Saturday, March 13, 2010

Uri Avnery: A Matter of Timing

SOME WEEKS the news is dominated by a single word. This week’s word was “timing”.

It’s all a matter of timing. The Government of Israel has insulted the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, one of the greatest “friends” of Israel (meaning: somebody totally subservient to AIPAC) and spat in the face of President Barack Obama. So what? It’s all a matter of timing.

If the government had announced the building of 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem a day earlier, it would have been OK. If it had announced it three days later, it would have been wonderful. But doing it exactly when Joe Biden was about to have dinner with Bibi and Sarah’le – that was really bad timing.

The matter itself is not important. Another thousand housing units in East Jerusalem, or 10 thousand, or 100 thousand – what different does it make? The only thing that matters is the timing.

As the Frenchman said: It’s worse than criminal, it’s stupid.

THE WORD “stupid” also figured prominently this week, second only to “timing”.

Stupidity is an accepted phenomenon in politics. I would almost say: to succeed in politics, one needs a measure of stupidity. Voters don’t like politicians who are too intelligent. They make them feel inferior. A foolish politician, on the other hand, appears to be “one of the folks”.

History is full of acts of folly by politicians. Many books have been written about this. To my mind, the epitome of foolishness was achieved by the events that led to World War I, with its millions of victims, which broke out because of the accumulated stupidity of (in ascending order) Austrian, Russian, German, French and British politicians.

But even stupidity in politics has its limits. I have pondered this question for decades, and who knows, one day, when I grow up, I might write a doctoral thesis about it.

My thesis goes like this: In politics (as in other fields) foolish things happen regularly. But some of them are stopped in time, before they can lead to disaster, while others are not. It this accidental, or is there a rule?

My answer is: there certainly is a rule. It works like this: when somebody sets in motion an act of folly that runs counter to the spirit of the regime, it is stopped in its tracks. While it moves from one bureaucrat to another, somebody starts to wonder. Just a moment, this cannot be right! It is referred to higher authority, and soon enough somebody decides that it is a mistake.

On the other hand, when the act of folly is in line with the spirit of the regime, there are no brakes. When it moves from one bureaucrat to the next, it looks quite natural to both. No red light. No alarm bell. And so the folly rolls on to the bitter end.

I remember how this rule came to my mind the first time. In 1965, Habib Bourguiba, the president of Tunisia, took a bold step: he made a speech in the biggest refugee camp in Jericho, then under Jordanian rule, and called upon the Arabs to recognize Israel. This caused a huge scandal all over the Arab world.

Some time later, the correspondent of an Israeli paper reported that in a press conference at the UN headquarters, Bourguiba had called for the destruction of Israel. This sounded strange to me. I made inquiries, checked the protocol and found out that the opposite was true: the reporter had mistakenly turned a no into a yes.

How did this happen? If the journalist had erred in the opposite direction and reported, for example, that Gamal Abd-el-Nasser had called for the acceptance of Israel into the Arab League, the news would have been stopped at once. Every red light would have lit up. Someone would have called out: Hey, something strange here! Check again! But in the Bourguiba case nobody noticed the mistake, for what is more natural than an Arab leader calling for the destruction of Israel? No verification needed.

That’s what happened this week in Jerusalem. Every government official knows that the nationalist Prime Minister is pushing for the Judaization of East Jerusalem, that the extreme nationalist Minister of the Interior is even more eager, and that the super-nationalist Mayor of Jerusalem practically salivates when he imagines a Jewish quarter on the Temple Mount. So why should a bureaucrat postpone the confirmation of a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem? Just because of the visit of some American windbag?

Therefore, the timing is not important. It’s the matter itself that’s important.

DURING HIS last days in office, President Bill Clinton published a peace plan, in which he tried to make up for eight years of failure in this region and kowtowing to successive Israeli governments. The plan was comparatively reasonable, but included a ticking bomb.About East Jerusalem, Clinton proposed that what is Jewish should be joined to the State of Israel and what is Arab should be joined to the state of Palestine. He assumed (rightly, I believe) that Yasser Arafat was ready for such a compromise, which would have joined some new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to Israel. But Clinton was not wise enough to foresee the consequences of his proposal.

In practice, it was an open invitation to the Israeli government to speed up the establishment of new settlements in East Jerusalem, expecting them to become part of Israel. And indeed, since then successive Israeli governments have invested all available resources in this endeavor. Since money has no smell, every Jewish casino-owner in America and every Jewish brothel-keeper in Europe was invited to join the effort. The Biblical injunction – “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 23:18) – was suspended for this holy cause.

Now the pace is speeded up even more. Because there is no more effective means of obstructing peace than building new settlements in East Jerusalem. THAT IS clear to anyone who has dealings with this region. No peace without an independent Palestinian state, no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem. About this there is total unanimity among all Palestinians, from Fatah to Hamas, and between all Arabs, from Morocco to Iraq, and between all Muslims, from Nigeria to Iran.

There will be no peace without the Palestinian flag waving above the Haram al-Sharif, the holy shrines of Islam which we call the Temple Mount. That is an iron-clad rule. Arabs can compromise about the refugee problem, painful as it may be, and about the borders, also with much pain, and about security matters. But they cannot compromise about East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine. All national and religious passions converge here.

Anyone who wants to wreck any chance for peace – it is here that he has to act. The settlers and their supporters, who know that any peace agreement would include the elimination of (at least) most settlements, have planned in the past (and probably are planning now) to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount, hoping that this would cause a worldwide conflagration which would reduce to ashes the chances of peace once and for all.

Less extreme people dream about the creeping ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem by administrative chicanery, demolition of houses, denying means of livelihood and just making life in general miserable for Arabs. Moderate rightists just want to cover every empty square inch in East Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods. The aim is always the same.

THIS REALITY is, of course, well known to Obama and his advisors. In the beginning they believed, in their innocence, that they could sweet talk Netanyahu and Co. into stopping the building activity to facilitate the start of negotiations for the two-state solution. Very soon they learned that this was impossible without exerting massive pressure – and they were not prepared to do that.

After putting up a short and pitiful struggle, Obama gave in. He agreed to the deception of a “settlement freeze” in the West Bank. Now building is going on there with great enthusiasm, and the settlers are satisfied. They have completely stopped their demonstrations.

In Jerusalem there was not even a farcical attempt – Netanyahu just told Obama that he would go on building there (“as in Tel Aviv”), and Obama bowed his head. When Israeli officials announced a grandiose plan for building in “Ramat Shlomo” this week, they did not violate any undertaking. Only the matter of “timing” remained.

FOR JOE BIDEN, it was a matter of honor. For Mahmoud Abbas, it is a matter of survival.

