Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Drone Wars

Drone Wars

by Stephen Lendman

Perhaps one day they'll arrive over a neighborhood near you. Drones are becoming America's weapon of choice. Domestically so far, they're used only for eyes in the sky spying. 

Big Brother wants to watch everyone all the time. Don't bet against eyes not being weaponized one day to punish as well as spy. That's how rogue states operate. 

America is by far the worst and most dangerous. Waging war on humanity is policy. Imagine living in a country run by officials who think war is good. 

The more the better. Permanent ones. Wage them while pretending it's done for peace. Few question why America is always at war somewhere. Scant attention is paid to the trillions of dollars spent at the expense of vital domestic needs gone begging.

Militarism is prioritized. Budgets are virtually open-ended. America's duopoly assures it. Imagine policy makers deciding on which country they'll ravage next. 

It makes no difference whether Obama or Romney takes charge. Both major parties are in lockstep on all issues mattering most. 

Corporate empowerment, serving America's 1%, cracking down on resisters, and imperial dominance top their list. Hell hath no fury like an out-of-control hegemon. If analyzed on a couch, it would be called sociopathic or worse.

A Washington Post Special Report discussed America's permanent war agenda. A previous article discussed Obama's Disposition Matrix. It called it elevating Murder, Inc. to a higher level.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama has final kill list authority. John Brennan is his counterterrorism maestro of murder. His "playbook" makes up rules as he writes them.

He designates kill targets. He calls it a strategy to persist 'till the end of time. Last August he said:

"What we’re trying to do right now is to have a set of standards, a set of criteria, and have a decision-making process that will govern our counterterrorism actions - we’re talking about direct action, lethal action - so that irrespective of the venue where they’re taking place, we have a high confidence that they’re being done for the right reasons in the right way."

In other words, kill because we say so. No further explanation. No mention of rule of law principles. Right, of course, is might, whether or not legal, moral and ethical.

In his journey into the "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad wrote:

"one comes to hate those savages....hate them to the death....Exterminate all the brutes!" Kill orders target anyone challenging US hegemony. Targeted killing more than ever is US policy.

Washington Post writer Craig Whitlock explained more. On October 25, he headlined "Remote US base at core of secret operations," saying:

"Around the clock, about 16 times a day, drones take off or land at" America's Djibouti-based Camp Lemonnier. It's "the combat hub for the Obama administration’s counterterrorism wars in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East."

France's Foreign Legion established Lemonnier. Post-9/11 it became a US Naval Expeditionary Base. It's located at Djibouti's International Airport. 

It's home to the Pentagon's Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF/HOA).

"Over the past two years, the U.S. military has clandestinely transformed it into the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone…."

Extraordinary efforts are made to conceal its lawless mission. Decisions on who lives or dies are made secretly. Lemonnier's commander knows. His job is execute kill orders. 

"Virtually the entire 500-acre camp is dedicated to counterterrorism" killing. It's the Pentagon's first "permanent drone war base." It won't be the last. Perhaps many more are planned globally. 

Drones, of course, operate out of many other US facilities. Regional ones include Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Seychelles-based installations.

Lemonnier so far is the only Pentagon installation of its kind. Secrecy shrouds its operations. Post journalists were denied permission to visit. After one showed up unannounced, commanding General Ralph Baker agreed to an off-base interview.

He wouldn't comment on drone missions or other issues mattering most. The Post, however, obtained numerous unclassified military documents. They cover construction blueprints, drone accident reports, and internal planning memos.

They show how Djibouti-based drone wars escalated exponentially since early 2011. They also reveal ambitious future plans. 

The Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) plays a central role. It's used for top-secret counterterrorism missions. Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force commandos, and other Special Ops forces are involved.

Operations known about include counterterrorism missions, surveillance, intelligence gathering, and hostage rescues.

About 300 Special Ops personnel plan, coordinate, and execute these and other missions. Others on base aren't told what they do. 

In September 2011, a Lemonnier-based drone killed Muslim cleric/US citizen Anwar Al Awlaki. He lived in Yemen. He committed no crime. He was assassinated for opposing US belligerency.

His murder and others put all anti-imperial opponents at risk. US citizenship protects no one. If outspoken enough, anyone may be next. Perhaps writers, authors, and media hosts will be targeted. Warrior states don't tolerate truth-tellers. 

Lemonnier is home to around 3,200 military, civilian and private contractor personnel. Most know little about highly classified counterterrorism work. The select 300 handle it. Their mandate also includes intelligence gathering. Killing, however, is prioritized.

Obama, Brennan, and other high-level officials decide on "disposition matrix" targets. They function as judge, jury and executioner. They hold the power of life and death in their hands. 

Plans call for large-scale Lemonnier expansion. Operational forces will more than triple to around 1,100. Pentagon officials only say "a wide variety of regional security missions" are involved. "(S)ecurity considerations prevent us from commenting on specific(s)."

Lemonnier is America's "centerpiece of an expanding constellation of half a dozen" African-based US drone and surveillance facilities. They're also home to conventional attack aircraft. F-15E Strike Eagles fly regional combat missions.

Djibouti's location is key. It's situated between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Somalia and Yemen can be reached in minutes. Djibouti's port offers easy access to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, Amanda Dory, said Lemonnier isn't "an outpost in the middle of nowhere of marginal interest. This is a very important location in terms of US interest, in terms of navigation, when it comes to power projection."

Three classified military operations include Copper Dune (CD), Jupiter Garret (JG) and Octave Shield (OS). CD conducts counterterrorism operations in Yemen. Africa command officials refused comment on JG and OS. Only their unclassified code names are known.

Air Force safety records provide information on aircraft accidents. In February, a Special Ops U-28 spy plane crashed. Four crew members died. 

Since January 2011, information on five drone crashes is known. One involved a JSOC major identified only as "Frog." He coordinated Predator missions. Nothing more is known.

