March of this years a lengthy, well documented study on the pro-Israel lobby and its influence on U.S. Middle East policy in March , have already accomplished what they intended. They have successfully called attention to the often pernicious influence of the lobby on policymaking. But, unfortunately, the study has aroused more criticism than debate not only the kind of criticism one would anticipate from the usual suspects among the very lobby groups Mearsheimer and Walt described, but also from a group on the left that might have been expected to support the study's conclusions.

earnest comment that through four administrations he never observed an Oval Office decision that tilted policy in favor of Israel at the expense of U.S. interests can easily be dismissed as nonsensical . Most of the extensive malicious criticism, coming largely from the hard core of Israeli supporters who make up the very lobby under discussion and led by a hysterical Alan Dershowitz, has been so specious and sophomoric, that it too could be dismissed were it not for precisely the pervasive atmosphere of reflexive support for Israel and silenced debate that Mearsheimer and Walt describe.

Most disturbing and harder to dismiss is the criticism of the study from the left, coming chiefly from Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, and abetted less cogently by Stephen Zunes of Foreign Policy in Focus and Joseph Massad of Columbia University. These critics on the left argue from a assumption that U.S. foreign policy has been monolithic since World War II, a coherent progression of decision-making directed unerringly at the advancement of U.S. imperial interests. All U.S. actions, these critics contend, are part of a clearly laid-out strategy that has rarely deviated no matter what the party in power. They believe that Israel has served throughout as a loyal agent of the U.S., carrying out the U.S. design faithfully and serving as a base from which the U.S. projects its power around the Middle East. Zunes says it most clearly, affirming that Israel "still is very much the junior partner in the relationship." These critics do not dispute the existence of a lobby, but they minimize its importance, claiming that rather than leading the U.S. into policies and foreign adventures that stand against true U.S. national interests, as Mearsheimer and Walt assert, the U.S. is actually the controlling power in the relationship with Israel and carries out a consistent policy, using Israel as its agent where possible.

Finkelstein summarized the critics' position in a recent CounterPunch article ("The Israel Lobby," May 1,, emphasizing that the issue is not whether U.S. interests or those of the lobby take precedence but rather that there has been such coincidence of U.S. and Israeli interests over the decades that for the most part basic U.S. Middle East policy has not been affected by the lobby. Chomsky maintains that Israel does the U.S. bidding in the Middle East in pursuit of imperial goals that Washington would pursue even without Israel and that it has always pursued in areas outside the Middle East without benefit of any lobby. Those goals have always included advancement of U.S. corporate-military interests and political domination through the suppression of radical nationalisms and the maintenance of stability in resource-rich countries, particularly oil producers, everywhere. In the Middle East, this was accomplished primarily through Israel's 1967 defeat of Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser and his radical Arab nationalism, which had threatened U.S. access to the region's oil resources. Both Chomsky and Finkelstein trace the strong U.S.-Israeli tie to the June 1967 war, which they believe established the close alliance and marked the point at which the U.S. began to regard Israel as a strategic asset and a stable base from which U.S. power could be projected throughout the Middle East.

Joseph Massad ("Blaming the Israel Lobby," CounterPunch, March 25/26, argues along similar lines, describing developments in the Middle East and around the world that he believes the U.S. engineered for its own benefit and would have carried out even without Israel's assistance. His point, like Chomsky's, is that the U.S. has a long history of overthrowing regimes in Central America, in Chile, in Indonesia, in Africa, where the Israel lobby was not involved and where Israel at most assisted the U.S. but did not benefit directly itself. He goes farther than Chomsky by claiming that with respect to the Middle East Israel has been such an essential tool that its very usefulness is what accounts for the strength of the lobby. "It is in fact the very centrality of Israel to U.S. strategy in the Middle East," Massad contends with a kind of backward logic, "that accounts, in part, for the strength of the pro-Israel lobby and not the other way around." (One wonders why, if this were the case, there would be any need for a lobby at all. What would be a lobby's function if the U.S. already regarded Israel as central to its strategy?)

The principal problem with these arguments from the left is that they assume a continuity in U.S. strategy and policymaking over the decades that has never in fact existed. The notion that there is any defined strategy that links Eisenhower's policy to Johnson's to Reagan's to Clinton's gives far more credit than is deserved to the extremely ad hoc, hit-or-miss nature of all U.S. foreign policy. Obviously, some level of imperial interest has dictated policy in every administration since World War II and, obviously, the need to guarantee access to vital natural resources around the world, such as oil in the Middle East and elsewhere, has played a critical role in determining policy. But beyond these evident, and not particularly significant, truths, it can accurately be said, at least with regard to the Middle East, that it has been a rare administration that has itself ever had a coherent, clearly defined, and consistent foreign policy and that, except for a broadly defined anti-communism during the Cold War, no administration's strategy has ever carried over in detail to succeeding administrations.

The ad hoc nature of virtually every administration's policy planning process cannot be overemphasized. Aside from the strong but amorphous political need felt in both major U.S. parties and nurtured by the Israel lobby that "supporting Israel" was vital to each party's own future, the inconsistent, even short-term randomness in the detailed Middle East policymaking of successive administrations has been remarkable. This lack of clear strategic thinking at the very top levels of several new administrations before they entered office enhanced the power of individuals and groups that did have clear goals and plans already in hand such as, for instance, the pro-Israeli Dennis Ross in both the first Bush and the Clinton administrations, and the strongly pro-Israeli neo-cons in the current Bush administration.

The critics on the left argue that because the U.S. has a history of opposing and frequently undermining or actually overthrowing radical nationalist governments throughout the world without any involvement by Israel, any instance in which Israel acts against radical nationalism in the Arab world is, therefore, proof that Israel is doing the United States' work for it . The critics generally believe, for instance, that Israel's political destruction of Egypt's Nasser in 1967 was done for the U.S. Most if not all believe that Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon was undertaken at U.S.behest, to destroy the PLO.

This kind of argumentation assumes too much on a presumption of policy coherence. Lyndon Johnson most certainly did abhor Nasser and was not sorry to see him and his pan-Arab ambitions defeated, but there is absolutely no evidence that the Johnson administration ever seriously planned to unseat Nasser, formulated any other action plan against Egypt, or pushed Israel in any way to attack. Johnson did apparently give a green light to Israel's attack plans after they had been formulated, but this is quite different from initiating the plans. Already mired in Vietnam, Johnson was very much concerned not to be drawn into a war initiated by Israel and was criticized by some Israeli supporters for not acting forcefully enough on Israel's behalf. In any case, Israel needed no prompting for its pre-emptive attack, which had long been in the works.

Indeed, far from Israel functioning as the junior partner carrying out a U.S. plan, it is clear that the weight of pressure in 1967 was on the U.S. to go along with Israel's designs and that this pressure came from Israel and its agents in the U.S. The lobby in this instance as broadly defined by Mearsheimer and Walt: "the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction" was in fact a part of Johnson's intimate circle of friends and advisers.