Under intense pressure from the Americans and their agents, the rulers of the Arab countries, Abbas was obliged to agree to negotiations with the Netanyahu government – though only “proximity talks”, a euphemism for “distance talks”.

Clearly, nothing will come out of these talks except more humiliation for the Palestinians. Quite simply: anyone building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is announcing in advance that there is no chance for an agreement. After all, no sane Israeli would invest billions in a territory he intends to turn over to the Palestinian state. A person who is eating a pizza is not negotiating about it in good faith.

Even at this late stage, Abbas and his people still hope that something good will come out of all this: the US will acknowledge that they are right and exert, at long last, real pressure on Israel to implement the two-state solution.

But Biden and Obama did not give much cause for hope. They wiped the spit off their faces and smiled politely.

As the saying goes: when you spit in the face of a weakling, he pretends that it is raining. Does this apply to the president of the most powerful country in the world?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We don't need no stinking Emanuel health care

Hello Americans! Stand by for . . . news!

It was a typically cold winter day on February 3, 1968, in the Windy City area. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston of the suburban Chicago town of Northlake were alarmed when the pregnant Mrs. Johnston began experiencing the contractions that could only mean one thing. She was going into labor.

Phillip Johnston and his wife rushed in their car to Columbus Hospital, where their pediatrician was on staff. However, Mrs. Johnston's condition was growing more dire as she began to give birth. Phillip, realizing there was an emergency, stopped at a police station looking for help. A policeman, who was going off duty, said there was nothing he could do to help. Phillip, growing more frantic, flagged down a police car

Police officer Robert Carlson escorted the Johnstons to the closest hospital, Sheridan General. A doctor and nurse at Sheridan told the Johnstons that they would have to drive to Edgewater Hospital, a now-critical mile and a half away, because Sheridan lacked maternity facilities. Officer Carlson was appalled and he told UPI that the doctor at Sheridan "didn't examine the woman or anything . . . he just gave us directions to Edgewater Hospital." Sheridan's chairman of gynecology -- remember that Sheridan said it had no maternity facilities, but had a staff gynecologist -- defended the actions of the Sheridan staff on duty in sending away Mrs. Johnston who was then experiencing childbirth.

The Johnston's experienced their worst nightmare when their precious bundle of joy died at Edgewater Hospital after being born in the backseat of Mr. Johnston's car. The cause of death, according to their pediatrician at Columbus, was a "brain hemorrhage and brain damage because of a lack of oxygen."

But what could have been so important for the Johnston's pediatrician that he could not call Sheridan and demand that they render immediate assistance to his patient?

The Jerusalem-born pediatrician for the Johnstons was an Orthodox Jew who obviously felt that his duties on February 3, the Sabbath, outweighed those to his patient and her baby. And one could reasonably ask what the life of an infant girl on a cold Chicago day back in 1968 meant to a former terrorist for the Israeli Zionist terror gang Irgun Zvai Leumi who participated in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 91 innocent Britons, Arabs, and Jews and wounding 46 others.

Later, the Chicago pediatrician who barely lifted a finger to help the Johnstons save the life of their infant daughter, would gloat in the appointment of his son as the chief of staff to the most important office holder in the world, the president of the United States. Remarking on his son's total commitment to Israel, the retired pediatrician declared that his son would "influence the president to be pro-Israel," adding, "Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House."

Emulating his father's poor bedside manners, the son would refer to liberal Democrats as "fucking retarded" and Washington, DC as "fucknutsville." The Chicago pediatrician's other son would be pulled from a senior position at the National Institutes of Health to advise the White House on health care reform and push a system favorable to the insurance industry.

After his son became White House chief of staff, the Chicago pediatrician's entry would disappear from Wikipedia. Two of the pediatrician's sons would become key players in health care reform and push for the same type of aloof and detached medical care that the Johnstons experienced first hand from their primary pediatrician provider.

The pediatrician whose three sons became powerful in politics, medicine, and Hollywood is none other than Benjamin Emanuel, the father of President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, White House health care adviser Ezekiel Emanuel, and Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel. Meanwhile, in an all-but-forgotten Chicago grave lies the infant daughter of the Johnstons.

And now you know . . . the rest of the story!

New York Times, 4 Feb. 1968:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Rove's reinvention of history.

George W. Bush's top political adviser Karl Rove is hitting the talk show circuit flogging his new book. Rove is also attempting to alter history. Rove's latest claim, made in an interview with NBC Toda's Matt Lauer, is that he never engaged in smear tactics against Senator John McCain in the 2000 GOP primary in South Carolina and that his reputation as a political dirty trickster in undeserved. Rove particularly bristles a the term "Rovian" to describe political smear campaigns.

The following is a November 1, 2002, article on Rove's long history of political dirty tricks.


Exposing Karl Rove

He's America's Joseph Goebbels. As a 21-year old Young Republican in Texas, Karl Rove not only pimped for Richard Nixon's chief political dirty tricks strategist Donald Segretti but soon caught the eye of the incoming Republican National Committee Chairman, George H. W. Bush. Rove's dirty tricks on behalf of Nixon's 1972 campaign catapulted Rove onto the national stage. From his Eagle's Nest in the West Wing of the White House, Rove now directs a formidable political dirty tricks operation and disinformation mill.

Since his formative political years when he tried to paint World War II B-24 pilot and hero George McGovern as a left-wing peacenik through his mid-level career as a planter of disinformation in the media on behalf of Texas and national GOP candidates to his current role as Dubya's "Svengali," Rove has practiced the same style of slash and burn politics as did his Nixonian mentor Segretti. Many of us remember the Lincolnesque Senator Ed Muskie breaking down in tears during the 1972 campaign over Segretti-planted false stories in a New Hampshire newspaper that accused Mrs. Muskie of being a heavy smoker, drinker, and cusser and accused Muskie of uttering a slur in describing New Hampshire's French Canadian population. Rove's hero also forged letters on fake Muskie campaign letterhead, disrupted rallies and fundraising dinners, and spread false stories about the sex lives of candidates. Segretti's brush also smeared George McGovern, George Wallace, Shirley Chisholm, and McGovern's first vice presidential choice, Senator Tom Eagleton. Segretti of course did not go on to a high-level White House job -- he was sentenced to six months in federal prison for distributing illegal campaign material.