Missions are so secret even ground crews aren't told about destinations or targets. All they know is that drones depart. Most return hours later. Problems beset others. They likely crashed, split apart, or burned.

Lemonnier missions are controlled remotely from Creech and Cannon Air Force Bases in Nevada and New Mexico respectively. Operators use multiple keyboards and monitors.

Enemies are faceless and nameless. Killing can be controlled nearby or from half a world away. Each drone system includes multiple UAVs, a ground station, satellite link, and launch site maintenance crew.

Rotating ones are on standby 24-hours a day for missions on a moment's notice. Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Disturbing questions are unanswered. Secrecy, unaccountability, and lawlessness matter most.

So is the huge number of civilian casualties. Investigative work determined that only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Ordinary people suffer most. 

Official reports lie. Hard truths reveal what policy makers want suppressed. Murder, Inc. is ugly business anywhere for any reason. More than ever it's official US policy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Beware Post-Elections

Beware Post-Elections

by Stephen Lendman

Electoral priorities feature rhetoric, not new adventurism advocacy likely to rile voters. Post-election, anything goes.

The Middle East pot boils. Endless conflicts persists. Car bombings, other violence, and instability are daily Iraqi realities. Afghanistan is America's longest war. It was lost long ago. Nonetheless, it shows no signs of ending.

Libya is a raging cauldron. US-led NATO ravaged the country. Fighting continues. Washington's puppet regime has no legitimacy or control. Jamahiriya resistance wants it ousted.

Libyan freedom fighters have good reason. Western stooges represent NATO, not liberation. Their nation lies in ruins. Voice of Russia cited a new book by Russian Middle East expert Anatoli Yegorin. 

He said NATO's campaign did seven times more damage than WW II. Billions of dollars in stolen Libyan wealth hasn't been returned. Post-Gaddafi Libya is ungovernable.

NATO doesn't solve problems. It creates them. Everywhere it shows up, death, destruction, and unspeakable human misery follow. Liberation isn't in its vocabulary. Conquest, occupation, and exploitation are prioritized.

Former Russian Libya ambassador, Vladimir Charmov, said the worst of his expectations came true. Bani Walid symbolically represents a ravaged country in ruins.

Libyan puppets admit they have no control over the city. Defense minister Osama al-Jueili said:

"The chief of staff has no control over the town and therefore armed men are able to prevent families from coming back."

Bani Walid resembles a ghost town. It was ravaged and destroyed. Thousands likely died. Many more were wounded. Residents able to escape fighting left. Militia fighters prevent them from returning.

Other areas face turmoil. On October 30, AFP headlined "Libya assembly stormed in new blow to forming government," saying:

Protesters stormed Tripoli's national assembly. A scheduled cabinet vote was prevented. Assembly president Mohammed Megaryef cancelled the session. He had no choice. "Out of control" chaos raged.

Libyans burst in and disrupted proceedings. Live television showed it. It wasn't the first time this happened. It won't be the last. Megaryef and assembly members have no control.

"What happened constitutes psychological pressure on the members of the congress," said Megaryef. "Let it be known to all Libyans and to the whole world in what conditions we are working. The situation is out of control."

On October 31, Russia Today ( headlined "Protesters storm Libyan parliament," saying:

Protesters oppose nominated ministers. They represent Western interests, not theirs. 

Puppet officials have no legitimacy. They can't even control Tripoli. They're unwanted and impotent elsewhere. Expect protracted liberating struggle to continue. 

At the same time, death squad terror stalks the country. Militias, Jamahiriya freedom fighters, and government forces battle for control. Perhaps full-blown NATO intervention again looms. Anything is possible next year.

On October 30, Voice of Russia headlined, "Middle East in anticipation of war, reaching its peak after US elections,” saying:

Israel, not Iran or Syria, is the region's existential threat. It's been that way for decades. Conditions now are worse than earlier.

"(S)ome political experts claim there will be a risk that a new 'big wave' in the Middle East could reach its peak after the American presidential elections, and that the region might plummet into the abyss. They say that Israel is ready to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities."

Commenting on regional conditions, Iranian/US relations specialist Irina Fedorova expressed concerns, saying:

"The issue that will influence the US president’s opinion on the possibility of a military strike against Iran will be the crisis in Syria, including the problem of Bashar al-Assad. Until those problems are resolved, the US president’s attention will be focused on Syria."

Hawks dominate Israeli and US politics. War plans are prepared. Military exercises and bombing a Khartoum weapons facility may have been "rehersal(s) of sorts."

Iran's well aware of the risks. It prepared long ago. "There can be unpredictable decisions in politics and it is possible that the situation could arise when the Israeli military, without Washington’s approval, would start an operation against Iran. In that case the USA would, without doubt, support Israel."

Post-US elections some observers expect this to happen. In fact, Israel won't go it alone. Netanyahu wants Washington taking the lead. He prefers riding shotgun. 

At issue, of course, is the madness of attacking Iran. Odds favor it next year. Potentially catastrophic consequences may follow.

At the same time, Syria remains embroiled in conflict. Western-backed death squads violated an Eid al-Adha truce multiple times. 

On October 30, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined "Premier al-Halqi Condemns Terrorist Groups' Violations during Eid al-Adha," saying:

Syria's Armed Forces "will continue work on consolidating security and stability" across the country. At the same time, the government "will continue providing all kinds of services and needs to the citizens and work on rehabilitating what the terrorist groups have damaged."

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Western nations for hindering dialogue and conflict resolution, saying:

"Now we seek to carry out the Geneva agreement, and the first step is to halt violence by all sides which requires international supervision….We must work to move events in the right direction and speak in one voice, particularly foreign players."

Russia tried to broker peace for months. Washington most of all blocks it. Obama bears full responsibility for what's ongoing. Longstanding US plans call for regime change. 

