Saturday, March 07, 2015

Gen. Petraeus: Too Big to Jail By Ray McGovern

Gen. Petraeus: Too Big to JailBy Ray McGovern
March 06, 2015 "ICH" - "Consortium News" -  The leniency shown former CIA Director (and retired General) David Petraeus by the Justice Department in sparing him prison time for the serious crimes that he has committed puts him in the same preferential, immune-from-incarceration category as those running the financial institutions of Wall Street, where, incidentally, Petraeus now makes millions. By contrast, “lesser” folks – and particularly the brave men and women who disclose government crimes – get to serve time, even decades, in jail.

Petraeus is now a partner at KKR, a firm specializing in large leveraged buyouts, and his hand-slap guilty plea to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets should not interfere with his continued service at the firm. KKR’s founders originally worked at Bear Stearns, the institution that failed in early 2008 at the beginning of the meltdown of the investment banking industry later that year.
 Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)
Gen. David Petraeus in a photo with his biographer/mistress Paula Broadwell. (U.S. government photo)

Despite manifestly corrupt practices like those of subprime mortgage lenders, none of those responsible went to jail after the 2008-09 financial collapse which cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes. The bailed-out banks were judged “too big to fail” and the bankers “too big to jail.”

Two years ago, in a highly revealing slip of the tongue, Attorney General Eric Holder explained to Congress that it can “become difficult” to prosecute major financial institutions because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy – or perhaps what he meant was an even bigger threat to the economy.

Holder tried to walk back his unintended slip into honesty a year later, claiming, “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail.’” And this bromide was dutifully echoed by Holder’s likely successor, Loretta Lynch, at her confirmation hearing in late January.
Words, though, are cheap. The proof is in the pudding. It remains true that not one of the crooked bankers or investment advisers who inflicted untold misery on ordinary people, gambling away much of their life savings, has been jailed. Not one.

And now Petraeus, who gave his biographer/mistress access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and then lied about it to the FBI, has also been shown to be too big to jail. Perhaps Holder decided it would be a gentlemanly thing to do on his way out of office – to take this awkward issue off Lynch’s initial to-do list and spare her the embarrassment of demonstrating once again that equality under the law has become a mirage; that not only big banks, but also big shots like Petraeus – who was Official Washington’s most beloved general before becoming CIA director – are, in fact, too big to jail.

It strikes me, in a way, as fitting that even on his way out the door, Eric Holder would not miss the opportunity to demonstrate his propensity for giving hypocrisy a bad name.

A Slap on Wrist for Serious Crimes

The Justice Department let David Petraeus cop a plea after requiring him to admit that he had shared with his biographer/mistress eight black notebooks containing highly classified information and then lied about it to FBI investigators. Serious crimes? The following quotes are excerpted from “U.S. v. David Howell Petraeus: Factual Basis in support of the Plea Agreement” offered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division:

“17. During his tenure as Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS maintained bound, five-by-eight-inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences, and briefings. … A total of eight such books (hereinafter the “Black Books”) encompassed the period of defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’S ISAF [Afghanistan] command and collectively contained classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America. [emphasis added]

“18. The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret//SCI and code word information.”
Despite the sensitivity of the notebooks and existing law and regulations, Petraeus did not surrender them to proper custody when he returned to the U.S. after being nominated to become the Director of the CIA. According to the Court’s “Factual Basis,” Petraeus’s biographer/mistress recorded a conversation of Aug. 4, 2011, in which she asks about the “Black Books.” The Court statement continues:

“ [Petraeus] ‘Umm, well, they’re really – I mean they are highly classified, some of them.  … I mean there’s code word stuff in there.’ … On or about August 27, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS sent an email to his biographer in which he agreed to provide the Black Books to his biographer. … On or about August 28, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWEL PETRAEUS delivered the Black Books to a private residence in Washington, D.C. where his biographer was staying. … On or about September 1, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS retrieved the Black Books from the D.C. private residence and returned them to his own Arlington, Virginia home.” [emphasis added]

I would think it a safe guess that Petraeus’s timing can be attributed to his awareness that his privacy and freedom of movement was about to be greatly diminished, once his CIA personal security detail started keeping close track of him from his first day on the job as CIA Director, Sept. 6, 2011.

“32. On or about October 26, 2012, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS was interviewed by two FBI special agents. … [He] was advised that the special agents were conducting a criminal investigation. … PETRAEUS stated that (a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer. These statements were false. Defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS then and there knew that he previously shared the Black Books with his biographer.” [emphasis added]
Lying to the FBI? No problem. As “Expose Facts” blogger Marcy Wheeler immediately commented: “For lying to the FBI – a crime that others go to prison for for months and years – Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped out the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.”[emphasis added]

Talk about “prosecutorial discretion” or, in this case, indiscretion – giving Petraeus a fine and probation but no felony conviction or prison time for what he did! Lesser lights are not so fortunate. Just ask Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for disclosing information to the public about U.S. war crimes and other abuses. Or Edward Snowden, who is stuck in Russia facing a U.S. indictment on espionage charges for informing the people about pervasive and unconstitutional U.S. government surveillance of common citizens.