These included the number-two man at the Israeli embassy, a close personal friend; the strongly pro-Israeli Rostow brothers, Walt and Eugene, who were part of the national security bureaucracy in the administration; Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas; U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg; and numerous others who all spent time with Johnson at the LBJ Ranch in Texas and had the personal access and the leisure time in an informal setting to talk with Johnson about their concern for Israel and to influence him heavily in favor of Israel. This circle had already begun to work on Johnson long before Israel's pre-emptive attack in 1967, so they were nicely placed to persuade Johnson to go along with it despite Johnson's fears of provoking the Soviet Union and becoming involved in a military conflict the U.S. was not prepared for.

In other words, Israel was beyond question the senior partner in this particular policy initiative; Israel made the decision to go to war, would have gone to war with or without the U.S. green light, and used its lobbyists in the U.S. to steer Johnson administration policy in a pro-Israeli direction. Israel's attack on the U.S. naval vessel, the USS Liberty, in the midst of the war an attack conducted in broad daylight that killed 34 American sailors was not the act of a junior partner. Nor was the U.S. cover-up of this atrocity the act of a government that dictated the moves in this relationship.

The evidence is equally clear that Israel was the prime mover in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and led the U.S. into that morass, rather than the other way around. Although Massad refers to the U.S. as Israel's master, in this instance as in many others including 1967, Israel has clearly been its own master. Chomsky argues in support of his case that Reagan ordered Israel to call off the invasion in August, two months after it was launched. This is true, but in fact Israel did not pay any attention; the invasion continued, and the U.S. got farther and farther embroiled.

When, as occurred in Lebanon, the U.S. has blundered into misguided adventures to support Israel or to rescue Israel or to further Israel's interests, it is a clear denial of reality to say that Israel and its lobby have no significant influence on U.S. Middle East policy. Even were there not an abundance of other examples, Lebanon alone, with its long-term implications, proves the truth of the Mearsheimer-Walt conclusion that the U.S. "has set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state" and that "the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the 'Israel Lobby.'"

As a general proposition, the left critics' argumentation is much too limiting. While there is no question that modern history is replete, as they argue, with examples of the U.S. acting in corporate interests overthrowing nationalist governments perceived to be threatening U.S. business and economic interests, as in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and elsewhere this frequent convergence of corporate with government interests does not mean that the U.S. never acts in other than corporate interests. The fact of a strong government-corporate alliance does not in any way preclude situations even in the Middle East, where oil is obviously a vital corporate resource in which the U.S. acts primarily to benefit Israel rather than serve any corporate or economic purpose. Because it has a deep emotional aspect and involves political, economic, and military ties unlike those with any other nation, the U.S. relationship with Israel is unique, and there is nothing in the history of U.S. foreign policy, nothing in the government's entanglement with the military-industrial complex, to prevent the lobby from exerting heavy influence on policy. Israel and its lobbyists make their own "corporation" that, like the oil industry (or Chiquita Banana or Anaconda Copper in other areas), is clearly a major factor driving U.S. foreign policy.

There is no denying the intricate interweaving of the U.S. military-industrial complex with Israeli military-industrial interests. Chomsky acknowledges that there is "plenty of conformity" between the lobby's position and the U.S. government-corporate linkage and that the two are very difficult to disentangle. But, although he tends to emphasize that the U.S. is always the senior partner and suggests that the Israeli side does little more than support whatever the U.S. arms, energy, and financial industries define as U.S. national interests, in actual fact the entanglement is much more one between equals than the raw strengths of the two parties would suggest. "Conformity" hardly captures the magnitude of the relationship. Particularly in the defense arena, Israel and its lobby and the U.S. arms industry work hand in glove to advance their combined, very compatible interests. The relatively few very powerful and wealthy families that dominate the Israeli arms industry are just as interested in pressing for aggressively militaristic U.S. and Israeli foreign policies as are the CEOs of U.S. arms corporations and, as globalization has progressed, so have the ties of joint ownership and close financial and technological cooperation among the arms corporations of the two nations grown ever closer. In every way, the two nations' military industries work together very easily and very quietly, to a common end. The relationship is symbiotic, and the lobby cooperates intimately to keep it alive; lobbyists can go to many in the U.S. Congress and tell them quite credibly that if aid to Israel is cut off, thousands of arms-industry jobs in their own districts will be lost. That's power. The lobby is not simply passively supporting whatever the U.S. military-industrial complex wants. It is actively twisting arms very successfully in both Congress and the administration to perpetuate acceptance of a definition of U.S. "national interests" that many Americans believe is wrong, as does Chomsky himself.

Clearly, the advantages in the relationship go in both directions: Israel serves U.S. corporate interests by using, and often helping develop, the arms that U.S. manufacturers produce, and the U.S. serves Israeli interests by providing a constant stream of high-tech equipment that maintains Israel's vast military superiority in the region. But simply because the U.S. benefits from this relationship, it cannot be said that the U.S. is Israel's master, or that Israel always does the U.S. bidding, or that the lobby, which helps keep this arms alliance alive, has no significant power. It's in the nature of a symbiosis that both sides benefit, and the lobby has clearly played a huge role in maintaining the interdependence.

The left's arguments also tend to be much too conspiratorial. Finkelstein, for instance, describes a supposed strategy in which the U.S. perpetually undermines Israeli-Arab reconciliation because it does not want an Israel at peace with its neighbors, since Israel would then loosen its dependence on the U.S. and become a less reliable proxy. "What use," he asks, "would a Paul Wolfowitz have of an Israel living peacefully with its Arab neighbors and less willing to do the U.S.'s bidding?" Not only does this give the U.S. far more credit than it has ever deserved for long-term strategic scheming and the ability to carry out such a conspiracy, but it begs a very important question that neither Finkelstein nor the other left critics, in their dogged effort to mold all developments to their thesis, never examine: just what U.S.'s bidding is Israel doing nowadays?

Although the leftist critics speak of Israel as a base from which U.S. power is projected throughout the Middle East, they do not clearly explain how this works. Any strategic value Israel had for the U.S. diminished drastically with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They may believe that Israel keeps Saudi Arabia's oil resources safe from Arab nationalists or Muslim fundamentalists or Russia, but this is highly questionable. Israel clearly did us no good in Lebanon, but rather the U.S. did Israel's bidding and fumbled badly, so this cannot be how the U.S. uses Israeli to project its power. In Palestine, Finkelstein himself acknowledges that the U.S. gains nothing from the occupation and Israeli settlements, so this can't be where Israel is doing the U.S.'s bidding. (With this acknowledgement, Finkelstein, perhaps unconsciously, seriously undermines his case against the importance of the lobby, unless he somehow believes the occupation is only of incidental significance, in which case he undermines the thesis of much of his own body of writing.)