In many respects, however, the apprentice Rove has far exceeded the chicanery and evil-mindedness of his mentor Segretti. Rove is a tech-savvy puppet master for Bush. Take, for example, last June's discovery of a "lost" CD-ROM in Lafayette Park across from the White House. Contained on the CD was a PowerPoint presentation given by White House political director Ken Mehlman to Rove on the strategy for next Tuesday's off-year election. The slide show showed First Brother Jeb Bush being vulnerable in Florida. Jeb Bush later joked that the disc was part of a plot cooked up by him and his brother to make it appear that he was vulnerable in order to rally an otherwise complacent GOP base in the Sunshine State. Or was it a joke? Jeb Bush and his political minions like Katherine Harris have shown us that if anyone thinks what the GOP has done in Florida is funny they have an incredibly sick sense of humor.

Rove's own tendency to be sick-minded originates with his mentor Segretti. The 2000 GOP primary was a chance for Rove to hone his skills in dirty tricks. His target then was Senator John McCain who appeared to be within striking distance of Dubya in South Carolina after the then-GOP maverick's surprise upset victory in New Hampshire. Rove's operation proceeded to target McCain with false stories: McCain was a stoolie for his captors in the Hanoi Hilton (this from a lunatic self-promoting Vietnam "veteran"); McCain fathered a black daughter out of wedlock (a despicable reference to McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter); Cindy McCain's drug "abuse"; and even McCain's "homosexuality." In the spirit of Segretti, Rove engineered a victory for Dubya but at the cost of trashing an honorable man and his family. Muskie, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Hart, Tsongas, Clinton, Biden, Dole, Perot, and others had all seen the Segretti/Rove slash and burn tactics before.

And Rove's penchant for fascistic demagoguery and outright lying continues to this very day. After Paul Wellstone's sons asked that Vice President Dick Cheney not attend the Minneapolis memorial service for their father, mother, and sister, the White House explained that the real reason wasn't the surviving Wellstone family's abhorrence for Cheney but the fact the family didn't want Cheney's Secret Service protection to interfere with public access to the service. Of course, the Rove and Ari Fleischer disinformation machine forgot to take into account that two attendees, Bill and Hillary Clinton, had their own Secret Service details. But such is the case with a White House that takes its lessons from Goebbels and the editorial staff of the old Soviet News Agency Tass.

Rove's dirty fingerprints could also be seen in the Iowa Senate race between Tom Harkin and GOP candidate Greg Ganske. A few months ago, a story was leaked that the Harkin campaign had employed a spy within the Ganske campaign. To put this in a Rove context, we must go back to the 1986 Texas gubernatorial race in which Rove's candidate Bill Clements was taking on Democratic Governor Mark White. Just before a debate between the two candidates, Rove spun the story that his office had been bugged. No proof. But the insinuation that White's people had carried out the bugging was reported by the media. In the election, Clements defeated White. Rove stashed away more political capital into his already heavy knapsack of ill-gotten IOUs.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, we were obviously treated to more Rove chicanery when the following Associated Press story hit the wires: "A woman who worked for a media company that produced ads for President George W. Bush's campaign was indicted for secretly mailing a videotape of Bush practicing for a debate to Vice President Al Gore's campaign." Yes, that videotape, along with a 120-page briefing book, just happened to turn up in Gore's headquarters as fast as the CD-ROM turned up in Lafayette Park. The sourcerer Segretti must be very proud of his apprentice. In 1980, no Republican bemoaned the fact that Jimmy Carter's debate briefing book was swiped and found its way into the hands of the Reagan-Bush campaign. In Rove's world, its only an affront when someone "steals" your own campaign secrets and not when your are on the receiving end of a heist.

"If you're not with me, you're against me." Bush's binary view of "good and evil" and "friend and enemy" sits well with the Rove strategy. Georgia's conservative but libertarian-minded Representative Bob Barr found out about this in last August's primary when his GOP primary opponent John Linder began spreading around stories that Barr was "soft on terrorism." Because Barr was skeptical about a number of aspects of the Bush-Ashcroft USA PATRIOT Act, he became a target for the Rove machine. However, it was likely that Barr became a target earlier on when he supported Steve Forbes against Bush in the 2000 primary. Bush apparently means to say, "If you've not always been with me, you're against me." It must have really been a dilemma for Bush and Rove to have to come to the support of John Sununu, Jr. in the New Hampshire Senate race. Although Daddy made George W. unceremoniously give the axe to Sununu's father as White House Chief of Staff during the Bush 41 administration, the man who the junior Sununu defeated in the primary, Bob Smith, was even more of a problem. He had the temerity to quit the Republican Party in 2000 and run against Dubya for President. So in Bushspeak, which is obviously borrowed from Forrest Gump's scripts, "if you're less with me than the other guy, you're more against me."

Undoubtedly, Rove was also behind the campaign to "get" Georgia Representative Cynthia McKinney who was the first nationally-known politician to question what Bush may have known beforehand about 9-11. She was defeated by a former Republican state judge who had supported the wacky Alan Keyes for President in 2000. Never mind, McKinney was "less with Bush" than Keyes, so it was more important to get McKinney who was "more against" Bush.

In all seriousness, rewarding the GOP on November 5 will only increase the appetite of Rove to amass more and more power into the White House. The advent of a Democratic-controlled Senate and House might even begin to spell the end of the road for Segretti's star pupil. German opposition figures in the mid-1930s often lamented the fact that they could have stopped the rise of the Nazis if only they had been more united in a common front when they had a chance. However, they fell prey to the media manipulation of Goebbels and fought among themselves more than they did against the menace from the far right. We Americans also have an early opportunity to stem an out-of-control and anti-constitutional regime with the Rasputin-like Rove at the after steerage helm of our ship of state. That opportunity presents itself next Tuesday--Election Day.

Monday, March 08, 2010

SPECIAL REPORT -- FIRST IN A SERIES -- Rahm: "Flaking away in 'Fucknutsville'"

President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as previously reported by WMR, has been engaged in a virtual "pogrom" against progressive Democrats in the White House, as well as in Congress. However, WMR has learned from multiple Capitol Hill sources that Emanuel's vendetta has taken on vicious racial overtones with the African-American leadership of House of Representatives committees being his top targets.

On March 7, The Guardian of the UK reported that the foul-mouthed Emanuel referred to Washington, DC as "fucknutsville." The latest epithet followed Emanuel's description of progressive Democrats upset over Obama's pro-business slant as "fucking retarded."

Although the long knives are out on Emanuel among many Democrats in Congress, Obama's chief of staff has been gaining the upper hand with pro-Obama "puff pieces" recently appearing in The Washington Post praising Emanuel as the top White House pragmatist at the expense of Obama's chief political strategist David Axelrod, adviser Valerie Jarrett, and even Obama himself.