Or former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of CIA torture. Here’s what Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said then: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

When, on Oct. 23, 2012, Kiriakou acquiesced to a plea deal requiring two-and-a-half years in federal prison, then CIA Director Petraeus sent a sanctimonious Memorandum to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou’s conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency … there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.” [emphasis added]

Consequences for Kiriakou but not, as we now know, for Petraeus.
If you feel no discomfort at this selective application of the law, you might wish to scroll or page back to the “Factual Basis” for Petraeus’s Plea Agreement and be reminded that it was just three days after his lecture to CIA employees about the sanctity of protecting the identity of covert agents that Petraeus lied to FBI investigators – on Oct. 26, 2012 – about his sharing such details with his mistress.

Why Did Petraeus Do It?
Old soldiers like Petraeus (indeed, most aging but still ambitious men) have been known to end up doing self-destructive things by letting themselves be flattered by the attentions of younger women. This may offer a partial explanation – human weakness even in a self-styled larger-than-life super-Mensch. But I see the motivation as mostly vainglory. (The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.)

Looking back at Petraeus’s record of overweening ambition, it seems likely he was motivated first and foremost by a desire to ensure that his biographer would be able to extract from the notebooks some juicy morsels he may not have remembered to tell her about. This might enhance his profile as Warrior-Scholar-“King David,” the image that he has assiduously cultivated and promoted, with the help of an adulating neocon-dominated media.

Petraeus’s presidential ambitions have been an open secret. And with his copping a plea to a misdemeanor, his “rehabilitation” seems to have already begun. He has told friends that he would like to serve again in government and they immediately relayed that bright hope to the media.

Sen. John McCain was quick to call the whole matter “closed.” A strong supporter of Petraeus, McCain added this fulsome praise: “At a time of grave security challenges around the world, I hope that General Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career.”

And Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings’ neocon military specialist who rarely gets anything right, spoke true to form to the New York Times: “The broader nation needs his advice, and I think it’s been evident that people still want to hear from him. … People are forgiving and I know he made a mistake. But he’s also a national hero and a national treasure.”

The “mainstream media” is trapped in its undeserved adulation for Petraeus’s “heroism.” It is virtually impossible, for example, for them to acknowledge that his ballyhooed, official-handout-based “success” in training and equipping tens of thousands of crack Iraqi troops was given the lie when those same troops ran away (the officers took helicopters) and left their weapons behind at the first sight of ISIL fighters a year ago.

Equally sham were media claims of the “success” for the “surges” of 30,000 troops sent into Iraq (2007) and 33,000 into Afghanistan (2009). Each “surge” squandered the lives of about 1,000 U.S. troops for nothing – yes, nothing – except in the case of Iraq buying time for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to get out of town without a clear-cut defeat hanging around their necks.

Many of the supposed successes of Petraeus’s Iraqi “surge” also predated the “surge,” including a high-tech program for killing top militants such as Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the formation of the so-called Sunni Awakening, both occurring in 2006 under the previous field commanders. And, Bush’s principal goal of the “surge” – to create political space for a fuller Sunni-Shiite reconciliation – was never accomplished. [See’s “The Surge Myth’s Deadly Result.”]
And last, it is important to note that David Petraeus does not have a corner on the above-the-law attitudes and behavior of previous directors of the CIA. The kid-gloves treatment he has been accorded, however, will increase chances that future directors will feel they can misbehave seriously and suffer no serious personal consequence.

The virtual immunity enjoyed by the well connected – even when they lie to the FBI or tell whoppers in sworn testimony to Congress (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has done) – feeds the propensity to prioritize one’s own personal ambition and to delegate a back seat to legitimate national security concerns – even basic things like giving required protection to properly classified information, including the identity of covert officers.
One might call this all-too-common syndrome Self-Aggrandizing Dismissiveness (SAD). Sadly, Petraeus is merely the latest exemplar of the SAD syndrome. The unbridled ambitions of some of his predecessors at CIA – the arrogant John Deutch, for example – have been equally noxious and destructive. But we’ll leave that for the next chapter.

Full Disclosure: Petraeus has not yet answered McGovern’s letter of Feb. 3 regarding why McGovern was barred from a public speaking event by Petraeus in New York City on Oct. 30, 2014, and then was roughly arrested by police and jailed for the night. McGovern wonders if Petraeus failed to respond because he was pre-occupied working out his Plea Agreement.

Ray McGovern worked for a total of 27 years in all four of CIA’s main directorates. He served under seven Presidents and nine CIA Directors, and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He now works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Israel, Iran and the Bomb: A Love Story By Jeffrey Cavanaugh

Israel, Iran and the Bomb: A Love Story

Netanyahu wants to talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but why isn’t anybody talking about Israel’s not-so-secret arsenal?

