Saturday, October 24, 2009

CIA was focused on American journalist Wolf Blitzer in Israel

WMR has learned from a former top official of the CIA station at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv that in the late 1970s, a young and "impudent" American correspondent for the Jerusalem Post first came to the attention of the CIA because of his attempts to paint the Camp David peace accords between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, brokered by President Jimmy Carter, in a bad light. The correspondent was also seen by the CIA station as being too close to the Israeli intelligence apparatus, mainly because of his simultaneous work on behalf of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), seen by the CIA at the time as a cipher for Israeli intelligence in the United States.

The journalist in question was Wolf Blitzer, who is now CNN's top man for its Washington news bureau. The former CIA officer said that in his dealings with Blitzer, the American journalist always showed an air of "arrogance."

Blitzer's unique role as both a journalist and a public relations man for AIPAC gave him unique insight into the Israel Lobby in Washington since he was an integral part of it. in a March 24, 1993, article in the Jerusalem Post, Blitzer sounded a warning bell about a member of Congress who had been tapped as George H. W. Bush's new Defense Secretary and seemed to be wavering on support for Israel, especially in light of the Jonathan Pollard spy case.

From Blitzer's report we have the following: "A day after Jonathan Jay Pollard was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to spying for Israel, Richard Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, and a few other members of the House Intelligence Committee received a high-level classified briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency. Cheney, the new secretary of defence in the Bush administration, emerged from that closed-door session to tell reporters that he did not believe that Pollard was part of any unauthorized Israeli operation. 'I don't think it was a rogue operation,' he said on March 5, 1987. 'I think it was a major, very successful penetration of the U.S. government and our intelligence agencies by the Israeli government.' He said that such behaviour 'doesn't behoove an ally,' adding: 'I don't think we've heard the last of it.'"

Blitzer continued on reporting on Cheney's rant against Israel. ""On the one hand," he [Cheney] said, "Israel pleads a special relationship with the United States, and on the other hand, they run a major intelligence operation against us. There isn't much they couldn't get if they asked for it, but they chose not to do it that way, and I think the Israeli government ought to know that some of us are deeply concerned about that kind of conduct.'"

Blitzer also noted Cheney's support for U.S. arms sales to Arab countries: "On the sensitive matter of U.S. arms sales to Arab countries, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, he almost always has voted in favour. And most observers here believe that he will almost certainly follow in the footsteps of his Pentagon predecessors in pushing for additional large-scale weapons transfers to moderate Arab countries." And Blitzer bemoaned the fact that Cheney had not had very much interaction with AIPAC, other Jewish lobbying groups, and Jews in general: "Because he represented a very small state with only a handful of Jews, Cheney did not have to deliver many major addresses on Israel. 'He hasn't thought about the subject too much,' one Capitol Hill source said."

Blitzer continues to act as Israel's gatekeeper at CNN, determining what spokespeople will represent the Palestinian and other Arab views on the increasingly propaganda-oriented cable news network.

Israeli spying is a pandemic . . . including in Nevada

The truth about George Joannides and the CIA’s fight to hide it

First, a brief word of apology to Jefferson Morley, whose excellent and meticulously researched book, Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA was first mentioned here almost exactly one year ago, with the promise of a review to come…like so many other worthy projects, the review ended up on the back burner (the saltmine beckons and is unusually active at present), but it has not been forgotten. In the meantime, Machetera will say this: the book is terrific – engagingly written, carefully corroborated, it is a must-read for anyone curious about the CIA’s long reach in Mexico, particularly during the period in the fall of 1963 when the CIA did and then didn’t know about Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico City in his failed search for a Cuban visa. So get the book, now.

Second, José Pertierra has just published an exclusive interview with Morley at Cubadebate. Normally Machetera resists translating articles written by those with a perfect grasp of English, such as that possessed by Pertierra, not least because translation is invariably an imperfect art and she dislikes second-guessing an interview that undoubtedly transpired in English to begin with. But this interview is exceptionally interesting and important, and as yet, no English version has appeared. So in the meantime, with additional apologies to Morley, and to Pertierra, here it is. A bit of a filmed interview with Morley follows the interview.

Jeff Morley: “I’m only asking that the CIA obey the law” - Español

José Pertierra for Cubadebate

English translation: Machetera

Washington – The day that his brother was assassinated, the Attorney General of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy, spoke by telephone with one of the leaders of the terrorist campaign against Cuba, Enrique “Harry” Ruiz-Williams. Kennedy said to him directly: “One of your men did it.” Bobby Kennedy didn’t ask him. He told him. It came from his gut, because he knew those people. That’s how the journalist/researcher Jefferson Morley tells it in an interview he granted Cubadebate.

“The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 and the dirty war against Cuba organized by the Miami Cubans are intimately linked: they’re battles in the same war, “ said Morley.

“The anecdote about the conversation between Bobby Kennedy and Ruiz-Williams is well founded,” says Morley, “because the prestigious journalist Haynes Johnson was a witness. He was with Ruiz-Williams during the conversation with Kennedy.”

Jefferson Morley has a long career as a well-known journalist in Washington. He worked for 15 years for the Washington Post and has also been published in the New York Review of Books, the Nation, the New Republic, Slate, Rolling Stone and the Los Angeles Times. Recently, he published a biography of the CIA station chief in Mexico, Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA. Six years ago he filed suit (Morley v. CIA) against the CIA in order to force the Central Intelligence Agency to declassify documents dating from the period between 1962 and 1964, relative to George E. Joannides, a CIA official charged with many of the operations against Cuba in that period. On November 16th, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., will hold a hearing to listen to the arguments of both Morley and the CIA about the possible declassification of these documents.