Informed Democratic and Republican congressional sources report to WMR that Emanuel's latest gambit is to wrest control of key House committee chairmanships from African-Americans and have the gavels handed over to Jewish members, all of whom are close political allies of Emanuel. The ethics probe of House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has forced him to "temporarily" hand over the chairmanship of the powerful committee to Sander Levin (D-MI) after ranking Democratic Representative Pete Stark of California, a critic of American wars in the Middle East and Israeli policies, was passed over in favor of Levin after the intervention of Emanuel with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Congressional sources do not believe that Rangel will see his chairmanship restored.

WMR has now learned that the next target for Emanuel is House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, Jr., the long-serving Michigan Democrat who has been outspokenly critical of Obama's policies on health care and other key issues.

Last year, Conyers's wife Monica Conyers, the former President of the Detroit City Council, was indicted last year for accepting a $5000 bribe from Carlyle-Synagro Technologies of Texas and then reversed her vote on approving a $1.2 billion sludge disposal contract with the city of Detroit. Carlyle-Synagro is owned by the Carlyle Group, the firm that has close ties to the Bush family.

Mrs. Conyers is due to be sentenced on March 10 by US Judge Avern Cohn, who, as WMR previously reported, has been conspiring with Emanuel to delay sentencing Mrs. Conyers as a way to pressure House Judiciary Chairman Conyers to temper his criticisms of Obama. Federal prosecutors studiously avoided bringing charges against Carlyle-Synagro because of the firm's "cooperation" in the federal investigation of Monica Conyers and her former aide Sam Riddle. WMR has learned that the bribe of Mrs. Conyers was part of a conspiracy by Emanuel, US Attorney for Eastern Michigan Terrence Berg, and FBI agent in Detroit Andrew Arena to bring down Conyers as House Judiciary Chairman by going after his wife.

After Mrs. Conyers's sentencing on March 10, Emanuel, WMR is told, will arrange for a letter signed by Chairman Conyers and sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which advocated for the Romulus hazardous waste injection well contract for Environmental Geo-Technologies, Inc., a company owned by Dimitrios "Jim" Papas, to be awarded to the firm, to be released to the media. Papas reportedly offered Riddle to receive a $20,000 sub-contract while Mrs. Conyers, according to Riddle, would receive $10,000 of that money as a finder's fee.

After the letter is released after Mrs. Conyers's sentencing by Cohn, Emanuel's media friends will call for John Conyers, the second longest serving House member after John Dingell (D-MI), to repeat the actions of Rangel and "temporarily" hand over his gavel with concurrent calls for a House Ethics probe.

However, WMR has learned from House sources that John Conyers never signed the letter to the EPA, which was drafted by an EPA fellow working on Conyers's staff. Mustafa Santiago Ali. Ali, WMR has learned, did not want to write the letter but was forced into it by Conyers's chief of staff Cynthia Martin, who, WMR is told, is part of Emanuel's conspiracy against the Judiciary chairman. After Ali wrote the letter, his fellowship on Conyers's staff was terminated by Martin.

WMR, which hopes to obtain the letter, has learned that Conyers's signature was affixed by a staffer, that it has no salutation, and is undated. However, there is a possibility that what is arranged for release by Emanuel may include a date and a salutation and thus, falsely implicate Chairman Conyers in the Detroit bribery politics that sank his wife's political career.

WMR has also learned that Emanuel is pumping campaign cash into the coffers of potential primary opponents prior to the May 11 candidate filing deadline in Michigan. Conyers's congressional colleague from Detroit, Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, whose son, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of corruption, and Conyers, are being targeted for primary defeat by potential candidates hand-picked by Emanuel. The potential opponents, which include three identified as challengers to Conyers, are receiving money from the same Israel Lobby sources who helped defeat Representatives Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Earl Hilliard (D-AL) over their lack of support for pro-Israel resolutions.

WMR has learned from an African-American congressional source that Emanuel has made no secret of his dislike of African-Americans in Congress, particularly the chairmen of committees, including Conyers, Rangel, and Homeland Security committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Ironically, Emanuel, who is the chief of staff for the first African-American president of the United States, is known to use the term "shvartz" in describing the senior African-American congressmen. Shvartz is the Yiddish word that means the same thing as "nigger."

We have also learned from a former Democratic member of the House that Emanuel's job with the investment firm Wasserstein-Perella, where he earned $16.2 million for his prospective congressional race to succeed Rod Blagojevich as congressman from Illinois's 5th congressional district, was partly arranged by the media-shy rabid pro-Israeli owner of Slim Fast Foods, S. Daniel Abraham. It is the type of political quid pro quo that Emanuel is now using to hammer Rangel, Conyers, and the ousted chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee John Dingell, who was replaced by Emanuel ally Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Blagojevich has argued that transcripts of his wiretapped phone calls were only selectively released to the media. WMR has learned from a top GOP lobbyist that Blagojevich can be expected to beat the criminal charges against him when it is revealed in trial that Emanuel conspired with U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald to indict the former Illinois governor by focusing on his attempt to "sell" Obama's vacant US Senate seat. In fact, Emanuel was adamantly opposed to Blagojevich naming any African-American, Representative Jesse Jackson III or Roland Burris to the seat. Although it has been reported that Emanuel favored Valerie Jarrett for the seat, WMR has learned that Emanuel actually was pushing for Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), an Emanuel ally, for the seat.

Knowing of Emanuel's personal dislike for African-Americans, Blagojevich responded to Emnanuel's pressure by naming Burris to the seat. Emanuel's allies in the Senate responded by greeting the junior Illinois senator with an ethics investigation. The Senate dropped its ethics investigation of Burris die to lack of evidence and merely issued a letter of admonishment on November 20, 2009. However, Burris's career was finished and he announced he would not seek re-election.

If Conyers is forced to step down or "temporarily" step aside as chairman, ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA), another Emanuel ally, would step up as chairman. Such a move would see Representative Gary Ackerman, another Emanuel friend, step up to take Berman's place as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Emanuel also has Thompson, chairman of Homeland Security, as a target. Thompson has been under an ethics cloud for taking lobbyist-funded trips to Saipan, courtesy of jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and to Saint Martin, courtesy of Citigroup lobbyists. Although Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) is the ranking Democrat on the committee, Emanuel can be expected to pressure Pelosi to find another assignment for her so that the third-ranking Democrat, Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), another Emanuel ally, can step up to chair the committee. Harman has been under a cloud resulting from her close association with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Mossad agents in Washington, DC.

WMR was told by a top GOP lobbyist who is on good terms with Representative Conyers that number of House and Senate members and staffers view Emanuel as a "dangerous psychopath" capable of doing almost anything to advance his agenda. A former African-American member of the House told WMR that Emanuel's goal is to eliminate every African-American chairman from their leadership roles and pave the way for Emanuel's Jewish colleagues to take their chairmanships from them. The strategy has already been carried out with respect to Rangel, as well as with pro-union Dingell, who is white. The strategy is about to be played out against Conyers and, eventually, Thompson.