Owning the Policymakers

In the clamor over the Mearsheimer-Walt study, critics on both the left and the right have tended to ignore the slow evolutionary history of U.S. Middle East policymaking and of the U.S. relationship with Israel. The ties to Israel and earlier to Zionism go back more than a century, predating the formation of a lobby, and they have remained firm even at periods when the lobby has waned. But it is also true that the lobby has sustained and formalized a relationship that otherwise rests on emotions and moral commitment. Because the bond with Israel has been a steadily evolving continuum, dating back to well before Israel's formal establishment, it is important to emphasize that there is no single point at which it is possible to say, this is when Israel won the affections of America, or this is when Israel came to be regarded as a strategic asset, or this is when the lobby became an integral part of U.S. policymaking.

The left critics of the lobby study mark the Johnson administration as the beginning of the U.S.-Israeli alliance, but almost every administration before Johnson's, going back to Woodrow Wilson, ratcheted up the relationship in some significant way and could justifiably claim to have been the progenitor of the bond. Significantly, in almost all cases, policymakers acted as they did because of the influence of pro-Zionist or pro-Israeli lobbyists: Wilson would not have supported the Zionist enterprise to the extent he did had it not been for the influence of Zionist colleagues like Louis Brandeis; nor would Roosevelt; Truman would probably not have been as supportive of establishing a Jewish state without the heavy influence of his very pro-Zionist advisers.

After the Johnson administration as well, the relationship has continued to grow in remarkable leaps. The Nixon-Kissinger regime could claim that they were the administration that cemented the alliance by exponentially increasing military aid from an annual average of under $50 million in military credits to Israel in the late 1960s to an average of almost $400 million and, in the year following the 1973 war, to $2.2 billion. It is not for nothing that Israelis have informally dubbed almost every president since Johnson with the notable exceptions of Jimmy Carter and the senior George Bush as "the most pro-Israeli president ever"; each one has achieved some landmark in the effort to please Israel.

The U.S.-Israeli bond has always had its grounding more in soft emotions than in the hard realities of geopolitical strategy. Scholars have always described the tie in almost spiritual terms never applied to ties with other nations. A Palestinian-French scholar has described the United States' pro-Israeli tilt as a "predisposition," a natural inclination that precedes any consideration of interest or of cost. Israel, he said, takes part in the very "being" of American society and therefore participates in its integrity and its defense. This is not simply the biased perspective of a Palestinian. Other scholars of varying political inclinations have described a similar spiritual and cultural identity: the U.S. identifies with Israel's "national style"; Israel is essential to the "ideological prospering" of the U.S.; each country has "grafted" the heritage of the other onto itself. This applies even to the worst aspects of each nation's heritage. Consciously or unconsciously, many Israelis even today see the U.S. conquest of the American Indians as something "good," something to emulate and, which is worse, many Americans even today are happy to accept the "compliment" inherent in Israel's effort to copy us.

This is no ordinary state-to-state relationship, and the lobby does not function like any ordinary lobby. It is not a great exaggeration to say that the lobby could not thrive without a very willing host that is, a series of U.S. policymaking establishments that have always been locked in to a mindset singularly focused on Israel and its interests and, at the same time, that U.S. policy in the Middle East would not possibly have remained so singularly focused on and so tilted toward Israel were it not for the lobby. One thing is certain: with the possible exceptions of the Carter and the first Bush administrations, the relationship has grown noticeably closer and more solid with each administration, in almost exact correlation with the growth in size and budget and political clout of the pro-Israel lobby.

All critics of the lobby study have failed to note a critical point during the Reagan administration, surrounding the debacle in Lebanon, when it can reasonably be said that policymaking tipped over from a situation in which the U.S. was more often the controlling agent in the relationship to one in which Israel and its advocates in the U.S. have increasingly determined the course and the pace of developments. The organized lobby, meaning AIPAC and the several formal Jewish American organizations, truly came into its own during the Reagan years with a massive expansion of memberships, budgets, propaganda activities, and contacts within Congress and government, and it has been consolidating power and influence for the last quarter century, so that today the broadly defined lobby, including all those who work for Israel, has become an integral part of U.S. society and U.S. policymaking.

The situation during the Reagan administration demonstrates very clearly the closeness of the bond. The events of these years illustrate how an already very Israel-centered mindset in the U.S., which had been developing for decades, was transformed into a concrete, institutionalized relationship with Israel via the offices of Israeli supporters and agents in the U.S.

The seminal event in the growth of AIPAC and the organized lobby was the battle over the administration's proposed sale of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1981, Reagan's first year in office. Paradoxically, although AIPAC lost this battle in a head-on struggle with Reagan and the administration, and the sale to the Saudis went forward, AIPAC and the lobby ultimately won the war for influence. Reagan was determined that the sale go through; he regarded the deal as an important part of an ill-conceived attempt to build an Arab-Israeli consensus in the Middle East to oppose the Soviet Union and, perhaps even more important, saw the battle in Congress as a test of his own prestige. By winning the battle, he demonstrated that any administration, at least up to that point, could exert enough pressure to push an issue opposed by Israel through Congress, but the struggle also demonstrated just how exhausting and politically costly such a battle can be, and no one around Reagan was willing to go to the mat in this way again. In a real sense, despite AIPAC's loss, the fight showed just how much the lobby limited policymaker freedom, even more than 20 years ago, in any transaction that concerned Israel.

The AWACS imbroglio galvanized AIPAC into action, at precisely the time the administration was subsiding in exhaustion, and under an aggressive and energetic leader, former congressional aide Thomas Dine, AIPAC quadrupled its budget, increased its grassroots support immensely, and vastly expanded its propaganda effort. This last and perhaps most significant accomplishment was achieved when Dine established an analytical unit inside AIPAC that published in-depth analyses and position papers for congressmen and policymakers. Dine believed that anyone who could provide policymakers with books and papers focusing on Israel's strategic value to the U.S. would effectively "own" the policymakers.

With the rising power and influence of the lobby, and following the U.S. debacle in Lebanon which began with Israel's 1982 invasion and ended for the U.S. with the withdrawal of its Marine contingent in early 1984, after the Marines had become involved in fighting to protect Israel's invasion force and 241 U.S. military had been killed in a truck bombing the Reagan administration effectively handed over the policy initiative in the Middle East to Israel and its American advocates.

Israel and its agents began, with amazing effrontery, to complain that the U.S. failure to clean up in Lebanon was interfering with Israel's own designs there from which arrogance Reagan and company concluded, in an astounding twist of logic, that the only way to restore stability was through closer alliance with Israel. As a result, in the fall of 1983 Reagan sent a delegation to ask the Israelis for closer strategic ties, and shortly thereafter forged a formal strategic alliance with Israel with the signing of a "memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation." In 1987, the U.S. designated Israel a "major non-NATO ally," thus giving it access to military technology not available otherwise. The notion of demanding concessions from Israel in return for this favored status ­ such as, for instance, some restraint in its settlement-construction in the West Bank was specifically rejected. The U.S. simply very deliberately and abjectly retreated into policy inaction, leaving Israel with a free hand to proceed as it wished wherever it wished in the Middle East and particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Even Israel, by all accounts, was surprised by this demonstration of the United States' inability to see beyond Israel's interests. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had attempted from early in the Carter administration to push the notion that Israel was a strategic Cold War asset to the U.S. but, because Israel did not in fact perform a significant strategic role for the U.S. and was in many ways more a liability than an asset, Carter never paid serious attention to the Israeli overtures. Begin feared that the United States' moral and emotional commitment to Israel might ultimately not be enough to sustain the relationship through possible hard times, and so he attempted to put Israel forward as a strategically indispensable ally and a good investment for U.S. security, a move that would essentially reverse the two nations' roles, altering the relationship from one of Israeli indebtedness to the U.S. to one in which the United States was in Israel's debt for its vital strategic role.