Conflict could continue for years. The death and destruction toll already is horrific. Expect worse to come. Washington is directly involved in recruiting, arming, funding, and directing militant extremists. 

Al Qaeda, Salafists, Wahabists, and others are part of America's strategy to topple Assad. It hasn't worked so far and won't short of full-scale NATO intervention. Perhaps it's next.

At the same time, civilians suffer most. They're willfully marked for death. Most Syrians support Assad. They're most vulnerable.

On October 30, Foreign Policy headlined "Obama administration works to launch new Syrian opposition council," saying:

In early November, Syrian opposition leaders will meet in Qatar. At issue is "form(ing) a new leadership body to subsume the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC)."

It's been ineffective. It's beset by infighting. It has little, if any, popular support. Obama officials want change. In September, Hillary Clinton met with Syrian dissidents. They were flown to New York.

SNC leaders believe Obama officials are "trying to undermine" them. Changing the guard plans confirm his view. Washington hopes to have new dissidents in charge by November 7. US elections occur the previous day.

"The Obama administration sees the new council as a potential interim government that could negotiate with both the international community and - down the line - perhaps also the Syrian regime." 

"The SNC will have a minority stake in the new body, but some opposition leaders are still skeptical that the effort will succeed."

"The Qatar meeting will include dozens of opposition leaders from inside Syria, including from the provincial revolutionary councils, the local 'coordination committees' of activists, and select people from the newly established local administrative councils."

Washington calls the initiative the "Riad Seif plan." He's a former Syrian parliamentarian/dissident now living outside the country.

Obama officials call him "central" to forming a new opposition council. They claim he has broad support. Previous efforts to pick leaders fell flat. This time likely won't be different.

Libyans want conflict ended. Violence and instability further Washington's plans. Syrians supporting it will be spurned. Popular sentiment wants peace, not war. Don't expect them to get it.

In 2009, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) reinvented itself as the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). Policies remain unchanged. Syrian and Iranian regime change is prioritized. Direct intervention is urged.

On October 16, FPI headlined "Now is the Time for a Safe Zone in Syria," saying:

Things are spinning of control. Omitted is why and who bears responsibility. Instead FPI accuses "dictator" Assad of what foreign invaders inflict on Syrians daily.

What else would PNAC say! It supports stepped up intervention. Diplomacy and sanctions haven't worked, it said.

"Instead, the United States - working with European allies, Turkey, and other regional partners - should advance a new strategy that uses combined airpower to impose a safe zone in northern Syria, where the country’s armed opposition groups have de facto control of large territory, and the Assad regime’s air defense systems are weaker and fewer in number."

PNAC wants both no-fly and safe zones imposed. Either or both are acts of war. Interventionists, of course, want pro-Western puppet governance replacing Assad. PNAC doesn't disguise its advocacy.

Accusations it makes are spurious. Western leaders make the same ones. "As the crisis in Syria worsens, sitting on the sidelines is no longer a feasible option for the United States," it says.

Washington, of course, was been directly involved since conflict erupted in early 2011. Obama officials planned it. Full-scale intervention assures Libya 2.0. Intervening in the internal affairs of other countries directly or through proxie violates fundamental international law.

PNAC left those facts unexplained. Instead it says US-recruited death squads "are bravely standing up to the Assad regime's escalating use of force against his own people."

He's defending, not attacking, them. All responsible leaders would do the same thing. PNAC, Washington, and other Western countries call self-defense aggression. What else would you expect them to say?

Syrians want foreign invaders defeated. They're grateful to have Assad defending them. Expect protracted conflict ahead. Syria's crisis won't be resolved easily or quickly. Success depends on defeating NATO's scourge.

A Final Comment

Western-recruited death squads attacked Kurds in Northwestern Syria in and around Aleppo. Reportedly ceasefire terms are being discussed.

Militants attacked Kurdish neighborhoods. Dozens were kidnapped. At least one man held was tortured to death. Kurdish fighters retaliated. A militia called the Popular Protection Unit (YPG) is involved. It was formed in 2004 to safeguard Kurdish communities.

Syria's Kurdish minority lives mostly along the Turkish/Iraqi borders. Many live in and around Aleppo. They comprise about 10% of Syria's population.

They've mostly stayed neutral in the conflict. They won't remain on the sidelines if they're attacked. The situation bears watching.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Supreme Court Spurns Justice

Supreme Court Spurns Justice

by Stephen Lendman

Several previous articles discussed the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) charity case. Five extraordinary human beings were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to long prison terms. They're doing hard time in America's gulag.

They learned the hard way about being Muslims in America at the wrong time. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied their final appeal for justice. More on that below.

The words "Equal Justice Under Law" adorn the Supreme Court Building's west facade. Facing east is the motto "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty." 

Since the Court's 1789 establishment, these words belie its decisions, arguments, and "supreme" allegiance to power. "We the people" never mattered and don't now.

Privilege always counted most in America. Egalitarian principles exist in name only. Checks and balances, equity and justice, and democratic values are meaningless figures of speech.

Men, not laws or high moral standards, rule America. Executive, congressional, and judicial officials systematically lie, connive, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest.

Democracy always was illusory. Most High Court justices are as unprincipled and venal as political rogues infesting Washington, state and city governments.

Federal courts are the worst. Many justices in them have Federalist Society connections. They advocate rolling back civil liberties and ending New Deal social policies. They support imperial wars, torture and corporatism.

They want reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights, and environmental protections ended. They spurn justice in defense of privilege.

Five current Supreme Court justices are Federalist Society members: Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

Elena Kagan is ideologically sympathetic. As dean of Harvard Law School, she hired Bush's outgoing Office of Legal Counsel director, Jack Goldsmith. Francis Boyle called him a war criminal.

Kagan bragged about putting him on staff. Boyle quoted her saying she "love(s) the Federalist Society."