As this story was being prepared, freshman Representative Eric Massa (D-NY), who announced his resignation after being embroiled in a homosexual sexual harassment scandal involving a staffer, announced on a WKPQ-FM Saturday radio show that he was the victim of a conspiracy carried out by Emanuel and his House allies. Massa said he had a "profanity-filled conversation" conversation with Emanuel last year after voting against Obama's health care bill. Massa said he told Emanuel to resign for his use of profanity. Massa added, "Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn . . . He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”


Earthquakes: the drilling angle.

WMR has learned from a knowledgeable source who has studied the possible man-made aspects behind a number of destructive earthquakes that seismic tomography may be the cause of quakes in Haiti, Chile, and other locations.

Seismic tomography for oil and gas exploration has been largely covered up by the energy industry, which prefers to use the term "non-explosive" methods to describe the procedure. In some cases, the use of explosives to prospect for oil and natural gas have had some negative "back blast" consequences that the industry also felt compelled to cover up. Also, in the past, oil and natural gas explorers dropped depth charges to the seafloor to generate acoustic waves in order to detect oil and natural gas deposits.

WMR's source reports that that Halliburton with help from Bechtel has used Americium-242 -- a highly reactive isotope -- with tiny pellets of plutonium to conduct sub-seafloor blasts for seismic tomography aimed at analyzing rock for the oil and gas deposits.

We have also learned that Halliburton routinely loses its capsules of Russian-made Americium-241 in places like Nigeria, India, and, Boston.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 (which took place off Aceh, Sumatra, the site of large Exxon Mobil operations), the Haiti quake and Chilean tsunami/quake have similar features of a vertical shock uplift, rather than a sideways tectonic movement, and radial patterns without any sign of a directional horizontal thrust in contrast to Kobe, Sichuan and Iwate. The recent three quakes off Sumatra and in Haiti and Chile could well be the result of borehole electromagnetic-triggered seismic activities, possibly linked to pressure releases from seabed gas domes.

How far do these boreholes go down? In each case the events were on fairly shallow shelves, accessible to submersible drilling vessels.

Full El Al flight took off on 9/11 from JFK to Tel Aviv

WMR has learned from two El Al sources who worked for the Israeli airline at New York's John F. Kennedy airport that on 9/11, hours after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all civilian domestic and international incoming and outgoing flights to and from the United States, a full El Al Boeing 747 took off from JFK bound for Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.

The two El Al employee sources are not Israeli nationals but legal immigrants from Ecuador who were working in the United States for the airline.

The flight departed JFK at 4:11 pm and its departure was, according to the El Al sources, authorized by the direct intervention of the U.S. Department of Defense. U.S. military officials were on the scene at JFK and were personally involved with the airport and air traffic control authorities to clear the flight for take-off.

According to the 9/11 Commission report, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta ordered all civilian flights to be grounded at 9:45 am on September 11.

The New York Air Traffic control center's audio tape of recollections of air traffic controllers made an hour and a half after the 9/11 attacks were destroyed by an air traffic control manager who did not face criminal charges for destroying physical evidence on the worst terrorist attack in American history. The Transportation Department later claimed the destruction of the tape was the result of mere "poor judgement."

The El Al flight took off two days before commercial flights were permitted to resume on September 13. Private flights were only permitted to resume on September 14. On September 13, a chartered Lear jet flew three Saudis, including a member of the Saudi royal family, from Tampa to Lexington, Kentucky. On September 14, a chartered Northstar Aviation flight flew four Saudis from Providence, Rhode Island to Paris.

On August 22, 2005, WMR reported: "Four Americans flew with 'Air Bin Laden' flight transporting Bin Laden family members to Saudi Arabia and Europe nine days after 911. The post-911 domestic flights of Bin Laden family members out of the United States with the sanction of the Bush White House were not the only instances where Americans have flown with the family that spawned "Al Qaeda" leader Osama Bin Laden. WMR has obtained a passenger list from a September 20, 2001 Aero Services private charter flight from Le Bourget Airport, north of Paris, to Geneva, and on to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (King Abdulaziz International Airport-OEJN). On the list are a number of Bin Ladens, as well as four Americans, including a Los Angeles Police Department officer named Jason Blum who flew to Le Bourget from Los Angeles. A previous list provided to Sen. Frank Lautenberg showed Mr. Blum departing from the Bin Laden party in Boston.The newly obtained list shows he accompanied the Bin Ladens to Paris Le Bourget. The other three Americans on the passenger list are J.P. Buonono, Joseph Allen Wyka and Ricardo V. Pascetta."

Although much has been written about the "Bin Laden" and other Saudi flights in the days after 9/11, the El Al flight in the afternoon of September 11 is the first instance of Israelis departing the United States while commercial traffic was grounded.

Another missing piece of key evidence in the 9/11 Commission Report: Who flew from JFK on El Al on 9/11?

There have also been reports that the FBI seized FAA records concerning the events of 9/11 from the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center in Islip, Long Island. The ARTCC has responsibility for flights out of JFK.

The dangers that are threatening us

Reflections of Fidel
The dangers that are threatening us

(Taken from CubaDebate)

THIS is not an ideological issue related to the irremediable hope that a better world is and must be possible.

It is known that homo sapiens has existed for approximately 200,000 years, equivalent to a minuscule space in the time that has passed since the first forms of elemental life on our planet emerged around three billion years ago.

Responses to the unfathomable mysteries of life and nature have basically been of a religious nature. It would lack sense to pretend that that was otherwise, and I have the conviction that it will always be like this. The more profound the explanations of science in relation to the universe, space, time, matter and energy, infinite galaxies and theories on the origin of constellations and stars, atoms and fractions of the same which gave rise to life and the brevity of the same, and millions and millions of combinations per second that govern its existence, the more questions humans will make in search of explanations that will be constantly more complex and difficult.

The more that human beings immerse themselves in seeking for answers to such profound and complex tasks related to intelligence, the more worthwhile are efforts to lift them out of their colossal ignorance of the real possibilities that our intelligent species has created and is capable of creating. Living and ignoring that is a total negation of our human condition.

However, one thing is absolutely certain; very few imagine how close the disappearance of our species could be. Twenty years ago, in a World Summit on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro [the Earth Summit], I spoke of that danger before a select audience of heads of state and government, who listened with respect and interest, although with no concern about the risk that they perceived at a distance of centuries, perhaps millennia. For them, without any doubt, technology and science, plus an elemental sense of political responsibility, would be capable of confronting it. That significant Summit ended happily with a large photograph of important figures. There was no danger of any kind.