Carter was having none of this, but the notion of strategic cooperation germinated in Israel and among its U.S. supporters until the moment became ripe during the Reagan administration. By the end of the Lebanon mess, the notion that the U.S. needed Israel's friendship had so taken hold among the Reaganites that, as one former national security aide observed in a stunning upending of logic, they began to view closer strategic ties as a necessary means of "restor[ing] Israeli confidence in American reliability." Secretary of State George Shultz wrote in his memoirs years later of the U.S. need "to lift the albatross of Lebanon from Israel's neck." Recall, as Shultz must not have been able to do, that the debt here was rightly Israel's: Israel put the albatross around its own neck, and the U.S. stumbled into Lebanon after Israel, not the other way around.

AIPAC and the neo-conservatives who rose to prominence during the Reagan years played a major role in building the strategic alliance. AIPAC in particular became in every sense of the word a partner of the U.S. in forging Middle East policy from the mid-1980s on. Thomas Dine's vision of "owning" policymakers by providing them with position papers geared to Israel's interests went into full swing. In 1984, AIPAC spun off a think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, that remains one of the pre-eminent think tanks in Washington and that has sent its analysts into policymaking jobs in several administrations. Dennis Ross, the senior Middle East policymaker in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, came from the Washington Institute and returned there after leaving government service. Martin Indyk, the Institute's first director, entered a senior policymaking position in the Clinton administration from there.

Today, John Hannah, who has served on Vice President Cheney's national security staff since 2001 and succeeded Lewis Libby last year as Cheney's leading national security adviser, comes from the Institute. AIPAC also continues to do its own analyses in addition to the Washington Institute's. A recent Washington Post profile of Steven Rosen, the former senior AIPAC foreign policy analyst who is about to stand trial with a colleague for receiving and passing on classified information to Israel, noted that two decades ago Rosen began a practice of lobbying the executive branch, rather than simply concentrating on Congress, as a way, in the words of the Post article, "to alter American foreign policy" by "influencing government from the inside." Over the years, he "had a hand in writing several policies favored by Israel."

In the Reagan years, AIPAC's position papers were particularly welcomed by an administration already more or less convinced of Israel's strategic value and obsessed with impeding Soviet advances. Policymakers began negotiating with AIPAC before presenting legislation in order to help assure passage, and Congress consulted the lobby on pending legislation. Congress eagerly embraced almost every legislative initiative proposed by the lobby and came to rely on AIPAC for information on all issues related to the Middle East. The close cooperation between the administration and AIPAC soon began to stifle discourse inside the bureaucracy. Middle East experts in the State Department and other agencies were almost completely cut out of decision-making, and officials throughout government became increasingly unwilling to propose policies or put forth analysis likely to arouse opposition from AIPAC or Congress. One unnamed official complained that "a lot of real analysis is not even getting off people's desks for fear of what the lobby will do"; he was speaking to a New York Times correspondent, but otherwise his complaints fell on deaf ears.

policies. Moreover, because Israel's strategic goals in the region are more clearly defined and more urgent than those of the United States, Israel's interests most often dominate.

Chomsky himself acknowledges that the lobby plays a significant part in shaping the political environment in which support for Israel becomes automatic and unquestioned. Even Chomsky believes that what he calls the intellectual political class is a critical, and perhaps the most influential, component of the lobby because these elites determine the shaping of news and information in the media and academia. On the other hand, he contends that, because the lobby already includes most of this intellectual political class, the thesis of lobby power "loses much of its content". But, on the contrary, this very fact would seem to prove the point, not undermine it. The fact of the lobby's pervasiveness, far from rendering it less powerful, magnifies its importance tremendously.

Indeed, this is the crux of the entire debate. It is the very power of the lobby to continue shaping the public mindset, to mold thinking and, perhaps most important, to instill fear of deviation that brings this intellectual political class together in an unswerving determination to work for Israel. Is there not a heavy impact on Middle East policymaking when, for instance, a lobby has the power to force the electoral defeat of long-serving congressmen, as occurred to Representative Paul Findley in 1982 and Senator Charles Percy in 1984 after both had deviated from political correctness by speaking out in favor of negotiating with the PLO? AIPAC openly crowed about the defeat of both men ­ both Republicans serving during the Republican Reagan administration, who had been in Congress for 22 and 18 years respectively. Similarly, does not the media's silence on Israel's oppressive measures in the occupied territories, as well as the concerted, and openly acknowledged, efforts of virtually every pro-Israeli organization in the U.S. to suppress information and quash debate on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, have an immense impact on policy? Today, even the most outspoken of leftist radio hosts and other commentators, such as Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, and now Cindy Sheehan, almost always avoid talking and writing about this issue.

Does not the massive effort by AIPAC, the Washington Institute, and myriad other similar organizations to spoon-feed policymakers and congressmen selective information and analysis written only from Israel's perspective have a huge impact on policy? In the end, even Chomsky and Finkelstein acknowledge the power of the lobby in suppressing discussion and debate about Middle East policy. The mobilization of public opinion, Finkelstein writes, "can have a real impact on policy-making which is why the Lobby invests so much energy in suppressing discussion." It is difficult to read statement except as a ringing acknowledgement of the massive and very central power of the lobby to control discourse and to control policymaking on the most critical Middle East policy issue.

Interchangeable Interests

The principal problem with the left critics' analysis is that it is too rigid. There is no question that Israel has served the interests of the U.S. government and the military-industrial complex in many areas of the world by, for instance, aiding some of the rightist regimes of Central America, by skirting arms and trade embargoes against apartheid South Africa and China (until the neo-conservatives turned off the tap to China and, in a rare disagreement with Israel, forced it to halt), and during the Cold War by helping, at least indirectly, to hold down Arab radicalism. There is also no question that, no matter which party has been in power, the U.S. has over the decades advanced an essentially conservative global political and pro-business agenda in areas far afield of the Middle East, without reference to Israel or the lobby. The U.S. unseated Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala and Allende in Chile, along with many others, for its own corporate and political purposes, as the left critics note, and did not use Israel.

But these facts do not minimize the power the lobby has exerted in countless instances over the course of decades, and particularly in recent years, to lead the U.S. into situations that Israel initiated, that the U.S. did not plan, and that have done harm, both singly and cumulatively, to U.S. interests. One need only ask whether particular policies would have been adopted in the absence of pressure from some influential persons and organizations working on Israel's behalf in order to see just how often Israel or its advocates in the U.S., rather than the United States or even U.S. corporations, have been the policy initiators. The answers give clear evidence that a lobby, as broadly defined by Mearsheimer and Walt, has played a critical and, as the decades have gone on, increasingly influential role in policymaking.