With these type justices on America's High Court, ordinary people don't stand a chance. On Monday, five HLF principles heard the bad news. Other articles discussed their notable work.

They helped people most in need. They fed hungry children. They provided financial aid to needy and impoverished families.

They sponsored orphaned children. They provided educational, medical, emergency, community development, and other vital social services.

Until Bush's Justice Department shut it down, HLF was America's largest Muslim charity. It was their mark of cain. It got them targeted for doing the right thing for the wrong people.

They were wrongfully accused of providing aid to Hamas. Multiple charges included prohibited financial transactions, money laundering, conspiracy, and filing false tax returns.

Charges were false, outrageous and unconscionable. HLF had no connection to terrorism. Its activities were entirely legal. Islam's third pillar mandates charity. Aiding those in need is considered a moral obligation.

Compassion became criminalized. Humanitarian giving to "unworthy" recipients risks long prison terms. US justice prohibits feeding the wrong hungry children, providing medical services, and helping them live normal lives.

Reversing the wrongful convictions of five extraordinary humanitarians should have been no-brainer justice. The Supreme Court spurned them without explanation. Dismissively it said:

"Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied."

HLF principals were denied their right to retrial. Legitimate courts would have granted it automatically. 

Shukri Abubaker, Mohammad el-Mazain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abulrahman Odeh will stay imprisoned in America's gulag.

Word came Monday morning. HLF announced it saying:

"The US Supreme Court declines to hear the Holy Land Foundation case. Their decision marks the end of the judicial process and the beginning of a massive effort to free the Holy Land Five."

The Muslim Legal Fund of America headlined "MLFA Troubled by Court's Decision to Not Hear Sixth Amendment Case," saying:

Presidential diktat authority targeted HLF. Due process was denied. Federal agents stormed their offices like storm troopers. They took everything, including personal possessions.

Fundamental constitutional rights were spurned. "MLFA funded the defense, appeal and US Supreme Court petition due to the significance the case has on the future of civil liberties for everyone in America. Representatives from the legal fund are gravely concerned over the court's decision to not hear the case."

Executive Director Khalik Meed said:

"It is a dark day for America when our nation’s highest court refuses to hear a case that is affecting everyone’s ability to get a fair trial in America."

"If judges are allowed to prevent defenders from challenging the credibility of expert witnesses, then our Sixth Amendment loses its teeth and our civil liberties suffer further erosion."

HLF attorney Nancy Hollander called the decision a "travesty of American criminal justice. I don't think American citizens understand that this effects all of us and the world that believes in the American criminal justice system." 

"Anyone in any court in America now risks being convicted based on the opinion of someone who claims to be an expert without any opportunity to cross examine that person because everything about that so-called expert can remain secret." 

"The right to Confrontation, so long enshrined in our justice system, died today."

Hollander added:

"Technically they can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but they would have to go back to original court and I don't think they will be successful. I fear this is the end of the road and far as the courts are concerned."

HLF principal Shukri Abubaker's daughter Nida twittered:

"The suprême court denied the case. they don't even want to look at it. They don't want to spill the truth (and reveal) US Govt….lies." 

She added:

"That’s it. They denied it….So what now? Are these men going to sit in prison, for something they didn’t do, while the world all over the poor is getting even poorer?" 

"While the hungry is dying of starvation? While the sick is dying without medicine and blood? While the homeless is in desperate need of a home during The harsh winters?"

" This is outrageous. I am at loss of words….God has a plan for everything and everyone. We must not give up." 

"#FreeTheHolyLandFoundation #FreeMyBaba #FreeMyUncles."

Attorney Linda Moreno expressed outrage, saying:

"We fought so hard for this case we believed in these men and we believed in the charity, their good will, their good works. I have always said they fed the wrong children." 

"They were Palestinian children and for some reason Palestinian children, Palestinian widows do not deserve humanitarian aid."

"And I will tell you this. I don't care what the government believes it has proved in this case, a decision that allows a man to be sentenced to 65 years in prison for feeding Palestinian children in my view is racist."

Ahead of the Supreme Court decision, Center for Constitutional Rights president emeritus, Michael Ratner, said:

"We will look back on this period, not just the Holy Land Five, but the cases from the NYPD, down here with the Third Jihad, all the way to drone killings in Pakistan, we will look on this as probably one of the darkest, if not the darkest, periods of our history. And sadly, sadly, Noor’s father is paying the price of 65 years in jail."

A Final Comment

Activist/songwriter David Rovics commented his way in song and verse. He titled it simply the "Holy Land 5"

"They grew up among the bombs of the occupation
Bulldozed houses, that was the situation
Refugee camps, Khan Yunus and Shatila
Children gunned down in the Intifada
Poverty and hunger, a place to slowly die
These five men decided at least they had to try
From their homes in Texas to the stateless nation
They started up the Holy Land Foundation."

"They sent food and medicine, that's all they ever did
Aside from sending toys for little kids
Feed the hungry, they say that's a good deed
But apparently it all depends on who you want to feed
If they're living in the ghettos under IDF command
If they think they don't deserve to starve in their homeland
If Sharon says all that's theirs is mine
If they're from a place called Palestine."

"The Holy Land is crying out
Leaving little room for doubt
From ruined homes the kids ask you
What in the world will you do?"

"They sent money to the Zakat Committees
The same ones funded by USAID
But these were Arabs aiding Palestinians
They opposed the occupation and they were Muslims
Their phones were tapped for years but nothing could be found
So with an executive order Bush shut them down
Freezing all their funds, taking food from kids
That's exactly what the US government did."

"These men support Hamas, the government proclaimed
Although they couldn't find a cent sent in their name
But they had evidence, for the first time in a court
An anonymous Israeli would submit his report
Behind a veil with no rights to cross-examination
He could smell Hamas, this was his explanation
First the jury hung, so they tried them again
And for feeding hungry people they were sent to prison."