José Pertierra: Why do you believe the CIA wishes to keep nearly 50 year old documents secret?

Jefferson Morley: Because they may contain something delicate or embarrassing for the CIA. The story that we’re told about Joannides is a show. A lie. According to his own documents which I’ve gone over personally, the story that the CIA tells us now about Joannides doesn’t match reality. The Agency tries to trivialize Joannides’ role in the operations that took place between 1962 and 1964, but history shows us the truth. Furthermore, if the documents being hidden truly do not incriminate the CIA, why do they want them to be hidden? Could it be because Kennedy was killed in 1963? That conditioned reflex to keep this secret hides something.

JP: Who was George E. Joannides?

JM: He was a CIA man whose assignment was to control and direct the Miami Cubans who were in charge of the operations against Cuba at the beginning of the 1960’s. Specifically, he was charged with controlling the Directorio Revolucionario Esudiantil (DRE) [Revolutionary Student Directorate]. The CIA commended him in 1963 for his good work directing the DRE. After the missile crisis in October of 1962, Washington wanted to “reign in” the DRE’s activities, and the CIA put Joannides in charge of that assignment. When the CIA gave him his evaluation in August of 1963, he was congratulated for having “controlled” the DRE.

JP: Who was the DRE?

JM: It was a Cuban organization headquartered in Miami. A CIA analyst told me that the DRE came to be “the most militant of the Miami exile organizations at the beginning of the 1960’s.”

Its leaders were Alberto Muller, Ernesto Travieso and Juan Manual Salvat. Salvat later started a bookstore on Miami’s Calle Ocho, called the Librería Universal [Universal Library]. One of its militants was the young Jorge Mas Canosa, who would later go on to found the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). The DRE operated from Miami under the direction of a couple of important CIA officers: David Phillips and Howard Hunt.

One of their most well-known violent operations against Cuba took place in August of 1962, when Salvat and a group of DRE militants headed to Cuba from Miami in a small boat and attacked the Hotel Rosita de Hornedo, known after the revolution as the Hotel Sierra Maestra, in Miramar (Havana), at midnight. They attacked the hotel with a cannon, terrorized the guests, and fled. Among the DRE militants who attacked the hotel that night was José Basulto, who would go on to found the Brothers to the Rescue organization in 1995. Basulto told me personally that he was the one who purchased and shot the cannon that was used to attack the Hotel Sierra Maestra that night. He said that he’d bought it in a Miami pawnshop.

(Translator’s note: Morley repudiates the word “terrorized” as it is attributed to him.)

In August of 1963, members of the DRE in New Orleans had a series of encounters with Lee Harvey Oswald. After the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the members of the DRE spread a publicity campaign to insinuate that Castro had assassinated Kennedy, because Oswald was supposedly affiliated with Cuba and the Soviet Union.

JP: George E. Joannides’ official assignment was “Head of psychological warfare for JMWAVE.” What were his responsibilities?

JM: The plan was to affect the psychology of the enemy. To change their perceptions of reality in order to bring about a change in government. The best example is that of Guatemala in 1954, when the CIA orchestrated false news bulletins about an opposition to the Arbenz government, in the Guatemalan jungle. In the end, Arbenz confused fiction for reality and panic set in. Something that never happened to Fidel Castro or Che Guevara. They understood very well the difference between the fiction of psychological war, and reality.

Joannides paid the members of the DRE. He gave them a lot of money. We know that they received $50,000 a month. In today’s currency that’s more than $150,000. It was a lot of money. He was Washington’s man in Miami in charge of the DRE.

The DRE members at that time were the CIA’s favorite Cubans. Under Joannides’ direction, the DRE had four specific tasks:

  1. Political action against Cuba.
  2. Acquisition of intelligence against Cuba.
  3. Distribution of propaganda against Cuba.
  4. Distribution of its actions and propaganda toward Latin America.

JP: What is the connection between Lee Harvey Oswald, the individual who is said to have assassinated President Kennedy in November of 1963, and the DRE? What might the CIA documents tell us about that?

JM: Four months before President Kennedy’s assassination, Oswald and members of the DRE met several times in New Orleans. They had an altercation with him in the street. The DRE sent a member to his house, making him seem like a follower of Fidel. They debated about this on the radio and sent the tape of the debate to Joannides; they even wrote to Congress asking for an investigation of Oswald who at that point in time was an innocuous person. You have to remember that at that time, the DRE had specific instructions to ask for the CIA’s authorization before making any kind of public declaration.

Scarcely an hour after Oswald’s arrest on November 22nd, the DRE leaders published the documentation they’d accumulated against Oswald and in this way influenced the coverage of the assassination by insinuating that a Castro agent had killed the President of the United States.

The Warren Commission, who investigated the assassination, never realized the connection between Joannides’ employees in the DRE and Oswald. Even in 1978, when the House of Representatives Committee on Assassinations hired Joannides as an advisor to its investigation, Joannides didn’t inform the Committee about his role in the events of 1963 and the DRE.

The attorney for the House Committee, Bob Blakey, says that Joannides obstructed the investigation by not divulging the role he played with the DRE.

JP: What are you asking of the CIA with this suit you filed in December of 2003?