For instance, would Harry Truman have been as supportive of establishing Israel as a Jewish state if it had not been for heavy pressure from what was then a very loose grouping of strong Zionists with considerable influence in policymaking circles? It can reasonably be argued that he might not in fact have supported Jewish statehood at all, and it is even more likely that his own White House advisers all strong Zionist proponents themselves would not have twisted arms at the United Nations to secure the 1947 vote in favor of partitioning Palestine if these lobbyists had not been a part of Truman's policymaking circle. Truman himself did not initially support the notion of founding a state based on religion, and every national security agency of government, civilian and military , strongly opposed the partition of Palestine out of fear that this would lead to warfare in which the U.S. might have to intervene, would enhance the Soviet position in the Middle East, and would endanger U.S. oil interests in the area. But even in the face of this united opposition from within his own government, Truman found the pressures of the Zionists among his close advisers and among influential friends of the administration and of the Democratic Party too overwhelmingly strong to resist.

Questions like this arise for virtually every presidential administration. Would Jimmy Carter, for instance, have dropped his pursuit of a resolution of the Palestinian problem if the Israel lobby had not exerted intense pressure on him? Carter was the first president to recognize the Palestinian need for some kind of "homeland," as he termed it, and he made numerous efforts to bring Palestinians into a negotiating process and to stop Israeli settlement-building, but opposition from Israel and pressures from the lobby were so heavy that he was ultimately worn down and defeated.

It is also all but impossible to imagine the U.S. supporting Israel's actions in the occupied Palestinian territories without pressure from the lobby. No conceivable U.S. national interest served even in the United States' own myopic view by its support for Israel's harshly oppressive policy in the West Bank and Gaza, and furthermore this support is a dangerous liability. As Mearsheimer and Walt note, most foreign elites view the U.S. tolerance of Israeli repression as "morally obtuse and a handicap in the war on terrorism," and this tolerance is a major cause of terrorism against the U.S. and the West. The impetus for oppressing the Palestinians clearly comes and has always come from Israel, not the United States, and the impetus for supporting Israel and facilitating this oppression has come, very clearly and directly, from the lobby, which goes to great lengths to justify the occupation and to advocate on behalf of Israeli policies.

It is tempting, and not at all out of the realm of possibility, to imagine Bill Clinton having forged a final Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement were it not for the influence of his notably pro-Israeli advisers. By the time Clinton came to office, the lobby had become a part of the policymaking apparatus, in the persons of Israeli advocates Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, both of whom entered government service from lobby organizations. Both also returned at the end of the Clinton administration to organizations that advocate for Israel: Ross to the Washington Institute and Indyk to the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, which is financed by and named for a notably pro-Israeli benefactor. The scope of the lobby's infiltration of government policymaking councils has been unprecedented during the current Bush administration. Some of the left critics dismiss the neo-cons as not having any allegiance to Israel; Finkelstein thinks it is naïve to credit them with any ideological conviction, and Zunes claims they are uninterested in benefiting Israel because they are not religious Jews (as if only religious Jews care about Israel). But it simply ignores reality to deny the neo-cons' very close ties, both ideological and pragmatic, to Israel's right wing.

Both Finkelstein and Zunes glaringly fail to mention the strategy paper that several neo-cons wrote in the mid-1990s for an Israeli prime minister, laying out a plan for attacking Iraq these same neo-cons later carried out upon entering the Bush administration. The strategy was designed both to assure Israel's regional dominance in the Middle East and to enhance U.S. global hegemony. One of these authors, David Wurmser, remains in government as Cheney's Middle East adviser one of several lobbyists inside the henhouse. The openly trumpeted plan, crafted by the neo-cons, is to "transform" the Middle East by unseating Saddam Hussein, and the notion, also openly touted, that the path to peace in Palestine-Israel ran through Baghdad grew out of the neo-cons' overriding concern for Israel. Both Finkelstein and Zunes also fail to take note of the long record of advocacy on behalf of Israel that almost all the neo-cons (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, and their cheerleaders on the sidelines such as William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Norman Podhoretz, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and numerous right-wing, pro-Israeli think tanks in Washington) have compiled over the years. The fact that these individuals and organizations are all also advocates of U.S. global hegemony does not diminish their allegiance to Israel or their desire to assure Israel's regional hegemony in alliance with the U.S.

objective is to advance Israel's interests now reside inside the councils of government proves the truth of the Mearsheimer-Walt's principal conclusion that the lobby has been able to convince most Americans, contrary to reality, that there is an essential identity of U.S. and Israeli interests and that the lobby has succeeded for this reason in forging a relationship of unmatched intimacy. The "overall thrust of policy" in the Middle East, they observe quite accurately, is "almost entirely" attributable to the lobby's activities. The fact that the U.S. occasionally acts without reference to Israel in areas outside the Middle East, and that Israel does occasionally serve U.S. interests rather than the other way around, takes nothing away from the significance of this conclusion.

The tragedy of the present situation is that it has become impossible to separate Israeli from alleged U.S. interests ­ that is, not what should be real U.S. national interests, but the selfish and self-defined "national interests" of the political-corporate-military complex that dominates the Bush administration, Congress, and both major political parties. The specific groups that now dominate the U.S. government are the globalized arms, energy, and financial industries, and the entire military establishments, of the U.S. and of Israel groups that have quite literally hijacked the government and stripped it of most vestiges of democracy.

This convergence of manipulated "interests" has a profound effect on U.S. policy choices in the Middle East. When a government is unable to distinguish its own real needs from those of another state, it can no longer be said that it always acts in its own interests or that it does not frequently do grave damage to those interests. Until the system of sovereign nation-states no longer exists and that day may never come no nation's choices should ever be defined according to the demands of another nation. Accepting a convergence of U.S. and Israeli interests means that the U.S. can never act entirely as its own agent, will never examine its policies and actions entirely from the vantage point of its own long-term self interest, and can, therefore, never know why it is devising and implementing a particular policy. The failure to recognize this reality is where the left critics' belittling of the lobby's power and their acceptance of U.S. Middle East policy as simply an unchangeable part of a longstanding strategy is particularly dangerous.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, CounterPunch's history of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

They can be reached at

The case for impeachment is clear beyond question by Ramsey Clark

The list of Bush's crimes is long. The "Shock and Awe" invasion was Bush’s war of aggression -- a crime identified as the “the Supreme international crime” by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Remember Falluja, the American Guernica, a virtual destruction of a defenseless city by superior military technology (36,000 homes, 8,400 shops destroyed in the final assault alone); Abu Ghraib, the shameful celebration of sick forms of sexual torture; Haifa Street, Baghdad, where a U.S. helicopter gun ship killed 13 unarmed people and injured 50 dancing around a burned out Bradley Armored Vehicle; Abu Shifa, a small village, where U.S. soldiers were accused of rounding up civilians, forcing them into a room, then opening fire, killing 11 people, including a 75 year-old, a 6 month-old baby, and five children under the age five; Haditha, where Marines murdered 15 defenseless civilians, and injured many more, most women and children; and tiny Guantanamo, where the U.S. has compiled human rights violations in four years that have been denounced by the entire world including the United Nations. Yet President Bush arrogantly refuses to close the Guantanamo prison, or return the land and sovereignty to Cuba while U.S. officials fret over three prisoners who committed suicide in one day to "embarrass the U.S."