"Now five men are in cells, no one knows what for
Every Muslim an unindicted co-conspirator
Be careful what you say, be wary what you hear
Or end up in a CMU for 65 years
Cut off from the world, held in a little box
Back home kids are getting shot for throwing rocks
No one stops the charities sending money for tanks
For illegal settlements all over the West Bank."

"This is justice in America, if you didn't know it now you do
And a retrial was denied, I should mention that, too
A retrial was denied and who knows who's next to go
To be tortured in a Little Guantanamo
The Constitution's suspended, they just haven't let us know
It's easier that way, just say it isn't so
The Holy Land Foundation, you know it's true
They did what all of us should do."

"Free the Holy Land 5!!"

The final words of America's Pledge of Allegiance should say "with liberty and justice" only for the privileged few. No one else. 

Muslims and others wrongfully targeted learn about America's dark side firsthand. Disgracefully, the nation's Supreme Court supports it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Greek Whistleblower/Journalist Risks Imprisonment

Greek Whistleblower/Journalist Risks Imprisonment

by Stephen Lendman

Doing the right thing is risky. Greek magazine publisher Costas Vaxevanis faces charges of violating state privacy laws. Potentially he faces two years in prison.

Press freedom and whistleblowing should be inviolate. Not in today's corrupt money controlled world. More on this below.

A previous article discussed a recent Tax Justice Network (TJN) USA report. It estimates up to $32 trillion of hidden and stolen wealth stashed largely tax-free secretly. 

"The Price of Offshore Revisited" reveals what super-rich elites want concealed. Governments let them avoid taxes. Societal costs are huge. Ill-gotten gains are free to make more of them. Only ordinary people pay what they owe. Many pay too much.

A vast offshore industry operates out of sight and mind. Only financial interests running it and wealthy tax avoiders know what's going on.

The benefit of getting rich is being able to break societal rules to get richer. When ordinary people try they're punished. When whisleblowers expose potential wrongdoing, prosecutors victimize them. 

Under Obama, it's truer than ever in America. Greece operates the same way. On October 29, Reuters headlined "Greek editor stands trial over Swiss accounts list, saying:

Hot Doc magazine editor Vaxevanis was arrested for publishing the "Lagarde List." In 2010, French authorities gave it to Athens. At issue is investigating 2,059 wealthy Greeks with secret HSBC Swiss accounts.

Whether they're guilty of criminal fraud or other financial crimes, remains to be seen. Many tax haven depositors have considerable amounts of questionable wealth.

Lagarde's List includes business people, shipping magnates, politicians, physicians, lawyers, architects, scientists, journalists, housewives, a painter, an actress, and others. How they accumulated wealth and why it's held secretly needs explaining.

Vaxevanis believes most on Lagarde's List are suspect. Many may be tax cheats. They may also be involved in other illegal activities. He told supporters: 

"I was doing my job in the name of the public interest. Journalism is revealing the truth when everyone else is trying to hide it."

"Instead of arresting the tax evaders and the ministers who had the list in their hands, they are trying to arrest the truth and free journalism."

"If anyone is accountable before the law it is those ministers who hid the list, lost it, and said it didn't exist. I only did my job. I am a journalist and I did my job."

He also said 15 officers Sunday surrounded the home of a friend where he was staying. They acted like German storm troopers in Greek uniforms.

Ahead of his apprehension he Twittered, "They're entering my house with the prosecutor right now. They are arresting me. Spread the word."

Hours later he was released to appear in magistrate court Monday. 

The Ta Nea newspaper devoted 10 pages to the story. It believes secret accounts held about $2 billion dollars in 2007. It could be double or more that amount now.

At the same time, it said it wasn't prejudging the list's "content nor the connotations it evokes in a large part of the public." No evidence so far implicates anyone in criminality. 

Perhaps it's because no investigations were undertaken. Influential people usually avoid them. It happens all the time. Vaxevanis said, "Today, it's not Hot Doc that's on trial but press freedom in Greece and truth."

He added that an anonymous source supplied the list. Some observers said prosecutors targeted free expression in democracy's birthplace.

The Greek chapter of Reporters Without Borders issued a statement about the speed of Vaxevanis' arrest. He's "not a dangerous criminal," it said.

"The pressure created by the arrest of a reporter is clearly disproportionate. This procedure simply encourages an excessive cover-up, and the authorities appear to be imposing the ‘therapy’ of this sensitive issue, which is a gripping matter of public interest."

Some of the names on his list include:

George and Fotis Bobolas

Lavrentis Lavrentiadis

The Marinopoulos Brothers

Families of shipping magnates Martinou and Patera

Most well-known jewellers

Dimitris Kopelouzos

usinessman Benroubi's family

Journalist George Trangas

Caricaturist Katherine Shina

Pegasus publishing house manager Alexis Skanavis

Adviser to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Stavros Papastavros

Athens area obstetrician Panagiotis Agraniotis in the prestigious 

Thessaloniki dentist Vassilios Daniilidis

Athens Surgery Professor Ioannis Karaytianos

Athens surgeon Sotirios Stiloyanis

ENT doctor Ptolemeos Petridis

Gynacologist Giorgos Papadimitriou

Pediatrician Eli Mantsi

Sakoula publishing house founder Amalia Moutousi's wife Yioanna Sakoula

Sculptor Alexandra Atanasiadi

Spiridon Doukas

Deceased former Kostas Karamanlis deputy minister Ioannis Boutos

Former newspaper editor Spiridonas Doukas

Following the list's publication, prosecutors issued a search warrant for Vaxevanis' premises. He claims he did nothing illegal. Personal data isn't disclosed. Nor are monetary amounts.