JM: I’m only asking that the CIA obey the law. The CIA has told me that it has more than 295 documents that it will not release for reasons of national security. The documents I have show that Joannides traveled to New Orleans to complete tasks that the CIA charged him with in 1963 and 1964. [They show] that the CIA entrusted him with delicate operations throughout 1962-64. We don’t have any information about those operations. Joannides can’t tell us, because he died in 2001. Those are the only documents about what he did in that city with the DRE members. The CIA has the legal obligation to declassify those documents, but it does not want to declassify them. It’s locked them up. I believe that the lockup sources from the CIA department in charge of Latin America. They are hiding something. The CIA tells us that Joannides had nothing to do with the DRE. I know that’s not true. The documents I have in my possession prove that indeed there was that relationship. Why do they make these statements that are so openly false? What are they hiding?

I hope that on November 16th, Judge Richard J. Leon will support my motion to have the CIA declassify these documents, so that they may be studied. This is the only way for us to know what really happened in those two mysterious CIA operations in which Joannides worked in 1963 and 1964.

JP: The CIA says that if these documents are declassified, the national security of the United States will be endangered. Do you know what the danger is?

JM: There’s no danger. Washington has a mistaken perception about what is truly national security. I’m told that they cannot declassify nearly 50 year old documents for reasons of national security. That’s not true.

I don’t know who killed Kennedy, I don’t pretend to know. What I’m asking is that these documents be declassified which have to do with George E. Joannides during 1962 and 1964, in order to clarify the facts. This is not a threat to the country, and the Freedom of Information Act says that they must be declassified. I am only asking that the CIA obey the law.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

Palabras para las vísperas

Por Eduardo Galeano

Falta muy poquito para que el pueblo uruguayo elija nuevo gobierno.

Al mismo tiempo, en las mismas urnas, se somete a plebiscito la posibilidad de liberarnos de dos palos metidos en la rueda de la democracia. Uno de esos palos es el que impide el voto por correo de los uruguayos que viven en el extranjero. La ley electoral, ciega de ceguera burocrática, confunde la identidad con el domicilio. Dime dónde vives y te diré quién eres. Los uruguayos de la patria peregrina, en su mayoría jóvenes, no tienen derecho de voto si no pueden pagarse el pasaje. Nuestro país, país de viejos, no sólo ha castigado a los jóvenes, durante años negándoles trabajo y obligándolos al exilio, sino que además les sigue negando el ejercicio del más elemental de los derechos democráticos. Nadie se va porque quiere. Los que se han ido, ¿son traidores? ¿Es traidor uno de cada cinco uruguayos? ¿Traidor o traicionado?

Ojalá los uruguayos acabemos de una vez con esta discriminación que nos mutila.
Y ojalá acabemos también con otra discriminación todavía peor, la ley de impunidad, ley de caducidad de la pretensión punitiva del Estado, bautizada con ese nombre rocambolesco por los especialistas en el arte de no llamar a las cosas por su nombre.

La Corte Suprema de Justicia acaba de dictaminar que esa ley viola la Constitución. Desde mucho tiempo antes se sabía que también viola nuestra dignidad nacional y nuestra vocación democrática. Es una triste herencia de la dictadura militar, que nos ha condenado al pago de sus deudas y al olvido de sus crímenes.

Sin embargo, hace veinte años, esta ley infame fue confirmada por un plebiscito popular. Algunos de los impulsores de aquel plebiscito estamos reincidiendo ahora, y a mucha honra: perdimos, por muy poco pero perdimos, y no nos arrepentimos. Creemos que aquella derrota nuestra fue en gran medida dictada por el miedo, un bombardeo publicitario que identificaba a la justicia con la venganza y anunciaba el apocalipsis, larga sombra de la dictadura que no quería irse; y creemos que nuestro país ha demostrado, en estos primeros años de gobierno del Frente Amplio, que ya no es aquel país que el miedo paralizaba.

Eso creemos, digo, y ojalá no me equivoque.

Ojalá triunfe el sentido común. El sentido común nos dice que la impunidad estimula al delincuente. El golpe de Estado en Honduras no ha hecho más que confirmarlo. ¿Quién puede sorprenderse de que los militares hondureños hayan hecho lo que han venido haciendo desde hace muchos años, con el entrenamiento del Pentágono y el visto bueno de la Casa Blanca?
La lucha contra la impunidad, impunidad de los poderes y los “poderitos”, se está desarrollando en los cuatro puntos cardinales del mundo. Ojalá nosotros podamos contribuir a desenmascarar a los defensores de la impunidad, que hipócritamente ponen el grito en el cielo ante la inseguridad pública, aunque bien saben que los ladrones de gallinas y los navajeros de barrio son buenos alumnos de los banqueros y los generales recompensados por sus hazañas criminales.
Ojalá el próximo domingo confirme nuestra fe en una democracia sin coronitas, ni las coronitas del uniforme militar, ni las coronitas del dinero.

Ojalá podamos envolver esta ley en papel celofán, en un paquete bien atado, con moña y todo, para enviársela de regalo a Silvio Berlusconi. Este gran mago de la impunidad universal, que ha atravesado más de sesenta procesos y no conoce la cárcel ni siquiera de visita, nos agradecerá el obsequio y seguramente sabrá encontrarle alguna utilidad.


Lo único seguro es que, pase lo que pase, la historia continuará, y continuará el incesante combate entre la libertad y el miedo.

Yo suelo invocar una palabra, una palabra mágica, una palabra abrepuertas, que es, quizá, la más universal de todas. Es la palabra abracadabra, que en hebreo antiguo significa: Envía tu fuego hasta el final. A modo de homenaje a todos los fuegos caminantes, que van abriendo puertas por los caminos del mundo, la repito ahora:

Caminantes de la justicia,
portadores del fuego sagrado,
¡abracadabra, compañeros!