The grand total of civilian deaths in Iraq is probably more than 250,000, and rapidly growing. (The Lancet Medical Journal) U.S. military deaths exceed 2500, the seriously injured number more than 15,000 and the number who will suffer mental and physical impairment from the occupation of Iraq is in the unknown tens of thousands.

What respect for human dignity! What reverence for life! What better way to make enemies?

The necessity for citizen action to secure impeachment is also clear beyond question. The Congress will not act unless We, the People demand it and vote those out of office who fail to respond.

Our government is geared for war as directed by transnational corporations, domestic industries, and the corporate media.

Both branches of our One Party system, Democrat and Republican, favor the use of force to have their way. Consider,

(1) Regime Change in Iran (1953) the Shah replacing democratically elected Mossadegh; Eisenhower (R);

(2) Regime Change in Guatemala (1954) military government for democratically elected Arbenz; Eisenhower (R);

(3) Regime Change in Congo (1961) assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Eisenhower (R)

(4) the Vietnam War (1959-1975), Eisenhower (R), Kennedy (D), Johnson (D), Nixon (R);

(5) Invasion of Dominican Republic (1965), Johnson (D);

(6) Contra Warfare against Nicaragua (1981-1988), resulting in regime change from the Sandinistas to corrupt capitalists; Reagan (R);

(7) Attack and occupation of Grenada (population 110,000)(1983-1987) Reagan (R);

(8) Aerial attack on the sleeping cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya, (1986) Reagan (R);

(9) Invasion of Panama Regime Change (1989-1990), George H. W. Bush (R);

(10) Gulf War (1991), George H. W. Bush (R);

(11) "Humanitarian" occupation of Somalia leading to 10,000 Somali deaths (1992-1993) George H. W. Bush (R) and Bill Clinton (D);

(12) Aerial attacks on Iraq (1993-2001) Bill Clinton (D);

(13) War against Yugoslavia (1999) 23,000 bombs and missiles dropped on Yugoslavia, Bill Clinton (D)

(14) Missile Attack (21 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles) destroying the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Plant in Khartoum which provided the majority of all medicines for Sudan (1998) Bill Clinton (D);

(15) Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan, Regime Change (2001-present) George W. Bush (R);

(16) War of Aggression against Iraq and Hostile Occupation (2003)-present) George W. Bush (R);

(17) Regime Change in Haiti (2004) Democratically elected Aristide for three years of chaos and systematic killing, George W. Bush (R).

There have been major aggressions every several years.

Remember that every Congress in the past half century has approved excessive military budgets and the last three have approved increases that have made the U.S. military budget larger than those of all other nations combined.

The U.S. will remain a military threat to the world until it vastly reduces its military expenditures. The single highest priority for peace is cutting the U.S. military budget. The United States government may have been able to outspend the Soviet Union into economic collapse in the Cold War arms race, injuring the entire planet in the process. Now Bush has entered a new arms race and is provoking a Second Cold War with China. Yet what can China do, as the U.S. builds a first-strike oriented missile shield and uses Japan and a huge advanced military base at Pyongtaek on Korea's west coast, not 500 miles from Beijing?

The U.S. at this time is capable of striking any place on earth with a nuclear armed missile within one hour of the order to fire, launched from a Trident II, or other nuclear weapons system. We are at this time spending billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons that can be used tactically, against four blocks of Falluja, or an alleged Al Queda camp in Pakistan. At the same time, we threaten Iran and others for seeking to develop nuclear energy with the claim that they may build a crude bomb. Yet the only defense a nation today has to U.S. militarism is the threat of nuclear retaliation. The U.S. is seeking total dismantlement and prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction everywhere else, because it possesses the vast majority of all WMD’s and far superior delivery systems.

George Bush loved being a War President while he was winning - winning over the bodies of impoverished and defenseless people, that is. Someone told him only war presidents can be great presidents. He will love war again if his polls go up.

President Bush would rather make enemies by the use of force to have his way, than seek agreement with friends by helping others and recognizing their rights and interests. He prefers to go it alone, and then entice or coerce whatever help he can get from others, whether it is for Iraq, global warming, the prohibition of land mines, or the use of minors in war, addressing hunger, poverty, AIDS, natural disaster relief, or most United Nations activities, and absolutely, the International Criminal Court which might indict him. He is spared defeat at the polls because he cannot seek re-election.

He can be held accountable only by impeachment. The American people must not acquiesce to his crimes.

Consider that all the major candidates, Democrat and Republican -- Clinton, Edwards, Kerry, McCain, Frist, -- voted for the war and/or favor the Iraq Occupation.

To stop U.S. militarism, the U.S. must vastly reduce its military expenditures, 50% in five years and further down from there on. It must use those savings to combat poverty, hunger, sickness and unemployment at home and abroad.

The U.S. must seek friends by word and deed, rather than make enemies. The harm George Bush has done to the way the rest of the world sees our country will take a generation to overcome, after we change our warlike ways.

But the only way to convince the world that We the People do not approve of the conduct of George W. Bush is to impeach him. Otherwise we can only be seen as approving of his acts, or as powerless to prevent them.

And the only way we can deter the next, and future Presidents, from seeking war rather than peace is to impeach George W. Bush and his key advisors now. Only then will political leadership know the American people will not accept more war.

Last week placed an ad calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush on the second page of the internationally read newspaper, USA Today. The impeachment movement has placed similar ads in the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. The time to impeach is now. This movement has grown with your continuing support. Please make a donation to the campaign today so that the movement will grow in the coming months. Click here.

Ramsey Clark June 15, 2006

Go to / to get involved and support the campaign to impeach Bush.

Chris Floyd: 'Father's Day: The dangerous notions of Michael Berg'

Part I: A Serviceable Villian and an Idealist Son

After last week's killing of terrorist chieftain Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (or someone just like him) in Iraq, remembrances of his most celebrated alleged victim surfaced briefly in the press: Nicholas Berg, the American businessman whose horrific beheading was publicized in a video fortuitously released less than two weeks after the first revelations of U.S. torture at Abu Ghraib.

It was this video – which featured five surprisingly chubby terrorists, masked, one wearing a gold ring forbidden by extremist Islam, another reading in halting Arabic – that made Zarqawi the Pentagon poster boy for the insurgency. Pentagon documents unearthed by the Washington Post this April revealed that the elevation of Zarqawi's profile was a deliberate, multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign aimed at the American people to foment the lie that the insurgency was largely an al Qaeda terrorist operation, not a native rebellion against the occupation. As one Pentagon general told a group of deception commandos: "The Zarqawi Psy-Op program is the most successful information campaign to date."