He wants prosecutors to explain their "illegal actions." An opposition political party SYRIZA statement accused the government of provocative and unacceptable persecution, saying:

"Unfortunately, justice hurried to set itself itself going against the one who reveals facts, and it tolerates those who conceal the facts."

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and at least one other Greek parliamentarian called for charges against Vaxevanis to be dropped. They ridiculed prosecutors for targeting him instead individuals on the list.

Tsipras added:

"It is unacceptable that in Greece, which has been on its knees in recent years, tax evaders are left undisturbed and those who conceal possible evasion are not prosecuted but those who make revelations are."

The Independent Greeks party said:

"The vassals of the Three are scared to death - those who betrayed our national sovereignty, are now betraying our constitutional rights - victims of fear and court intimidation."

Independent deputy Nikos Nikopoulos added:

"In Greece, the law applies to those who reveal lists of bank accounts. There are people among the names who have illegally obtained these accounts." 

"At the same time, however, those who are keeping 'forgotten' lists in their desks, and do not publicize them, are left undisturbed."

President of the Athens union of newspaper editors, Dimitris Trimis, called what happened "absolutely hypocritical." 

"Because justice and politicians have allegedly been looking for these publicly disclosed data, but are mutually accusing one another that they cannot find them. Publicity and transparency are the soul of Democracy and Justice."

Former finance minister George Papaconstantinou said he gave about 20 names to financial crimes unit head Ioannis Diotis. He asked him to investigate possible wrongdoing. 

Diotis gave them to Evangelos Venizelos, Papaconstantinou's successor. He said Venizelos hadn't told him to investigate - case closed. Isn't that how things always work? In America, London, and other financial capitals, it's standard practice.

Papaconstantinou added that authorities didn't act because they're covering for elite tax cheats. 

"My interpretation is they probably got scared. They looked at the names on the list and saw it was full of important people from business and publishing and decided not to go ahead without clear political instructions and cover."

He added that what's now known represents only a small part of a massive tax evasion problem. He called the Greek system "broken and corrupt."

Author and social commentator Petros Markaris said:

"This really is a mess, and it has become a mess because the politicians have handled it so badly. This was not incompetence but because they did not want to make public what could harm them."

The origin of the scandal began in a January 2009 raid. The French home of former HSBC Geneva branch IT consultant, Herve Falciani, was targeted.

Swiss authorities accused him of selling stolen data on the bank's clients. French police found computer files on 130,000 potential tax evaders. Swiss authorities were furious about initiated investigations. About 15,000 HSBC clients are involved.

So far, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras withheld comment. He's got plenty of other crosses to bear. Add one more to his list.

A Final Comment

On October 30, Vaxevanis addressed Athens magistrate court, saying:

"There is an effort being made to convict me of a 'crime." The prosecutors say that I have published personal data while Mr. Venizelos, the former Finance Minister, 'lost' the list down the toilet of his home." 

"Over the last two years, there is a public effort through the appearance of legality to cover a very big scandal. The people who are handling and manipulating this issue and the public prosecutor have got to realize that from a legal point of view, there was no violation of personal data at all."

"A few months ago in Greece, the public prosecutor made public the personal information of people with AIDS! Why? They said it was because they wanted to protect the public interest. In order to protect the public interests, I did my job. The people on the list need to be investigated." 

"I am speaking to the public prosecutor when I say that he has the obligation to show the same sensitivity to my case. I don’t know why the public prosecutor behaves in this manner, but they must adhere to rule of law and treat all cases equally." 

"Today, several international newspapers have published the Lagarde list and there has been no outcry or repercussions. 
A journalist’s job is to tell the truth, especially when others are hiding the truth. Anything less is just public relations and propaganda."

His trial is scheduled for early June.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Obama Rejects Palestinian Statehood

Obama Rejects Palestinian Statehood

by Stephen Lendman

What do you call a Black man who rejects equal rights for his own people and others? A racist traitor.

What do you call a rejectionist leader? A criminal who should be impeached, removed and prosecuted.

Obama stands guilty on multiple counts. His rap sheet includes much more than spurning Palestinian rights. He's complicit in grand theft and war crimes multiple times over. He's unfit to serve. He should be in prison, not government. 

Throughout his tenure, he repeatedly violated international, constitutional, and US statute laws. He's contemptuous of fundamental rights and other democratic values. 

From his earliest Chicago political days, he supported ethnic cleansing gentrification. Real estate and other financial priorities trumped populism. They still do and much more.

Obama fronts for wealth and power interests. As a state senator, he did it for his district. As president, he does it globally. He's in lockstep with Israel on Palestine.

He supports occupation harshness. Palestinians are Muslims and don't matter. Denying them fundamental rights is policy. So is total evisceration of freedom and standing four-square against sovereign independence in any form. He also opposes full or limited UN membership.

Washington wages wars multiple ways. Its repertoire includes financial and political warfare. 

Last year, US Jerusalem Consul General, Daniel Rubenstein, told chief negotiator Saeb Erekat that Washington will veto a UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian sovereignty within June 1967 borders.

Doing so is illegal. It also carries no weight. The General Assembly alone affirms new member states by a two-thirds vote. The Security Council only recommends admissions. 

Palestinians can override Washington's veto by petitioning the General Assembly through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377. Doing so renders America's veto null and void.

Washington pledged earlier not to oppose any state seeking UN membership. Of course, its promises aren't worth the paper they're written on. The same goes for Israel. Both nations are rogue states. They govern by we're boss and what we say goes rules. 

Rubenstein also threatened to cut off all aid and impose other unspecified punitive measures. In July 2012, PA official Khaled Mesmar said Washington repeated its threat. 

An unnamed US diplomat told Abbas in Ramallah. He, of course, only goes through the motions of seeking official statehood recognition and UN membership with enough rights to matter. Rhetoric substitutes for follow-through. 