* Versión del discurso pronunciado en el Obelisco de Montevideo, en el cierre de la campaña contra la ley de impunidad, la noche del martes 20.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Are Pres. Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman Trying to Hide? Still More Proof of US_Sponsored Bloody Sexual Assault

For four years now, I have been following the fates of the
hundreds of men who have been and the 200 plus men who still are being
held and the many who have, now the record is clear, been tortured at
Guantanamo Bay. But until this weak I had never actually heard a single
such man's voice -- speaking to me live and in person.
When I went to the prison in June of this year, we journalists
were brought to view the prisoners from afar -- exactly as if they were
dangerous animals in a cage. They called to us, anguishedly, in a voice
that still haunts me. `Can I talk to them?" I asked. Many of them speak
English. No; no, no, was the answer. No one is permitted to talk to
them. Prisoners in the US have many rights to speak; but silencing the
Guantanamo detainees has been -- as all oppressors know -- key to
maintaining opprssion; and key to manipulating US popular opinion. Bill
Kristol, may God forgive him, and Dick Cheney's daughter have
started a new organization to spin the torture at Guantanamo and
elsewhere: `Keep America Safe.' (Or: `Keep Daddy Out of Prison.') But
if the perpetrators are to continue to spin America, the prisoners'
voices have to continue to be silenced.
Even those who empathize with the detainees tend to speak `for'
them -- casting them as faceless victims, who are the sum of their
victimization, just as the opposite `side' casts them as faceless,
voiceless monsters.
The biggest thing that has happened to me for a long time is
that, for the first time since I have begin this journey -- I spoke -- have
been speaking to, listening to -- a former detainee. I have been in
touch with Binyam Mohamed, who is the UK resident who was released from
Guantanamo in February -- after seven years' captivity -- and who last
Friday won a major victory when a British court ruled that the US and
the UK could not continue to conceal from the public the seven
paragraphs that describe horrific torture of Mr Mohamed, in documents
from Guantanamo. He is also suing Boeing for its part in rendering him
to `black sites' where he was also tortured.
Of course, the UK government is appealing the ruling, so we still
can't know what happened to him; but officials have told reporters that
one action that the paragraphs describe is the cutting of genitals with
a razor; waterboarding, this official said drily, is well dowon on the list of atrocities Mr Mohamed suffered.
Why are President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman trying so desperately to cover up what the record will show? Because it will be still more horrific evidence of yet more unbelievably violent sexual assault among many cases now on the record -- perpetrated by the US against those men held without charges in their direct custody or in blacksites. To the many confirmed cases of anal rape with objects that prisoners have suffered under the aegis of the US, we will now add attempted genital mutilation.
As Mr Mohamed told the Uk Daily Mail, 'they cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor's scalpel. I was totally naked. I was afraid to ask Marwan [the interrogator] what would happen because it would show fear.

'I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they'd electrocute me. Maybe castrate me.
'They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. Then they cut my left chest.
'One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction.

'I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming.

'I remember Marwan seemed to smoke half a cigarette, throw it down, and start another. They must have done this 20 to 30 times in maybe two hours.

'There was blood all over. They cut all over my private parts.

'One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists.'
This, Mohamed says, was repeated many times over the next 15 months.' []
Indeed, Mr Mohamed explained that when he was later
taken into direct US custody, a female
official was sent in daily to photograph his bloodied penis,
saying that the photos were `for Washington' to make sure
his wounds were healing. These photos are almost certainly among the images
that President Obama, Lieberman and Mrs Clinton are seeking to suppress -- and
one more example of the wholesale sexual sadism and violent perversity
-- one more example of detainees being used to generate, essentially,
real-life snuff videos and photographs - that characterized the highly perverse orders
from the White House during this era.
In a Kafkaesque situation that applies to many detainees and
lawyers, Mr Mohamed can get into legal trouble if he tells the story of
his own abuse -- and his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith of the heroic UK
organization Reprieve, was threatened with six months in prison by the
US -- Obama's team -- for writing a letter to President Obama
describing what had happened to his client.
(Right now, thinking about how the truth got out in Soviet
societies before 1989, I am desperately asking lawyers
if I can legally tell these stories through allegory, like Animal Farm.
`Once there as an island...')
In a masterpiece of perversity, the US classified the torture
used against the prisoners -- so that IF THEY TELL THEIR OWN STORIES
they are illegally releasing `classified information.' It is like
someone saying to a woman: I raped you, and now I will classify how I
raped you, so if you tell anyone you were raped -- I can send you to
You will recall that the Obama administration shocked those of us
working on human rights issues by threatening the UK's intelligence
service with refusing to cooperate in intelligence-sharing about
terrorist threats if the UK did not continue to conceal those seven
paragraphs. President Obama was willing to put the thirty million
innocent UK citizens at grave risk in order to keep secret the slashing
of men's genitals, and other nightmares, at Gitmo. Hillary Clinton, to
her eternal shame, sought to do so again as the trial unfolded. Luckily
the judge was not intimidated by these Mafia-like tactics -- though
Clinton supporters should think about what it means for American
womanhood's self-styled premiere role model to lend her efforts to
concealing and thus colluding in a crime of violent sexual torture.
I tried to find a way to talk to Mr Mohamed because he had known
Mohamed al-Hanashi, the thirty-one-year-old Yemenite detainee, the
prisoners' representative -- the man who knew all the crimes committed
against his fellows -- who was declared an `apparent suicide' in Guantanamo in June, when I was there;
turns out his death is now a criminal investigation. Someone killed
him, and the Obama administration is stonewalling; refusing, despite this secret investigation being a violation of Geneva Conventions, to give out any more