Climate change was barely mentioned. George Bush Senior and other luminaries of the Atlantic Alliance enjoyed the victory over the European socialist camp. The Soviet Union was disintegrated and ruined. A vast hoard of Russian money passed into Western banks, its economy fell apart, and its defense shield against NATO military bases had been dismantled.

The former superpower that contributed the lives of more than 25 million of its sons in World War II, was left only with the strategic response capacity of nuclear power, which it had been obliged to create after the United States secretly developed the atomic weapon launched on two Japanese cities, when the adversary, defeated by the uncontainable advance of the allied forces, was no longer in combat conditions.

Thus began the Cold War and the manufacture of thousands of thermonuclear weapons, constantly more destructive and precise, capable of annihilating the population of the planet several times over. Nevertheless, the nuclear confrontation continued, weapons became still more precise and destructive. Russia is not resigned to the unipolar world that Washington is trying to impose. Other nations like China, India and Brazil are emerging with uncommon economic force.

For the first time, the human species, in a globalized world replete with contradictions, has created the capacity to destroy itself. That is compounded by unprecedented weapons of cruelty, such as bacteriological and chemical weapons, napalm and live phosphorus, which are used against civilian populations and enjoy total impunity, electromagnetic weapons and other forms of extermination. Not one corner in the depths of the earth or sea would remain beyond the reach of the current military means.

It is known that, in these ways, tens of thousands of nuclear artifacts, including those of a portable nature, have been created.

The greatest danger is derived from the decision of leaders with such decision- making faculties, in that error and insanity, so frequent in human nature, could lead to incredible disasters.

Almost 65 years have gone by since the first nuclear artifacts were exploded, resulting from the decision of a mediocre subject who, after the death of Roosevelt, remained in command of the powerful and rich U.S. power. Now eight countries – in their majority with the support of the United States – have those weapons, and a number of others have the technology and resources to manufacture them in a minimum space of time. Terrorist groups, alienated by hatred, could be capable of turning to them, in the same way that terrorist and irresponsible governments would not hesitate to use them, given their genocidal and uncontrollable conduct.

The military industry is the most prosperous of all and the United States is the largest exporter of weapons.

If our species should be liberated from all the abovementioned risks, another and even greater, or at least inescapable, one exists: climate change.

Humanity today has seven billion inhabitants and soon, within a space of 40 years, it will reach nine billion, a total nine times greater than barely 200 years ago. In the times of Ancient Greece, I venture to suppose that we were approximately 40 times less throughout the planet.

The most astounding aspect of our era is the contradiction between imperialist bourgeois ideology and the survival of the species. It is no longer about justice existing among human beings, today more than possible and something that cannot be renounced, but of the right and possibility of our very survival.

While the horizon of knowledge is extending to limits never imagined, the closer the abyss into which humanity is being led is approaching. All suffering known to date is barely a shadow of what could lie ahead for humanity.

Three events have taken place within a space of just 71 days, which humanity cannot overlook.

On December 18, 2009, the international community suffered the greatest disaster in history in its attempt to find a solution to the gravest problem that is threatening the world at this moment: the need to bring to an end, with all urgency, the greenhouse gases that are provoking the gravest problem confronted to date by humanity. All hopes had been placed on the Copenhagen Summit after years of preparation subsequent to the Kyoto Protocol, which the government of the United States – the largest contaminator in the world – had afforded itself the luxury of ignoring. The rest of the international community, 192 countries, this time including the United States, had committed itself to promoting a new agreement. The U.S. attempt to impose its hegemonic interests, in violation of elemental democratic principles, by establishing unacceptable conditions for the rest of the world in an anti-democratic manner, in virtue of bilateral commitments with a group of the most influential countries of the United Nations, was utterly shameful.

The states comprising that international organization were invited to sign a document that is nothing more than a joke, and which merely mentions theoretical future contributions to halt climate change.

Not even three weeks had gone by when, at dusk on January 12, Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere and the first to put an end to the odious system of slavery, suffered the worst natural disaster in the known history of this part of the world: an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 on the Richter scale, at just 10 kilometers of depth and at a very short distance from the shores of its coast, struck the capital of the country, in whose flimsy houses made of mud the vast majority of people who were killed or missing lived. A mountainous and eroded country of 27,000 square kilometers, where firewood constitutes virtually the only source of domestic fuel for nine million people.

If there is one place on the planet where a natural disaster has constituted an immense tragedy it is Haiti, a symbol of poverty and underdevelopment, inhabited by the descendants of those transported from Africa by the colonialists to work as slaves for white masters.

The event moved the world in all corners of the planet, shaken by film footage circulated that bordered on the incredible. The wounded, bleeding and gravely injured moved among the corpses pleading for help. Under the rubble were lying the lifeless bodies of their loved ones. The number of fatal victims, according to official sources, is in excess of 200,000 people.

The country was already under the control of the MINUSTAH forces that the United Nations sent in to restore the order undermined by Haitian mercenary forces which, at the instigation of the Bush government, attacked the government elected by the Haitian people. Some of the buildings in which soldiers and chiefs of the peace forces were resident also collapsed, causing distressing victims.

Official reports estimate that, apart from the dead, around 400,000 Haitians were injured and several million, almost half of the total population, were affected. It was a veritable test for the world community which, in the wake of the shameful Denmark Summit, had the duty to show that the developed and rich countries were capable of confronting the threats of climate change to life on our planet. Haiti must constitute an example of what the rich countries should do for the Third World nations in the face of climate change.

One can believe it or not, defying the data, in my judgment irrefutable, of the most serious scientists of the planet and the vast majority of the most instructed and serious people in the world, who think that, at the current rate of global warming, greenhouse gases will raise the temperature not only by 1.5 degrees, but up to 5 degrees, and that the average temperature is now the highest in the last 600,000 years, far before human beings existed as a species on the planet.

It is totally unthinkable that the nine billion human beings who will inhabit the earth in 2050 could survive such a disaster. The hope remains that science itself can find a solution to the energy problem which currently obliges the consumption in 100 years the rest of the gaseous, liquid and solid fuels that nature took 400 million years to create. Perhaps science can find a solution to the necessary energy. The question is to know how much time and at what cost human beings can confront the problem, which is not the only one, given that many other non-renewable minerals and grave problems require solutions. But we can be sure of one thing; on the basis of all the concepts known today: the closest star is at four light years from our Sun, at a velocity of 300,000 kilometers per second. A spaceship could possibly cover that distance in thousands of years. Human beings have no alternative but to live on this planet.