If proper procedures are followed, both objectives are within easy reach. Abbas struck out repeatedly on both counts. Expect nothing from him ahead. He epitomizes betrayal and illegitimacy. He represents Israel and Washington, not Palestine. He's an unprincipled quisling head of state.

In June 2011, the Senate unanimously approved a measure to end funding if statehood is pursued. Weeks later, the House followed suit. It voted 407 - 6. Its resolution also called for suspending aid if Fatah/Hamas unity is consummated.

Both House and Senate resolutions are non-binding. Foreign policy is the purview of the Executive. Exceptions include the right to declare war. Congress alone may do so. It abdicated its authority over seven decades ago. It shows no signs of reclaiming it.

The State of Palestine, in fact, exists. It was proclaimed in Algiers on November 15, 1988. At the time, the PLO adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. 

PLO legal advisor Francis Boyle drafted it. He included safeguards to assure all sovereign state rights. His document left no wiggle room loopholes. He also made sure UN membership won't comprise them. 

Palestine satisfies all essential criteria for sovereign independence and full de jure UN membership. 

All UN Charter states (including America and Israel) provisionally recognized Palestinian independence in accordance with UN Charter article 80(1) and League Covenant article 22(4). 

Further, as the League's successor, the General Assembly has exclusive legal authority to designate the PLO as the Palestinian peoples' legitimate representative. 

The Palestine National Council (PNC) is the PLO's legislative body. It's empowered to proclaim the existence of Palestine. According to the binding 1925 Palestine Citizenship Order in Council, Palestinians, their children and grandchildren automatically become citizens. 

So are diaspora Palestinians. Those living in Israel and Jordan have dual nationalities. Occupied Territory residents remain "protected persons" (under Fourth Geneva) until a final peace settlement is reached.

Rights are achievable under leaders who pursue them. Palestinian governance always fell short. Millions deserving better never got it. They remain occupied and oppressed in limbo. 

They're on their own to seek liberation PA leaders conspiratorially with Israel and Washington deny them. On September 27, Abbas addressed the General Assembly in New York. Once again he fell short.

His comments were watered down, weak-kneed, and duplicitous. He'll again seek UN non-member state status, he said. On the one hand, he promised before and backed down. 

On the other, why seek less than what's easily within reach and should have been gotten long ago. 

Last year, Francis Boyle emailed this writer as follows:

"I have advised the Palestinians to invoke the Uniting for Peace Resolution." Doing so overrides Washington's veto. "That get’s their Admission Application to the UN General Assembly." 

"It is the General Assembly that admits, not the Security Council. There they will need a 2/3ds vote of those states voting yes or no - abstentions, no votes, no shows do not count."

At the time, the Financial Times estimated they had 170 votes. They constitute 88% of UN member states. "If they get the 2/3ds vote in the General Assembly, Palestine" joins their ranks, "and you have Palestine and Israel, which everyone says they want but, of course, they do not mean it."

Boyle added that "Palestinians will always live to fight another day. And I will be there with them until my dying day. Or until Palestine is Free." For the record, this writer pledges the same thing without compromising what's right, fair, just, and long overdue.

On October 1, the London Guardian headlined "US warns European governments against supporting Palestinians at UN," saying:

It came in private memo form. Go along or else. Memo language said UN status in any form "would be extremely counterproductive." EU governments were told Palestinians will face "significant negative consequences." Financial sanctions were mentioned.

The memo said Palestinian statehood "can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis." Going that route, of course, assures permanent occupation, exploitation, persecution, and failure. 

European governments were urged to support US obstructionist efforts. General Assembly representatives in New York were given Washington's ultimatum. Do it our way or else.

Washington and Israel have serious concerns about rights UN member states are afforded. In another email, Boyle explained, saying:

Once Palestine "becomes a UN Member State, (it) can ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and then file a formal State to State Complaint against Israeli Officials, upgrading the lower level Complaint President Abbas filed at my advice." 

It can also "ratify the Genocide Convention and sue Israel for Genocide at the World Court, pursuant to the advice I had already given President Arafat and President Abbas, and get a temporary restraining Order against the Zionists, that would then go to the Security Council for enforcement, and if vetoed by the Americans, to the General Assembly for enforcement under the (1950) Uniting for Peace Resolution." 

"With these proceedings, (it may) be able to halt the Zionist settlement project of all Palestine in the immediate future." It will also lift Gaza's siege. Abbas refuses to do it. So did Arafat before him.

Decades of Palestinian leadership failure to do the right thing constitutes betrayal. Nothing ahead looks promising. A third Intifada is long overdue. 

Courageous independent leaders are needed to inspire, organize, and direct it. Hopefully enough of them are committed and ready. Liberation won't come any other way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Tepid Palestinian Authority UN Upgrade Bid

Tepid Palestinian Authority UN Upgrade Bid

by Stephen Lendman

Instead of going for easily within reach full UN membership, Abbas prefers settling for less. Why he'll have to explain.

Others say it reflects his longtime collaboration with Israel. Doing so betrays his own people. Why they tolerate him, they'll have to explain.

If he follows through as planned, he'll get what he asks for. He'll upgrade Palestine from observer to non-member status. It's like being club member with most rights but not all. Non-member states can't vote. 

Full de jure status requires following simple procedures that work. Abbas categorically refuses. Who knows if he even follow through on his lesser pledge. 

He breaks many more promises than he keeps. He cares more about his own status than Palestine's. That's how collaborationists govern. Trust and honor aren't in their vocabulary. Betrayal defines it.

Whatever Abbas does or doesn't do, Israel's position is clear. It won't tolerate Palestinian self-determination. It's going all-out to subvert UN upgrade status.

In June 2011, Netanyahu reaffirmed Israel's opposition. Pursuing it will hinder the peace process, he said. Unstated was his contempt for peace and unwillingness to tolerate it.