Zarqawi – a Jordanian thug who, like so many others, had been radicalized by the American-backed anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan – was a White House tool from the beginning. Before the war, his two-bit terrorist wannabe organization in the Kurdish-held Iraqi north had been targeted for destruction by U.S. Special Forces. But as the Atlantic Monthly reports, George W. Bush prevented at least three separate operations that would have eliminated the Zarqawi group – because such a strike would have interfered with that earlier psy-ops attack on the American people: the selling of the Iraq invasion on false pretenses. Although Zarqawi's gang was in U.S.-controlled territory where Saddam had no power, the Regime's war-peddlers used it to "prove" the non-existent link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Spared by Bush, Zarqawi proved a serviceable villian after the invasion, always there to be blamed for a new terrorist spectacular whenever a spate of bad war news hit the Homeland press – despite, once again, being in the crosshairs of American forces on several occasions. On at least three occasions in the past year, Jordanian intelligence had pinpointed Zarqawi's location in Iraq and passed the intelligence to their close compadres in the American security organs; but every time, the Americans somehow "arrived too late," as the Atlantic reports.

However by this spring, with no amount of psy-ops able to halt Bush's plunge in the polls – and with the horrific sectarian civil war unleashed by Bush's aggression eclipsing all other violence – the "Zarqawi program" was obviously faltering: not enough PR bang for the buck. And so they did his quietus make – not with a bare bodkin but a thousand pounds of bombs: a little bit of "shock and awe" to goose the news cycle. Bush could have stopped him long ago; he could have spared the Iraqi people the ravages of his favored freebooter; but he chose not to.

Who can say if the beheading of Nicholas Berg – which made Zarqawi a "star" and adroitly demonized the whole Iraqi resistance at such a critical moment – was part of that "most successful information campaign to date"? One can only hope not; one can only hope that in this, as in so many other instances, the Bush Regime was just lucky. After all, who can forget that incredible stroke of good fortune on September 11, 2001 – just one year after a group led by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Jeb Bush declared that only a "new Pearl Harbor" could "catalyze" the American people into accepting their radical militarist program of conquering Iraq, establishing bases in Central Asia, waging "pre-emptive" wars, weaponizing space, gutting nuclear treaties, and larding the war-related industries with pork beyond the dreams of avarice. As Bush himself said while the Twin Towers were still smoldering: "Through my tears, I see opportunity."

Nicholas Berg, on the other hand, was remarkably unlucky. More of an idealist than a chest-thumping corporate predator like ex-CEOs Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, Berg, 26, had developed a method for helping underdeveloped areas build safe, affordable structures where steel is hard to come by, as Wikipedia reports. Progress, not profit, was his motivating force. He was also an idealist in another way: he believed in his government. The president said Iraq had been liberated – "mission accomplished" – and that American companies needed to help the Iraqi people rebuild their land. Berg didn't realize that the president was a liar. Iraq had not been liberated but delivered into a new hell. Mass deaths, house raids, airstrikes, societal collapse and torture had spawned a fierce armed resistance. Bush's invasion had also loosed the most brutal, ignorant religious extremists – like Zarqawi – to prey upon the land. Meanwhile, "reconstruction" was a sick joke: it was just a pipeline for Bush cronies to drain Iraq, and the U.S. Treasury, bone-dry.

Berg came alone: no bodyguard of bristling mercenaries, no Halliburton subcontracts, no Beltway cronies. Work was promised, but without that insider grease, fell through. He decided to go home. Six days before his scheduled departure, he was suddenly seized by Iraqi police and turned over to U.S. forces. For reasons still unclear, he was held for 13 days – during which time the Abu Ghraib revelations ignited the land, and the tinderbox of Fallujah exploded when four mercenaries were killed in retaliation for the American shooting of Iraqi protestors a few days before.

Berg was released into this heightened turmoil one day after his family filed a lawsuit against his illegal detention; he disappeared four days later. His remains were found one month later near a Baghdad highway; the gruesome video appeared three days after that. Abu Ghraib disappeared from the front pages; it was not an issue in the presidential election that year.

Zarqawi – or "Zarqawi" – was the fake emblem of a fake war, the "war on terror" that the Bush Regime is pretending to fight while it goes about its long-planned business of exploiting "opportunities" like 9/11. Nicholas Berg was no emblem; he was just another human being literally ripped to shreds in that dark maw where high politics and low murder feast on the same lies, the same flesh.

Part II: A Dangerous Man

But despite the central role that Berg unwillingly played in the concoction of the Zarqawi legend, he was largely airbrushed from the lurid coverage of its grand finale. That's because any new story on Berg would naturally center around his most outspoken survivor, his father Michael. And Michael Berg is a man with a dangerous message, a radical subversion of every value that the Bush Administration is fighting to preserve.

In many ways, of course, it's an ancient danger, a destabilizing notion that has threatened the guardians of civilization for thousands of years. Its advocates have always been relegated to the lunatic fringe, ignored and forgotten, except in rare cases when their subversion has taken hold, usually among the lower orders. In each such case, however, down through the ages, the civilized world has, like a healthy body, acted swiftly to remove the carriers of disorder. Still, in every generation the bacillus emerges once again, and Michael Berg, no doubt weakened by his grief, has become seriously infected.

It's no wonder, then, that his media appearances last week were so brief and circumscribed. For there he was, father of a victim murdered in the most gruesome fashion imaginable by the terrorist Zarqawi (or someone just like him), a survivor fully entitled to exult in the revenging fury and violent self-righteousness that are among the chief values of the Bush Imperium – and all Berg could talk about was mercy and forgiveness, peace and restoration. He would not even take pleasure in the death of Zarqawi, whom he called a "fellow human being." Instead, he grieved for Zarqawi's family and wished that the brutal killer could have been subjected to "restorative justice" – made to work in a hospital with children maimed by war, for example – setting him on a path where his human decency might have been restored.

Nor would Berg praise the guardian of civilization, George W. Bush, for finally ending the career of the terrorist he had used so cynically to justify aggressive war. Instead, Berg blamed Bush for unleashing mass death on the people of Iraq, and instigating the cycle of violence that had consumed his son. But even for the authors of war, for the state terrorists who kill on an industrial scale, by remote control, ensconced in safety, comfort, privilege and wealth, Berg called for restoration, not revenge: they should be removed from power and compelled to some compassionate labor that might redeem their corrupted humanity.

It goes without saying that Berg's comments were instantly condemned throughout the vast engine of bile-driven groupthink known as the rightwing media. He was reviled as a traitor, a fool, a terrorist-lover, "less than human," a monster whose son will slap his face in the afterlife. He was derided for his quixotic Congressional campaign as the Green Party candidate for Delaware: what place do such weapons of the weak – mercy, forgiveness, non-violence – have in the halls of power? For the mainstream, he was just a blip, a quirky diversion in the flood of triumphant stories on Zarqawi's demise.

And to be sure, it is foolish to oppose the cherished values of our 21st century civilization: violence, bluster, ignorance and fear. It's foolish to take upon oneself the responsibility to break the cycle of violence at last, to say: "Let it end with me, if nowhere else; let it end now, no matter what the provocation; let something new, something more human, some restoration take root in this bloodstained ground."