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington, D.C., and appeared before a joint session of Congress — not the Knesset — to give a speech on the dangers of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu declared, poses a clear and present danger not just to the Jewish state he heads, but to the entire region, and the United States, too. In stern tones the implied “Senator from Tel Aviv” warned Congress that the nuclear deal being cobbled together by Washington and Tehran in order to ward off war between them was a bad deal that would leave Iran unacceptably close to possessing a bomb.
By his calculations, with the in-place nuclear infrastructure Washington’s deal would likely allow Iran to keep, Netanyahu estimated Iran would be able to build a nuclear weapon in a year or less.
“This is a bad deal — a very bad deal,” intoned Netanyahu. “We’re better off without it.”
It’s not exactly clear who the “we” Netanyahu referred to was – assuming, of course, that one sees some degree of difference between the interests of the U.S. and Israel. Yet the message the prime minister was trying to convey was easy enough to understand: Iran is a cheat and a liar that cannot under any circumstances be trusted.

The 200-kiloton elephant in the room

Israel's Sorek nuclear reactor center near the central Israeli town of Yavne.Israel’s Sorek nuclear reactor center near the central Israeli town of Yavne.

Left totally unmentioned by Netanyahu and nearly all discussion of the speech in the U.S. media is any note of, no matter how slight, Israel’s own nuclear weapons program. Indeed, although Israel’s nuclear arms are undeclared and the state is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its possession of these weapons has been an open secret since the 1980s, when a low-level Israeli nuclear technician by the name ofMordechai Vanunu leaked details of the program to a British newspaper. Vanunu was arrested, tried in a secret court and convicted. He would ultimately serve 18 years in prison, 11 of them in solitary confinement.
What Vanunu revealed to the public was widely known in official circles for years, and in 1987 the U.S. Defense Department noted that, “as far as nuclear technology is concerned, the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. was in the fission weapon field circa 1955-1960.” The DOD went on to say that U.S. intelligence believed Israel was also well on its way to developing the technology it would need to produce hydrogen bombs, which are also now widely believed to be present in the Israeli arsenal. Although estimates of the size of the Israeli inventory vary, minimum calculations place it at 75 weapons and maximum at 400, with most placing it somewhere between 100-200 warheads.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute provides perhaps the best guess, which is that Israel has 80 intact nuclear weapons, with enough material for many more. Of that 80, it says, 50 are deployed on Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and the remaining 30 are aircraft-delivered gravity bombs. There is also speculation that some of Israel’s weapons are based at sea on its new Dolphin submarines, which means that Israel has not only nuclear weapons, but a fully functioning deterrent triad of missiles, bombers and subs. Israel, in other words, not only has a nuclear force as big as or bigger than North Korea’s, Pakistan’s or India’s, but one that possibly approaches the United Kingdom’s in terms of size and sophistication.

The story of the Israeli bomb

While there is debate over the size of Israel’s stockpile, how Israel got the bomb in the first place is far better known. Starting shortly after the birth of the Israeli state itself, David Ben-Gurion gave his country’s scientific establishment the mission of creating what was termed at the time “the bomb in the basement” – a last-resort option that would stave off final defeat by Arab armies, or at least make achieving that hideously costly. Funds gathered from overseas, including Jewish contributions to the State of Israel, were in part funneled to this project, and Israeli scientists and intelligence officials were directed to acquire information from foreign sources on how to build a bomb.
The best efforts to achieve this came in France, where a close relationship between the Israeli and the French defense establishments gave Israeli scientists access to French nuclear research sites. This relationship also eventually led to the purchase of the Dimona reactor complex. Indeed, during the late 1950s over 2,500 French technical experts were present at the reactor site and operated behind a veil of secrecy so thick that the workers were forbidden to write directly to relatives lest they give away their location. When questioned by the British and Americans, Israelis claimed Dimona was a grasslands research institute or a manganese processing plant. After Charles de Gaulle came to power in 1959, however, the Franco-Israeli nuclear alliance chilled — but not before Israel was able to acquire enough material and expertise to begin a full-fledged, independent weapons program of its own.
To succeed, though, Israel would have to overcome what was probably its greatest obstacle to acquiring nuclear weapons: the U.S. It should be remembered that in the early years of the Cold War Israel and the U.S. were not as close as they are today. At best Israel was seen as a nuisance and an electoral prop for Democrats like Harry Truman, and under Dwight D. Eisenhower the U.S. was often actively hostile. Indeed, Eisenhower opposed not just Israeli participation in the Suez Crisis of 1956 but forced Israel as well as Britain and France to retreat from their assault on Egypt with their tails tucked firmly between their legs.
Although not as skeptical of the utility of Israel as an ally as Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy nonetheless put the screws to Israel over its nuclear ambitions due to the experience he gained during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Seeing a need to push back against the threat of nuclear war after the close call over Cuba, Kennedy offered the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the world and pushed for countries to sign. Among the requirements, of course, were vigorous inspections to ensure that existing nuclear facilities in non-nuclear states would not be used to build weapons.
Although the U.S. was aware of Israel’s Dimona reactor by 1958, when U2 flights and on-the-ground assessments observed what the Israelis were doing, inspections of the type Kennedy was championing would expose just exactly what the Israelis were up to — drawing the wrath of the proliferation-phobic Kennedy and handing a propaganda coup to the Soviets and Moscow’s Arab allies. The Israelis did eventually give in and allow inspectors, but what ensued as U.S. technical experts poked and prodded Dimona was a kabuki-esque affair, wherein the American teams were stymied in almost every way via tactics any contemporary U.N. weapons inspector would recognize as an attempt to obfuscate, distract and cheat.