In the course of seeking Mr Mohamed out, I received his email --
and had that odd sense of unreality to see this little piece of
normality; not monster, not `victim' alone; a guy with an email address.
We corresponded; and I had the privilege of reading an op ed

he is writing, which eloquently makes the case that America's actions
in torturing people, and denying them due process, did more to inflate
al Qaida's numbers than any other factor; and that America can regain
hearts and minds around the world by prosecuting rather than concealing
war crimes. He also points out -- fascinatingly to me -- that the US
lumped all kinds of groups that were critical of the US but not
terrorist organizations under the `logo' of Al Qaida -- and terrified
the Muslim world by saying `you are either with us or against us' -
meaning, you could not be anywhere in the middle. This idea bears a
great deal more elucidation.

In the course of setting up the interview, I briefly spoke to Mr
Mohamed by phone; it was a brief, unremarkable conversation about
logistics; but in speaking directly, human to human, for the first
time, I had an existential shock. It is one thing when these names are
abstract; another when you hear a voice, just like the voices of one of
your friends, but with layers and layers of unspeakable sorrow
resonating underneath somehow -- and you realize, like a German
speaking directly to a Jew in 1950: this is one man here on the other
end of the line who was tortured in my name and in the name of my
fellow citizens. I carry this.

I asked if I could interview him about his own story and I felt
the closing-down: he explained that he is unable to tell me what was
done to him, since his case is ongoing, and, I presumed, because of the
issues of classification. This silencing still seemed to me as painful -
painful on both sides -- as other kinds of pain.

Since then I have learned something even more remarkable about Mr
Mohamed: the US offered to release him from Guantanamo years ago --
in exchange for his silence
about what happened to him -- and HE REFUSED the deal. He chose to stay in
rather than leave with his tongue -- and truth -- severed, in the hands
of his captors.

Hearing his voice in the op ed is also remarkable. He describes
his captors as `our kidnappers', for instance, which is, again,
shocking to an American sensibility -- but indeed, that is the literal
truth. He explains that while the torture was devastating, the
experience in many ways made him and his fellow prisoners stronger and
gave them a deeper understanding of the nature of oppression; it's
clear that for him, as for those held in tyrannical situations around
the world, torture gets at the body but nothing an oppressor does can
overtake the soul.

President Obama wants to try some remaining prisoners in real
trials; to release some; and he wants a third category, the devil's own
category -- of people who will be held forever because of `problems
with evidence.' What are the problems with evidence? The problem is
that what was done to them will emerge into light and be so horrific --
slashing of genitals, for instance, which any man would assume is a
prelude to castration -- that a continued coverup and impunity would be
impossible to sustain.

I was honored when Mr Mohamed let me know he had `friended' me on
facebook. I hope his voice, and that of other former prisoners, is
heard again and again, louder and louder, and gets through the media
bubble in the US; ironically, many more interviews with them are
offered in media throughout Europe and around the world. It is we
Americans who are being kept, intellectually, in a soundproof, padded room.
Only our hearing these voices can begin our long arduous path to
redemption. Hearing, listening, facing, grieving -- and owning, as the
Germans had to do, and as others have had to do at other times of
satanic mass hypnosis -- that this, this, is what we have done.

Predator and Reaper UAV operations -- from the inside

WMR has received a number of briefings on the operations of the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). For the operators of the remotely-piloted vehicles, however, they do not consider the aircraft "unmanned" because they provide 24 hours and seven days a week coverage and there is a large support team behind every Predator and Reaper flight. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lance "Sky" King is quick to point out that "we do not fly drones, we fly aircraft."

The Air Force has proudly claimed that it has not had one Predator shot down. Unofficially, however, there are reports of Predators being shot down in Iraq. There are plans afoot to place more than two A6M-114P laser-guided Hellfire supersonic missiles on the Predator, replace the Predator with a new and more foolproof radar-avoiding stealthy version. The present fleet of Predators and Reapers already possess stealth capabilities due to their carbon-fiber skin and very little metal components. An advanced version of the Reaper foresees the capability for in-flight re-fueling. Currently, the larger Reaper, which can carry four Hellfire missiles, can operate with 18 hours of sustained flight. There are plans to increase to eight the number of Hellfires carried by a Reaper.

One drawback of the Predators and Reapers are that they are not all weather. Because of the satellite links to operators at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, cloud cover poses problems for the satellite links, requiring operations to be conducted from line-of-sight forward ground control centers.

When UAVs were first used by the Air Force in 1995, they only has line-of-sight capabilities, which meant they could operate 100 miles from the ground control station. Beyond line-of-sight capabilities, using satellite links via the Predator Primary Satellite Link (PPSL) for Predator in-flight operations, began in 2001. Hellfires were also first fitted on the Predators in 2001.

There have also been reported icing problems with the Predator and Reaper, which has resulted in them being grounded. The reconnaissance capabilities of the forward camera on the Predator and Reaper, known as the "MTS Ball" or MQ-16 electro-optical/intra-red camera, can read a driver's license from 20,000 plus feet. Infra-red sensors are so sensitive, often the operators have honed on lit cigarettes at night to target people. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) permits day and night operations in most weather conditions. The infra-red surveillance systems have one drawback at night that does not exist for daytime operations. At night, the color of a vehicle, for example, cannot be determined.