It would have seemed unnecessary to approach the issue if, just 54 days after the Haiti earthquake, another incredible quake of magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale, whose epicenter was at 150 kilometers distance and 47.4 depth northeast of the city of ConcepciĆ³n, had not caused another human disaster in Chile. It was not the largest in the history of that sister country; it is said that another one had a magnitude of 9 degrees, but this time it was not just a seismic phenomenon; while in Haiti a seaquake that did not materialize was anticipated, in Chile the earthquake was followed by an enormous tsunami, which appeared on its coast from 30 minutes to one hour afterward, according to the distance and data that is not as yet known with precision, and whose waves extended to Japan. If it had not been for Chilean experience in the face of earthquakes, its more solid constructions and its greater resources, the natural phenomenon would have cost the lives of tens of thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of people. At any rate, it caused around 1,000 fatalities, according to official data, thousands of injured and possible more than two million people suffered material damage. Almost the totality of its population of 17.94 million inhabitants suffered terribly and are still suffering from the consequences of the quake, which lasted for more than two minutes; its reiterated aftershocks; and the terrible scenes and suffering left by the tsunami along its thousands of kilometers of coast. Our homeland is in full solidarity and is morally supporting the material effort that the international community has the duty to offer Chile. If it was in our hands, from the human point of view, the people of Cuba would not hesitate to do so for the sister people of Chile.

I believe that the international community has a duty to inform with objectivity the tragedy suffered by both peoples. It would be cruel, unjust and irresponsible not to educate the peoples of the world on the dangers that are threatening us.

Let the truth prevail above the ignoble acts and lies with which imperialism deceives and confuses the peoples!

Fidel Castro Ruz

March 7, 2010

9:27 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Seymour Hersh: Secret US Forces Carried Out Assassinations in a Dozen Countries, Including in Latin America

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir earlier this month when he said the Bush administration ran an “executive assassination ring” that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. “Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving,” Hersh said. Seymour Hersh joins us to explain. [includes rush transcript]


Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for The New Yorker. His latest article is titled “Syria Calling.”

Rush Transcript

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AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh created a stir last month when he said the Bush administration ran an executive assassination ring that reported directly to Vice President Dick Cheney. Hersh made the comment during a speech at the University of Minnesota on March 10th.

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination wing, essentially. And it’s been going on and on and on. And just today in the Times there was a story saying that its leader, a three-star admiral named McRaven, ordered a stop to certain activities because there were so many collateral deaths. It’s been going in—under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving.

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, CNN interviewed Dick Cheney’s former national security adviser, John Hannah. Wolf Blitzer asked Hannah about Sy Hersh’s claim.

    WOLF BLITZER: Is there a list of terrorists, suspected terrorists out there who can be assassinated?

    JOHN HANNAH: There is clearly a group of people that go through a very extremely well-vetted process, inter-agency process, as I think was explained in your piece, that have committed acts of war against the United States, who are at war with the United States, or are suspected of planning operations of war against the United States, who authority is given to the troops in the field and in certain war theaters to capture or kill those individuals. That is certainly true.

    WOLF BLITZER: And so, this would be, and from your perspective—and you worked in the Bush administration for many years—it would be totally constitutional, totally legal, to go out and find these guys and to whack ’em.

    JOHN HANNAH: There’s no question that in a theater of war, when we are at war, and we know—there’s no doubt, we are still at war against al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and on that Pakistani border, that our troops have the authority to go after and capture and kill the enemy, including the leadership of the enemy.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s former national security adviser. Seymour Hersh joins me now here in Washington, D.C., staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. His latest article appears in the current issue, called “Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s Chance to Engage in a Middle East Peace.”

OK, welcome to Democracy Now!, Sy Hersh. It was good to see you last night at Georgetown. Talk about, first, these comments you made at the University of Minnesota.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, it was sort of stupid of me to start talking about stuff I haven’t written. I always kick myself when I do it. But I was with Walter Mondale, the former vice president, who was being amazingly open and sort of, for him—he had come a long way in—since I knew him as a senator who was reluctant to oppose the Vietnam War. And so, I was asked about future things, and I just—I am looking into stuff. I’ve done—there’s really nothing I said at Minnesota I haven’t written in the New York Times. Last summer, I wrote a long article about the Joint Special Operations Command.

And just to go back to what John Hannah, who is—was—I think ended up being the senior national security adviser, almost—if not the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff for Dick Cheney in the last three or four years, what he said is simply that, yes, we go after people suspected—that was the word he used—of crimes against America. And I have to tell you that there’s an executive order, signed by Jerry Ford, President Ford, in the ’70s, forbidding such action. It’s not only contrary—it’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s counterproductive.

The evidence—the problem with having military go kill people when they’re not directly in combat, these are asking American troops to go out and find people and, as you said earlier, in one of the statements I made that you played, they go into countries without telling any of the authorities, the American ambassador, the CIA chief, certainly nobody in the government that we’re going into, and it’s far more than just in combat areas. There’s more—at least a dozen countries and perhaps more. The President has authorized these kinds of actions in the Middle East and also in Latin America, I will tell you, Central America, some countries. They’ve been—our boys have been told they can go and take the kind of executive action they need, and that’s simply—there’s no legal basis for it.

And not only that, if you look at Guantanamo, the American government knew by—well, let’s see, Guantanamo opened in early 2002. “Gitmo,” they call it, the base down in Cuba for alleged al-Qaeda terrorists. An internal report that I wrote about in a book I did years ago, an internal report made by the summer of 2002, estimated that at least half and possibly more of those people had nothing to do with actions against America. The intelligence we have is often very fragmentary, not very good. And the idea that the American president would think he has the constitutional power or the legal right to tell soldiers not engaged in immediate combat to go out and find people based on lists and execute them is just amazing to me. It’s amazing to me.

And not only that, Amy, the thing about George Bush is, everything’s sort of done in plain sight. In his State of the Union address, I think January the 28th, 2003, about a month and a half before we went into Iraq, Bush was describing the progress in the war, and he said—I’m paraphrasing, but this is pretty close—he said that we’ve captured more than 3,000 members of al-Qaeda and suspected members, people suspected of operations against us. And then he added with that little smile he has, “And let me tell you, some of those people will not be able to ever operate again. I can assure you that. They will not be in a position.” He’s clearly talking about killing people, and to applause.