Acceptance of the Israeli bomb

This song and dance went on for the remainder of the Kennedy administration, only waning under the far more pro-Israel Lyndon Johnson, who, like Truman, used his support of Israel as a political prop. What’s more, as Moscow made inroads in Egypt and Syria and the likelihood of war between Arabs and Israelis increased, the decision was made in the U.S. and other Western countries to look the other way and, in effect, allow the Israelis to build their bomb.  By 1967, on the eve of the Six-Day War, it is believed that this acquiescence allowed the Israelis to secretly accumulate enough fissile material to build a crude nuclear bomb prior to the outbreak of hostilities on June 5 of that year.
Although Israel’s crushing victory in that war assured its bomb would not be used, the frightening encounter between Israel and its enemies led Israel to a crash program geared toward mass-producing nuclear weapons as quickly as possible. As in the 1950s resources were leveraged, the biggest obstacle to physically increasing Israel’s stockpile was overcome in 1968 via an audacious covert operation that stole up to 200 tons of yellowcake uranium from a Belgian mining company that the Mossad, in a complex operation, had shipped from Antwerp to Genoa and thence on to Israel.
Indeed, the Belgians weren’t the only ones who were robbed. In a memo on Israeli nuclear activities prepared for President Richard Nixon by Henry Kissinger himself, Kissinger noted that Israel’s nuclear program “is one where the Israelis have persistently deceived and may even have stolen from us.” Here, this was further implied when in 1976 CIA Deputy Director Carl Duckett informed officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the agency suspected some 200-600 pounds of highly enriched uranium had been stolen by Israel from a processing plant in Pennsylvania owned by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation. It was, according to one of the officials privy to the secret at the time, one of the most glaring cases of diverted nuclear materials in history.
Eventually acknowledging their failure, the White House under Johnson and then Nixon created the present regime of official lies about Israeli nuclear capabilities by getting the Israelis to pledge to be the first to “not introduce” nuclear weapons to the Middle East — which the Israelis defined as agreeing to not officially test weapons or state officially that they possessed them. This concordant became a foundation of U.S.-Israeli relations when Nixon met Golda Meier after U.S. intervention in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which itself may have been forced by Israeli desperation and Israel’s implied threat to use their bombs to stave off imminent battlefield defeat.

A rogue is a rogue is a rogue

In the context of the Cold War, when Israeli actions against a Soviet client could have forced a nuclear response by Moscow — a response which would lead inevitably to an exchange with the U.S. and its other allies — it made eminent sense to protect Israel so it would not be forced to use its weapons and so cause that chain of events to occur, which came close to actually happening in 1973. It may have unfairly privileged Israeli interests over nearly everyone else in the Middle East in official Washington circles, but it nonetheless kept an unstable region and its nuclear powder keg under wraps for the remaining duration of America’s conflict with the Soviet Union.
But does this same logic hold sway today? To be sure, relations between Russia and the U.S. are frosty, but the degree to which American and Russian security interests are tied to the fates of their client states in the Middle East is far less than what it once was. Furthermore, American guarantees of security have profited the U.S. very little. In exchange for providing carte blanche protection for Israel in exchange for its nuclear silence, the U.S. has received little but Israeli intransigence on the issue of Palestine and next to no help on other important regional issues. Indeed, America’s very protection of Israel makes the U.S. widely hated in the region. The U.S. alliance with Israel is thus for the most part a one-way street from which America derives very little benefit.
So when you click on the news and see Netanyahu talk about the dangers of a bad deal and the threat of a rogue nuclear state, understand that he knows what he is talking about. After all, his country is experienced in fooling inspectors and lying to the U.S. about its nuclear intentions. It, too, has stolen nuclear materials and broken numerous international laws to build a secret nuclear weapons lab and stockpile. If the emerging narrative about what actually happened in 1973 is correct, it has even engaged in nuclear blackmail to get its way. Given all this, one wonders if maybe Israel couldn’t teach Iran a lesson or two in this particular area of statecraft.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Netanyahu's Ugly Israel by Stephen Lendman

Netanyahu's Ugly Israel

by Stephen Lendman

Israel is a rogue terror state by any standard. No amount of speechmaking changes reality. Fascist lunatics run things. 

They want supreme hegemonic regional control. They want all potential challengers eliminated. 

They're willing to wage genocidal wars to achieve objectives - including use of nuclear, chemical, biological and other banned weapons.