Currently, the Air Force can fly 50 UAVs 24 hours a day. Two-thirds of the remotely-piloted vehicle training squadrons are at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, while the others are at Creech Air Force Base, north of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Four every four UAVs, there are two ground control stations. Reservist training on the UAVs takes place at Ellington Field, Houston, Texas and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

Each Predator and Reaper has a "cockpit" comprised of a pilot on the left, usually a qualified Air Force pilot, and and a sensor operator on the right, usually a senior enlisted person. The pilot controls a throttle stick and a rudder control. The sensor operator controls the camera at the bottom of the aircraft. There is also a moving map display with a Global Positioning System (GPS) overlay.

The pilot's screen permits the pilot to look out from the nose and the bottom of the aircraft. The screen feature is of primary importance during takeoffs and landings. For deployment operations, there is a two second delay in sending instructions to the aircraft from either Nellis or Creech.

The pilot and sensor operator also have access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or "SIPRNET" screen, which allows them to read email and scan Internet websites. A third member of the UAV team is the mission intelligence contol (MIC) operator. The MIC monitors additional screens to gather real-time and other intelligence.

Presently, Predators and Reapers, which are exchanged between the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, are a high priority for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Central Command (CENTCOM), and European Command (EUCOM). However, at the present time, 90 percent of all UAVs are dedicated to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although the Hellfire missiles are billed by the Air Force as causing "minimal collateral damage," some Air Force personnel pointed out that they do not exclusively use the weaponry or the Predators. It is known that the CIA maintains its own fleet of Predators and that some of the operations were contracted out to the former Blackwater USA, now Xe Security Services. Predators firing Hellfires have been reported to have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and possibly, Somalia.

In 2007, there were 112 Hellfire attacks from UAVs, in 2008, the number climbed to 132, and in 2009, so far, there have been 87 missile attacks. The UAVs are a personal favorite of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Israeli intelligence active in Nevada

From the Nevada Test Site to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) bases at Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases in Nevada, and even into the above top secret Tonopah and Groom Lake (Area 51) test sites, Israeli intelligence has been engaged in a full-court press, mostly targeting Department of Energy, Air Force, and contractor personnel.

Some of the Israeli intelligence presence at Nellis and Creech is semi-official, with a number of contractor personnel having past associations with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Israeli state-owned firm that manufactured the Hunter UAV used by the U.S. Army in the Kosovo war. WMR has learned that IAI contractors and officials have been present at Nellis and Creech Lake, the latter formerly known as the Indian Springs Auxiliary Air Field. The prime contractor for the Predator and Reaper UAVs, which are operated from Nellis and trained on by Air Force personnel at Creech, is General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, a major competitor of IAI that is also teamed on many contracts with Boeing.

In 2005, Moshe Keret, IAI's chief executive officer, was detained by the Israeli fraud investigation unit in an investigation of a kickback arrangement between IAI corporate managers and IAI's foreign agents. The investigation of Keret was dropped in 2007. Elta Electronics Industries in Ashdod, Israel also played a part in the corruption investigation. IAI was also suspected by U.S. intelligence of transferring sensitive technology to China.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories continues to maintain a presence at the Nevada Test Site. On October 19, 2009, a one-time scientist for Lawrence Livermore, Dr. Stewart David Nozette of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was arrested by the FBI for volunteering to pass classified U.S. defense secrets to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli Mossad agent. Significantly, Nozette, who also worked for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory NRL), the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was an "outside consultant" for IAI. Nozette also worked for the George H. W. Bush White House. Nozette held a high-level "Q" security clearance -- which grants access to sensitive U.S. nuclear secrets -- while working for Lawrence Livermore and the Energy Department. The would-be Israeli spy also attempted to pass information on U.S. intelligence satellites.

Nozette also worked for the U.S. Air Force's Phillips Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia and was considered as expert on the Strategic Defense Initiative or "Star Wars." In 2006, a non-profit organization run by Nozette, the Alliance for Competitive Technology, came under a federal investigation for making false expense claims for work performed for NASA under contract. The non-profit had also done work for DARPA and NRL and similar suspected fraudulent expense claims arose. Nozette had written checks on his non-profit business bank account for three different mortgages, pool cleaning, a Mercedes Benz, and membership dues for the LaJolla, California Tennis Club.

In January 2009, Nozette reportedly flew to an "unnamed" country, not Israel, with two computer thumb drives. He returned to the United States without the drives and immediately became suspect by U.S. counter-intelligence agents. In the past, Nozette had expressed a desire to move to Israel and tell the Israelis about his classified work for the Pentagon and Energy Department.

Adding to the Israeli intelligence and military presence in the Nellis-Nevada Test Site complex is the presence of yet another mall kiosk near Nellis that employs aggressive Israelis who try to hawk "Dead Sea" skin care products to passers-by, many of whom are active duty Air Force personnel at Nellis and Creech and civilian employees and contractors at the Nevada Test Site and Area 51. The kiosk is located on the Las Vegas Boulevard side of the Fashion Show Mall in downtown Las Vegas. In the past, U.S. counter-intelligence agencies have identified these Israeli-operated mall kiosks as intelligence fronts and WMR has reported on their activities in Columbia, Maryland, near the National Security Agency, and the MacArthur Center Mall in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, near the U.S. Naval Base.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Depleted Uranium Weapons: Dead Babies in Iraq and Afghanistan Are No Joke

by Dave Lindorff

The horrors of the US Agent Orange defoliation campaign in Vietnam, about which I wrote on Oct. 15, could ultimately be dwarfed by the horrors caused by the depleted uranium weapons which the US began using in the 1991 Gulf War (300 tons), and which it has used much more extensively--and in more urban, populated areas--in the Iraq War and the now intensifying Afghanistan War.