But what if such folly is the only way for humankind to begin climbing out of the festering pit we have made of the world?

Source: Empire Burlesque

TERRORIST IN SEARCH OF CITIZENSHIP - While thousands died in Vietnam, Posada was torturing in Venezuela

While thousands died in Vietnam, Posada was torturing in Venezuela

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD—Special for Granma International—

WHILE thousands of U.S. youth —many against their will— were sent to die in Vietnam, Luis Posada Carriles was being trained in counterinsurgency techniques at Fort Benning and later assassinated and tortured individuals in Venezuela where he was employed as a henchman in 1975 when the Vietnam War ended.

Today, the terrorist of Cuban origin is trying to falsely claim the title of Vietnam vet in order to give himself respectability in the eyes of the U.S. public and receive privileges granted by U.S. immigration laws by deceptive means.

Eager to assure his escape from justice by using anything to turn him into an "honorable" U.S. citizen, his lawyer Eduardo Soto keeps reiterating that his client was a soldier during the war on Vietnam, mentioning the years 1963 and 1965.

Posada in Vietnam? Where? When? How? "He does not appear in my research into Cubans in Vietnam," commented Cuban investigator José Luis Méndez Méndez, author of several books on terrorism against Cuba. "If Posada was in Vietnam and is a veteran of that war, let the CIA and the army prove it…"

If it is true that he was a U.S. soldier "during" the Vietnam War, there is not a shred of evidence that Luis Posada Carriles ever stepped on Vietnamese soil.

April 17, 1961, Posada remained on shore at the Puerto Cabezas dock in Nicaragua with the rest of the Operación 40 killers, while the mercenaries of the 2506 Brigade left for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Nevertheless, on account of his participation in that disastrous adventure, in 1963 Posada did enter the U.S. army in the so-called Cuban Units, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and—like all the others selected — was sent to the Fort Benning military base in Georgia directed by the CIA.

There he learned counterinsurgency techniques and how to handle explosives —in other words: torture, assassination, and terrorism, alongside Jorge Mas Canosa and other individuals with similar characteristics and destinies.

Everything indicates that, in one way or another, the CIA took him out of there to fulfill dirty missions.

Reliable and documented sources place him with other Cuban Americans in Dallas when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza.


According to the U.S. Defense Department, the war on Vietnam officially began December 11, 1961. Between 1962 and 1964, when the United States had more had 17,000 troops in Indochina, 392 U.S. soldiers died while Posada was learning to make explosive devices and teach others to make them in Georgia.

In fact, in 1964, Posada’s presence is noted in a camp in Collier County where the CIA trained mercenaries to infiltrate Cuba.

Later reports place him aboard the CIA mother ship The Venus, which engaged in operations in the Florida Straits.

A declassified CIA memo dated June 18, 1965, places him in Mexico, conspiring to blow up Soviet ships in the port of Veracruz. He later reappeared in training camps for "autonomous operations" against Cuba located in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, that same year, the United States had 130,000 soldiers in Vietnam and the number of dead had shot up to 1,926, according to Pentagon figures. That is, the war was in full swing during the period in which the terrorist expects us to believe he was still enlisted in the army.

In October 1967, the CIA transferred Carriles to Venezuela where he infiltrated DIGEPOL (the political police) as a "consultant."

In his book Los caminos del guerrero (Paths of the Warrior), with a lie characteristic of the Miami mafia hero, Posada claims to have arrived in Caracas in 1969. "He’s a tremendous storyteller," comments Fabián Escalante, former head of Cuban State Security. "What happened is that (in 1967) he was a CIA informant and it doesn’t suit him to talk about that."


In 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive, 16,869 soldiers fell in Vietnam.

In 1969 Posada received Venezuelan citizenship as shown by his identification card –number V-5.304.069— the last digits representing the year of inscription — in order to become the bloody Commissar Basilio when the DIGEPOL came to be the DISIP.

In the DISIP basements Posada kidnapped, tortured, executed, and "disappeared" dozens of prisoners over more than six years. One source revealed that Posada and his personnel went as far as to eliminate the opposition by throwing its members into the sea.

Posada Carriles was DISIP Chief of Operations from 1967 to 1974. An organization founded by his victims has videotaped more than 80 testimonies documenting his actions, including the dramatic interview with Brenda Esquivel in which she recounts how, in July 1972, on Posada’s orders, she was savagely kicked in the stomach in a DISIP facility in Maracay when she was eight months pregnant, which caused her to miscarry.

More than 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, just as "soldier" Posada left the DISIP to direct the Industrial and Commercial Investigations Agency, a CIA front for Operation Condor. Soon after, he organized, with Orlando Bosch, his worst crime: the sabotage of a Cuban passenger plane in September 1976.


"He never wanted to be a U.S. citizen before? Why?" asks José Luis Méndez. "He had little love for the country that took him in and for which he served with weapon in hand defending imperial democracy around the world."

"Without a doubt he’s a poor U.S. patriot… so why now? Could it be that as a CIA "operative" it was better for him to remain a John Doe so that the U.S. government could deny any knowledge in the case of a fiasco?"

"Like they say on the X-Files, the truth is out there," he added.

According to U.S. lawyer José Pertiera, U.S. law says that it is sufficient to prove that a person belonged to the military during a time of conflict in order to claim naturalization.

It is enough to have been an active member of the military. Eduardo Soto is clinging on to this.

However, even with those services to the "homeland," Posada does not qualify because a letter from the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agency dated March 22, 2006 declared him a national security threat, which Soto has tried to downplay.

The letter stated: "Moreover, on April 20, 2004 you were convicted in Panama for Crimes against National Security and Counterfeiting Public Records for which you were sentenced to seven years and one year of imprisonment respectively. Although you were later pardoned of these crimes by the President of Panama, a foreign pardon, in itself, does not have any effect in relation to U.S. immigration laws."

It clearly states that the pardon authorized by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in 2004 just before leaving the presidency did not change in any way the crimes committed, even though Eduardo Soto has tried to manipulate the issue.

It is crucial to underline an extremely important point: when Posada was "pardoned" in Panama, a prosecution appeal against the short sentence that Posada received was still underway. And the Panama anticorruption attorney is currently investigating his untimely release.

"Posada’s legal strategy appears to be to try and attenuate his terrorist past by arguing that although he committed the crimes cited by the Homeland Security Department in the text of its Interim Decision to Continue Detention, Posada was a "soldier" following the orders of his superiors in the CIA and the White House and therefore is not guilty of any crime," commented José Pertiera.

"However, the Nuremberg Trial of Nazi murderers clearly established that the legal responsibility of a criminal (far less that of a terrorist) is not mitigated by orders received by the accused from his superiors," added the attorney for the Venezuelan government in the extradition application for the criminal.

On July 6, the judge has to decide whether to grant U.S. citizenship to the former soldier, CIA agent and torturer "during the war in Vietnam."