Their Machiavellian extremism threatens world peace and stability. Netanyahu is the tip of the iceberg. Embedded fascist power runs Israel like America.

Netanyahu came to Washington to convince Congress, the US public and his own population about a nonexistent Iranian threat.

He knows Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. It has no military component. His own Mossad says so. So does US intelligence annually.

Claiming an existential Iranian threat is a ruse - a Big Lie. None exists. Netanyahu is a serial liar. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing Iranian sovereign independence. 

He's willing to massacre millions of Iranians to rule the region unchallenged. His madness could launch nuclear war.

At the same time, his goon squads terrorize Palestinians daily. Media scoundrels ignore his worst crimes.

Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. So-called Israeli security forces terrorize Palestinians with impunity. So do radicalized settlers with full state support and encouragement.

Gaza remains lawlessly besieged. An Israeli caused humanitarian disaster worsens daily. 

West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinian communities are virtual war zones - subjected to daily terrorizing incursions.

Fear is pervasive. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. So is institutionalized racism worse than anything experienced in apartheid South Africa.

Peaceful public demonstrations are brutally attacked. Free expression and movement are prohibited.

Population centers are isolated. Borders are closed. Militarized occupation prohibits normal daily life.

Palestinians face rascist discrimination, land theft, bulldozed homes, regular terror attacks, targeted killings, mass arrests, wrongful imprisonments, torture, punitive taxes, impoverishment, indentured servitude, ethnic cleansing and slow-motion genocide.

Palestinians wanting to live free on their own land in their own country are called terrorists. Fishermen are attacked at sea.

So are farmers working their land. Their crops, livestock and orchards are lawlessly destroyed. 

Israeli goon squads shoot Palestinian children for target practice. Fundamental civil and human rights are denied.

Few services are provided. Vital ones are lacking or inadequate. Palestinian lawmakers are imprisoned for belonging to the wrong party. 

Israeli democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. When Israelis vote on March 17, embedded power will emerge victorious.

Business as usual will continue. Nothing fundamental will change. Conditions for Palestinians will remain cruel and unjust.

The whole world knows. Western leaders able to change things sit on their hands and do nothing.

Washington funds Israel's killing machine with billions of dollars annually, the latest weapons and technology, and bipartisan endorsement of its worst crimes.

Before Netanyahu left for Washington, Israel cut off power for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians twice in the dead of winter. 

It warned about further outages if PA officials don't pay millions of dollars in outstanding debt. 

Impossible because Israel won't release around $250 million in tax revenues belonging to Palestine - collective punishment for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Israel punitively opened dams near Gaza's border. Flooding caused hundreds of Palestinians to flee water levels more than three meters deep.

Many others were affected - compounding the humanitarian disaster from Israel's summer war. 

Media scoundrels ignore a catastrophe affecting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on their own with virtually no promised aid delivered.

While Netanyahu ranted to Congress, his goon squads destroyed thousands of acres of wheat, barley and other Bedouin Rakhama village crops.

Tractors protected by killer cops uprooted privately owned Palestinian land. One resident spoke for others saying:

"This is vandalism through which they plan to displace the Bedouins from the Negev so as to create a Jewish state free of Arabs." 

"(M)y message to them is that if you turn over the land a million times, and if you demolish our homes a thousand times we will continue to live on this land and won't allow anybody to take it from us."

Area bedouins were given land to compensate for forced 1954 displacement. Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Bedouins live in so-called unrecognized villages - without essential services Israel refuses to provide. It wants Arabs displaced for exclusive Jewish development. 

It uses various means to remove them - including declaring privately owned Palestinian land closed military zones.

On Tuesday, radicalized settlers attacked Palestinian MK Hanin Zoabi. She was speaking at Ramat Gan college near Tel Aviv.

Lunatic Israelis attacked her with bottles and milk spilled on her. She sustained moderate injuries.

Reports indicated Israel's extremist right-wing ordered the attack. Without security intervention, she could have been killed.

On March 17, she's running for reelection. On February 18, Israel's High Court overturned a right-wing Knesset ruling disqualifying her from general elections.

She's condemned for participating in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara humanitarian Gaza mission. Israeli fascists call her a traitor for supporting right over wrong.

On March 2, a B'Tselem press release headlined "Incident in which soldiers set dogs on Palestinian youth was part of official policy."

Israeli goon squads routinely use vicious attack dogs against unarmed defenseless Palestinian civilians.

B'Tselem published video evidence "of two soldiers from the IDF dog unit filmed by another soldier after they had set dogs on a Palestinian boy." 

"The footage was first posted on former MK Michael Ben Ari’s Facebook page, but has since been removed from there." 

"The military’s official response read: 'Upon receipt of the footage, the Commander of the Airborne and Special Training Center ordered an immediate internal inquiry into the incident.' " 

" 'Upon completion of this inquiry, conclusions will be drawn and the necessary steps will be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring.' ”

So-called Israeli inquiries are whitewashes by any standard. Expect no change in official Israeli policy.