Nonetheless, he said:

"First, it would violate the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel but it would also harden the Palestinian position because if the UN General Assembly adopts the Palestinian positions in advance of negotiations why should they negotiate?"

"So such a resolution is backed by an overwhelming majority including the leading countries of the world, that could actually push peace back by hardening Palestinian positions, by pushing negotiations further away."

"Peace will only come from negotiations. It will be a negotiated peace. It cannot be imposed from the outside, not by any power and certainly not by one-sided UN resolutions."

On October 19, Haaretz headlined "Palestinian push for UN status upgrade likely to succeed, says GA president,." 

GA president Vuk Jeremic sees Palestine easily gaining upgrade status. A simple majority is needed. Up to 170 of the UN's 193 states may vote yes.

He warned Washington against cutting UN funding if it's gotten. He added that it's not in America's best interest to do so. Perhaps he knows less about US governance than he thinks.

Two US laws, among others, show Washington plays hardball. In 1990, legislation enacted prohibits funds "for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as a member state."

In 1994, another law bars funding to "any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood."

These laws targeted Palestine. Congress also affords itself latitude. Either of these measures can be used to suspend, cut, or cease UN funding if only an upgrade to non-member status is gotten. 

Cutting off US aid to Palestine is also likely. Expect Israel to enforce its own harshness. That's how rogue states operate. Their rules and standards alone apply. Do things their way or else.

Last year, Congress froze about $250 million in Palestinian funding after UN membership ambitions surfaced at the UN. Last October, UNESCO admitted Palestine as a full member. It happened despite intense US and Israeli opposition.

Retaliation followed. Washington suspended funding. Instead of supporting the move, it acted irresponsibly as expected. 

Abbas perhaps will act shortly after US elections. Jeremic expects it later in November. "If they decide to go for it after these consultations, which is what President Abbas announced in his speech in September, most people expect that this is going to pass," he said.

On October 26, Haaretz headlined "Ahead of Israel election, PA bid in UN may push Netanyahu to harsh unilateral reaction, diplomats say."

Israel affords Palestinians no rights. Occupation harshness explains what no one should tolerate. Netanyahu and hardline officials around him warned other countries about supporting Palestine's UN upgrade.

Intense efforts are ongoing to block it. The peace process will collapse, they warned. Of course, it never existed, but Israeli officials didn't explain. A third Intifada could erupt, they claim. Again, no explanation followed.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials also object to the timing. Israel's election campaign will be in full swing. Ministers and Knesset members may vie with each other over who can be tougher.

A former unnamed senior Israeli official said:

"Even today, the atmosphere in the Prime Minister's Bureau is one of 'this time, we'll show them what's what.' Likud ministers will pressure him, the polls will scare him." 

"And from there it's not far to a response that would bring about a violent conflagration or the collapse of the Palestinian Authority."

Of course, nothing will happen unless Israel and/or Washington push. They've done it so often on any pretext, ones they manufacture, or none at all. Challenges to their authority aren't tolerated. They demand things their way all the time.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials warned other governments of a scenario under which Israel "goes crazy" following the UN vote. A ministry document said:

"We suggest that the European Union take Israel's political needs into account. Israel is entering a campaign season, and consideration must be given to the fact that its government, too, is liable to find itself under political pressure to respond suitably to unilateral Palestinian moves."

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was warned that upgrading Palestine would be a "game-changing move." Unilateral Israeli actions would follow.

A senior Netanyahu official said:

"We're asking all these states to make the dangerous ramifications of this move clear to the Palestinians."

"We're telling the Europeans openly that if (Abbas) goes to the UN, he won't be a partner in the eyes of Israel's leadership the day after." 

"We're also explaining that the gap between the decision made at UN headquarters in New York and the reality on the ground is liable to be so large it will lead to frustration, and thence to violence."

Measures being considered include revoking privileges afforded PA officials, canceling work permits for Palestinians in Israel, halting Palestinian tax transfers, and greatly expanding settlement construction.

Abbas could be treated like Arafat. First he was isolated. Then he was poisoned with polonium and killed. Israel plays no holds barred hardball. It gets away with it because world leaders don't object.

Abbas will be heavily pressured to dissuade him. It may work. If not, Israel plans to lobby 100 or more UN member states. It hopes to persuade enough to vote no or abstain to matter. 

If Abbas keeps his pledge, what better time for an overwhelming supportive UN endorsement. It's likely. Israel often pulls this stunt and others like it. Perhaps it's gone to the well too often. If not now, eventually.

Expect playing hardball with the rest of the world sooner or later to come back to bite. Now's as good a time as any. In the fullness of time we'll know. 

Echoes will be heard in Washington. Your turn is next. Hopefully it's coming sooner than expected. Humanity depends on it.

A Final Comment

On October 28, AP and Haaretz headlined "Palestinian officials: Abbas moving forward with bid for UN recognition," saying:

He's expected to ask General Assembly members to approve upgrading Palestine to "nonmember state" status on November 15 or 29. So far, however, no final decision was made.

"Both dates are symbolic." November 15 is the 24th anniversary of Palestine's 1988 declaration of independence. The State of Palestine exists. The PLO adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence.

November 29 is the 65th anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan. It granted 56% of historic Palestine to Jews (with one-third of the population) and 42% to Palestinians.

It designated Jerusalem international city (a corpus separatum - separate body) under a UN Trusteeship Council. 

The PLO's UN upgrade position paper was distributed to EU governments last week. 

It argues that approval is necessary to "achieve the ultimate objective of the two-state solution and to expedite its realization at a time when Israel is incessantly and recklessly undermining that solution and the prospects for achieving a just peace."

Decision day approaches. Soon enough we'll know if Abbas follows through. If so, General Assembly approval should be rubber stamp. 

Uncertain only is by how much and how Washington and Israel will react. Harsh recrimination is likely. That's how rogue states operate.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.