So, there we are. I don’t back off what I said. I wish I hadn’t said it ad hoc, because, like I hope we’re going to talk about in a minute, I spend a lot of time writing stories for The New Yorker, and they’re very carefully vetted, and sometimes when you speak off the top, you’re not as precise.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what the Joint Special Operations Command is and what oversight Congress has of it.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, it’s a special unit. We have something called the Special Operations Command that operates out of Florida, and it involves a lot of wings. And one of the units that work under the umbrella of the Special Operations Command is known as Joint Special Op—JSOC. It’s a special unit. What makes it so special, it’s a group of elite people that include Navy Seals, some Navy Seals, Delta Force, our—what we call our black units, the commando units. “Commando” is a word they don’t like, but that’s what we, most of us, refer to them as. And they promote from within. It’s a unit that has its own promotion structure. And one of the elements, I must tell you, about getting ahead in promotion is the number of kills you have. Of course. Because it’s basically devised—it’s been transmogrified, if you will, into this unit that goes after high-value targets.

And where Cheney comes in and the idea of an assassination ring—I actually said “wing,” but of an assassination wing—that reports to Cheney was simply that they clear lists through the Vice President’s office. He’s not sitting around picking targets. They clear the lists. And he’s certainly deeply involved, less and less as time went on, of course, but in the beginning very closely involved. And this is the elite unit. I think they do three-month tours. And last summer, I wrote a long article in The New Yorker, last July, about how the JSOC operation is simply not available, and there’s no information provided by the executive to Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: What countries, Sy Hersh—what countries are they operating in?

SEYMOUR HERSH: A lot of countries.

AMY GOODMAN: Name some.

SEYMOUR HERSH: No, because I haven’t written about it, Amy. And I will tell you, as I say, in Central America, it’s far more than just the areas that Mr. Hannah talked about—Afghanistan, Iraq. You can understand an operation like this in the heat of battle in Iraq, killing—I mean, taking out enemy. That’s war. But when you go into other countries—let’s say Yemen, let’s say Peru, let’s say Colombia, let’s say Eritrea, let’s say Madagascar, let’s say Kenya, countries like that—and kill people who are believed on a list to be al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda-linked or anti-American, you’re violating most of the tenets.

We’re a country that believes very much in due process. That’s what it’s all about. We don’t give the President of United States the right to tell military people, even in a war—and it’s a war against an idea, war against terrorism. It’s not as if we’re at war against a committed uniformed enemy. It’s a very complicated war we’re in. And with each of those actions, of course, there’s always collateral deaths, and there’s always more people ending up becoming our enemies. That’s the tragedy of Guantanamo. By the time people, whether they were with us or against us when they got there, by the time they’ve been there three or four months, they’re dangerous to us, because of the way they’ve been treated. But I’d love to move on to what I wrote about in The New Yorker.

AMY GOODMAN: One question: Is the assassination wing continuing under President Obama?

SEYMOUR HERSH: How do I know? I hope not.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Sy Hersh. We’re going to go to break, and then we’ll be back with him, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His piece in The New Yorker is called “Syria Calling: The Obama Administration’s Chance to Engage in a Middle East Peace.” Stay with us.

Russell Tribunal aims to hold the international community to account

by Frank Barat

Israel is continuously violating the principles of the 1949 Geneva Conventions that sought to ensure crimes against humanity would never happen again. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

Today, the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) will be held in Barcelona. The RTP is a peoples' tribunal focusing not on Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) such as the Fourth Geneva Convention, but on the obligations of the international community of signatory states which sustain and enable Israel's continuous violations of international law.

Israel has violated more than 60 UN resolutions and countless legal and diplomatic calls to abide by international law in relation to the expansion of illegal settlements, denial of the right of return and the continuing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. Dozens of reports, investigations and inquiries have produced evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity, including massacres, collective punishment, home demolitions and extrajudicial killings on a cyclical scale over the past 62 years.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion finding Israel's wall in the West Bank illegal and contrary to international law. The opinion was the key tenet of a 54-page document covering illegal settlements, the appropriation of natural resources and Israel's violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention over the past 40 years, and reminded that IHL signatory states had an obligation "not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction" and "to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention."

The ruling sparked hopes in the Palestinian community and international solidarity movements that finally, not only had Israeli violations been legally judged but that the responsibilities of the states which enable Israeli impunity to continue would be put to the test. Six years and 500 kilometers of wall on, the continued construction of the wall casts a shadow over international law.

Or does it?

The RTP is an independent initiative which intends to generate a public literacy in international law and the possibilities for the rule of law if respected to dismantle and disempower the reproduction of the occupation as a military, cultural and economic movement.

Israel is an international entity, kept afloat not just financially and politically by international state partners and supporters, but "legally" by the continued legitimization of illegal acts and "facts on the ground" by these states. Israel's most important market is not economic or military -- it is the market of legitimacy, the permission it receives to normalize crimes against humanity to its own citizens and the international community. This can only happen with the complicity of non-IHL compliant states. The RTP is a way of publicly pointing the finger at these states and mobilizing public opinion towards holding them accountable for the ongoing human rights violations in Palestine.

The RTP is composed of four sessions. The first in Barcelona from 1-3 March, focuses on establishing whether the European Union as an entity has fulfilled its obligations under international law. At the end of 2010, a London session will scrutinize the complicity of corporations in normalizing and perpetuating Israel's violations of international law as well as labor rights in Palestine/Israel. In mid-2011, a session in South Africa will examine the applicability of the crime of apartheid in the context of Israel. The final session will be held in the United States in late 2011 and will analyze the role of the US within the United Nations and decision-making processes on issues of violating international law.

The RTP is not a talking shop. For too long Israel has been the focus of international campaigning as if it alone is responsible for the oppression of the Palestinian people, and as if it has been acting alone. The RTP is about making the links between the crimes committed on the ground in Palestine and their international sponsors. If we want to popularize the notion of "normalization" of the occupation as a key obstacle to a just peace, then understanding how this "normalization" operates on an international legal level in the corridors of Washington, Brussels and London, as well as Tel Aviv, is a vital part of challenging it.

As Israeli think tanks and lobby groups bemoan the rise of "delegitimization" of Israel on a popular level within Europe, the actual, pragmatic delegitimization of Israeli criminal policies is still unrealized and unimplemented by countries that have not just the means but the obligations to do this. The RTP contributes to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions by popularizing the facts behind the arguments for why states have a responsibility to implement sanctions against Israel, and for companies to withdraw from illegal projects and for the public to boycott Israeli institutions, goods and the normalization of apartheid.

The Geneva Conventions were created and agreed upon by the countries of the world in 1949, under popular pressure, as the legal means to ensure that crimes against humanity committed around the world during the Second World War would never happen again. The principles and tenets of these laws are being violated by Israel continuously. These laws stem from liberation struggles and sacrifices of movements in the past, and are on our side, the side of the people. We can use these laws as guides to build the conditions for genuine justice and universal human rights, and a world based on solidarity and equality.

Frank Barat is coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine ( A live streaming of the session can be viewed here: and a list of jury members as well as experts and witnesses participating in the tribunal is available for download (PDF)