Superiors up the Israeli chain of command authorize killer attack dog terrorism.

B'Tselem "documented and publicized this incident about two months ago," it said.

Video evidence reveals "standard" IDF practice. Attack dogs are unleashed. They're ordered against Palestinians. They savagely bite into human flesh until handlers order release.

Sometimes dogs maintain killer grips, said B'Tselem. Handlers have to taser them to release victims.

Previous responses to B'Tselem complaints indicate so-called inquiries focus "only on how the dogs were used, and not on whether they should have been used at all," the organization said.

It wants all dog attacks stopped. Its only response gotten in 18 months is that this type unacceptable viciousness "is under review."

Israel continues numerous terror tactics against Palestinians no just society would tolerate. The incident in question occurred on December 23, 2014.

Palestinians threw stones in response to a confrontation Israeli soldiers initiated.

An eyewitness said they unleashed attack dogs on Palestinian youths. One dog savagely bit 16-year-old Hamzeh Abu Hashem.

He required hospitalization. His family said he was arrested, handcuffed, removed from the hospital and taken to Ofer Prison.

B'Tselem said he was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Similar incidents occur often.

Israel uses killer attack dogs as terrorizing weapons against Palestinians for virtually any reason or none at all.

Netanyahu's congressional rant didn't explain. Supportive House and Senate members didn't ask. Or express any outrage against Israeli viciousness.

One rogue state supports another. Millions of innocent victims suffer horrifically. 

Expect the worst ahead as long as criminal gangs run both countries. Their rule by terror threatens everyone.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

Assassination of Nemtsov a classic CIA tactic by Wayne Madsen

Assassination of Nemtsov a classic CIA tactic
by Wayne Madsen
The recent gangland-style assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, in the very shadow of the Kremlin, is a classic Central Intelligence Agency frame up operation designed to further pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The CIA, along with its friends in Mossad, recently attempted a similar frame-up in Argentina when Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead under suspicious circumstances. Nisman was investigating Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman when he died, reportedly from a "suicide" in his Buenos Aires apartment. However, the "investigation" was hatched by the Mossad and CIA stations in Buenos Aires, as well as by their embeds inside the Argentine Intelligence Secretariat, in order to force Kirchner from office. The attempt failed and Argentine judge Daniel Rafecas dismissed the case based on its flimsiness.

The January 2014 gangland-style assassination of former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband also appeared to the Venezuelan government as a foreign plot to pin the blame on President Nicolas Maduro. Her assassination was followed a month later by a sniper hit on Venezuelan beauty queen and fashion model Genesis Carmona during an anti-government demonstration in Valencia, not far from where Spear was killed. Police investigators said the shot that killed Carmona came from the ranks of opposition protesters. Beauty queens and actresses are very popular in Venezuela and the CIA's coup engineers have long targeted such individuals to create havoc in countries undergoing destabilization operations.

In the cases of the murders in Moscow, Buenos Aires, and near Caracas, they were followed almost instantaneously by critical messages from Obama administration senior officials about the requirement for "thorough investigations" by the governments and small street protests obviously coordinated by the respective CIA stations, operating through George Soros-funded NGOs, in central Moscow, Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, and Caracas. In the case of the Nemtsov protests, signs bearing the new globalist agitators' phrase "Je suis Boris" suddenly appeared on the streets.

The Nemtsov provocation killing came after a news crew from Kiev's Espresso TV revealed that the February 10 reported rocket shelling of a passenger bus near the town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region of Ukraine near a Ukrainian military outpost was not carried out by Russian-speaking separatists but by a Ukrainian Special Security (SBU) detail. The news media, including Espresso, reported that a bus was hit by a GRAD rocket fired from a separatist position. Twelve people allegedly died in the attack.

View image on Twitter
Bus bombed in Donetsk region on February 9 by a remotely-controlled mine. The Western media reported it as a GRAD rocket shelling by rebels the next day. Poroshenko used the false flag attack to gain sympathy in Paris.

An ex-employee of Espresso TV reported that the bus was destroyed the day before the alleged GRAD attack by a remotely-controlled bomb detonated by an SBU unit. The ex-employee stated in an email: "a. this wasn't shelling by Grad as Kiev claimed; b. the distance from the nearest disposition of the resistance was well out of the reach of weaponry they had; c. this had every trace of being distance controlled explosion of MOH-50 mine planted in advance." It is now apparent that the bus bombing was carried out by Ukraine to give its president, Petro Poroshenko, some sympathy "talking points" when he arrived in Paris for the memorial observance for the Paris terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdoand the Hyper Cacher market.

The video of the victims who survived the remotely-controlled detonation of the bus were interviewed by Espresso the day before the alleged GRAD rocket attack. The video disc of the interview was sent to anti-Kiev regime activists in Kharkov with the following message:

"To my friends in Kharkov, from A.S.

At long last I have an opportunity to say the truth, to which end I am sending to you these videos. Just imagine that we have been forced to shoot this video one day ahead of the explosion in Volnovakha! This is just horrible!