Depleted uranium, despite its rather benign-sounding name, is not depleted of radioactivity or toxicity. The term “depleted” refers only to its being depleted of the U-235 isotope needed for fission reactions in nuclear reactors. The nuclear waste material from nuclear power plants, DU as it is known, is what is removed from the power plants’ spent fuel rods and is essentially composed of the uranium isotope U-238 as well as U-236 (a product of nuclear reactor fission, not found in nature), as well as other trace radioactive elements. Once simply a nuisance for the industry, that still has no permanent way to dispose of the dangerous stuff, it turns out to be an ideal metal for a number of weapons uses, and has been capitalized on by the Pentagon. 1.7 times heavier than lead, and much harder than steel, and with the added property of burning at a super-hot temperature, DU has proven to be an ideal penetrator for warheads that need to pierce thick armor or dense concrete bunkers made of reinforced concrete and steel. Once through the defenses, it burns at a temperature that incinerates anyone inside (which is why we see the carbonized bodies of bodies in the wreckage of Iraqi tanks hit by US fire). Accordingly it has found its way into 30 mm machine gun ammunition, especially that used by the A-10 Warthog ground-attack fighter planes used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as Kosovo). It is also the warhead of choice for Abrams tanks and is also reportedly used in GBU-28 and the later GBU-37 bunker buster bombs, each of which can have 1-2 tons of the stuff in its warhead. DU is also used as ballast in cruise missiles, and this burns up when a missile detonates its conventional explosive. Some cruise missiles are also designed to hit hardened targets and reportedly feature DU warheads, as does the AGM-130 air-to-ground missile, which carries a one-ton penetrating warhead. In addition, depleted uranium is used in large quantities in the armor of tanks and other equipment. This material becomes a toxic source of CU pollution when these vehicles are attacked and burned.

While the Pentagon has continued to claim, against all scientific evidence, that there is no hazard posed by depleted uranium, US troops in Iraq have reportedly been instructed to avoid any sites where these weapons have been used—destroyed Iraqi tanks, exploded bunkers, etc.—and to wear masks if they do have to approach. Many torched vehicles have been brought back to the US, where they have been buried in special sites reserved for dangerously contaminated nuclear materials. (Thousands of tons of DU-contaminated sand from Kuwait, polluted with DU during the US destruction of Iraq’s tank forces in the 1991 war, were removed and shipped to a waste site in Idaho last year with little fanfare.) Suspiciously, international health officials have been prevented or obstructed from doing medical studies of DU sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an excellent series of articles several years ago by the Christian Science Monitor described how reporters from that newspaper had visited such sites in Iraq with Geiger-counters and had found them to be extremely “hot” with radioactivity.

The big danger with DU is not as a pure metal, but after it has exploded and burned, when the particles of uranium oxide, which are just as radioactive as the pure isotopes, can be inhaled or ingested. Even the smallest particle of uranium in the body is both deadly poisonous as a chemical, and over time can cause cancer—particularly in the lungs, but also the kidneys, testes and ovaries.

There are reports of a dramatic increase in the incidence of deformed babies being born in the city of Fallujah, where DU weapons were in wide use during the November 2004 assault on that city by US Marines. The British TV station SKY UK, in a report last month that has received no mention in any mainstream American news organization, found a marked increase in birth defects at local hospitals. Birth defects have also been high for years in the Basra area in the south of Iraq, where DU was used not just during America’s 2003 “shock and awe” attack on Iraq, but also in the 1991 Gulf War.

Deformed baby born in post-US Invasion Iraq: DU's legacy?

Further, a report sent to the UN General Assembly by Dr Nawal Majeed Al-Sammarai, Iraq’s Minister of Women’s Affairs since 2006, stated that in September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital had 170 babies born, 24% of which died within their first week of life. Worse yet, fully 75% of the babies born that month were deformed. This compares to August 2002, six months before the US invasion, when 530 live births were reported with only six dying in the first week, and only one deformity. Clearly something terrible is happening in Fallujah, and many doctors suspect it’s the depleted uranium dust that is permeating the city.

But the real impact of the first heavy use of depleted uranium weaponry in populous urban environments (DU was used widely especially in 2003 in Baghdad, Samara, Mosul and other big Iraqi cities), will come over the years, as the toxic legacy of this latest American war crime begins to show up in rising numbers of cancers, birth defects and other genetic disorders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of course, as in the case of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the toxic effects of this latest battlefield use of toxic materials by the US military will also be felt for years to come by the men and women who were sent over to fight America’s latest wars. As with Agent Orange, the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department have been assiduously denying the problem, and have been just as assiduously denying claims by veterans of the Gulf War and the two current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who claim their cancers and other diseases have anything to do with their exposure to DU.

The record on Agent Orange should lead us to be suspicious of the government’s claims.
The deformed and dead babies in Iraq should make us demand a cleanup of Iraq and Afghanistan, medical aid for the victims, and a ban on all depleted uranium weapons.

Monday, October 19, 2009

From Cynthia McKinney: Report from South Africa, Upcoming Events, Interesting Video Links

Cynthia McKinney: Report from South Africa, Upcoming Events, Interesting Video Links

Hello, as promised, I'll give you a brief report from my visit to Cape Town, South Africa.