I can no longer take part in these fakes, I've had enough of this criminal government that lies and kills people! I want the people to know the truth!

We at Espresso TV, both the bosses and rank and file employees, are under permanent control of SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), who make us go against the truth, common sense and journalist ethics! This amount of lies is far to [sic] much! I don't want to assume responsibility for people dying. You really feel complicit in the murder!"
The victims interviewed in their hospital beds by Espresso all spoke Russian. At the end of the interview of one of the "victims" there is a surprise:

"W" (nodding, speaks Russian): "I was going home. I caught a bus, nearly missing it. We stopped on the check point and they started checking our documents. First I heard whistling sound of the shell in the air as when they shoot from GRAD, you know, and all around us started exploding - a shell exploded ahead of the bus. Another one next to the bus... We've been thrown by the blast wave, all the windows were smashed right away. I don't remember very well what happened next, everything is blurred, I only remember two soldiers thrown out of the bus. People lying in the aisle, so horrid, some wounded, others dead, may be, but no one even thought of checking it then, everyone was trying to get out. I hit my head so badly I couldn't even move. I thought I was finished. Then I remember someone take me by the hands and start taking me out of the bus and then threw me into some pit or trenches, I don't know. They shouted to me:"Don't move!", but it was hard for me to even wink. I ached all over. It was horrible, just horrible. Then there were more wounded people thrown into the trenches. There was a girl, I guess they couldn't save her, she was so heavily injured. She sat in front of me in the bus and was talking to someone all the time on the phone. I still have her before my eyes. I thought I could be in her place... God saved me, so now I pray and thank Him for my second birth, so to say. And they shot from the Dokuchaevsk direction. I know this area very well, now it's under terrorists' control. I don't know how one could think it was done by Ukrainian army because we were there and we saw where the shelling came from, and that was from the terrorists' side. We were on the Ukrainian army controlled territory, near the road check point, so these bastards shelled the civilians, their snipers hit the... I hate them, they shoot unarmed people, there were many young men in this bus, wounded and killed (wiping)
"M" (speaking Ukrainian, interrupting): "OK, great. Good for you, everything is fine, just fine."
"W" (changes to speaking Ukrainian: "I'm glad. Take this rubbish off my head, I really can't breathe with this on."

The standard question in such killings, cui bono, is germane. Putin and his advisers would have absolutely no sane reason to want Nemtsov assassinated in such a bold manner just as Putin had no reason to want other Russians who died suspiciously -- journalist Anna Politkovskaya,Forbes Moscow editor Paul Klebnikov, Alexander Litvinenko, and former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar -- to become martyrs for the neo-conservative and Atlanticist war against Russia. WMR reported on these efforts to destabilize Russia and all the murders pointed back to exiled Russian-Israeli oligarch Boris Berezovsky as the chief culprit. On March 23, 2013, Berezovsky himself fell victim to a suspicious death. Although Berezovsky is no longer on the scene, it is believed that exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has assumed control over Berezovsky's old network of gangsters and professional assassins who benefit as "artful dodgers" by possessing a multitude of passports, including those from Britain, Israel, and Ukraine.

It has long been established that the Russian government's opponents are composed of organized crime bosses who have no appreciation for the value of human life. That has been apparent in the killing of Nemtsov to score points for the Russian opposition. The apparent false flag attack on the commuter bus in Donestsk fits a pattern of lies and disinformation flooding the media from multiple neocon quarters.

Putin and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev have called Nemtsov's assassination an attempt to destabilize Russia. However, their words are being drowned out by the hyperbolic official statements from the likes of Poroshenko, Barack Obama, and David Cameron. Poroshenko is cynically using the killing to press, once again, for the immediate transfer of U.S. weapons to Ukrainian forces.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

ISIL providing cover for Israeli looting of priceless antiquities by Wayne Madsen

ISIL providing cover for Israeli looting of priceless antiquities

The scenes are all-too-familiar in the Middle East. Jihadists witnessed destroying priceless artifacts in Arab museums and libraries. However, documenting a few vases of artifacts being destroyed actually masks the looting of these artifacts and their sale on an international black market with Israelis usually serving as the middlemen or ultimate buyers for their private collections.

Videos have appeared on the Internet showing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- we prefer this term as does the United States government because it accurately reflects the similarity of the name to ISIL's main state sponsor - "Israel" -- jihadists taking sledgehammers and chain saws to ancient Assyrian artifacts at the Mosul museum in Iraq. In addition, ancient Assyrian churches in northeastern Syria are being ransacked and looted with priceless Christian artifacts and Assyrian language manuscripts written in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, feared sold by ISIL on the black market.

Although ISIL videos show jihadists destroying an Assyrian winged lion and a relief of a face, priceless archaeological finds from the Assyrian palace of King Sennacherib are believed to have been sold to black marketers just as other artifacts looted from museums and ruins in Egypt, Babylon, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen have been sold to unscrupulous dealers of stolen antiquities, many of whom are based in Israel.