First of all, I was hosted by two activists who founded Channel Four News, a hard-hitting, truth-telling, non-special interest news outlet serving Cape Town and all of South Africa. But because of their hard-hitting questions to elected leaders, the post-apartheid era government chose to enact regulations that resulted in their temporary shutdown. Undaunted, they organized a very informative film festival chock full of documentaries recalling the South Africa-Israel connections that beefed up repressive capabilities in both states; the role of Coca Cola during the sanctions era; scenes from Gaza after Israel's Operation Cast Lead; and stories of general Palestinian life with plays, songs, and films. Please click here to hear one of the most moving songs I have heard in a very long time:

(Note from Anita: for some reason this video would not come up for me and I got a strange YouTube error message: The URL contained a malformed video ID.)

The name of the group is Desert Rose. The woman singing loaned me her makeup because I was without my suitcases, and it turned out that she sang the most heart-wrenching song of the night, Ayala Katz. The song has been banned by certain Rabbinical authorities in South Africa. Please share this song with all of your friends. I listen to it every day.

Much is at stake today in South Africa at a time when criminal charges have been brought against the South African National Police Commissioner and those charges have implications for the country's leading political party; in addition, there are ongoing investigations into arms deals that could lead all the way to top ANC leaders; information is beginning to leak out about secret negotiations between certain elements of the black resistance and the global elite even before ANC took power; and all of this information coming out at this time might indicate that the people's interests were sold out long before the ink was dry on these arms deals. It is good that South Africans are beginning to look critically and more closely at what they (a nd we, the progressive forces in the world) actually won and to investigate whether they voluntarily stopped short of complete victory. Of course, it was the people on the ground, inside South Africa, who bore the
brunt of the struggle and who should reap the benefits of the victory. And they are not, and that's why this line of questioning is more prevalent.

Likewise, for us, prudence dictates that we all now pay very close attention to what is happening in the "post-racial" economy of the U.S. I am absolutely certain that there are lessons in the South African experience for us today.

Just before I arrived in Cape Town, approximately 60,000 textile workers had been on strike all over the country since September 15th. Before that, South Africa had seen general strikes called by municipal workers (over 150,000), construction workers, doctors, and taxi drivers.

I've just been told that the second electricity price hikes have been announced in order to pay for the 2010 World Cup infrastructure needs. If you'll recall, the 2006 World Cup was stolen from South Africa by one racist voter on the Committee who refused to follow his country's instructions and vote for South Africa and instead voted for Germany and the World Cup governing body, FIFA, allowed the vote to stand, so the 2006 World Cup went to Germany, instead. Well, 2010 is South Africa.

And are they building stadium after stadium! And they're beautiful. But the problem is that apartheid-era economic divisions remain and they are stark. On one side of the mountain are the pristine manses, but they have to be served by the blacks, who still live in squalor, so on the other side of the mountain is the most putrid poverty one could witness. Unfortunately, ANC leadership went along with changing the face of the political apartheid regime while allowing the gross, mean, ugly economic apartheid to remain rigidly in place. Land reform, one of the more obvious disparities, is not even on the agenda, I was told.

At the Film Festival, I debuted a short documentary on the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. This documentary shows the occupation of black and brown neighborhoods by a militarized, local law enforcement apparatus that parallels, in many ways, the current experiences of neighborhoods of color in post-apartheid South Africa, and of Palestinians on their own occupied land.

The film was done by Operation Small Axe (from the Bob Marley song) and it
is narrated by Pacifica's and the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper's own J. R. Valrey, known in the Bay Area as the Minister of Information. The film was very well received by the South African audience who told me that their experience is exactly like that experienced by the young people of the Bay Area, up to and including the murder of Oscar Grant, as chronicled in the film. The South African audience could not believe that they were watching actual footage of a young man's murder.

After seeing what I've seen in Cape Town, it appears to me that the World Cup in South Africa will be just like the Olympics were in Atlanta: the public treasury was expended for the benefit of the fat cats and political insiders who managed most of the private reward. In Atlanta, the citizens were lucky if they got street lights and sidewalks from the deal. Gentrification, a nice way of saying ethnic cleansing, was accelerated and black homeowners were pushed out of the central city--much by design. And along with them went much of their powerful political punch.

A blockbuster book is about to be written by one of South Africa's leading journalists, whom I was able to meet, about the still-brewing arms scandal where, upon inauguration of the post-apartheid government, $5 billion was spent on arms with BAE Systems, rather than on the people. The only thing is that the deal was sealed with what authorities call "financially incentivising" politicians to the tune of C2A3100 million.

And remember, just last year, Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher's son pleaded guilty to gun running and coup plotting in oil-rich West Africa, in a story that Channel Four News played a central role in breaking and developing.

So, I was with this same Channel Four News outfit that was so chock-full of information about post-apartheid South Africa, from the triumphs to the disappointments of the people. It was sad as I rode through the many townships of the Cape Town area and saw sewage running through the streets, no land for any type of community gardening or farming, not even trees for a brief respite from the sun, or from which to pluck a piece of fruit.

As we made our way to Robben Island, the famous prison of South Africa's most famous political prisoners, I could see and hear Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Robert Sobukwe in my mind; my hosts told of their apartheid-era exploits--everyone played a role in the liberation of South Africa, but everyone must now also play a role in its stewardship and the management of the reward a nd the people's resources.

I'll go back to South Africa, I want to spend even more time with my hosts, and learn more about their struggle, experience the incredible vistas, and find ways to apply their knowledge to the problems confronting us inside this country today.

Probably, the most important lesson from Cape Town and Paris is this: We a re a part of a global movement for truth and justice. And we cannot be stopped.