On January 31, 2011, WMR reported: "One thing is always true of the kleptocratic syndicate that runs Israel: never let a crisis go to waste. The 'made for television' looting of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, a museum established in 1902 to stem the tide of the systematic theft of Egyptian historical artifacts and relics by unscrupulous western nations, including Britain, may have masked the behind-the-scenes pillaging of artifacts located in museum store rooms, well-beyond the view of visitors." On February 14, 2011, WMR followed up our report: ". . .18 priceless artifacts were stolen from the Cairo museum on January 28, at the outset Egyptian revolution. Reports from Cairo indicate the thieves who stole the artifacts, after repelling from ropes through a broken window on the museum's roof, knew exactly what to steal."

This editor has tracked the systematic looting of Middle Eastern antiquities by suspected Israeli "hit teams" since 2003. After the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, U.S. troops stood idly by while professional teams of museum thieves made off with priceless artifacts from Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad. Some 170,000 priceless artifacts dating back thousands of years to the very cradle of human civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, the fabled home of the biblical Garden of Eden, were looted. Only a few were destroyed in a perception management operation to make it appear that most were simply destroyed,just as is the case in Mosul and northeastern Syria.

On February 14, 2011, WMR followed up with details of the looting that occurred during the "Egyptian Spring" riots: "Reports from Cairo confirm that among the artifacts stolen were a limestone statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten; a sandstone head of a princess from Amarna; a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna; eleven wooden statuettes of Yuya, an 18th dynasty figure; a statue of Queen Nefertiti; and two statues, one gilded, of boy king Tutankhamun. Another secure artifact storage site within the royal necropolis at Dahshur, south of Cairo, was also broken into."

Artifacts from the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, including those from the Umayyad, Abbasid, Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayubid, Mameluk and Ottoman eras, also ended up in the hands of black marketers, with many ending up in private hands in Israel or among Jewish fences in Europe.

On August 21, 2007, WMR reported on the Israeli connection to the looting in the Arab countries: "The Israeli media is reporting that Chief Superintendent Asher Ben-Artzi, the chief of Israel's INTERPOL branch, is under official police investigation for using his contacts at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to help wanted criminals in Israel obtain visas to visit the United States . . . It is also being reported that Ben-Artzi is under investigation for receiving stolen "relics."

Even the hopelessly Zionist-oriented Jerusalem Post reported the following at the time: "Cmdr. Asher Ben-Artzi's office in Jerusalem has Artifacts spanning thousands of years - including clay pitchers, an ossuary and a collection of wood pipes - cover every surface of the spacious room, creating an atmosphere more suited to that of a museum than of the National Police Headquarters."
On August 17, 2007, WMR reported, ". . . the looting of Iraqi treasures has been surgical and accomplished by outsiders who know in advance what they wish to obtain. Arab interlocutors based in Beirut, Geneva, London, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai are laundering money made from the looting of Iraqi artifacts. Much of the money is being used to fund various right-wing and neocon causes in the United States, Europe, and other regions."
We can also add to this report that Israel has been one of the destinations for a number of stolen artifacts and relics from Iraq, especially relics that have historical significance dating from the 'Babylonian Captivity' of the Biblical-era Jewish people."

After the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the Israeli gangsters showed up on the scene to pick clean wanted artifacts from the Al-Jamahiriyah National Museum in Tripoli, Roman and Phoenician ruins around the country, and smaller museums in cities like Benghazi and Sirte. Israeli and American pressure have prevented the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from pursuing the perpetrators of the looting and the ultimate purchasers of the stolen Libyan artifacts from the Neolithic, Berber, Garamantian, Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, as well as looted artifacts from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen. The theft of the Libyan artifacts even included stealing prehistoric cave paintings in the Acacus Mountains, artwork dated at 14,000 years old. Highly professional teams of looters pressed silk cloth soaked in a special chemical solution on to the rock frescoes with the paint lifting from the walls and sticking to the cloth.

Other professional teams of looters, linked to Israel, hit the Abyan Museum in Zinjibar, Yemen. "Al Qaeda" leveled the museum but not before teams of looters picked the museum clean of hundreds of antiquities. It is feared that the National Museum in Sana'a suffered similar looting during recent fighting in the capital.

The same network of looters cleaned out museums in Syria. UNESCO reported that
"a group posing as security personnel removed a number of crates containing significant archaeological objects from the [Raqqa] museum’s warehouse under the false pretext of moving the crates to a secure storage facility." Such professional "lightning strikes" are a hallmark of the Israeli looting teams and in the case of Raqqa the looting took place under the eyes of ISIL. Similar professional teams struck the Museum of Folklore in Hama that saw the theft of priceless glassware, Baghdadi daggers, spears and other irreplaceable items. The Maarrat Museum was stormed by an armed group that looted small clay dolls and statues.

It is doubtful that any member of the Israel-centric U.S. Congress will mention Israel's central role in stealing thousands of artifacts when Binyamin Netanyahu comes calling.